One and a half weeks ago we attended Bournemouth University’s Fifth Annual Symposium Of Geeks – more commonly known as Barcamp Bournemouth 5 http://www.barcampbournemouth.org . As I type this I have just realised a real coincidence: Jean Michel Jarre’s Computer Weekend is playing on my stereo. Great, that fits perfectly.
It was indeed a whole weekend in which computers and their uses featured highly, with talks on all kinds of software coding, website design, digitally projected presentations and how not to do them, ideas sessions for how to link up big data with web tools and plenty more juicy stuff of that ilk. There was also an accountant giving a talk about how to avoid paying tax – brazen given the current mood on that topic among the public methinks; this accountant indeed tried to talk all business people present into his methods and schemes – I was having none of it, so I left that talk (besides, our business model isn’t compatible anyway – but even if it was, I’d not touch tax havens thanks very much). There was even a brainstorm on creating the perfect piece of utterly rubbish marketing buzzwordage to fling at the likes of South By SouthWest (SXSW) which culminated in a new word being created and sold on eBay for a number of actual Pounds Sterling. I shall not post that word here because I wouldn’t live down appearing in search engine listings for it.
The Vulpine Designs Unlimited contingent consisted of:
* myself with my bicycle pulling the Bike Trailer, which managed to turn on its side on the way there, due to what I later discovered was a loosened bolt missing its nut altogether. So that was casualty number one. In the Bike Trailer I brought Project Legotop and a soldering kit we finished up not having anywhere to use.
* Ian Renton brought his already-slightly-famous Raspberry Tank, a remote controlled tank toy souped up with webcam, wifi and automated control using a Raspberry Pi, the effect of which is mainly to drain its battery very quickly and to scare the bejesus out of anyone it’s pointed at by firing BB pellets at them and having a mind of its own. http://www.ianrenton.com has more on that.
* Kyle Fraser, who met up with us to discuss involvement in the Dorset Constructorium
* Cliff Leach, who did likewise and when he learned of
* Devo ‘s failure to turn up, was very nice and went to give Devo a lift, sadly to no avail. No, not that Devo. I’m on about our friend Ian Montgomery, who’d also like to get involved but may require a little more precise information on transport in future.
We were all identifiable by our ID badges I made for the occasion, with QR codes, uniqueness security measures and whatnot. I figure since we all wore them without complaint about being identified on the location, it wouldn’t hurt to say on here afterwards who was present. Any objections, please let me know via the forum.
I found it to be a highly informative event, in which much mingling, networking and fun were had.
Ian Renton did his presentation on the Raspberry Tank, which thanks to the power of Slideshare we can show you at this link: http://blog.ianrenton.com/raspberry-tank-day-26-barcamp-or-bust/ or even here like this:
And here’s a picture:
During the presentation, Ian demonstrated the automated aspect of the tank, in which it would drive forwards until an obstruction blocked its path, reverse a little, fire its BB cannon, then turn and proceed. It completed this sequence once, then its software crashed. A few minutes of distracting slides later, the tank set off again, seemingly having a mind of its own and towards the audience! Ian picked it up and aimed it at the lectern, neutralising the threat. It was later revealed that an audience member had hacked the tank controls and re-engaged automated control. This was exactly what Ian had expected to happen at such an event, so we weren’t disappointed
Later on the Saturday, I presented for the assembled geeks, using Project Legotop, the Dorset Constructorium. Here’s the presentation I used: http://www.vulpinedesigns.co.uk/downloads/VulpineDesignsPresentationDorsetC.odp and I release it CC-BY-NC-SA –
http://www.slideshare.net/danfoxdavies/vulpine-designs-presentation-dorset-c (please note the last slide is covered by Slideshare’s popup window – the same poem is present on the first page of the Leaflet and I’ve pasted a copy of it below). Tied in with the presentation and shared around throughout the day, we had 50 of this leaflet which proved very effective as a complementary informative thingy (what, you expect me to use ALL of the corporate speak when I’m typing this fast?): http://www.vulpinedesigns.co.uk/downloads/VDUConstructoriumLeaflet.odt and in case you’re on the wrong computer, here’s a PDF of it too: http://www.vulpinedesigns.co.uk/downloads/VDUConstructoriumLeaflet.pdf.
The outcome of this presentation was that more people seemed to be interested in the Constructorium and taking part in a community space to build, hack and make and break things. Mission therefore successful.
That evening, we rounded it off with food, drinks and Slideshare Roulette. If you’ve never played it, it’s one of those Games You Have To Play Before You Die. Basically, set up a lecture theatre with the projection computer running a web browser connected to Slideshare. Search for a random word or term. Select a random presentation from the results. Pick a random member of the attending audience. They must then blag through three minutes of somebody else’s presentation, having no idea what it’s about most of the time, and quite often it’s in a different language. Hilarity ensues. After 3 minutes, the victim becomes the chooser of the next victim. Rinse and repeat until it’s late and you’re starting to see the same presentations in your search results. Epic Win is had and plenty of amusement by all. For mine, I was given a story with the SIMs as the illustrations. I picked random words and interpreted the images, and lo and behold if you believed me you’d think the SIMs were zombies lurking in your desktop case just waiting to escape.
Having achieved my objective, I attended on the second day in a more personal capacity and made a presentation about my non-business interests in the Pirate Party and the surrounding sphere of politics. Unfortunately, packing both Project Legotop and backup newer laptop in the same bag is a Bad Idea. It resulted in the puncture of the LCD screen of Project Legotop. Depending on how easy it is to obtain a compatible LCD panel, this event (which I had planned to be the last major outing of Project Legotop anyway) may well be its last as a laptop at all. I’ve half a mind to convert it into a media server running Folding@Home. It may finish up at the Constructorium once we have a permanent location – we’ll see.
A thoroughly interesting and informative weekend overall, I look forward to the next one.
Vulpine Designs Unlimited
Freedom Of Form: A product of community spirit
Appendix 1: Textual content of leaflet
Exploring, learning, doing and making
New things, old things, fixing and breaking
Not being afraid to void warranty
To open, to tweak, to improve quality
People with skills, people curious
People who with proprietary closed source are furious
For fun, for invention, for the first ever
For the community and the world whatever the weather
Dismantle, rebuild, design and use
Hackers and makers can win what consumers lose
So before you buy replacements from an emporium
You’ll remember what you learnt at the
Come one, come all who want to have a go. We want to register your interest in starting an open Hackerspace in Dorset, a place where you, the people can take control of your stuff and through that, invent cool new things, discover DIY, self-sufficiency methods and futuristic technology, crazy combinations, re-using and recycling.
When we open the Dorset Constructorium, we want it to be full of interesting things to do and contribute to. We want the end products of your efforts to be useful to you, us and the community. Like the thousands of other Hackerspaces around the world, we want to make a successful community of ‘hackers’ (as in people who make software, hardware and wetware do what it was never originally meant to do), makers and creative artists and thinkers. You may not think you can contribute much, but you’d be surprised! The most obscure of skills and knowledge can prove very useful to a hackerspace. And because you can play a part in deciding what we do next, you can be sure we’ll do something you want to get involved in sooner or later.
Hackerspaces are a phenomenon of the internet, and if you have access to the internet you’ll be able to take part in our pre-launch discussions, in spreading the word and in deciding where we will be and what we will do first.
Even without the internet you can help, by copying and sharing this leaflet around.
If you get a copy of this leaflet and aren’t in Dorset or within easy commuting distance of the Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch conurbation, please look at www.hackerspaces.org to see if there is another hackerspace nearer to you. If there isn’t, perhaps you’d like to start one!
For the Dorset Constructorium, take a look at http://hackerspaces.org/wiki/The_Dorset_Constructorium , join our Google Group at https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/dorsetconstructorium and keep an eye on updates from Vulpine Designs Unlimited http://www.vulpinedesigns.co.uk – QR codes overleaf.
But there’s more! Turn over and read the other side…
In order to fund our efforts, there will need to be a small, regular fee. But don’t worry, this along with everything else will be up for discussion and consideration from the start. To have something to do whilst we are raising funds for the next projects, there are some projects to do which are already partly done or cost very little anyway, so the place will not be threadbare when we start. It will, however, get better over time – the more people contribute, the more we all get out of it.
There will be great scope in the Constructorium for the sharing of knowledge, ideas and information. By internet and in person we can do workshops on a whole range of subjects, from saving money and the environment with your printer to lugging cargo around with a bike and from making printed circuit boards to knitting… knitting flexible electrical circuits, now there’s an idea!
Just by putting all these crafts in one place, new ideas can be encouraged. You might think up one of the greatest inventions of our time on your own anyway, but it might happen all the sooner and with much more community spirit and holistic-thinking like-minded individuals around to help you get it off the ground.
Definition of a Hackerspace (Wikipedia):
“A hackerspace (also referred to as a hacklab, makerspace, or hackspace) is a community-operated physical space where people with common interests, often in computers, technology, science, digital art or electronic art, can meet, socialise and/or collaborate.
Hackerspaces can be viewed as open community labs incorporating elements of machine shops, workshops and/or studios where hackers can come together to share resources and knowledge to build and make things.”
All the things we will do will be open for debate and membership is open to anyone with genuine interest. The demographics we work with will be dynamically defined by who registers interest and activities will be conjured to fit whenever possible.
We reserve the right at any time to eject people who are causing a nuisance more than helping.
Here are the links and QR codes:
Our page at <---
---> Our Google Group
– please join and
discuss with us
Our page at <---
---> Our page at
Our microblog at <---
---> Our gallery at
Email us at <---
--->The Raspberry Pi Tank
by Ian Renton
QR codes generated by
http://qrcode.kaywa.com/. All logos are the property of and may be copyrighted, registered or trademarked by their owners. URLs shortened by tinyurl.com.
This leaflet was designed using the GIMP and LibreOffice on Pinguy OS, a Linux distribution made in Poole, Dorset.
This leaflet printed originally on recycled paper using a continuous ink system. Copies may have been made using other systems and paper types. This leaflet is licensed
Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-SA
and includes some images which
are Public Domain (forming the Constructorium logo) and an image licensed CC-BY (Raspberry Pi Tank). Produced by Vulpine Designs Unlimited, Flat 3, 336A Wimborne Road, Winton, Bournemouth, Dorset BH9 2HH
10-13.01.2013 for the Dorset Constructorium, a community project owned and run by Vulpine Designs Unlimited.