I had an awesome time at OSHcamp 2012 (Open Source Hardware Camp) held in scenic Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire, last weekend. Organised by Andrew Back of SolderPad and OSHUG, the weekend was an intense and fascinating Saturday of talks, followed by in-depth workshops on Sunday. OSHcamp is the second annual meet up spawned from the successful OSHUG – Open Source Hardware User Group show and tell meets usually staged around London.
Here is a brief overview of the talks and workshops over the weekend:
Jeremy Bennett was our welcoming MC for the Saturday presentations that kicked off with an introduction to The Internet of Things by Adrian McEwan, which included various example projects, thoughts on what makes now a good time for the IoT to evolve – such as the propensity of cheap components and small computers. Adrian also explored a few clichés that have surrounded IoT.
Second up was Paul Tanner, who spoke about Practical Experiences with the Google Android Accessory Development Kit (ADK) and how one can create projects that use Arduino microcontrollers with Android phones. He showed how the Android and Arduino compare and can compliment each other, plus gave project examples of this.
Melanie Rhianna Lewis gave an introduction to Developing Linux on Embedded Devices by defining what this is and showing us some examples. Raspberry Pi is one example of an embedded device that uses Linux as, for example, it fulfills the criteria of being physically small, has limited resources compared to desktop computers and interfaces with non-regular hardware. Melanie’s talk went on to show more examples, development processes and tools. Her presentation can be found here.
Interfacing the Raspberry Pi to the World — Everything you need to know about Pi – was the exciting title of Omer Kilic’s presentation which explained how owners of the Raspberry Pi can get their device to communicate with the outside world using GPIO (General Pin Input / Output). His talk also included a cautionary image of a burnt Pi, which I wish I’d caught with my camera, a timely reminder to ensure you power your device correctly! Omer’s talk covered topics featured in his excellent Raspberry Pi workshop that he gave on Sunday.
I gave a talk on Wearable Technology (+ a bit of open sourcery), which started with a very quick intro into the evolution of wearable tech, how Maker and Hacker culture is making a significant contribution to this and also changing tech business models. I showed a few examples of my work that incorporates LilyPad Arduino sewable microcontroller and ended with a look at how wearable technology and e-textiles is a great vehicle for getting school-age children interested in electronics and coding. Below are my slides.
We then broke for lunch and I was extremely pleased that a large vegan platter full of tasty tidbits had been procured; which had gone down so well with the other delegates I was urged to break off from chatting to go and grab some before it had all been eaten up!
For the afternoon session, first up was Tim Panton on Running OpenBTS in the Real World. OpenBTS is a software-based GSM access point, allowing standard GSM-compatible mobile phones to make calls without having to use existing telecommunication providers’ networks. Tom spoke about his adventures setting up an OpenBTS (Open Base Transceiver Station) network recently at the Burning Man festival in Nevada, where the need for getting messages home to loved ones often proved to have a heartfelt story behind it.
Edward Strickland spoke about the issues surrounding Developing a Heavy Lift UAV — Pitfalls, Problems and Opportunities. Demonstrating his own build of an UAV (Unmanned Ariel Vehicle). He reported how they are very useful for carrying out dangerous and dull airborne tasks. Edward talked us through various challenges, such as developing for carrying heavy payloads over distance, take-off and landing methods both conventional and vertical, plus cost, weight and efficiency of heavy engines and gearboxes.
Mark Gilbert was up after tea break and gave an interesting insight into the world of The 3D Printed Revolution. He took us through the development of his Fable clock, which is manufactured to order using Selective Laser Sintering, which is much more cost effective than manufacture by mass injection moulding as these bespoke clocks only sell in small quantities.
Alan Wood spun us a cautionary tale: The Bots are Coming, about the dangerous and subtle growing army of bots that are easily available to procure and are propagating via 3D printers. He sent a chill around the hall and many felt the wind of fear up their underkecks.
To finish, Hwa Young Jung gave us an introduction to the DIYBIOMCR group at Manchester’s MadLab, featuring how to extract your own DNA using ingredients very similar a pina colada cocktail and examples of existing bio hacks such as the spider goat.
After tidying up the hall, we all headed off to the pub for food and to carry on conversations.
Sunday featured several workshops running concurrently, I attended Omer Kilic & Melanie Rhianna Lewis’ great Raspberry Pi workshop, which used General Pin Input / Output to interface the Pi with components. I spent far too much time being sociable to accomplish all the examples Omer had put together, but I was happy with a blinking LED on a breadboard using a simple C script.
Other workshops included:
- Practical 3D Printing with RepRaps.by Alan Wood, Mark Gilbert & Mike Beardmore
- Building GSM Networks with Open Source – looking at the practical steps involved in creating a low power GSM network using open source technology by Tim Panton & Andrew Back
- Practical IoT Applications with the Google ADK and Arduino – a hands on IoT building sessions that follow on from Saturday’s ADK and Arduino talks by Paul Tanner & Adrian McEwen
An excellent time was had by all: much knowledge was exchanged, old friends reunited and new friendships forged. We even had our own OSHcamp cat, Kipper in attendance :-) Many thanks to Andrew Back and all the organisers, speakers and helpers, plus thanks to the sponsors, esp. SKPang and Oomlout for the lovely conference badges and the fab goodie-bags.