Hackerspaces the Beginning
Getting close....but it's over on word count. Send anyway?
The Info from the E-mail
Hackerspace contact email (this might be you):
Tell the story of the beginning of the hackerspace. How did you come up
with the idea? How did you choose the name of your hackerspace? What was
your original vision? Answered
What are some obstacles that you had to overcome at the beginning of
your hackerspace when you were just getting started? Answered
Describe your hackerspace. What do visitors to the space notice that is
special about the space? Answered What kind of tools and resources do you have at
How often do you meet? What happens at these meetings? Answered
Describe a disaster that occurred in your hackerspace. (flood,
lightning, accident or some such thing) Answered
What are some things that have come out of your hackerspace that you are
most proud of?Answered
Was there anything that you did that was essential to the start of your
hackerspace? Do you have any advice for people who might be thinking of
starting a hackerspace? Answered
If you get this all done and feel like going an extra mile you could do
one of the following. Don't do these if they will put you over the
1. Get members to tell a story or recount an adventure associated with
the beginning of your hackerspace.
2. Draw a floor diagram.
3. Include a manifesto.
We will be releasing the PDF of the book under a creative commons
license and we may get this published as an actual paper book. By
responding to this email you are giving us the right to publish your
text and photos in any way in all possible universes and dimensions.
Ok, so hopefully you've read through this and responded to all the
questions. Here's a checklist to make sure you've submitted everything
we need for this book.
Info: The basics filled in above.
Text: About 500 words answering the questions above.
Photos: 5 or more photos of your hackerspace.
Logo: The logo of your hackerspace.
Thanks! Please send all of this back to firstname.lastname@example.org and
email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
Makers Local 256
Exploring Creativity, Ingenuity, and Resourcefulness.
Over a dinner in July of 2005, a group of friends in Huntsville, AL (USA) decided it would be an interesting idea to do a guerilla drive-in. Without the means to run one, the idea quickly fell to the wayside. A year and a newly obtained projector later, the idea was remembered and within two weeks Bring Popcorn was started. Soon a wiki was setup to catalog new ideas so they weren't forgotten like before. The creation of TechShop in late 2006 inspired the friends to set up their own hackerspace to work on projects. On October 28th, 2006 the first meeting was held to discuss projects and finding a space. At first, work continued by meeting at someone's apartment every weekend until major breakthrough came from everyone pledging a monetary amount they would be willing to put forward monthly. In March 2008 a location was finally found.
At 1100 square feet it isn't the biggest place in the world, but it's a start to great things. The shop came with a fair number of fold-up tables to work on, a microwave, and a few chairs. We've since obtained a refrigerator, mounted an 8'x4' whiteboard and two peg boards to the walls, added two shelving units for better storage, and expanded the chair population to include some more comfortable ones. As a result, we often get "this place looks a lot like my house" from people new to the space and it is generally taken as a compliment. As with any growing organization, we've outgrown our current space and are currently in the process of finding a new one to accommodate new membership and larger projects.
The name Makers Local 256 came from lengthy discussion before finally settling on something that described what we were, where we were (256 being the local area code), and had a union-like sound to it. The initial goals for the group have not changed since its inception: provide a place where like minded individuals can work in an environment that inspires creativity, ingenuity, resourcefulness and utilize the collected skill sets to get things done. Makers Local 256 is a non-profit organization in the process of becoming a 501(c)(3) because we believe in open source, pro community, and helping people do amazing things. As a non-profit, we are required to have a board and we meet once a month to discuss problems and solutions for the daily operation of the hackerspace. The board consists of the original ten members, all of whom contribute what they can monetarily towards making sure the space stays open. This non-uniform dues system is carried over to new members in an effort to not exclude anyone who wants to participate, but who may not have a lot of money. As a result we have members whose skill sets include meteorology, robotics, micro-controllers, physics, chemistry, origami, programming, woodworking, 3-D fabrication, and much more. With advertising through varied mediums, we hold periodic open houses to alert the local communities that we exist and to bring in new members. The whole "If you build it, they will come" adage seems to be working pretty well for us.
All of the tools and resources are donated or on extended loan. One of the more notable projects is the USB-Authenticated Door Lock---a way to not have to keep up with so many metal keys for members and allow 24/7 access to the space. We made a video detailing the project and sent it to Hack-A-Day. The YouTube video had over 40,000 hits its first week, and also brought a few new faces into the shop. Other projects have included a modular/portable photobooth, multitouch coffee table, an aluminum forge, and just general playing with various electronic bits and parts. The aluminum forge v2.0 was probably the most "disastrous" occasion, in which a custom burner applied to a small (but full) propane bottle failed and leaked burning propane from the fittings---all during an open house. Disaster was averted, however, with a garden hose, plus a lesson was learned by all: Always keep your extinguisher charged.