About Bridge Rectifier

History and hackers

Bridge Rectifier is a co-operative, not for profit hackerspace in the heart of Hebden Bridge. Founded in 2015 we have our workshop at Hebble End Works, where members have access to a laser cutter, 3d printers, electronics soldering and testing equipment and a shared workspace. Traditionally we have weekly open evenings and had started open days once a month, but these have ceased until further notice due to the Covid-19 isolation.

We have in the past held numerous laser cutting workshops introducing people to what creative things they can do, and will do so again as soon as the situation allows.

Wikipedia describes a hackerspace as:

“a community-operated physical space where people with common interests, often in computers, technology, science, digital art or electronic art, can meet, socialise and/or collaborate.”

Did you say hacker?

Yes, but don’t worry, as there is a much older and far more benign meaning to the term than the one which has been popularised by sensationalist mainstream media.

Hackerspaces have provided assistance in times of national crisis, sent balloons equipped with cameras and sensors into space and given birth to some of the most fun creations you’ll ever see.

Some are even suggesting that hackerspaces function as startup incubators, boost innovation and may even herald a new industrial revolution.

Covid-19 response

In the last few weeks Bridge Rectifier members have been busying themselves looking in to 3d printed and locally made personal protective equipment (PPE). In our case, this project started primarily to provide well-designed masks and face shields for the local volunteers, who are being recruited to deliver food and medical supplies for local charity The Hebden Bridge & District Old People’s Welfare Committee, but it has rapidly developed into producing essential PPE Visors for many other organisations.

Frustrated by the speed limitations of 3d printing speed and with interest in PPE increasing daily we continued to research improvements, and during a conversation with engineering company 3DQF an idea was born to remove the 3d printer from the equation.
Changing from 3d printing to laser cutting has enabled us to increase production from around 90 minutes per face shield to around 90 minutes to prepare the parts for 100 shields.

During last-minute prototyping a conversation with a local locum GP brought to our attention the fact that the front line primary care staff at the local NHS “hot hubs”, where those who are diagnosed high risk for Covid-19 are seen, were all working without face shields. She spoke to the hot hubs manager, Gareth Tyne, who was enthusiastic, and a few hours later we were talking to the PPE lead GP Dr Nadeem Akhtar about their requirements.

Fast forward 24 hours and although our plan to produce a three-figure sum in a day had been scuppered by a short order of fixings, we had delivered 35 face shields to the central Calderdale NHS hub to be distributed from there, enough to cover all front line staff at all hubs at any one time plus a couple of spares per hub. After a couple of days we asked for a report and were told:

“Very useful and practical visors which will help provide protection for front line staff, we are extremely grateful for the help provided.

Seem to stabilise fine, are sprayed with disinfectant spray and air dried which works well no scratches so far”

What we are doing now

We have found replacement fittings – they may involve slight adjustment to one of the components, but will result in a tighter visor hinge which will make it positionable. We are now waiting for deliveries, and realising that there is an urgent need to keep the momentum we have built.

Harnessing the knowledge and technology found in hackerspaces we can quickly produce parts for PPE equipment, of the right standard required and get it out quickly to local health professionals in our region at a very low cost.

Further updates to follow…