Global Urban Datafest – Smart Bins for Dublin!

Over the 7-8th March 2015, several members of Tog participated in and mentored at the Global Urban Datafest.

This was a globally synchronised hackathon with dozens of cities around the world hosting teams to solve urban problems with open-source hardware, software and data solutions.

Dublin saw many great teams participating — you can check out some of the projects here:

http://global.datafest.net/projects

The winning team was Bintel – retrofitting Dublin city’s street bins with sensors and wifi to help make our city smarter and safer.

Icon-@2x

One of the members of the team was from Tog, and the others are now big hackerspace fans – they are using our space to build more prototypes for their products.

See the project page here for more info.

Overall it was a great weekend, and the kind of environment Tog thrives at.

We are looking forward to host and participate at many more events like this in 2015!

 

 

 

Science Hack Day Dublin

Science Hack Day DublinScience Hack Day DublinIMG_20141011_211001 (1) is a 36 hour hardware and software hackathon. A social event with creativity and love of science at its heart.  Each year it brings together coders, designers, scientists, engineers and makers simply to make interesting things. Why? For adventure, for playfulness, for science! This year the event moves to UCD on the 15th & 16th November.

Here in TOG, we have been looking forward to Science Hack Day since the last one ended. Over the past few months we have been stock piling cool hardware, boards and sensors just for two days of fun. We plan on moving most of our electronics lab to UCD to help people get making. Check out the photo to the right for some of the gear we will be bringing.

 

Continue reading “Science Hack Day Dublin”

On intergalactic space travel, sound waves, the Guzman prize, and human communication

So I’m just back from a 400-odd year space flight, which felt like a weekend, but actually took 270 years, depending on where you’re standing. Imagine the jetlag! Sunday was mostly taken up with the first recorded arts-based intergalactic mission in human history, also known as Starship Hack Circus. Starship Hack Circus

My involvement in the project started some months ago, with a trip to the utterly brilliant Hurdy Gurdy Radio Museum in Howth, Co. Dublin, and some research into early radio transmissions for some upcoming workshops. It was in Howth that I first learned of Fred Cummins and his Guzman Boxes. From Wikipedia:

“The Prix Guzman (Guzman Prize) was a 100,000 franc prize announced on December 17, 1900[1] by the French Académie des Sciences to “the person of whatever nation who will find the means within the next ten years of communicating with a star and of receiving a response.” It was sponsored by Clara Gouget Guzman in honor of her son Pierre. Pierre Guzman had been interested in the work of Camille Flammarion, the author of La planète Mars et ses conditions d’habitabilité (The Planet Mars and Its Conditions of Habitability, 1892). Communication with Mars was specifically exempted as many people believed that Mars was inhabited at the time and communication with that planet would not be a difficult enough challenge.[2] Nikola Tesla claimed in 1937 that he should receive the prize for “his discovery relating to the interstellar transmission of energy.”[3] The prize was awarded to the crew of Apollo 11 in 1969.

Cummins, a keen astronomer and radio enthusiast, had retired to Howth in the 1930s, where he built hundreds of basic radio kits to try to detect alien transmissions and claim the prize. Each used a helical resonator tuned to a specific narrow band of frequencies, in an attempt to pinpoint an ET signal. Ultimately, Cummins failed, but left behind a huge legacy of hundreds of beautifully crafted yet utterly useless ‘Guzman Boxes’.

Earlier this year, fellow Tog Dublin member Jeffrey Roe and I were gifted the shell of a Guzman Box from the Cummins estate, little more than a wooden cube with a helical resonator attached, to restore and develop for the Hack Circus voyage. We decided to flip the Guzman prize on its head – instead of looking for extra-terrestrial communications, we would examine the signals that have left earth, to wander indiscriminately through the galaxy, acting as unwitting human ambassadors. With the help of woodworker extraordinaire Javier Leite we were able to return the box to something of its former glory. Jeffrey worked on engineering and code, while I researched appropriate transmissions, ably abetted by Benjamin Schapiro in the States (thank you again Ben!).

The box plays the most historically significant transmissions from exoplanet exploration, catalogued by where in the galaxy that transmission is now reaching. For example, Reginald Fessenden’s Christmas Eve 1906 transmission of Handel’s Largo (now reaching the planet HD 37124c in the Taurus System – the furthest reach of human art), a moving recording of Allied troops landing in France, 1916 (just now reaching the first-discovered-and-closest rogue planet CFBDSIR2149-0403) to the fall of the Berlin Wall, transmitting to possibly our closest neighbour in the habitable ‘Goldilocks’ zone – Gliese 667cc. What must our neighbours think of us?

Because it’s Hack Circus however, and that means never taking *anything* for granted, Jeff and I decided we couldn’t count absolutely on human means of aural detection. In space no-one can hear you scream (or sing along to Ken Dodd’s 1965 classic Tears for that matter – just now reaching habitable exoplanet Gliese 163c), so we needed a means to transmit audio through the vacuum of space, and through whichever aural cavity alien physiology might have evolved. The safest bet was bone conduction, and a method ruthlessly stolen from Dave McKeown at Artekcircle earlier in the year – biting down on a copper rod attached to a motor, attached to an amp. Here’s a tweet of @metabrew, demonstrating technique –

And the Guzman Box itself: IMG_20140914_184218 The Guzman Box will be available to try at Tog Dublin on Culture night – this coming Friday 19th September, along with the Tachyonic Antitelephone , and a host of other art, craft, tech, and engineering projects from fellow members.

Make Something Synchronous Hackathon

Here at TOG we like to make things. And so, inspired by Adam Savage’s (him of MythBusters fame) talk at the Bay Area 2012 Maker Faire, “Why We Make”, and with our very own Dublin Maker Faire just around the corner, we’ve decided it’s high-time to get back to it!

This weekend is the Make Something Synchronous Hackathon. The idea is very simple; Saturday and Sunday from about noon until late evening, get to your local hackerspace, and just make something. Anything. It doesn’t matter what, how, or even why. Just make something!

There is nothing quite like that feeling of satisfaction when you behold something you’ve made with your own hands, nor the frustration when things aren’t going the way you planned. So come, share the highs and the lows with us. We have a messy workshop full of saws, vices, and other tools, soldering irons, glue guns, a less messy workroom with sewing and knitting machines. As well as a whole assortment of things to help, or distract you, about the place like a Makerbot, film development lab, library, and kitchen.

On the Saturday, to keep your brain cells ticking over, we’re hosting a talk by the Dublin Skeptics in the Pub, featuring Dr Muireann Quigley on biomaterials, biotechnology, perceived ownership of the human body and the changing role of the body. That’s from 18:30 until about 20:00. More deatils here.

The whole weekend is free, and no pre-booking required. So come along, learn something new, or just make something! 😀




International Space Apps Challenge

On the 21st to 22nd of April, TOG will host the Dublin base for the International Space Apps Challenge.

The International Space Apps Challenge is a two day event that will be taking place all over the world and off world (on the International Space Station). The event is aimed at solving global problems through collaboration both at the local and international level.

There are four main categories of challenges: software, open hardware, citizen science, and data visualisation. You can collaborate on one of the listed challenges or you can propose your own challenge for people to collaborate on.

You can register to take part in the event at http://spaceappschallenge.org/location/tog. TOG will be open for the duration of the event, and if you have any questions, please post a comment.

Note: This a free two day (or overnight) event. Please only register if you can attend both days as the number of places are limited. You can also register if you can only make one day or part of the day.

The plan is to start at 12:00 (noon) on Saturday. We are collecting useful information about our activities here