Orientation Notes

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Orientation to Pumping Station: One

Part One of Open House Presentation

Things new PS1 members should know

Caveat: This document is the work (and point of view) of a small number of individuals. It contains lies.

Things new PS1 members should know

  • What is a Hackerspace?
  • hackerspace /ˈhakəspeɪs/ noun
  • (Ancient) History
  • Philosophical
  • How do I Join?
  • The Rules
  • Digital accounts to acquire/be aware of
  • Style Guide
  • Do-Ocracy
  • How voting werks
  • How to start a class/event
  • Guests @PS1
  • Equipment
  • Discounts and things
  • Organization
  • Guide to Getting Started
  • go to http://members.pumpingstationone.org to activate your username!

What is a Hackerspace?

  • A community first, facility second
  • Organized primarily from the bottom-up by the community that uses it
  • Enthusiastically open:
  • open source technology
  • openly sharing information
  • open to all person (race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, age, disability or any group status protected by law)
  • Almost always have no profit motive
  • ...and very rarely have paid staff.
  • Yes, you should probably go unclog that toilet you messed up.
  • If confused about whether an organization is a Hackerspace ask yourself: if their facility burned to the ground, would they continue to exist?

Example organizations that may look like a hackerspace from the outside, but are not hackerspaces (they are organized top-down and are facilities before they are communities):

  • TechShop
  • FabLab

More reading:

  • Hackerspaces.org theory page
  • Wikipedia hackerspace definition page
  • Wikipedia hacker ethic page
  • The Oxford English Dictionary definition:
  • hackerspace /ˈhakəspeɪs/ noun: a place in which people with an interest in computing or technology can gather to work on projects while sharing ideas, equipment, and knowledge:

eg: we’ve seen some folks at our local hackerspace try to patch into the remote control itself

(Ancient) History

At Chaos Communication Camp (Berlin) in 2007, a bunch of US hackers and tech people got a chance to see several European hackerspaces and asked the question: why aren’t there any cool hackerspace like this in the USA?

That year, they founded NYCResistor, HacDC, and Noisebridge (in San Francisco).

PS1 started in October-ish 2008 at the (now defunct) Mercury Cafe in West Town with about 8 people. Here is what we looked like. We met (and continue to meet) every Tuesday night, at 8pm. We once tried changing the meeting schedule. It didn’t go well.

Our name was chosen because Pumping Station 1 was the old name for the water tower (or possibly the attached fire station). Pumping Station 1 were first responders to the Chicago Fire. Also, the abbreviation reflects the NYC public school numbering system of P.S.<some number>. Yes, we know that it’s also a great name for a gay club. It’s quite possible that this story a load of hooey. There are few references for any of these historical “facts.” If you can corroborate any of the first responder part of this story, please tell us.

January 2009

Signed Illinois incorporation papers as a not-for-profit, voted for and formed our first Board of Directors, began collecting dues and donations towards renting a physical location. Dues were $50/month

April 15, 2009

We moved into a ~1300 sq ft at 3354 N. Elston Ave. We had ~35 founding members.

Fun rule we used to have during this era of our history: if, during a membership meeting, you spoke for more than two minutes at a time on a single topic, members were allowed to throw ping pong balls at you, to encourage speaker to not ramble. We also built a flame-powered ping-pong ball launcher called “the rambler.”

July 2009

Board of Directors added $30/month starving hacker rate.

December 2010

Board of Directors raised rates to $70 and $40 per month for full members and Starving Hacker members.

January 30, 2011

Expanded to ~2500 sq ft at 3354 N. Elston Ave. We had ~90 members.

June 2011

Purchased an Epilog Mini 30W laser cutter. The first piece of major equipment purchased by PS1. With this acquisition, PS1 now thinks of itself as a “big boy” hackerspace.

July 16, 2012

Moved to 3517/3519 N. Elston Ave (~6200 sq ft). We had ~140 members.

August 2012

Second piece of major equipment purchased by PS1 funds: a SawStop table saw.

April 2013

PS1 breaks 200 members


PS1 breaks 300 members The exact date is open for debate. So many people to count!

July 2014

Largest piece of major equipment ever purchased by PS1 funds: a 4 x 8 ShopBot CNC Router!


Space motto: “Just Fucking Do It” (or JFDI)

Translation: talk less and do more - nerds can sometimes talk a big game, but until that talk becomes action, it’s useless. Yes, some people aren’t 100% happy with an R-rated motto painted on the walls.

Alternative motto: “you’re not done until you've blogged it.”

Translation: PS1 is a radically open organization dedicated to sharing of resources and information. Did you do a cool thing? The last step in your process is telling the world about it, and how you did it. That’s why PS1 has a blog.

Good quote to live by at PS1: “Real artists ship” - Steven P. Jobs

An old saying at Apple: it is important to actually complete your project and deliver.

What PS1 is

Here is a detailed description of what PS1 is and is not

  • A community that happens to have some equipment
  • A platform for all of us to improve ourselves and our careers
  • A place for sharing tools and participating in the community
  • A gigantic herd of freaking cats, no one knows what’s going on
  • A physical wiki. Seriously: see something out of place, broken, not pretty/ugly enough for you? Fix it!

What PS1 is not

  • A facility where you can expect everything to work at all times (all our labor is volunteer labor: things break, we all have to fix ‘em).
  • A Fab Lab, TechShop, or other top-down organization
  • A place where people get paid to work here

How do I Join?

Joining PS1 is an easy process:

  • Go to http://pumpingstationone.org/becoming-a-member/
  • Choose either the Full Membership rate ($70/month) or Starving Hacker rate ($40/month)
  • Attend any Tuesday night event to get your ID checked by 2 members of the Board of Directors
  • Within 3 months, attend an Orientation Class

Starving Hacker Members get

  • 24 hour access to Pumping Station: One
  • Ability to certify on PS1 tools

Full Members get

  • Everything that Starving Hackers get plus...
  • Storage shelf or locker (for projects or materials)
  • Voting rights
  • Discounts on classes or tee-shirts

The Rules

  • Be excellent to each other (and the space)
  • consolidated Bylaws and Membership agreement are here
  • you can get kicked out for failing to respect the safety of yourself, other members, or PS1 equipment, and for failing to treat others with respect
  • It is every members responsibility to help keep PS1 clean. We have a policy on how to do so: TidySpace

Digital accounts to acquire/be aware of

Note: None of these are granted automatically. YOU NEED TO TAKE ACTION: request to join, get credentials, etc. for all of these.

Google groups

  • Public
    • no serious business, just fun, hacking, news, announcements, etc.
    • anyone can join
    • ~900 people
  • Private
    • internal communication
    • most serious business goes here
    • members-only announcements, votes, parties, etc
    • only ps1 members may join (some exceptions: friends of ps1, distant hackerspaces, former members who moved away)
    • >480 people

Special Interest Group Mailing Lists

  This list is not everything but a good starting point for you
  • Beer-Church-Chicago
  • CNC Build Club
  • Power Racing Series
  • Toool Chicago
  • Pumping Station: Yum
  • NERP - Not Excl RaspberryPi
  • SIGBOT - Special Interest Group for Robotics


You should just add this calendar to your google calendar list, makes your life much easier. If you want read-write access to this calendar, ask the private list, and someone will hook you up.


Sign in with your https://members.pumpingstationone.org account.


Sign in at pumpingstationone.org/wp-admin. Sign in with your https://members.pumpingstationone.org account.

All blog posts should MUST have:

  • at least one picture
  • tags
  • categories
  • who/what/when/where/cost (if announcing event/class)

When done writing, click “save for review” and email info@pumpingstationone.org to get it published. If you're a frequent poster, you'll get publishing rights pretty easily.


  1. pumpingstationone on freenode. There are a growing list of bots on the IRC channel.
  •  !space tells you how much activity there is in the space via video analysis.

* Most interesting: !temp tells you the temperatures in Brewing Station: One, our homebrew beer system.

Clientless? Access the web chat on our website.


ssid: pumpingstationone password: ps1frocks

Social Media

  • twitter: #psone312
  • twitter: @pumpingstation1

Style Guide

  • Officially, our name is Pumping Station: One, NFP.
  • Our official abbreviation is PS1.
  • If you’re not writing press releases, writing on the blog, doing official stuff, or are an inveterate grammar nerd, don’t sweat this section at all.
  • In common writing and speech, everyone just uses “PS1.”


It’s how things get done, but it’s not perfect. Read that link for a good description of what it is and is not. Rule of thumb: if it will take more than four hours to undo what you’re planning, consider mentioning it to the mailing list or the BoD before commencing.

How to start a class/event

(Read the link for much more detail)

  • Figure out: is it wanted?
  • Set a date
  • Publicize
  • Profit! (no, seriously, you can charge for a class here and make money - just give PS1 a cut to help out with rent)

Guests at PS:One

  • You can bring your non-member friends here!
  • Non-members attending your class/meeting/event are your guests

A few ground rules:

  • guests need to be supervised - what they do is your responsibility
  • guests can’t use tools more complicated than a soldering iron (as non-members they can’t be certified to use tools)
  • guests need to sign a waiver
  • minors need to be accompanied by a guardian
  • as the sponsoring member, you can ask class/event attendees who are being non-excellent to leave


Tags: how to read

  • QR code points to wiki page (human readable wiki page is below QR code)
  • wiki page has info on the tool
    • who is certified
    • when it was acquired
    • maintenance
    • usage information (links to manuals, etc)
  • A PS1 logo indicates the tool is space-owned. A human icon and a name tells you who owns it if it isn't.

Tags: making

  • see detailed instructions on the equipment template wiki page(just copy and paste) at https://wiki.pumpingstationone.org/Template:EquipmentPage
  • tags and icons are auto-generated by the wiki template
  • all equipment requires a wiki page and tag (small hand tools and supplies are exempt)

Equipment certification process

There are exceptions to this process for complicated, dangerous, or expensive tools like the laser cutter, machine tools, or welders.

Many tools have regularly schedule authorization sessions conducted by dedicated volunteers. They are often called <Tool Name/Area> Office Hours. They are listed on the Calender. There are often impromptu authorization sessions led by volunteer authorizers. They are normally announced on the member mailing list or Meetup.com.

Single tool authorization MAY also be obtained by:

  • go to the tool’s wiki page
  • find list of people who are certified and contact them to request their help
  • in general, the higher up they are, the more experienced they are
  • when you are certified, they will put your name on the wiki page, with their own name
  • if you fail to use the tool safely, you will both be de-certified from the tool
  • If you break something (hey don’t worry - it happens)
    • Step 1: Take care of First Aid first (luckily this hasn't been a problem so far)
    • Step 2: Notify the appropriate Area Host, Board of Directors, and post to the private mailing list as soon as you can.
    • Step 3: Leave a note on the tool to alert the next user.

It is vitally important that you tell someone what happened. You won’t be punished or yelled at. We need to know for safety and equipment management purposes. If you don’t do this, then we can’t learn from each others' mistakes or discover that a tool was manufactured poorly or poorly maintained. Knowingly leaving a broken tool out for someone else to discover and hurt themselves with is an act that will get you yelled at (and possibly excommunicated).

How we get all our awesome stuff

Initially the vast majority of our equipment was donated. However as our finances have improve, we are acquiring more tools via purchase.

Discounts and things

Full Membership Hath Its Privileges

  • class discounts
  • event discounts
  • voting on things
  • storage space

Membership Rewards System

1 point = $30 value (currently)

Points earned by:

  • running a class with >=5 attendees
  • running an event with >=10 attendees
  • other significant service to PS1
  • solicit 3rd party donations

Points can be used for:

  • discounts on membership dues
  • towards tee shirts
  • other things!

Other discounts:

  • Home Depot: we have a sales tax exempt id (for purchasing stuff for PS1 only)
  • American Science and Surplus: 10% off by mentioning PS1
  • Please feel free to negotiate discounts elsewhere!


PS1 is not very organized. What structure it does have is extremely flat - if you’re a member, you can do more or less what you want (see the do-ocracy link above for limits and social norms), but we do have some organization that helps us do things.

Board of Directors

  • PS1 votes for a new board during our Annual Meeting the second Tuesday in January.
  • Primary interface between PS1 and the rest of the world (i.e. press, landlords, vendors, utilities, etc)
  • can be contacted at info@pumpingstationone.org
  • Board members must remain full members during their entire term
  • Board members must have been members of PS1 for at least six months when voted into their position.

2016 Board Consists of:

  • President: Andrew Camardella
  • Vice President: Jennie P.
  • Treasurer - Brian Chojnowski
  • Secretary: Simon Pyle
  • Public Relations - Ray Doekson
  • CTO - Jonathan Bisson
  • Director-at-Large - Ed Bennet
  • Director-at-Large - Carl Karsten

Area Hosts

  • Single points of contact / experts for each general area
  • Granted free full membership to PS1 as a thank you for all the work they do
  • Assigned by the Board of Directors.
  • If you want to become one, talk to BoD
  • They aren't responsible for the upkeep or maintenance of equipment, or cleanliness of their areas (this is the responsibility of all members), but they do have a budget with which to purchase maintenance items, equipment, etc.
  • Often take the lead on improving their areas.

Current area hosts

  • Electronics - Anna Yu
  • Wood Shop - Eric Beauchamp
  • Cold Metals - Dean Anderson
  • Hot Metals - Ron Olsen
  • Arts - Shellie Lewis
  • CNC - Open
  • General - Erik Wessing
  • Kitchen - Gerald Gayares
  • Tool Cage - Shae Kurko

Guide to Getting Started

Group projects


  • Fix any broken thing!
  • There is a corkboard with tasks. How do we use it? Find out during a meeting or discover it in the lounge area.

Build something for the space

Attend a classes / events to meet the different sub-groups of PS1

We've got so many interests, that it is hard to enumerate them all. One good way to discover events is by following events calendar. We also have a Meetup group. Some of our interests groups have wiki pages. Take a look at the category to find them. Here is a non-exhaustive list of groups so that you get an idea of what people have been doing lately.

Start a class / event we don’t already have

Authorizations on tools

Attend any open house Tuesday and make an announcement

If you have any questions later on, send an email to me personally stevef61 at gmail dot com. Our entire board is always available - info@pumpingstationone.org.