Apple 1 Emulator Is A Perfect Fit For Supercon Badge

Supercon badge hackers had to be ready to present their show-and-tell by 6 pm Sunday evening. This ruthless unmoving deadline meant every badge hack on stage represents an accomplishment in time management, and some luck, in addition to their own technical merits. But that deadline also meant a few fantastic projects lost their race against the clock. We were rooting for [Jac Goudsmit] to build an Apple I emulator as his badge expansion, but he wasn’t quite done when our badge hack ceremony began. After Supercon he went home, finished the project, and documented everything in a detailed writeup.

Our 2018 Supercon badge is built on a retro-computing theme, and the default firmware came with a BASIC interpreter as well as a Z80 emulator running CP/M. So an Apple 1 emulator should feel right home with its contemporaries. Mechanically speaking, all the parts were a tight fit on the badge expansion board given out to every attendee at Supercon. So tightly that [Jac] had to file down the two main chips in order to fit them side by side. The breadboard-like pattern of connected holes on the expansion board, intended to help ease in beginners for their badge hack soldering, proved to be an inconvenience in tightly packed arrangements such as this.

With all the work [Jac] had invested, it was heartbreaking to know he was only five minutes of soldering and 30 minutes of coding away when time ran out. Time pressure was part of the challenge faced by every Supercon badge hacker, and while we’re sad [Jac] missed the deadline for stage time we’re happy to see him finish and write it all up. We hope every badge hacker would write up their stories of frantic weekend projects. Those who do so on hackaday.io are encouraged to tag their project with “Supercon” and get them added to our list of badge hacks for everyone to admire.

Supercon Badge Hackers Racing The Clock

At the end of Hackaday Superconference weekend, we hold a badge hacking ceremony on the main stage where anyone who has done anything with their badge is invited to come on stage and show off their work. Yes, even if it’s just a blinking LED! It was a tremendous pleasure to see not only people taking us at our word and presented blinking LEDs, but that the community in the room welcomed these inductees to hardware hacking with cheers. Before the ceremony, though, there was a lot of frantic work by badge hackers armed with soldering irons and fueled by caffeine. It’s always amazing how much people can accomplish in a single focused weekend.

Continue reading “Supercon Badge Hackers Racing The Clock”

This Weekend: The Greatest Hardware Conference

The Hackaday Superconference is this weekend and it’s the greatest hardware con on the planet. Tickets are completely sold out, but you can still get in on the fun by watching the livestream and joining Supercon chat.

For everyone who will be here in person, the entire Hackaday crew is busy as beavers preparing for your arrival. We’re assembling badges, rigging AV for the talks, stuffing goodie bags, calling caterers, and taping cables to the floor. This is by far the biggest Superconference yet.

Doors open at 9 am Friday at the Supplyframe HQ. This is your first chance to get your hands on the fantastic Supercon Badge that’s a freakin’ computer. The day is filled with badge hacking, workshops, badge talks, and a launch party. [Rich Hogben] and [Andrew Bakhit] will be doing live IDM sets on Friday night, as we celebrate into the wee hours of the morning.

Saturday, doors open at 9 am over at the Supplyframe Design Lab as we turn on the livestream and get the main event under way with over 50 speakers and workshops. Badge hacking continues throughout the weekend, and this year we’ve added the SMD Soldering Challenge to the fun. There will be meetups during Supercon; the Tindie meetup and the amateur radio meetup are both Saturday at 1 pm.

Subscribe to Hackaday on YouTube and follow us on Facebook to keep up with everything going on.

Vinduino Water-Smart Farming – Now with LoRa!

Our five rounds of Hackaday Prize 2018 challenges have just wrapped up, and we’re looking forward to see where the chips fall in the final ranking. While we’re waiting for the winners to be announced at Hackaday Superconference, it’s fun to take a look back at one of our past winners. Watch [Reinier van der Lee] give the latest updates on his Vinduino project (video also embedded after the break) to a Hackaday Los Angeles meetup earlier this year.

Vinduino started with [Reinier]’s desire to better understand what happens to irrigation water under the surface, measuring soil moisture at different depths. This knowledge informs more efficient use of irrigation water, as we’ve previously covered in more detail. What [Reinier] has been focused on is improving usability of the system by networking the sensors wirelessly versus having to walk up and physically attach a reader unit.

His thought started the same as ours – put them on WiFi! But adding WiFi coverage across his entire vineyard was not going to be cost-effective. After experimenting with various communication schemes, he has settled on LoRa. Designed to trade raw bandwidth for long range with low power requirements, it is a perfect match for a network of soil moisture sensors.

In the video [Reinier] gives an overview of LoRa for those who might be unfamiliar. Followed by results of his experiments integrating LoRa functionality into Vinduino, and ending with a call to action for hackers to help grow the LoRa network. It sounds like he’s become quite the champion for the cause! He’s even giving a hands-on workshop at Supercon where you can build your own LoRa connected sensor. (Get tickets here.)

We’re always happy to see open-source hardware projects like Vinduino succeed, transitioning to a product that solve real world problems. We know there are even more promising ideas out there, which is why Hackaday’s sister company Tindie is funding a Project to Product program to help this year’s winners follow in Vinduino’s footsteps. We look forward to sharing more success stories yet to come.

Continue reading “Vinduino Water-Smart Farming – Now with LoRa!”

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!

Continue reading “Convince Your Boss to Send You To Supercon”

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.

Continue reading “Alan Yates: Introduction To Vacuum Technology”