66% or better

DIY Electricity and Internet for Burning Man

bmPowerInet

Despite this being [Kenneth Finnegan's] first Burning Man, the guy came prepared and stayed connected by setting up a beefy electricity supply and a faint yet functional internet connection. If you saw [Kenneth's] Burning Man slideshow, you know that the desert is but a mild deterrent against power, water, and even temporary runways.

He borrowed a 20V 100W solar panel from Cal Poly and picked up a bargain-price TSMT-20A solar charge controller off eBay. The controller babysits the batteries by preventing both overcharging and over-discharging. The batteries—two Trojan-105 220Ah 6V behemoths—came limping out of a scissor lift on their last legs of life: a high internal resistance ruled out large current draws. Fortunately, the power demands were low, as the majority of devices were 12VDC or USB. [Kenneth] also had conveniently built this USB power strip earlier in the year, which he brought along to step down to 5VDC for USB charging.

Internet in the desert, however, was less reliable. A small team provides a microwave link from civilization every summer, which is shared via open access points in 3 different camps. [Kenneth] pointed his Ubiquiti NanoStation at the nearest one, which provided a host of inconvenient quirks and top speeds of 2-20kBps: enough, at least, to check emails.

Open Hardware Summit 2013 – Part 1: Demos

Open Hardware Summit 2013

The 2013 Open Hardware Summit took place on September 6th at MIT. There was a wide array of demos and talks covering Open Hardware methodologies and projects. After the break I’ll be covering the demo area of the conference, and sharing some of my favorite demos.

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[Kenneth Finnegan's] EPIC Burning Man slideshow

kenneth-at-burning-man

Whether or not you manged to attend this year’s Burning Man festival we’re dead certain you’ll enjoy reading [Kenneth Finnegan's] show and tell about the event. This was his first time attending. Aside from his noobish excitement (which is really the only way to approach writing something like this) we’d never know he wasn’t a seasoned veteran. From what he and friend [Marcel] packed along with them, to the attractions he visited, he did Burning Man right!

The two snapped a selfie in the truck on their way to Black Rock City, the community that sprouts up in the Nevada desert every year for Burning Man. Bumper-to-bumper traffic is a surprise in the middle of nowhere, but when you find out that BRC boasted about 68,000 residents this year it’s no wonder. [Kenneth] spends some time talking about the camp they set up, including more than enough solar power, and an amateur radio setup that came in handy in lieu of phone service. This flows into his collection of cool art he came across, most of it massive in scale. There’s even an airport, which is how he was able to snap the aerial photo above.

We think the coolest part of his recollection is the view of ‘city life’. There are night clubs, bowling alleys, radios stations broadcasting live interviews and hosting talk shows, cafés, and much more. Hanging out in the desert at the end of August may not sound like your thing, but reading about [Kenneth's] odyssey makes us think Burning Man is like Disneyland for Hackers.

Ottawa Mini Maker Faire

Ottawa Mini Maker Faire

The Ottawa Mini Maker Faire took place this past weekend at the Canada Science and Technology Museum. I was in town and decided to check it out. After the break, check out some of the projects that I saw at the Faire.

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Free Hackaday stuff at next week’s Open Hardware Summit

supply-frame-at-ohs-2013

If you’re headed off to the Open Hardware Summit next week we’ve got some free swag for you. Readers paying any attention know that Hackaday was acquired by Supply Frame over the summer. There had been some nervousness in the comments about what this all means. But I think you’ll agree it’s a good sign that Supply Frame is one of the major sponsors of the event at the ‘FANATIC’ level.

Several of the Supply Frame guys will be attending (which makes me jealous since I want one of those ePaper display badges so badly!). Details haven’t quite firmed up yet, but we believe there will be a Supply Frame booth were you can stop by, chat, and see if they’ve got any Hackaday T-shirts left to hand out.  I don’t think they’ll run out of stickers so you won’t go away empty handed.

Also ask them for a beta code for the hush-hush new online tool which they’ve been working on. I got a preview when I visited their headquarters in Pasadena last week. It’s something that EE and hobby electronics enthusiasts will appreciate as it simplifies the planning and part choosing process of a design. Actually, now that I think of it, it solves a problem I’ve heard [Dave Jones] rant about before on the Amp hour. Obviously I’m under a bit of an info embargo until they get the service fully online but I’m sure we’ll cover it once they do. Incidentally, one of the devs on this project — [Ben Delarre] — founded CircuitBee.

Our own [Eric Evenchick] will be on hand as well. He’s still networking for future employment so you might not find him just sitting at the SF booth. He will have Hackaday stickers to hand out as well since I felt bad about not sending swag along with him to Def Con. Look for his recollection of the event once it is all wrapped up.

Worry not if you can’t attend OHS. [Brian Benchoff] is planning a trip to World Maker Faire later in September and he’ll be packing a stash of freebies as well!

DEF CON: Hacking Charities and Routers

Where's Cardboard Snowden?

Where’s Cardboard Snowden?

On the last day of DEF CON, I talked to some charity hackers, checked out the lockpicking village, and learned how insecure my router is in the wireless village.

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DEF CON: Tamper Evidence, Contests, and Embedded Talks

Tamper Evident Devices

For day two of DEF CON, I checked out tamper evident devices, the contests area, and a few embedded talks. Read all about it after the break.

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