How To Setup A Hackerspace From Someone Who’s Done It Before

We just got a tip from [PT] that a seven part series on how to start a Hackerspace will be posted this week. The blog over at Adafruit will be publishing one installment a day. Right now the introduction (linked above) and volume 1 are available. This covers what a Hackerspace is and who you might attract to help you get started. Tomorrow’s installment covers requirements you have to meet, which we assume delves into tax status (what you have to do to get 501c3 non-profit status) and financial reporting. But we’ll have to wait and see to know for sure.

The series is written by [Eric Michaud]. He founded HacDC in Washington, D.C. and Pumping Station: One in Chicago. He also helps others by consulting on startup spaces and embodies a wealth of knowledge on the topic.

If you’re area doesn’t yet have its own Hackerspace read this along with your buddies and see if you’ve got what it takes to get one going.

interesting fact: The hackaday logo is one of the watermarks in the lining of the hackerspace passport.

34 thoughts on “How To Setup A Hackerspace From Someone Who’s Done It Before

    1. Actually, all that has been posted so far are things that I’d say are bleeding obvious (#1= who are you supporting, #2= what do you need).
      It may be that it is more of use to people in the US but that’s not to say you can’t learn the principles and see what things caught them out (they may not be geographical/political related).
      So I’d be wary of judging until it’s all written up.

      1. What I have seen it far is pretty universal points, not sure why some are making it more than it is, IMO. in my experience hobbyists often really don’t have a business sense( not that I’m saying I have a comprehensive business sense), and things should go how they believe they should go. I created a thread over at hackaday forum over a year &1/2 ago . In a post there I stated something on the order of; it serves no purpose to over state the difficulties, or understate them either.

      2. Often the bleeding obvious tends to get overlooked, that’s why decent how to guides include the obvious. Topics like taxes should be written in a general manner so the reader understands that something they may need to do their own research on. although there’s a good chance that someone will complain how that was done. :(

    2. I don’t think sharing of knowledge should be limited only to those who have traveled and experienced the world outside the US. If you’ve got an alternative view why not share it with others? Talk to the author and/or Adafruit and see if they’ll publish whatever you can contribute.

      1. People everywhere have trouble considering others’ point of view. Americans post stuff that only applies to other Americans, and then non-Americans complain that someone dared post something that doesn’t apply to them. Both groups then conclude that the other is provincial and small-minded.

        The truth is that we’re all human, and we’re all the same: contemptible bags of useless meat with terrible opinions.

    3. Apparently no alienation by Adafruit so far. It’s Hackaday who have made the Americanisation leap of faith prediction into what’s coming tomorrow.
      Who knows, they might go into detail about safety equipment rather than financial and legal implications.

      Having read the first couple of days I’m a bit disappointed. Anyone who has the funds to set up a hacker space probably doesn’t need helpful hints like “define your customers” and “understand their needs”. Anyone starting a business without that either has a load of money they’re used to wasting or isn’t going to get a bank loan. The remaining percent of people who want to set up a hackspace want to do it because it’s what they do and they’ll put what they know they need in (and maybe a few random other bits that they think are cool).

    4. Perhaps I’m not sensitive or PC enough, but I never noted anything in either the Hackaday article or the adafruit content that’s US centric. Yea 501c3 non-profit status is US refers to the US only. However anyone outside the US who can read or understand English or is using a language translator would see that portion of the article is tax related and probably are intelligent enough to figure they would need to learn the tax options where they live. My opinion about that level of intelligence is based on conversation with those outside the US via amateur radio, along with being “online” since a Vic 20 & a 300 baud modem was the way many of use first went online. To use the same broad brush being used in comments here; those using that broad brush are assuming those outside the US are as self centered and demanding as many of those inside the US are.

  1. It reminds me of a guy I knew…
    he had a business card in his wallet that said

    and in smaller print,
    Good Anywhere, Anytime

    A bouncer thought it was funny enough to let him into a bar without paying the cover charge.

  2. i still dont really get the whole point of a cahckerspace, is it some sort of public accessable all purpose workshop with guys maintianing the tools and offer advice, or does it more?

    1. It’s no great mystery, it’s just a workshop where you can use their tools (for a fee). They may provide training, materials etc. Some are non-profit, others not so.

      The idea has been around forever; eg some garages let you park your project car there and work on it. Ever see the old horror movie ‘Christine’?

      1. always dreamed about such garages-for-rent!
        how do you call it?

        calling a regular garage and renting the space for me would be crazy as in L.A. even the garages with no mechanic working still manages to service 12 cars per hour per spot.

        1. Years ago I read of a commercial venture (in California) that was basically a large garage where motorheads could rent space to work on an automotive project. with access to some tools that most really wouldn’t have. What you wish may be at your command

    1. one thing i will never understand from my local hackerspace… it’s always empty on weekends!

      that’s usually the time i have to work on my projects. so i can’t understand it.

    2. I love how they are dancing around this topic. “make sure the space has a concrete floor, 220v, a jacuzzi, a wet bar and anything else you can think of.”

      cause all that shit is free and the area will be worthless if the wackerspace doesn’t have a wet bar.

      1. …and a darkroom. Well, I suppose if you are starting a hipsterspace…

        I’d start a hipsterspace but my insurance & lawsuit bills would be too high. You can only punch so many fixie owners before you run out of money.

        (And of course insurance & lawsuits advice should probably be first up)

        1. With insurance come of site inspections by the insurance carrier. Highly likely any alcoholic beverage dispensers would have to be removed and other dangerous (in THEIR determination) situations will have to be rectified. Not only that any incorporation that the hackerspace has that would protect the individual members might be null & void if a member impaired by booze consumption on site injures themselves or others. Alcohol on premises most likely would have a chilling effect on having members with deeper pockets who would donate significantly or non-members who would donate significantly.

      2. Not saying there isn’t a location in the US that doesn’t have 220 V. service, but that would be rare anymore. Even if the building does have 220 V. service it may not be up to the task of saving serving many tools operating at the same time. Where there is possibility of obtaining machine tools that use 3 440 V. phase motors. That might be something to keep in mind. While onsite transformer & phase converters can be used, but there ultimate cost may be more than the cost of a 3 phase service hook up if that service is in the area.

  3. hey folks,

    eric is sharing his personal experiences setting up and helping others set up hackerspaces.

    we’d love to have more articles and comments from anyone who has done this and want to help share knowledge. you can write them up and send them to hack-a-day i am sure or to me to post on adafruit:

    when i started hack-a-day a loooong time ago, celebrating hackerspaces in their various forms at the time was one of the goals, hack-a-day has always done an excellent job of this online and now at events – at maker faire nyc there was a great hackerspace area with caleb there (first time i met him in person!).


  4. I’m creating a blog to use to to judge interest or see if interest can be created in my neck of the High Plains. I missed this post when it was made, and found it while using google to look for information for an entry on my blog. I did create a forum topic on this subject , but few are looking for such information it would seem. In a post I indicated (USA) but it was meant for the context of that post, I live in the USA after all. However in no way do I want or expect that thread to be US centric or don’t welcome information or tips from other parts of the world. As far as I’m concerned there can’t be too many ideas or too much input. Here the farm implement dealership move into a much larger empty manufacturing facility machine shop that close up in the last oil patch bust. The space left vacant by the dealership would make for a dream hackerspace

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