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desijays
desijays • Dec 31, 2011

Community labs

Hi. I'm a very old member here at Crazy Engineers, though I haven't been active that much at all. Its nice to see that crazy engineers has grown by leaps and bounds since the last time I came here. It is still very much active and I see that some of the old members are still around. Seems like nothing much has changed with CE labs though. The last time I visited CE, there were ongoing projects for a CE messenger and a Robot. I haven't gone through the threads related to those projects in detail, but it seems like they have been put on an indefinite pause for the mean time. It would be nice to restart some of those projects or maybe even propose some new ones.

Is there anyone from Chennai around here? I would like to start a community lab or in other words.. a 'hackerspace' in chennai. For those of you who are not familiar with a hackerspace, here are a few links,

https://hackerspaces.org/wiki/Hackerspaces
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hackerspace

A hackerspace is a place that is very much similar to the crazy engineers website. If you are a member of CE, think about the things you do, whenever you login in to the website. You engage in discussions. You post messages on threads. You communicate with other members on the forum. You exchange knowledge and information and you also collaboratively work on projects like the CE messenger, CE linux or the CE robot. From time to time, as members of CE.. you have special events like small contests, quizzes and sometimes interviews with people who have accomplished something in some technical field. Apart from that, you post links to content on other websites where fellow CE'ans can learn and be introduced to new knowledge.

Maybe there are a lot more things happening here at CE than what I have mentioned. But I think, for the sake of brevity and to keep it simple, we can assume that what I mentioned above is what the majority of CE'ans do when they login to crazyengineers.com.

And, this is not very much different from what happens at a hackerspace. Everything is the same.

A hackerspace is a place where a community of people come together to share knowledge, exchange information, engage in discussions, work on projects together and also get help on projects that different people are working on. Many hackerspaces also have free classes on various topics taught by volunteers. But most importantly, in a hackerspace you have a much more higher sense of purpose because you interact with members face to face. There is more rapport between the various members of the hackerspace. If you think I'm suggesting an alternative to CE, then you are highly mistaken. Even in an hackerspace, it is inevitable that we will end up using some kind of forum to co-ordinate the various activities.

So, in brief, that is what a hackerspace is all about. Basically, we do the same things that we do here on CE. But.......But....

There is a big difference. The biggest difference is that.. in a hackerspace, you are presented with a variety of tools to work on any project. Say for example you are working on small scale windmill as a project, there are so many tools that you would require to realize your project. You might need different kinds of cutting tools, machining tools, milling tools, computing tools, power tools and so on and so forth. A good hackerspace will usually have all these tools and this is the biggest difference between a hackerspace and a forum on the internet. On the internet, we only keep talking and talking and talking and occasionally we "DO" something. In a hackerspace, there is more doing and comparatively less talking 😉 Compared to a forum, everything in a hackerspace is more action oriented. In a hackerspace, If you are interested in doing a project, simply start it. Use the tools at the hackerspace and if you need help you can ask the other members at the hackerspace. And if your project is interesting enough,.. other members might join in. That is how a hackerspace works. No restrictions. No limits. No constraints. No walls. The only limit to what you can do is your imagination itself.

So far, I told you what hackerspaces actually are. Now a little history about hackerspaces and WHY I want to create our own hackerspace.

Hackerspaces are a relatively new phenomenon. They have been around in Europe for quite a long time. But only now they are making a big presence in many other countries around the world including the US, China, Canada and some countries in South America. For such a big country as India, it is a shame that there are almost no hackerspaces like the ones found in the US. My friends, read the next paragraph carefully and think about what I say.

There are more than a billion people in India. We are almost a little less than 1/3rd of humanity. Do you know what that means? It means 1 in every 7 people in the world is an Indian. If we as a country are behind in anything....most of all technology, it cannot be good for the world and it definitely cannot be good for India. If you went through those websites I linked earlier, you will realize the kind of projects that the general public in other countries are doing in their hackerspaces. Let me give you an example. NYC Resistor in new york is working on 3D printers. Noise bridge in san francisco are working on steerable wheel chairs and some other projects. There are some hackerspace working on multitouch tables. And if you search google, you will find an article where the Department of Defense in the US has allocated a certain amount of money to allow members of hackerspaces to do research on how to make space flight cheaper and faster. And here is the best one. The one that I like... A german hackerspace called CCC is requesting the help of hackerspaces around the world to construct satellite base stations for controlling the flight of satellites in low earth orbit, so that it can provide internet access in times when the governments of various countries choose to censor the internet for various political or economical reasons. The premise behind the necessity for such a project is that "Information should be Free". "Knowledge should be free". And if the governments of various countries interfere in the ability of its citizens to acquire uncensored information, then something is wrong and something has to be done about it. And that is what the german hackerspace is doing.

Now think... As Indians, Why should we be left behind? In what way are we inferior compared to the west? Sometimes, I ask myself, "Do you really think something like hackerspaces will work in India?". My mind says "Nope. it won't work. In India you don't have that innovative culture like they have in the West. That is why they will always be ahead of you". But then my heart says "Start it. Don't think. Just do it. You are a country of a billion people. India should be richer than germany which only has 80 million people. It might not work right now. But it will work eventually. ANd for that you have to start NOW". This is what my heart says.. and so with that confidence in my heart and a sense of rationality in my mind, I put forth this idea of starting a hackerspace in Chennai.

To be honest...As a someone born and brought up in chennai it is only natural that I want to start a hackerspace in chennai. But I really think that everyone, wherever you are.. start a hackerspace in your locality. We can't count on the government to run our country the way we want it to be run. If we want India to be different, then we must make a conscious effort to make that change. One hackerspace somewhere in the interiors of Chennai is not going to change everything. But it is a start. We need hackerspaces in every major city in the country. They should be like cafes and clubs... omnipresent, here, there and everywhere. Don't worry about attracting any members. Those who share your vision and idea will join you no matter where they are. You know why? Because people identify with a cause. When we read some news saying that India lost the formula one race, no one really cares that much. But when we read some news about India losing a cricket match, the whole country will care..because cricket is something we identify with. Cricket is in our blood. And I believe the pursuit of knowledge, likewise should be in our blood. No person or country will respect us when we are powerless. Power comes with the ability to influence decisions. It comes with the ...

(continued in next post to bypass the 10000 character limit)
desijays
desijays • Dec 31, 2011
...ability to make your enemies think a 100 times before they send a single soldier into your back yard. Until then, other countries will treat us with contempt. You don't ask for respect. You get it when you deserve it.

If I had to say everything on my mind, my keyboard will catch fire. So I think I will conclude.. but before that here are the specifics of the hackerspace I want to start..

I still haven't come up with a name. So if you have any suggestion for a name for this hackerspace, feel free to let me know. Here are a list of tools and infrastructure I plan to have at the hackerspace..

-Fabrication Lab (3D printers, makerbots, ThingOmatic, Ultimaker)
-Electronic Lab (Oscilloscopes, Multimeters, Logic Analyzers, Soldering stations, Micro controller programmers, A small collection of arduino boards, function generators)
-Machine Shop (Lathes, Milling machines, Saw machines, Power tools, Drilling machines, CNC machines, Laser Cutters and engravers)
-Wood Shop (Saws, routers)
-Computing Lab (Computational Cluster, general use laptops)
-Biotech Lab (PRC machines, gnome sequencers)
-Arts Lab (Open source cameras, Open source Elphel cameras for those members that have a passion for making animation or movies)
-Hackerspace Infrastructure (RFID cards for members, small scale CCTV cameras and a few other miscellaneous)
-Learning utilities (White boards, projector, viewing room)

There are probably a few other things I am forgetting, but these are some of the tools I plan to have at the hackerspace. The Machine Shop, Wood Shop, biotech lab and arts lab will have to wait because I am not a mechanical guy, nor an art guy. The computing lab will also have to wait, because it is a little expensive to get a computational cluster right away. Im mostly into IT and computing. So, the hackerspace will start with a fabrication lab , electronic lab and some learning utilities. And then depending on how things go and depending on the profile of the people who visit the hackerspace, we can add a machine shop, wood shop, biotech lab and arts lab later on. The whole hackerspace must be free for members to use. That is my biggest requirement. They should be able to come and use the hackerspace whenever they want with the RFID card provided to them. They can come at 12 midnight if they want to. The hackerspace should not belong to one person. It must belong to the members. And it must be registered as a non-profit organization because there is no intention of making any money out of it. Feel free to make any suggestions..

Here a list of things that members should be able to do at the hackerspace..

-Do their projects with the help from other members
-Do exciting hackerspace projects
-Participate in hackerspace contests
-Members can volunteer to teach classes (Monday Microcontrollers, Tuesday transisters, Thursday Thyristors.. or whatever the members want to learn)
-members can participate as a team in other contests conducted by organizations in India or outside India (robosoccer, Shastra.. there are many.. )
-members can work on their startup projects using the resource at the hackerspace..
-Most importantly.. you get a chance to inspire and guide the people that come after you.. : ) After all, this is more important for your conscience and for India.

Oh.. I forgot the most important thing..

There are a few rules that every member of the hackerspace must adhere to and follow strictly...

- Okay I lied. There is only one rule. Not a few rules. Only one. And that is.. "Be excellent to each other. Treat each with respect and kindness" That is the only rule that every member should follow.

There is probably a ton of information I am missing. So if you have any addendums or modifications feel free to post them as replies. Im loooking for any feedback

Okay.. all being said and done, here are a few final words. The only reason I wanted talk about my plans over here is because, I realized that I might be able to find like minded individuals who would share my ideas. Because, I've seen those threads of unfinished CE lab projects that started out well with tons of enthusiasm and then fizzled out without anyone continuing the work. Now, if this were a hackerspace, the chances of finishing those projects would be slightly higher and at the end of the day, that is all we can ask for. The rest is up to us. So if you are interested with what I have said, feel free to make any suggestions. But most importantly, I want help from people who are equally passionate about setting up something like this. I don't need any financial help, though it is welcome. I just need advice on how to plan this endeavour to set it up successfully. If you have any experience running an organization or if you were a part of any hackerspace elsewhere, that is a big plus. Regardless, of whether I get any help or not, from the members at CE, I will start this hackerspace somehow. Because I am totally passianote about it. And also because it is much easier to learn anything when you are in a community of like minded individuals than when you are alone. I just felt that there is too much for one person to do and thought coming over here to ask for help would make more sense.

So there you go : ) Thanks for reading. I hope it didn't take as much time to read it as it did for me to write it. : )
Ankita Katdare
Ankita Katdare • Dec 31, 2011
I think CEan Praveen, CEan Praveena are there in Chennai.
Who else is up for this? 😀
AbraKaDabra
I think CEan Praveen, CEan Praveena are there in Chennai.
Who else is up for this? 😀
Yeah I am ready... 😀
desijays
desijays • Jan 1, 2012
Praveen-Kumar
Yeah I am ready... 😀
How do you think you could be helpful to the cause? Do you know people who might be willing to help set this up? Or maybe people that might be willing to donate their used equipment? Do you have any experience running or managing an organization? If you're "ready" then I suppose you would have answers to at least a few of those questions..
desijays
How do you think you could be helpful to the cause? Do you know people who might be willing to help set this up? Or maybe people that might be willing to donate their used equipment? Do you have any experience running or managing an organization? If you're "ready" then I suppose you would have answers to at least a few of those questions..
Okay... Now what kinda setup do you expect? We have a lot of hardware like servers and stuff too! So... 😀
desijays
desijays • Jan 1, 2012
Praveen-Kumar
Okay... Now what kinda setup do you expect? We have a lot of hardware like servers and stuff too! So... 😀
By 'we', you mean CE? In any case, I thought it was evident from the description in the first post, regarding the kind of setup that should be aimed for. Ideally, it would be nice to start with
  • Electronics Tools
  • Fabrication Tools
  • Computing Tools
  • Machine Tools
  • Infrastructure to regulate access to the hackerspace
  • Project management tools
  • and a lot more..
But its evident that the hack space cannot be started with all those tools. Instead, I think it would make more sense if we concentrated on a few and then expanded depending on how well it is received. So for a start, it would be good to have,
  1. Electronic Tools
  2. Fabrication Tools
  3. Computing tools
  4. Infrastructure to run the hackspace itself
I think this kinda of setup to begin with would be easy to manage and organize. More suggestions would be good.
Wow! Nice... I have with me a few electronic and comp sci guys, so yeah... It is possible to start something like this... 😀
desijays
desijays • Jan 1, 2012
Praveen-Kumar
Wow! Nice... I have with me a few electronic and comp sci guys, so yeah... It is possible to start something like this... 😀
Don't get me wrong, but the question was not whether something like this can be started or not. I know it can be started. The question was for suggestions to a well laid out plan to make it happen. An idea is worth nothing if there is no plan to execute it. I've already described the idea quite in detail. I've described the "what" and the "why" and was expecting suggestions for the "how".

To be honest, I don't even think you read the first post completely. You seem to want to skirt around the topic of the discussion instead of offering suggestions. It is just my observation. It is your wish, for you to respond the way you see fit and I do not intend to dictate your response.

However, as it stands, I accuse you of nothing. As mentioned earlier, it is merely my observation and nothing else.
desijays
desijays • Feb 8, 2012
Quite a bit has transpired since the last time I proposed this idea of a hackspace in Chennai. I don't think anyone here on CE, especially those from Chennai showed any genuine interest in the idea of a hack space... However, I managed to get some support from other far flung corners of the Internet. And now the idea has some online representation in the form of a wiki and a mailing list. Those of you that are still interested in the idea of a community space could consider joining the mailing list to take part in the ongoing discussions related to the space. This post is an attempt at gathering some support from folks here at CE.. There is a wiki as well, that you can go through if you want more details. There is quite a lot of content on the wiki. Information about the goal, nature and probable locations for the space are all discussed at the wiki...

Hopefully, sometime in March we will be having our first meet up. If you would like to keep abreast with the details of the meet up, do consider staying in touch through the mailing list.

https://madhack.pbworks.com <- wiki
https://groups.google.com/group/madhackchennai <- mailing list

Cheers. : )
Awesome!!! 😀
desijays
So if you have any suggestion for a name for this hackerspace, feel free to let me know. Here are a list of tools and infrastructure I plan to have at the hackerspace..
-Electronic Lab (Oscilloscopes, Multimeters, Logic Analyzers, Soldering stations, Micro controller programmers, A small collection of arduino boards, function generators)
-Machine Shop (Lathes, Milling machines, Saw machines, Power tools, Drilling machines, CNC machines, Laser Cutters and engravers)
Name: Jayaho!

https://www.crazyengineers.com/community/threads/worlds-smallest-oscilloscope.48302/

https://www.crazyengineers.com/community/threads/make-your-own-mini-lathe.48910/#post-195559

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