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Hackerspaces and open R&D Labs need to have tools, machines and test-equipment to offer a productive environment, where ability is only limited by creativity. Unfortunately, the very finite amount of space, cargo load capacity and power on board of Apollo-NG, can only accommodate a very basic subset of all available interdisciplinary tools and devices.

Many off-the-shelf products are completely unusable in a mobile, off-grid and physically demanding environment. Some can be hacked, to make them usable, others will have to be re-invented. A part of Apollo-NG's mission is to encourage and support the development of completely new, open-resource based tools and devices, which are inherently tools and devices to create even more sophisticated tools and complex machines. With a growing number of independent lab/fab facilities and even more possibilities in the future, we can decrease the dependency of people on generalized, consumer-grade industry products. We can build use-case specific devices and tools ourselves, share them with anyone and publish documentation and detailed plans.

Already, a lot of hackerspaces offer valuable resources to local communities: A place where people can work together, using CNC-Lathes, CNC-Mills, Lasercutters, RepRaps and a set of common tools and machines. This enables us to develop use-case specific hardware, built to be efficient, sustainable & resilient. Commercial product design always has to be generalized to reach a big target group in order to be profitable. When people can build open-resource hardware in a picoFab, the result can become much more specialized and therefore more efficient & resilient.


Over the last couple of years a lot of monetary resources were invested into the necessary tools for efficient research in the lab and any other kind of construction/building work. Almost all electrical tools are powered by Li-Ion batteries and have both 230VAC/12VDC charging capability so they can be used in any situation. Makita has become the Manufacturer of choice for all power tools, since they seemed to offer the best price/performance ratio.


PCB fabrication

Although it has become really cheap and easy to outsource PCB jobs to china with services like PCBCart or Seeed-Studio Fusion PCB, having the ability to create stuff with the energy we harvest ourselves is far more rewarding and also lessens the dependency on money, turning focus on proper resource management.

DIY PCB LED UV Exposure Unit DIY PCB Spray Etching Machine
Custom built, 10W UV PCB exposer unit with 137 LEDs and a cheap step-up switch-mode power supply with 93% efficiency. Custom built spray etch machine
picoUVX picoJet

DIY Reflow Oven Hacked Proxxon Drill Setup
Enhanced convectional SMD Reflow oven Enhanced PCB drilling-station
picoReflow picoDrill

General Fabrication

picoPrint - On-site 3D Printing with a modified Felix 3.0 Printer Robot

3D printer follow G-code instructions to lay down successive layers of molten PLA, ABS, Nylon, Rubber and a number of emerging new materials, which can be extruded (even wood) to build the model from a series of cross sections.

These layers, which correspond to the virtual cross sections from the CAD model, are joined or automatically fused to create the final shape. The primary advantage of this technique is its ability to create almost any shape or geometric feature on-site.

It is fully integrated into the Apollo-NG infrastructure, offers a web-enabled control interface with realtime video streaming and produces time-lapse videos for every product it creates and communicates its status in IRC as well.

picoPrint Details+Documentation STATUSInsulating heating elements for better efficiency

picoCNC - General purpose CNC gantry Robot

Apart from 3D printing there are many other fabrication techniques like milling or laser/plasma cutting. In order to be able to automate these tasks as well, we will need a modular CNC gantry system that can be used with multiple tool-heads for different tasks.

Possible tool-heads are a DIY High-Speed spindle, solid-state laser engraver/cutter, plasma torch or even food extrusion systems for any kind of hacking we desire.

The robot will be controlled by LinuxCNC, another great open-source toolkit for CNC machines.

picoCNC Details+Documentation STATUSWaiting for more funding and time to complete


The Apollo-NG project needed a good camera for the following applications:

  • Create high quality, audiovisual documentation of R&D/Hackerspace projects
  • Conduct interviews and talks to transfer ideas & knowledge
  • Support free and independent movie & moviehacker projects


Steady Rig


Blackmagic Intensity Pro PciE Video Input

With a little luck we managed to get a Blackmagic Intensity Pro card to have live monitoring features as well as the possibility to create live HD video streams of Talks & Workshops. The Matterhorn-Group already developed a gstreamer source/sink plugin and first experiments have been successful.

EIZO CG210 hardware calibrated monitor