23 Superconference Talks You Shouldn’t Miss

November marked our inaugural Hackaday Superconference, something we’ve been wanting to do for a very long time. Hackaday already has a massive and vibrant online community, but until now, we haven’t asked people to come together for a hardware conference that spans a full weekend. The Supercon is Hackaday incarnate, and hundreds of very cool people showed up for a few dozen talks, amazing workshops, and a lot more.

Over the past month, we’ve been putting together a compilation of everything that happened at the first Hackaday Superconference. This includes videos of all the talks, relevant asides, and posts for everything that happened over a two-day conference. Even if you couldn’t make it out to our first con, this great material that should be shared by all.

Below is a YouTube playlist of all the talks. If you’re looking for eight hours to kill over the holiday weekend, well, there you have it. After the break is the complete conference indexed by day and speaker, with links to the talk and accompanying Hackaday post.

We’d like to thank everyone who came out to the first Hackaday Supercon, with a huge shout-out to the speakers, workshop organizers, and volunteers. It couldn’t have happened without the full support of the Hackaday community. That’s good, because we’re going to be doing this again next year.

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Hackaday’s Editorial Vision

I had the honor of speaking at the 2015 Hackaday SuperConference in November on the topic of Hackaday’s Editorial Vision. We are bringing to a close an amazing year in which our writing team has grown in every respect. We have more editors, writers, and community members than ever before (Hackaday.io passed 100,000 members). With this we have been able to produce a huge amount of high-quality original content that matters to anyone interested in engineering — the best of which is embodied in the expansive Omnibus Volume 2 print edition. 2015 also marked an unparalleled ground-game for us; we took the Hackaday Prize all over the world and were warmly greeted by you at every turn. And of course, the Hackaday SuperConference (where I presented the talk) is a major milestone: Hackaday’s first ever full-blown conference.

So this begs the question, what next? What is guiding Hackaday and where do we plan to go in the future? Enjoy this video which is a really a ‘State of the Union’ for Hackaday, then join me after the break for a few more details on why we do what we do.

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Neil Movva: Adding (wearable) Haptic Feedback to Your Project

[Neil Movva] is not your average college student. Rather than studying for exams or preparing to defend a dissertation, he’s working on a project that will directly help the disabled. The project is Pathfinder, a wearable haptic navigation system for the blind. Pathfinder is an ambitious project, making it all the way to the semifinals of the 2015 Hackaday Prize. Haptics, the technology of providing feedback to a user through touch, lies at the core of Pathfinder. [Neil] was kind enough to present this talk about it at the Hackaday SuperConference.

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A Pragmatic Guide To Motors With Jonathan Beri

[Jonathan Beri] is a Maker of all sorts, with an affinity for robots, APIs, and Open Source. By day he works on making Android & iOS SDKs easier to use and by night he can found begging a PID controller to “just work already.” Recently he contributed to, “Make: JavaScript Robotics,” printed by Maker Media (2015).

[Jonathan] covers a lot of ground during his motors talk at the 2015 Hackaday SuperConference. He discusses brushed DC, stepper, servo, and brushless motors. Although just scraping the surface of each type of motor [Jonathan] touches the important details you can use to determine which type of motor is best for your project. The slide show he has put together has quite a bit of information and tips for beginners that might go overlooked when choosing a motor. For instance a list of 30 attributes that should be considered when selecting a motor. Included in that list are the 7 attributes [Jonathan] places priority on when he chooses a motor for one of his projects. We’ll delve deeper into that after the break.

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How Y Combinator Brings Hardware Startups to Life

The world is more used to software startups than hardware startups. Luke Iseman is here to help. He is the Director of Hardware at Y Combinator and discusses some details that need to be kept in mind when starting up your own hardware company. Take a look at the talk he presented at the 2015 Hackaday SuperConference and then join us after the break to cover a few key points of his discussion.

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Alvaro Prieto’s Laser-Shooting Robots

[Alvaro Prieto]’s talk at the Hackaday Supercon began with a slide that asks the rhetorical question “Why Laser-Shooting Robots?” Does a rhetorical question need an answer? [Alvaro] gives one anyway: “Because lasers are awesome.” We concur.

But it doesn’t hurt that DEFCON holds a laser robot contest to give you an excuse, either. You see, [Alvaro]’s laser-wielding robot was the First Place finisher in the 2014 DEFCONBOTS contest, and a much more ambitious design came in third in 2015. His Supercon talk is all about the lessons he’s learned along the way, because that’s really the point of these contests anyway, right?

“I have no idea what I’m doing.”

[Alvaro] started off with a disclaimer, but when [Alvaro] says he doesn’t know what he’s doing, what he means is that he hasn’t received formal training in building laser-wielding, autonomous turret robots. (How did we miss that class in school?)


He’s a true hacker, though; he didn’t know what he was doing when he started out but he started out anyway. [Alvaro]’s takes us from the first prototypes where he used servo motors with inadequate angular resolution mounted to balsa wood frames that he (obviously) cut with a knife by hand, through laser-cut frames with custom gearing and stepper motors, all the way to his DEFCONBOTS 2015 entry, based on OpenBeam aluminum extrusions and using professional laser-show galvos capable of swinging the beam around to thousands of points per second.

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OpenBionics Fabs Prosthetics as Unique as Those Who Wear Them

Humans may all have the same overall form, but when we need to find a suitable replacement for a missing limb, it’s clear that between the variety of finger-lengths and hand-breadths, a one-size-fits-all prosthetic just wont cut it. OpenBionics puts a spin on today’s approach to prosthetics, putting forth a framework of tools that’s flexible enough to fit the spectrum of hand shapes and enables us to create our own prosthetic at home that can meet the challenge of most everyday tasks.

Minas Liarokapis of the OpenBionics team gave a talk at this year’s Hackaday SuperConference which covered the design considerations and unique features of the project. This incredible work was recognized with 2nd Prize in the 2015 Hackaday Prize. Watch Minas’ talk below, then join us after the break as we cover more details that went into developing this prosthesis.

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