My name is Ale Fernandez. I live in Barcelona, Spain and I'm Chilean and Italian.
I am a web developer, artist and technical researcher.
I've lived in Scotland, Italy, Spain and England and career-wise I am interested in distributed systems and their applications to improvised performance and ecology.

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10/06/2009

Dorkbot's New Hackspace

Here below you see a miniature, or pocket version of what was recently displayed at a large event in Bath by the newly hacktivised dorkbot bunch, who were given the challenge of providing a musical experience for a tech related arts event. They had to build a smaller version for testing, so they say, or most probably, because they could and because it was fun.




So Dorkbot has finally grown up from being a show and tell of the media, design, internet, engineering, musical and generally creative dork-peoples of Bristol. It has now gained much attention from event organisers and maker faires, as popular electronics has it's second rennaisance in arduinos and strange inventions, and as the closet sound benders of Bristol started messing with all that, so they are booked to play quite a few places, in the sense of course, of playing strange new-millennium unicycles that generate sounds by bending a microprocessor's own vibrations.



Tonight, we plotted the needs for the upcoming (23rd and 24rth October) event in Cardiff, where many a sound unicycle will parade the streets(um, of the venue), a veritable orchestra in fact, for which bass parts are now sought. Here is the shopping list for now:

2 Sunshields for bike wheel (to shade a small section at the top where the optical sensors are)
2 Battery packs for 6AAs
2 Arduinos
Wires
3 or 4* optic sensors
£4 speakers from the garage near John's friend's house
2 power plugs
2 jack sockets.




* The 4, as explained by John Honnibal, was due to the possibility of having an extra track around the side of the disk, which provides the musical score for the device, and to have that synchronise the other notes. This is shown in the first image, at the top of the blog post.

But perhaps I should explain a bit about this space that has been kindly given to Dorkbot by local networkers and community IT group Bristol Wireless, so as to be used as a Hackspace. It's housed at Hamilton House in exotic stokes croft(where from the bar below, a local play takes place each day, next to Bristol Wireless's offices, and so far just an internet connection, some power sockets, and lots of possibly useless, potentially dangerous electronic devices in large plastic containers. Oh and some unicycles.


The idea is to keep it running weekly as a time in which to make stuff, rather than show stuff you've made as with the Pervasive Media Labs sessions. I hope those like me who have never done a day's soldering in their lives will soon learn to count their ohms, tell their resistors from their capacitors, and others will get to work with interesting people who bring their creations to new audiences or new collaborations. But the Dorkbot, mixed media feel is not lost. It's still meant to be a mix of whatever is made by electricity, and I hope the musicians and engineers can be quickly joined by dancers, poets and cooks. (But I do also remember a Cube Cinema based dorkbot where even the electricity rule was broken, and most of the show and tell was about open source cola and distributed apple tree orchards).

So, we now have a bristol hackspace, and lots of things to build each tuesday, for upcoming events, some leaning more towards outreach(such as a busking and empty shop takeover event in late November), others more towards art(such as the Arnolfini's December based IT/hacking programme). I must end with another list, this time of the first hackspace invention ever to be built as a kit and sold. Here are some of the parts that might be required:


In each pack (of a total of maybe 20 packs?):

A small used flyer, or some thin cardboard on which to print a circuit board and on to which the device will be assembled.
1 diode
2 capacitors
2 potentiometers
Chips
etc

1 pack of 20 or 50 plastic parts ziploc bags.


As well as this creation, allowing people to come to a workshop and go home with something interesting, we'll also be on the lookout for some cheap sound making toys from pound stores or toy shops, so as to circuit bend these as well. Meanwhile though, I'll definitely have to learn to solder!

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