The Spirit of Hackaday Shines in Shenzhen

Hackaday loves to spread the message of the hardware hacking lifestyle. That’s only possible where there are hardware hackers willing to spend their time getting together to talk the future of the hardware industry, and to celebrate where we are now. We’re honored that you came out en masse for our Shenzhen Workshop and Meetup!

Zero to Product

[Matt Berggren] has presented his Zero to Product  workshop a few times now as part of our Hackaday Prize Worldwide series. This spring that included Los Angeles, San Francisco, and ten days ago it was Shezhen, China.

We partnered with MakerCamp, a week-long initiative that pulled in people from all over China to build a Makerspace inside of a shipping container. Successful in their work, the program then hosted workshops. The one caveat, Shenzhen in June is a hot and sticky affair. Luckly our friends at Seeed Studio were kind enough to open their climate-controlled doors to us. The day-long workshop explored circuit board design, using Cadsoft Eagle as the EDA software to lay out a development board for the popular ESP8266 module.

The language barrier between English and Mandarin is a formidable one. It was really fascinating to see all of the people at the workshop pull together to help sidestep any translation roadblocks that popped up along the way. Knowledge sharing really does trump any barriers when we all work together. Check out the Workshop album for more images.

A Hot Summer Meetup

You haven’t experienced a Maker Faire until you drop by a Hackaday Meetup. We’ve been holding these on the Saturday Evening of Bay Area Maker Faire for the last two years and made it a priority with our attendance at the Shenzhen Maker Faire this year. Through various connections, [Sophi] connected with [Joe Finkenbinder]. He is founder of Bionic Brew in Shenzhen, and a talented craft brewer who has worked to establish craft breweries all over China.

[Joe] suggested NYPD Pizza, a hip eatery in a brand-new yet unopened complex not too far from Nanshan district. This couldn’t have been more perfect! The food was fantastic, [Joe] was able to bring and serve his excellent brews, and the establishment offered plenty of indoor and outdoor areas for the huge crowd that arrived.

We estimate an attendance of nearly 200 hackers with a great variety of backgrounds that made for fascinating conversations at every turn. I was excited to see [Bunnie] and [Akiba] who came along with a group of MIT Media Lab students who were in Shenzhen learning about the manufacturing process. The program sets up each stage of taking a design to production, with a few pre-staged shortcuts to ensure this can be done in a matter of weeks instead of months (think mold-making).

[Ian Lesnet] and the Hacker Camp crew were on hand. We had celebrated the end of their camp with them a few nights before (here’s some extra pictures from that event) and were happy to see them in attendance. Most of the MakerCamp crew made it out as well, this being the last night of their own event. As is our practice, we had been inviting people all day long at Maker Faire as we met them. There were far too many to list in attendance, but [Thomas] from Pebble, [Kevin] of Arduboy fame, [Natalie] brought some LED-illuminated wearables, the WindowsOnDevices crew from Microsoft, our friend [Holly] from NYC Resistor, and of course [Chris] and [Zoe] from Seeed Studio were just a few mentionables at the gathering.

I noted the indoor area already, which was a great way to cool off in the air conditioning. But it wasn’t long before people ditched shoes and socks and waded into the reflection pool. Holding down an outdoor booth in 88F/80% humidity all day, then partying in weather nearly the same made this a necessity. It felt like paradise.

Hitting the Booth on Sunday

I asked a few people and it seems there is no bar-time in Shenzhen. I didn’t head back until about 4am and I wasn’t the last one. Thanks to the Microsoft crew in helping flag down cabs at that time of night! My shift at the booth was a 9am start so it was a short sleep, but the crowds the next day made it a ton of fun!

Our booth was based on the Logic Noise series that [Elliot Williams] has been writing. We had parts, breadboards, powered speakers, and simplified schematics (similar to Fritzing) on hand so anyone could try their hand building a simple oscillator. There’s something magical about seeing the “guts” of a simple synthesizer splayed out like that. The kids were drawn to it and a few of them spent so much time playing with the circuits we sent the gear home with them.

Surprisingly the most-asked question was “what are you selling?”. It took some explaining but it was universally appreciated that we want people to be excited about electronics and to make learning a part of who they are. We were really lucky to have friends of Hackaday stop by and help out. [Holly Hudson] brought goodies and helped staff the booth. [Sprite_TM] — hacker extraordinaire and 2014 Hackaday Prize Judge — helped with circuit building for more than an hour. And 2015 Hackaday Prize Judge [Akiba] stopped by as well. On Sunday we were especially stretched thin as [Sophi] was giving a talk and some of us wanted to be there to hear it! [Chris] from Seeed Studio saved the day by donating a few hours from his busy schedule. Thank you all!

We’ll post more on the Maker Faire itself this week. A big thank you to everyone who attended our Zero to Product workshop and the Hackaday Meetup. We’re grateful to Hackaday’s parent company — Supplyframe — and to the 2015 Hackaday Prize sponsors listed below for making this trip to China and these events possible. Thank you!


The 2015 Hackaday Prize is sponsored by:

11 thoughts on “The Spirit of Hackaday Shines in Shenzhen

  1. I would love to go to Shenzen but where does one stay? Cheap hotels seem very shady. Hotels with a good internet presence are extremely expensive and I don’t know anyone in Shenzen.

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