Makerspace Profile: FamiLAB

Each week, as we get to know our community and the broader IoT movement, we’re fortunate to connect with some remarkable individuals and organizations. In our “Makerspace Profile” series, we interview makerspace founders to learn more about the maker movement around the world.

In this profile, you’ll meet FamiLAB based in Longwood, FL.

How did FamiLAB start?

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FamiLAB was started in 2010 by a couple of guys that decided it would be neat if a group could get together and collectively afford a better space to hang out in/work on projects in/work collectively in than wherever. Initially it was billed as “a better place to hang out than mom’s basement.” Others thought that this sounded like a good idea and brought tools and knowledge with them, slowly, the community built up around this space (several spaces, actually, in the course of growing) and what you see today is what has grown out of that!

What was the initial response to FamiLAB like?

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From what I hear it’s pretty similar to what it is today. A “hey, that does sound like a good idea…how do I join?” I would have loved to have been part of that. Back in the early days, we were in a 400sf private storage facility. I hear you had to take the couch out into the parking lot before you could work on anything. I’m quite sure some of the responses to that were priceless.

What kind of equipment and resources do you provide participants?

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Well, we’ve grown quite a bit since then, and we are just about to move from our 4,000sf warehouse to a 6k space. We’ll have the same tools we know and love, including some pretty impressive specimens such as a HAAS VF-1 milling machine that was making roller-coaster parts in production before we acquired it, a Epilog Fusion 60w laser, that was sold to us heavily discounted by the awesome manufacturer, Epilog, and is over $30,000 MSRP, we also have several 3D printers, CNC routers, and many power tools. As far as resources, some of the best parts of our space are the community. We have programmers, engineers, NASA employees, pilots, IT professionals, when you get all of these SMEs in the same room, cool things happen. Think of it as your very own Google, but that knows exactly what you need due to collective centuries of experience. If you’re interested in a specific subject, we teach classes and hold workshops on everything from microcontrollers to CAD design.

What does “hacking” mean to you and your community?

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Stolen from because it’s accurate to our philosophy. Hacking might be characterized as ‘an appropriate application of ingenuity’. Whether the result is a quick-and-dirty patchwork job or a carefully crafted work of art, you have to admire the cleverness that went into it.

An important secondary meaning of hack is ‘a creative practical joke’. This kind of hack is easier to explain to non-hackers than the programming kind. Of course, some hacks have both natures

What projects are people working on?

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We’ve got ~80 members, all doing their own thing. Some are putting microchips into themselves and building systems to take advantage of those, some are creating gorgeous works of art, some are building the machines that build more machines, it’s a madhouse. To get a feel for it, take a look at the projects detailed in the recent blog entries for which details some (but by far not all) of the bigger projects at the lab.

What are your future plans?

We’re going to be moving very shortly into a 6k square foot warehouse space and building a custom set of rooms for classes, tools and such. We’ll continue to help host Orlando Maker Faire, and work with the local community with many libraries, the science center, and others.

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