Monthly Archives: December 2011

Hackerspace Passports and the Big CNC now working!

You might have seen the Hackerspace Passport concept recently. Mitch Altman, inveterate hacker and noisebridge organiser came up with the idea, and it’s taken off like wildfire. 

Make sure you get your hackerspace passport stamped next time you’re in the space! If you don’t have a passport you can:

Get your notebook stamped instead! 

Download the PDF here and print your own

Buy a passport from Seeedstudio here for less than $3

Next time you’re going travelling, you might want to check the list of hackerspaces to see if there’s a place you can drop in and see what they’re up to. It’s getting harder and harder to find a city where there isn’t one now!

Members from RnD have visited hackerspaces all around America, Japan, China, Europe and also been visited by people from all over the world in return. 

It’s actually quite easy to make your own stamp, if you have access to a lasercutter. And it turns out common lino (easily obtainable at a craft shop) works like a treat with raster engraving.

Here’s the lino being laser engraved and cut: (Note: it’s important to check your rubber material doesn’t contain PVC or chlorine before lasering. Use the ‘copper stick in a blowtorch test’ for this!’)

The Big CNC:

A while ago Scott McDaid kindly donated to the space a large ‘Joe’s CNC’ he built. It’s a beautiful machine and has had many hours of work put into its construction. 

The work envelope of the machine is huge, 600x1200 at least and it’s capable of milling wood, plastic and some metals. 

We’ve just gotten it set up in the garage and got the cabling sorted out. Need to add some e-stops and things, but it looks pretty good so far!

Big thanks to Ada and Pauline for the setup. 

Here’s a vid of the machine in operation. It’s cutting a depth-mapped version of our logo. Sadly we only had 6mm tools, so it’s a little like drawing with a crayon. But you can see the concept:

Testing the large CNC from Gavin Smith on Vimeo.

Bit en Nieuw 2011

Bit en Nieuw 2011*! Het oud- en nieuwfeestje voor nerds uit Amersfoort, Omstreken en ${plaats_waar_jij_woont}

Middels een zorgvuldige selectieprocedure bent u uitverkoren om deel te nemen aan Bit en Nieuw 2011.

Dit is een zeer exclusieve, persoonlijke, en eenmalige uitnodiging voor HET nerd-eindejaarsfeest (ook voor niet nerds) bij Bitlair [adres onderaan].

Op de avond, die vanaf 15:00 begint en ergens ${tijd_in_de_volgende_ochtend} ophoudt kunt u genieten van vuur, lawaai, voeder en gezelligheid.

Parkeren kan aan de overkant bij het ziekenhuis, waar je misschien ook wakker wordt: nyan wij houden je niet tegen. Er is vollop mate(tm)(R)(C) en meuk aanwezig voor uw sugarcode rush.

Entree is gratis, meenemen van eigen subwoofer met bijbehorende bekabeling is welkom. Mocht je de herrie niet kunnen uitstaan: genoeg vuurkorven en ruimte om je van deze herrie te onttrekken.

Bij genoeg animo is er een mogelijkheid tot het vertonen van de nodige films en, mocht u hier behoefte aan hebben, meeblèren met de aftel-ceremonie naar 0:00 uur. Er zal voldoende champagne aanwezig zijn (Maar als je zeker wilt weten dat er genoeg is kun je altijd zelf meer mee nemen). Ook voor de oliebollen is gezorgd en hier geldt eigelijk hetzelfde [MOAR because MOAR!!1eleven!!1a]

Mocht u nog voorwerpen hebben die ritueel verbrand kunnen worden zijn deze welkom. Hier onder een paar voorbeelden:
Uw vuurwerk paket (gelieve kompleet, in zak)
KPN Experiaboxen
Incriminerend bewijsmateriaal
Fotos van oude geliefden
Microsoft Vlaggen
Oracle dingen
Blauwe enveloppen
$dingen die lastiger zijn om af te zinken dan te verbranden

Deze uitnodiging is voor jouw en een +1

Mocht je in gaat op deze uitnodiging stuur dan even een mailtje naar (mocht je niet op de public lijst willen staan meld dat dan even)
of voeg je zelf toe aan

ps. er is geen alcohol aanwezig (afgezien van champanje) mocht je hier toch behoefte aan hebben neem het dan zelf mee

Mocht je behoefte hebben aan slaap ruimte laat die dan even per email weten.

Het is hierzo:
Heiligerbergerweg 144b
3816 AN   Amersfoort
Tel: 033 711 4 666

* = het enige nyancat certified oudejaarsfeest van Nederland {nyanyanyanyanyanyanyanyan}

Luke’s DIY Audio Fabrication

Here’s a project done by Luke Emrose this Saturday on the space’s CNC. It looks pretty cool and was made entirely with free tools!

Here’s some wiki info if you want to make a board yourself:

Without further ado, I’ll hand it over to Luke:

Hi there!

Sorry for the big e-mail, but I was excited….
Thanks to some outstanding help from Gav and talsit and a few others at the space this evening, I used the CNC machine for the first time ever ;-)
Even better, probably just through sheer luck, it was very successful too!
Here is the PCB that I made:
The eagle layout and circuit diagram ( which I successfully proved “should work" using the free LTSpice circuit simulator - found from bits and pieces I’ve found online about the API 2520 discrete operational amplifier ):

First the copper etching stage:

Then the holes are drilled for the parts:

Then the board is milled out to it’s final shape:
Here are some “pose" shots ;-):

For those of you still reading, this is a discrete operational amplifier ( DOA ) board, which I designed out of necessity, because the “real-thing" ( an API 2520 DOA ) was too expensive for me ( my board is an alternative for the little square board in this pic ):

Also the “real-thing" is made from a double-sided board.
I wanted a cheaper and simpler alternative so I crammed the entire thing onto a single sided board that was designed to be easy and simple to CNC:
I’m going to use it as one of 8 DOA’s I am building to go into 4 channels of custom-designed compression for my home-studio.
The finished unit/s might somewhat resemble ( I hope ) 4 of these:
but I’m not sure yet, as I am still designing it….
However, thanks to the space, I’m off to a good start.
Next step is soldering the bits on the little board and turning it on and hoping it ACTUALLY WORKS!
Luke Emrose
aka evolutionary theory

Success! We got our new ‘Up!’ 3D printer!

Hi All,

As you might have seen we put out a call to get our own ‘Up!’ 3D printer. Well, we had a phenomenal response and got enough pledges in a just couple of days to order it!

The box arrived shortly after:

We got it unpacked and into its new home:

The plastic enclosure helps to keep the print at a constant temperature throughout. It’s not really needed, but we had it laying around and we figured we’d try and go above and beyond to ensure quality of prints on our new machine. 

The Up is staggeringly user friendly and hassle free. We were up and printing in about 20 mins!

and we’ve been printing ever since:

Quadcopter parts:

Dalek model & cookie cutter:

And the obligatory companion cube:

New toys at the shop

Happy holidays, everybody!

23b got a Christmas present a little early. We now have updated manufacturing capability as the proud new owners of an [antique] Bridgeport mill. There's a motorcycle shop down the street from our unit that had some equipment no longer needed, so it's ours now. This is a 1955 Bridgeport M-head round ram mill, pretty much the last of its kind before switching to a dovetail ram. It's about 2/3 the size of a more modern Series 1 mill, which works out perfectly for our limited footprint at the shop. The electrical was hooked up today, thanks to Queeg, Dano and Arclight. Hopefully by the 1st of the year, we should be cutting chips. Combined with our lathe and welders, we are now your one-stop-shop for the upcoming zombie apocalypse in 2012.

The Vortex Lamp

Yet another electro-mechanical lamp/light project. A vortex lamp for your desktop, living room or as a night light.

The lamp produces a spinning water vortex inside a glass, that is then illuminated with LEDs.

Another look (sorry for the poor photo quality)

Similar to how a magnetic stirrer works, a motor will spin a permanent magnet creating a spinning magnetic field. Placing a ferromagnetic metal within that field will cause it to spin as well. The metal spins without making any physical contact with the magnet or motor. The spinning motion of the metal stirs the water in the glass, creating a twister/vortex effect.

The stirrer used is a paperclip, coated with epoxy (to prevent rusting)

Parts are pretty basic. The (somewhat) difficult thing is sourcing for the Neodymium magnet . Any kind of magnet won’t do, especially those ferrite fridge magnets. It has be a neodymium magnet for it to work. Or at least the old school samarium cobalt magnet (if you can find one). I got mine from a dead hard drive. Other source of these magnets would be those magnet therapy bracelets (though the price is an utter rip-off). If not, you’re going to have to shop online as neodymium can’t really be purchased off the shelf (at least in this part of the world).
Magnet stuck to the middle of a standard PC cooling fan. The blades were cut off.
A tall drinking glass as the vortex cylinder.
The thickness of the bottom of the glass is very important. If it’s too thick, then the magnetic field that reaches the stirrer will be too weak. If you’re stuck with a thick bottomed glass, put a lid on it and use it upside down like I did.
The shape and depth or the vortex is more dependant on the shape and size of the stirrer (paperclip) used. Fiddle around with different sizes to get your preferred vortex.
The fins house the LEDs, while limiting the light into a narrow vertical beam. I found that the beam, being perpendicular to the vortex, produces the best illumination effect compared to other placements. The fins were cut from old DVD case.
Final touch, light diffuser added on the fin’s opening. It is made of clear transparency plastics layered with double sided tape. These tapes make quite good light diffuser.
So that’s it, happy hacking/ making.

Podcast with James, Willow, and other educational superstars


As you all likely know, my intent is always towards education. I don’t mean traditional systems, though that works for some folk quite well (myself included). I mean the simple act of learning. The fulfillment and deepening of curiosity. It means an engagement with the world that can only be temporarily dimmed by complacency. It means the survival and prosperity of individuals, their community, and the superorganism we all compose together. But for me it’s one simple idea:

Education is the best possible fulcrum for social change.

Everyone interacts with it, even if it’s explicitly not to. Everyone agrees our current systems are broken. And through the examination of those systems, we come to understand our cultures, and how we are affected by and effecting those cultures.

I’ve gotten into 50-comment-deep threads on Google Reader before (sadface to my recently departed favorite social forum) about this sort of cultural awareness, so let me explain a bit more.
I can support whatever choices someone is making, even if I don’t fully get it or if it doesn’t seat well with my personal world view. I can only do this, though, if they have examined those choices in light of other cultural knowledge. I respect the Catholics of Seattle I’ve met because they have also understood science, Greek mythology, and what they personally get out of religion. They have educated themselves about many aspects of culture and decided what works best for them.

This is what got me into Transhumanism – that we are at a point in our evolution where through awareness, we can become self-determining. It’s why I have “we are the machine” as my first tattoo – our interactions with each other are what set us going in certain directions. That is ultimate compassion and ambition.

So. This brings us to the most recent Brainmeats podcast. It’s me and LishaJames Carlson, my mentor and founder of BucketworksBeth Kolko, awesome education hacker at University of WashingtonPete Hall, another amazing education hacker, though in Auckland; Dale Dougherty of MAKE and various hands-on education initiatives; and Kushal Chakrabarti of education microloan foundation Vittana. I have the absurd pleasure of calling each of these folk “friend,” some even “dear friend” or “partner in crime.”

RnD Halloween Party 2011

Very sorry for the lateness and after several bribes (Thanks Judit!) I’m posting the photos of the event now.

We had our Halloween Party the other day and it was a load of fun! 

With our regular costume contest:

Our traditional Watermelon carving contest: (with obligatory LED illumination)

Malcolm brought his homemade Segway and we all had a ride:

Nick brought in his new Barbot and made drinks for everyone:

People brought in baked treats:

It was a blast. 

More photos of everyone’s costume after the break:

Bec as a surgeon:

Me as Joel Robinson/Mike Nelson from Mystery Science Theatre: (Yes, those silhouettes are laser cut!)

Inggrid as Death from the Sandman series:

David as a mad scientist:

Scott as an outback hero:

Jaz busted out his awesome Ghostbusters costume again:

Jen as a faerie: 

Alastair (from Make Hack Void in Canberra) as Battlestar Gallactica Guy: (Sorry, I don’t watch the show!)

Ruth (also from Make Hack Void) as a pirate:

Miklos did an astounding impersonation of Dilbert:

Julian as a vampire:

Chris as Tweedledum/Tweedledee:

HSKL Meeting Notes for 17/12/2011


  • Kakeman
  • Mel
  • Marcus
  • Tinker
  • Syed
  • Tracey
  • sweemeng



  1. Balance in account: Negative RM2290.51
  2. RM350 From HITB Booth
  3. Members That Paid, 7
  4. Members That Haven’t Paid, 6
  5. Total owed by unpaid,  RM1850 until Dec
  6. Moving Forward:Actively Sending Reminder to Members for the membership dues
  7. To remind members of payment dues
  8. Per Members Payment, and dues record, and automated reminder.
  9. Building lease continue until end of 2012


  1. There will not be increase in fees,
  2. There will be a optional extra contribution, for members that want to contribute more money.
  3. Add donation button i.e paypal and alternative in blogs. Get help from sniffit
  4. Money from donation use mel’s paypal account.
  5. Suggestion: Add a centralized bank account for HSKL under mel.
  6. Test run on ads on blogs. Ads format, make it relevant to community.

HSKL Direction 2012

  1. Group Study for Stanford Machine Learning and Crypto class on weekend, depend class schedule
  2. Monthly electronic project, with kits, one friday for one month.
  • We prepare the kit
  • The participant will pay for the kit, the price shall include some contribution to the space
  • Anyone can start joining
  1. We should start Workshops,
  • no tentative schedule.
  • Anyone with participate with donation.
  • Not formal.
  • It will depends on those that want to coordinate it
  1. Security meet up,
  • first Tuesday of the month, tentative.
  • Get OWasp to get involved.
  • We provide a space, and reserved for Security Meetup.
  • Member do not need pay
  1. We offer a space to other community
  • Members come in for free. If payment ever needed
  • Standard Rule apply Read the wiki
  1. Google spreadsheet for events
  2. AGM in 2012, so need item, action item, who is responsible.
  3. Update google calendar


  1. EShop, is a go.
  2. Accept electronics junks
  3. Help the space button, with donation for both money and toys

The note is online in