Impulse Control Failure – Road Trip!




A few of us here are RLab have had an impulse control failure and after seeing the epic post on hackaday about Dangerous Prototypes Hacker Camp we’re off!!

We’re calling it “Continuing Professional Development”.

So in Shenzhen we have a full itinerary of socialising and tasting various cuisine China has to offer as well as following a course based around our own design of a PCB. We’ll get a brief intro into the language, how to barter at the markets and how to find components before we set off on a guided market tour to find the parts for our PCB project.

We’ll also cover off methods of shipping, bank accounts and other commercials.

Next up we’ll spend a few days learning how to solder our projects up at a cell phone repair center.

Top that off with a trip to the Maker Faire and a flying visit to Hong Kong and I think we’ll all be broke and be heavily invested in a shipping container full of lots of electric goodies!

Look forward to the slow boat from China!

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We had another session with the X-ray machine last night and got some good images inside larger objects using a Raspberry Pi camera.

More xraying at rlab(1)

More xraying at rlab(2)

We also did some safety tests, and found no X Ray leakage outside the exposure chamber. The region where the Pi was located is looking through a lead glass plate equivalent to 8mm of lead, so no problem there either.

We are inspired by this video

Another X-ray machine

We are getting similar results for large objects, but like Mike we need to go inside the exposure chamber to get the high resolution pictures of PCB and BGA we want.

Next we are going to try to get an x-ray film cassette for the phosphor material unless anyone has one? We can then use a Pi camera on a long ribbon to get through door :)

Next Laser workshop

Simon Green has spent an eternity getting to the nitty gritty of the capabilities of our laser cutter at the hackspace and has made some amazing toys, so don’t miss your chance to run through his next session and you’ll get the chance to walk away with something cool and personalised. Places are limited so book early!


RLab – Interactive!

Simon Green has put together some amazing interactive shots of our facilities (although they are still a work in process!). Simon backed the Galileo Kickstarter and was after quite a while delivered one of these amazing devices that took the views you can see embedded below.


Community Room

Here we have our community room, this is where we hang out on Wednesdays and work on projects from software and hardware development. As you can see there is a whole host of electronic scopes, soldering stations, wires, cables, components and desktop PC’s.

Machine room

In our machine room members have access to laser cutters, CNC machine, vinyl cutter and multiple 3D printers.

Downstairs Workshop

Our downstairs workshop with tons of room has equipment for woodwork and metal work with chop saws, a Harrison Lathe, pillar drills, band saws, bench grinders… you name it and it’s probably here – if it’s not post on our mailing list and a member can usually find you it!

Monitoring laser usage

We have had a good few spendy problems with our laser cutter over the past few months and it’s one of our most heavily used tools. We need to build up a bit of a kitty to make sure we can replace laser tubes (like this) and power supplies (like we had to recently) as well as mirrors and other consumables.

Step up Andrew Jacobs who built a PIC based monitoring solution, it monitors a pull up on the laser cutter PCB which pulls 8ve when the laser is firing. Andrews design monitors this and keeps a log in the eprom whilst displaying the session usage and overall usage so that members know how much to put in the pot after using the machine.

Simon Green designed and made the case which looks particularly good :)

The next stage will be to tie the system up to our member RFID cards so we can manage the tabs!


This project by Jon Totham is super cool, using cheap foam insulation boards from Wicks, static grass and acrylic paint with a tad of airbrushing the results are amazing not just for Warhammer but could be really cool on model railways too.

The laser cut buildings are also pretty awesome.

Jon is going to play a bit more with lasers and foam and nitrogen to see if he can get some cooler effects so lets watch this space!

Simon Green has written up a great article about how to create Bump Maps for laser engraving on his blog which you can find here.

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