Hackaday’s DC Meetup and Workshops

Washington DC has a vibrant hardware hacking community and it was out in force on Saturday night. We had over one hundred people through the door at Nova Labs in Reston, Virginia (DC metro area). This sleek and spacious hackerspace opened their doors for a Hackaday Meetup as part of a weekend packed full of activities.

The building that Nova Labs moved into not too long ago is a really well-suited area for a Hackerspace. The front half of the building includes a huge open space which has plenty of room for people to set up the hardware they wanted to show off. The back has a full woodshop, machine shop, and more, with classrooms and conference rooms in between.

Above are a set of hats with addressible LED strings wrapped around them which [ArsenioDev] brought along with him. Several members of the Wyolum team are involved with Nova Labs and they were showing off some LED matrix-based projects like the marquee cube and a 3-player reaction time game. And clacking away all night long is a vintage teletype machine that [Bob Coggeshall] fixed and connected to a Raspberry Pi.

There was pizza and beer for all to enjoy. This kegerator was just outfitted with an ESP8266 module which used Amazon SNS to report each time the tap was pulled. The tablet behind is displaying real-time data on these events.

Last month when we were in Boston someone brought on an InMoov robot and there was a different one here. I haven’t run into these very often but two in a row makes me want to take a second look at the project.

And there was a freestanding photo booth but in kiosk format. It included LED panels that lit up different colors to snap a collection of [Andy Warhol]-esque colored portraits.

I’m fortunate enough to run across some of my favorite hackers in the world thanks to travels with Hackaday. It was a pleasant surprise to meet [Charles Lohr] whom you may know by the alias [cnlohr]. He’s the one who built a Minecraft server on a glass-slide PCB he fabbed himself. Recently he’s been killing it with the ESP8266, including a bare-metal programming guide he wrote for Hackaday. Above you can see him demonstrating the features he’s added to his ColorChord project. In this case it’s an ESP8266 performing DSP on an electret mic input. It drives a WS2812 strip for great visualizations while plotting the waveform on his phone via WiFi. You know… just the easy stuff.

Also on hand is Hackaday.io celeb [ArsenioDev] who was mentioned above for his blinky hat. He was showing off something much more serious though, an active control system for rockets. He’s coming along quite well with his feedback loop that pairs IMU with four servos for rocket fins. His next test will be driving a car down the runway at the local airport (with permission) while mounting the rocket on a stick for testing. Unfortunately some of this work is ITAR restricted so he’s limited on how much he can publish about the project.

There were a ton of other interesting and notable hackers on hand, like [Alex Rich] of Stickvise fame. You’ve got to make it to one of these events to understand how awesome the Hackaday community is when we’re able to get together for an evening of fun!

 The Workshops

This weekend was highlighted by a 3-day KiCAD workshop which [Anool Mahidharia] presented. I was fortunate enough to sit in and it was spectacular. I’ve used KiCAD for years and have spun boards from my design, but [Anool] is master at both PCB design and KiCAD itself.

On Friday afternoon and Saturday morning he walked everyone through a demonstration circuit based around a pair of linear regulators. He’s a remarkable teacher and included several gotchas to illustrate all aspects of KiCAD. For instance, he used a barrel jack in the design which has an oblong through-hole footprint that isn’t supported by OSH Park’s fab process. This way he was able to talk about how to change out the footprint and it was immediately applicable.

The rest of the weekend each participant worked on their own circuit and layout. I’m happy to say that everyone managed to get a design sent of for fabrication by the end day on Sunday! A render of my hastily-conceived design (I didn’t plan ahead on what I wanted to make) is seen above.

If you missed the post on Saturday, you’ll want to click through to read about the surface mount soldering workshops which [Bob] conducted several times on Friday and Saturday.

Many People to Thank

Thank you to [Bob Coggeshall] and all the Nova Labs members. They opened their door to us and made sure the place was packed and help make the event run smoothly.

[Anool] had this workshop planned long before the rest of the Hackaday ever thought of being there. Thanks for letting us join in on the fun and for making Open Hardware such a big part of what you and Wyolum do!

A big thanks to [Andrew Albosta] for taking all the photos of the meetup. He has a ton of cool builds written up on his blog, including several really cool carbon-fiber items like the wine bottle holder where were part of a composites class at Nova Labs.

And of course, thank you Hackaday Prize sponsors Atmel, Freescale, Microchip, Mouser, and Texas Instruments and to Hackaday’s parent company Supplyframe for making Hackaday live events and educational opportunities possible.

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