All HacDC members and visitors have access to a variety of tools, equipment, and supplies. Explore full, updated documentation at the Equipment Wiki Category, including contact information for major contributors (see operator’s logs and similar pages).

Below is a quick summary for a few of our more versatile or impressive tools and projects.

Amateur Radios

Coverage from 160m to 10m (all shortwave bands), legally including CB. Also VHF 2m and 70cm capability.

Primarily based on Icom FT-718, backed by a rooftop 20m vertical antenna with SGC-237 automatic tuner.

Biosignal Amplifier

Operational, ultra-low-noise EEG/EMG/ECG, useful for all types of biosignals, completely designed and built at HacDC, by HacDC, for HacDC.

CNC Mill

Automatic milling machine, suitable for circuit boards, complex metal parts, and more. Also can accept other tools, such as high-power focused UV lasers for high-precision laser-cutting or photolithography.

Laser Cutter

40W CO2 Laser Cutter
20″x12″ Cutting Area

Optical Table

Heavy – 800 pounds (350kg), can be kept level to within ~15nm. Sufficiently rigid for simultaneous optical and mechanical use. Gantry is in progress to enable ultra high-accuracy and wide area CNC milling, laser cutting, and 3D printing.

Photolithography PCB Fab

Fully tested high-resolution (~6mil) PCB fabrication process.

3D Printers

HacDC has a long history of maintaining 3D printers for use by all, from a Darwin, to a Cupcake, to a PrusaMendel. We now have two more operational 3D printers, thanks to recent sponsors.

Stereoscan Scanning Electron Microscope

High-resolution (<10nm) microscope and E-Beam lithography exposure capable system. Physical components are in great condition, vacuum testing and electronics replacement is underway.


Highly-versatile and comprehensive electronics testing lab on a cart. Vector network analyzer, signal generator, oscilloscopes, inductor/capacitor/resistor banks, and more. Capable of implementing a full HF radio receiver just through clever connection of BNC cables.

Regular Events

Microcontroller Mondays

Microcontroller Mondays is our most popular event at HacDC, for a wide range of people and projects. Arduinos, solder, coding, robotics, music, LEDs, all sorts of collaboration takes shape here. Things kick off around 7PM and can last late into the night. The event, like all HacDC activities, is free and open to the public, and is generally the best time for newcomers to drop by.

GrindDC Thursday (Biohacking)

Similar to the above, supports a wide range of people and projects. However, most of the community members here Thursday nights (7PM onward) are active biohackers, and can be reached by the email hidden; JavaScript is required mailing list.

Amateur Radio

HacDC Amateur Radio Group (W3HAC) hosts regular meetings on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays @ 7:30 pm. Our goal is to create interest & increase education in amateur radio. We’ll help you get licensed, collaborate on equipment design, discuss all manner of radio topics including APRS (used to track our space blimp), nanosats (tracking, attitude control system, photography), HF digital modes & beacon systems, spread spectrum, software defined radio, microwave/high power wifi, direction finding & fox hunting, emergency operations.

Tinfoil Tuesdays

A night to talk about security and privacy related things and to teach others about how to protect themselves online. We reference the 7-layer OSI model in the context of security and engage in productively paranoid activities. Happens at 7PM, some Tuesday Nights.

Active Projects


DIY 1080p and 10k lumen theater-grade projector under construction. We have three of the four required Giant Fresnel lenses found in old Projection TVs posted to Craigslist.

Space Blimp

On Aug 7, 2010, we launched our first balloon: HacDC Spaceblimp 1. Its epic journey began well enough, but the antenna came loose somewhere around 60,000 ft and we never heard from it again. Until three months later, when a farmer found it in her field, called up a friend (who happened to be an engineer) and it came back home. The pictures are fantastic, but the telemetry data was lost — it overwrote itself many times over before the batteries finally gave up. Following (what we thought was) the loss of Spaceblimp-1, we scrambled and launched HacDC Spaceblimp 2 on Aug 21. It went flawlessly — fast, light, and with good radio contact the whole way through. It may be the third fastest-ascending amateur radio balloon ever! Then we added more cameras, HD video, more radios, an accelerometer, geiger counter, and a pressure sensor! For HacDC Spaceblimp 5 (launched on July 9, 2011) we bought a yet-bigger balloon to try to get higher, and we reached an astounding 118,533 ft!