WORKSHOP VIDEO: Beers in Akiba’s Workshop

Akiba at FreakLabs brings wireless tech to the open hardware community. Recent geek credits include the Safecast radiation measurement project, and designing wireless EL wire controllers for  Wrecking Crew Orchestra. You also saw him in our tour of Akihabara parts market last year. Recently he welcomed us into his Tokyo workshop for a tour and an Asahi tallboy.

Designs go from idea to prototype to low-volume product in this freakishly efficient and compact one bedroom setup. A CNC mill cuts PCB prototypes and solderpaste stencils. Parts are sourced from Akihabara. A desktop pick and place machine, the first the manufacturer installed in a bedroom, assembles PCBs. Stuffed boards are reflowed on a hot plate. Don’t miss the crazy DIP socket solder move for attaching through hole parts in a single swipe. There’s pictures of some of the tools here.

Hot air rework tools are on Akiba’s must have list. We talked about the no-name 852s and 968s that go under names such as Aoyue, Qwik, Atten, and others. Our review of the Aoyue 852 and 968 is here.

A huge thanks to Akiba for meeting up with us.

Thanks also to special guest Chris Gammell. Don’t miss him in Beers in Bunnie’s Workshop from our Singapore Geek Tour.

The Prelinger Archive deserves thanks for the amazing public domain video resources at These otherwise abandoned materials helped us do something fun, sensible copyright expirations are a good thing! The intro is remixed from Frigidaire Presents Arthur Godfrey.

This is the final video from Tokyo. Normal Thursday workshop videos resume next week.

Do you have a favorite open source hacker? Let us know in the comments and we’ll try to have a beer with them the next time we’re in town.

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    1. I built a system for around $700 that has 10 mil clearance between traces. If you’re willing to put a little time into it, it’s doable.

    1. Yep, I bought an smd resistor and capacitor pack as well. I am pretty happy with it because it has provided a ton of the values that I might not need too often ( but have them for when I do ). So, now I will probably end up picking up a few reels of the values I do use… for resistors it would probably be 1k, 10k and for caps it would be 10nf and 100nf.

  1. Can you provide more information about the CNC PCB router? How much did it cost, where did he get it, did he build it himself, what kind of system is it (ballscrew, leadscrew, pulley, etc.)?

    This was an awesome interview. I could easily watch another hour of you guys touring his tiny apartment!

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