Hackenings: KiCAD, Science, DevOps, and Cyber

This week in [Hackenings], we’ve got a full roster of interesting upcoming events scattered all over the world. Can’t afford airfare to India, but Dublin is in the next county over? We’ve got you covered.

KiCad in Bangalore

IKP EDEN, in Bangalore, is hosting an Introduction to KiCad workshop on Sunday, Nov 13 from 10:00-2:00 pm. If you’re just getting started with PCB layout, or just want a quickstart learning KiCad, Hackaday contributor [Anool Mahidharia] will be there to show you how! Sign up on the link above, and bring your laptop with KiCad already installed.

Science in Dublin

20151115_124704-e1476655395528_thumbnailTOG hackerspace in Dublin is putting on their fifth annual Science Hack Day, a 36-hour hardware and software hackathon on Nov 19 & 20th. Looking through their photos, past creations have included a laser mission-impossible crawl-through maze thing, some kind of freaky turtle, and many objects that move, make noise, or otherwise amuse.

“Each year we bring together, designers, coders, scientists, engineers and makers. Simply to make interesting things. Why? For adventure, for playfulness, for science!”

DevOppery (and Foppery) in Stuttgart

logo_webDo you have what it takes to meet the needs of DevOps, Agile, and Cyber in the Enterprise Environment? Interested in Disruptive Cloud Computing or Mobile First Growth Hacking? Can you rub two buzzwords together and come up with marketing gold? Then you might have a fun time at the shack hackerspace in Stuttgart on Nov. 19th, for the eloop 2016 conference (translated here).

A full day’s talks include topics such as “Enterprise Patterns”, “Good Enough”, and the “Cult of Done Manifesto” as it relates to computer security. “What’s discussed at eloop today moves the digital markets of tomorrow.” YOLO!

Vote for Swindon

If you’re a UK citizen, you can vote to get the Swindon Makerspace some community funding so that they can furnish a new space. Why not?

Game Retro

And if you’re in Huntsville, Alabama, or environs, don’t forget Makers Local 256’s Retro Gaming night tonight (Saturday, 12th).

Hackenings? Hackenings!

[Hackenings] is our weekly Saturday morning (US, Pacific Time) roundup of what’s going to be going on in the hackerspace world in the upcoming week. If you’d like us to cover your event, email us at tips@hackaday.com and put [Hackenings] in the subject so that we don’t miss it. Thanks!

Hackaday Prize Entry: Measuring 3D Magnetic Fields

Sometimes you have to start out with big goals. Ninth-graders [Finja Schneider] and [Myrijam Stoetzer] are aiming to make a magnetic field scanner that would be helpful in finding large underground metallic objects, like unexploded WWII bombs that pose a real threat whenever a new parking garage is excavated in Germany. But even big goals have to start out somewhere, so they’re gaining experience with the sensors and the math necessary to recreate 3D magnetic flux vector fields on household objects like sawblades and magnetized screwdrivers.

Magnetized screwdriver in the "valley"
Magnetized screwdriver in the “valley”

For their science-fair project, [Finja] and [Myrijam] took a mid-80s fischertechnik “toy” 2D scanner kit, mounted a 3D magnetic sensor to it, and wrote some firmware to scan around and pass the data back to a computer where they reconstructed the field lines and made some nice visualizations. Along the way, they tried a number of designs, from a DIY chassis on carbon-fiber rails to sensors with ferrofluid. They document their successes and failures equally nicely in their lab report (PDF, German). You can get a lot of the gist, however, from [Myrijam]’s blog and their Hackaday.io entry.

You might also recognize [Myrijam] from her work with [Paul Foltin] on their eye-controlled wheelchair interface. These are some really cool projects! We’re excited to see how they develop, and are stoked that the future of hacking is in such capable hands.

Hackers and Heroes: A Tale of Two Countries

Hacker culture in Germany and the US is very similar in a lot of ways, from the relative mix of hardware versus software types to the side-affinities for amateur radio and blinkenlights. Reading Hackaday, you’ll find similar projects coming out of both countries. Both countries have seen hackerspaces bloom in the last decade to the point that there’s probably one or two in whatever city you’re living in. But there’s one thing that hackers in the USA are still lacking that German hackers have had for a while: respect.

Say the word “hacker” in different social circles, and you never know what kind of response you’re going to get. Who exactly are “hackers” anyway? Are we talking about the folks blackmailing you for your account details on Ashley Madison? Or stealing credit card numbers from Target? Or are we talking about the folks who have a good time breaking stuff and building stuff, and taking things apart to see how they work?


The discussion over who’s a “hacker” is as old as the hills, by Internet standards anyway, and it’s not going to get settled here. But think about the last time you heard the word “hacker” used in anything but its negative sense in the popular press. If you can’t remember a single instance in this century, you’re living in the USA. If you answered, “just yesterday, in one of the nation’s most important newspapers”, then you’re living in Germany.

Continue reading “Hackers and Heroes: A Tale of Two Countries”

Chaos Communication Camp 2015 Teaser

It happens every four years in Germany. The days are at their longest and the summer heat’s penetrating. It’s time to break out the tent and go camping. But who wants to go camping in the wilderness, where there’s no Gigabit Ethernet and nobody to hack on projects with? Much better to attend the Chaos Communications Camp 2015 with 5,000 other nerds. And Hackaday will be there!

If you’ve never been to a Chaos Camp, it’s an amazing experience. It’s like a DIY version of DEF CON, except that it takes place in tents in the countryside outside Berlin instead of gambling-themed hotels in the dry, dusty desert. There’s a lot more emphasis on actually doing stuff while at camp. (It’s meant to be a vacation, after all.) Indeed, presentations are shut down in the middle of the day for three and a half hours to give people time to hack and interact.



Have a look at the list of projects, events, sessions, villages, or talks to get a feeling of scale, and bear in mind that a lot of the most interesting activities are often unofficial: people getting together to work on stuff. There’s plenty of inspiration and room for cooperation to go around.

Like many cons these days, the badge itself will doubtless serve as at least one such source of inspiration, and the 2015 Camp’s badge is awesome. It’s essentially a HackRF One with an LPC4300 ARM Cortex M4 micro, large flash memory, USB, battery, audio, and an LCD screen on-board. Add an antenna and you’ve got an insanely versatile standalone radio hacking platform. We’re digging through the docs in anticipation. So expect some to see a bunch of SDR and RF hacks in the next few months as 5,000 hackers get these in their hands.

If you can’t make it (tickets have been sold out for a while now), you can check out the live streams. Not only will the talks be shown as they happen, but in keeping with the democratic ethos of the CCC, anyone who can set up an icecast server can set up their own stream.

And of course, we’ll be there reporting on as much as we can. If anything strikes your fancy and you’d like us to check it out for you, post up in the comments here. We can’t promise the impossible, but we’ll try. And if you’re going to camp as well, keep an eye out for Elliot and say Hi.

Crosswalk Pong Auf Deutschland

What is there to do in America while you’re waiting to cross the street at an intersection? Nothing; listen to that impatient clicking sound, and if you live in a busy city, pray you don’t get plowed into. In Germany however, pedestrians will now get to play Pong with the person on the other side.That’s right, as a means to encourage people to just hang in there and wait out the cycle instead of darting across against the light, design students [Sandro Engel] and [Holger Michel] came up with an entertaining incentive involving a potential conversation sparking duel with your impromptu counterpart across the street.

The first of these interactive cross-walk indicators was installed recently in Hildesheim, Germany, two years after the duo first designed them back in 2012. There was a little friction about installing the touch screen equipped modules initially, but after a proper redesign for functionality taking traffic science into account, the city authorities caved and allowed them to test the wings of their progressive idea on one city intersection so far. The mindset behind the invention of these indicators is part of a larger movement to make public spaces safer through means of fun and entertainment. Instead of threatening to punish those partaking in unsafe activity with fines, the notion is to positively enforce following rules by adding a level of play. While pedestrians have the right to walk, the screen shows how much time is left to make their away across, and for the duration that traffic is rolling through, the score will be kept for an individual game of pong for those on either side of the light.

Since the idea is generating some interest, the group of developers involved with the project have moved to promote their work (now branded as Actiwait) with an Indiegogo campaign. They hope to turn their invention into a full fledged product that will potentially be seen all over the world. Admittedly, it’d be charming to see this sort of technology transform our urban or residential environments with a touch of something that promotes friendly social interaction. Hopefully my faith in our worthiness to have nice things is warranted and we start seeing these here in America too. Nice work!

Check out this encounter with the street indicator here. The guy introducing the invention loses to the girl on the other side, but they share a high-five as they pass in the street:

Continue reading “Crosswalk Pong Auf Deutschland”

Munich: Help Plan Hackaday’s First European Event

On Thursday, November 13th we’ve rented a huge hall in Munich, Germany and plan to host a hacking event followed by a celebration.

You need to take the day off of work and join us. Better yet, convince your boss that this is professional development and that attending is good for the company!

We’re not taking the space shuttle across the pond, this illustration reflects the connection with The Hackaday Prize. This trip will mark the end of the contest and the unveiling of the Grand Prize winner.


What do *you* want to hack?

The big question we have right now, is what kind of hands-on hardware hacking do you want to do? We published a page over on Hackaday.io to discuss the possibilities. Let your imagination run wild and we’ll do our best to make it all happen. We know from James’ hackerspace tour last year that there are a ton of Hackaday community members within reasonable travel distance from Munich. Here’s our chance to get everyone together for an Epic day of building and night of partying.

Chameleon Emulates Contactless Smart Cards


Researchers at Ruhr University of Bochum in Germany have been busy working with RFID and related devices for quite some time now. They call the fruit of their labors Chameleon, a versatile Contactless Smart Card Emulator. Contactless Smart Cards are RFID style devices that also contain a smart card style memory. These cards are often used for payment, replacing mag strip style credit cards. Philips MIFARE Classic cards are a common example of contactless smart cards. The Chameleon is set up to emulate any number of cards using the common 13.56MHz frequency band. Adding a new card is as simple as loading up a new CODEC  and application to the firmware. Currently Chameleon can emulate MIFARE cards using the ISO14443A.

The Chameleon is completely open source, and can be built for around $25 USD. The heart of the system is an Atmel ATxmega192A3 microcontroller. The 192 is a great microcontroller for this task because it contains hardware accelerators for both DES and AES-128. An FTDI USB interface chip is used to provide an optional communication link between a host computer and the ATxmega. The link can be used for debugging, as well as manipulating data in real-time. A host PC is not necessary for use though – the Chameleon will operate just fine as a stand alone unit. We definitely like this project – though we’re going to be doubling down on the shielding in our RF blocking wallets.