Because You can’t go to germany without seeing model trains

As with all our extracurricular adventures, we needed to visit a few hackerspaces while in Munich. The first one was MCSM/Make Things Munich, formerly the Siemens Club for model engines. We’ve been to a few hackerspaces and have the passport stamps to prove it, and we can say without a doubt this space is unique.

MCSM was a hackerspace before the concept of hackerspaces existed. Originally, this was the Siemens Club for Model Engines, filled with engineers from the Siemens plant tinkering with model trains, model boats, and models of anything that moves. One of the members that guided us through the space, [Carlos Morra] told us when he joined, he alone dropped the average age of the space’s membership by a decade.

Inside the space, you’ll find the usual tools and equipment – lathes, CNC mills, an electronics workbench, and a bunch of old but still valuable equipment. Most of this equipment was salvaged from the Siemens plant. The organization for this space, though, cannot be compared to anything I’ve ever seen. There are floor to ceiling cabinets filled with everything you can imagine, all carefully indexed and sorted.

Of course, being formerly called the Model Engine club, there will be an immense train layout. I counted at least five gauges of track in two sprawling layouts, one of which was easily 15 square meters. It’s a true hackerspace built from a model train club, how can it get better than that?

Pictures below.

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Using a cellphone LCD as auxiliary Linux display

[Neil] is driving this Siemens A60 LCD using a parallel port on his Linux box. He likes this module because it has an integrated LED back-light, controller IC, and the pads are large enough for a human to solder. He notes that the screen runs on 2.9V, which matches the forward voltage of the LEDs used as back-lights. This means it is possible to use one f the LEDs as a shunt to drop  incoming voltage down to a safe level for the controller. In fact, that’s what he did. The data lines are connected to the parallel port along with some current limiting resistors. The LEDs are connected with resistor calculated for maximum brightness, with the output from the LED used as the source voltage for the LCD controller chip.Whether you want to use one of these screens with a PC or something else, the code that [Neil] worked out should provide the information necessary to do so.

The Nokia cellphone LCD post inspired [Neil] to send in a tip about this project. If you’ve got well documented hacks that you’re just sitting on why not let us know about them?

World’s largest POV display

How do you convince a power company to let you play with their multi-million-dollar wind turbine? Call yourself an artist instead of a hacker! [Michael Pendry] convinced Siemens to let him install this ‘art’ piece on the rotors of a wind turbine outside of Munich, Germany. It features 9000 LEDs, 3000 on each of the 30 meter blades, and can pump out 20,000 candelas when fully illuminated.

The problem? The blades of the power generator turn extremely slowly compared to fan-based persistence of vision displays. This makes it more of a “long-exposure” display system that is illustrated in some of their press photos. Ok, so the POV is a bit of a let-down, but the display effects achieved are still pretty impressive.

[Thanks Sam]