A bunch of people who share a large workshop and meet on a regular basis to do projects and get some input. A place where kids can learn to build robots instead of becoming robots. A little community-driven factory, or just a lair for hackers. The world needs more of these spaces, and every hackerspace, makerspace or fab lab has its very own way of making it work. Nevertheless, when and if problems and challenges show up – they are always the same – almost stereotypically, so avoid some of the pitfalls and make use of the learnings from almost a decade of makerspacing to get it just right. Let’s take a look at just what it takes to get one of these spaces up and running well.
I had the opportunity last Thursday to visit the Milwaukee Makerspace. I took along a video camera and had a great time on a tour guided by [Brant], [Matt], and [Vishal]. We’ve actually seen quite a number of reputable hacks come from this group already. A couple that come to mind include beer dispenser security and a bottle-free water cooler. This tour shows off a lot of the cool stuff going on at the space. Don’t miss the video after the break, but we’ll also give you the gist of it if you’re looking for a quick rundown:
We start off looking at their craft area, wall of fame (including all their Power Racing Series medals) and laser cutter room. From there we take a peek at one of the big rooms that serves as for-rent floor space and pallet storage. This part of the tour includes a look at Red Lotus and Big Jake-stein, two of the PRS cars used this season. The storage tour rounds up with a look at their set of 19 vaults — these are like deep self-storage closets for members. The space spices things up with awards for best vault of the month.
Moving on to the next large space we encounter this huge Kuka KR 30 industrial robot arm that they acquired for free! A room has been built around the 2500 pound beast for safety and they are working on building their own controller for it. Right now it’s got a jig that holds a spindle motor making it a CNC router. This enclosure is in a larger space that makes up the machine shop and welding area. Through a door is a woodshop that includes a big panel saw which they pick up on Craig’s List. The tour wraps up with a walk-through of the electronics den and a tour of the 3D Printer hangout.