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What is the Max Lab?

The Max Lab is the hub of what we call Physical Interaction Design at CCRMA. Named after Max Mathews, the Max Lab is where we focus on hardware and software interfaces for interacting with sound.

Lou Harrison, from "Music Primer," 1971 C.F Peters Publishers


We are physically located in Rm. 201 of The Knoll.


During any given term, the Max Lab may have up to 50 users, including students of Music 250 -- Physical Interaction Desgin for Music and other courses taught at CCRMA.


The Max Lab is available 24 hours a day. If you are the last person to leave the lab, turn off the lights, close the windows and close the door behind you. This applies at all times, even during the day.

Max Lab and Garage Rules:


a) If you don’t know how to use a tool, please ask for help. b) If it doesn’t feel safe, stop doing it. Ask for help. c) If you see someone doing something unsafe, say something to them. d) Never use power tools alone. Always have someone with you. e) Never work in the garage alone. Always have someone with you.


a) Clean up any mess you make. b) Put tools and parts back in the correct bin. They are labeled for a reason. c) Tools with green spray paint go in garage. Ones without green spray paint live in the

    Max Lab.

d) Use the brooms, vacuums and dustpans to clean benches and floors after EACH

    work session.

e) Unless you have gotten prior approval, no one is allowed to leave their projects out in

    the lab when they are not working on them.  

f) You can use the rubbermaid boxes to store your projects that you are currently working

    on.  Please label them.  

g) Please take your projects home if you do not plan to work on them during the current

    Academic Quarter.


If you plan on using the lab or garage for a significant project, please fill out the form below. A significant project is anything that is either larger than a guitar or that you will be working on for more than two days.


We have quarterly work parties where we tackle improvements to the lab. If you find yourself using the lab frequently, please join us for these. They are a great way to help make our prototyping spaces even more useful.

If you document your project, we would love to share a link to it on the soon to exist Max Lab Webpage.

If you have any questions or concerns about the lab, contact Sasha Leitman. Cellphone: 650-207-5009. Email:


  • Wear appropriate clothing for what you are working on.
  • Avoid bulky clothes that may get caught or snagged on tools or soldering irons.
  • Remove long necklaces or dangling jewelry.
  • If you have long hair, tie it back.
  • Wear closed-toed shoes (i.e. NO FLIP-FLOPS). Even if you are not using them, there may be others around using heavy or sharp objects like clamps or cutting tools that can fall on your feet.

Safety Gear

Safety glasses, disposable foam ear plugs, dust masks and work gloves are available for your use. Eye protection must be worn at all times while you are cutting, drilling, soldering, or near to anyone who is doing any of these. Use your discretion for when to use ear plugs and dust masks.

Ventilation and Dust

The Max Lab is not set up with an industrial ventilation system. Furthermore, it contains and is used to produce many sensitive electronic devices. This means that you should avoid using hazardous chemicals or creating large amounts of dust in the lab. If you are soldering or making moderate amounts of dust, open the windows to help air circulate. Make sure to close the windows when you leave. And as always, thoroughly clean up your mess and one other before you leave.

Appropriate Use of Tools

The Max Lab contains many specialized tools. However, it is not a machine shop or a woodworking shop, and doesn't have every tool that you may need. It is generally a bad idea to use a tool for something for which it was not intended. This is a great way to break tools and cause accidents. For example, a jigsaw is not meant for cutting through-holes, and the drill bits we have are not for cutting titanium. If you have a very specific need, you may need to look to work elsewhere, the Product Realization Lab, for example. Also, things like screwdrivers or hammers should not be used as percussion mallets. Feel free to use your own tools for this purpose, but not those from the lab. If you do not know how to use a tool, ask a staff member. Some general principles apply:

  • Your work should always be securely or properly fixtured – this applies to any cutting or finishing tools.
  • Keep electrical cords away from cutters or sources of heat or liquids.
  • Never orient a cutting tool toward your body. Don't drill something while holding it in your hand, and always move a power saw away from you.
  • Don't try to use a drill bit as a milling tool. We have some endmills for milling with the drill press and cross vise. Ask someone for help if you aren't sure how to do this.

Other Protocols

Scrap Bin

There is a designated “Scrap bin” in the corner beside the workbench. You may use materials in the scrap bin for your projects. If you see something else that looks like scrap, it probably isn't. Always ask before handling or using materials from outside the scrap bin.


Again, the lab is small. There is very little room for storage in the lab. Floor space should never be used for storage. You may store things only for very short periods of time (e.g. while waiting for glue to dry) only if they are clearly labeled and you can find an appropriate place for them. If you leave something in the middle of a desk, it is occupying space that someone else can no longer use. Note that Max's desk is not a good place to store things. CCRMA's lockers are the best place to store your stuff that you can't take home.


Obviously tools make noise. Many projects make sound as well. There is a fine line between testing your noise-making project and “jamming”. Testing is welcome and encouraged where it is necessary. In order to conserve space in the lab and to avoid disturbing other users, take your project elsewhere to jam. There are other spaces available for jamming, including studios at CCRMA, practice rooms in Braun, and your house.

Caring for our Tools

In addition to using tools properly, they need to be cared for.

  • Some power tools have cases, to which they should be returned after use. They should be left clean and free of dust and debris.
  • Drill bits and saw blades should only be used to cut their intended material. Using them even once on other material essentially ruins them for everyone else. If bits or blades are dull, please inform Sasha.
  • Handle drill bits and cutting tools with shop rags, and don't leave them on desktops or drop them. This will keep them sharp.

Putting Things Where They Belong

Tools should not be removed from the lab. If you have a messy project that requires you to work outside, you may take the tools you need and return them to the lab promptly. Tools should never leave the Knoll.

Tool Cabinet

Certain dangerous or valuable power tools are kept in a locked tool cabinet. Max, Bill, Michael and Sasha have keys to the cabinet and can open it to allow use of these tools while they are present. If you need to use tools from the cabinet, try to plan ahead so that you are doing so during consultation hours.


The Lab is not very big, and currently has around 50 regular users. For this reason, please don't bring guests into the lab. If you need someone to help you with a project, you may bring a guest provided that they have been thoroughly briefed on lab safety and obey all the safety and courtesy practices outlined here. You are responsible for the conduct of any guests.


In case of an emergency, pick up a CCRMA telephone (there are 2 in the lab), select a line by pressing one of the buttons on the top row, and dial 9911.

For minor accidents, a First Aid Kit is located in the Lab in the open upper cabinet beside the drill press.

In case of fire, there is a fire extinguisher as well. Familiarize yourself with the locations of the telephones, safety equipment and building exits in case of emergency.



Supplier Description Mfg. Part # Supplier Part # Note
Futurlec Nice pots that plug into breadboards web link
Eeonyx Corp Piezoresistive fabric web link 1kohm/sq or 10kohm/sq
Aura Pro bass shaker 299-028 299-028
K&J Magnetics Strong neodymium magnets Website
Magnetic sensor systems Tubular electromagnet E-66-75 E-66-75
Surplus servomotors eBay or HSC or Electronics flea market
continuous servo motor R174-CONT-RO-SERVO Cont Rotation Servo
standard servo motor R276-S03N-SERVO Servo
Wireharness for Sharp IR distance sensors C1-HB-12-15-CBL Has handy male pins pre-crimped for protoboard use.
20x2 LCD with Backlight CFAH2002A-YYH-JT CFAH2002A-YYH-JT
Digikey 1-800-344-4539
reflective optical ("tape") sensor QRB1114 QRB1114-ND *preferred
OPB704 365-1091-ND
18.432Mhz crystal X146-ND X146-ND
HOA1405-002 480-1988-ND
op-amp TLC274IDR 296-1314-1-ND for Pascal Stang's ADXL board
adc chip ADS7828 296-12402-1-ND 8ch, 12-bit, I2C
6mm tact switch 100g B3F-6000 SW263CT
sharp ir range finder GP2Y0A21YK 425-2046-ND 10-80 cm, analog. Cheaper at Acroname, cheaper still at Sparkfun.
GP2Y0A02YK0F 425-2062-ND 20-150 cm, analog
Piezo Vibration sensor LDTM-028K MSP1007-ND with mass
LDT0-028 MSP1006-ND w/o mass
tilt sensor GP1S36J0000F 425-1968-5-ND
slide pot EVA-Q12C15B14 PQ1060SB-ND 60mm travel, linear taper
encoder, 12mm rotary EVE-GA1F2024B P10860-ND Detents, 24 counts per revolution
Hall sensor, Linear SS49E 480-2006-ND Honeywell
3.3V regulator TC1262-3.3VDB TC1262-3.3VDBCT-ND for Sparkfun LIS3LV02DQ Accel. Board
accelerometer ADXL311JE ADXL311JE-ND for Pascal Stang's ADXL board
Jameco 1-800-831-4242
breadboard, 6.5"x1.375" 630pn 20669
breadboard, 6.5"x2.125" 830pn 20722
connector idc socket, 10 cont 32492 2x5
connector idc socket, 16 cont 119467 2x8
.1" solid header, rt. angle friction lock 688271 8 contacts
.1" solid header, straight friction lock 688028 8 contacts
.1" solid header, rt. angle friction lock 688221 3 contacts
.1" solid header, straight friction lock 687965 3 contacts
connector, .1", 1RW, 2pin hsg 100812
connector, .1", 1RW, 3pin hsg 157383
connector, .1", 1RW, 4pin hsg 100803
connector, pin, male 145358
connector, pin, female, post tin 100766 (in Dec 2008 Wendy brought in 100765 from home)
MTA-100 IDC Connector 24AWG/4Pin 750901 Close-End Style Without Polarizing Tabs with Locking Ramp; for I2C 4pin header
flex sensors 150551
header, st male, 1rw, 40 pin 160882
header, st male, 2rw, 40 pin 53532
heat shrink tubing 3/32" dia 71871
heat shrink tubing, 1/16" dia 71327
heat shrink tubing, 1/8" dia 71280
screw, 4-40-3/8ph 40969
Nut, hex, 4-40 40943
Standoff, 4-40x1/2” M/F 111755
Standoff, 4-40x3/8” M/F 77594
pwr sply, sw, wall, 15V, 1.0A 252902 thin wall warts
rubber feet, adhesive, black, 100 142658 Cylindrical
Photocell grab bag 169578 NEVER AGAIN!!! They're mostly broken.
USB 2.0 Cable, A to Mini 5 male, 5'6", black 2081481
Power supply wall 12V/1A 252823
serial cables 199638CH 6' M-F black
socket, stnd din female 5pin 15843 Midi connector
solid wire, 22 awg black, 100' 36792
solid wire, 22 awg green, 100' 36822
solid wire, 22 awg red, 100' 36856
solid wire, 22 awg white, 100' 36881
solid wire, 22 awg yellow, 100' 36920
10 conductor flat cable 643508
twisted pair, red white 173147CH
twisted pair, black white 173164
speaker, flat, magnetic piezo 76030 updated fall 2008
terminal, disconnect female 106921
5-cond. unshld wire, 22awg, 100' 733083
Ultrasonic transm+sensor 40kHz 40TR12B-R 139492
Interlink 1-888-696-3500
.5" circle FSR Model 402
OEM developer's kits Model 400
Technitool 1-800-832-4866
Copper foil conductive tape No. 758ST918
Mouser 1-800-346-6873
pot 50k 3/8" horiz 594-63P503T7
pot 50k 3/8" round 652-33525-1503
Triple Axis Accelerometer Breakout – LIS3LV02DQ (datasheet) Sense-LIS3LV02DQ
SoftPot 100mm SEN-08607
SoftPot 200mm SEN-08679
Sharp Infrared Proximity Sensor GP2Y0A21YK.pdf GP2Y0A21YK
3-pin JST Wire Harness for Infrared Proximity Sensor SEN-08733 for Sharp Infrared Proximity Sensor. Almost as good as the Acroname harness.

CCRMA @ Satellite Supplies

Supplier Description Mfg. Part # Supplier Part # Note
Olander Nylon screws 6C150SPMN
Nylon nuts 6CHNTN
Amazon USB mini-B cable Retractable USB cable any short cable will do!
USB/Ethernet hub GWC HE2440 USB 2.0 4-port hub with ethernet adapter
4GB SD Card Kingston 4GB microSD card with adapter
Gravitech Arduino Nano 3.0 [h ARD-NANO30]

Other Resources

Stanford Product Realization Lab

Students can take a one hour safety training session and then use the lab for a daily or quarterly fee. Open for four hour blocks of time throughout the quarter. Not open during the summer. Resources include “traditional machining, woodworking, foundry, plastics molding, welding, finishing, and metrology tools. State-of-the-art computer-aided drawing, manufacturing, and prototyping systems are also available.”

PRL Suppliers list Go to the PRL website and click on the “suppliers” link in the upper right corner. Great list of places to get stuff in the Bay Area.

Tech Shop – Menlo Park and San Francisco Monthly membership and various classes give you access to everything from CNC plasma cutters to industrial sewing machines. This is sort of like a PRL for non-university folks and they have equipment that the PRL doesn't have.

McMaster Carr They have almost any piece of hardware you could ever want. Prices are ok.

TAP Plastics – Mountain View, San Francisco Best Local supplier of plastics

Online Metals Great place to get small amounts of metal

Pick N Pull = San Jose, Oakland Do it yourself junkyard. Not the cheapest but you can sometimes get good deals.

HSC (Halted) Electronics – Santa Clara Good local resource for surplus electronics. Close to El Camino Mongolian BBQ resturaunt and Central Computers.

Douglas & Sturgess – San Francisco Supplier of all things sculputral – great supply of silicon and epoxy needs.