Month: September 2014

EMF Camp 2014

I realised yesterday, as a few second years from my university were discussing EMF 2016, that I hadn’t yet written about this particular event.

As a brief intro, EMF Camp is kind of like Glastonbury for Geeks. That’s great for someone who’s been to Glastonbury, or in fact any musical festival, but erm. I…haven’t. So I had absolutely no idea what to expect and had only discovered this event about a month before.
Essentially, the idea is Hacking in Tents over 3 days (EMF stands for Electromagnetic Field, by the way…). Over 1000 makers, hackers and creators of any sort descend on a field together, show off what they’ve been making and teach others how to do the same. At EMF this year there were several workshops, ranging from creating the One Ring to laser cutting a useless contraption.

So I headed down from Hull on Saturday afternoon, tent, Raspberry Pi and various random components in tow, and set up camp. I knew a handful of people from Pi circles attending and another handful from the Bristol Hackspace attending, so as I wandered round I bumped into a few familiar faces and overall, had a really great time hanging out with old friends (I say old – I’ve been into electronics hacking for about two years now, and doing it socially for probably a year or less) and meeting some new ones.

The first afternoon I attended the Simon Singh talk on the Enigma machine: I found this a really great talk and he explained everything well. I’ve been to Bletchley Park maybe 2 years ago, but some of the information had dissipated from my brain.
Later that evening we headed over to the BarBot created by Nottingham Hackspace: a robot which mixes cocktails, the ordering of which being online. Despite the cocktails tasting…pretty bad, the amount of LEDs which some would deem unnecessary in drinks making means I thought this was an awesome project, and the generosity of Nottingham Hackspace to offer these without forcing payment is pretty generous: I did donate, like a good person, of course.

Before turning in for the night I headed over to the main stage tent to see what music had been put on for the eve: terrible rave music along with lasers and smoke machines. Standard.

The following day was meeting some new faces – among those, Chris from Element14 and Rachel from Raspberry Pi who I’d been meaning to meet for a while. Her Zoe talk was pretty interesting. Disapointed in myself that I missed the opportunity to throw things at Ben Nuttall, who was a few rows in front, as Carrie Anne deemed necessary to point out.

My last talk of the event was the panel session discussing the badges. If you’re unfamiliar, in 2012 EMF Camp volunteers decided to make a super awesome badge ready for 2014: the idea was ace, in practice…not quite as great, due to problems with sponsorship, hardware manufacture hitting a few roadblocks and various other issues which were covered in the talk. Nonetheless the badges provided everyone with a device to hack, with lots of hardware which would have otherwise cost a fair amount, and all software for both the badges and the server they intended to have working for the event was open sourced. Jonty, the main organiser, also announced that there would be a competition for the best hack, with the prize being tickets to EMF 2016 and the one day EMW (electromagnetic Wave…it’s held on a boat in London…get it?! Wave?!) event.

The overwhelming brilliance of the camp is that all of it is volunteer based, from the badges to the organisation to security on the gate – it’s as open source as it gets. I really enjoyed it and will definitely be going in 2016 assuming I’m in the country.

Microview necklace

In my last couple of microview blogs I posed the idea of making a removable circuit – meaning something to put a microview into which you can then take it out without requiring desoldering, and more importantly, without cutting off the microview pins.

I posed this question to twitter, and here were some suggestions:

The current winner is the final one by Grahame, mostly because I already had a dip socket with 14 inputs I wasn’t using.

I snapped this in half and cut off the unnecessary pins, and bent back the ones I did need:

I then got my soldering iron and stripper (whitwoo), cut off the ends of my heart rate sensor: I measured these so that it makes a circuit necklace similar to the necklace I made for york Raspberry Jam by placing the Microview in the center of my chest and pulling the wires to where they needed to be.

I then soldered these on, Data and ground to one header, power to the other and tried my necklace on again:

I look so impressed…

After some fiddling and getting it off my neck again I put some sugru I had from EMF camp on the headers to make it smoother and more finished, and some on the sensor itself to make the connection stronger:

Next steps after this are to put in a battery: I currently have one LiPo with me from my metawear kit I could repurpose: not sure where the best place to put this in is, possibly round the back of my neck again.

I also want to make the positioning of the microview more stable.

Ooh and for those who didn’t check my twitter: I’ve also released the code for this project on github.

Gadgets and gizmos: microview and metawear

Recently I needed a break from tearing my hair out over another project, so I had my heart rate sensor insulated


…the wrong way round. Whoops. Luckily its only velcro’d on.

Anyhow, this sensor got given to me by Craig for Christmas, and well. Its been 9 months.

Having seen the microview video feature a blinking heart, I decided I’d use it for that purpose.
I actually cheated here a lot: I pinched the example code from sparkfun’s library and the example code from’s library and smashed them together. The result works pretty well, I just need to figure out a way to make a nonpermanent necklace mod to the microview.

With push the code to github in the morning!


Also my metawear board arrived: not really sure what to think? Have yet to utilise that little guy yet.