Hackerspace Tour: IXR In Wall, NJ


Update: As of 2023, IXR has been superseded by the Computer Deconstruction Laboratory (CDL). The tools and equipment have obviously seen upgrades in the intervening years since this article was originally published — CDL member Neil Cherry tells us the synths are no longer available, but there is an impressively equipped podcast studio available for rent.

Hackaday took a little trip out to Wall, NJ last weekend for the Vintage Computer Festival 9.1 East. The event was held at Camp Evans, a former US military installation that can only be described as, “The DARPA of a century ago”. This is the site of a Marconi transmitter and the place where [Edwin Armstrong] developed the regenerative receiver a little more than 100 years ago.

There’s a lot more to Camp Evans than the yearly Vintage Computer Festival. It’s also home to the InfoAge Science & History Museums, a collection of fascinating mini-museums covering topics ranging from local shipwrecks to the history of broadcast radio. It’s also the home of IXR, the Institute for eXploratory Research, a hackerspace located in the old telecom building at Camp Evans.

In our video tour, [Joe Wilkes] takes us around the shop, showing off their equipment and tools. Unlike most of our hackerspace tours, we couldn’t find a Makerbot sitting disused on a bookshelf anywhere, but the space did have a Solidoodle 3D printer, a Shapeoko 2 CNC machine under construction, and enough hand tools to bring any project to fruition.

There were a few oddities in IXR compared to the other hackerspaces we’ve been to. First is an inordinate amount of synths, keyboards, and other MIDI gear. [Joe] didn’t know what these were for, so we’ll leave that explanation for an IXR member in the comments of this post. There was also a small supply of random components for sale (and on display). Most of the merch was from Adafruit, and it seems like a great way to have that one part I need to finish this build for members while providing a little bit of beer money for the space.

20 thoughts on “Hackerspace Tour: IXR In Wall, NJ

    1. We visited IXR a few times early last year, we were told they have most of these machine shop tools, like lathe, cnc mill, welder, drill press, oscilloscope, etc. But all we were seeing was just soldering irons and multimeters. I found out that we were being lied to, the tools that they mentioned are non working tools,

      There’s no real lathe, no cnc mill, no welder, and guess what, that drill press and oscilloscope doesn’t work.

      Proof? watch that video, the member doesn’t even know what tools they have.

      My take on it? Not really a makerspace, it doesn’t promote making, they can’t even make their own tools, but they buy them instead. seriously?

      There is a bit of friction between some of its members, lots of childish bickering on their mailing list, it’s not a real club, the organization consist of just one person, a benevolent dictatorship, poor communication, no direction, lacks an organizational body, no proper accounting, no officers, Just a rental space frequently visited by makers. Prove me wrong.

      Glad we didn’t join. Don’t get me wrong IXR, your place has potential but just mismanaged, you need a good reboot. — This is your wake up call !

      1. You seem clairvoyant, you know exactly the state of our maker space by what one user doesn’t know (Joe isn’t a person who pretends to know everything, but he knows a lot :-) ). You are correct in that we are small, so there isn’t much management. And there was one member who was abrasive and pushy. Conflicts do occur.

        Both scopes work, I used the one on top the other day. I hate the larger one as it’s warm up takes too long. The press has always been working but it’s placement by the door was a bad choice and it has been moved. I used that 2 weeks ago. Welder needs power, gas and rod (and dare I say it, we need to learn to use it). The NC machine needs to be setup. The state of the site wood working tools is a disgrace but we’re busy with other things at the moment. Yes we have lots of typical hardware and software computer geek’s stuff. But there are a lot of “us” in the group. We buy to attract families. It’s easier for them to get started that way.

        I’m not sure what you mean about making our own tools (you may very well be correct). We’re building a proper CNC, the users are building their own printers, we don’t have a laser (yet, on the wish list ;-) ). Funds go back into purchasing the space’s tools and parts. We are expanding to a third day soon (we’re getting more families students and other visitors).

        We’re learning from our mistakes and we’re making a lot of them, but we’re pressing on. We may not be perfect but we’re getting better.

        BTW, does anyone know where the owner’s manual for a maker’s space? I’d really like to read it.

      1. Pretty cool to see you on HaD, I e-mailed you a few times about visiting & possibly being involved doing talks on lockpicking, locksmith sorts of things, etc. I didn’t get a chance to follow up because life happened. If you still need someone I should be able to make time though.

          1. Question for you & people who go to IXR. What’s your opinion on getting people to visit/go to meetups? I’m trying to find a location to start a TOOOL (Lockpicking) chapter & I’m not sure where the best place for it is. I know I need to kind of make it local/easy for me to get to/setup as well, but I feel like with where I’m located, not many people will show up :-\

  1. I’ve known that a hackerspace lives there for the past two years. However I routinely ignore it when visiting the site, that includes the first event I attended two years ago, and the one from last week. Why? I don’t want them to feel as if every visiting genius (when it comes to computers and some electromechanical stuff) has the answer to everything. I don’t but people don’t want to believe that.

    1. dude, wtf does that mean ?

      makes zero sense. sounds like you think you’re too
      smart and high and mighty to be bothered by newbies.
      or the place is populated by the clueless simpletons

      which is it ?

      1. Commonsense007, thanks, I thought I was a clueless simpleton on what DrWho8 wanted to say. ;-)

        Newbies are welcome at IXR, we have lots of smarts and those folks are willing to share. We have lots of families who join us. Makers are also welcome as we’re not just a hacker space, we’re a maker space.

  2. Just a few small corrections:

    The site was a Marconi receiving station from 1914 to 1919, when the US Navy handed control of the station to the newly formed Radio Corporation of America. The transmitter station it worked with was located in New Brunswick, New Jersey. The two needed to be distant from each other so as not to cause interference.

    Edwin Armstrong demonstrated his regenerative circuit to the American Marconi Company at the site in 1914, but it was developed while he was attending Columbia University two years earlier, in the attic of his house in Yonkers, New York.

  3. Yes, I know this is 8+ years on but the name has changed and we’re at the same location We’re now called the Computer deconstruction Lab ( https://compdecon.github.io/ ). I know because I’m running it. It’s still small but we’re growing. The slow pace can be explained by a number of things (Pandemic to not being found in search engines – working on it). Just wanted folks to know the Porn sites that the ixr-nj link takes you to are not under my control.

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