Calling European Hackerspaces!

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In a few weeks time, I will be in Düsseldorf on business for the world’s largest plastics and rubber industry trade show, the K-Show. That’s not very interesting for you, but afterwards a coworker and I will be traveling for a week in Europe, and being the geeks we are, we would rather visit you instead of the typical tourist attractions (mind you I have lived in Germany for half a year).

The majority of our Hackerspace Intro pieces thus far have been limited to North America, so we would love to visit your Hackerspace in Europe! Take pictures, ask a few questions, get a tour, and share it all here!

If you are part of, or know of a cool hackerspace in approximately the geographical doodle shown on Google Maps above, let us know in the comments! We will be traveling around October 19th to the 24th.

Project Thumper Walkthrough

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The Geek Group is at it again! Many years ago they built Project Thumper, a 1,600V @80,000A electrical impulse … well … “thumper”.

For those of you that don’t know, The Geek Group is the world’s largest not-for-profit Hackerspace. Lately they have been working on developing better videos for their YouTube channel, and have just released a stunning CGI animation of the build, operation, and explanation of Project Thumper.

So what is Project Thumper? In the simplest terms, it’s a giant capacitor, or more specifically, an entire server rack filled with capacitors. The Hackerspace uses it for experiments and demonstrations — but from the looks of their videos, they mostly just use it to blow things up, as shown in their 2008 Project Promo video. I think we would too. They even used it to blow up an iPhone! (Skip to 3:00 for the explosion). We think someone with a high-speed camera really needs to film Thumper in action!

The awesome CGI animation explanation of it is after the break.

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SNESoIP: It’s exactly what it sounds like

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Here’s a cool hack for those of you wishing to play some retro multiplayer SNES games online!

[Michael Fitzmayer] is a resident hacker at shackspace; der hackerspace in StuttgartHe’s come up with this clever little ethernet adapter network-bridge that can share local controller-inputs over the internet. The entire project is open-source, and readily available on github. It’s still in the early stage of development, but it is already fully functional. The firmware is small and will fit on an ATmega8, and by the looks of the component list it’s a fairly easy build.

He’s even integrated a switch mode (hold B and Y during boot), which avoids trying to figure out which controller will be player one! After all, don’t you remember untangling the controller cords, trying to figure out which one is which?

We know you had a favorite controller and would give the other “crappy” one to your guest.

Example video is after the break.

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A Bitcoin vending machine

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Accessibility is one of the biggest hurdles facing the Bitcoin revolution, so [Mathias] found a way to give BTCs some market penetration by converting an old condom vending machine. The machine was 30 years old and required some clean up. [Mathias] also worked in a plywood adapter that attaches to the mount on the back so it can install on a wider variety of surfaces. This is an electricity-free alternative to selling coins: the machine is purely mechanical and it vends custom-made vouchers rather than the coins themselves, which you then redeem on the Kondocoin website.

The transaction isn’t as instant or snazzy as the Bitcoin briefcase converter from Defcon this year, but it still provides the advantage of an up-to-date exchange rate, as the vouchers themselves are valued at amount of Euros spent rather than a set amount of coins. The exchange rate is consulted later, when you punch in your voucher key. [Mathias] wants to share the wealth, too, and offers up the server software on github along with a detailed explanation of the process.

Building an ethernet connected RFID reader

For the last few years, [Lt_Lemming] was the president of Brisbane’s hackerspace. Until several months ago, access to the local was done using 125KHz RFID tags and an Arduino board with a prototyping shield. As the hackerspace gained members and moved to bigger facilities, [Lt_Lemming] decided to build himself a more compact and advanced platform.

His Simple NetworkAble RFID Controller (SNARC) is a platform which can be connected to an Ethernet network and different RFID readers in order to implement smart access control functionalities. Through hole components were selected so even solder apprentices may assemble it. The PCB was designed using Fritzing, and development can even be done inside the Arduino IDE as ISP and serial headers are available on the board. Finally, an N-channel mosfet controls the door locking mechanism.

The project is open hardware and software, and all the sources can be downloaded from [Lt_Lemming]‘s github repo.

Upgrading a hackerspace’s shelving

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Shelving is probably one of the most underappreciated items in the shop. Think about it; would you rather have a place to store boxes, or a fancy new thickness planer, laser cutter, or pick and place machine. The folks over at the 23B hackerspace were growing tired of their disintegrating Ikea shelving unit and decided to make some shelves. They didn’t phone this one in, either: these shelves will be around far longer than you or I.

[Chris], the creator of these wonderfully useful pieces of metal, was inspired by a video featuring [Jamie Hyneman] of Mythbusters fame. An entire 80 foot section of M5 Industries, [Jamie]‘s shop, is covered in shelving units constructed out of square steel tubing, put together in a way that’s easy to construct and able to handle amazing amounts of random stuff.

The new shelves for the 23B shop follow a similar design as the shelves over at M5, only a bit smaller in scale. It’s a wonderful beginner’s project for a welding and fabrication class, and more than sturdy enough to handle a few pull-ups.

Hackerspace security system brings RFID, video feedback, and automatic doors

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[Will] has been hard at work on a replacement system for his Hackerspace’s RFID door lock. The original is now several years old and he’s decided to upgrade to a much more powerful processor, adding some bells and whistles along the way.

The control box seen above is the exterior component of the system. It’s a telephone service box like you’d find on the back of most houses in the US. They had a few of these lying around and they are a perfect choice because… well… they’re meant to be locking enclosures that brave the elements. [Will] made the jump from an Arduino which has run the locks for the last three years to a Raspberry Pi board. This gives him a lot of extra power to work with and he took advantage of that by adding a vehicle backup LCD screen for visual feedback. You can see it giving the ‘Access Granted’ message he used during testing but the demo video after the break shows that they plan to do some image scripting to display a head shot of the RFID tag owner whenever a tag is read.

There are several other features included as well. The system Tweets whenever a tag is read, helping the members keep tabs on who is hanging out at the space right now. It also patches into a sliding door which one of the members automated using a garage door opener motor.

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