Blog Archive

Hey Everyone, go check out our latest youtube sensation:

Some Background:
We got the chance to play around with a Phantom high speed camera and decided filming electrolytic capacitors blowing up would be a great subject. So we setup a table, power supply, and some lights and started the explosions. We used some old 330uf electrolytic capacitors, which were unvented and reversed biased them. After a few seconds the electrolyte boils and builds up enough steam pressure to blow off the can. Estimated speeds from watching the film puts the can at around 300mph after they explode.

Safety Warning:
Don’t blow up capacitors on purpose, steam, metal, and (depending on the capacitor, paper in our case) will go flying everywhere. We took all the usual safety precautions, filming from a distance behind a shield, goggles, fire extinguishers, etc.

I am happy to announce our first class of 2015: Intro to Eagle CAD

To Sign up please visit:
and select the Eagle CAD class and checkout, payment is available via PAYPAL, credit, Cash, or Check. If you would like to pay with cash or check please email so we can reserver your spot for the class.

The class is currently scheduled to last for four weeks, with one class per week lasting one hour each. Exact dates are to be determined, but it will be scheduled to start sometime in January 2015 (this will be updated when dates are solidified). The class assumes zero knowledge of Eagle CAD and PCB design, though the depth of the class will likely be informative for those familiar with Eagle CAD. PCBs are the heart of most every modern electronic device and being able to create them can be an extremely useful skill for executing most any electronic device.

Eagle CAD is a PCB (Printed Circuit Board) design tool with a version of the software available for free. It is widely used by the hobbyist community (including at the Hackerspace) and is a powerful tool for PCB creation. Eagle CAD includes tools for creating a schematic and generating a PCB from the schematic.

Below is the class outline which outlines the goals of the class and what will be covered. The class will be taught by Mike “Swiss” Bales and other SB Hackerspace members.

Class sign ups are now live, please visit the SBHX store at:
to sign up. The official schedule is as follows:
First class – Monday 1/19/15 6pm – 7:30 (possibly 8pm depending on how quickly we cover the material. All classes will be the same hours)
Second class – Monday 1/26/15
Third class – Monday 2/2/15
Fourth class – Monday 2/9/15
If necessary there will be a fifth class following the same schedule.

Beginning Eagle CAD

An Intro to Using Eagle CAD to design circuits and PCBs


Class Outline and Goals:

The goal of this class is to teach participants with no CAD or circuit design knowledge the necessary skills  to take an idea and develop it into a working circuit / PCB. PCBs (Printed Circuit Boards) are an integral part of nearly all modern electronic devices. Eagle CAD is one of the most popular entry level tools available for developing schematics and PCBs. The class will cover every step of the PCB design process from schematic design, PCB layout, production, and assembly.



A computer capable of running Eagle CAD (specs and download available at: )

A desire to learn how to create an electronic device with a PCB


Class Schedule:

The class will be held over the course of four weeks, with one, one hour classes per week (specific dates to be announced).


Included in The Class:

a USB thumb drive with Eagle CAD installers, and some of the more useful parts libraries

A copy of all materials covered in the class

A PCB and electronic components to create a device designed during the class


Class Schedule:

Class 1:

Why use Eagle CAD

Installing Eagle CAD (on Windows, Mac, and Linux)

Navigating the Eagle UI

Creating a new project, Schematic, and PCB

Installing additional libraries

Using Github for revision control and collaboration


Class 2:

Adding parts to a schematic

Connecting components and nets

Schematic best practices


Class 3:

Creating a PCB from schematic

Part placement and signal routing

PCB layout best practices

Working in 2 layers, Vias, Planes


Class 4:

Assembling a completed PCB

Making a PCB at home / sending a PCB for manufacture


Debugging PCB errors  and iterating designs

Class Fee:

The class fee is $35 for non-members and  covers the materials included in the class and a fee to help fund the space and make more classes like this possible.

SBHX member’s fee is $25

We want to make our classes as available as possible, if you would like to attend the class but are unable to pay the fee please email us for other arrangements.

I got a call about a week ago from a staffer of Representative Lois Capps. She told me that Congresswoman Capps was very interested in our shop and would like to visit and take a tour to see what it is we do first hand. We tossed around some dates and settled on Saturday August 30th at 1:30pm. So I would like to invite all our members and supports to come to the ‘space and show off what we do!

In preparation for the visit a few of our core members have been doing some upgrading and cleaning. So if you’ve been interested in the space but haven’t visited yet or haven’t been by in a while then this weekend is definitely the time to do it. All our welcome to join us!

We encourage everyone one to check out the Tekma3D kickstarter for their TM1 Printer. This printer was designed, developed, and prototyped at the SBHackerspace. Help them reach their $25,000 goal by backing them at:

I thought I would briefly share some designs that I made recently on the laser cutter that allowed me to cross stitch on wood.

cross stitch heart


I uploaded the first design onto Thingiverse if anyone is interested in making their own (link). A heart is a very simple pattern to follow, but you could make any design you like.

If anyone has any question and needs help choosing needles and thread, feel free to ask!

After the Maker faire I was feeling inspired. On the long drive back home I was trying to think of an idea for a project that could span a large range of skill levels and abilities, and could be open for everyone to work on. I also wanted a project that would be useful for SBHX as well as most if not all other hackerspaces out there. The only thing that really seemed to fit in my mind is a smart badge.

The badge will be arduino based so there is a low entry barrier to tinker around with the code. We have tentatively selected some hardware but there is a fairly good chance the specs I lay out here will change. Tentatively our badge will include the following:

  • ATMEGA644P running the arduino bootloader
  • AT86RF230 for zigbee mesh networking, things like seeing who is at the space when you walk in the door, transferring images or text messages, etc.
  • 2.04″ e-ink display with 172 x 72 resolution for low power display
  • NFC for tagging in and out of machines, opening the door, and such
  • a couple of buttons and LEDs for user input and feed back

More info will be posted below as we get our prototype under way. If you are interested in helping out with the project please let us know, we really want this to be a community project that everyone can help with.

The SBhackerspace will have a booth at the 2014 bay area maker faire held in san mateo again this year. We are very excited to attend and definitely had a good time at last years maker faire. We learned a lot from last year and plan on upping our game quite a bit. We will be debuting 2 new hackerspace developed projects this year that will hopefully be available for purchase in the near future. In addition to these two secret projects we are looking for anyone in the community who would like to show off a project at our booth.

There is a thread in the sbhackerspace google group: about general logistics and organization.

Last years projects include:
The hackerspace’s first project, the ROV
the Nick-ulous rift, an ipad mini based VR headset, made by Nick Winters
the raspberry-apple pi, an apple pi built into an apple IIe which harnessed the apple’s original keyboard for input, by chad page
and the ever infamous and tempermental moodstar

Projects for this years booth so far include:
secret project #1, a novel 3d printer prototype, by Tech Mothership / Mike Kapuscik and Nick Winters
secret project #2, a novel plotter prototype, by Nick Winters, and Randy Szarzynski
a nest camera project developed for the santa barbara autobahn society to monitor bird nesting
line followers from the mechatronic monday meetings
3D printed bronze-casting, by Nevin Littlehale
and more to come

To submit a project for us to bring please email with a description and photos and we will get back to you ASAP.

SBHX co-founders Steve Phillips and Mike Bales recently did an interview with KCBX in San Luis Obispo on their Central Coast Voices program. The topic of discussion was the Maker/Hacker movement. The program consisted of host Fred Munroe, SBHX’s Steve Phillips and Mike “swiss” Bales, as well as SLO Makerspaces CEO Clint Slaughter.

The hour long program covers the history of hackerspaces, their origin, and their mission. The program is available for listening

I thought I’d share a personal project / build log I’m working on and I’d thought I’d post the outline of it here and update it as I go. So here’s the basic idea, I want to build a home automation server and media center. For the base system I have chosen:

  • JetWay JNF9J-Q87 motherboard with 16GB of RAM
  • 5 Western Digital Red 4TB SATA hard drives in a software RAID 5 for the NAS
  • Intel Haswell Core i5 processor
  • Crucial M500 120GB MSATA SSD for the boot partitions
  • and a Fractal Design Node 304 case
  • Aeon DSA02203-ZWUS Z-wave controller
  • Cisco SG300-10 managed gigabit switch
  • ALIX.2D13 DIY Kit pfsense router
  • Digital Ocean VPS droplet
  • Intel Nuc for LinuxMCE thin client

Using this hardware I plan on building quite the home network. My home server will run Xen Server 6.2 at its base, with several virtual machines running as guests. The VMs include a Debian 7 machine running Samba4 for a domain controller and file server, freepbx for my home phone system, Debian 7 for a freeradius, Linux MCE for a media center controller and home automation center, and a Debian 7 machine running nagios and cacti for system monitoring. The VPS will be running a seedbox, cacti and nagios for remote monitoring. The Alix board will be running pfsense as a firewall / router as well as an OpenVPN server for a secure connection to my VPS as well as secure remote access from outside my network. I will also be purchasing a number of Z-wave devices, light switches, outlets, and the like  so I can remotely operate appliances, lights, etc.

That’s the basic outline for the project, more info will be coming as the various parts are purchased and configured.

Update 1 3/27/14: Fun with Cacti

SO I was messing with cacti today and decided to add bandwidth monitoring on my DO VPS. I created the graph added data sources etc. and kept getting no graph. After some poking around I found that rrdtool was throwing an error saying:
ERROR: mmaping file '/var/lib/cacti/rra/localhost_traffic_in_12.rrd': Invalid argument
I checked the file in question and found it blank, not super. I manually ran the rrdtool with the following info per the data sources debugging in nagios:
/usr/bin/rrdtool create \
/var/lib/cacti/rra/1/8.rrd \
--step 300 \
DS:traffic_in:COUNTER:600:0:100000000 \
DS:traffic_out:COUNTER:600:0:100000000 \
RRA:AVERAGE:0.5:1:600 \
RRA:AVERAGE:0.5:6:700 \
RRA:AVERAGE:0.5:24:775 \
RRA:AVERAGE:0.5:288:797 \
RRA:MAX:0.5:1:600 \
RRA:MAX:0.5:6:700 \
RRA:MAX:0.5:24:775 \
RRA:MAX:0.5:288:797 \

and there was my error. There seems to be a known bug in cacti that it adds the last “\” when it should not. If you manually run the same commands from terminal but leave off that last slash then everything is happy and you get a graph. After some patience it looks like just waiting 5 minutes for this to poll again it does create the file even though it initially creates this error, strange. I had a bit of a tough time with the cacti / pfsense graphs but this link:
got me through it.
Update 4/16/14:
Case and mother board have arrived, and been assembled. Pictures coming soon.
I am pleasently surprised by the quality of the case. The photos I have seen of the Fractal Design Node 304 made me think the hard drive holders were plastic but they are in fact metal. A nice touch that bodes well for the longevity of this box. One minor issue is the case came one screw short for holding the motherboard down but I was able to scavenge a spare from one of the many dead computers laying around the hackerspace. The RAM and CPU will be ordered shortly, after that its the 120gb MSATA SSD boot disk and I can get cracking on the installation.

On the VPS front I installed the OTRS ticket system and the iphonehandler plugin to allow app access from android / ios devices. I have used RT4 for ticket tracking in the past and found it adiquate, but OTRS has some nice features and I thought I would give it a shot. Installation is a straight forward apt-get install and went off without too many issues. The iphonehandler plugin can be installed through OTRS’s built in packaging system and was a breeze. To access the ticketing system from my Nexus5 I am using an app called DS Helpdesk. DS Helpdesk is available for free on the andoid market and also has a $15 paid for version. The app requires a file at /usr/share/otrs/var/ called RELEASE.iphonehandle be created as it does not create on automatically. Without it the android app will complain and not allow access. After creating the folder I can now open the app on my phone and view / edit / and create tickets.

I have also set up my OpenVPN tunnel from my home pfsense box to the VPS and have nagios monitoring the pfsense box as well as cacti graphing bandwidth, CPU load, and RAM usage. To help me keep an eye on things I acquired an old atom netbook with a dead backlight and set it up as a dashboard to rotate between my nagios hosts list and my cacti graphs to I can quickly spot issues. More coming on that in the next update.

Update 4/28/14:
Anyone interested in LinuxMCE 1004 I am now the second seed of a torrent .iso file if you dont want to wait for an http download. Torrent can be found here:


Update 8/13/2014

Despite the lack of updates this is still very much so an active project. A lot has happened in the last week with this project that may be helpful.


So after some fiddling I found that the Debian Samba4 VM’s DNS would break after rebooting. After some fiddling i found that network manager was breaking things with its auto configure nonsense, so I removed it. to do so i ran the following:

<code>/etc/init.d/network-manager stop</code>


<code>update-rc.dnetwork-manager remove</code>

(credit to for the pointers)

after which you will have to configure /etc/network/interfaces and manually setup your network interfaces. After removing network manager I had no further DNS issues.


After getting that straightened out it was on to adding my 3TB HDD’s to the debian Samba4 VM. The version of xenserver I’m running (6.2) didnt want to let me create a VDI with larger than 2TBs of storage, not to mention my plan of RAIDing the disks would be silly to do with VDI’s. I found this guide ( on how to attach a HDD directly to a VM withou VDIs which will allow me to setup a RAID and use the full 3TB disk capacity.


I decided to ditch LINUXMCE as I had some issues installing it on my NUC and go with XMBCbuntu instead. THis gave me my media center but I still needed a frontend for the zwave system. I found homegenie ( a free and open source .net based frontend for zwave with linux and mac versions as well as android and iOS apps for controlling it. After installing mono which was slightly painful I had a working frontend for my zwave system. I also ordered my first zwave device and will be posting more soon on getting that up and running.

Remote Server:

I added some things to my remote digital ocean VPS as well. Modifications include installing deluge and couch potato for tracking all my torrents. In addition I will be installing a bit of software called caketop developed by a friend / co-worker Alex Standke. Its a neat little project which basically gives you a netflix like frontend for all your media files, check it out at:


Yet Another Update


So I’ve managed to build my RAID 5 and get it running and mounted to all the various machines that need access. In the process of testing I learned an important lesson: OpenVPN traffic shaping is good. I would push large files from my Digital Ocean server to my RAID array over a VPN and found that the VPS would become unresponsive while transferring. I though maybe I was macing out the RAM so I upgraded to the next tier up VPS, 1GB RAM and a faster processor, another test resulted in the same. After checking my Cacti logs and router logs I found that the VPS with its mighty 1GBPs pipe to the internet was saturating my poor 50MBPS connection at home via the VPN. I limited the VPN tunnel to 3MBPS and tested again and found that it resolved my issues.

The Santa Barbara Hackerspace is now hosting regular meetings on the first Monday of every month based around all things electronic and mechanical. Uptronic’s Tyson Messori has been leading the meetings and is a wealth of knowledge on robotics. The meetings begin at 6:00 pm and generally last around two hours. All skill levels and ages are welcome to attend and join in the fun.

The Mechatronic Monday group is currently working on a little competition to get everyone involved. Our first project is to build a line following robot to navigate an electric tape course with increasing difficulty as we progress. The competition will start off simply, just navigate a line and return to the start box. Each month the requirements will increase in complexity, with the final goal to build a “bomb disposal” bot. THe bot will have to follow a line, retrieve a “bomb” and deposit it to a safe area before returning to the start point.

The goal of Mechatronic Mondays will be to get build the groups skills in electronics, programming, and robotics design. Once the line follower competition is complete there will be more challenges that follow a similar curve. Meeting attendees will be broken up into groups with an experienced mentor at the helm to guide them. The competitions will start with a simple concept and build upon that to create new and innovative robots. For more information please join our google group or email

What is the Hackerspace?

We are a group of makers and developers in the Santa Barbara community who love building things. The Hackerspace has a Makerbot printer, piles of Arduinos, and much, much more. Learn More →
Become a Member

Membership Levels

5782 Thornwood Dr
Goleta CA 93117

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Current Status

Current status of the Hackerspace: "awesome".
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