My Personal Hackerspace3 min read


The hackerspace movement is one of the neatest developments in modern western society. Places are set aside for people to simple experiment, tinker, create. Often this is done collaboratively.

I don’t presently belong to one of these group hackerspaces. The nearest one to me is TechShop RDU, which last time I checked costs about $100 per month to be a member. That’s a pretty big recurring expense for a family man, and one that I’m reticent to commit to. But I did take a welding class there once, and the facilities were most impressive indeed. If I ever end up making more money than I know what to do with, you can be sure I’ll commit to a membership there.

The next closest hackerspace is Splat Space out in Durham. I know some people who are members there and it sounds like the community is thriving. But I don’t live in Durham. I don’t work in Durham. Durham is pretty far out of the way for me.

Like I said, I’m a family man. I enjoy time with and near my family. Sometimes it’s nice just to hear the children playing nearby while I’m working on something. Occasionally the children are curious about what I’m working on, and want to join me in my experiments.

So I brought the hackerspace home. We had a little cash set aside for home improvement, and the little spare bedroom that I’ve been using hasn’t really been very useful for the kinds of things I want to work on. For example, I can’t roll a motorcycle in there to restore it.

I did some research, went out to see some sample sheds, and ultimately decided to commission Carolina Yard Barns to build my hackerspace. Tara was very helpful with her advice, and actually saved me some money. She came out to the house, flagged off where the workshop was going to go, and scheduled my build date.

Because of the size of the workshop (12×20), it was going to take a little extra time. Usually these things go up in one day, but mine was going to take about two full days. Carolina Yard Barns sent out a fellow named John to build the workshop. John came out ready to build, all by himself, and in one day he got the workshop built to the point where all four walls were up, doors were installed, and siding was tacked on (but not yet finished). He’s coming out for two more half days to finish the siding, install the windows, and build the roof.

I wish I could have been home to see him work. My wife sent pictures of his progress throughout the day, which was terribly exciting for me. I couldn’t believe John’s pace.

When he’s finished, I’ll still have a lot of work to do. I’ll need to wire it for electricity, lay down a protective floor, insulate the walls, and put up interior walls. I need to build the workbenches and sort out my storage & shelving. I’ll also need to paint the exterior, but I’m told that the siding is treated and is fine in its “natural” state so I may defer the exterior painting for awhile.

I’ll have some space by the double doors set aside for working on my motorcycles. I’ve got a 1985 Honda V65 Magna motorcycle that will be spending a lot of time in here getting fixed up. It’ll be nice to get that bike back out on the road where it belongs.

Some other space will be set aside for electronics work. I’ve got a number of amateur radio kits to solder & assemble. I’ve also got some Arduino and Beaglebone hardware that I’d like to explore more deeply. Until now, I’ve been opportunistically using the dining room table, but I’ve not really had a place where I can have ongoing projects going for days or weeks on end.