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 MafraLab based in Mafra, Portugal!
How did MafraLab start?
Well it’s a good story, the idea first came into my mind during an event in Portugal called Codebits, where makers, hackers, developers and designers get together for 3 days with a lot of talks and geek stuff. I saw AltLab (a Lisbon Hackerspace) and thought that it would be great to start something like that in the place I live, which is Mafra! So almost n year has passed and I was thinking about what we could do, what should really be the purpose of the project, etc. Then I went to a DC Motor Control Workshop at AltLab and I was talking with the workshop’s instructor and we found that we where living in the same area and he loved the idea, so we quickly setup a place and started working on this big project. The main goal is to provide our local community access to knowledge, technology and a place where we could gather together and develop DIY projects.
What was the initial response to MafraLab like?
In the first weeks we had about 10 members coming every week to our meetings. Everyone was very motivated and we where working at full steam! The acceptance has been good by the community, and there are some school kids who often come to make their school projects.
What kind of equipment and resources do you provide participants?
We have a limited space but we have right now several tools, electronic components, arduinos and raspberry pis, a driller, and a mendel prusa i2 3d printer. We provide broadband internet connection as well.
What does “hacking” mean to you and your community?
Well, in Portugal the hacker term has a very bad meaning because of the media. Fortunately, we are passing the word that hack is not a bad thing. What is wrong with learning how something works and changing it as we want it too? Or change the natural behavior of a device to another in such a way we never thought was possible? In our community we love to hack things and we are proud hackers and makers.
What projects are people working on?
Right now we are working in some workshops for the local community, designing and building a new 3D printer with some nice features like drilling and/or laser cutting, also we have one or two projects regarding home automation and internet of things.
What are your future plans?
I would like MafraLab to be a known hackerspace for it’s contribution for the local community. A place where people know they can learn, work on projects, share ideas, and be an example to brand new hackerspaces that are afraid to start due to a lack of resources. We started from zero without almost any money. We are still poor (chuckles), but we find the way to make things work.