[hackerspaces] Re billing for laser burn hours. Webcam+OCR software.

Bob Baddeley hackerspace-discuss at bobbaddeley.com
Sun Jan 20 18:25:17 CET 2013

We recently set up a system at Sector67 to handle this issue. We have 
RFID cards for building access already, so we hooked up an RFID reader, 
Arduino, and Raspberry Pi inside our laser cutter. A person swipes their 
card, which checks a web service that has a list of acceptable (trained) 
users and will enable or disable the laser. Our system also logs job 
time, so we know how long each job runs, and we are charging $20 an 
hour. A camera mounted inside the cutter takes a photo at the completion 
of each job. All of this data is stored both on a local database on the 
Pi and via web services to a remote location. We also added a billing 
token feature, so that a person can log in with their personal RFID 
token, then swipe a second one so they can distinguish between different 
projects for a certain person.

We're currently working on building a better web interface to handle the 
billing and do metrics. It appears that there may be a need for this 
kind of thing at the other spaces as well. We have not yet hooked this 
up to our 3D printers (we have a scale and cash box and formula on the 
wall for that right now), but we may hook this system up to other 
machines like our CNCs. Some we may not charge to use but would like to 
measure time spent and be able to hold people accountable for breaking 

Is anyone else interested in joining forces to build a billing and 
analytics system for tool usage? Does anyone know of one that already 

Bob Baddeley

On 01/20/2013 03:55 AM, Matt Joyce wrote:
> There are simpler solutions.  This isn't some new problem.
> On Sat, Jan 19, 2013 at 6:03 PM, Oren Beck <orenbeck at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Last resort first.
>> Webcam and some OCR software.
>> Slot for member card in cam vision near hours display.
>> Potentially closer to solved?
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