Producing More PPE to Fight Covid-19!

Hi friends,

In this time of urgent need, it has been a privilege to count on the support of the Noisebridge community behind efforts to fight COVID-19. Over the past few months, we have become allies of UCSF Medical Center, sewn masks, grown food, and completed numerous other projects I am not even aware of. Good job NB!

Since completing the 3D printing project, there has been an opening for a new, ongoing covid-response project at NB. Himalayaz approached me with a new project to produce life-saving Powered Air Purifying Respirator (PAPR) components for hospital workers.

I’m posting here to create a discussion space around this new project.

PAPR devices are a critical piece of PPE used by front-line health-workers fighting COVID-19. This is the piece we would like to start assembling at NB. It requires nothing more than simple tools to build, and it SAVES LIVES.

This would be a colab with a nonprofit called Something Labs. SL was started by a team of Exploratorium makers who can no longer go to work. Familiar faces within the NB community are part of the SL team.

Sanitation & Safety are ultra-critical for projects like this. We’ve drafted formal protocols for this project based on those followed by Omni Commons.

הראל, Himalayaz, and I first proposed this at the last Tuesday meeting. I’m posting here to get more discussion. The proposal is here:


Some discussion points from the meeting, some of which don’t directly relate to this project specifically but would need to be resolved for any similar project to move forward, along with some that I mentioned before on Slack and you already responded to there (but it would be good to bring those responses over to this thread as well):

  • We have existing procedures drafted for maintaining cleanliness at the space, originally for those who volunteered to be the one person keeping the space safe while it’s closed. Are those procedures being followed? Namely, is a volunteer sweeping the space from end to the other at every shift change (i.e., several times a day) cleaning and disinfecting every surface?
  • How will the space be ventilated? We know from case reports that indoor environments are highly conducive to spreading the virus; how will air be evacuated from the space without being a vector?
  • What will be the distancing procedures? Two-meter distance is obviously the minimum; how will this be enforced? Will volunteers ask people to leave if they repeatedly get too close to another person (even if that person doesn’t object)?
  • You mentioned “We’ve drafted formal protocols for this project based on those followed by Omni Commons.” Is that draft available somewhere for folks to review?
  • What will be the max head count? One number that was floated at the meeting was six, which Zach dismissed as egregiously high. (Not without reason: Every pair of lungs that enters the space is a possible index patient, not to mention a potential infectee.)
  • What’s the minimum head count? How many people need to enter/be in the space to carry out this work?
  • Why do these folks need to be in Noisebridge, not someone’s living room or a park or something?
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Thanks for neatly laying out these concrete questions. We’ll be sure to address them.

  • I don’t really know the answer to the first one because I’m not a space-guardian. It would be a healthy level of redundancy for the project to also follow it’s own safety guidelines in addition to the space-guardian protocols.
  • Airflow is a great thing to bring up. I think we should put fans in front of the windows, and keep ALL windows open. I opened two windows during 3d printing to clear out the plastic smell, and it gets very windy with even two windows all the way open.
  • I think someone should be appointed as the social-distancing Czar, who will be responsible for keeping everyone far apart.
  • Yeah, we’re drafting the safety guidelines now and will post them soon. I would personally appreciate your review, boredzo.
  • I think the guidelines should be designed around ensuring social distancing using scientific recommendations (with an extra margin of safety), and the headcount will be a result of following those guidelines. E.G. If we decide on a layout of 1 person per station and require 15 feet between stations, and we have 60 feet available, then the headcount would be 4.
  • A park is not a great place to do it and since the heat sealers need to be plugged-in.
  • From conversations, it seems like the minimum number of people to get the job done is 3 or 4 and the more people who can be safely accommodated in a space, the more lifesaving equipment can be made.
  • If someone has a living-room where a handful of people can be at least 6 feet apart, it would be much appreciated for them to volunteer it.

Noisebridge Covid Safety Protocal

Activities in Noisebridge are reduced & focused on necessary tasks & pandemic releif.

Following saftey protocol in the space will help keep the community safe and help keep R down.

Sharing a protocol and being cordinated about community saftey is a way to stay acocuntable and show consideration to Noisebridge & others needing to use the space.

Whats laid out here is a saftey protocol Somethinglabs workers will follow, a template for a Noisebridge Covid Saftey Protocol & how we imagine cordinating with others using the space.

Social Distancing

-Will maintain social distancing for entire time in Noisebridge, erring to give others extra space where possible.

Generally the team will distribute through the space to maximize social distancing while avoiding high traffic areas such as the entrance & bathroom.


-Workstations, work areas are sanitized before and after use.

-hand sanitizer will be used before & after work including breaks.

-Sanitizer will be at all work stations.

-Contribute to the sanitation, orgaization & clenaliness of the space before & after use of space.

-minimize using other peoples phones, spaces, or other tools and equpiment where possible & if neccsary sanitize before & after.


-Will correctly wear protective face masks for duration of time in Noisebridge, facemasks can be refited in the bathroom or designated area.

-eating & drinking breaks in designnated areas cleaned before & after use away from other workers or off premises

-Cordinate on taking breaks at different times to avoid overcrowding hightraffic areas.

-maintain ventilation & airflow by opening windows & using fans.

Reporting & Contact Tracing

  • People will stop comming to the space & report to the rest of the group & to noisebridge if they have experienced any symptoms of Covid or recived any posative test results for Covid.

  • Anyone who was working in the space with anyone that has developed symtoms will stop comming to noisebridge & qurentine for 14 days.

  • In the case someone from noisebridge should show symptoms or contract the virus they will contact trace.

PPE production partnership in coordination with Others in Noisebridge

-PPE production will be moved to accomadate movers or other high proority volenteers to give them a high degreee of social distancing. Ideally opearations are compartmentalized into low traffic areas that dont get in the way of other activities.

-Cordinate with moving vollenteers through apropriate slack & discuss channels ideally giving notice before physical activity in the space.

-Acomadate & help moving activitiy where possible.

  • PPE production work areas will be moved to accomadate movers or other high proority volenteers to give them a high degreee of social distancing.

  • PPE production work areas are compartmentalized into low traffic areas that dont get in the way of other activities.

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I just want to go on record here that I’m currently against this proposal.

  1. At the last meeting myself and other members asked for transparency and paperwork for how this nonprofit is set up, what will be sold, where it would be sold, and for how much.

  2. A lot of nonprofits are exploiting Covid-19 for personal and financial gain, I’ve experienced this firsthand and I’m very skeptical of the proposal here without paperwork being provided.

  3. I don’t see anything in the proposal above about limiting the number of people in the space. At the last meeting it was discussed that 6 people could be in the space at any given time. I think that’s completely insane and completely unsafe.

  4. Members voted for noisebridge to be closed. I think we have to be extra thorough in how we vet use of the space right now. Encouraging people to solve their Cabin Fever by volunteering with half a dozen people at noisebridge is a totally irresponsible use of our resources, imo.

I don’t want noisebridge to be remembered as the place that infected a bunch of people with covid-19 when it was supposed to be closed.

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This project is literally producing life-saving gear for hospitals. It is not about solving Cabin Fever.

I’ve contacted the founder of Something Labs for official documents.

There are doctors and nurses depending on this project to get PAPR/CAPR replacement shields since supply chains cannot keep up with demand. We have the opportunity to let others use our resources to fight covid-19 at no cost to us. I don’t want Noisebridge to be remembered as the community that refused to help when asked.

Here is some supporting documentation.
The PDF is an agreement with their funding source, The Social Good Fund.

Something Labs Model C Agreement.pdf (148.2 KB)

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as a long time noisebridge community member and philanthropist I can say I do not condone any “fake” for profit volunteer ppe crew. I have been doing a lot of volunteer work myself I have made over 300 non medical grade masks for free for un-house folks in Oakland at Omni Commons. Link here =>
*reminder not all of us have a home to shelter in place

At the same time I had an opportunity to work with something labs that is an amazing non profit that creates medical grade papr masks at large throughout the world now. I have been doing it with them for over two months and we practice very serious safety protocols. This is an important project that will save lives at large and trust that noisebridge has faith in their community members to safely continue this good work.

  1. At the last meeting myself and other members asked for transparency and paperwork for how this nonprofit is set up, what will be sold, where it would be sold, and for how much.

I see no answers to this. I’m also not personally convinced that the safety precautions being taken right now are acceptable for not spreading the virus.

I think we can all agree that we want noisebridge to produce life-saving PPE. The question is if it’s being done safely and for an organization that’s being transparent.

Thank you @Himalayaz + @Eli_Sako.
I think this is a great initiative that Noisebridge can support which has life-saving potential.
I believe the community will benefit from this.
More details might be needed but I believe sufficient information on the nature of the project and policies for best outcomes for the community to move forward has been provided.

Thanks everyone for the meeting last night.
I think Silver and Luke are doing great work and provided some good info last night.

I agree with Tim’s block since insurance for board members is vital.

My block is based primarily on a lack of financial disclosure and safety. I want us to be making PPE but I also want us to be safe and support our community.

The Mission has had one of the highest rates of positive COVID-19 cases and testing shows that it is disaproportiately affecting Latinos by a wide margin (over 90%). We need to be cautious in how we proceed so we don’t cause harm to our neighbors.

I would love to see:

–Financial Transparency—

  1. Letterhead written document stating what will be sold, where it will be sold, and for how much. And / or what money is being reimbursed for supplies costs, who is being hired, etc.
  2. A regular (weekly? bi-weekly?) financial report from the non-profit reps of what money is being received and where it is going.


  1. A commitment to limit the number of people in the space during the Shelter In Place order
  2. A commitment to designate 1 person to do deliveries of the PPE / interactions with other people. This could rotate every 24-48 hours but ideally would stay the same to reduce potential spread of COVID-19.

–Delivery transparency–

  1. The above doc states: “This project will aim to serve all communities affected by COVID-19, most primarily our most vulnerable populations.”
    Are people delivering to homeless encampments? Homeless, disabled, people of color, immigrants, and seniors are the most vulnerable. Some detail about how these groups are being reached would be nice.

–Direct Contact with Funder / Non-Profit–

  1. A Social Good Fund, Inc. employee / representative to answer some of these Qs here or at a meeting would be great.

I am keeping in mind the safety and well-being of our community, hoping Noisebridge can set an example for safety and support during the crisis. I totally get the urgency of the project and I am not trying to slow it down with red tape. I feel we need to set a higher standard for how the space is used safely right now, when lives are at stake by any collective (well-intentioned) actions that may result in the spread of COVID-19.

If some of these issues can be thoughtfully addressed I can get on board. I see Silver and Luke already working quickly to provide docs and move the consensus forward.

Hi Zach,

SomethingLabs is an group of hackers that was set-up in a hurry to produce PPE for hospitals. Much of the documentation (financial statements, insurance policies, accounting records, etc.) that have been requested simply do not exist.

Therefore, we would like to remove Something Labs entirely from the proposal. Noisebridge people are fully capable of producing PPE, and while it would be nice to have outside support, the above requirements and those discussed at the last meeting cannot be met.

For example, someone at the meeting brought up liability/insurance concerns that would need to be addressed before moving forward on a collaboration. There is simply no way myself and the group of hackers who want to make PPE can come up with a legal opinion concerning questions of liability/insurance. It seems like the prospect of collaborating with a nonprofit has indeed inspired more red tape than is worth.

Pursuing this project without outside support should resolve your points 1, 2, & 6.

Those were some high-minded words that have created ambiguity. Let’s simplify the quoted language to just state the following:

We will deliver PAPR shields to hospitals.

We can easily get behind your 3&4 on points on safety.

Silver & I are working on a plan to continue on without SomethingLabs. Since it would just be a small NoiseBridge project, a Consensus proposal for this project should not be necessary.

I really wish you would stop calling my concerns about safety and financial transparency stuff like “red tape” and “throwing red lines.”

Id like to have a dialogue about this and work towards solutions. I am in support of this project if it can be done safely. I see no response here discussing options for limiting deliveries to one point person, limiting people in the space during manufacturing, etc. to reduce risk of spreading covid.

It seems to me that with or without a non profit backing the PPE can be sold. Each Tuesday meeting so far weve been getting mixed messages about the financials and it raises some questions (not just for me).

Im not the only person that expressed conerns around this project. I am also not in any special position to stop any of this from happening. I expect PPE to be made in the space whether I think its safe or not. I have no special say here. Im just sharing what Id love to see for safety and transparency and hoping that there can be a dialogue for some extra safety precautions.

Im worried about NB spreading Covid in the Mission. We could easily become a hot bed for transmission and the Mission has already some of the highest cases for Covid in all of SF. Im hoping ppl will consider some of these safety suggestions and work to make your project move forward so that it is a good thing for everyone.

Also, and I only mean this to help, I have some extra phone battery banks. I know how much it sucks not being able to have a working phone and I could donate one to you if you want (I have someone in mind that could probably deliver it).
I’ve also been getting some extra produce and maybe other things that could help. Does the group currently have an infrastructure needs list?

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Personal attacks are not tolerated. Please remain respectful on the forum, and you should always expect respect and common courtesy. Thank you, and be excellent to each other. :heart:

Im trying to find ways to help. Def dont need or want accolades. You said in your previous post
“Please help offer solutions if you can rather than coming up with obstacles.”
so Im asking and throwing out ideas. It sounds like you’re going through a tough time and I’m trying to find ways I can help.
Also asking if you have an infrastructure needs list (in general) for your projects so I could put the word out and donate if I have stuff here thats helpful

If possible, I would like to close this discussion thread as it is no longer serving the intended purpose of discussing a collaboration to help first-responders. I’m sure that ending this particular thread will not stop caring hackers from taking safe action to support front-line medical personnel in the future.

Thanks for everyone’s patient responses.