A Blog Less Ordinary

The blog of Dave Ingram

HackWeekend: an introduction

So I’ve decided now that, as I have some free time and I will soon have some disposable income, that it’s time to start on an idea that’s been brewing for a little while: HackWeekend. This is a radical departure from some of my previous ideas, in that it’s a social thing.

When we were coming to the end of our time at university (and consequently our time as housemates), my good friend Alex Yong and I decided that this should not be the end, and we should all get together regularly afterwards. As we technical types aren’t that good at small talk, we thought that rather than just meeting up and chatting, we should actually have an aim in mind. An independent idea from another friend (Dave Durant) around the same time was that he and I should get together for a weekend sometime with lots of Red Bull and pizza and very little sleep, and to see what we could code/prototype.

The beginnings of HackWeekend came out of these conversations, plus a long-standing desire to build something akin to a project I had heard about and of which I had seen videos. The aim will be to run from Friday evening to late Sunday, and to see what we can build and get working in 50-odd hours. Projects can be hardware, software… anything!

Now we’re beginning to think seriously about organising HackWeekend sometime before the end of 2008 if we can. We have no idea where we’ll do this (likely to be at someone’s house) or how many people will be there or anything. Obviously, we want as many people as possible to be involved… eventually. We’ll have to start out small just to prove that the idea can work.

Finally, some of the HackWeekend rules/guidelines may include:

  1. Everything will be written up/documented in some way, as much as possible
  2. Lots of photos will be taken, possibly even videos (for the physical projects)
  3. Kick back, relax and enjoy yourself!
  4. There are no stupid ideas – just ones that might
  5. (Until we get some kind of sponsorship…) please contribute to costs of materials/food/etc
  6. Tell lots of people – the further this spreads, the more cool projects we’ll be able to do
  7. The final details (schematics, designs, code, etc) will be released under one or more open licences

This last rule, of course, will definitely be included. All project details will be published on the HackWeekend website (when it’s built), with full attribution.

Our first project

Our first project (for now) will be to attempt to build a prototype disco dance floor module, akin to the MIT project linked above. We have plans to make some improvements, including upping the maximum number of supported colours to 8,192 by adding a UV LED to each LED cluster. With 16 bits/pixel, that gives us four bits each for red, green and blue, one bit for UV, and one bit for the pressure sensor… and two left over for future expansion. Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself.

For this project, we’ll need a lot of people who are good with their hands. We’re not sure exactly how far we’ll go with this prototype (updates to follow) but more details will be available soon. The crew list is likely to involve:

and that’s just off the top of my head. There may well be others!

And now…

So, what are you waiting for? Head on over to the current HackWeekend page and sign up to get email updates. The main site will be built when I get round to it…

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