I visited Access Space in Sheffield, where I enjoyed a two days crash training in using the command line and shell scripts in Linux. Initiated by James Wallbank and the Redundant Technology Initiative group in 2000, Access Space is arguably the first open source/community computing creative technology labs in the UK. The space is open several days per week, with two main areas: the Media Lab where visitors can access a Linux workstation for web access, design, programming, etc. A code-protected door opens on the Refab Space which hosts the digital fabrication machines (laser cutter, CNC router, several rep rap 3D printers), a lot of recycled computing gear and several solid workbenches.
During my stay I saw lots of activity in both areas, including a Sheffield Hardware Hackers meeting (every monday 6pm), and the laser cutter was pretty much always busy.
The Refab Space
Rep Raps 3D printers in Refab Space
James is a great host, busy with many projects including his latest business adventure Infinite Crypt. He is always keen to share on topics of technological accessibility, community development and techno-social trends. I recorded an audio interview where he gives us his insight on Access Space and thoughts on the opportunities offered by digital fabrication technologies.
Interview with James Wallbank in Access Space Sheffield, 26th February 2014
Crash course in !# linux shell
Workbench in Refab Space
Redundant Technology bin
Infinite Crypt modules
Raspberry Pi powered ascii laser temperature monitor
Infinite Crypt laser cutters
Laser cut rejects
One of Sheffield’s numerous disused manufacturing unit
I went to Flowering Elbow‘s open day on Saturday. It took about 90 minutes to drive from Cardiff, and I finally arrived on top of a hill near Carmarthen where Sam and Steve have built a workshop extension to an existing farm building. Lots of TLC and sustainable design principles have gone into the building, as well as an impressive array of metal and wood machining tools.
Theme for the day was wood, and I chose to make a casing for a prototype small amplified speaker powered by a supercapacitor array. Steve and Sam suggested different bits of timber. I settled on geometrically challenging but good looking holly cuts that they gathered from a hedge nearby sometime ago. I used a bandsaw and a scary table saw to make small holly panels. There was no time to assemble the case, it is now on my homework to-do list.
I totally recommend attending Flowering Elbow’s next open day, Steve and Sam are very welcoming and knowledgeable, and they are keen to share skills and ideas. I have invited them to come to my studio soon, and spend a day on electronics and small scale digital fabrication.
Flowering Elbow team: Sam and Steve in their workshop
The team at Flowering Elbow have an open day at their cool workshop in Carmarthen on Saturday 25th January. A great opportunity to mingle with makers, share tips, play with recycled goods, open source electronics, wood and metal….