Wednesday, January 11, 2017


While fascinating technologies such as Hyperface, Adam Harvey's countersurveillance project, are making recent news, another project from the Chaos Community Congress from a previous year may also be of interest to Rohrpost-Nerds.

The 303C in 2013 saw the installation of the Seidenstrasse, the congress pneumatic tube system. Inspired by the OCTO installation at the 2013 transmediale festival, which I wrote about here, the Seidenstrasse was installed in the main congress building, using 2 kilometers of tubing. In the lead up to the event, participants were instructed as follows:
Without YOUR capsules Seidenstrasse cannot work – bring one, two, many! Lighting is mandatory, since it makes debugging much easier in case a capsule gets stuck. The possibilities range from capsules made from plastic bottles (cheap and simple) to 3D printed or encrypted capsules. Old vacuum cleaners, leaf blowers and the like are also welcome – please remember to build some kind of noise isolation if you bring a device for blowing or vacuuming ...

For the whole thing to be fun, creative hacker solutions and wild love of experimentation are needed. Some hackerspaces, including Chaos inKL. in Kaiserslautern, Raumfahrtagentur in Berlin, or the protolab in Kleinmachnow are already hacking and making. There are still a lot of unsolved problems left though, waiting for a smart hack: For example solutions for crossing fire emergency doors, which can not be blocked by pipes. The capsules could at these places e.g. fly through the air and be vacuumed in again, or be transported by human or robotic messengers.

Installations for (semi) automatic capsule routing would be rad, or installation details for the switching nodes, or solutions for hanging the pipes at the ceiling, or concepts for Onion Routing, Hidden Servides and so on. Also still missing are capsule counters for network traffic analysis (for the SOC report on day 4).

For this we hope for broad participation by the Chaos family and hacker spaces. You have always wanted a pneumatic post system between the rooms of your space, right? :-)
If anyone who reads this post was at the congress and even sent off a capsule, I would love to hear what it was like!

You can read more about the Silk Road experiment on the Chaos Computer Club website here.

Thanks very much to Thomas for telling me about Hyperface, and Stefan for sending me the links for the Seidenstrasse.

Stefan also sent me a link to a German blogpost by Leitmedium about the Rohrpost exhibit in the communications museum in Berlin, which German speakers and readers may be interested in. You can read it here.

Image used under the Creative Commons licence from Robert Anders' Flikr photostream.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

messages at sea

Happy 2017! As we look to the year ahead, a message from the past, from my pre-Christmas inbox, thanks to Patryk. This time he takes me to 1960, to the classic war film Sink the Bismark! Central to the action and the quest to sink that ship, prominently positioned in the headquarters of the British Admiralty, is a large as life Lamson tube system.
Messages come and go, arriving in the background as characters plot and strategise. Apparently the tubes play an important role in catching the Bismark. I am only halfway through the movie so far, so I am yet to find out how, but you can see for yourself here:

Thanks again Patryk for another piece of fantastic pneumatic post!