Things have been moving fairly quickly (compared to the normal speed of Northern Irish progress), but it’s about time we made a public update.
Due to the practicalities of developing something like this, a lot of the day-to-day development of Farset Labs has been done with little publicity. This was to maintain clear communication within the launch-community and worked really well in fleshing out the ideas for the space, the community, and the projects involved.
Special thanks must go to the members of Queen’s University Engineering, Science and Technology Society (QUESTS) for letting Farset Labs fly under their wing initially, and to Ben Bland, Eoghan Murray, Matt Campbell, and David Kane, who between them have been instrumental in getting this far.
Even beyond the ‘regular’ group, there’s been a large amount of input from the community at large, through our IdeaScale, where you can vote on and submit ideas for the space, on everything from equipment purchasing to governance strategies.
What’s been happening?
A significant amount of time was spent endeavouring to get local tech-business sponsorship for start-up
costs and initial rental fees, but this quickly degraded into a multi-way chicken-and-egg scenario where potential sponsors wanted more plans in their preferential areas before they could commit, and we couldn’t commit since, frankly, none of us have the time or the money to mount a full-scale business proposal for something that is perfect for boot-strapping.
It’s my personal belief that once we boot-strap ourselves into existence, corporate sponsors will come running to get involved in what will be the centre of the tech community in Belfast. For more info on the ‘Vision’ for Farset Labs, see here.
So how far are we anyway?
Well we’re currently in final-stage negotiations with ex-Lord Mayor of Belfast, Tom Ekin, of Weavers Court Business Park, Just off Sandy Row in Belfast.
Weavers Court is a controlled industrial estate 3 minutes walk from Great Victoria Street Station, 15 minutes walk from Belfast City Centre, and 20 minutes walk from UU York Street building and QUB Ashby Building.
Additionally, plenty of free car-parking spaces, an on site Cafe, and a whopping 10Gb Tibus Fibre-line connection with direct peering to the Hibernia Atlantic via Project Kelvin in Coleraine, giving <60ms latency to the Eastern Seaboard.
This makes it a perfect location not only for the kind of technical experiments we plan on doing, but also for community outreach within both the local south-Belfast area, but also the entirety of Northern Ireland, being just two hours by train from Londonderry.
All being well, and pending review of the rental agreement with some associates, we should be moving in within the fortnight.
So What Can We Do?
The space is more or less sorted, but it’s empty. We need your help to fill it while we wait for membership cashflow to buy more equipment.
We’re looking for:
- standard hackerspace stuff (check out the hackerspaces.org page for examples),
- general network and power infrastructure equipment,
- DIY Tools and Materials,
- Electronics tools
- Embedded controllers (Arduino, Raspberry Pi, mBed, PICAXE, etc)
- Computers (any condition; dead ones will be turned into decorations; extremely old ones will be turned into museum pieces)
- Interesting tech-hardware (No, a printer doesn’t count, unless its a dot matrix in which case…)
- Art/Decoration supplies, Paint, Brushes, rollers, etc.
If there is anything you can give, we’ll make it up to you when we get the Karma system up and running (blog post incoming about that; exciting times!)
The donation form should be embedded below, but some browsers have trouble with it so here’s the link.
As ever, even if you can’t contribute any hardware to the community, please contribute your time and ideas to the Farset Labs Ideascale