I was lucky enough to visit OpenLab Taipei, one of the earliest Hackerspaces in Taipei. With rooms piled high with salvaged junk just waiting to be transformed into something fantastic, it was in direct opposition to the other organized Makerspaces, fab cafes, and fab labs I saw. It felt intensely disorganized, but extremely democratic and founded on the FLOSS (Free/Libre and Open-Source Software) philosophy.
TIP: Most of the links in this post lead to pages written in Chinese. For best results, use Google Chrome, it will automatically translate for you.
OpenLab Taipei is located just down the lane from a temple and inside the group of revitalized buildings that house the Taipei Artist Village. The Makers I met here felt very independent and much more willing than most to push the boundaries of societal convention.
Communal Hackerspace-Style Making at It’s Best
The members of OpenLab Taipei meet informally every Wednesday and eat a tasty communal dinner together. They kindly shared with me and my fellow visitor and Academy colleague, Jean-Michel Molenaar of HTGAA.
While we were there we simply had to test out two of the legion of lightsabers they had built for the upcoming Maker Faire Taipei, each containing more than 200 LEDs. In addition to the lightsabers, they had also created large LED matrix panels whose light was amplified through the use of tin cans (watch for more pictures in an upcoming article covering the Maker Faire). It’s been rumored that these scrolling LED signs have been used to broadcast “subversive” messages in the past.
Some members of the group had been hard at work designing their “Triceratops Dinobike” (not to be confused with a “rhinoceros bike”) on the paper that was protecting the workshop tables at FAN2.
Here’s some additional images of the Dinobike in progress:
OpenLab found a little broken Pleo dinosaur robot, so they fixed it. Now, it’s just as cute, but it looks like it’s sporting a jetpack!
One especially creative item hung from the ceiling of the Hackerspace: a sensor-activated flapping dragonfly robot made by radically modifying a fake security camera.
A big thank you to all the members of OpenLab Taipei for your warm welcome and enthusiastic willingness to show us your creations and share your philosophy despite the language barrier. Major props to Bob Chen for leading the way (we would never have found it on our own) and Zheng Hong for showing us around and sending us home safely. You guys rule!
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