Convince Your Boss to Send You To Supercon

The Hackaday Superconference is rapidly approaching and you need to be there. The good news is, if you play your cards right you can get your boss to sign off on sending you to Supercon as part of your professional development.

This is the Ultimate Hardware Conference. This is your chance to recharge your batteries and come back energized for an amazing year ahead. You’ll be among hundreds of people who love to push the boundaries of what is possible. Dozens of talks and workshops take place over the backdrop of three days worth of a Hacker Village atmosphere focusing on a badge hacking demoscene.

We’re here to help you get to yes with the powers that be in your company. If you have a tight set of requirements that dictate what counts as professional development, we have a template to use in formulating your ask. Fill in this letter with the details that work for you and head over to the corner office with this in hand.

If you already have a supervisor who understands the hacker lifestyle, the best route is to show off the best Supercon has to offer. Share the playlist of talks from 2017 with them and you’re a shoe-in for your company’s conference attendance budget. And while you’re at it, try to convince your boss to come along for the fun!

See you in November!

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Hackaday Superconference: Tickets and Proposals

Get your tickets now for the 2018 Hackaday Superconference. Join us November 2nd-4th in Pasadena, California!

This is the ultimate hardware conference. Hackers, designers, and engineers from all over the world converge — from the greenest beginners to those who have made history with their designs. This is the Hackaday community, these are your people, and you need to be here. Supercon is your chance to experience all things involved in hardware creation — the weekend is filled with unparalleled talks and workshops — but the experience of Supercon transcends the organized event. We call it a conference but it’s truly a hacker village with a who’s-who of hackerdom in attendance.

Call for Proposals

We want you to present a talk (or a workshop) at this year’s Supercon! Please submit your proposal using this form.

The number one question we get about CFP is “I’m excited about X, should I submit a proposal?” The answer is yes. Don’t self-eliminate — if you have an idea for a talk we want to hear from you. Supercon is a flat conference, your proposal will be judged on the idea and how you plan to present it, not on how many other amazing speaking slots you’ve secured.

To help get your mind moving about topics, we suggest that you consider this list of themes your talk might fit into: Engineering Heroics, Prototyping, Research, Product Development, Full-Stack Fabrication, and of course Wildcard.

Tickets! Get Your Tickets Here!

Are you a true believer? We’ve just opened up the Call for Proposal today, so we can’t tell you who’s speaking or what workshops will take place. However, we suspect there are many of you ready to take the plunge right now. Those first 96 true believers get an incredibly low ticket price of $128.

Standing room only during a 2017 Hackaday Supercon talk

Even at full price, the admission fee is an incredible value (see for yourself). Each ticket comes with admission for all three days, a custom hardware badge to hack on, admission to the Friday kick-off party and Saturday Hackaday Prize party, food and beverage throughout the conference, and much more.

This is the fourth year we’ve hosted the Hackaday Superconference. You can check out all of the talk videos from last year, there’s a slew of articles on the event, and of course an incredible hardware hacking scene throughout. In large part, the packed and jovial community atmosphere is why we’ve added Friday as a full day of workshops and badge hacking!

Get your ticket and book your travel. We look forward to hanging out with a huge chunk of the Hackaday community at Supercon!

Alan Yates: Introduction To Vacuum Technology

When we mention vacuum technology, it’s not impossible that many of you will instantly turn your minds to vacuum tubes, and think about triodes, or pentodes. But while there is a lot to interest the curious in the electronics of yesteryear, they are not the only facet of vacuum technology that should capture your attention.

When [Alan Yates] gave his talk at the 2017 Hackaday Superconference entitled “Introduction To Vacuum Technology”, he was speaking in a much more literal sense. Instead of a technology that happens to use a vacuum, his subject was the technologies surrounding working with vacuums; examining the equipment and terminology surrounding them while remaining within the bounds of what is possible for the experimenter. You can watch it yourself below the break, or read on for our precis.

In the first instance, he introduces us to the concept of a vacuum, starting with the work of [Evangelista Torricelli] on mercury barometers in the 17th century Italy, and continuing to explain how pressure, and thus vacuum, is quantified. Along the way, he informs us that a Pascal can be explained in layman’s terms as roughly the pressure exerted by an American dollar bill on the hand of someone holding it, and introduces us to a few legacy units of vacuum measurement.

In classifying the different types of vacuum he starts with weak vacuum sources such as a domestic vacuum cleaner and goes on to say that the vacuum he’s dealing with is classified as medium, between 3kPa and 100mPa. Higher vacuum is beyond the capabilities of the equipment available outside high-end laboratories.

Introduction over, he starts on the subject of equipment with a quick word about safety, before giving an overview of the components a typical small-scale vacuum experimenter’s set-up. We see the different types of vacuum gauges, we’re introduced to two different types of service pumps for air conditioning engineers, and we learn about vacuum manifolds. Tips such as smelling the oil in a vacuum pump to assess its quality are mentioned, and how to make a simple mist trap for a cheaper pump. There is a fascinating description of the more exotic pumps for higher vacuums, even though these will be out of reach of the experimenter it is still of great interest to have some exposure to them. He takes us through vacuum chambers, with a warning against cheap bell jars not intended for vacuum use, but suggests that some preserving jars can make an adequate chamber.

We are then introduced to home-made gas discharge tubes, showing us a home-made one that lights up simply by proximity to a high voltage source. Something as simple as one of the cheap Tesla coil kits to be found online can be enough to excite these tubes, giving a simple project for the vacuum experimenter that delivers quick results.

Finally, we’re taken through some of the tools and sundries of the vacuum experimenter, the different types of gas torches for glass work, and consumables such as vacuum grease. Some of them aren’t cheap, but notwithstanding those, he shows us that vacuum experiments can be made within a reasonable budget.

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Superconference Interview: Alan Yates

In 2015, virtual reality was the future, which means we should all have it right now. One of the most technologically impressive VR sets is the HTC Vive, an amazing piece of kit that’s jam-packed with sensors and has some really cool tech going on inside it.

One of the developers of the HTC Vive and the ever-important ‘Lighthouse’ position sensors is [Alan Yates]. He’s of Valve and gave a talk at last year’s Superconference on Why the Lighthouse Can’t Work. Being able to determine the absolute position of the Valve’s headset is hard, but absolutely necessary for VR. Anything else would be an incomplete VR experience at best, and give you nausea at worst.

We sat down with [Alan] after his talk last year, and now that interview is up. You can check that out below.

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Superconference Interview: Ben Krasnow

Ben Krasnow is a consummate prototyper. He’s built a machine that makes the perfect chocolate chip cookie, he has a ruby laser, and he produces his own liquid nitrogen in-house because simply filling up a dewar is too easy. If you need a prototype, Ben is the guy to talk to.

Ben gave a talk at last year’s Hackaday Superconference on prototyping quickly and verifying technical hypotheses. The philosophy can be summed up simply as, ‘Build First, and Ask Questions Later’. This philosophy served him well when he wanted to see if backscatter x-ray machines were actually more effective than metal detectors at TSA checkpoints. The usual bean-counter protocol for answering this question would be to find an x-ray expert, wait weeks, pay tens of thousands of dollars, and eventually get an answer. Ben simply built his own backscatter x-ray machine from parts sourced on eBay.

After the talk, we asked Ben about the limits of this philosophy of building first and asking questions later. With the physical and mental toolset Ben has, it’s actually easy to build something that can get in the ballpark of answering a question. The problem comes when Ben needs to prove something won’t work.

Answering this question is all a matter of mindset. In Ben’s view, if a prototype works, a hypothesis is verified. Even if it’s a complete accident, he’s totally okay with the results. Some of his other colleagues have an opposite mindset — if a quick and dirty prototype doesn’t work, a research hypothesis is verified.

This rapid-proof-of-concept mindset is something we see a lot in the Hackaday audience, and we know there are some of you out there who have a mind and garage that is at least as impressive as Ben’s. We’ve extended the Call for Proposals for the 2017 Hackaday Superconference. If you have a story about rapid prototyping or just making the perfect chocolate chip cookie with robots, we want to hear about it. Tickets are still available for the Superconference in Pasadena, California on November 11th and 12th.

Superconference Interview: SpriteTM

SpriteTM, or [Jeroen Domburg], has a bit of a following around these parts. He’s installed Linux on a hard drive the hard way. He can play Snake on his keyboard. He’s cared for several generations of Tamagotchis. In short, there are very few people who have both the technical ability and sense of humor to pull off what [Sprite] does.

At last year’s Supercon, we pulled Sprite aside to talk about his work and his latest hack, the tiniest Game Boy ever. He talked about his Supercon keynote, and how to hack the crypto challenge in last year’s Superconference badge in an hour without solving any of the puzzles. Now, we’re happy to present that interview today, available below.

While we very much doubt many people could — or would — take four conference badges and rick roll the entire Superconference for the badge hacking session, we’re still looking for eager and capable presenters. The Call for Proposals is now open for the 2017 Hackaday Superconference. If you have a story of hardware heroics, creativity in CPLDs, a passion for prototyping, or an ambition for technological art, we want you to share your story. Even if you don’t, that’s fine, too: tickets are still available for the Superconference in Pasadena, California on November 11th and 12th.

Superconference Interview: Samy Kamkar

Samy Kamkar has an incredible arsenal of self-taught skills that have grown into a remarkable career as a security researcher. He dropped out of high school to found a company based on Open Source Software and became infamous for releasing the Samy worm on the MySpace platform. But in our minds Samy has far outpaced that notoriety with the hardware-based security exploits he’s uncovered over the last decade. And he’s got a great gift for explaining these hacks — from his credit card magstripe spoofing experiments to hacking keyless entry systems and garage door opener remotes — in great depth during his talk at the 2016 Hackaday Superconference.

We pulled Samy aside after his talk to discuss how the security scene has grown up over the years and asked him to share his advice for people just coming up now. We’re happy to publish it for the first time today, it can be seen below.

Now it’s your turn. The Call for Proposals is now open for the 2017 Hackaday Superconference. You don’t need to be Samy Kamkar to qualify for a talk. You just need an interesting story of hardware engineering, creativity in technical design, an adventure with product design, or a sordid tale of your prototyping experiences. We hope everyone with a story will submit their proposal, but for those who don’t tickets are now available. The Hackaday Superconference will take place in Pasadena, California on November 11th and 12th.