Shenzhen workshop April 3-5, 2014


Have you ever wanted to visit Shenzhen, home of the world’s largest electronics market? This year, just prior to the Shenzhen Maker Faire, join us for a soldering workshop and market tour for hardware hackers April 3-5, 2014.

The main event is a two day soldering course at Shenzhen’s cell phone repair school. They’ll teach us how to solder tiny QFN and BGA chips using minimal tools, just like the cell phone repair shops in the market.

We’ll also tour the Huaqiangbei electronics market with a group of pros who source tools and components there on a regular basis. Meet freight shippers who can box your treasures and send them home at amazing prices. If you send us Gerbers and a BOM we’ll make your PCBs and try to locate suppliers of all the components.

Each day starts with a talk relevant to hacking in Shenzhen: how to bargain, what to eat, getting around, how to import/export, and how to find an office/home once you fall in love. Each day ends with a group dinner at very local food place.

Cost is yet to be determined, but a sample budget is:

  • Workshop cost: ~$250 (repair school, discussion rooms, goodies, PCBs)
  • Group hotel (Jie’en) 4 nights: ~$60-$100 (total)
  • Food: ~$25/day
  • Transportation: ~$10/day

If you’re interested in joining please comment below or hit us up via the contact form. We’ll be in touch with final details in about a week.

Registration is now open.

1 Week prior

Submit PCB gerber files and Bill of Materials

  • You’ll get 10 copies of the PCB on the first day of the workshop
  • We’ll make an effort to locate part sources during the market tour so PCBs can be completed before the end of the workshop
  • 2 layers, maximum 100mm x 100mm

Optional- DAY 0 (02/04/2014)

Optional day for early arrivals. See some cool non-electronics stuff that’s easily made in Shenzhen:

  • Tailors in Louhu Commercial City. Meet Jery and have a suit tailored and ready to pick up in a week for less than $200
  • Sign makers in Dongmen. Shenzhen’s biggest single source of glowing, blinking, molded, laser cut, and generally cool outdoor signage. A custom sign can be made in a week for $50 and up. Includes a trip to the Dongmen food street and soup dumpling man.

DAY 1 (03/04/2014)

Start with an introduction to Shenzhen and a tour through the Huaqiangbei electronics market. Get to know your fellow workshop hackers.

First day greeting 10am-12am
A light and simple welcome to help you navigate Shenzhen.

  • Simple language lesson
  • Neighborhood and food overview
  • Get a bank account
  • Quick subway map intro
  • How Ian bargains
  • Huaqiangbei sourcers introduction
  • Hand out PCBs
  • Hand out Seeed Studio Huaquiangbei map

Hacker Lunch 12am-1pm
A group lunch following the first day introduction. Try Southern Chinese food in a local canteen. Cantonese food is almost never spicy and vegetarian options are available.

  • Cantonese restaurant on Songling Rd.

Huaqiangbei Tour 1-6pm
Hit the world’s largest electronics market with a group of pros. Find out where to buy tools like soldering irons, hot plates, reflow ovens, even a pick and place machine. Check out the components buildings selling a huge range of parts, connectors, and other electronics supplies. Even see the sketchy cell phone building selling random clone, look-alike, and bizarre custom cell phones. Meet shipping agents who can box up your goodies and send them home for unbelievable prices.

  • Tools and components buildings
  • Shipping agencies introduction and overview
  • Ghetto cell phone buildings
  • Find parts for PCBs

BBQ 8-12pm
End the first day with a group dinner at the local barbecue place. Vegetarian options, spicy or not.

  • Songling Rd Barbecue place
  • Shaizi lesson. Learn an extremely popular dice game played everywhere in China. A great way to make friends with Chinese people – even if you don’t speak a word of Chinese!

After party
Jetlagged and still awake after BBQ? Grab a drink and talk at the local bar street. A short metro ride or 25RMB ($4) taxi ride away.

  • Drinks and lots of fun @coco park

DAY 2 (04/04/2014)

Part 1 of the advanced soldering workshop at Shenzhen’s cell phone repair school located near Huaqiangbei. Learn more about setting up your own shop and working in China.

Second day greeting 10am-12am
Get down to business. Interested in working from China? Learn how to import and export goods, and how to start a business to secure a work visa.

  • Import/export talk
  • China work visa and Hong Kong/China business formation overview
  • Labour supply for small scale and short term kitting

Soldering workshop 2-5pm
The main event – part 1 of the soldering workshop. Learn how to solder tiny QFN and BGA chips from the pros at Shenzhen’s cell phone repair school. Everything is provided, just bring yourself.

  • QFN, BGA reballing, mounting, removing and soldering, etc.
  • All of the equipment and parts are provided, just show up

Hot-pot dinner 7:30pm
Finish the day with a group dinner at the best local hot-pot joint.

  • Cook your own fresh vegetables and/or meat in metal pot of soup heated by charcoal. Mix your own dipping sauce at the sauce bar. A traditional Chinese style of eating.

DAY 3 (05/04/2014)

More soldering goodness, and learn what it’s like to make the move to Shenzhen from local expat geeks.

Third day greeting 10am-12pm
In love with Shenzhen and ready to move here? Find out what to expect when looking for an apartment and office in Shenzhen. Local expat geeks share their experience living in Shenzhen.

  • House and office hunting
  • Living in Shenzhen

Soldering workshop 2-5pm
Part 2 of the soldering workshop continues.

  • QFN, BGA reballing, mounting, removing and soldering, etc.
  • All of the equipment and parts are provided, just show up

Hacker BBQ Dinner 7:30pm
Closing hacker BBQ on a local food street. Lots of hackers from around the world will be in town for the Maker Faire, they’re invited too! Bunnie might even play ”Chip Girls” on the guitar while Akiba breakdances on the street. Not to be missed!

  • Hacker Shaokao at Window of the World with all hackers in Shenzhen. Mingle with Maker Faire participants, hackerspace members, and workshop participants

Latest information will be updated on the wiki page!

Join the Conversation


  1. Hi there,
    I’d really like to join you guys; I’ve been planing such a trip for years.
    let me know all the details.

  2. Too bad I cant be there due to personal reasons. Fortunately (unfortunately?) I know most places already, but it would have been fun to be there when everybody else is present.

    I know you guys will be having soo much fun!!

    Btw i would grab a beer between Shennan Ave and Nanyuan road. They got those lovely garlic peanuts there ;)

  3. There is a chance that I will be in the region that week and I would be interested in attending if so. I will follow this with interest.

    Speaking for myself, three days would be hard to manage, and I have no intention of moving to Shenzhen, so those talks are not much good to me. If the order were reversed, with the hacker tour on Friday, and available a la carte, that would be a lot more appealing.

    1. We tried to set it up so you can skip the morning talks without much harm. Only about one and a half are pertinent to moving/working in Shenzhen, the rest is just an opportunity to hear from notable people (Zach, Bunnie, etc) about their experiences here. Plus, you never know, I went to a presentation on starting a business in Japan with no interest and a few months later nearly found myself in possession of a Japanese residency permit (instead I came to Shenzhen for the cheap taxis).

    2. I feel a little the same, I’m not moving family across the world right now – I think I’d like some more time in the markets. I’d also like to know what tools we’d be using in the workshops so I can buy them in the markets and take the skills home.

  4. As someone designing products and planning to put it on Kickstarter, this sounds perfect! I plan on coming. Please send me final details.

  5. Fantastic idea – this should be a superb fit for everyone DIY/bootstrapping themselves (rather than going the accelerator/venture$ approaches).

    I have started organising my calendar for next year … really sorry to say this year very unlikely for me.

    Do you have any further thoughts on enabling access to “amazing shipping prices” for shipping BOM’s back home? The DP OOMP is already a great step, but it will never (rarely?) match every projects BOM.

    1. We hope to expand OOMP to include a full library of parts, but certainly it won’t be possible to have everything.

      The cheap shipping from Sussie Shipper, et al, starts at about 20KG (~$3/kg). You have a have a big BOM to hit that, or a bunch of tools, or a combination and a big rock like I did :)

      1. A few of us had a quick question on the 20kg min. Do you know what volume limits apply? I’m guessing it has to be a single parcel, 20kg of water isn’t that big but few things one buys in markets are as dense as water. Thanks for your patience, Tom.

      2. I’m sorry, I don’t know about volume. Its never been an issue for me. My stuff was pretty bulky and in 6 different boxes and I was still thrilled with the price. 20kg isn’t the minimum, just where stuff starts to get cheap. 19kg is roughly twice the price of 20kg for example, so worth throwing in an extra hot plate or solder bar lol :)

  6. OMG my dreams are answered. Any Bunnie is coming too. Please try to offer hotel options for a few days before/after.

    I’m 90% in. I’d love to come, need to clear a few hurdles before I can commit, please keep me informed.

    1. THe Jie’en serviced apartment where a ton of hardware hackers stay that we’re arranging for this 3 day party should be available before/after too, no problem.

  7. Lots of questions. Should people fly in to Honkers or Pu Dong?

    Looks like I get 2x20kg luggage allowance. Bring one suitcase inside the other and discard all my clothes on the last day = 40kg of goodies (yes, clearing customs will be fun).

    Do we need invitation letters to get visas? (Bunnie must have handled this before)

    http://vancouver dot china-consulate dot org/eng/visa/Visa/t1071071.htm

    F Visa
    An invitation letter issued by a relevant entity or individual in China. The invitation should contain:
    (1) Information on the applicant (full name, gender, date of birth, etc.)
    (2) Information on the planned visit (purpose of visit, arrival and departure dates, place(s) to be visited, relations between the applicant and the inviting entity or individual, financial source for expenditures)
    (3) Information on the inviting entity or individual (name, contact telephone number, address, official stamp, signature of the legal representative or the inviting individual)


    L Visa
    Documents showing the itinerary including air ticket booking record (round trip) and proof of a hotel reservation, etc. or an invitation letter issued by a relevant entity or individual in China. The invitation letter should contain:
    (1) Information on the applicant (full name, gender, date of birth, etc.)
    (2) Information on the planned visit (arrival and departure dates, place(s) to be visited, etc.)
    (3) Information on the inviting entity or individual (name, contact telephone number, address, official stamp, signature of the legal representative or the inviting individual)

    1. Most people will fly into Hongkong, you can take a 30 minute van ride to Shenzhen. Tickets to Hongkong are almost always much cheaper. Info on transportation and a link to our visa servicer are on the wiki (sorry, forgot to include that in the post):,_2014

      I’m really not sure on the visa. This isn’t a formal gathering or organized conference so much, more like a foo camp for people already in town for Maker Faire. We’ve talked to the school and they’re available to us. Myself, Akiba, Bunnie, Zach, Tully, and some others will generally be around to orientate everyone and talk shop on the schedule given. If you;re looking for a conference visa letter maybe Seeed is giving them for Maker Faire that happens the following day, my guess is most people get a tourist visa for maker faire unless they’re getting paid for speaking.

      1. Are the export controls at the China-HongKong border likely to be a problem for someone bringing a bunch of stuff back in their luggage? This might be a factor in choosing where to fly in to? I guess at $60 for 20kg shipping it just isn’t worth the hassle.

      2. In and out of Hongkong is no problem unless you’re bringing milk powder (limit 1.8kg)… In and out of china is different – they don’t want you to bring (or take) large amounts of the _same_ thing. A bunch of different tools, etc, no problem, but we took 200 cable kit sample packs (20 wires and 6 crimp housing) to Hongkong and got stopped and inspected by customs. They wanted to take them all, but Jinhe (my Chinese associate) ask them if they knew what it was (they said PCBs), he said if you don’t know what it is you can’t stop us. They helped us rezip and tape up the kit boxes :)

        If you;re taking lots of one thing, ship it. Lots of different stuff, no problem in my experience. I’ve taken in and out, and been xrayed with: reflow ovens, hot plates, drill press, monitors, computer stuff, hot air reword stations, soldering stations, my full parts kit, photo studios, test rigs, etc. They’re looking for stuff like 100-200 chips, I assume would get attention, as well as poultry, etc.

        However, at $60 per 20kg why not save the hassle and have it shipped door to door.

  8. This sounds really interesting but for someone who doesn’t often travel the scheduling is quite tight. Is this something you plan to do again in the future?

    1. If it’s successful we hope to arrange the soldering workshop/market tours regularly. People frequently come through town and ask for market tours, I hope this is a way to consolidate that into a few outings a year.

  9. After thinking about this I would like to express an interest in coming along so if there is a group of people you’re emailing further details to please include me on it.
    I am 80% there!


  10. Any chance you would consider filming this and putting it on youtube or selling DVD’s after the fact? As much as I would love to attend this, I will be in the middle of a release at work and cannot make it. This sounds like something great for the maker community.


  11. Hi guys,
    Im a electronics student from Ecuador. I saw the post on Hack a Day and I would like to join to trip to Shenzhen, Pls tell me details.

  12. This looks amazing.
    Please let me know as soon as their is confirmation this is happening and I will book my flights from Aus. Looks like flying into Hong Kong is the way to do it!

    1. I Booked directly through Jet Star. Perth to HKG $535(AU) return. Minus any baggage or $18 airline meals. It looks like tiger have flights directly into Shenzhen (via Singapore) for about $480 but i am rather tall and they are not friendly to people of my stature :)

  13. For me flying Air Asia from Kuala Lumpur it seems like it will be slightly cheaper going directly do Ba’oan instead of HKIA when I add the costs of going up to Shenzhen by Ferry or trains from HKIA.

  14. Check out Emerites Airlines have flights to Hong Kong via Dubai. Very competitive prices and You get 30Kg plus another 5Kg in a backpack. Tourist visa would be fine for the trip. I have only been stopped at Hong kong once with Sky Limo and they know your heading for the airport so no problems 52 trips and I normally have over 100 KG with me.I get extra allowance with my wife and frequent flyer program.

    1. I second Emirates. Amazing airline. I took them a ton when I lived in Amsterdam and commuted to China every month. You even get to experience the steamy toilets in Dubai airport, not to be missed!

  15. Is there any provision for people who live locally and would like to attend?

    I live in Hong Kong, work in Shenzhen, and am very interested in this.

  16. I’m surprised to see everyone talking about booking flights to Hong Kong. I thought Guangzhou would have been the cheapest route?

  17. The visa rules have changed quite a bit last year I would not risk coming without a prearranged visa.Never heard of a 2 week one at Lowu except in very outdated rules only the Chinese consulate has the current proper rules listed. Hong Kong hotels are small and expensive you would be much better arriving with a visa and staying in Shenzhen.There is a two week wait in Shenzhen for visa renewals at the moment even if you live here.

    1. Agreed. Some countries (changes daily!)get a limited visa to Shenzhen only on arrival or in hk. Don’t count on it though, that is an artifact on the internet and it doesn’t apply to most people. Even if it applies to you now, it might nit when you.get here. Seriously its never covered Americans or Australians afaik but may have applied to one or two EU countries a decade ago…. don’t chance it. So Mich cheaper and easier to get a full visa at home. Even if it applies to you its a confusing maze to get to the office in louhu crossing and then if you don’t get it you’re stuck in limbo between China and hong kong with no way to get back.

  18. Hi!

    We (= me and a team of techheads) learned of this workshop days after we already had our plane-tickets/hotels/visums arranged for the makerfaire and the week after – but we might be just in time for the final BBQ – can we join you guys there?

    Greetings, Stijn Kuipers / Zephod

    1. Were doing our best to keep morning talks and every evening social open to everyone, but its yet to be seen
      Please check back here and the hacker camp mini site for details closer to.the camp.

  19. I heard from bunnie that the workshop is full! Is that true?… And what if u don’t have a BOM…

    1. Yes absolutely full and over capacity. For anyone coming though no need to submit a bom or PCB, its just for inspiration on the market tour and a fun giveaway.

  20. uff that comment just crossed us (our internet is not very wellconnected yet)- we stood around the window of the world entrance at exit C for a while to see if we could find you guys.

    Are you inside the window of the world? or having drinks somewhere outside?

  21. I wish I could have attended, but ‘life’ just doesn’t allow it at the moment :(
    Hope you guys all had a great time.

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