York Hackspace needed a demonstration piece to grace their stand at Maker Faires and similar events. Their solution was Spacehack, a multi-player control console based starship emergency simulator game. Each Spacehack player has console with a selection of displays, switches, dials, and levers. Players must operate their controls in response to a series of sometimes confusing commands the game supplies them from their fellow crew members. Each wrong move brings the disaster-prone ship closer to destruction, and the aim is to keep it spaceworthy for as long as possible. The result is an engaging and addictive draw for the hackspace.
A problem faced by all collaborative working spaces as they grow is that of access control. How can you give your membership secure access to the space without the cost and inconvenience of having a keyholder on site at all times.
Each door has a client with RFID readers, either a Raspberry Pi or an ESP8266, which connects via WiFi to a Raspberry Pi 2 server running a Django-based REST API. This server has access to a database of paid-up members and their RFID keys, so can issue the command to the client to unlock the door. The system also supports the Telegram messaging service, and so can be queried as to whether the space is open and how many members are in at a particular time.
This is a project that is still in active development, and [Torehc] admits that its security needs more work so is busy implementing HTTPS and better access security. As far as we can see through the fog of machine translation at the moment it relies on the security of its own encrypted WiFi network, so we’d be inclined to agree with him.
If you watch a lot of TV just after Christmas, you will be familiar with partworks. Or at least, you will if you live in the part of the world this is being written from, and if you aren’t you should count yourself lucky. The premise is simple: buy this magazine once a month, and in each issue you will receive a fresh component which you can assemble over time into a beautiful model of a galleon, a Lancaster bomber, or a patchwork quilt.
The value for money offered by such publications is highly suspect, the quality of the finished item is questionable, and though the slick TV adverts make them sound alluring you’re much better off buying the Airfix model kit or just cutting your own patches.
There’s a partwork that caught our eye which may be worth a second look. It’s probably unfair on reflection to call it a partwork though as it doesn’t deserve to be associated with the scammier end of the publishing business. Swansea Hackspace are currently running a six-week all-inclusive course designed to introduce the participant to robotics through a step-by-step assembly of an Arduino based robot. Tickets were £60 ($85) to hackspace members, and all parts were included in that price.
At first sight it might seem a little odd to feature a course. It’s not a hack, you’ll say. And though the little Arduino robot is a neat piece of kit, you’d be right. It’s hardly ground-breaking. But the value here doesn’t lie in the robot itself, but in the course as an exercise in community engagement. If you are involved in the running of a hackspace perhaps you’ll understand, it can sometimes be very difficult to persuade timid visitors to come along more than once, or to join the space. Hackspaces can be intimidating places, after all.
The Swansea course holds the promise of addressing that issue, to say to an interested but non-expert newcomer that they needn’t worry; if they have an interest in robotics then here’s a way to learn. This community engagement and spreading of knowledge reveals an aspect of the hackspace movement that sometimes remains hidden, and it’s something we’d like to see more of in other spaces.
Troy New York’s Tech Valley Center of Gravity is following up their January IoT Hackathon with another installment. The April 16-17 event promises to be a doozy, and anyone close to the area with even a passing interest in gaming and AR/VR should really make an effort to be there.
Not content to just be a caffeine-fueled creative burst, TVCoG is raising the bar in a couple ways. First, they’re teaming up with some corporate sponsors with a strong presence in the VR and AR fields. Daydream.io, a new company based in the same building as the CoG, is contributing a bunch of its Daydream.VR smartphone headsets to hackathon attendees, as well as mentors to get your project up and running. Other sponsors include 1st Playable Productions and Vicarious Visions, game studios both located in the Troy area. And to draw in the hardcore game programmers, a concurrent Ludum Dare game jam will be run by the Tech Valley Game Space, with interaction and collaboration between the AR/VR hackers and the programmers encouraged. Teams will compete for $1000 in prizes and other giveaways.
This sounds like it’s going to be an amazing chance to hack, to collaborate, and to make connections in the growing AR/VR field. And did we mention the food? There was a ton of it last time, so much they were begging us to take it home on Sunday night. Go, hack, create, mingle, and eat. TVCoG knows how to hackathon, and you won’t be disappointed.
Thanks to [Duncan Crary] for the heads up on this.
The Hackaday Prize meetup at the Dallas Makerspace is this weekend: Saturday March 19th. We will be kicking things off at 7pm with food and drinks followed by lightning talks. If you want to come but have yet to RSVP you can do that via Meetup, please do this so we can have enough food and drinks on site for everyone.
We’ve already lined up a number of lightning talks (5-7 minutes each) to get things started so we aren’t sitting and staring at one another like a junior high dance. But we encourage you to show up and sign up for one on on the night of the meetup. Even if you don’t give a talk you should bring a project to show off afterward.
Lightning Talks Primed With:
[Brandon Dunson] giving a talk about the 2016 Hackaday Prize, [Mike Szczys] will be giving a talk about the Hackaday | Belgrade hardware badge. [Dave Anders] will be talking about his WITCH-E Project and [Bradley Mahurin] is bringing his 450V 1mA PIC based boost converter. Not to discredit the Hackaday talks, but I’ve seen [Dave] and [Bradley]’s work before and you’ll want to see this stuff first hand and get a chance to talk with these guys.
Project Hathor is an electromagnetic ring launcher that launches aluminium hard drive platters 45 feet skywards at the touch of a button. The hard work is done by a bank of capacitors which are charged to 2kV from a microwave oven transformer, before being discharged into a coil of wire on which the hard drive platter is sitting. The resulting burst of magnetic field induces a huge current in the platter, and that current in turn creates an opposing field which launches the ring into the air.
The launcher is the work of [Krux], at the Syn Shop hackerspace in Las Vegas, and he’s made a beautiful job of it. The capacitor bank has ten 3900uF 400V electrolytic capacitors wired as a single 1560uF 2kV capacitor, there are two 225W 2Kohm wire wound discharge resistors, and a beautifully designed home-made high voltage contactor featuring tungsten electrodes. The whole project has been carefully built into an acrylic case for safety, for as [Krux] points out, microwave oven transformers will kill you.
As well as the project web site, there is a YouTube playlist, an image gallery, and a GitHub repository containing all the project’s details. You can see the launcher in action in the video below, launching platters into the Nevada night right on cue.
For some people to join a new group is an exciting proposal, to meet new people and interact with them to accomplish a goal is their idea of a good time. If this describes you then you’re all set to jump in there and make some new friends! There are other people who see social interaction as not such a good time. They would rather avoid that situation and go on about their normal day, I get it. In general my level of comfort is inversely proportional to the number of people with me. This is not a character trait that I chose, I’m an introvert by nature.
The stereotype depicts hackers, nerds, or geeks as people without many friends who spend most of our time alone or you might just call us “loners”. I should make it clear that I’m writing this article from a table for 1 at my local diner and it would be out of the ordinary if there was another person at this table with me. Just in case someone feels the need to speak to me I’m wearing headphones as a deterrent, audio delivery is not their use at this time (headphone hack). I can feel the first comment brewing so let me nip that in the bud real quick: I’m in a restaurant AND actively being alone because there are often too many distractions at home to get things done in a timely manner. And I like the pancakes.
Before I climb up on this soapbox let me say that many of you are already involved in the community and are doing a great job, in fact I’m pretty sure many of the old-timers I talk about are Hackaday readers. This article is a result of my self reflection regarding my lack of community involvement as of late. I can’t think of any reasons why I shouldn’t take myself down a peg or two publicly, enjoy.
I won’t bother with the “Ra-Ra! Team Spirit!” garbage to get you all jazzed up to be a part of the team. But I will tell you what you’re missing out on by not being active and participating. It’s similar to the saying “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make that horse join a group of like-minded horses that would all benefit from a wealth of horse-knowledge.” The saying changes depending on where you’re from, that’s how it was told to me.