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rLAB – Reading’s Hackspace / Makerspace
For makers, menders, re-purposers, creators, sharers and teachers. Come join our group workshop with amazing equipment and members to match.
|COVID Precautions - rLab is open to members and invited guests
Anyone who wants to look around the Hackspace or to join rLab as a member should email email@example.com or fill in the request form and we'll set up an appointment for you to come in and have a look around the space or complete the sign-up process
|What rLab is
||What rLab is not
- A place for people to work on projects they're interested in - We provide a space for members to work on almost any project that interests them and provide the tools to help them do so.
- A place to socialize with like-minded people - We have open evenings every Wednesday at 8pm which also provide a social venue for members to meet up and discuss what they're working on.
- A place to repair, improve or re-purpose things - We keep an extensive collection of tools that can be used to repair and hack equipment to make it last longer or be more useful and our members often help each other with repairs.
- A group to share knowledge and experience - We can find an expert on almost anything technical (and a lot of other things) within our membership, and most of them are very willing to share and teach
- A way to learn and teach new skills - Our members provide inductions and other training on most of our equipment, as well as workshops to demonstrate and teach new skills
- A place to work collaboratively on projects with friends - We provide a venue for groups of members to meet up and work on projects that would otherwise be hard to arrange.
- A pay-as-you-go workshop - Although we're very flexible on membership contributions and require no long term commitments, we do expect that being an rLab member is an ongoing process of contributing to the lab. Contributing only when you want to make use of the lab's facilities is discouraged.
- A laser cutting/CNC machining/etc service - We do not provide commercial services to the public.
- A charity - Although we very much welcome donations and assistance, we are not a registered charity and are structured more like a social club.
- A storage area - We have a small amount of space to store ongoing member projects and we're happy to have tools that are being regularly used, however we are very space limited and do not provide long-term storage.
- A business incubator - We're happy to support local businesses where we can and people starting their own business are welcome to join (so long as they follow the commercial use policy) but we do not provide general business support services.
- A tool hire centre - Our tools are kept at the hackspace and are not loaned out to members.
- The Repair Shop - Fixing things and avoiding waste is very much a part of our ethos, but we do not provide a repair service to the public outside of repair cafe events. People wanting to repair stuff are very welcome to become members and get full access to all our facilities. If you join up, we'll help you fix it, but we won't fix it for you.
The Hackspace started as two guys sitting in a shed in 2010, Tom and Ryan had seen other hackspaces in London and other countries and were keen to start their own. They found some like-minded people, and initially the group met in a range of temporary venues, such as the Rising Sun arts centre, before taking a couple of rooms at a storage company in Woodley, ultimately that did not work out, and in 2015 the group took the bold step of moving here to Weldale Street. The building is owned by one of members – Tom – who is not just understanding about our needs, but positively incites us to ‘hack the space’. We do not receive any regular grants, we are not a charity, and therefore we are masters of our own destiny – we can do what we want
We are light on governance and have a level structure. There are no committees, no officers, and fundamentally no member is any more important than any other. Four of our members are directors of a limited company - Reading Makerspace Ltd Articles of Association - that has been set up solely to provide us with sufficient legal identity to pay the rates, energy bills (which you can imagine are quite large), and buy things such as insurance. Our current directors are Andrew, Tony, Vance, Steve and Mark. Members often describe our governance arrangements as a ‘do-ocracy’ – things get done by people on the basis of consensus, those who put in the effort to get things done tend to form small groups and agree how they should be done.
How to find us
We're located at Unit C1 on the Weldale Street industrial estate, the full address is
rLab – Unit C1
Reading Small Business Centre
How to get in contact with us
- In Person - rLab is based at an industrial unit on Weldale Street in Reading, the full address is rLab – Unit C1, Weldale Street, READING, RG1 7BX, and you're very welcome to come along on a Wednesday open evening and speak to us
- Twitter - Our Twitter feed is here
- Facebook - We can be reached on Facebook here
How to help
rLab survives almost entirely on the donations of people who share our ideals and goals, mostly this comes in the form of the regular monthly contributions from members so the most helpful thing you can do for rLab is to join up! From time to time we also get donations, of cash, equipment, materials etc. from rLab members, the public, businesses and organizations that support our activities. Our donations page will list items that we've recently received and anything that we're currently on the lookout for.
If you do join rLab then the most helpful thing you can do is just to be there, to help out keeping the space clean and running smoothly, and to share your knowledge and experience. Members can also share information on projects they're working on to help inspire others, as well as running or taking part in workshops to help spread the skills we have so that we can all work together to make cool stuff. The projects page will also list internal projects that we're currently working on and which might be seeking help, anything from trained professionals to simple grunt-work moving and lifting, anything that you're able to do to move these projects forward will be much appreciated around the lab. If you have special skills or knowledge in a specific area that you think others will want to know then you could write a technique guide that we'll keep here on the wiki to help and inspire others to take on more creative and interesting projects. rLab runs events sometimes, most common of these are the repair cafe events that we host every 2 months but there's also a selection of others. Most events are only open to members but the repair cafe and selected others might be open to the public so long as numbers aren't too high. If you've got something to showcase that you feel might make a good event then please let us know as exciting and interesting events are an excellent way of encouraging participation, previous events have covered topics as wide-ranging as CAD and lock-picking.
How to sign up
Come along on a Wednesday open evening! We have open evenings every Wednesday from 8pm until 10:30pm so please feel free to come on down to the Hackspace and have a look around, we have tours running frequently throughout the evening and you can chat with some of the current members, see what we're working on and take a look at the facilities we have available. Anyone who wants to look around the Hackspace or to join rLab as a member should email firstname.lastname@example.org or fill in the request form and we'll set up an appointment for you to come in and have a look around the space or complete the sign-up process
If you decide to join up then you'll be able to get your Hackspace induction, get signed up on our membership database, sort out your membership donation (the normal donation is £25/month, but there are exceptions) and be issued with a access card for the building. You may also want to sign up to our mailing list, it's not compulsory but you'll miss out on a lot of what goes on at the space if you don't. If you feel you have something to contribute to this wiki then please ask Steve, Rupert or Tony for a log-in so you can edit!
Information for new members
Getting your Hackspace Induction
Before you can use the Hackspace un-accompanied and have your own access card you'll need to receive your Hackspace induction which provides important information about how the hackspace is organised and run and how to work safely in the space. These inductions are normally run on a Wednesday open evening as part of the sign-up process and generally take around an hour to do. We require this because there's a few things you need to know in order to work safely and smoothly around the lab that aren't instantly obvious. Photo-ID, usually driving license but any official ID with a picture is OK, is required to sign up
- Only use equipment that you have been trained on and are confident you can use safely. No solo use of high risk tools.
- Members must be over 18 years old. Anyone visiting who is under this age must be accompanied and supervised by a member at all times, supervising someone else is incompatible with working on your own projects. Please see policy on visitors for more information
- Potentially dangerous or precious equipment should be labelled and members should seek induction before use.
- Dangerous chemicals should be labelled with contents and hazard information.
- Performance of high risk activities should be communicated to other members and guests present if they might be affected. Other members may raise any concerns at that time and the activity cannot continue until those concerns have been addressed.
- No hazardous chemicals in the kitchen. It is a food preparation area and must be treated as such.
- Clean up after using the space, leave your work area AT LEAST as clean as when you arrived if not better
- Anything that is prohibited by our lease or insurance is really actually prohibited (No sleeping, no fissionable materials, etc.)
The Reading Hackspace is an industrial unit on Weldale Street and internally is divided into 4 main spaces.
- The main room upstairs is where most electronics and software hacking takes place and also the main social area.
- The kitchen area and crafting table , which also has the consumer unit for the upstairs areas
- The small machine room upstairs houses our Laser cutter and the store of materials for use with it and is used for making activities that do not create any dust or mess.
- The downstairs space has most of the power tools and is where all metalwork and woodwork activities take place including anything that makes dust, noise, mess or nasty smells, it also has the main electrical panel for the space
All tools and equipment in the space are the property of the Hackspace unless clearly marked otherwise. You've paid for all the tools and equipment through your membership donations, so please take care of the kit as if it were your own as the cost of repairs or replacements comes out of your donations and reduces the budget for new toys! We understand that occasional breakages are inevitable in this environment and we don't mind that things sometimes get broken so long as no-one's hurt and we're informed when it happens so that they can be fixed promptly, you can email the maintainers listed for each tool directly if you prefer or just post on the mailing list and the relevant people will see it.
Upstairs main room and electronics workshop
Main workshop with whiteboard, PCs and heat pump
Exterior of the Weldale St. Building
Kitchen and Crafts area and break room
Downstairs workshop for metal and woodwork
Metalworking and hand tools area
Benches and hand-tool work area
Loading bay where we can work on large projects
The small machine room with the laser cutter
The crafting area in the small machine room
3D and Other member projects
We have a wide variety of tools divided across the 3 main areas of the space and all members are welcome to use them on their projects. Some of the more hazardous or valuable tools do require induction before use both to protect members and the equipment!
Here's a listing of many of the tools that we have. The electronics tools and the smaller hand tools are split out onto their own pages, with the larger tools presented here. If you know of a tool that's missing from this list then please create its page and add it.
Upstairs - Electronics Benches
We have an extensive collection of electronics tools and test equipment. More information can be found on the dedicated Electronics Benches Page
Downstairs - Small Tools
We also have a selection of smaller standard hand tools downstairs which are listed on the small tools page
We keep a list of local and national suppliers who are good for various materials on the suppliers page.
Our Logo and other materials
Over the years we've used a few different logos for our work which are below. These are intended for use on stuff that's made by and for rLab, if you'd like to use them on your own projects that aren't specifically and entirely for rLab you'll need to clear it with the directors first in order to avoid giving the impression that we're officially involved with things we aren't.
The new rLab Logo in bitmap format
The new rLab logo in Vector format
Old rLab logo, please use the new one instead where possible
Small rLab logo for use where space is at a premium
Very small logo for use where nothing else will fit
Software that we use
Mailing list and Wiki and other online accounts
Most of the discussion between rLab members that isn't in-person takes place on our google group, you don't have to have to join the group when you join rLab, and indeed quite a few of our members either only read the mailing list occasionally or not at all. If you're not on the group though you may find it quite hard to get your voice heard when we're discussing things important to rLab like the direction that the group takes or how we spend money. If you'd like to join the mailing list without having a google account then the instructions here should help you.
We can also be reached via our facebook and twitter pages and you can keep up with what's been done at the lab recently via our YouTube channel.
We also have this wiki of course! If you'd like an account on this wiki then please contact Steve-R, Tony-S or Rupert-E on the mailing list or at the lab.
To find out who to contact if you have queries about digital services, check the contact list for online assets
Other organisations that are related to hacking/making/crafting - The appearance of an organisation here DOES NOT MEAN that rLab endorses that organisation