Keep Your Hackerspace Safe By Only Allowing Access to Trained Members

As far as we here at Hackster are concerned, hackerspaces are one of the greatest things to happen to the maker community. Tools are expensive, and most aren’t used often, so spreading that cost out across a whole group is sensible and beneficial to everyone. But, those tools—particularly machine tools like lathes and mills—are dangerous. It’s not dramatic to say that many of those tools can maim or kill a person.

To keep people from hurting themselves and the tools, most hackerspaces only allow members to use those tools once they’ve be trained. Of course, that doesn’t stop members who aren’t trained from using them when nobody is looking. Luckily, a bit of technology can be a literal lifesaver here, and Bigts076 has a tutorial that will show you how to set it up.

The idea behind the system is simple: each machine tool has a wirelessly-connected relay on the the power cord (preferably in some sort of lock box). This keeps the tool powered off until someone who has been trained is ready to use it. When that trained member is ready, they simply swipe an RFID card and the machine powers on.

Many hackerspaces already use RFID access systems in order for members to get into the building itself, so this setup shouldn’t be too inconvenient. The member only needs to swipe their RFID card, and an Arduino sends a signal to the machine tool’s relay to turn it on. This solution is both inexpensive and fairly trivial to put into use, which makes it the perfect way to keep your hackerspace’s members and tools safe.