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article imageNew 'hackerspace' workshop opens in Guelph Special

By Stephanie Dearing     Nov 13, 2010 in Lifestyle
Guelph - DIYode, a new non-profit organization in Guelph, Ontario, opened the doors to its hackerspace Saturday. The organization accepts members and will be providing workshops that will be open for the community.
Hackerspaces, said Tony Thompson, speaking for Diyode, "sounds a little ominous," but the idea, which originated in Germany, is not a place where people gather together in attempts to illegally access secure computer systems. The idea, said Tony, is to come together to "build a workspace for the community."
According to Guelph's Diyode manifesto, "Diyode is a community workshop for the City of Guelph. A place where the tools, the know-how, and the social support are available to anyone looking to make something amazing, or even something simple."
Actually, a little bit of internet research readily demonstrates that hackerspaces are these sort of 'revolutionary' throwbacks of pockets of counter-culture around the world. Hacklabs value workmanship and community. As the BBC described, hacklabs are places where people come to share ideas, spend time with other people, and make things in the process.
The spaces are collectively "owned" by a diverse group, whose membership dues give them access to tools and a workspace that enables members to build things. It should be pointed out that the members are not trying to have a revolution. As Thompson said, most of the Diyode members found they were missing an element in their lives, which they fulfilled through getting together with others and making things.
A Wired article on hackerspaces illustrates how hacklabs really are hotbeds of do-it-yourself ingenuity.
One of the workbenches in the workshop.
One of the workbenches in the workshop.
Thompson showed off his little homemade robot, which will wave its arm when the red button is pressed. It needs a repair, so this one does not wave, but Thompson said he had another one at home that was working just fine.
Tony Thompson shows his hand made robot.
Tony Thompson shows his hand made robot.
The Diyode workspace consists of a two spaces. One Thompson calls the "clean room," which is the electronics workshop. The group has an oscilloscope, which Thompson pointed out costs around $2,000 to $3,000 new. The oscilloscope, he said, really demonstrates what Diyode is all about: getting amateurs access to tools.
The other space is a garage-like workshop that houses the woodworking tools, the lathe and the welding equipment. The group hopes to collect more equipment as time goes on.
One project taking advantage of the space was started by Guelph's Barking Dog Studios, is the rennovation of what appears to be the remains of an older Volkswagon van into what is called the "Underdog." The vehicle is being converted into an electric car, and the goal is to have the Underdog ready to participate in Guelph's 2011 Santa Claus parade, collecting toys. It is anticipated that finishing the project will be done collectively.
The Underdog  which is slowly being transformed from a fossil-fuel powered vehicle into an electrica...
The Underdog, which is slowly being transformed from a fossil-fuel powered vehicle into an electrically powered vehicle.
The Diyode space is already one that fosters ingenious creativity, as demonstrated by the rocket launcher. Several children were busy making rockets which they then eagerly launched from a home-made device that uses a bicycle tire pump to supercharge the rockets with air. After the obligatory countdown, the launch button is pressed and the rockets are easily blasted 20 feet up, using only air, to the delight of the children.
A girl preps the rocket launcher using the bicycle pump.
A girl preps the rocket launcher using the bicycle pump.
A monthly membership fee gets one access to the workshop and the tools. One of the tools Diyode is most proud of was donated by Ken Brown. The lathe had been in Brown's family for at least three generations, and while no one is sure how old the lathe is, it is thought to be 80 to 90 years old. Other tools include a variety of woodworking and welding equipment. The woodworking equipment was donated as well.
A working metal lathe  thought to be 80 to 90 years old.
A working metal lathe, thought to be 80 to 90 years old.
Thompson said there were probably 200 or 300 hackerspaces in North America, including the KwartzLab in Kitchener-Waterloo, Thinkhaus located in Hamilton and hacklab TO, in Toronto.
Workshops Diyode is planning for the near future include:
• Arduino Microcontrollers
• Build your own rocket launcher
• Basic soldering
• Introduction to open source software
• Woodworking basics
• MIG welding
Hotdogs were cooked up for visitors attending Diyode s open house.
Hotdogs were cooked up for visitors attending Diyode's open house.
Why join, asks Diyode? If you find you
• would rather build something than buy it, or rather fix something than throw it away;
• want to build, but live in apartment or have not workshop space;
• have a small company looking to innovate or troubleshoot but lack the tools to do so properly;
• are an inventor and a maker looking for a positive environment of like-minded people;
• have a family who wants to build together, but lacks the space, inspiration, or know-how;
• are a retired maker looking for a place to contribute your vast knowledge and experience;
• or are just a person with a need for tools, support, or the wisdom of a group, Diyode is the place for you.
Diyode is located at 71 Wyndham St S, Unit B, Guelph. For more information, contact Diyode by email at info@diyode.com, or call (519) 822-6788.
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