The builders, dabblers and tinkerers who opened a community workshop have moved into a new downtown Akron home and are inviting the public to come see their toys and take a tour on Saturday.
SYN/HAK last year joined a growing trend of “hackerspaces” — physical places where people can socialize, work on individual projects or collaborate.
Members who pay $35 a month have 24-hour access to a wall full of hand tools, a wood and metal workshop, a 3-D printer, mold maker, sewing machines and computers with every operating system.
Six days a week, the facility is also open for a few hours to the general public, with the space and all but the most dangerous equipment available for free use.
There’s no paid staff, just a group of engineers, mechanics, program designers and other creative types who pooled resources and accepted donations from friends and family to outfit what they call their “dream garage.”
They also hold free public classes on everything from woodworking and soldering to jewelry making and art.
When they opened SYN/HAK in an old warehouse on North Street last year, they welcomed walk-ins to use their space.
In December, the group found a new spot almost twice the size for the same rent. Dozens of folks chipped in muscle and trucks to move SYN/HAK’s gadgets and gizmos to 48 S. Summit St. in downtown Akron, a single-story, red-brick building that housed the old Zinc Engraving. For $500 a month, the group now has 4,000 square feet to spread out.
Saturday’s open house is from noon to 6 p.m., with food and refreshments, tours of the space, and brief demonstrations of the available equipment.
The public is also invited to SYN/HAK’s weekly membership meetings, held on site at 7 p.m. every Tuesday.
The nonprofit’s efforts have received a nod of confidence from the Akron Community Foundation, whose Knight Foundation Donor Advised Fund gave the group a $15,000 unsolicited grant this month.
“We have so far managed to survive at SYN/HAK without any grants,” board member Gaurav Narain Saxena noted.
But the dreams of members are bigger than their wallets — they want to reach out to schools and businesses and hold summer programs for kids on things like 3-D printing and rocketry — so Saxena said he began the grant application process. Akron Community Foundation offered support before he’d even finished.
“We’re so excited,” he said.
This week, members have been finishing their biggest project to date: making the Summit Street space ready for its public debut.
Volunteers have spent the past two months on everything from repairing the roof to installing cables and wiring. Sherwin-Williams donated paint and supplies to spruce up the interior.
“We basically have been building the site from scratch,” Saxena said.
He added that he’s particularly thrilled that the new space has heating and air conditioning. Members were at the mercy of space heaters at the old warehouse.
“From a working standpoint, it’s really nice to be comfortable,” Saxena said.
For more information on SYN/HAK, visit http://www.synhak.org or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Paula Schleis can be reached at 330-996-3741 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/paulaschleis.