Hackerspace Hive76 is like a curiosity shop but with a few notable quirks: practically everything inside is made by the people all around you, the builders are happy to teach you how to make your own robot/guitar pedal/3D-printed Yoda head and best of all, there’s no “Do Not Touch” sign in sight.
The hackers actually encourage visitors to touch their creations — that is, everything except the 3D printer while it’s printing, said Hive76 president Brendan Schrader.
Visit Hive76 during Philly Tech Week
Wednesday: Open Hack Night
Thursday: Music Hack Night
Saturday: Open House & Expo
Tucked away on the fifth floor of a Callowhill warehouse building that houses artists of all kinds, the four-year-old hackerspace is a workshop that’s taken on a life of its own. Every wall, table and shelf is crammed with tools, spare parts and works in progress.
The group has about 25 to 30 members, including Chris Thompson, an artist who first learned how to 3D print at Hive76 and last fall, got hired at another local hackerspace, NextFab Studio, to oversee 3D printing and other technical activities.
“I used to 3D print until I got a job 3D printing,” said Thompson, who was teaching a 3D printing class when we visited. “I need to find a new hobby.”
Below, a photo tour of the space, plus the three coolest things we found that were recently built by Hive76 members. Learn more about becoming a member of the space here.
1) A digital pinball machine (Play it at our Signature Event!)
A pinball junkie, Schrader hacked this together in four months, with the help of pinball machine collectors around the country. There’s an opensource database of practically all existing pinball table designs, Schrader said, because collectors scan the art in order to preserve it, in case the machines get destroyed.
He used two computer monitors and art from the database to create a digital pinball machine that lets you choose from nearly 200 different pinball tables, like Star Wars, the Simpsons and Tales from the Crypt. The machine has throwback elements, too, like the traditional spring launcher for the “ball” and a functionality that makes the machine vibrate when the “ball” hits the sides of the machine.
2) A “RepRap,” or 3D printer made out of 3D printed pieces
3) Old school TV and radio to be turned into a karaoke machine
OK, this one is a work in progress. Schrader, a former sound engineer, plans on turning the TV and radio into a karaoke machine using all the original hardware that’s still inside of the appliances. That’s why it’s taking so long, he said. He could buy new hardware and finish it in a weekend, “but what fun is that?” he said.