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rLAB – Reading’s Hackspace / Makerspace

The rLab Hackspace

For makers, menders, re-purposers, creators, sharers and teachers. Come join our group workshop with amazing equipment and members to match.

About rLab edit

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 way to get access to equipment that individuals normally can't - Because of our location in an industrial area and our wide membership we're often able to provide tools an equipment that can't be used in a domestic setting or which are too expensive for one person to buy.
  • 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 and we will not take on commercial work for others (although some of our members might agree to do so in their own capacity, as an organisation we won't get involved)
  • 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.
  • A youth training or childcare center - Members are welcome to bring one child or guest with them, but only legal adults over 18 years old can be members or take part in most activities at rLab. This is for insurance, data protection, and safeguarding reasons.
  • A campsite - Members are welcome to take a kip in their car if it is necessary for health and safety, but pitching up your tent or motor home, and use of the space exclusively for habitation is strictly prohibited.

History edit

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 edit

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We're located at Unit C1 on the Weldale Street industrial estate, the full address is

rLab – Unit C1

Reading Small Business Centre

Weldale Street



How to get in contact with us edit

  • 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 sign up edit

Please fill in the form on our website and we'll try to get back to you to arrange another time. Please remember to bring photo-ID with you as it's required to 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, and be issued with a access card for the building. You may also want to sign up to our discord server, 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 edit

Management edit

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 Mark, Najey, 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 edit

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 edit

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.

rLab Rules edit

  • 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.)

rLab Policies edit

Our resources edit

The Hackspace edit

The Reading Hackspace is an industrial unit on Weldale Street and internally is divided into 4 main spaces.

  1. The main room upstairs is where most electronics and software hacking takes place and also the main social area.
  2. The kitchen area and crafting table , which also has the consumer unit for the upstairs areas
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Tools edit

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 edit

Pirahna 1060 Laser Cutter/Engraver Ultimaker 2+ 3D Printers Prusa XL Large Format 3D Printer
Small Sewing Machine Mayku Formbox Vacuum Former SZM7045TR Binocular inspection microscope
Ultrasonic Hardness Tester A3 Colour Laser printer Craft "ROBO" Vinyl Cutter
Projector and Screen Design Stations 1&2 Silhouette Cameo 4 Vinyl Cutter
Large Sewing Machine Miniature Airbrush Kevin
Upstairs - Electronics Benches edit

We have an extensive collection of electronics tools and test equipment. More information can be found on the dedicated Electronics Benches Page

Downstairs edit

Harrison M300 Metal Lathe CUT-50 Plasma cutter ESAB EMP235ic MIG Welder
ThermalArc 202AC/DC TIG Welder Record Power Coronet Wood Lathe Chemical Storage
JET VBS-18MW Bandsaw Viceroy TDS Pedestal Grinder DK2096 Morticer
Wolf Dakota 100 Air Compressor Boxford 260VMC CNC Milling machine CM450PB Casting Crucible
Propane Forge Hand-held Router Hand-Held Induction Heater
Laguna Air Cleaner DeWalt DW872 Metal Chop-Saw SIP Sliding Mitre Saw
Clarke CS6-9C 6" Belt Linisher Chester MM493A 1" Belt Linisher Router Table
Record Power TS250-C Table Saw Axminster AT260SPT Planer-Thicknesser R302-A Material test oven
Nu-Way CF-25 Drill Press Record Power SS16V Scroll Saw Chester Cobra Mini Mill
Blasting Cabinet Fume Hood Kemet Gem-25D Ultrasound Cleaner
HV-128 Horizontal Bandsaw Record WG-250 Water stone 8" Polishing/Buffing Wheel
Tool inspection microscope 25kW Induction Forge
Downstairs - Small Tools edit

We also have a selection of smaller standard hand tools downstairs which are listed on the small tools page

Suppliers edit

We keep a list of local and national suppliers who are good for various materials on the suppliers page.

Digital resources edit

Our Logo and other materials edit

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 edit

For 3D design and CAD/CAM work For 3D Printing For 2D Design and laser / vinyl cutting Video Production Electronics and coding

Mailing list and Wiki and other online accounts edit

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.

If you'd like to join the mailing list without having a google account then you can just send a message to subscribe or follow 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 create one here.

To find out who to contact if you have queries about digital services, check the contact list for online assets

Other organizations edit

Other organisations that are related to hacking/making/crafting - The appearance of an organisation here DOES NOT MEAN that rLab endorses that organisation