Don’t let the name put you off. The last thing Hackerspace wants to do is steal your personal information or send your computer a virus.
Born out of a movement from Europe, Hackerspace is a face-to-face network for people who love all things electronic, computerised and automatic.
The founder of Hackerspace’s Adelaide branch, Steven Pickles, said the group of about 20 people was essentially a “knitting circle for electronics nerds”.
“In the same way some people know how to turn a ball of yarn into a jumper, we can grab a bunch of diodes and resistors and microprocessors and turn it into some strange thing,” he said.
“[It’s] knowing what goes into the things you use every day by playing around with them … like a child playing with building blocks to learn how physics works.
“We make silly projects out of electronics to get more comfortable with electronics because it’s so much a part of our world [and] I can’t imagine that our lives are going to get any less dominated by technology.”
Mr Pickles said the group aimed to keep its members connected, with the hobby often isolating its enthusiasts to workshops and computer screens.
“There are some hobbies people have that are inherently social … but with electronics it’s a bit hard to get that social aspect,” he said.
“There’s a lot of people who come here and the process of working on things is a low impact form of social interaction.”
He said the Adelaide group had been invaluable for some members struggling to find a social activity to align with an introverted personality.
“There have been a few people that have come and for a couple of years would just sit and like being in the room while we were chatting,” Mr Pickles said.
“As you get to know them, you may realise that’s a huge social change for that person.
“This is just a social gathering of people who, strangely, have it in common that they don’t find it very easy to socialise.
“Google is not as good as asking a person – have you ever done this before?
“Those are the sorts of things a human can tell you.”
Youngest member works on coin-sorting robot
Lance Feldman is a one of the group’s youngest members and is completing grade seven at school.
He has been attending regular Hackerspace meetings for about two years, after developing an early interest in electronics.
“I’m working on a coin-sorting robot,” he said.
“I’ve done it by using infrared lights and some light sensors to detect when a coin is on the conveyer belt.”
Lance said the thing he most enjoyed about Hackerspace was the friendly atmosphere.
“You don’t really feel alienated,” he said.
“It’s just everyone is here to help you.
“When I first started to come I’d just play on my computer but recently I’ve started bringing some projects.
“I purely like the freedom [electronics] gives you because if you want to make something happen, you can use electronics to make it happen.”
Hackerspace hopes to find a permanent space for its meetings.
The group currently meets weekly in Adelaide’s CBD and at Tonsley in the southern suburbs.
It hopes to eventually secure a northern suburbs meeting space.