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Work in progress.

The space

What is the address?

The mailing address for HackPgh is:

HackPgh 1936 Fifth Ave Pittsburgh, PA 15219

However, the shop entrances are on Jumonville Street and Watson Street (Watson is more of an alley).

How do I get access?

Become a member for $50/month and you'll get an RFID card key for 24/7 access to the shop. For seniors, students and veterans membership is $30/month.

To become a member, sign up at at https://hackpgh.org/get-involved/ -- scroll down a bit to the "Join Now" button. To get an access key, come to one of the many public events at HackPgh including the members meetings (see below) and asking a board member for one. There should be a board member always available at member's meetings, and at open shop tours on Monday and Saturday nights. If you need to set up a time outside that, contact the board by either emailing info@hackpgh.org or asking on Slack.

Can I visit?

You're welcome to visit during public events, including the members meetings (see below) or to stop by for a shop tour, either by contacting the board and scheduling it or by coming to the space during one of the regularly scheduled Open Shop nights, which are currently at 7:30pm on Mondays and Saturdays (or check the calendar at https://hackpgh.org/calendar/ ).

Members Meetings

Members meetings are held twice a month and are open to the public. Members meetings are held at 7:30pm on the first Wednesday and third Tuesday of every month (or check the calendar at https://hackpgh.org/calendar/).


I don't need to join but just want a place to work on a small project for a day or two, can you help?

Sure! The main problem is finding an existing member who can be there while you work, since non-members can't be in the shop un-escorted. If you know someone willing to do that already, there's no problem. If not, there's often people around anyway, especially on weekends, and during open shop hours on the calendar. Members meetings are open to the public and are also a good place to pitch ideas to people.

That said, we love doing this. Previous visitors have included traveling artists, school robotics teams, STEM education workshops from Zimbabwe, all sorts of cool stuff. All we ask is that you let people know on social media or whatever how awesome we are.  ;-) Though sticking a donation in the donation box is always welcome.

I want to build X, is there anyone who can help? Can I hire you guys to make something for me?

Like the previous question, the main problem is finding someone to help you out. HackPGH itself does not generally take commissions or projects as an entity; we've done it a few times and it's seldom gone well. We aren't organized to be a contract shop and most members are here to have fun, not work for other people. That said, it does happen. What you need to do is find one or more individual members who are willing to help out.

To do this, you can email info@hackpittsburgh.org and we can pass on your request in our member chatroom channel, or come to a member's meeting and make a pitch.

What we NEED is a mailing list people can post to for that sort of thing and easily connect to members who might be interested, but we don't have one yet.

Can people under 18 join?

Unfortunately, no. For some reason insurance companies really don't like the idea of children and band-saws being part of the same institution, and since we're run by volunteers we can't promise that there will be people around to provide supervision. If parents are members then they are welcome to bring children 6+ though whenever they are present.

There are several other maker spaces in Pittsburgh that are kid-friendly though. In no particular order:

I want to join but can't afford it, help?

Alas, memberships pay the rent for the space, so there's only so much we can do. There's a few options though:

  • We have lower-priced memberships for seniors, veterans, students and disabled people.
  • Sometimes members will cover other people's membership for a little bit, though it's rare.
  • If someone's been a member for a while it's honestly not uncommon for them to go broke for a few months and then make the payment up to the space when they can.

More options for helping people out with money are something we want to do, but it's been discussed for a looooong time and we've never found a satisfactory solution. Providing some slots for people who get membership in exchange for helping maintain the space is probably going to happen at some point though.

Admin stuff

Who runs the place?

We do! Everyone. The membership votes on major matters, and the board is elected from the membership, by the membership, to handle everyday matters. The whole point of HackPGH is that the space belongs to the members -- if there's something about the shop you want to improve, something that needs to be done, just go ahead and do it. Large shop projects, changes to the rules and other significant issues get brought up to vote at member's meetings, and are voted on by the membership online.

Can I donate?

Yes! We are a 503(c) registered nonprofit, so all donations are tax deductable. You don't have to sign up to donate. Come by at a public event, drop it off, and get a board member to sign off on it. That said, we have a limited amount of space and we aren't Construction Junction, so some things we can't/won't accept.

Things we like:

  • Weird electronics (Got a NeXTCube or old server? We'll find a good home for it somewhere.)
  • Machine tools (Engraving tool from an old watchmaker's shop? We're down for it.
  • Hand tools (wrenches, screwdrivers, electric drills, etc)
  • Old weird stuff (the power hacksaw from the 1920's is always fun to mess with)

Things we have enough of:

  • Scrap lumber
  • Old furniture
  • Tables
  • Broken office chairs

Things we can't/won't take:

  • Clothes
  • Exciting chemicals
  • Most things much bigger than a desk -- If it's something real useful we might take it, but it would have to replace something we already have

How does the board work?

The board consists of five people. The board must be HackPGH members, and are voted on by the members. Terms are two years, and there's an election every year.

There are five board positions: President, Vice-President, Treasurer, Secretary, Operations. People don't get voted into specific positions: they just get voted into the board, and then the board sorts out among themselves who does what. Not all positions will always be filled at the same time.

The board handles day-to-day stuff, as well as being the public "face" of HackPGH and trying to provide some sort of coherent direction and long-term planning. The real people who run HackPGH are the members though. The board can only spend a limited amount of HackPGH's money without a member's vote, and any changes to rules have to be voted on as well. The board doesn't really "run" the place as much as just keep it running.

Who's on the board?

As of 2019:

  • Simon Heath, El Presidente Magnifico
  • Sean Guzek, El Vice Presidente Ordinario
  • Becky Zadjel, Secretary Who Actually Runs Everything
  • Bethany Klick, Treasurer Who Keeps Us Organized
  • Adam Longwill, That One Guy Who Keeps Us Humble

When are board elections?

November of each year. (TODO: Confirm this is correct.)

Everyday stuff for members

How do I give tours?

It's pretty simple, in principle: Just show people around and talk about all the cool stuff. Some highlights to hit:

  • Cool tools like 3D printers, laser cutter, etc. Feel free to demo them. Ask what sorts of things they're interested in.
  • We're a non-profit run entirely by members volunteering
  • Members get 24/7 access
  • We often do classes, events, etc.

How do I get training on a tool?

We have regular tool trainings, check the calendar on the website. For most tools like the laser cutter, band saw, etc this doesn't take too long and most people know how to use them.

However, for some things like the lathe, welding equipment, so on, unless you know how to use a lathe or weld already you'll need a full-scale class to learn. If you know how to use the tool already you still need to have someone qualified give you a safety overview though, just for some assurance that you know how to not damage yourself or the tool. In either case, the best place to ask is probably either at a member's meeting, or on the tool-training channel on Slack.

Where does trash go?

Out front on 5th Ave, next to the small tree. Trash gets collected every Tuesday morning, and recycling gets collected every other Tuesday, so realistically it should get taken out on Monday nights. There should be a calendar on the whiteboard across the front door showing you which weeks are recycling weeks.

I want to run a class, have a party, or do some other event, how do I start?

Email the board! `info@hackpittsburgh.com`. We need the following info to schedule an event:

Preferred date or time, if any. Check out the calendar and find a free space you like, or just let us know what sort of time is good for you, and we'll figure stuff out.

  • Title: The title
  • Description: A short description, 3-4 sentences is good.
  • Who's handling it:
  • Age limitations: If any
  • Cost: If any
  • Registration limit: If applicable.

Someone wants to join, what do I do?

ezpz, direct them to https://hackpgh.org/get-involved/ . All the sign-up stuff can happen there. Honestly, we should have a shortcut to it on the shop computer, though I don't think we do. They'll need to come to a member's meeting or open shop night to get a key from a board member though.

How do I take care of a tool?

This should be covered in tool training, and also really needs to be documented somewhere sane. At the moment though, it's really down to asking someone who knows the tool how to care for it.

How do I lock up when I'm the last one leaving?

Check that:

  • Lights are out
  • Shop is vaguely clean
  • No dirty dishes in sink
  • No tools are left on.

I want to make a change to the shop, how do I do it?

It's your shop, go ahead and do it! If someone doesn't like it, they're free to change it back.  :-P

That said, to prevent hysteresis (and hysteria), for changes much larger than moving stuff around or decorating things, it's probably best to at least bring it up at a member's meeting and see what people say. If it's a large project for improving the space, such as painting, electrical work, etc then HackPGH will probably also pay for it. If it's something that involves modifying the actual building though, such as altering walls, doors etc. then we might have to check with our landlord as well.

Onoez, I have a complaint!

That sucks! We take complaints seriously. Please email the Board at info@hackpittsburgh.org . If you want to be anonymous, write it on a piece of paper and drop it in the safe. That doesn't get checked regularly though, so get a friend to email the Board letting them know that the complaint is there.