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Shanghai's own geek-easy [China Daily: Hong Kong Edition]
[June 12, 2014]

Shanghai's own geek-easy [China Daily: Hong Kong Edition]

(China Daily: Hong Kong Edition Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) US expat Jonathan Weinert (center) worked on a remote-controlled lock for a scooter in XinCheJian. Yu Ran/Shanghai Star 'Shanghai Impression' photo exhibition kicks off in Cape Town  Archaeology show tells Shanghai stories An open space encourages the city's hardware specialists, electronic artists, designers and DIY lovers to meet, tinker and share their ideas. Yu Ran drops in.

Here we go. The city's geeks are finally moving out of their dark bedrooms and basements cluttered with equipment to a place to call their own. If you want to have fun with technology, join them at XinCheJian, a community-operated space enabling people to spend their spare time disassembling electronics and exchanging ideas.

"It's about time to connect the real world with the virtual by pushing the high-tech onto a larger stage," says David Li, foreman of the first Hackerspace in China.

Located in a 200-square-meter old plant near Jing'an Temple, XinCheJian is an open space gathering hardware specialists, electronic artists, designers, DIY lovers and people who are interested in making things.

"In this new era, knowledge of production of electronics should become more accessible, enabling more and more people to play with technology," says Li, who launched the project in 2010 with two partners to remedy the problem of his home workshop being cluttered with equipment.

Li adds that he hadn't expected the group to grow so quickly as he'd only intended to invite friends having similar problems to share a larger place for making things together.

At the moment, XinCheJian has 30 to 40 members who pay 100 yuan ($16) per month, or 450 yuan for half a year, to access the space for whatever tech project they dream up.

It offers working space for people to realize their projects, take part in regular activities and make their own wonders.

"I failed to discuss with my friends what I was really interested in until I found XinCheJian, which brought me out of my stressful working life and enabled me to meet likeminded people," says Huang Chenghuang, an integrated circuit designer who became a member of XinCheJian in September, 2013.

In the beginning, Huang frequently took part in the activities to chat and share ideas with his new friends before he eventually started creating his own work. Now, he is working on his first hand-made project–a remote-controlled LED clock–which he is putting together piece by piece.

'Shanghai Impression' photo exhibition kicks off in Cape Town  Archaeology show tells Shanghai stories With his design, the user of the clock is able to see the time displayed on the ceiling, in the dark, by clapping his or her hands, or through other movements, without having to get out of bed.

Huang spends over three hours per day on the weekend in XinCheJian working on his design.

"I wanted to make some useful items for myself and my friends in our daily life. The LED clock is the first thing that popped into my head," Huang says.

In a similar vein, Jonanthan Weinert from the US, a senior manager of business development in an automotive products company, has spent a year making a remote-controlled lock for an electric scooter.

The scooter would be able to be locked via an application on a smartphone and unable to be opened by anyone else.

"The idea has stayed in my mind for a long time after I noticed scooters getting stolen frequently in China, and I was lucky to find a place to make it," says Weinert, who has zero experience and knowledge in making electronics.

Weinert adds that he feels very proud of his first work as he tries to create an item with self-learning knowledge and support from the community by exchanging ideas with and taking advice from other members.

Unfortunately, Weinert has to leave China for a new job in the US very soon so his project will be put on ice.

"I've enjoyed spending leisure time in XinCheJian as a high-tech home, which made me feel much younger and let me try exciting things with the help of other members," Weinert says.

XinCheJian holds a public opening night every Wednesday, hosting seminars and training courses including electronics, coding, robotics and more. It also serves as a funding and managing platform to support people to realize their own products and projects.

"Innovation is the driving force of open source while creators are the first step to innovation. With open source technology, markets will be dominated by niche markets and design, which will be the trend of the future," Li says.

(c) 2014 China Daily Information Company. All Rights Reserved. Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (

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