Hackaday UK Unconference #HackadayUncon

A quick round up of the fascinating talks at the Hackaday London Unconference.

This was a slight twist on the usual unconference format. There was only one room - so it was a single track event. There were three invited speakers who had presentations of 15 minutes - everyone else pitched for 7 minute slots. The organisers chose the running order. A twist on the usual unconference, but it worked well. The organisers had curated a good set of talks, and were able to give the day a bit of structure.

A photosphere showing the inside of a performance theatre. People are chatting with each other

Every talk I heard was great - some went a little over my head with the talk of MOSFETs (from Star Wars, I think) and NAND gates (popular chicken restaurant?) - but they were all delivered with enthusiasm.

Here are the talks which made an impression on me.

Dangerous Children

"Why is my son whittling with a knife? Because he had already felled a tree with an axe!"

This was Tanya Fish's plea to let kids get involved with some of the more dangerous/exciting aspects of making. Fire, electricity, sharp things. Please ensure your makerspace has child sized safety equipment!

Recreating Apollo

It turns out that the source code to the Apollo moon missions is available for free!

Meadow wants to build a computer capable of running it. What a cracking idea!


Catherine Jones gave us a quick run down of what Bluetooth Beacons are used for and, more importantly, where they are misused. You don't need beacons to tell people where the dinosaurs are in a museum; people will naturally gravitate towards them.


This was such a cool demo. Libby has built a little telepresence robot which allows her to interact with office-based staff.

Build out of a lamp and some scavenged computer parts, this is a cute little droid with a practical purpose.

Flashing Lights

There is a prize for making lights blink on and off in an interesting way. Who knew!?

An amusing talk about the perils of wiring stuff up to the mains, and getting people to think creatively about electronics.

Open Benches

Me! Presenting about OpenBenches.org - here's the 360 video:

How To Be A Full Time YouTuber

A candid and enlightening talk from James Bruton of Xrobots

Brits are notoriously terrible when it comes to discussing money. James walked us through how many subscribers he has, ad revenues, partnership deals, and how much hard work goes into turning YouTube into a full time job.

Please Like and Subscribe to my own channel!

Liquid Interfaces

The inimitable Phoenix Perry gave an illuminating talk into usability and ergonomics.

She's building a mix between a game and an art installation.

Upgrading a bike with LEDs

Alex from @RasPiTv has built indicators for his pedal bike using LEDs, Raspberry Pis, and clobbered together something beautiful and practical.

Hacking RSA Tokens

If you're as clever / evil as Joe Fitz you'll find that a typical RSA SecureID token can be disassembled and subverted.

There's space inside for Bluetooth and all sorts of other trickery.

Designing the Pi Zero

I could have listened to Roger Thornton speak for hours! A great talk about the practicalities of the designing the hardware for the Pi Zero.

There's a constant tension between cost, size, speed, and upgradeability. They didn't get it right first time so were forced to iterate & rethink.


An unconference isn't complete without a non-technical talk! Jenny gave us the lowdown on Cider Making

Now I want cider!

I Speak Your Weight

Alistair once again showing that the most effective hack is a funny hack. Take a pair of Wii Fit scales, mix in some bluetooth and a quick whip of code - and you've got a sarcastic speak-your-weight machine.

In space, no one can hear your electronics scream

Nick Molo works on satellites. IN SPACE!

Turns out, there are a lot of commodity Arduino orbiting the planet.


Massive thanks to all the organisers for a fantastic job - and to everyone who shared their stories. I'm looking forward to next year!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *