I learned about TechShop Portland at Lunch2.0 a couple weeks ago.  It looks like other Fedorans are already on to this phenomenon.

TechShop is a a do-it-yourself play ground for people that like to make stuff.  They have equipment for wood and metal working, melting and casting metal parts, and laser cutting.  They also have a plasma cutter, CNC router, upholstery workshop, electronics lab, and a robot course.  The best part is that experience is not required.

Membership is approximately $125 per month which is a pretty good deal considering how expensive it would be to set up your own shop with the same amount of equipment.  If you are like me there wouldn’t be room in the garage anyway.  So they provide 33,000 square feet of space too!  Individual classes are also offered without a membership. For now I’ll probably take a class or two to learn more and have access to the equipment. That will all have to wait until Open Source Bridge is over and a few other projects are done.  Jake also has a great write-up over Silicon Florist.

TechShop is also planning a couple computer of computer rooms, available to anyone without charge.  Computers, free wireless and a projector are also provided.  It is a hacker space of sorts where anyone can come to work, play, or hold meetings.  The meeting room and computer area are open to anyone–even if you are not a member.

Portland is a great city for a place like TechShop where people like to share and learn.  The unusual twist is that these opportunities are usually free (or at cost)–in the same spirit as open source software development. A few places and events come to mind:

  • Free Geek — recycling computers and providing them for free with training
  • PersonalTelco — sharing wireless internet freely with others
  • PDX — free wireless at the airport
  • Lunch 2.0 — a free monthly networking and community event sponsored by local businesses
  • Open Source Bridge — a completely volunteer run open source conference for open source citizens to learn and grow their projects at the 24 hour hacker lounge.  It all happens June 17 to 19, 2009.