DIY community spaces

Yes, there are a lot of names for DIY community spaces so I’ll use my own term avoiding possible misunderstandings.

Most DIY community spaces are quite amazing, at least the ones I have the chance to see online. I never actually had the time or the wish to visit the ones in Lisbon so I don’t know the ”vibe” or the community.  
Some of you will ask why I don’t have the wish to visit the ones in Lisbon, I’ll explain or at least try to give an idea why I don’t feel curious about those spaces.

The best DIY space in Lisbon asks for more than 1000€ yearly, sure you got access to all tools but you still need to pay to use some equipment like 3D printers and you can’t use your own filament, now for that price I’ll buy a 3D printer and work at home.
Don’t get me wrong I understand why they don’t let you use your own filament and I also understand the machines needs maintenance but in my opinion something is a bit off with the idea behind a community space that seems to run with a “for profit” business model in mind at least looking at the price tables.

Sadly the idea behind most DIY community spaces is to make money from makers.
Sure I understand who runs the space needs to make at least some profit to pay rent, insurance, bills, and any staff that the place needs but looking at the membership prices it just feels wrong. In the US asking for $150 monthly is just fine because the wage is a bit different from the Portuguese one.
Asking for 100€ monthly in a Portuguese space will not attract young makers at all, unless the business model only wants freelance professionals, but in that case the space should have another name, like a community small business hub or something similar.

The only way those DIY community spaces can truly succeed is to bring new blood to the community, the prices should reflect the members income or lack of it.
Sure this doesn’t apply (thankfully) to all DIY community spaces, specially the ones build around electronics and coding. 
I understand all space founders need to have an income and pay the bills but profit isn’t usually the spirit of the maker community. A good DIY community space should improve the life of all users, if there was indeed some profit it should be channeled to better gear and services of space, not channeled to the pockets of the founders.

I know there are many ideas of what is community work so the opinion above is just one of them.   

As for me, I was lucky to have a father that had a place to build stuff, it wasn’t a community but it was fun for a 9 year old kid.

Geocities and audio projects.

Before wordpress, blogspot , facebook, myspace and livejournal there was a place called Geocities, on that place one could (and still can via mirrors) find lots of audio projects. If you enjoy some nostalgia do search for mirrors of Geocities or just visit the wayback machine. 

These day I browse the geocities a lot. You guys/gals can call me an old timer because in a way I am.

The kitchen table DIYer, my tale.

I have an amazing workbench but I still use my kitchen table, so what gives? Why do I still use the kitchen table to solder.

Behold the domino effect!
My dinner room still has leaks in the rooftop (go to the archive for more rooftop hell) so because of that I can’t actually use it 100%, now I need power to work and I also need an extension cord to power my workbench, this little factor means I need to run a power cable on a floor that sometimes has water in it, not good so I don’t actually do it very often.

Now without power I can’t use any tools so I go to the 2nd best place to work, yep the kitchen table!
With this little nag in my mind, I’m working in a way of powering my tools from a wall near my workbench, I’ll have to run a power cable from a derivation box I got near the celling, if it goes like I want, I’ll have power in the workbench and will have no need to run a cable on the floor.

I love to work in the kitchen table since I was a kid but it’s a bad move if you got little kids at home.
If I always use the workbench I can teach them to respect the workplace and tools, in a kitchen table where they eat thats only possible with knives. Some tools I use are very dangerous and I really don’t want them near my little ones.

Anyway until then I’ll have to work in my kitchen table…it sucks.

The enclosure problem.

I have a problem…I collect boxes! XD 
I have lots of little black plastic boxes for projects and also some really expensive aluminium ones. I shit you not one of these days I’ll take a picture!
I’m always searching for new beautiful boxes and I hate it so much because most of them suck!

A nice enclosure is the final touch of a project and I can’t understand why they are so hard to find in stores and online.
Ok, you have Hammond but its expensive like hell, you can buy 19" rack enclosures but they are expensive to send by mail, you can always recycle old 19" stuff but it’s not ok if you want to sell stuff to friends. “Oh look! This box was from a old 19” router!“…if it’s a gift thats not a problem but if they pay, it is a problem because you want to sell more and old recycled stuff doesn’t cut it in the long term!

Beautiful enclosures are a pain to find or to make and they are one of the most important things on a project in my opinion, because you’ll have to live with them for a long time. So I collect boxes…

The dangers of DIY.

After working a decade in civil construction I have a pretty idea that shit happens to all of us specially if we are makers of things.
My typical advice is to use protection gear and always but always think about safety first! In fact most DIY sites remember that all the time, but people forget about it or are just lazy because using safety gear is so very hard…ohhh boy…

Anyway I decided to write about this stuff after reading about a little acident with a dremel tool, if a disk brakes at 10.000RPM and hits your face you’ll feel pain, lots of it and if you don’t protect your eyes you might actually get blind because of it.
Shit like that also happens to professionals, one day I was using an angle grinder and a piece of hot iron melted my prescription glasses, a 120€ mistake but at least I didn’t get blind! Since that day I always use full face protection with big powertools!

Powertools might be fun but they can have massive torque and RPMs, they can also damage your hearing in the long run and my father is living proof of that.

DIY can also deal with electricity and that’s another danger that many makers, specially the audiophile ones tend to forget. 
DIY valve amplifiers can kill you, one mistake and you might actually kick the bucket. I shit you not, valve amps are for experienced makers not newbies and I see newbies making stuff like that all the time. Start by easy projects without super power supplies. 

Safety first! DIY should be fun!