Shanghai Hacking

When I got a chance to visit Shanghai this autumn, there were two priorities: visit the local hackerspace and check out some electronics markets. I made a trip to downtown Shanghai armed with addresses written on paper at my hotel, which I then showed to taxi drivers to move around my attractions.

First on the tour was the SEG electronics market.

The streets were filled with small stores full of components and mechanical parts new and old. There seems to be a lot of reusing of old industrial machinery parts. This is the kind of place you would come to shop for CNC machine parts!

On on side of the road filled with small electronics shops you find a large commercial center looking market place. You step inside and realize you are inside a shopping mall of electronics parts. Even though Shenzhen is the main hotspot for components, some of what you order online could be shipped from the SEG electronics market in Shanghai. I lost count of the floors, maybe there are 8, who knows.

This isn’t the place where you come to buy a camera or a laptop, this is a hacklab members’ dream come true.


The Shaghai hackerspace is called Xin Che Jian. I bribed myself in with some Fazer chocolate and a postcard from the JKL Hacklab which is now on the Xin Che Jian fridge.

This hackerspace is located in a startup incubator building, many small companies are close to each other. What amazed me the most was the huge helicopter simulator in the middle of the hackerspace which is used for real flight training. I also loved the aquaponic setups and the good feeling they gave, we also need some biohacking in JKL.

The hackerspace is a little bigger than ours, but not by much. I was jealous of the machining tools and the laser cutter. Everything had it’s place and the space was cozy. You notice that a hackerspace becomes what it’s members need it to be, just like it should.

Xin Che Jian was the first Hackerspace in China. The members told me that there aren’t many genuine hackerspaces in China because everything becomes business driven. However, rents are so high that funding a non-profit hackerspace is extremely difficult. It’s a good reminder to us about how precious our hacklab is and that we have to remain independent of profit oriented funding. A hacklab should be a place to relax and socialize, the profitable job is somewhere else. Of course innovation is encouraged and teamwork can lead to great things.

A big thanks to the wonderful people at the Xin Che Jian and welcome to Finland, we are waiting!


A visit to Kortepohja “DDR” premises

Membership count in our Hacklab has been growing at a rapid rate. It’s great to have a lot of people at the club evenings on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Nevertheless, the space can become a little crowded and there has been a growing need to do metal, wood and other mechanical work at the lab. We would love to have a dedicated area for heavier work that might create noise and dust.

We have identified the need to find a bigger Hacklab space and have kept our eyes open in case something pops up, and it now has.

The Kortepohja student village invited us to have a look at their DDR-style  MNOP building. The space offered has been used as a gym and consists of four rooms, the largest being 54 m². One of the rooms has access to the street level outside door and could be used for messier projects and fixing bicycles for example. There is a kitchen and possibilities to store all our treasures.

The total space at the DDR building is more than 100 m². It seems very functional and all the rooms are conveniently next to each other. The student village representatives are interested in renting the space for the Hacklab. One possibility could be to punch a door through the adjacent wall of two of the rooms to open the area up even more. Another idea was to share the bomb shelter space with JYY and use it as storage. When the Hacklab grows it could then rent the whole bomb shelter from JYY.

The overall feel of the DDR space was very good. Moving to a bigger space would allow us to have dedicated space for various machines to work with materials such as wood and metal. The new space would also provide more desk area for projects and socialising. There was also talk about a Hacklab sauna. 🙂 Hopefully soon we will have a spacious state of the art lab for our current and future members to enjoy. Fingers crossed!