Fair Use Building and Research (FUBAR) Labs is New Jersey’s First Hackerspace, established in Highland Park in 2009 and now in New Brunswick since May 2015. FUBAR Labs was formed as a non-profit community based organization with the purpose of bringing makers, hackers, and tinkerers together to collaborate and share ideas and knowledge. We are a community of people with common interests, such as computers, electronics, DIY, software, technology, science, and crafts can meet and collaborate. We are an open community offering classes, workshops, study groups, and long term projects.
With a name like FUBAR , you can imagine we get a lot of questions if we know what it means. FUBAR, of course, is short for for Fair Use Building and Research Labs – a New Jersey Non-Profit Corporation. Why? What else could it mean? (for those still wondering, Google military acronym FUBAR)
Seriously though, depending on who ask you might get a slightly different response as to what FUBAR is. Some call us a Makerspace, some call us a Hackerspace, and some call us a FAB-LAB. Different names, but roughly the same definition. So, what is a makerspace?
Makerspace.org describes FUBAR and other makerspaces as such:
“...makerspaces are community centers with tools. Makerspaces combine manufacturing equipment, community, and education for the purposes of enabling community members to design, prototype and create manufactured works that wouldn’t be possible to create with the resources available to individuals working alone. These spaces can take the form of loosely-organized individuals sharing space and tools, for-profit companies, non-profit corporations, organizations affiliated with or hosted within schools, universities or libraries, and more. All are united in the purpose of providing access to equipment, community, and education, and all are unique in exactly how they are arranged to fit the purposes of the community they serve.
Makerspaces represent the democratization of design, engineering, fabrication and education. They are a fairly new phenomenon, but are beginning to produce projects with significant national impacts.”
Depending on who you are and how you have come across FUBAR, your view of that definition might vary slightly. For example, thousands of makers and spectators around the globe know FUBAR as a Power Racing team that spreads the maker movement word by competing in the Power Racing Series. For others FUBAR is a place that has taught them about Arduino, Raspberry Pi, or electronics. For others FUBAR members taught them a DIY skill at their local library or school, or they met one of us at the Bay Area Maker Faire, the World Maker Faire in New York, or a Mini Maker Faires, or the Geek Create Show, or the Steam Punk Worlds Faire, or the Hereos Conference for Gifted Children, or the Trenton Computer Fair, or during NJ Makers Day, or dozens of other venues we have attended and run workshops at.
Parents and young makers may know FUBAR from our Minecraft Circuits in Real Life series, our Minecraft to Maker series, or the Soldering Sunday Pixel Pal kits that started at FUBAR. University students may know FUBAR from the ChipKit FUBARINO microcontroller boards that their EE course is using.
Others may know FUBAR from Rick Anderson’s Pro Arduino book or his contributions to the Arduino code base; or Rick and Mark Sproul’s contributions to the MPIDE code and libraries. FUBAR also receives a lot of media attention from our members projects and some know us from Make Magazine or our appearance on the Discovery Channel Canada’s Daily Planet show. Hundreds of people know us from attending our Open Hack Nights, our Soldering Sundays, and our Meetups on topics such as CNC machining, laser cutting, 3D Printing, Intro to Electronics, Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Machine Shop Operations, MIT Scratch, Developing Apps for Android, Introduction to Ham Radio, or the dozens of other topics we have hosted.
Those into 3D printing may be using the Nylon-12 filament developed by RDM technologies which grew out of FUBAR Labs. For those into Bio Fuels you may know the FUBAR name from the awards our members have won advancing Bio Fuel technology. Maybe they have seen some of the media coverage, such as on Hackaday, on our member who has created a fully operational 3D printed Liquid Fuel Rocket Engine.
No matter how people know FUBAR, they all know that FUBAR members do things with passion and enthusiasm. FUBAR Labs has been the stepping stone for many innovators and entrepreneurs who have developed new products and services and businesses. At FUBAR we strive to enable everyone to reach their full potential and dreams and we are most passionate about encouraging the next generation of makers.
The Origins of FUBAR Labs
FUBAR Labs had a very humble beginning with only a handful of founding members meeting in a comic shop. The idea of establishing a makerspace in New Jersey grew out of those early meetings in the comic book shop in Highland Park, New Jersey. FUBAR. Labs in 2010 secured it’s own location and grew into a full makerspace with dedicated learning areas, a workshop and a 3D printer. The FUBAR community grew as others with an interest in making and tinkering soon saw FUBAR Labs as not just a place to learn and meet like minded individuals, but to share a passion of teaching others and expanding interests beyond our own. From these passions FUBAR became the stepping stone for many innovators and entrepreneurs who have developed new products and services and businesses.
With the explosion of maker spaces and DIY components more and more people started to come for Arduino and Raspberry Pi projects nights. They also came to learn soldering, electronics, 3D printing, and Laser Cutting. As the Maker community evolves and grows so does FUBAR Labs. We are on the precipice of a major transformation and you can be apart of this rare opportunity to be part of that transformation and help us make FUBAR Labs a beacon for makers and tinkers.
“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” – Thomas A. Edison
The opportunity to grow FUBAR truly came disguised, it came as a challenge to the very existence of FUBAR. For they past year or so we have known that our physical space was not going to support us long into the future. We had hoped to stay for an additional year, but in February this year we learned that we would not be able to continue on in our location. If not for the passion and resolve of our members, it could very well have meant the end of FUBAR. Instead, members pulled together and decided to take this challenge and turn it around and use it as an opportunity to go big. We were all a little scared, but we knew that going for a bigger space meant we could do more in the community. Everyone dug deep, planned, and searched for a suitable location. After several false starts and with our deadline fast approaching we found a location in Edison, New Jersey. On the eve of signing that lease – we lost that location as well.
Not willing to give up, we started the search again the very next morning. Down on our hopes we walked into the Technology Center of New Brunswick. The Technology Center is geared for venture backed incubators and high end professional laboratories. We never could have imagined that they would have space for us, nor could we have imagined that we could afford it. As it turned out they not only had a space that was available, they loved what they heard about FUBAR Labs and wanted to help us. After a few more discussions and with the support of the owner and his management team we struck the deal for our new location.
We see the new location of FUBAR as a launching pad for us to go to the next level and reach a wider audience in the community. We plan to have our overalls on for a very long time and we hope you will join us not just in this campaign, but as part of the ever growing FUBAR community.