ESP8266 closeup
[This post by SHH&M member Steve]

During the early discussions about our new space at Portland Works we decided it would be good to have an RfID access system, and that this would communicate with a server over the network. This immediately sparked my interest as I had recently taken delivery of some new modules that I had been dying to have a play with, the ESP8266-01.

The ESP8266 is a chip that enables wifi access, with communication over a simple UART (serial) connection. The main selling point of this chip is that it is very low cost compared to other Wifi solutions, typically £2-3 per module. Another huge advantage is its ability to act as a standalone microcontroller – more on that later…. Continue reading


SHH&M are proud to announce that we’re officially incorporated as a company! We’re a member-run, non-profit Community Interest Company, with the mission of “helping people in Sheffield to make creative use of technology and tools for hobby-scale projects in fields such as computers, machining, technology, science, and digital or electronic art”.

More simply, we’re a Hackspace for Sheffield.

These are very early days for us, but if you’re interested get in touch!

At the moment, we’re busy renovating our new home in the Portland Works in central Sheffield. Our first proper public events will be very soon!


Most of our members’ hacking time is going into the new space at the moment: getting the fabric of the building repaired, and setting up our infrastructure (some posts on our adventures with the ESP8266 WiFi modules should be up soon!). But as a Sunday project, I tried picking up a new technique — sewing a waistcoat from a pattern. Continue reading

Ceiling boards in workshop

Our dirty workshop is now almost ready to use! We’ve had a big job getting this far, stripping the walls and ceiling of nailed up carpets, chipboard, disused conduits and wiring, flaking paint, and a century of grime. After a bit of gymnastics and a lot of dust our ceiling boards are in, and the walls are re-pointed and missing bricks replaced. A bit of painting and sweeping to do, then our first room is usable as a hackspace!

Tea, concert and ball newspaper

At the SHH&M new premises, where we are currently “Hacking the space”, as well as having found the knives, we have also found multiple sections of newspapers, ranging from the later part of the early 19th century to early 20th century (see photo). Many of these were actually fashioned into a wrapping, held together with a single length of tied string, which look to have been used to cover the knife blades. The advantage of these is that the newspaper clippings are relatively well preserved. Other pieces of newspaper have been rolled up into balls and are less easy to read.

Among the items that could be read was a flyer for the Sheffield Table Blade Grinders’ Association “Tea, Concert and Ball” on Thursday 31st December, in Lower Cutlers’ Hall. Unfortunately, a section on the left hand side has been removed, but what remains tells of “Tea at 5 o’clock, including Ham, Tongue and Beef Sandwiches, Pork Pie, &C., of the finest quality”. This will be followed by the concert at 7 o’clock, with performances from Mr F Barraclough (a Comic) and Mr H Ashmore (a Tenor), as well some acrobats.

newspapers crumpled

Prices for the event were 1/6 for Gentlemen and 1/3 for Ladies as perhaps they didn’t eat as much, given that tickets for just the Concert and Ball were 1/- each.

An exciting find while renovating the small room at our new HQ. Found in the ceiling were a collection of about 20 different knives and blades (finest Sheffield Steel of course!) wrapped in newspapers dating from 1890, 1885 and 1881! The Portland Works was home to Robert Mosley, the first manufacturer of stainless steel cutlery that carried our city’s name into kitchens and dining rooms across the world, and this looks like his work. Maybe SHH&M’s new home is one of his old workshops? After getting a lot of interest, we’ve passed them to the resident historian at Portland Works to make sure they’re properly preserved and put on display.


Click through for more images of the trove!
Continue reading


Exciting times here at SHHM! We’re moving into our new space at the Portland Works. It’s an amazing building that’s been central to Sheffield’s industrial history, and is now run as “a community owned home for traditional crafts and creative arts”. We’ll fit in well!


We have big plans for this space: as a workshop for your projects, a classroom to learn new skills and techniques, and a social hub for hackers, makers and geeks in Sheffield. For now, though, we’re stripping it back to the bricks and making a blank canvas to work from. Everyone is very welcome to join us, but for the next few weeks while we’re building you should expect to get dirty!


Retro IBM monitor with raspeberry pi
One of our members, James Muirhead, managed to get a classic IBM monitor working with his Raspberr pi! He says:

Reasons for doing this…

I’ve had this monitor knocking about in the attic (used for years in the 90s) for years and I’ve wanted to do something like this. It’s taken me a while to get an HDMI to VGA adapter which actually supports 640×480 @ 60Hz.

I was partly doing this for estetic reason (it’s awesomely retro) and partly because it’s an old device I wanted to breath new life into. I always try to reuse before recycling.

Required config.txt changes

hdmi_drive=2 (if audio supported by VGA adapter).

When it first started I saw nothing but green snow. I thought it wasn’t working so I tried all the different relevent settings. It however turned out that I needed to restart the Pi somehow, whether by bridging the reset pins (this requirtes a Revision 2 Raspberry Pi), or by using sudo reboot from SSH command line (via network).

Future expansion

If I were to make this a perfamant build (I don’t have the desk space or the spare Pi right now).

  • I will likely wire a Solid State Relay to control power to the monitor from a pin on the GPIO (this monitor is way too early for automatic power control).
  • I would also probably create some from of circuit to reset the Raspberry Pi automatically (to avoid green snow). Either using a 555N in monostable mode or a suitably programmed ATtiny45/85.

Last week as part of our research in to opening our own hackspace, one of our members contacted Space. Nottingham was one of the first hack spaces to pop up in the UK, it followed on from London. Arrangements were then made to go and visit. This was to gather as much information as possible related to running/setting up a Hack Space. They have a free open night every Wednesday open to the public.

Whilst we were there we got a tour of the space. It is split in to three different sections as shown below…

The Lounge Area
The Lounge Area

Above is the Lounge area. This is the first room you enter in the space. This is where members sit down, have a chat and chill. The room has a fully kitted media system with a projector and sound equipment, plus mood lighting. They have all of the kit to host presentations/talks. Or you can kick back and watch a film. Around the room there were interesting as well as unique items that had been collected over the years. The collection included old test gear, audio recording equipment and much more.

The main hack/event area
The main hack/event area

The main making area is where most of the activity takes place. In this room is a collection of kit for members to use. This includes sewing and craft kit and 3D Printers. Below is a list of some of the tools that Nottingham’s Hackspace has on offer to it’s members.

– House hold sewing machine
– Industrial sewing machine
– A store of materials and accessories
– Cutting table
– Pursa Mensel 3D Printer
– Craft supply’s
and the best bit…
– An RFID accessed vending machine

Lots of really cool power tools
Lots of really cool power tools
Electronic work area
Electronic work area

The final section was the workshop, this was fantastic! Every machine that you would need for general hacking was there including…

– Hand tools
– Electronic testing equipment
– Soldering irons
– Hand drills
– Hammer drill
– Table saw
– Mitre saw
– The all important Laser Cutter!
– Metal lave
– Manual mill

the list goes on and on…

The overall assortment of tools was astonishing. Nottingham’s hackspace now has around 350 members and counting. Their laser cutter was purchased from , who import laser cutters then modify and improve them before selling them on. The laser cutter runs from an RFID system linked in to the power cable, so members pay per hour of use. It is a really good idea especially seeing how you can keep track on who is using the machine.

Overall it was a very successful event. All of our questions where answered, giving us a lot more information than we started with. We would like to thank everyone there who showed us around and made us feel welcome. You can visit Nottingham’s Hackspace website here: or you can follow them on Twitter .

Just to round off the evening Nottingham Hackspace donated a used railway clock to us. A whole host of Arduino code is publicly available on Git Hub. Altogether as a group we can’t thank everyone enough especially James who helped answer our questions and everyone else who showed us around the space.

Cheers Nottingham :-)

The railway clock in the back of Steves car
The railway clock in the back of Steves car