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.
|What rLab is
|What rLab is not
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
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
- 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
How to sign up
Come along on a Wednesday open evening! We have open evenings every Wednesday from 7pm until 10:00pm 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 whether you want to sign up or not you'll always be welcome to come see our facilities and discuss your interests with our members, tea and coffee are usually available. If you do want to sign up on the night then the last sign-up tour normally starts around 9pm, just make your intent known to any of members and they'll put you in touch with the right person. 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'll normally have at least 2 or 3 of our more experienced members around who can show you how our facilities and knowledge can help with your projects. If you feel you might like to sign up then please remember to bring photo-ID with you as it's required to complete the sign-up process.
If you're not able to make it to Wednesday evenings then you can fill in the form on our website and we'll try to get back to you to arrange another time, but be aware there might be a substantial wait-time involved with that. Alternatively you can join our mailing list and ask there and we can normally arrange a sign up or even just a tour within a few days.
If you decide to join up then you'll be able to get your Hackspace induction, get signed up on our membership database, 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 (even if it's just proofreading, that's welcomed!) then please create log-in so you can edit!
Information for new members
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 Peter, Stuart, and Philip. 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.
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 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.
- 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
- Framework document - defines relationship between the hackspace and RMS Ltd.
- Directors' responsibilities and what to do if you want to become one
- Spending approval limits and process
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
Our electronics benches
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
|For 3D design and CAD/CAM work
|For 3D Printing
|For 2D Design and laser / vinyl cutting
|Electronics and coding
Mailing list and Wiki and other online accounts
Most of the discussion between rLab members that isn't in-person takes place on our discord server, you will get an invite to this as part of joining. We also have a google groups mailing list that is open to members and non-members.
You don't have to have to join the discord or the email group when you join rLab, and indeed quite a few of our members either only read these occasionally or not at all, but if you're not on the these 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.
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
- Reading Repair Cafe Events
- 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.
- Reading Bike Kitchen is a group that repairs and maintains bicycles to help Reading residents get around in a green way