Beer And Hacks In London and Beyond

We’ve been all over the UK this month, our most recent Hackaday gathering just two nights past. With much hardware and hacker show and tell (recounted below) I wanted to make sure nobody missed the chance to join in as we’ll be in Bletchley on Saturday and in Cambridge on Wednesday. Whether you need more convincing to walk out the door and join in the fun, or just want to the see the excellent hardware so far displayed, keep reading to share in the fun from Wednesday night.

London pubs have an unfavourable image among provincial folk, one of being strange neon-lit places populated by vast crowds of very loud people in suits drinking cheap wine at expensive prices. The truth is though that the capital’s pubs are as diverse as those anywhere else in the country, from shabby quiet backstreet boozers with their aged customers nursing pints of Fullers to achingly hipster faux-Victorian gin-palaces in which young men sporting preposterous beards they’ll regret in five years time drink microbrewery ales you won’t have heard of served in glass tankards. On a hot August evening the patrons spill out onto the pavement and provide a handy reference to the would-be drinker as to the nature of the establishment.

This warm-evening exodus served our community well night before last, for when a group of Hackaday readers and Tindie sellers converged upon a pub in Fitzrovia there was enough room to reach the bar and though it was hardly quiet we could at least discuss the things we’d brought along. My colleague [Jasmine] had organised the event and was on hand with a pile of stickers and other swag.

A select group of hackers and makers made the journey. Some of them, such as my friend [David], I had encountered frequently online but never met in person so it was good to put a face to a name, while others I knew only by the reputation they had garnered through the projects they’d put on Hackaday.io or Tindie. I will undoubtedly fail to mention a few names in this quick round-up of a few of the projects, so before I start I would like to thank everyone for coming along and making it such a good evening.

[Jasmine] as seen by [Mike]'s LED screen.
[Jasmine] as seen by [Mike]’s LED screen.

Electric Stuff from Mike’s Workshop

Most visible because of an extensive range of very bright LED projects was [Mike], of [Mike’s Electric Stuff] fame. His PCB density was impressive, though he did admit to having a pick-and-place machine. Especially useful for those large LED matrices. Of note was a pentagonal LED screen with integrated camera, originally part of an LED screen polyhedron. This board offered a rare glimpse of a Raspberry Pi Compute Module in the wild.

Scope Probe Sans Pound Sink

Opposite me for most of the evening was [Leonerd], with his oscilloscope current probe adapter. This board as you might expect contains a very low value shunt resistor and an amplifier, allowing the accurate measurement of low current transients without laying down the GDP of a small country to buy one from a high-end test equipment manufacturer. I was party to a very interesting conversation between him and [Mike] on the subject of instrumentation amplifiers, something of personal interest from my experience with RF test equipment.

The RC2014 in mid-render
The RC2014 in mid-render

A Wild Z80 Appeared

Also present was [Spencer] with his RC2014 Z80-based computer. He’d brought along the fully tricked-out version with keyboard and screen, and had it running a fractal graphic generator written in BASIC. It’s a project that touches a spot in the heart of people of a certain age, if your first computer came from Sir Clive Sinclair then maybe you’ll understand.

The value of the evening was not solely in the kits and projects on display though. Whenever you get a group from our wider community together in a convivial environment the creative discourse flows in unexpected direction, knowledge is shared, and new ideas are formed. Part of the global Hackaday and Tindie community got to know each other yesterday evening, and from that will come fresh projects. They may not necessarily change the world, but everything has to start somewhere.

This event was one of a short series following our successful bring-a-hack at EMF Camp. We were very pleased to see the projects people brought along, they comprehensively eclipsed the little radio board that was my offering. The run of UK events isn’t over, we have ones coming up at Bletchley and Cambridge, and as always keep an eye on the Hackaday.io events page for global events within our community.

Hackaday NYC Summer Party

Hackaday is going to be back in NYC next week, and we’re having a meetup. This isn’t any meetup – it’s a meetup with skeeball. No, it does not get any better than this.

Next week, August 24, at 6:30pm, we’re pulling out all the stops at Ace Bar on the Lower East Side. This event is a bring-a-hack, and we want to see what you’re working on. Bring your current project, an oscilloscope demo, blinkey clothing, hacks, wearables, or just some cool, random junk. The last time we did this, someone brought a flight data recorder from a Pan Am 747. It had 74-series and 54-series logic chips in it, and no one could figure out why.

This event will be hosted by our lovely multi-function unicorn @SophiKravitz and our NYC community manager @Shayna. Bring your friends, and bring your projects, this isn’t an event to miss.

Hackaday Links: August 14, 2016

Hey London peeps! Hackaday and Tindie are doing a London meetup! It’s this Wednesday, the 17th.

What do you do if you need Gigabytes of storages in the 80s? You get tape drives. What do you do if you need Terabytes of storage in the year 2000? You get tape. The IBM Totalstorage 3584 is an automated tape storage unit made sometime around the year 2000. It held Terabytes of data, and [Stephen] picked up two of them from a local university. Here’s the teardown. Unfortunately, there’s no footage from a GoPro stuck inside the machine when it’s changing tapes, but the teardown was respectable, netting two drives, the power supplies, and huge motors, fans, relays, and breakers.

A few years ago Motorola released the Lapdock, a CPU-less laptop with inputs for HDMI and USB. This was, and still is, a great idea – we’re all carrying powerful computers in our pocket, and carrying around a smartphone and a laptop is effort duplication. As you would expect, the best use for the Lapdock was with a Raspberry Pi, and prices of Lapdocks have gone through the roof in the last few years. The Superbook is the latest evolution of this Lapdock idea. It’s a small, thin, CPU-less laptop that connects to a phone using a special app and a USB cable. It also works with the Raspberry Pi. Very interesting, even if they didn’t swap the CTRL and Caps Lock keys as God intended.

Did you know we have a store? Yes! It’s true! Right now we need to get rid of some stuff, so we’re having a clearance sale. We got FPGA Arduino shields! Buy a cordwood puzzle! SUPERLIMINAL ADVERTISING.

The computers aboard Federation vessels in the 24th century were based on isolinear chips. Each chip plugged into a backplane, apparently giving certain sections of the ship different functions. Think of it as a reconfigurable PDP Straight-8. This is canon, from TNG, and doesn’t make any sense. [Bohrdasaplank] over on Thingiverse has a few different models of isolinear chips. After close examination of these chips, we can only come to one conclusion.

How do you get a pilot bearing out of a motor? The normal way is using grease (or caulk, or some other gooey substance) as a hydraulic ram, but a slice of bread works much better. This is a weird one, but it works perfectly, with hardly any cleanup whatsoever.

542-page PDF warning here. Here’s the operations manual for the Apollo 15, including operation of the AGC, how to fly the LM, the planned traverses and EVAs, and a nice glossary of handy equations. If anyone’s looking for a LaTeX, InDesign, or bookbinding project that would make the perfect bathroom reader, this is it.

Here’s something I’ve been having trouble with. This is an mATX computer case with a screen on the side and a cover for the screen that includes a keyboard and trackpad. Yes, it’s a modern version of the luggable, ‘portable’, plasma-screen monsters of the 80s. I don’t know where I can buy just the case, so I’m turning to the Hackaday community. There’s an entire line of modern luggable computers made by some factory in Taiwan, but as far as I can tell, they only sell to resellers who put their own mobo and CPU in the machine. I just want the case. Where can I buy something like this? If you’re asking why anyone would want something like this, you can put two 1080s in SLI and still have a reasonably portable computer. That’s a VR machine, right there.

DEF CON Meetup At The Grave Of James T. Kirk

DEF CON is just around the corner, and that means in just a few days thousands of hardware hackers will be wandering around the casinos in Vegas. Yes, in a mere handful of hours, the tech literati will be accosted by the dead, disaffected eyes of dealers and the crass commercialization of every culture in humanity’s recorded history. The light of god does not penetrate mirrored ceilings. Vegas is terrible, it’ll be 120ºF outside, but at least there’s cool stuff happening Thursday through Sunday.

Hackaday is going to be there, but we really don’t want to spend the entire weekend walking around casinos. That’s why we’re hosting a meetup at the most unlikely place possible: Veridian III, the site of the battle between the Duras sisters and the Enterprise, the crash site of NCC-1701-D, and the final resting place of Admiral James Tiberius Kirk.

We’ll be visiting Veridian III at the Valley of Fire State Park on Wednesday, August 3rd, starting at 1pm. It’s about an hour north of Vegas. As you would expect, hats, sunscreen, good shoes, and a supply of water that could be categorized as “survivalist” are a good idea. Hackaday will be at the visitor center at 1PM, and after a half hour or so, the entire meetup will drive a few miles north to cooler looking rocks.

If you want an FAQ, here you go:

  • What’s this all about, then?
    • Drive out to the desert because cool rocks.
  • No, really, what’s up?
    • Watch Star Trek: Generations. We’re going to the filming location of Soren’s launch site on Veridian III. This is where Kirk died (on a bridge), and where he was buried by Picard.
  • Where and when?
    • Valley of Fire State Park. Here’s the Google Map. 1PM, August 3rd. It’s about an hour north of Vegas. We’re going to meet at the visitor center around 1pm. Around 1:30, we’re going a few miles north to the White Dome trailhead. Look for the Hackaday Flag. It’ll be flying on a PVC pipe taped to a car.
  • Why are you going to the desert, in August, in the middle of the day, with no plan whatsoever?
    • Because Benchoff.
  • Why would extinguishing a star alter its gravity? The mass of the star would still be there, which means the Nexus ribbon wouldn’t be deflected at all. Is this crazy? What’s going on here?
    • Because Rick Berman.
  • Why weren’t there two Picards after Picard and Kirk returned from the Nexus?
    • Rick Berman.
  • Is this really the grave site of James T. Kirk?
    • No, because Kirk was resurrected by the Borg and his katra restored by Romulans.

This meetup will be a continuation of a series of Hackaday meetups in the middle of nowhere. Earlier, we had a gathering at the childhood home of the worst president of the United States of America. That meetup was a roaring success, with people travelling from surprisingly far away. If you’re unlucky enough to be in Vegas for DEF CON a day early, this is one of the weirdest meetups you could possibly attend.

By the way, if enough people attend, it will serve as proof we can do a meetup anywhere. I have my eyes on Spillville, Iowa, Oregon’s House of Mystery, and one of the remaining Blockbuster stores in El Paso. If you support this idea, come on out.

Hackers on Planet Earth — We’ll Be There!

This weekend, Hackaday will be rolling into New York for the Eleventh HOPE. This biyearly conference draws hackers from all around the globe. There’s a ton going on at HOPE: talks, hardware hacking, workshops, and pretty much everything else you might be interested in. But really, this gathering which was founded by 2600 in ’94, is where you go to meet and hang out with other hackers. And we want to hang out with you.

Pre-sale tickets are gone. But if you don’t have a ticket yet there are a limited number still available at the door. We’re happy that Hackaday is a sponsor of HOPE this year and for that we have a spot in the vendor’s area. We’re not selling anything — we’re actually reverse-vending. We want you to stop by and show us your hacks!

Hackaday Meetups at HOPE

Find us in the vendor area for two meetups: Saturday 2:30-5:00 (after Cory Doctorow’s keynote) and Sunday 11:00-1:00 2:30-5:00. We’ll be there with our cameras at the ready so don’t forget to bring your hacks. We’re always hungry to hear interesting stories which will end up on the front page for all to enjoy.

We have swag like Hackaday and Tindie stickers, and dev boards to give away from our Hackaday Prize sponsors Atmel and Microchip. During the two meetup times we’ll have munchies (Hackaday branded of course) and a limited supply of T-shirts. Come early and come often.

Brian Benchoff and Mike Szczys will be on hand covering the best the convention has to offer. Hit us up on those Twitter links if you want to get our attention. Sophi Kravitz, Aleksandar Bradic, and Shayna Gentiluomo will also be there, so stop by whenever and hang out with us. Our spot in the vendor area will be open the whole weekend.

We are always looking for awesome things to do in addition to what’s on the official agenda. The meetup on Saturday is the place to get the inside scoop on those plans. Whether you’re going to be at HOPE or not, we’d love to hear from you in the comments. Let us know about any talks we shouldn’t miss, any hackers we should track down and interview, and any of those extra curricular activities for a bunch of hackers in the middle of Manhattan on a hot July night.

Hackaday Meetup In The Middle Of Nowhere

Come one, come all, as the Hackaday community gathers at the childhood home of the worst president of the United States of America. Raise a glass, feast on roast pig, and don’t forget to Bring-A-Hack to show and tell. We’ll give away Hackaday Omnibus, stickers, and as a very special door prize a few people are going to walk away with a Raspberry Pi Zero.

The preamble about not-so-great heads of state is due to the venue. This gala is at the James Buchanan Pub & Restaurant in Mercersburg, PA on Sunday, June 5th, starting at 3PM. But that doesn’t really answer the question of why Mercersburg, does it? This is the location of one of the Hackaday World Create Day meetups. It caught my eye and since I live only 20 minutes away this is a great time for another get together.

Let’s fill the place with south central Pennsylvania’s greatest hardware hackers. There will be food, alcohol, and interesting people to talk to.

An Arcade Bar And Hackerspace, All In One

Hamvention was last weekend, and just like Hackaday’s expedition to Maker Faire, it was only fitting to find a bunch of Hackaday fans and take over a bar. This was in Dayton, Ohio, and you would think the nightlife for Hamvention would be severely lacking. Not so, as downtown Dayton is home to Proto BuildBar, a bar, arcade, and hackerspace all wrapped into one.

We’ve heard about Proto BuildBar a few years ago when it first opened. The idea is relatively simple; instead of having a hackerspace, with alcohol and video games on the side, Proto BuildBar is first and foremost a bar, with 3D printing services, a few workstations for soldering, and a few arcade games. It’s the perfect place for an impromptu meetup.

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