Hackerspace Tours: Mag Lab

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On the outer edge of the Greater Los Angeles area, in the city of Pomona California, is a humble hackerspace located at a quiet warehouse complex just off the I-10 highway. This tranquil, unassuming place is where hackers, builders, makers, tinkerers, engineers, jugglers, and fire spinners come together to learn how to use the industrial tools within; while at the same time creating a community of inventors inside.

Trent Wilson, one of the founders, showed us around the space.

The amount of resources that the members have access to is astonishing. There is a large laser cutter made by Universal Laser Systems which is among one of the most used tools at the Mag Lab. Of course, they have a couple of 3D printer frames as well, but the focus here is mainly on heavy-duty art and mechanical projects. This means that there is a lot of metal work done, thus the manual metal lathe has become a necessary item to have around.

In addition to the metal fashioning equipment is a whole gambit of woodworking tools too. There are drill presses, grinders, sanders, screwdrivers, clamps, and much much more.

They also have an electronics room in the front of the warehouse. This is where soldering and circuit inspecting tools are found. Oscilloscopes and logic analyzer lay just about everywhere the eye can see, and there is a wide range of electronics organized in tool boxes lined up against the wall. A refrigerator sits in this room, and occasionally people will bring in food to share. Usually, there is plenty of cold beer to go around when the work it done as well.

Being that this is a hackerspace, the environment is relatively dusty as metal and wood materials is ground down and melded on a regular basis. The raw nature of this place attracts a good amount of curious hard working people. These individuals like to craft items with their hands and don’t mind getting a little bit dirty.

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Lots gathered for the music festival that was held at the Mag Lab in March, 2014

Events that are held here range from weekly project nights, to one-off music festivals, to juggling workshops and fire spinning sessions. They even hosted a 3-minute pumpkin carving contest for Halloween. All these get-together are all about focusing in on the community first. Granted the tools and resources get people in the door, but it is the collection of welcoming leaders here that keep them coming back for more. Heck, I even keep showing up. One of the first times I venture through the door was during a music event that literally had an earthquake shake the place up during the concert.

See also: Experiencing a 5.1 earthquake at a California hackerspace – Hacker Trips blog post

The members here float from place to place, while keeping the Mag Lab as a home base. Trent for instance has been attending local maker-based events around town. Qgits, a Southern California STEAM news company, recorded an interview with Trent, another hackerspace runner, and I at a recent mini Maker Faire in Riverside, California. Cross pollination like this helps to progress the inventor/maker/hacker movement.

Mag Lab is registered as a non-profit so all the money from membership cycles back into providing more tools, adding events, and keeping the space running smoothly. The monthly subscription fee a mere $25 per month, making this the cheapest community workshop around. This is quite surprising how much one gets access to for such a low cost of membership.

For more information about the Mag Lab hackerspace, visit their website which is posted at the beginning of this blog post. Updates can be found on their Facebook page as well.

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