Last weekend was KiCon, a gathering of hardware developers from all over the world who use KiCad open source EDA software. This included many of the software engineers who drive development, people who use KiCad in their business, and those who simply love it for being a professional quality tool available for anyone to use.
From hardware show-and-tell, to the lineup of talks, and the social events each evening, there was so much packed into two (plus) days. Join me after the break for a whirlwind tour of the people and the hardware found at 2019 KiCon.
Continue reading “KiCad Community Shines At First Ever KiCon”
On Saturday the Hackaday community turned out in force to try something new. The first Hackaday Unconference was held in three places at the same time, and I was in Chicago and was amazed at the turnout and variety of presentations. The image above sums up the concept quite well, everyone shows up ready to give an eight minute talk, but as a whole, no one knows what to expect. Well, we should have known to expect awesome and that’s what we got.
As usual, people are excellent… to one another and in adapting to the fluid nature of the day. Pumping Station: One, a renowned Hackerspace in the Avondale neighborhood near downtown Chicago, opened their doors for us. Not knowing how many people to expect we set up two presentation rooms with a third on deck just in case it was needed.
We just barely squeezed everyone in one room for the first track but ended up splitting into two for part of the day. Here you can see that second room filling up. Even so we still had a handful of presentations that didn’t get a chance to shine — we simply must do this again so they can have the chance and because I had such a great time!
Continue reading “The Think Tank At The Chicago Unconference”
The Hackaday Prize was about to launch but the date wasn’t public yet. I decided to do a pre-launch tour to visit a few places and to drop in on some of the Hackaday Prize Judges. It started in Chicagoland, looped through San Francisco for a hardware meetup and Hardware Con, then finished with visits to [Ben Krasnow’s] workshop, [Elecia White’s] studio, and the Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories.
The Prize is now running and it’s time for you to enter. Look at some of the awesome hacking going on at the places I visited and then submit your own idea to get your entry started. Join me after the break for all the details of the adventure.
Continue reading “Crazy Whirlwind Pre-Hackaday Prize Launch Tour”
It’s been far too long since we’ve had a Hackaday presence at a hackerspace. This, of course, is a terrible oversight and something must be done to correct it. If you’re in Chicago, you’re in luck. We’re going to be at Pumping Station: One this Wednesday for a Bring-A-Hack meetup.
If you have a cool build to show off, a bunch of blinky things, wearables, or just some cool tech, the mythical Hackaday Prize guru [Sophi Kravitz] will be at PS:1 Wednesday evening. I’m pretty sure there will be stickers, but sadly no t-shirt cannon just yet.
The event is free, open to everyone, and there’s pizza. RSVPing would be a good idea, and you can do that over on the meetup.com page for the event.
Anyone who’s manned a hackerspace booth at an event knows how difficult it can be to describe to people what a hackerspace is. No matter what words you use to describe it, nothing really seems to do it justice. You simply can’t use words to make someone feel that sense of accomplishment and fun that you get when you learn something new and build something that actually works.
[Derek] had this same problem and decided to do something about it. He realized that in order to really share the experience of a hackerspace, he would have to bring a piece of the hackerspace to the people. That meant getting people to build something simple, but fun. [Derek’s] design had to be easy enough for anyone to put together, and inexpensive enough that it can be produced in moderate quantities without breaking the bank.
[Derek] ended up building a simple “optical theremin”. The heart of this simple circuit is an ATTiny45. Arduino libraries have already been ported to this chip, so all [Derek] had to do was write a few simple lines of code and he was up and running. The chip is connected to a photocell so the pitch will vary with the amount of light that reaches the cell. The user can then change the pitch by moving their hand closer or further away, achieving a similar effect to a theremin.
[Derek] designed a simple “pcb” out of acrylic, with laser cut holes for all of the components. If you don’t have access to a laser cutter to cut the acrylic sheets, you could always build your own. The electronic components are placed into the holes and the leads are simply twisted together. This allows even an inexperienced builder to complete the project in just five to ten minutes with no complicated tools. The end result of his hard work was a crowded booth at a lot of happy new makers. All of [Derek’s] plans are available on github, and he hopes his project will find use at Makerfaires and hackerspace events all over the world.
As you may know I was on vacation in Chicago last week. I got a chance to jump on the blue line train from Chicago’s downtown loop for a short trip out to the Addison stop where I caught a quick bus ride over to one of Chicago’s hackerspaces: Pumping Station One. I was given a tour by some camera-shy members that were there when I popped in. The space had a large welding area with lots of equipment, metal lathes, metal brake and woodworking equipment. You name the shop tool, I think it was there. I even think I spotted a functioning scanning electron microscope! WOW!
The lower workspace was quite extensive. Yes, there’s a second-floor having sewing machines, vinyl cutters, 3-D printers and an entire room dedicated to electronics and robotics. Also, they are in the process of expanding to make the space even larger. If you’re in Chicago I recommend you check them out, it’s an amazing space and an easy commute from downtown.
I hope my iPhone video is good enough to show off their splendid space.
Follow along after the break to learn more and get a glimpse inside Pumping Station One.
Continue reading “Tour Of Chicago Hackerspace: Pumping Station One”
Part one and Part two of Hackerspace Pumping Station: One taking on the Scion challenge are up and ready for your viewing pleasure. The team at Pumping Station: One built a Tron themed bicycle that when setup properly, would churn ice cream that turned your urine neon in about 6 minutes by using dry ice and ethyl alcohol. Besides sounding not so tasty, and having a multitude of problems along the way, the project turned out the be a success. The question becomes, does it stand up to the last Hackerspace, NYC Resistor, who made a drink mixing slot machine? And how will both fair against the up and coming Musical Building by Crash Space?