@Cat Co-Working and Penang Makerspace

Visiting Penang’s makerspace, Malaysia 

During my stay in Malaysia I discovered Penang’s makerspace which looked very promising.

Location

@Cat Co-Working and Penang Makerspace
@Cat Co-Working and Penang Makerspace

The island is a nice spot to spend some time but don’t expect too much from the beach, it’s small and busy. Malaysia is a Muslim country so you might be the only one wearing a bikini. And finally, expect a lot of traffic on what looks more like a squeezed city than an island. You can feel my thoughts, can’t you 😀

Penang’s makerspace is situated at the ground floor of @Cat Co-working space, near the Jetty. Map. The enormous colonial building has been freshly renovated. While the Internet connection is very bad on Penang island, this place has an absolutely giant connection speed.

There’s also a museum and a café, a little over priced but is uses the same good WiFi.

The place is at the initiative of the Malaysian government who’s intended to do a silicon valley like area. This brought in fundings, investors, donations BUT… that is also a problem. First thing is, workers are public sector employees, and my feeling was like they don’t care about you and me. If you want to know anything you’ll have to ask. If you want to 3D print but THE printer guy is on holiday for a week, well, just come back in a week because the other 10 won’t show you. Secondly there is little flexibility, let me explain :

Service and Equipment

In order to bring my Idea to IoT, I was looking for a Makerspace that would allow me to develop a prototype. This involved SMT reflow.

Because Penang’s makerspace is owned by the government, asking for help in acquiring a missing equipment is difficult. You know, bureaucracy. They actually suggested that I should buy or build and donate the equipment myself.

There is free basic electronic equipment such as soldering stations. No subscription, just walk in and start making. Awesome.

For a small membership fee you get access to a very large panel of wood work tools, advanced electronic equipment like spectrum analyser and [to be completed]. And of course the usual 3D printer.

Taxes

Window view from @Cat
Window view from @Cat

It is also good to note, Penang and surrounding area benefit from tax free importation on electronic parts. This means not paying any custom fees that can be as high as 30% or more.

Conclusion

Penang’s public makerspace has a lot of potential, yet what makes it strong is also making it very weak. If you are a Digital Nomad maker you should checkout Makerspace Thailand.

Hi there! I'm Jérôme from France, currently a UK based freelance engineer and a globe trotter. My main experience is Embedded Software with Electronics Engineering. In fact, I love experiencing much broader things, learning new skills on the go, that's certainly why I like IoT.

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