Looking for a new home

This is going to be a bit of a long one, but potentially a big opportunity for the right maker/hackerspace.

About a bit over a year ago I posted about moving to the UK and setting up my business here (Coexisting a business and Hackerspace?) and potentially looking at creating a makerspace at the same time. My wife and I were very keen on looking at going to Nottingham, but lack of response from anyone there (other than geeksforlife, who was great to talk to) and an opportunity in Norfolk led to us setting up in Norfolk. It’s been a really tough year on many fronts. I’m back to my original question, but with a lot more behind me this time.

I have a full workshop, basically a full makerspace of tools. I’m in temporary accomodation on an industrial site while they sort out our own unit - we were told 6-8 weeks in May, and so far they have put in 1.5 days of effort to clear our unit for us (it’s a huge job, several hundred tons of agricultural field cover film stuff). So we haven’t been able to setup properly, specifically with a spray booth to get some of our orders finished up. I haven’t been paid all year, I put all our funds into setting up the workshop, but equipment issues and issues with the accomodations have us behind schedule, so I haven’t been able to get a lot of new sales going. My wife was teaching, but when her contract ended we decided she’d try to help me get caught up on orders - so we’ve had no income and money’s starting to run out… but that’s another issue to what I want to discuss here.

We’re not tied to our location at all, as far as we’re concerned our lease can be broken - we’re not in the unit we’re actually paying for, and nothing has been done. We live in a touring caravan on a camp site, having been unable to rent a house due to being self employed immigrants with no income haha.

We’ve both felt very isolated here in Norfolk, there’s not a lot around, and not a lot in the way of opportunities here, i’d really like to go to university and get a masters in electronics engineering, and my wife would like to go back to teaching after our baby comes in Jan. I really miss being involved in the maker community.

So, I’m looking to see if anyone would be interested in having our tools on permanent loan to their space, with the understanding that we are using them commercially and can be total hogs of the CNC router, lathe, and router table during business hours depending on where we are in a production run. We also have a significant quantity of wood stocked. The workshop needs a bare minimum of 1800sqft, ideally, if it was a new hackerspace you’d want a minimum of 2500-3000sqft to include an office/classroom/social area.

Our workshop consists of:

  • 1300x900 130W chinese laser cutter, built to spec, 3phase motors, ruida rdc6332g controller, p14 powersupply, CW5200 chiller, 3 honeycomb beds, knife bed, full range of lenses
  • 600x700x100mm fully servo/ballscrew/linear rail driven CNC router running mach3, 2.2kw VFD spindle, CW5200 chiller. It’s small, but very high end.
  • Flashforge Creator Pro 3d printer with flexion HT upgraded extruders (can print flex and high temp)
  • 2x Charnwood W796 continuous duty dust collectors with pleated filters. one on CNC router.
  • 2x Charnwood W692 double bag light trade (2hrs on 2hrs off) rated dust collectors, felt bags.
  • NuTool 1.5kw single bag dust collector i’m trying to sell, as it just has a fabric ‘filter’.
  • UJK/Incra mix router table running a 2.2kw air colled VFD spindle. All the trimmings.
  • Startrite SD31 12" thicknesser/planer
  • Tormek T8 with pretty much all the jigs except for shaper and drill bits.
  • SIP Pillar drill, pretty light duty
  • Vacuum chamber + vacuum pump for resin degassing
  • Pressure pot for resin casting
  • Bosch 5" random orbital sander
  • Bosch 1/4 sheet sander
  • 2x Mirka pneumatic random ortital 6" sanders
  • Bosch GCM350? 12" compound mitre saw
  • 400mm blade panel saw (30 years old, total beast… replaced a rubbish axminster saw bench we bought and couldnt do the job) 3phase
  • Record power BS400 bandsaw
  • Record power CL3 lathe + tools + mandrels + chucks etc.
  • Axminster 6x89" belt sander
  • 3x cordless hammer drills
  • cordless impact driver
  • cordless jigsaw (all cordless on same battery system)
  • pneumatic framing nailer
  • pneumatic brading nailer
  • 150L (or is it 200?) compressor, biggest i could get on a single phase. Has about a 10-20% duty cycle with the laser and cnc router using full continuous air :slight_smile:
  • 6 rolling tool cabinets full of tools - drill bits, screwdrivers, crimpers, strippers, files, calipers, etc…
  • Weller WT1 soldering station + solder, paste, helping hands, heatshrink, flux pen, etc.
  • Hot air rework station, 858D style.
  • Xerox Versalink C405 colour laser copier/printer.
  • Fridge/Freezer
  • Washing machine (hey, we got kicked out of our house… so its at the workshop lol)
  • Probably a bunch of small stuff i’m completely forgetting
    Its around £40k-50k of tools and accessories. Everything, other than the 30yr old saw already mentioned, is all of 6 months old, and every tool is in perfect working condition, and has been properly maintened. Basically, its a full commercial woodshop/hackerspace starter kit haha.

I’m hoping we’ll get our VAT refund soon which would cover the cost of moving pretty much anywhere in the UK. Basically, we’re looking for something of a fresh start with a bit more opportunity. I’d like the workshop to be within about 45 mins public transit to a university with an accredited electronics engineering or product design/manufacturing program. We always wanted to be able to have things setup as a makerspace, but our current location doesnt allow that to happen. Having membership helping to cover the rent would be great too haha. I can teach the membership how to use all the tools safely, both to protect the tools and the users and would love to continue sharing my knowledge of woodworking, manufacturing, cnc programming, cad design, electronics, rocketry, composites.

Anyway, thought I’d throw it out there and see if there might be any communities who could be interested in having us along.

Hello Mark

I don’t speak for Nottingham Hackspace any more than I speak for the UK Hackspaces foundation or whatever we call it now, but here is my opinion on why I think your seeds have fallen on stony ground so to speak.

“My wife and I were very keen on looking at going to Nottingham, but lack of response from anyone there”

I can see that you are operating with best intentions and are probably wondering, “why isn’t any group biting my hands off for this? I’m very smart and I have some amazing tools!”

Well, most hackerspaces are setup as a flat collective, with decision making not sitting with any one person generally. Furthermore most spaces don’t have a leader as such. It’d take one member with any given hackerspace to champion your idea and take it to the membership, lobby trustees, get agreement and so on and that’s without being able to totally get an idea of what you (Mark) would want i.e. you’d not be at the table they’d have to operate on your behalf and you’ve not taken time to make anyone want to do that for you.

The way I read your offer is that the space would get a very uneven membership by suddenly having a very powerful member, a super-member if you will, who isn’t going to be “just another member” and as such the balance would be skewed.

Not suggesting you would do this I am sure you’re a great chap, but imagine a scenario where someone offering something like you have, needed to be removed from the space, as in not be in the space any longer because they were horrible? A sex pest or something like that. Well, how would that person be removed if they had this uneven power over the space, they’d almost certainly take all their shiny tools home.

Let’s make it less dramatic and about you, you have all this extra power because you’re a super member with all these tools and skills, though of course you have no intention to abuse it. But well one time we’re going to paint the bike shed blue, but your favourite team are the reds so you want it red, we dare not offend you as you might take all the shiny home… you don’t even realise the power you project into our little group because we don’t address it, we dare not, we don’t have your power.

With an existing group, they have tools already, and they don’t have to get off those tools when one person needs to do their commercial work to make a living either. How would that work if a member was using a thing and you needed to make a thing for your work? You see?

I would say the best option for you is for you to rent a space somewhere where you yourself can build a group, decide where and then build up a membership based on what you want to achieve, offer memberships/access/whatever to your workshop. This would certainly work somewhere like a mid sized town where there isn’t a hackspace already or even in a large city where the spaces are ill equipped or badly run. But it would be you have to make the group. Even if some hackspace did offer themselves to you, I believe it would end badly.

Another option, be your own advocate in a hackerspace, join it and work your way through its politics and make your own case. Simply pick a space and attempt to take it over. I don’t 100% advocate for that but that would be the same deal in the end. Simply pick the space you want to become a powerful member in and then go and get elected as a trustee or whatever and effectively take the space over.

Turns out we have a few friends in common from Calgary.

I hope this is useful and I’d be happy to have a deep discussion on this if it would help. As a small caveat, this is my opinion and probably isn’t how others think about it, maybe my response will prompt some discussion?

Dominic Morrow

1 Like

Fair play @ChickenGrylls. I think you articulated this complex issue well. I think its hard for an existing space to say yes to this offer. It’s not personal against Issus. You sound like a nice person. The power dynamics of having one person who owns a large percentage of the gear is a space is hard to bring into an existing large group.
I don’t have any better advice than Dominc has given. I wish you the best with it.

Hi Mark,

I have 1,000 square feet to start with in Dudley, West Midlands. Great place to live, preschool to college right on the doorstep. Rents are low for housing and the beer is mighty fine. I am fledgling in this but I am a trained bid/grant manager and ready to collaborate. My email is parmanjohn@gmail.com if you would like to reach out.