Electromagnetic Field’s Badge Hanging in the Balance

Making conference badges is a tough job. Unless you’re sitting on a gold mine, you have to contact a whole bunch of sponsors for help, work the parts that you can get into a coherent design, and do it all on the quick for a large audience. The EMF team is this close to getting it done, but they need some sponsorship for the assembly. If you know anyone, help them out! If they can’t line something up in the next two weeks, they’ll have to pull the plug on the badge entirely.

Electromagnetic Field is a summer-camp hacker convention / festival that takes place in England and is now in its third iteration. As with other big cons, the badge is a good part of the fun.

The 2016 EMF badge looks to be amazing. It’s powered by an ST STM32L4 low-power micro, a color LCD screen, a TI CC3100 WiFi radio module onboard, and a ridiculous number of other features including a gyro and magnetometer, and a giant battery. It’s also a testbed for the brand-new MicroPython, which aims to bring everyone’s favorite scripting language to embedded processors. In fact, they’ve largely built the MicroPython WiFi drivers for the badge.

If they can’t get a sponsor, all is not lost because everything is open source. We’ll all reap the benefits of their hard work. But that’s not the point. The point is that hundreds of hackers will be standing around in a field outside of London without the most audacious badge that we’ve seen designed dangling from their necks.
If you know anyone who can help, get in touch?

Thanks [schneider] for the tip!

Reinventing VHDL Badly

A few years ago, Philip Peter started a little pet project. He wanted to build his own processor. This really isn’t out of the ordinary – every few months you’ll find someone with a new project to build a CPU out of relays, logic chips, or bare transistors. Philip is a software developer, though, and while the techniques and theory of building hardware haven’t changed much in decades, software development has made leaps and bounds in just the past few years. He’s on a quest to build a CPU out of discrete components.

Search the Internet for some tips and tricks for schematic capture programs like KiCad and Eagle, and you’ll find some terrible design choices. If you want more than one copy of a very specific circuit on your board, you have to copy and paste. Circuit simulation is completely separate from schematic capture and PCB design, and unit testing – making sure the circuit you designed does what it’s supposed to do – is a completely foreign concept. Schematic capture and EDA suites are decades behind the curve compared to even the most minimal software IDE. That’s where Philip comes in. By his own admission, he reinvented VHDL badly, but he does have a few ideas that are worth listening to.

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Designing a High Performance Parallel Personal Cluster

Kristina Kapanova is a PhD student at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. Her research is taking her to simulations of quantum effects in semiconductor devices, but this field of study requires a supercomputer for billions of calculations. The college had a proper supercomputer, and was getting a new one, but for a while, Kristina and her fellow ramen-eating colleagues were without a big box of computing. To solve this problem, Kristina built her own supercomputer from off-the-shelf ARM boards.

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JIT Learning Using Expert Systems

Chris Gammell is a guy that should need no introduction around these parts. He’s a co-host on The Amp Hour, and the guy behind Contextual Electronics, a fabulous introduction to electronics and one of the best ways to learn KiCad. If you want to talk about the pedagogy of electronics, this is the guy you want.

Chris’ talk at the Hackaday | Belgrade conference was on just that – the pedagogy of electronics. Generally, there are two ways to learn how to blink an LED. The first, the bottom-up model taught in every university, is to first learn Ohm’s law, resistance, current, voltage, solve hundreds of resistor network problems, and eventually get around to the ‘electrons and holes’ description of a semiconductor. The simplest semiconductor is a diode, and sometime in the sophomore or junior year, the student will successfully blink a LED.

The second, top-down method is much simpler. Just wire up a battery, resistor, switch, and LED to a breadboard. This is the top-down model of electronics design; you don’t need to know everything to get it to work. You don’t need to do it with a 555, and you certainly don’t have to derive Maxwell’s equations to make something glow. Chris is a big proponent of the top-down model of learning, and his Belgrade talk is all about the virtues of not knowing everything.

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Sophi Kravitz Talks The Tech Behind Art

Hackaday’s own mythical beast, Sophi Kravitz makes some amazing collaborative tech-art pieces. In this talk, she walks us through four of the art projects that she’s been working on lately, and gives us a glimpse behind the scenes into the technical side of what it takes to see an installation from idea, to prototype, and onto completion.

Watch Sophi’s talk from the Hackaday | Belgrade conference and then join us after the jump for a few more details.

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Hackaday Belgrade was Hardware Center of Universe on Saturday

One of my favorite conversation from Saturday’s Hackaday | Belgrade conference was about border crossing. This guy was saying the border station coming into Serbia needed a separate lane with the Skull and Wrenches on the digital sign since it was obvious the two cars in front of them were also packed with people coming to the con (and all the custom hardware that travels with the Hackaday crowd). The thought of caravans full of hardware hackers were on their way to this epic gathering.

We packed the place, selling at least 50 tickets past our limit in the last few weeks to people who just wanted to get in and didn’t mind not being able to get their hands on one of the sweet badges. I recall meeting people who came from Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Slovenia, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, USA, Germany, France, UK, and of course Serbia. If you were there and I missed your country let us know in the comments.

Mike Harrison talking about the Eidophor
Mike Harrison talking about the Eidophor

Obviously the main event is the incredible slate of talks that happen at our conferences. We had great presenters at last November’s SuperConference — our first every conference — so we’re delighted to say that our second was just as good. (We anticipate a third this fall.) Hackaday is so thankful for all of the speakers who donated their time and talent to share their knowledge and experience with our worldwide community.

Among my favorites were Seb Lee-Delisle’s talk on his many huge laser and projection mapping installations, Mike Harrison’s drilldown of the absolutely stunning engineering that went into Eidophor projector systems, Dejan Ristanovic’s fascinating talk about the on-again off-again history of Internet in Serbia, Sophi Kravitz’s collaborative work with polarizing materials, and Voja Antonic’s talk on the many trials of designing the conference badge which cleared out the world’s stock of more than one type of Kingbrite LED modules. If you missed the live stream of these talks don’t worry, we recorded all of them. It will take a bit of time to edit and post them so keep your eyes on the front page.

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Announcing Hackaday Belgrade’s Talks and Speakers

Hackaday is hosting a hardware conference in Belgrade on April 9th. This is arguably our first-ever European conference, and for the last few months we’ve been putting together a hackable conference badge, a list of speakers, and a set of hands-on workshops. Now, we’re finally ready to announce the workshops and talks for Hackaday | Belgrade. You can check out the scheduled talks and workshops below.

Tickets for Hackaday | Belgrade are still available, and tickets for the workshops will open up today. Tickets are also cheap – $35 for a regular ticket, and about $10 and $30 for the robot and DIY musical toy workshops, respectively. The workshop tickets are only to cover material cost, and you’ll get to take your project home with you.

The conference will be a blast. There will be bands and DJs, badge hacking competitions, and ten hours of talks and workshops. If you’re going, or are still on the fence, hang out on the event page to get the inside info on a few Hackaday events that will happen the night before and the day after.


The Workshops

Radomir Dopieralski – Tote, A Walking Quadruped Robot. Build your own spider-like robot and make it walk.

Anastasios StamouHardware Hacking Musical Toys & DIY Electronic Musical Interfaces. Introductory circuit bending workshop teaching all the necessary techniques for designing and making experimental electronic musical interfaces out of recycled material.

The Talks

Voja AntonicHacking the Hackaday Belgrade Badge. The Belgrade conference features its own badge designed by Voja Antonic. Voja will introduce the Belgrade badge and the theory of operation behind the LED matrix, keyboard, power management, infrared transceiver, and accelerometer.

Navid GornallHow To Eat Your Own Face. The story of hacking a 3D printer to print burger selfies with mayo. Printing with a non-Newtonian condiment presents a unique set of challenges which will be explored in this presentation.

Tsvetan Usunov Hacker Friendly OSHW DIY Modular Laptop. Tsvetan is the mind behind Olimex, manufacturer of various embedded development platforms and tools. He will talk about the creation of a modular, hacker friendly laptop based on a 64-bit ARM processor.

Chris Gammell Top Down Electronics

Dejan RistanovicSerbia: Long Road To The Internet. During the 1980s and 1990s, we had to hack the system in many ways just to stay connected, and to reinvent the wheel three times before breakfast. We also had some results, including Sezam, the biggest BBS in this part of Europe

Kristina KapanovaDesigning A High Performance Parallel Personal Cluster. This talk introduces an open source, homebrew mini cluster consisting of a Radxa Pro single board computer based on the quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 CPU. In particular, this talk demonstrates it is possible to achieve very advanced simulations in the field of quantum computing.

Sophi KravitzCreation, fabrication, and application by experimentation of the synchronization of a grid configuration of a light radiation orientation polarization illumination.

Seb Lee-DelisleMaking The Laser Light Synths. The Laser Light Synths are LED emblazoned musical instruments that anyone can play. Along with high power lasers, they form part of a large outdoor installation that switch the traditional roles of audience and performer.

Mike HarrisonRetrotechular : 1950s Video Projection Technology. A talk on the history and technology of the Eidophor, a little known, absurdly complicated, and very expensive product that dominated the large-screen projection market from the 1950s to the 1990s.

Peter Isza Open Source Clinical Grade Electrocardiography. This talk covers the development of a true clinical grade, open source Holter ECG which will be sold for close to its manufacturing cost.

Paulina StefanovicInteractive Digital Storytelling Systems: Generative Interfaces, Authors and the Role of the Audience. This talk will cover the development and design of interactive content and interactive performance that shifts the focus from the creator of the system to the creative involvement of the audience.

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