This weekend I took a trip down to the Big Smoke to attend the Hackaday UK Bring-A-Hack, and the Hackaday UK Unconference – two electronics events organised by the awesome hacker-news website hackaday.

I’m a huge fan and daily reader of Hackaday (they have some awesome content covering all aspects of Science, Tech and Engineering), so when I saw a tweet advertising that there was going to be a UK event I couldn’t resist.



Because I share a portion of my DNA with that of a magpie I couldn’t bear to attend without something blinky and shiny. So I hastily designed-and-laser-cut a badge bearing my twitter handle, and profile picture, with a slot for an Arduino Micro clone and some wires. A strip of SK6812 addressable LEDs was soldered up, wires plaited and soldered to the board, and sample code uploaded and I had a badge! Whilst mine was certainly not the most technically impressive badge there (Jenny List’s radio badge took the prize there), nor the brightest object in the room (see below), I think it looked pretty nice.

LEDs are *really* hard to photograph…


Someone came prepared with a 2m-long 5-sided stick of LEDs. That’s a whole nother level of power consumption!


I also (finally!) met Rachel – who also came suitably lit up with LEDs in various guises!

I spoke to loads of awesome people about loads of awesome things (my ideas list is ever growing), and had a really fantastic evening. But that was only part one – the Unconference proper was a different level of awesome.

For those who aren’t familiar with what an Unconference entails, all attendees arrive ready (take that as what you will) to deliver a 7-minute talk on a topic of their choice (usually it’s whatever their current project entails). The hosts select people to speak, and you see what happens! I had planned to speak on ‘doing engineering with no engineering qualifications’ – I wasn’t selected though (which was a relief since my slides weren’t exactly done), but I spent a great afternoon listening to some great people speak about some seriously cool stuff.

You fill out this fetching post-it on arrival, to enable the MCs to choose who speaks.

The talks covered everything and anything – they included: FPGAs, Cider, V2X (autonomous vehicle communication protocol), wearable tech aggregators, privacy, 50-by-50cm PCBs, YouTubing, and loads more. My particular favourites were the multiple talks on FPGAs (I now need an FPGA), Mike (mikeselectricstuff)’s talk on his adventures with 0402 LEDs (I now need some 0402 LEDs), and Rachel‘s talk on lab-grown eyeballs (I don’t need any of those (yet)). I learnt a crazy amount of stuff, and really enjoyed every talk that was given.

Mike has some crazy PCB design skills….

In the breaks (and at the afterparty) I chatted to some great people and learnt even more stuff, met some of the awesome Hackaday writing-and-editing team, and got my hands on a lot of stickers, some legendary Benchoff Bucks and a few DesignSpark-branded flash drives.

It was one of my favourite events I’ve been to – and I’m extremely thankful to the awesome Hackaday team for organising such an incredible two days, and to everyone who I met who was super-nice and super-interesting. Roll on the Unconference 2018….

Categories: engineeringevents

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