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Guide for New Members

What is Hacklab and how does it work?

Edinburgh Hacklab is a hackerspace/makerspace. It's a member-run organisation and we're always welcoming new people to our membership. Hacklab is self-funded, the majority of our income is membership subscriptions and we use that to pay the rent on the space, buy tea bags and replacement bandsaw blades and try and keep things running.

Who's in charge? Who looks after the place?

No one! Everyone!

Hacklab has a board of five directors who are nominally “in charge” but the board really exists to enact the membership's wishes. The directors look after some of the tedious bookkeeping and admin, but otherwise are no different from other members.

Hacklab has no paid employees, no technicians and definitely no cleaning staff. We need everyone to roll up their sleeves and help out. If members don't look after the space then it'll descend into a world of dirty mugs and broken tools.

To-Do (How can I help?)

Please remember to be excellent to each other. Read the Behaviour Guidelines and the anti-harrassment policy.


What you get:

  • 24/7 access to the lab
  • A 35L storage box and short-term storage of larger projects
  • Cheaper rates on the laser cutter and 3D printer
  • Warm fuzzy feelings for supporting an awesome place

What we expect from you in return:

  • Follow sensible rules to keep yourself and others safe
  • Tidy-up after yourself and others and look after the space
  • Monthly subscriptions paid on time

Additional stuff in the Members Area

Membership Applications

To join Hacklab, a person should be aged 16 or over, there are no other restrictions. They should fill out the membership form and hand it to a director/responsible-member.

The application (including the blurb) will be posted to the members list. Three members must respond to sponsor the applicant. Members should sponsor a person only after meeting them and determining that they would be a good addition to the membership (so don’t sponsor an application based just on the blurb).

After approval, new members will be contacted by the treasurer to provide our bank details. The membership fee will normally be £25 per month.

Discounts are sometimes available for low income, and are subject to approval by the directors. There is also a remote-member rate for people who live far away and only visit Edinburgh occasionally. “There is no discount for being a student or low-use member, unless you fall into the previously mentioned low-income or remote-member groups.

Members may support the lab by paying more than the standard £25, and many of them do.

Coming and Going

Members may access the lab 24/7.

All members should have an NFC access token for the lab. This will open the doors to our part of the building and our rooms, and will also activate some of the tools.

NFC cards and keyfobs are available in the Hacklab shop, and new members get one for free. Existing NFC tokens can also be used (e.g. university ID cards, bus passes). Tokens can be self-managed on the Hacklab control panel.

Members may optionally request a Summerhall access token, which will open the pedestrian gate between Summerhall Square and the courtyard. Send an ID photo to the membership secretary and they will arrange it.

See Access to the Summerhall lab.


Non-members may use the lab on open nights, or whenever a member is willing to provide access.

Members are responsible for supervising non-members and the general public, to ensure that they do not damage Hacklab property or come to harm.

Last one out

If you are the last member to leave:

  • ask any remaining guests to leave (they can't stay without a member present)
  • check that any hot items have been switched-off (heaters, soldering irons, glue guns)
  • put away food (so we don't encourage mice)
  • make sure that windows are closed and the doors are secured.

Getting Involved

  • Join one of our many interest groups.
  • Chat to people about stuff you're doing or interested in.


Members’ Boxes

Every member is entitled to a 35L plastic box, which will be provided by Hacklab. This should be clearly labelled with your name and returned to the store room when not in use. Members should keep all of their items inside the box with the lid closed.

Active Projects

Members may also leave larger projects at the lab while they are being worked on. All items must be labelled with your name, the arrival date and the intended departure date. If you haven't worked on the project for a week or two then it should be removed. The lab does not have space to store forgotten projects or things that members “would like to get around to”.

Any project that can't be easily moved out of the way or put on a shelf should be discussed on the mailing list first.

The Three Box System

We have a simple de-clutter or recycling system in place. There is a set of three boxes on the shelving beside the door in the main room (G1). New clutter is placed into box 3, the boxes are rotated weekly and any clutter that has not been removed from the system is disposed of after three weeks.

If you find junk that has been lying around the lab for a while with no clear owner or home, please place it in box 3.

Remove any items found in the boxes that belong to you. The boxes will be rotated every Tuesday.

You may only take items that don't belong to you from box 1.

Loaned Items

Many of the tools and equipment in the lab are provided by individuals on a long term loan. They may be used as if they were Hacklab-owned, but the owner should be consulted on any significant breakages, repairs or modifications. Loaned items may not be disposed-of without permission of the owner.

See Loaned Equipment.

Receiving Mail

Members may receive mail at the lab. The address should be:

Your Name
c/o Edinburgh Hacklab
1 Summerhall

  • Do use the right address and include our company name.
  • Do pick-up your mail promptly (or ask someone to put it in your box if you're away).
  • Don't use the lab as your business address or legal contact address.


Can I borrow a tool?

Please don’t. Hacklab is a place where you can come to work on projects, using our tools. It doesn’t work when people take the tools away.

When you can take tools out of the lab:

  • on official Hacklab projects (e.g. raft race)
  • to use around Summerhall, but only by members (don’t hand out tools to other tenants)
  • the tool is on loan to the lab and you own it
  • the tool is on loan to the lab and the owner gives you permission

Even if one of the above reasons apply, you must still email the members list and let everyone know. This will save frustration, and lets us know that the tool hasn’t been stolen.

If none of the above reasons apply, and you still want to borrow something, you must email the members list and make your argument. Don’t borrow anything until there is a consensus in favour.


As a member, you are responsible for your own safety and the safety of others around you.

Knives: Use carefully. Always retract or cover the blade afterwards. Exposed blades must not be left for others to discover by accident.

Power Tools: Get training before use. Wear safety glasses. No loose hair, clothing or jewellery. Wear safety glasses. Make sure that there is a clear space around you, and that no one is in the path of any debris that might be produced. Wear safety glasses. Unplug after use. Wear safety glasses. Tidy up afterwards.

Lasers: Class 1 lasers (pointers) are acceptable. Anything more powerful should only be used in a controlled environment.

Taking Payments


There is a money box next to the sink in G1. Put the payment into the appropriate slot:

  • Shop (electronics components, batteries, Raspberry Pis)
  • Refreshments (tea, coffee, Club Mate)
  • Laser Cutting (material and cutting time) (Fees: Laser Cutter)
  • Donations

Change is only available when a box-keyholder is present.

If a receipt is required, put the payment in an envelope along with a description of the purchase, and pass it to the Treasurer. Alternatively, make an iZettle card payment and you can request an emailed receipt.

If payment cannot be made at the time of use, please record the amount owed on the sheet by the money box. Mark the entry if you wish to be invoiced, and give any extra details to the Treasurer.

Please do not attempt to hack the money box or padlocks. If you insist on trying, please have a trustworthy witness present to back you up.

Card Payments

We can take debit or credit card payments with iZettle.

  • Use the pre-programmed items in the app.
  • If you can’t find the item you need, enter it manually with a useful description and let the treasurer know.
  • Only use iZettle for card or NFC payments. Cash payments should be made directly to the money box as usual.
  • Only process genuine payments. The authorized cardholder must be present. Ask for ID if necessary.
  • Do not hack the reader, app or tablet.

Buying Things

Small Stuff (< £10)

Label tape

Any member may purchase small items for the lab if they are required. Keep a receipt or an invoice (not just an order confirmation) and forward it to the Treasurer, your costs will be refunded. Hardcopy can be left in the plastic tub behind the money box, but write your name and a suitable explanation on the back.

Bigger Stuff (> £10)

Laser materials
Coffee beans
Small tools

More expensive items should be referred to the informal group of members that look after the day-to-day requirements of the lab, who will have a better idea of what is okay to purchase and whether something has already been ordered, if in doubt, ask on the members list.

Really Big Stuff

Major purchases (e.g. power tools) should be raised on the members’ mailing list.

Working at the Hacklab

Principles that have evolved among the membership:

  • Prototyping is okay. Production is not.
  • Individual users get priority over business activities.
  • We are not a cheap option for businesses to save money.

If you spend a lot of time at the lab it's easy to start treating it as your personal space. Make an extra effort to clean up after yourself and limit the amount of space used at any given time.

Ending Your Membership

  • Cancel your monthly standing order
  • Email membership at to let us know
  • Empty your member’s box
  • Return your Summerhall access card or fob
welcome.txt · Last modified: 2022-04-10 09:24 by simon

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