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Test toys from the 3D printer at UnLab.

Test toys from the 3D printer at UnLab.

On Thursday, July 25th I had the pleasure of visiting with Stuart Clark the treasurer and chief tour guide to London’s own hacker and maker space UnLab run and operated with sister company/organization UnLondon.

My tour through London’s hacker haven


Podcast StudioStuart was instantly welcoming and happy to show me around this tech cave of treasures. Stuart is the host of the Canadian Tech Podcast and has created a podcasting studio at the UnLab for his show and for UnLab members and guests to make use of. The room is complete with:

          • 4 microphones on booms.
          • 2 guests via Skype or Google Hangout.
          • Apple computer for capturing and editing with GarageBand.
          • camera in top right corner of the room to capture a live feed of the interview.
          • Large table that guests can sign there name to upon completing the interview.

It’s pretty much what Jian Ghomeshi has for running Q on CBC, right?  Stuart has also offered PodCamp and you can catch examples of campers fine work here.

What else will you find at UnLab?

collage unlab

    • 3D printers
    • Sewing machines
    • Soldering irons
    • Power tools
    • Servers
    • Books
    • Nuit Blanche projects
    • Cable, tones of cable
    • Honeybadger (if you look really closely!)

People and 3D Printing

The guys hanging out in Unlab are working away on various projects.  Some projects are for your-eyes-only when you go and are not for sharing online since the artists are working for companies and have NDAs in place. Of course, this slight bit of secrecy only makes it more appealing to me.  People were happy to talk about what they were working on and share ideas for working my way into creating maker spaces for youth in London in classroom spaces or elsewhere.  Vice suggested looking into TinkerCad and gave me a quick demo.  He also had two great insights about 3D printing. Both I should have already known, but what can you do. They are:

  1. You don’t just get a 3D printer. You need a reason/problem to design something. Or else you will be stuck downloading projects from the Internet and printing them out. That get’s boring pretty fast.
  2. If you own a 3D printer you spend most of your time fixing the 3D printer.

Design Principles at UnLab

Gary Stager simplifies the design and invent process down to three words: think – make – improve.

K-12 Design thinking in the style of uses six words to capture the process: understand – observe – define – ideate – prototype – test.

The Unlab takes a simple approach with three words:

  • gather
  • create
  • improve

In the End

I am very glad that openness prevails and that UnLab was happy to have visitors and potential new members stop by.  I can see myself, along with Greg, hanging out on Thursday nights and looking for partners to work on Arduino projects, some simple design and 3D printing and podcasting.  Also, I think I just want to hang out and be a fly on the wall as the others work and talk away. I think I could learn so much about the making and the social aspects of making by spending time at UnLab. Maybe I will just begin an ethnographic study of the place. I’ll try to join and gather stories of makers and hackers.

I see so much potential in this type of space for younger people too. London Public Library needs a maker space. Thames Valley District School Board classrooms need maker spaces.  Something feels right.