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Kamloops Makerspace makes space for DIY builders

Brad Allan beside the large Kamloops Makerspace CNC machine and a pair of signs it carved.
January 21, 2016 - 1:02 PM

KAMLOOPS - The growing global movement of maker culture has a foothold in Kamloops.

With donated tools, salvaged material and hands on knowledge the Kamloops Makerspace group has turned one of Kamloops’ oldest buildings into a home for many new ideas.

Kamloops Makerspace provides a place for people interested in building technology by hand. Their space is at 207 Victoria Ave. West, and the group has filled it with a plethora of electronics, tools and forgotten bits of technology.

There are pieces of dozens of different things in different states of disassembly. A light fixture is next to old computer towers, with drawers full of switches nearby. Tools of all sorts are arranged in different rooms depending on use.

“You’d be amazed what sorts of tools people have in their garages,” Aras Moghaddam says, a co-founder of the group and member of the board of directors.

The salvaged and donated materials are in turn reused or upcycled into new devices, ranging from art projects spot welders. One larger project was a CNC machine the size of a dining room table, able to carve wood. While some parts came from an older, similar machine, a lot were customized or rebuilt, from a special vacuum powered table to hold items to toothbrushes dusting the track the machine moves on.

Moghaddam helped found the group when he came to Kamloops and attended Kamloops Innovation Centre meetings. Since then the group has seen fast growth.

Ron Thompson's spot welder made with a microwave transformer
Ron Thompson's spot welder made with a microwave transformer

They became a non-profit organization last January and moved into their current location in June. Since then a lot of work has gone into fixing the building and creating a place for their passion to fit.

“It’s not just the tools and technology,” group member Ron Thompson says. “It’s the learning and knowledge.”

Donations and salvage are where all the tools and material come from. A recent trip to look at buying wood at the Home Depot netted the group a free load of lumber and plywood, which they’re using to build organizational racks. Brad Allan, a timber framer, is working on the project while waiting for the spring for more employment.

The group is made of people with a variety of backgrounds. Some come in on days off. Moghaddam works hands on with electronics, so is often found in the space. He says it’s not uncommon to see people who have been laid off or aren’t working for a period of time to join.

“It’s a support system for those laid off,” Moghaddam says.

“The networking is really important, too,” says Thompson, pointing to meetings with the Innovation Centre and their participation in the Kamloops Art Council Art in the Dark event. Members made special belts out of strips of LED lights for the Art Council event.

Kamloops Makerspace is hosting an open house on Jan. 29 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. in association with the Innovation Centre where they’ll have projects on display. They also have have smaller open houses every Wednesday from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Brendan Kergin at bkergin@infonews.ca or call 250-819-6089. To contact an editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016
InfoTel News Ltd

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