Making a Hackspace, part 9: Hacky New Year

9th Jan 2019

Progress continues apace at our new building on Bancroft. Previously, we were painting, and had made door frames and bought kitchen bits and toilet bits.


Firstly, we finished the painting, which was preventing us doing a lot of other things. The office/kitchen/toilet walls and ceiling are now fully painted a fetching shade of “goodness, it’s bright in here”. This meant we could move on to several other things which were waiting for the painting to finish.


As the Apollo 8 astronauts said just over 50 years ago, “Let there be light! And there was light.”

A lot of light. There are 14 LED panels, each putting out 3800 lumens. Or, to put it another way, if we used old-style bulbs, it would be over 3 kilowatts of power just in lighting. Since we’re using LEDs, the retina-scorching can be had for about half a kilowatt.

In case of power failure, there are also four emergency lights. Two in the office, one in the toilet and one to signpost the exit.

Very bright lights


With great power comes great responsibility, and we decided that part of that responsibility was to have a lot of sockets. There are 54 general purpose sockets, including ones for things like the kettle, and 6 which are on their own switch, dedicated to the laser cutter. The first person who daisy-chains a multiway extension lead will be made to stand barefoot on the plug until they’re sorry.

Lots of sockets.


The windows were fitted a few months back. They’ve now been finished off with windowsills and sealed on the inside. One of the front windows is currently displaying a fetching “Hitchin Hackspace” LED sign.


Matters are afoot underfoot, with the original vintage tiles (or concrete, depending on which bit of the floor you’re standing on) having been covered by carpet tiles in the office. Meanwhile, in the kitchen and toilet, we have vinyl flooring, in case of spillage. In the kitchen, obviously. Eww.

Flooring. Lovely.

Tea making

Things are progressing rapidly in the fluid-intake department, with kitchen units built and in place, water pipes and water heater fitted and the fusebox all neatly boxed in. The worktop and sink are in place, but not quite screwed down and connected up. After that comes the all-important kettle and fridge, and the vital business of producing tea can commence.

Mostly completed tea area, with space for a fridge.


Meanwhile, at the other end of the tea-drinking business, we have started the process of fitting a toilet. It being 20182019, it’s not sufficient to throw any old bog into the room, and rightly so; we’ve got a “Doc M” disabled toilet with suitable toilet, sink, anti-scald tap, grab rails, emergency alarm and so on. The toilet now sports a wheelchair-friendly wide door with the right sort of lock.

At the moment, we’ve got the rails, sink and alarm fitted. Toilet and pipework is next. And we need to put some privacy film over the toilet window, for obvious reasons.

Toilet in position (still to be fixed and plumbed) along with some, but not all, of the grab handles. And some stuff which is in the way.

The handles should be able to support the weight of a person. And they do.

Meanwhile, in the workshop

So far, we’ve concentrating on getting the office side up, as it gives us the ability to start using the building for things we already do. However, there’s a whole half (or seven sixteenths, to be needlessly more accurate) of the building to be built as a workshop. At the moment, it’s also acting as a handy dumping ground storage area while we work in the office side.

To help speed things along a bit, we used some of the grant money we’ve received previously to engage a local builder to carry out some work in the space. He fitted the windowsills and toilet door, as well as doing some much-needed repair on the roof structure caused by some damaged tiles. In the workshop side, he built up the dirty workshop wall to ceiling height (as with the toilet on the office side, this was originally a disabled cubicle), and fitted a door to it. There are also doors between the office and workshop to keep noise, dust and so on where it’s supposed to be.

The new central doors, seen from the office side.

Dirty workshop walls built and plastered, and some new doors.

What’s next…?

We’ll very soon be at the point where we can start using the building, so it’s likely that we will. There is still much to do, though, including fitting the air conditioning to keep the place nice and warm/cool as appropriate, and adding ventilation for the laser cutter, while the workshop side needs a good clear out, a lick of paint, a new ceiling, some lighting, power, etc.

We’ve also just a very exciting offer of some furniture to fill the place, so in about a month’s time, the place should really look the part.

Next month will hopefully see us using the new building full-time. In the meantime, if you’d like to know more, pop down to Ransom’s Rec on a Monday evening and say hello.