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.
|Owing to changes in government guidance on the COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 outbreak, rLab will be open to existing members from the 5th of July onwards. Open-evenings are still cancelled and visitors are not allowed yet
At the moment we are not accepting new members in order to try to keep the risk of COVID-19 transmission as low as reasonably possible. This is being kept under review and we are trying to sort out ways to allow new members to join. If you're interesting in becomming a member of rLab then please keep an eye on our google group as it's likely that any announcements will be made there first.
Members wanting to come to rLab should make sure they have read the new rules that apply during the COVID-19 situation and may wish to review our risk assessment document. Our GDPR statement has also been updated to allow limited data sharing with the NHS to assist in control of the spread of the virus.
What rLab is
- A place for people to work on projects they're interested in
- A place to socialise with like-minded people
- A place to repair, improve or re-purpose things
- A group to share knowledge and experience
- A way to learn and teach new skills
- A place to work collaboratively on projects with friends
What rLab is not
- A pay-as-you-go workshop
- A laser cutting/CNC machining/etc service
- A charity
- A storage area
- A business incubator
- A tool hire centre
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 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 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. Five 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 Tony, Andrew, 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.
Rules & Policies
- 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.)
- Bringing stuff into the space
- Getting new equipment for the space
- Keeping stuff at the space
- Commercial use of the space
- Bringing Visitors and Children into the space
- Data (GDPR) Statement
- Information on making payments to/from rLab
Information for new members
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. We strongly prefer that people wanting to sign up do so on Wednesday open evenings and the sign-up tour and briefing usually starts at 9pm, but if you absolutely cannot ever make a Wednesday evening then we can sometimes arrange sign-ups at other times with enough notice.
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!
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
How to find us
We're located at Unit C1 on the Weldale Street industrial estate, the full address is
rLab – Unit C1
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
- eMail - The rLab directors can be emailed at Hello@rlab.org.uk and our main mailing list is a good place to get in touch with members
- Twitter - Our Twitter feed is here
- Facebook - We can be reached on Facebook here
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.
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 some of the larger tools that we have, it does not include the wide range of smaller hand-tools and instruments. If you know of a tool that's missing from this list then please create it's 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
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.
Software that we use
For 3D design and CAD/CAM work
For 3D Printing
For 2D Graphic Design and laser cutting
<<< Models for bits of equipment and accessories in use around that lab that might need replacing >>>
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 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. Yes we know the editing function can be very slow at times, this is apparently a known issue when running mediawiki on this hardware platform, Rupert is looking into it.
To find out who to contact if you have queries about digital services, check the contact list for online assets
Workshops and Technique Guides
Some of our members are able to run workshops that showcase some of the abilities of the space while helping other members learn how to use the resources we have. These workshops are normally much more in-depth than the inductions that are required before using some of our tools and involve making something that you get to take home at the end. Workshops vary in length from a few hours up to several days and in cost from free up to £75.
Here we keep some guides to making techniques that can be performed at rLab
Active Projects - If you think you could help with these, please let the leaders know!
- A new clock for the kitchen that'll also serve as a showcase for the manufacturing techniques available at rLab
- Induction updates - At the moment we've got a bit of a bottleneck on inductions and are seeking to expand the range of people able to give them.
- Steve's halloween lamp - Made from old bandsaw blades
Historic Projects - These projects are completed and no longer looking for help, older projects may be moved to the archive
- Vetinari Clock - A clock with irregular tick - Andrew led
- Wiki Migration - Moving content from the old wiki over to here, reorganizing, cutting out pages and data that are out of date - Steve-R led
- Laser Trophy - A wall-hanging trophy made from the old laser tube removed from the laser cutter - Steve-R
- A new Metal Table - We made a new solid-metal table for the downstairs space to increase storage and worktop space and make things more portable - Steve-R led
- Project/Dustextraction - Making a new rLab Unified Dust Extraction System
Projects seeking members/leaders
- Refit sink area in main workshop - Leader sought
Events are open to members and invited guests only unless otherwise noted
- Recurring (see event page for schedule) - Repair Cafe - Public event
- October 30th 2018 - Halloween Scary Box Competition - Winner Vance!
- 3D Printing workshop - Invite-only event - 28th June 2019
Other organisations that are related to hacking/making/crafting - The appearance of an organisation here DOES NOT MEAN that rLab endorses that organisation
- Reading Repair Cafe
- Reading Volunteer Association
- ReMap Volunteer Group focused on tailored assistance devices for those with disabilities.
- Men's Sheds are setting up in Reading
- The Workers' Educational Association (WEA) is a charity and the UK’s largest voluntary sector provider of adult education, delivering 9,500 part-time courses for over 74,000 people each year in England and Scotland.