Vote to Donate SEM

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  • Ryan Pierce


  • Mailing List Announcement: 2/14/16
  • Amended: 2/15/16 (Added requirement for member supervision / facilitation of the move.)
  • Officially Proposed: 2/23/16
  • To be Voted on: 3/15/16


While Pumping Station: One may be the only hackerspace with a functioning scanning electron microscope, it is seeing very little use. Members who take the authorization class almost invariably do not use it afterwards. All maintenance and authorization has been handled by one member, which is not sustainable, and nobody else has come forward to help fill these roles. The increased usage and new tools in the wood shop are causing air quality problems such that the SEM cannot continue to operate in its current location without incurring damage. The SEM equipment itself is old (circa 1993), is no longer supported by its manufacturer, parts are difficult to find, and it may require unexpected maintenance costs to remain operational.

PS:One is undertaking a new lease of the shop and office space next door, which will require reorganizing tools, equipment, and areas. The SEM has specific requirements for "clean" space on the first floor, which is at a premium. It is in competition for that space with other equipment such as 3D printers, arts and crafts, meeting, classroom, and lounge space. Donating the SEM at this time would simplify the reorganization process, and it would make floor space available that could better serve a larger number of PS:One members.

Analytics Lounge, NFP is a non-profit space that formed last year, has space on the west side of Chicago, and focuses on making science and lab equipment available and accessible. It is an early phase startup, but already it has received federal 501(c)(3) tax exempt status, and it has acquired equipment for optical microscopy, atomic absorption spectrophotometry, and nuclear isotope identification and measurement through gamma and alpha spectroscopy. It has ambitious plans to eventually acquire HPLC, UV/Vis, and GC-MS. Already one use case Analytics Lounge is exploring is environmental monitoring as a citizen science initiative. An SEM would fit well with this. Unlike PS:One, science is Analytics Lounge's core mission. Having a SEM alongside other science and lab equipment makes the SEM more usable than keeping it in isolation at PS:One. As such, Analytics Lounge would be better positioned to attract SEM users than PS:One and could make better use of it.

This vote proposes donating the SEM to Analytics Lounge. It includes all equipment, accessories, documentation, etc. donated along with the SEM to PS:One. It includes supplies and liquid nitrogen equipment acquired to operate the EDX detector. There had been past unsuccessful attempts to create a science area at PS:One which included bringing in lab equipment. While much of it was lost to Limbo under the Tidy Space Policy, some is being stored along with the SEM equipment. It isn't being used at PS:One and so is included in the donation. This vote does not mention the critical point dryer, CO2 tank for the dryer, or argon tank for the sputter coater; these are privately owned by members, and it is expected they will move along with the SEM if the vote is successful. Much of the supplies and accessories currently reside in or on metal cabinets. While these are not in any way essential to the donation, these are currently included in the vote proposal because it was felt that PS:One needs floor space more than cabinet space and Analytics Lounge could use them to store the SEM accessories. So in essence, everything in the square area currently occupied by the SEM would be donated, and PS:One would be left with empty, usable floor space.

This vote proposal is mutually beneficial to PS:One, which would be able to reclaim much needed floor space and simplify its reorganization process, and Analytics Lounge, which would gain a functional piece of lab equipment at a point in time where it is trying to expand its capabilities. It would enable PS:One to help Analytics Lounge get off the ground in the same way PS:One helped South Side Hackerspace: Chicago when it was starting up. And it would promote the best utilization of the SEM by putting it in a lab environment focused on science.


Pumping Station: One, NFP will donate the following equipment to Analytics Lounge, NFP:

  • Leica S430 Scanning Electron Microscope and attached items, including:
    • Edwards vacuum pump
    • Oxford EDX detector electronics and associated computer
    • Computer peripherals
  • Technics Hummer V Sputter Coater and attached argon regulator
  • All documentation, supplies, and accessories donated to Pumping Station: One, NFP as part of the SEM donation
  • Supplies purchased or donated for operation of the SEM including:
    • 43L liquid nitrogen storage dewar
    • 2 pairs cryo gloves
    • Vacuum pump oil, filters, and sample prep supplies
  • Science equipment stored in the vicinity of the SEM, including:
    • Laboratory glassware
    • Welch vacuum pump and associated hose
    • Magnetic stirring plate
    • Vibration isolation table
  • Metal cabinets in the vicinity of the SEM currently holding SEM equipment and supplies

Analytics Lounge, NFP is responsible for all costs incurred in moving this equipment. The move must happen within 60 days after passage of this vote. Ryan Pierce, or another member or members designated by vote of the Board of Directors, will be responsible for facilitating and supervising the moving of this donated equipment out of Pumping Station: One's premises.