In the SF Bay Area, I had access to a number of places (TechShop, Noisebridge, Hacker Dojo) to work on projects that weren't appropriate for my garage or a spare bedroom. Tools like engine lathes and laser cutters are expensive to own, bulky, and require the proper infrastructure. It's also good to have a place to meet with like-minded people and share ideas. I just moved to Dallas and hoped to find something similar.
The nearest TechShop is about three hours away, in Austin. So I decided to check out the local Dallas Makerspace.
They seem to hold a middle ground between a typical hackerspace and a corporate-run workshop like TechShop. Hackerspaces usually attempt to remain completely open to the public, and shy away from creating rules whenever possible. This leads to a more intense environment where amazing things can rise from the chaos, but often leads to conflicts and drama. TechShops have a very strong divide between members and employees, and require adhering to a set of rules and certifications in order to use the equipment. Dallas Makerspace seems to have achieved an interesting midpoint where the feeling of members creating the space is still there, but many problems are forestalled by a small set of rules regarding the space, member behavior, and equipment.
I took a quick tour and was impressed enough to join. Lots of good tools, interesting projects, and friendly people.
Some interesting notes: they have a lounge area with a wide selection of vintage video game systems (pretty much every one), a vending machine that members can use to sell their small projects, a 120W large-format laser cutter, and a big metals and wood shop with a vehicle repair bay.
A team was busy setting up a piece of new equipment, a large Haas CNC milling center. They were pretty excited about it, and it was the result of many members pitching in donations to get it.
Currently, Dallas Makerspace has about 270 members, and is beginning to think about finding a location with more space. I do think they have the right mix of chaos and order, broken things to fix and working equipment to use. There is room for members to step in and fix or improve things, but it's also something they can jump right into and start working on their projects.
Rest of the Flickr photo set here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/macetech/sets/72157639714519155/
Submitted by Garrett on Sun, 01/12/2014 - 21:58.