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Description A pneumatic tube system built from non-perforated (airtight) drainage pipe and vacuum cleaners. Being an Open Artwork, Seidenstrasse is a revision of the OCTO installation by the artist group Telekommunisten (, 2013). Features include decentralized mesh-style, push-preferred network with endpoints (no vacuum cleaners) and nodes (push-forward / pull on request).

Seidenstrasse has been at 30C3 and will be developed to provide a reliable tube network for next years camp. New features for this year are: TBD

Has website
Persons working on Auberginer, Diodenschein, Fightling, GeeF, Hax404, Jdew, Larsm, Sebastian
Tags seidenstrasse, silkroad
Located at assembly Seidenstrasse
Other projects...



After last year's outstanding success of project "Silkroad"/"Seidenstrasse" it will come back at 31c3. The current core team and the congress orga have decided to build a smaller installation this year. The Silkroad will stay within the hackcenter's sites: Hall 3 and 4 and the garderobe foyers of hall 1 and 2. The focus shall be to design, build and test new installations (like automatic routers) and to build and prepare a team for the upcoming camp in 2015 where we would like to build a much larger installation.

If you want to participate don't hesitate to get in touch either in #seidenstrasse @ hackint irc or via our mailinglist


There are two types of nodes: switching nodes and endpoints.

Switching nodes are points where multiple pipes arrive and where people feel like performing the switching / routing functions. In this years installation some of the central routing nodes (Saal3 and Saal4) will be used to test automatic router prototypes but routing at these nodes may also be handles manually.

Endpoints can be at any place in the building. What you need to be an endpoint: Just register at the nearest node to get your individual adress and lay a pipe between you and the node. Make sure the tube doesn't bend too much, so that your post will not get stuck. Put a padded laundry basket or similar at the tube end to collect the incoming capsules.


Current plan v4:


Netplan for Station

Current plan v0.1 a:


Adressing Scheme

Each endpoint is adressed by its switching node designation plus its pipe number. Each switching node handles its pipe numbering as it sees fit. Re-numbering is strongly discouraged, if pipes fail or are shut down, just leave its number dormant.

Naming Convention

The basic adressing scheme consists of the Switch Node Number followed by a : and the Endpoint Pipe Number at this node. e.g. 23: 42 (meaning: switching node No. 23, Endpoint No. 42). A barcode representation of the basic adressing scheme should be developed. Additionally, memorable naming is allowed, at least if the switching node is operated by humans. The address then contains the name of the switching node, followed by the endpoint pipe, e.g. POC:5. Switching nodes are designated by their number or name with a following zero, e.g. POC:0



Apparently buildup is starting at ~20.12

If you want to help building the Seidenstrasse, do not volunteer as an Angel for that time, because we are an Assembly and Angels can not always help the assemblys

Name attendant remarks DECT
fightling 20.12. - 31.12.
GeeF 20.12. - 31.12. 9580
jdew 20.12. - 31.12. evtl. an und um Weihnachten nicht immer da 4451
diodenschein 20.12. - 31.12. evtl. an und um Weihnachten nicht immer da 2929
auberginer 25.12. - 31.12. DUDE
seef 25.12. - 31.12. 3777
Boris 26.12. - 31.12. 2674 (BORI)

How to make your own capsule

Everyone who wants to participate should build their own capsules. Please post your pictures, drawings, instructions and experiences here as inspiration for others.

Important: Capsules without light will not be allowed in the system! Attach at least one LED to each capsule, so stuck capsules are visible. No exceptions!

Tube dimensions (verified by measurement): Outside diameter: 100 mm Inside diameter (the tube is corrugated): 90-92mm

Capsule properties (verified by experiment):

min max optimal? comment
Diameter 75mm 90mm 85mm also depends on capsule's sides, if soft, thicker may be better
Length 100mm 220mm 180mm too short might cause it to turn and get stuck, too long will not get around corners. (rounded and narrowed ends can be longer)
Weight -10t 550g 250g large weights need to be tested more on long tubes going up

The ends of the capsule should be round or narrowed, so it can easily glide around bends. Take a look at how commercial capsules look like for inspiration:

Do NOT buy commercial capsules. They won't fit!

A capsule made by cutting a ring out of a 85mm 1.5l PET water bottle and putting the ends back together worked really well in experiments (see picture below).

At the largest diameter a ring of felt or the soft side of velcro should be applied to ease the gliding through the pipes and provide a better airtight seal between tube wall and capsule.

Capsule Ideas: Multicolor glowing capsules, capsules with e-paper displays, encrypted capsules (with puzzles or locks).

3D Files

  • [1] by protofALk

How to send a capsule

All Capsules have to be certified with an C5 Certificate (for Capsule Certification call: 4451)

First, write the receiving address on the capsule (optional: return address) Then either

  • a) bring the capsule to the nearest switching node to send it
  • b) borrow a vacuum cleaner and push the capsule to the next node (may cause collisions).
  • c) call your switching node on the DECT / VoIP or via the inband audio communication (talk through the tube) and convince them to pull the capsule by vacuuming your endpoint pipe where you placed the capsule.

If an autorouter is in place, there may be other options for capsules routed via the respective routing node. e.G. if a router operating with NFC tags is currently tested, you can also use the (to be documented) NFC tag format for the router. Since there will probably be multiple router designs tested during congress and not all of them operate in the same way, always make sure to include an analog paper address tag, so your capsule reaches its destination.



How to build a classic station

Cut a piece of chipboard to 80x50cm. Cut 4 laths to 50cm in length and screw them together to form a square. Next cut 2 laths to 80cm. Screw the top of base plate backside to the longer laths and put everything on the square. Screw it in place and drill the needed amount of 100mm holes for the tube mounts using a hole saw.

Idea for new station design

TODO New station design?

Stations should work like real tube systems do. Use a transparent tube adaptor, on top of a small horizontal plate for the capsule to land on or start from. The transparent tube part should be removable or openable to insert or remove the capsule from the system. Move the start/stop button from the vacuum to the front panel for better user experience.

Network Instructions at the Stations

TODO: Instructions on how to mount the tube in the building, etc.

Station Slot-Label

Each Slot of a Station must have a Label. Here the Lable Sheet:


2:n coming soon.

Delivery Caps-Sheet


BOM (not only)

Tube stuff
product amount ordered who/where
Drainagerohr DN 100 ungelocht, 50m Ring + mehr Übergangsstücke 14 X Anlieferung cch am ??.??
HT Abzweig Winkel 45° (HTEA) Y-Stück DN 100/50 20 X Anlieferung cch am ??.??
HT Endkappe, Muffenstopfen (HTM) DN 100 20 X Anlieferung cch am ??.??
Verbindungsmuffe für Drän-Rohr mit KG-Rohr DN 100 20 X Anlieferung cch am ??.??
rope min. 1000m in kleinen gebinden Besorgungstour
Who Takes the Tube?
Name amount (In Rolls) Directly at Builddown? I need Staubsaugeradapter!
auberginer (Lagerplatz HH, brauchen Abdeckplane!) everything reusable yes  ?
Wer bringt Staubsauger mit?
Name amount I will need my Staubsauger for myself My Staubsauger is for Public use! :) Annotation
muccc 3  ?  ?
Warpzone Münster 1 yes no
Raumfahrtagentur Berlin 1 no yes
studentennetze 1 yes no
protolab 2 no yes (außerdem noch da: zwei Rollen Rohr, sowie ein paar Anschlüsse etc. Das protolab wird auf dem 31c3 nicht vertreten sein und braucht daher eine Transportmöglichkeit! WER MACHT DAS?)
CCC Lager Berlin 4 - -
Material for stations
product amount ordered who/where
Dachlatten 40x60 4 Bund á 12 lfm X Anlieferung cch mit Rest Holz
Spanplatten 2050 x 925 mm 5 X Anlieferung cch mit Rest Holz
Schrauben 5,0x50 1 PK 500 X Anlieferung cch mit Rest Holz
Farbe für bunte Stationen 10 Abtönfarben X Rob
Kabelbinder 200mm 300 X Rob
Kabelbinder 367mm 500 X Rob
... ... ...
product who?
Bohrmaschine GeeF
Akkuschrauber (+ Bits) Rob
Lochsäge jdew
Stichsäge Rob
Labeldrucker (Brother) (62mm breite sticker) jdew
Lötkolben GeeF
Tauch- /Kreissäge Rob
Oberfräse Rob
Leiter Rob
Kappsäge evtl. Rob
Seitenschneider GeeF:1
Cutter Messer GeeF:1-2
Pinsel  ?
Gaffa Tape  ?

Automatic Router Contest

Who is creating the fastest and most reliable automatic router?

TODO Organize the contest

TODO Build a jury and moderate the contest

Auto Router Designs

The jdew router

Status: Almost finished

Insert Julius router picture and description here.

The mimi router

Status: Concept

Kurz zur Beschreibung/ Funktion: Die hintere Platte ist in alle translatorischen und rotatorischen Achsen fest fixiert. Die mittlere Drehplatte dient zur Abschottung der Ausgänge, wenn die vordere Drehplatte in Rotation versetzt wird. Dabei sollte die mittlere Drehplatte erst nach der vorderen Drehplatte geschaltet werden. Die hintere Platte verfügt über fünf Rohrausgänge, die jeweils mit einer Gummidichtung zur mittleren Drehplatte luftdicht abgedichtet wird. Die Gummidichtungen müssen nicht zwangsläufig reine runde Form aufweisen, wäre jedoch für den Kraftfluss der auftretenden Scherkräfte, die durch die Reibung der mittleren Drehplatte entstehen, am sinnvollsten. Die Dichtringe sind einseitig selbstklebend und können einfach auf die hintere Platte aufgeklebt werden, diese sollten jedoch am Außenradius mittels einer dicken Schicht Komponentenkleber zusätzlich verstärkt werden. Das gilt im weiteren auch für die Dichtung, sowie die Abstandshalter zwischen mittlerer Drehplatte und der vorderen Drehplatte. Die Drehplatten müssen so angebracht werden, dass zwischen Drehplatte und Gummidichtung ein leichter Pressverband entsteht, nur so kann eine luftdichte Abdichtung gewährleistet werden. Zur weiteren Abdichtung wäre es möglich an den Außenradien der drei Platten noch eine Gummidichtung mit einem Kronenprofil zu legen.

widthwidth width width

The <your router>?


Possible contests could be:

  • capsule pageant
  • best/worst/most creative payload
  • highest speed
  • capsule race on a predefined course
    • course could be between halls 3 and 4 going through the spiral

Also, a scoreboard for races would be cool (maybe just a chalkboard or you build a cool digital one).

Spiral Installation

A creative installation of silkroad tube as a passage between Hall 3 and 4.


Statistics about seidenstrasse traffic can be found at The data is gathered by 6 automatic capsule counters located at the Central Node.

Sources and schematics for the zaehlrohr project can be found on github:

Full Duplex Test Line

Two nodes will be connected with tubes in both directions to test if duplex connections are advantageous.

Silkroad Garage

A place to realize new ideas, do workshops and have some tools to modify or extend the silkroad.