Imagine a weekend of opulence in which you meet your companion at the railway station and whisk away across the continent in a 190mph express train for a relaxing couple of days enjoying the ambience of a luxury resort hotel in the fresh surroundings of a woodland in midwinter. Break out the Martinis, it’s a scene of elegance and sophistication from a byegone era! This is the general idea of Hacker Hotel 2019, and I had a wonderful time!
On a recent February weekend I broke out the Club-Mate instead stea of a Martini. My companion for the Eurostar and Thalys trip was my local hackspace friend Matt “Gasman” Westcott with his keytar in a bulky suitcase for a chiptune gig, and we were heading for the Netherlands. It’s a pivot from the summer’s hacker camps as over 200 hackers fill a resort hotel for the weekend, scoring comfortable beds instead of dust or mud!
There are a series of stages to coming down from a festival. After the hectic rush of travel there are the several days of catching up on lost sleep and picking up the threads of your life again, then once a semblance of order has been regained there’s that few weeks of emptiness. Your life will never be the same again, it’s all so mundane.
It’s now a couple of weeks since the SHACamp 2017 hacker festival in the Netherlands was in full swing, and the write-up below has slowly taken shape over that time amid the other work of being a Hackaday scribe and editor. It’s early morning here in Southern England as I write this, so on the equivalent day while I was at SHACamp at this time I would have been carrying a large pack of stickers for distribution on the swapping table through the rising sunlight of a camp still largely asleep after the previous night’s revelry. Past our German and Dutch immediate neighbours, down the ramp from the dyke, the cardboard tent depot on my left and the food court on my right, to the information tent. Greet the bleary-eyed volunteer at the end of their graveyard shift, and spread plenty of Hackaday and Tindie stickers on the table for the masses. And then? Find a coffee, and sally forth into the field for another day among one of the most stimulating communities on Earth. My community. Your community.
The sticker table is a good place to start if you wish to get a handle on a large hacker camp. On it you will find the logos of a cross-section of the diverse organisations and groups present. There are a few commercial ones like my Jolly Wrenchers and Tindie the puppy, there are some from voluntary organisations or interest groups, but mostly they are the logos of a continent’s — even the wider world’s in some cases — hackspaces and makerspaces. Here you see the breadth of the attendees, as the logos of spaces from thousands of miles away you’ve never encountered before mingle. This isn’t quite a global gathering, but there is a sense of global community around it.
How Do You Describe a Hacker Camp?
So before I take you through my experience of SHA, it’s best to start by describing a hacker camp in more general terms. When I’m describing a camp like SHA to the kind of people who don’t read Hackaday, I put it as similar to the music festivals they are used to but without the bands. Instead the audience provides the entertainment through the work they bring to the event or do at the event, and through a comprehensive program of talks and lectures. Oh — and this is the bit that makes their eyes open wide — every structure on site from the smallest one-man tent to the largest marquee has mains power and high-speed Internet. Sometimes people grasp what SHA is from this description, sometimes they don’t.
Different groups, be they individual hackspaces, people from a particular country, or other special interest groups, congregate in villages, collections of tents, marquees, and gazebos in which they set up whatever cool stuff they’ve brought along. My tent with its Hackaday flag was in a village composed of a mix of British hackspaces up on the dyke, which [Michael] from MK Makerspace had marked with a sign consisting of a huge BS1363A mains plug. More than one person pointed out it would have been better lying flat on the ground with pins in the air, ready to catch an unwary Monty Python foot.
[Eric Steenstra], from the Netherlands, decided to build a GoKart entirely from LEGO Mindstorm parts. Tested at being able to carry just over 100Kg in weight, a 16 stone man(224 lbs). This GoKart can easily carry a child and propel him along. Eric used 48 stock Mindstorm motors, geared down, and 16 battery packs to provide a balance between torque and speed.
This vehicle doesn’t expect to win any races in the speed department. From the point of view of being something different this wins hands down. The Karts first test drive was only two weeks ago so drivability and durability are still under development at this stage. See the video after the break on this monstrous Mindstorms creation.
The tour stats off with the entry system. We looked in on this project at the end of last year. The space totals about 150 square meters (about 1600 square feet) divided into three rooms. There’s a ‘dirt’ room which houses some tools for woodworking and general fabrications. Another room is used for electronics prototyping, including a 3D printer and CNC mill. Finally there’s the large meeting room which acts a hang-out lounge to work on your projects, watch some movies, or hold events.
There are weekly meetings on Tuesday nights which are open to everyone. There’s also a range of classes given covering topics like learning Python, or an intro to Arduino.
We really enjoy seeing these tours. What are you waiting for? Send us a video tour of your own hackerspace!
The massive hacker camp Hacking at Random 2009 has extended their early bird ticket sales until April 14th. At EUR150, they’ve already managed to sell 1000 tickets. Every two years the european hacker community gathers together to hold a multiday camp that covers topics from hacking to art and politics. 2007’s CCCamp was largely the inspiration for this year’s ToorCamp. HAR2009 is looking for people to submit presentations, workshops, and lectures as well. They’re looking for entries that are very technology focused. The call for papers deadline is May 1st. The team is hosting a field day April 18th to tour the grounds with the various hacker villages that will be setting up. The main even is August 13-16 near Vierhouten, Netherlands.
With the Chaos Communication Congress concluded, it’s time to start looking towards the next massive European hacker event. This means Hacking at Random August 13-16th in the Netherlands. It’s a four day long camp experience that will feature many conference talks, interactive projects, and more.
The team has selected three tracks in their official call for papers: Dealing with data, Decentralization, and People and politics. You can find more details in the post. Deadline is May 1st.
Hacking at Random, an international technology and security conference, has just announced the dates for their 2009 event. The four day outdoor technology camp will be held August 13-16 near Vierhouten, Netherlands. HAR2009 is brought to you by the same people who held What the Hack, which we covered in 2005. They’ve done this every four years for the last 20. We’ll be sure to attend. We lovedCCCamp in Germany last year and plan on attending ToorCamp in Seattle this year too.