Public Relations

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Public Relations Material

Links to any material audio/video etc. that can be used to reply to or prepare for media interview requests.

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Mostly taken from email interview with O'Reilly and b3cft/Bob

  • Where will this interview be published? --Teabot 09:11, 20 January 2011 (UTC)

How long have you been involved in London Hackspace?

About 18 months

Where is it?

Cremer Business Centre, Shoreditch, right next to Hoxton Station.

You've just found new premises - how is it working out?

Very well, we've more than doubled our available space and now have separate rooms. A dirty room for welding, metal working, cutting things etc. A storage room, and a nice clean work shop for electronics and desk work. Plus a lounge and a kitchen!

How is the space paid for?

The rent and service charges are paid for by member subscriptions. If you are a paying member you get 24/7 access (which is granted via an rfid reader in the door that will read oyster cards and the such). For extra purchases such as supplies for the laser cutter and electronics, small things will come from the subscriptions, but larger things are done by specific pledges from those members that would like to see the benefit of the space purchasing it.

How many other hacker spaces are there in the UK? Where did the idea originate?

There are about 20 active Hacker Spaces in the UK. Not all on that page still exist. I think the original hackerspace was Noisebridge in San Francisco. Spaces are really a place for like minded individuals to come together and learn from each other and collaborate on projects. Also a place to access more expensive equipment that you would be unlikely to be able to justify on your own.

Do the different hacker spaces liaise with each other?

Yes, we meet up at events tech events such as the Maker Faire, we also hang out on IRC channels on (#london-hack-space & #hackspace)

What's your background? How did you get into technology?

I did most of a degree in electronics and then went on to be a software engineer, but always kept tinkering. A few years ago I started seriously playing with microcontrollers and specifically the Arduino. Since then I've run training courses for beginners, one for the Space, others for Yahoo! and Skills Matter.

How did you get into hardware hacking and making?

Ever since I was a small boy, I took stuff apart. Quite often things that my parents weren't finished with :-) I gained a reputation at school for being able to fix broken electronic things (walkmen, turntables etc) At Uni I bought a broken 10Mb (yes megabyte) hard disk and repaired it by desoldering all the resistor networks and ICs and working out what was fried. I guess I've just never stopped since then.

Did you have much of a learning curve to get started?

With microcontrollers/arduino, not so much, as being a software engineer by day, most of the things are reasonably easy to pick up. At the hackerspace if you ask around, you will normally find someone willing to tell you or point you in the right direction.

Did you have much of a history of soldering etc?

My granddad bought me my first soldering iron when I was about 10. So almost 30 years! (damn that makes me feel old)

What projects have you worked on?

An RFID catflap that reads the vet embedded chip in their necks. A childs mobile for my son. A Contraptor (a meccano type system to build 3d milling machines) Several robots of varying size and capability. A Kegerator (converted fridge that contains homebrewed beer) which will very shortly be internet connected.

What are you currently working on?

The mobile for my son is still under construction. A beer monitoring system, that tells you (via IRC) when someone pours a pint of beer in our hackerspace (and how much has been served in total etc).

What are you most proud of?

Currently, the thing I'm most proud of is my son's mobile. As I designed the circuitry, wrote the code and designed the physical presence and interaction from the perspective of a small child.

Do you have a favourite bit of kit you always find yourself reaching for?

An Arduino, mainly for its ease of use and quick setup time to get some physical interaction device working. Combined with the fact there are hundreds of shields to allow you to interact quickly, such as an ethernet interface or RFID reader.

What tools do you use?

Anything from tweezers and a fine tipped soldering iron, through to a laser cutter, metal lathe or angle grinder. More often than not, I use a basic breadboard to layout circuits, before cracking out the soldering iron.

Do you work on projects on your own or do you work together on bigger projects?

I tend to work on personal projects, but occasionally will work in a team or help beginners with their problems. (especially on our open Tuesday Nights, which are open to all comers)

How did you find Maker Faire? Any plans for Maker Faire 2011?

I loved it! I'm very jealous of the American's for the number of Maker Faires and such they have, I love that kind of thing. I think London Hack Space is already putting together a list of things to get ready for 2011.

Why is hardware hacking important?

A lot of today's consumer electronics are not designed to be repaired or even taken apart. This has turned us into a disposable culture. There tends to be a large overlap with the green movement and hackers (it's something about wanting to save the planet). Hackers won't throw things away and tend to ignore the void warranty stickers, if we can reuse before we recycle we may be able to encourage manufacturers to "Design for Disassembly" so their goods can be efficiently recycled, but also allow repair or reuse before that. I could probably talk for hours on this subject.

What is the value of having a shared space?

Collaboration, a sense of group identity and access to knowledge and sharing.

If someone wanted to set up a hacker space, what advice would you give?

Try and find groups of similarly motivated people, meet online or in pubs first, before trying to look for venues. Also check out which has design patterns to help hackerspaces cope with issues that crop up.

What are the requirements for the venue?

The people are the most important part, everything else is secondary. Hackerspaces have been run from garden sheds or vast commercial complexes. It really depends on the number of hackers you have and your budget.

What tools are essential?

I would say that depends on your members, but generally soldering irons, power supplies and multimeters. Build up to larger items when you can afford it. However, you may find that bigger expensive kit (lathes, laser cutter) will swell your membership as people want access to the things they couldn't afford individually.

What are the Health and Safety requirements?

Health and Safety? What's that? Generally as Hackers are not employees of the space but members, hackerspaces operate out side of H&S, which applies to employees only. However it's good to due your due diligence. Have fire extinguishers, a first aid kit and if you have dangerous equipement like lathes or laser cutters, encourage your hackers to attend a basic safety show and tell before diving in and trying things out.

How would someone join London Hackspace? Are you looking for new members?

New members are always welcome. Come along to one of our Open Nights, every Tuesday evening from 7pm. Sign up on the website and get your 24/7 access to the space.

Do you have plans for the future of London Hackspace?

Hackerspaces are organic beings. We're always changing. At the current rate of membership growth we may need to start looking for more space but no plans right now.