openMaterials :: research project

My dear friend Kisty Boyle and I recently launched openMaterials – a collaborative research project dedicated to open investigation and experimentation with DIY production methods and uses of materials. In the spirit of the open source software and hardware movements, we hope to promote materials to be researched and developed in a public, collaborative manner. We see materials as an open resource, and wish to establish an open process for exploring and sharing knowledge, techniques and applications related to materials science.

I’ll be conducting most of my hands-on research right here at AltLab. We’d love for you to be involved if you are working in these areas or interested in learning more about smart materials.

Paper and cardboard circuits

A couple of years ago i found out on the “internets” that you don’t really need a protoboard or a circuit board to make your circuits come to life, the idea was to fold a piece of paper with the circuit design in it (component side and circuit diagram side) and then inserting a piece of cardboard in the middle.

The main idea was the eco, recycled “thingy” since circuit boards are not so eco friendly and take a bunch of time to get recycled by our mother earth, also the economic side (paper and cardboard are almost free), instead circuit boarding takes a long time and it’s hazardous for the environment.

So here’s what i do :

1- print the schematic you want (be sure to include on the sheet of paper both sides of the schematic (component side and schematic)

2-fold it (the idea is to fold where the component side meets the schematic)

3-cut a piece of cardboard and insert it in the middle of the sheet of paper

4-glue both sides on to the cardboard (now you must have a beautifull circuit board made of cardboard)

5-with a needle pierce (component side) all drilling holes into schematic side

6-insert the components (resistors, ic, capacitator etc..)

7-turn it back (schematic side) and start to solder (be sure to folow the traces on the paper), the best way to do this is to simply bend the leads of the components and solder them together, if you have a large area were the lead is not long enough just use a wire or something similar.

8-have fun

First meeting

AltLab's first meeting
AltLab’s founding members had their first official meeting yesterday (see photos). We approved the collective’s guidelines, compiled a list of tools to purchase, set up a hardware recycling bin, and then had a lot of fun discussing ideas and sharing knowledge. Two initial work groups were formed to build an outdoors video projector and a remote-controlled-mini-helicopter carrying a video camera  – we’ll post more info on each of these on the community’s platform. We’ll also be working on our individual projects which include robotics, music, computer vision, smart materials, and lots of other fun things. More members and collaborators will be joining us from May 5th on and new work groups will be formed. We’ll keep you posted.

Work sessions

We are currently looking for a permanent and full-time workspace (any and all suggestions/offers are welcome). Until we get our own lab, our friends @ Geraldine have kindly agreed to host AltLab’s weekly work sessions. Starting on May 5th we’ll meet on Tuesdays from 19:00 to 24:00 (directions here).

Everyone is welcome to join us for some hacking, brainstorming, coding, whatever it is you’re into that day. Please fill out this form if you want additional info or just to let us know that you’re coming to one of our sessions. You can also find our contact and mailing list info on the contact page.

Hello world!


AltLab is a collective dedicated to independent research and experimentation in alternative media. Community-based and community-building by nature, it seeks to promote active participation, knowledge sharing, and collaboration among individuals such as artists, programmers, engineers,  hobbyists, scientists, and all those who wish to freely explore creative and emancipatory uses of technology. Just like many other hackerspaces which have emerged all over the world in recent years, AltLab has also been founded on the notions of software/hardware libre and the belief in collective independent platforms for open and active knowledge-sharing and experimentation.

In February 2009, a group of interested individuals, under the umbrella of Audiência Zero, joined efforts to create AltLab with the following objectives: Build stronger community ties by gathering disperse cells of researchers, artists, and DIYers around a common and open platform; Provide a shared physical space for experimentation, testing, and development of new objects and concepts (ranging from robotics to software to art to conceptual research); Share knowledge, support collaborative work, and collectively push the boundaries of DIY creativity; Establish partnerships and synergies within and across the borders with other collectives that share similar goals and ideals. To achieve these goals AltLab:

Provides a collective workspace;

Organizes, on a regular basis, public workshops, conferences, paper presentations, exhibitions, talks, debates, etc.;

Offers open lab days where all interested individuals are welcome to join us with the purposes of: just learning about the project, presenting proposals and ideas, working with us;

Consistently expands the collective by accepting new members and collaborators as well as establishing partnerships with other organizations;

Maintains a high level of openness and flexibility to insure that AltLab’s projects and activities will be limited only by the commitment and enthusiasm of those involved and may be easily extended beyond these initial activities.

Hello World 😉