Seidenstrasse – a pneumatic tube system for 30C3

Besides the usual digital infrastructure with Wifi, telephone etc., 30C3 will feature for the first time a pneumatic tube system, with the pretty name Seidenstrasse. The installation OCTO, built from drainage pipe and vacuum cleaners, by the artist group Telekommunisten served as inspiration – some of you might remember it from the last transmediale.

The system will cover the major part of the 30C3 building. A preliminary net plan which takes into account the various limitations of emergency fire doors and escape routes can be found here:


Two kilometres of drainage pipe have been ordered and want to be installed – helpers for setup and dismantling are always welcome. Please register in the Wiki!

The pipes, connectors, and a handful of ShopVacs for running the installation will be obtained centrally.

However, 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. The connectors fit to a normal round vacuum cleaner pipe (38 – 40mm), but there are also other ways of modification, such as a direct connection to the casing with integrated capsule carrier (video).

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 Services 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? :-)

The standardization (tube diameter, recommended capsule size and weight, addressing scheme) will be limited to a minimum so as to leave maximum room for creativity. For everything you come up with, how-tos, coordination, pictures of your test installations etc. please use the project Wiki.

The project Wiki also contains the current state of plannings and can be found in the Wiki