You may have spotted a little while ago that we got a place at Maker Faire UK for the fourth year in a row.
For the past few years, setting up Spacehack hasn’t been a simple job, mainly because of how the server box (the gold pyramid) was a flimsy cardboard box with various things taped to it. We also had issues with the four consoles. Many LCDs were failing, pots not rotating correctly, switches not working or missing. So we had to do some upgrades.
One of the most ambitious upgrades was the server box upgrade. We wanted to get this one done before the Maker Faire this weekend, to make setup easier. I’m pleased to say that we have completed it on time! You can look forward to seeing the new server box this weekend.
The upgrades have enabled us to make the server more rugged and much more compact. We’ve eliminated the need for three of the five power supplies by making everything run on 5v. We even have a touch-screen GUI for managing the game. The GUI’s written in pascal, of course. 🙂
Just to be clear about why this needed doing; see this picture of the guts of the original server box. Yuk!
Nat needed a PCB recently, so we decided to see if we could make good use of the PCB etching equipment we have in the hackspace. It’s a fairly simple process, print a positive on some laser-printer-acetate, stick it to a pre-sensitised PCB, expose it to UV, dip it in developer, then dip it in etchant.
The UV exposure box
At least, we thought it was that simple. We had a couple of failed attempts before we got a good board. We couldn’t agree on the correct time for exposure and development. On our third attempt, with two minutes in the light box and about thirty seconds in the developer solution, we got a decent image.
The first two attempts
Now we really should have rubber gloves for this next bit, but we couldn’t find any. Fortunately we did have a pair of thick plastic carrier bags for handling the etching chemicals.
After allowing plenty of time in the etchant, agitating it for extra speed, we finally got a good looking PCB out.
Some of the tracks needed a little bit of fixing up afterwards, but this was just a quick test board. If this works, there will be two more done properly.
Now that we know how best to use the kit we have, if you have a project that requires a home-made PCB then why not come along and let us lend a hand?
After having this lovely glass-sided fridge in the hackspace for many weeks, we’ve finally got it to a working state.
We got the fridge for free, in mostly working condition. It really needed a clean and the fan motor was very noisy. It also had a fluorescent light bulb in the top, which wasn’t working. We tried fixing the fan, but couldn’t get it quiet-enough to prevent it being a nuisance to people working in the hackspace. In the end we decided to replace the fan with an old PC cooling fan that was much quieter.
While we had the thing open, we decided to do something about the lighting. We removed the old light bulb and instead fitted some much lower power LED strips inside the fridge. Nick did a great job of wiring these up to the switch for the old light and even added a little microswitch to detect the door opening and turn on the white lights to make it a little easier to see. (As pretty as the blue and red lights are, they’re not ideal for reading labels on things.)
Let us know what we should stock!