|Hack.RVA member Jerry Lyneberry works on his computer at a July
meeting. Photo by Jay Paul
Buttons, wires, soldering irons and the scattered components of ongoing projects fill the tabletops in what was once the refrigeration unit for a local dairy. Now it’s the home base of Richmond’s very own “hackerspace,” one of an international network of workshops that aim to give electronics hobbyists a place to work and learn.
Known as Hack.RVA, the group strives to create an open atmosphere in which everyone from armchair roboticists to the technologically impaired can come together to program, build, hack and create.
“There’s a huge social aspect, like, ‘I don’t want to do it alone in my dark basement anymore,’ ” says Jamie Duncan, one of the group’s four partners.
Hackerspaces like Hack.RVA are democratizing do-it-yourself electronics, a hobby once available exclusively to those who could afford to build and outfit workshops of their own. The group charges members $30 per month to cover the cost of renting their space in Scott’s Addition. In return, Hack.RVA provides access to the workspace and a bevy of tools, including steel lathes, soldering irons, table saws, laser cutters and just about anything else a hacker could need.
While many of the members of Hack.RVA are hardware wizards, the group also offers classes geared toward newcomers like Soldering 101 and Intro to Linux, the open-source operating system.
“My biggest reason to come was to learn with others and see what others are hacking on,” says Clint Grimsley, another of the group’s partners, who discovered Hack.RVA through its classes.
The projects others are hacking on are certainly worth a look. At a Thursday-night Hack.RVA meeting in late June, one man discusses plans for a bartender robot able to mix hundreds of different drinks. Another hacker tinkers with 5-foot-tall speakers that resonate sheet metal to create a chest-thumping rumble like a train passing at arm’s length. The man sitting next to him builds an arcade-cabinet-style controller for his iPad. Just a typical evening for Richmond’s hackerspace.
Hack.RVA has open hours available to nonmembers every Thursday evening between 7:30 and 10 p.m. For more information, visit hackrva.org.