Hackaday Superconference 2017 was a blast

Building stuff that matters

Hackaday Superconference 2017

Supplyframe hosted the Hackaday Superconference 2017 in Pasadena the second weekend of November. A couple of years ago I attended the first Supercon in San Francisco. It is amazing how much larger the event has grown. If you have not visited one, here’s a summary of what makes up the conference.

Five elements make up the Superconference: the talks, the learning, the people, the hacking, and the Hackaday Prize.

The Talks

Initially, I planned to write up my thoughts on the top 3 to 5 talks. Here’s the problem: they were all fantastic. Every single presentation. Instead, head over to the Hackaday YouTube channel. Currently, there is not a dedicated playlist. So look for the videos titled “Hackaday 2017.”

This decision is tough, but if you only watch one, I would recommend Kristen’s talk on IoT security. She shows three poorly implement IoT examples, with the third being an RF to Ethernet gateway used in a cellular network.

The Learning

Throughout the weekend, there are constant learning opportunities. The focal point is the workshops. The session I attended taught how to get humidity, temperature, and altitude sensors communicating with mobile devices over BLE. This class exposed me to the ATmega324pb which, ironically, is the bigger brother to the Uno’s 328p.

ATMEL Start

The ATMEGA324PB-XPRO board used in the class has on-board JTAG, enabling Atmel Studio’s debugging capabilities.

The People

As someone I spoke with put it, this conference is the “who’s who of electronics hacking.” True statement is true. Hackaday Superconference 2017 is one of the few places you can ask anyone “what are you working on” and get a neat answer.

polar 3d plotter

Polar Coaster CNC by Bart on buildlog.com

Some attendees are software engineers but enjoyed the tinkering with hardware side. Others are students. And, there is a growing number of creative or artistic people interested in the hardware side of their interactive projects.

The Hacking

Mike Harrison from Mike’s Electric Stuff designed the Hackaday Superconference 2017 badge. He knocked it out of the park. In fact, grab a Supercon Badge from Tindie, if they are still available. It has a camera, an accelerometer, Micro SD Card slot, and OLED screen. Plus it is totally hackable.

Camera Conference Badge Supercon 2017

These features make it an awesomely fun device to hack. One of the badge hacker winners was a hack that turned the entire badge into a mini SLA 3D Printer. No joke.

Hackaday Prize

When you hear “hack a day,” you might just imagine, well, “hacks.” Ideas like: what can you shove a raspberry pi into or what IoT device’s bootloader can be corrupted to install a custom version of Linux. While these hacks are prevalent in the community, there is an element that is growing: building stuff that matters. Professionals, artists, and non-engineers from across the globe participated in the 2017 Hackaday Prize. The diversity alone is what makes the Hackaday Prize so impressive. Then you see the hacks.

A Raspberry Pi that unlocks a door is novel, but it does not change the world. On the other hand, a Raspberry Pi and a camera that helps locate veins can have a positive impact on people globally.

With over 1,000 submissions, I cannot imagine the burden of the Hackaday Prize judges. That said, please check out the 2017 Hackaday Prize winners.

Conclusion

The Hackaday Superconference 2017 packed a weekend with intensive learning, interesting people, and gripping talks. I would recommend watching for details on 2018 and making arrangements to attend.

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