Every hacker out there is familiar with the zaps and sizzles of the Tesla coil, or the crash and thunder of lighting strikes on our hallowed Earth. These phenomena all involve the physics of plasma, a subject near and dear to Jay Bowles’s heart. Thus, he graced Remoticon 2021 with a enlightening talk taking us on a Dip Into the Plasmaverse.
You know, it’s hard to believe, but Hackaday Remoticon 2021 is just two weeks away. Every year, we work hard to make the ‘con a little better and brighter than the one before it, and this year is no exception. We’ve already got a star-studded list of keynote speakers, and our list of inspiring talks seems to get longer and more exciting every week. With todays announcement of three more speakers, that list is complete and available along with their scheduled times on the official Remoticon website.
Come and see what we’ve got in store for you on Friday, November 19th and Saturday, November 20th. Remoticon admission is absolutely free this year, unless you want a t-shirt to commemorate the event for a paltry $25. Tickets are still available — in fact, they’ll be available right up until Remoticon Day One on the 19th, but if you want a shirt you’ll need to grab one of those tickets by a week from today. Go get yours now!
Okay, let’s get on to today’s announcement of the speakers!
We’ve already unveiled multiple keynote speakers and a slate of fascinating presenters that will be showing off everything from reverse engineering vintage calculators to taking those first tentative steps on your CAD journey for this year’s Remoticon. You’d be forgiven for thinking that’s everything you’ll see at the conference, but there’s still plenty to announce before the two-day virtual event kicks off on November 19th. Normally we’d be promising to make sure you get your money’s worth, but since tickets are completely free, we’re shooting a bit higher than that.
We were blown away by the number of fantastic talk proposals we received during this year’s extended call. Let’s take a look at the next four presenters who will be joining us for the 2021 Hackaday Remoticon on November 19th through the 20th.
It’s coming up fast — Hackaday Remoticon 2021 is just a few weeks away, and we’re working around the clock to load up the weekend with awesome and inspiring talks that are bound to get the creative juices racing through your crazy straw brain.
Come and practice your neuroplasticity with us on November 19th and 20th. Remoticon is free-as-in-beer this year, unless you want a t-shirt. Even then, $25 is peanuts, because we’re sure that you’ll find a few talks that are priceless, and you’ll have a cool shirt to remember them by. Grab your ticket right now! We’ll wait.
A few days ago we announced mechanical engineering marvel Jeremy Fielding as our second keynote speaker. Passion is paramount to all projects, and Jeremy’s passion is making things move. He’s a renaissance man with a quiver full of self-taught skills, and is sure to bring enthusiasm to his keynote talk, which focuses on building hardware that moves, and how to handle the mechatronic mysteries that arise when trying to scale things up.
For now, let us indulge you with a preview of the second round of talks and speakers that we’ll be showcasing on November 19th and 20th. There’s plenty more where these came from, and we’ll be serving up fresh samples all the way until Remoticon weekend.
With the 2021 Hackaday Remoticon fast approaching, we’ve been hard at work crafting a schedule filled with thought-provoking presentations from knowledgeable speakers; precisely what you’ve come to expect from one of our events, virtual or otherwise. We’ve already announced that Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) astrophysicist Keith Thorne will be presenting a literally out-of-this-world keynote on the incredible engineering it takes to detect gravitational waves with the highest precision interferometers ever devised, but that’s only the beginning.
To make doubly sure we’ll be able to pack every available minute of our second Remoticon with fascinating content, we’ve decided to extend the deadline on talk proposals for a few more days to see what the late-bloomers can bring to the table. If you’ve ever wanted to present at a Hackaday event, but couldn’t swing the trip to Pasadena or Belgrade, this is your chance to take the stage virtually and show off what you’re passionate about.
In the meantime, we’ve churned through enough of the early proposals to let slip the first four talks that we’ll be beaming out between November 19th and 20th. There is plenty more to announce over the coming weeks, but hopefully this gives you an idea of what we’ve got in store for our global audience of hardware hackers. So grab your Remoticon ticket right now!
Companion robots are a breed that, heretofore, we’ve primarily seen in cinema. Free from the limits of real-world technology, they manage to be charismatic, cute, and capable in ways that endear them to audiences the world over. Jorvon Moss and Alex Glow decided that this charming technology shouldn’t just live on the silver screen, and have been developing their own companion bots to explore this field. Lucky for us, they came down to Hackaday Superconference to tell us all about it!
The duo use a variety of techniques to build their ‘bots, infusing them with plenty of personality along the way. Jorvon favors the Arduino as the basis of his builds, while Alex has experimented with the Google AIY Vision Kit, BBC Micro:bit, as well as other platforms. Through clever design and careful planning, the two common maker techniques to create their unique builds. Using standard servos, 3D printed body parts, and plenty of LEDs, it’s all stuff that’s readily accessible to the home gamer.
Having built many robots, the different companions have a variety of capabilities in the manner they interact. Alex’s robot owl, Archimedes, uses machine vision to find people, and tries to figure out if they’re happy or sad. If they’re excited enough, it will give the person a small gift. Archimedes mounts on a special harness Alex built out of armature wire, allowing the avian to perch on her shoulder when out and about. Similarly, Jorvon’s Dexter lurks on his back, modeled after a monkey. Featuring an LED matrix for emotive facial expressions, and a touch sensor for high fives, Dexter packs plenty of character into his 3D printed chassis.
Alex and Jorvon also talk about some of the pitfalls and challenges they’ve faced through the development of their respective companion bots. Jorvon defines a companion robot as “any robot that you can take with you, on any type of adventure”. Being out in the real world and getting knocked around means breakages are common, with both of the duo picking up handfuls of smashed plastic and bundles of wires at times. Thankfully, with 3D printing being the tool of the trade, it’s easy to iteratively design new components to better withstand the rough and tumble of daily life out and about. This also feeds into the rest of the design process, with Jorvon giving the example of Dexter’s last minute LED upgrades that were built and fitted while at Supercon.
Develop on companion bots is never really finished. Future work involves integrating Chirp.io data-over-sound communications to allow the bots to talk. There’s been some headaches on the software side, but we look forward to seeing these ‘bots chatting away in their own droid language. While artificial intelligence doesn’t yet have homebrew companion bots matching the wisecracking droids seen in movies, designing lifelike bodies for our digital creations is a big step in that direction. With people like Alex and Jolyon on the case, we’re sure it won’t be long before we’re all walking around with digital pals on our shoulders — and it promises to be fun!
Four weeks from today the Hackaday Superconference comes alive for the fifth year. From engineering in challenging environments to elevating the art form of electronics, here are nine more talks that will make this a year to remember.
In addition to the slate of speakers below there are three other announcements, plus workshops. Jeroen Domburg (aka Sprite_TM) is designing this year’s badge based around a beefy FPGA running a RISC-V core and using open source synthesis tools. We’ll have more on that soon, but if you just can’t wait, check out the expansion board spec he just published, and join the conference chat room for the inside track. Badge hacking is sure to be the liveliest we’ve ever seen.
Tickets are sold out but you can still get on the waiting list and hope that one becomes available. If you are holding onto one of these hot commodities but are unable to use it, please return your ticket so that we can get it to someone waiting with their fingers crossed.
The Talks (Part Four of Many)
When it Rains, It Pours
Over the last two years my work has been beyond ordinary, building and prototyping in strange locations like being stranded on a sailboat in the Atlantic Ocean, teaching US Marines in Kuwait, and building fuel gauge sensors for generators for vital systems in North Carolina post hurricane Florence. Some of the big lessons I’ve learned are about how to source materials and supplies in weird places, like finding potentiometers in the backwoods of North Carolina when Amazon cannot physically deliver across flooded highways, how to find welding gas in Kuwait City (and how a local chef could possibly be your best bet), or how far you can get with an O’Reilly’s Auto Parts store near the city docks. These situations help you really see the “engineer creep” that can happen to a project. I’ve learned that when you’re in high-risk situations, you really should stop caring about whether the edges of your 3D print are chamfered. In fact, version 1 of the hurricane fuel gauge sensor was demonstrated while being housed inside an elegant, tasteful sandwich baggie.
Building Whimsical Wearables: Leveling Up Through Playful Prototyping
Whether it’s for a theme party, Halloween, cosplay, or That Thing in The Desert, designing wearables for whimsical self expression presents a great opportunity to challenge yourself as a maker, wearer, and collaborator. As an artist and designer who crash landed into a career in tech, I’ve found that imposter syndrome can often place limits on what feels personally achievable from an electronics and programming standpoint. Recontextualizing a project to shift the focus from ‘wearable tech hardware endeavor’ to ‘quirky mixed media experiment in personal styling’, I’ve created a safe space to play and try new things just outside my skill set and produced some of my most technically complex and polished personal work. Take a journey with me through the process of conceptualizing and building my Color Stealing Fairy project, an exercise in iterative design and upgrading an interactive wearable project over the course of two years and counting.
Michael Ossmann and Kate Temkin
The popularity of Software-Defined Radio (SDR) has led to the emergence of powerful open source software tools such as GNU Radio that enable rapid development of real-time Digital Signal Processing (DSP) techniques. We’ve used these tools for both radio and non-radio applications such as audio and infrared, and now we are finding them tremendously useful for diverse sensors and actuators that can benefit from DSP. In this talk we’ll show how we use the open source GreatFET platform to rapidly develop an SDR-like approach to just about anything.
“Hacking Nature’s Musicians” (or, “The Art of Electronic Naturalism”)
The general lack of acceptance of electronic art results from a scarcity of critics, curators, collectors, and grantors who understand electronic media, compounded by a cultural gap between the artistic and engineering communities. In order to solve this problem, we must stretch our comfort zone and vocabularies to have a respectful, enlightening conversation with people with different educational backgrounds. In this talk I’ll discuss my wonderment at the simple, analog circuit designs that mimic life-like behavior such as chirping crickets and singing birds. This will include discussion of various schematics and demonstrations of a small. along with an abbreviated survey of my work to-date.
Setting your Electronics Free
In this panel we’ll discuss the key ways to get your projects from your workshop into the hands of the first few users, and what you can do to scale up from there. We’ll talk about common pitfalls, and also what are the best resources to draw upon.
MicroFPGA – The Coming Revolution in Small Electronics
Big FPGA’s are awesome. They’re doing what they’ve always done, enabling AI, signal processing, military applications etc. However, there is a new possibility emerging – FPGA’s for small applications – which is quite possibly even more significant. Using open source tools, cheap flexible development boards, and new libraries, designers have a whole new set of options, creating incredibly high performance, flexible, low power projects and products.
Boggling the Boardhouse: Designing 3D Structures, Circuits, and Sensors from PCBs
The presentation will be a series of design features or techniques with a few minutes of exploration into the ‘gotchas’ of each, as well as example layouts in EAGLE and physical examples. I’d like to cover as many different techniques as I can cram into 30 minutes, including bringing weird shapes into EDA, the inside corner problem caused by tab and slot, fillet soldering, stacking boards, imitating model sprues with mouse bites, manipulating the mask layer for custom displays, bendy tab buttons, working rotary encoder, and ergonomic design for handheld PCBs.
Towards an Open-Source Multi-GHz Sampling Oscilloscope
Tektronix designed a 14.5 GHz sampling oscilloscope in 1968. With the easy multi-layer PCB designs, tiny surface-mount parts, blazingly fast semiconductors, and computer horsepower available to the individual designer today, can a similar sampling head be re-created inexpensively with common, off-the-shelf components? Should be easy, right? It’s not. In this talk, I’ll discuss progress towards an open-source GHz+ sampling oscilloscope, including a lot of dead ends, plus some very promising leads.
Building the Hackaday Superconference Badge
The tradition of the Hackaday Supercon badge is to build something unlike any Supercon badge that came before. This year’s badge has an FPGA as its central component, and this comes with some extra challenges: the FPGA only comes in a BGA package with a whopping 381 pads to solder, and instead of just referring to the datasheet of the SoC to write the badge software, the SoC itself had to be written first. I will discuss the development process of the badge, as well as the many challenges encountered along the way.
Keep Your Eye on Hackaday for the Livestream
The speakers you’ll see at Supercon have an amazing wealth of experience and we can’t wait to see their talks. But even if you couldn’t get a ticket, that doesn’t mean you have to miss out. Keep your eye on Hackaday for a link to the livestream which will begin on Saturday, November 16th.