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New Project Launched: USB Lock

You’re at a bar, enjoying the DJ and suddenly the music stops. A couple of people are frantically fiddling with cables between the decks and their laptop – the USB cable has fallen out again.

It’s like an updated version of someone bumping the table and making a record skip. Just, it takes a lot longer to solve, is way more annoying, and more embarrassing for the DJ than the punter.

Most of the time, it’s good that cables can easily fall out of your laptop. It’s better something get disconnected for a little bit than the whole kit and kaboodle being flung and damaged. When performing live using a laptop as part of your setup is not one of those times – here the laptop USB ports become the weakest link in the chain.

What are we going to do about it?

We’re starting an open project here on Testbatch for anyone that wants to join. Register for the site here to get started. Then join this group, and have a look at the Project page to see where we’re up to.

We’ll work together to design a User Toolkit through which we can customise and model a part that fits our own USB cables and laptops. Then anyone who wants to can make the outcome with 3D printing or other rapid prototyping technologies (depending on how we design it).

The first step in the design process is to start gathering ideas. Post them in the group between now and 30 September 2017 to have them considered for the next phase.

You can also give your thoughts to this survey:

Your Email (required)

Have you ever regretted knocking a cable out of a laptop?

Do you think a USB lock could be useful?



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Ervu 1.1 – Ervu 1.2

  • Changed Point 0 to Point one for ease of understanding
  • Added visual aids to points and electrons to denote which object the parameter controls
  • Reduced length of text in the User Toolkit to fit more of the message into the screen
  • Created new and improved GIFs for each step in the process, with a focus on explaining the actions of individual parameters
  • Updated instructional text
  • Made it so the Step 1 points no longer showed when working on the Step 2 Surface
  • Simplified project listing
  • Change subject of emaidl recieved on model submission from Forma to Ervu
  • Add explanatory GIFs to the Ervu instructions
  • Made it possible to name your Outcome
  • Create a Making Method so people can elect to have their model offered as an Outcome on
  • Continue to improve the emails and information around this project


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How to take the next step with your 3D model

Spout printed

You’ve created and downloaded a design – now, what to do with it?

There are a lot of options. The three that you can get help with from Testbatch are;

  1. Visualising and sharing it with an online viewer
  2. Find a way to get it made
  3. Add it back to Testbatch as an ‘Outcome’ that other people can download
  4. Get some technical design assistance customising it further than you could using the Toolkit

To start a conversation with us on how to make any of these happen, you can ‘buy’ some one-on-one assistance on the User Toolkits page – select an option from the dropdown, then Add to Cart. It costs a little bit of the ʘ you have earned by being part of the community during the research phase.

A really mature User Toolkit that has undergone many iterations will create models that can be easily manufactured – younger Toolkits may have models that have problems like dodgy wall thicknesses, missing faces or be way too big to fit in a print bed. To get them made, you’ll need help from someone who can fix those problems.



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How to Join the Community

  1. Read the Research Participant Information and Consent Form and complete the form at the bottom.
  2. Go to and create an account.
  3. You’re in! You can now login to Testbatch and get started. Try the Example User Toolkit and have a bit of a poke around.
  4. You’ll get an email soon with some next steps, or feel free to just dive in and start making things.
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How to Join a Group

Navigate to a Group. You can find them often in the left hand sidebar, under a tab on a Toolkit or Outcome or at the main Groups page.

Find the Join Group button near the profile image, and click it. Follow any further instructions the site asks you to complete (for sxample, some groups may ask you a question when you join) and you’ll be in the Group.

This will let you make posts in the Group, and set your subscription/notification preferences (this functionality is in beta and will have supporting documentation soon).

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How to use a User Toolkit

User Toolkits are a bridge between designers, manufacturers, complex 3D modelling software, and people who know what they need to or would like to make but haven’t spent years learning how to make it.

The key is they’re not for making anything, they’re for making something specific. That way, the possible outcomes a user can create with one can be limited to be manufacturable, the variables you can change can be refined so that all possible outcomes are high quality designs, and the controls simplified so the end user can create cool things without having to be 3D modelling experts.

Here’s the short version of the instructions for using User Toolkits on Images and further explanation will be coming soon.

  1. Find a toolkit that can make something you’re interested in
  2. Go to that User Toolkit’s product page
  3. Check the instructions to learn how the Toolkit works
  4. Click the User Toolkit tab
  5. Change the parameters a little, then a lot, then tweak them until you’ve made something you like
  6. Send the results to yourself and/or Testbatch, and depending on the Toolkit download your creation
  7. Fill out a short follow-up survey
  8. Optional – spend ʘ to get one on one assistance taking your creation further


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How to earn Community Currency – ʘ

At least for now, the Testbatch community is using a community currency, where people earn Testbucks (ʘTB) by using the site. Almost all interactions on the site generate between 1 and 10 ʘ for the user.

Those ʘ can then be used to buy, for example, customisations to objects, or 3D printable quality files, or instructions to manufacture outcomes.

They also might help the community create a system for accountable governance and collective ownership of the platform, as a fair accounting of work done is required when trying to figure out how much of a reward or recompense a community member is due. The Platform Cooperative model may be what Testbatch pursues next.

Current ʘ Earning Actions

ʘ5: Registering for the site
ʘ1: Daily Login
ʘ1: Viewing Content
ʘ3 – ʘ10: Publishing Content
ʘ1: Leaving Comments
ʘ1: Referring Visitors
ʘ5: Referring new Members
ʘ1: Posting Profile Activity
ʘ1 – ʘ5: Group changes
ʘ1 – ʘ5: Submitting Forms
ʘ1: Leaving Reviews

Comment here or in the Community Currency group if you have anything to say about ʘ, or any problems with it.