Board Stupid!

Interested in learning how to design your own printed circuit boards? Come and join us for our Board Stupid evenings and we’ll show you how.

With the price of board manufacturing tumbling, and high-quality software tools available for free, there’s little to stop you having your circuit neatly captured on a PCB. You’ll be able to design smaller boards, use a far wider range of components, and say goodbye to nests of looping wires!

A group of us will be getting together roughly every other Monday at 8pm at rLab to share know-how, tips, tricks and fails, and offer advice and encouragement. There’s a mix of experience within the group, so whatever your level of expertise, there’ll likely be someone there who will be able to help.

We’re going to be focusing on using KiCad, because it is powerful, free and cross-platform – but if you already know and prefer a different package, that’s OK, the basic principles are the same.

If you’d like to come along, you don’t need to be a member (though a donation would be gratefully received) there’s no need to book – just turn up (Unit C1, Weldale St, RG1 7BX). We expect to meet roughly fortnightly starting August 8th 2016 and will confirm each event on our twitter feed in the week beforehand (@RDGhack).

Laser love

New member Tony has been getting to grips with our laser cutters/engravers and in the process has been testing a wide range of materials. The results are a fantastic demonstration of the creativity that can be unleashed when you have access to equipment that allows you to move from having a design to producing a ‘thing’ so quickly.

The gallery below plus together a selection of what he’s done so far – and this is just testing. Something tells me that there’s a lot more to come!

Repair Cafe – Sunday May 15th

Reading Repair CaferLab is proud to be hosting Reading Repair Cafe this Sunday, May 15th, between 12:00 and 16:30.

So if you have something that’s broken, or some tools that need sharpening, bring them down to Unit C1, Weldale Street, Reading, RG1 7BX, where the volunteers will be only too pleased to help you.

There will be plenty of expertise in computers, electricals, mending clothes; the right tools to get things fixed; and some cakes and food for sale too!

 

More details here and here too

Repair Cafe at rLab

Repair Cafe at rLab

Bright ideas: wifi-enabled, neopixel bedroom clock

Vance joined the Hackspace just before Christmas and has wasted no time in completing his first project. In that time he has mastered use of the laser-cutter, got to grips with programming wifi-enabled ESP8266 chips, designed his first printed circuit board, had it made by a board-house, and brought it all together in this ingenious bedroom clock.

Laser-cut, wifi-programmable, RGB-LED, light-sensitive clock

Laser-cut, wifi-programmable, RGB-LED, light-sensitive bedroom clock

The time is represented with twelve radial segments of frosted acrylic that are lit in red, green and blue according to the positions of the hour, minute and second hands. As the hands pass each other they combine to illuminate the room with an ever-changing pattern of coloured light (see video below). What’s more, he has made all the CAD design files for the parts, the code, and the PCB design in a repository and written a blog post to document how he did it.

A brilliant project Vance –  great idea, great design, great finish, brought together at great speed. You’re making the rest of us look like amateurs!

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Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!

If we get a dusting of snow this year, there will be at least one person with a massive smile on his face. Stuart, one of our members and founder of NADHack – Newbury and District Hackspace – will be poised and ready to launch his ski-bike on an unsuspecting world.

No, nothing dangerous-looking about that

No, nothing dangerous-looking about that

It started out life as a cheap aluminium-framed Reebok-branded full suspension bike.  All mechanical components were removed (some quite forcefully!) and the brake mountings, shifter mounting etc were ground off. The pedal shaft was replaced with an arrangement of steel angle which was ground into the footpeg shape and welded using the Kempi MIG welder.  The footpegs are exceedingly strong!
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Reading Repair Cafe – this weekend

Reading Repair CaferLab is proud to be hosting Reading Repair Cafe this Sunday, January 24th, between 12:00 and 16:30.

So if you have something that’s broken, or some tools that need sharpening, bring them down to Unit C1, Weldale Street, Reading, RG1 7BX, where the volunteers will be only too pleased to help you.

There will be plenty of expertise in computers, electricals, mending clothes; the right tools to get things fixed; and some cakes and food for sale too!

 

More details here and here too

This sofa’s made for walking

When you think of a hackspace, you think of many things – perhaps electronics, machining, open-source hardware – but shoe-making is not the first thing that springs to mind. Here at rLab we work to a broad, pretty much unbounded definition of the term, and if you’ve got a project that you want to do in our workshop – it doesn’t have to fit within a definition, that’s cool with us. Want to make a pair of boots from scratch from old sofas and bits of tyre? – errrm – OK!

So after weeks of leather harvesting, tyre stripping, experimentation, sewing and glueing, we are very proud to present this first pair of boots – made from scratch, in our workshop, from recycled material. Well done Tara – awesome work!

A second life for an old sofa

A second life for an old sofa

(PS. OxHack members may recognise the Cordovan Red leather…..)

 

 

 

Casting aluminium wheels

Cast aluminium wheels

Cast aluminium wheels

Last Friday we fired up the crucible and did some aluminium casting at rLab. Mostly  melting some scrap into ingots, but Andy also made this fantastic pair of wheel blanks using lost foam casting. He has since put together this great video that shows the full end-to-end process, including how he prepared the moulds – well worth a watch if you’re considering doing this yourself.

 

How long will the rain last?

Want to know how long the rain is going to last? Simple- pop out to the shed and build yourself a weather satellite antenna from the bits that you can find. [OK – there may be easier ways of finding out, but this looks far more fun!]

 

Circling above your head the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have satellites constantly broadcasting back data and pictures using APT on ~137MHz. There is nothing to stop you receiving these images yourself and, like Simon, you can build a ‘quadrifilar helicoidal’ antenna with some plumbing supplies and the help of this great online calculator.

Connected to the antenna were an RTL-SDR dongle and a computer running gpredict to track the satellite, gqrx to handle reception, and wxtoimg to do the APT image decoding.

Next up? Let’s add a SatNOGS ground station to roof of rLab!

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