The Nottingham Hackspace


Hackerspaces (or hackspace in this case) come in all shapes and sizes, from those just starting up, to some that are very impressively equipped. [Dominic] wrote in to tell us about the Nottingham Hackspace, which would fall solidly into the second category. We’d invite you to take a look at their intro video after the break, but be prepared to wish you lived near their location.

If you do happen to live there, in addition to a nicely polished website and intro video, they have nearly 4500 square feet of space at their facility. Naturally they have the now ubiquitous 3D printers, but they also have an impressive array of more traditional as well as computer-controlled tools. These include a lathe, welders, CNC router, laser cutter, and even basic PCB-making facilities. Storage space is also included, both for member projects and bicycles.

So be sure to check them out. They have around 130 members right now, but naturally would love to see you there!

28 thoughts on “The Nottingham Hackspace

  1. Great place. I am jealous, I keep trying to see a path round various legal, insurance, safety nazi, and economic obstacles that seem to loom when contemplating such a thing in my local environment. I guess I need to find someone who can hack on that stuff. There’s been chilling effects here on all volunteer activities in the last 10 years or so, that have made things difficult for established orgs. Then there’s the people politics aspect thing that I don’t relish. All the local municipalities have a “Dolores Umbridge” type or two on council, that one suspects engagement with will be inevitable, and we seem to have a far higher than average sprinkling of agenda-ist nutjobs that gravitate toward and suffocate even such simple endeavors as book clubs or cross stitch societies. While I have a high degree of tolerance for strong views, I find that strong views tend not to have tolerance for anything else.

    Anyway, I guess what I’m saying is that it would be educational to see the background “hacking” that made the existence of these places possible and sustainable.

    1. yeah people politics can be bad even in hackspaces. Not necessary even down to incomparable views eg many hackspaces take an attitude of “any project/device can be hacked so long as you ask before hacking a device, and you take on the responsibility for doing so”. That’s a great start, but surely it can be better. Many hackspaces have a stack of communal parts which can be scavenged from along with member’s projects, that’s potentially an additional source of headaches for hackspaces

      Say a member isn’t there one night, and some member is looking for a part for their project, and spots it. They do right in asking around if that part is being used in somebody else’s project, and nobody claims it, so they scavenge/use it. Member comes back and finds their project has been scavenged for a part. It ain’t the fault of the member who scavenged the part they’d asked the hackspace community. Not the fault of the members that were asked and who didn’t say it was in use in x project- they were working on their own projects, and might not grasp what parts the projects of others are using. Neither is it the fault of the member whose part was scavenged as it’s clearly unreasonable for them to be in the hackspace 24/7 to “defend” their projects. That’s kind of little thing that unless defused builds up resentment , and rots away at the ideals of hackspaces from the inside. Not the kind of enviroment I want to in if it does self-destruct. Neither do I fancy being part of any enviroment which insists all members are friendly/help each other out, and yet when you notice something that might not be as good it could be, and enquire around if anyone else has noticed that, buries it’s head completely in the sand and you get sent to Coventry because” that’s damaging the image”.

      1. That “problem” is easily solved by using boxes and/or labels indicating who owns the stuff and/or what it may (not) be used for. At Hack42 we also have personal lockers for the stuff you really do not want to lose.

        1. I see the Notts crew do that with totes and “do not hack” labels.

          Rechecked hackerspaces,org for the first time in ages, I see there’s an active group about an hours drive away, I guess I’ll have to go and see how things work there.

        2. Any system to reduce the likelihood of parts conflict relies on the membership understanding the value of having the problem solved. And that’s probably what my problem was- I was unable to communicate how “it ain’t broke, so don’t fix it” wasn’t dealing with potential for parts conflict.

          Really glad other groups seem to have a handle on this problem, and have found solutions which work for them. They’re great solutions, and at first consideration seem pretty easy to implement.

    2. Not knowing of your location. For reasons I won’t repeated here, because I stated them at the forum topic, I posted this at the HAD forums . There is a possibility that could become USA centric I can’t see why it has to be so . This may or may nor be a place ti start for what you desire to discover . You might want to look for local resources who assist those who help potential civic organization to get start by helping wade through any local government mine fields.

  2. I find the concept of hackerspaces intriguing but they are not practical for me personally. First off I live pretty far from anything, or anyone, The closest space to me is 115 miles away. Second, I like to do what I want, when I want. Often without any distractions too. So while it is much less efficient I prefer a personal workshop. I know that isn’t very practical for many to do either. The very definition of hacking is doing things contrary to convention though. So having proper tools goes against that ethos. Hacking is first and foremost a state of mind. I knew a guy who was a super hacker and lived in an apartment, the stuff he’d do on his kitchen table was often amazing.

    Today I often think I was more creative when I was less well equipped too. Limited resources tend to make us that way. Granted work comes out nicer using better methods, but is that really what the activity of hacking is all about? To me a great hack is something improbable performing a task impractically with an inelegant style and grace.

    I find those attributes woefully lacking in many projects labeled as hacks today.

    1. >So having proper tools goes against that ethos.
      >Hacking is first and foremost a state of mind.

      You’re over estimating what these hacker spaces have available I think. I originally thought these places would have some nice high bandwidth scopes etc that I sometimes need access to but are too expensive to justify buying… none of the spaces I’ve seen so far have anything that couldn’t be grabbed second hand off of ebay for a decent price.
      A lot of these places should really be called “makerspaces” instead of hackerspaces.

      1. I can agree with what you say. I only have a 100MHz Tektronix 2336 oscilloscope myself, with the Y option. It does what I need. It cost me a bundle years ago when I bought it used. About $1,200 if memory serves. That was before the advent of the Internet. It is still in good shape now though. I take good care of it.

        1. Having access to a few hundred megahertz scope or a decent LA would maybe make me consider going to a hackerspace.. When someone wants $40 a month in membership dues to hang out in the spare room of their house or a tiny rented room and the best they can offer is some so so multi-meters and maybe a 25MHz scope that they got gifted they can keep it..

          I suspect for a lot of people the draw of hackerspaces is being able to show off their latest Arduino based LED flasher to people that will give them a pat on the back for being so clever.

          1. The hackerspace in this article is said to be 4,500 square feet. That is a big spare room. Over 11 times bigger than the 400 sqft. garage I have my workshop in right now. I assume the draw for a lot of people is they realize they’re not going to be able to acquire the heavy machinery that hackerspaces offer. It has taken me a long time, and a lot of effort for me to get what I have now, and it isn’t what I’ve seen in these communal workspaces. Although perhaps as you surmise some do join for the camaraderie a public setting may offer. Me, I subscribe more to the evil genus toiling away in solitary obscurity archetype. Now if I could only trade in my alley cat for a Persian, and get an eye patch … Muwahahaha!

    2. >>So having proper tools goes against that ethos.

      I bet that guy you know uses a screw driver to take things apart on his kitchen table, and doesn’t just smash things with frying pans until the case yields?

      So having the proper tools for a job does not go against the ethos of hacking?!

      Hacking is surely about doing something creative and clever, not about cludging together a half baked piece of crap that is not as good as it could be just because you don’t have (or refuse to buy) the tools to make it yourself.

      It’s pretty clear, if you want to make things then you’re going to need stuff to make with. It just makes sense to buy the right tools for the job.
      if you want to do stuff with wood then you’ll start with a standard handsaw but pretty soon you’ll be wanting a set of saws with different teeth so you can cut fast, or delicate, you’ll look at cross cut and rip cut saws, then tenon saws, and perhaps japanese pull saws, after that your arms will be tired and you’ll start wanting circular, and a table saw and a radial arm saw, an a jig saw, a scroll saw.

      If you consider how many “proper” tools you can have for even the simplest of jobs, it’s little wonder that most, (myself included) don’t have all the “proper” tools.

      that doesn’t make anyone less skilled in what they are choosing to do, or make their solutions to problems any more or less noteworthy regardless of whether they have the correct tools or not.

      1. You seem to be confusing making with hacking. They aren’t exactly the same things. Although many media outlets on the Internet, this one included, do seem to blend the activities, which does tend to blur the definition.

        BTW I’m good in the saw category today, I’ve more than even made it onto your list. You forgot band saws. I’ve a couple of those now too. I guess I’m one of the few that has managed to amass a proper tool collection.

        1. I’m not confusing making with hacking at all.

          Hacking implies finding a clever solution to a problem.
          where that solution implies that a physical product is to do made you’d be a fool not to use the proper tools where available.

          A clever solution to making a scroll saw cut a circle in a piece of wood may involve a nail and a string, ingenious and cheap, or you might use a guide bar with the clamps that are included in most boxes when you actually buy said saw. sure not as clever, but more precise. so hacker gets merit for a clever solution. but said hacker would also be a fool not to use the provided commercial system providing faster more accurate results if faced with the choice between the two.

          As I said, the friend you have who’s the most amazing hacker working at his kitchen table. I assume he uses screw drivers to take things apart?
          tell me where the magic line in tooling is that discerns hackers who make things from makers who make things? because I really just don’t see it.

          if the comment was that there is more making in hacker spaces than there is genuine “hacking” then I agree, but where’s the harm in that?

          1. How clever do you really need to be if all of the proper tools and resources are at your disposal?

            Where the harm is when there is an overabundance of resources is that often the most efficient method is overlooked. The other day I saw a project where a fellow milled a slot down a pipe so they could get a pair of scissors in there to cut strips of copper foil they’d wound around it. Pretty clever, but they could have skipped milling the slot and just ran a razor blade over the top of a plain rod too. What made it sadder is they offered their method to the public at large. Like everyone can just mill slots down lengths of heavy wall pipe. Where is the intelligence in that?

            To do this project you need a soldering iron, a pair of scissors, oh yeah, and a milling machine too! That automatically excludes 99% of your audience.

            They violated the first rule of an elegant hack K.I.S.S. Perhaps if they didn’t have access to a milling machine a better solution would have come to them? A broom handle! That most of us can get our hands on.

            “tell me where the magic line in tooling is that discerns hackers who make things from makers who make things? because I really just don’t see it.”

            Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart was once asked to define obscenity, his reply was, I know it when I see it. Good enough for him, good enough for me, good enough for you too.

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