Interesting times at HacDC.

11 September 2008

Sorry for another late post, everyone - between work, wedding stuff, and trying to keep from falling ill, I've had a lot on my plate lately.

On Tuesday night, after coming home and having dinner, I ran a couple of last-minute errands for Lyssa and then set course once again for Washington, DC proper for the weekly HacDC administrative meeting. While I'm technically not a member because I haven't started paying dues yet, I've been doing a lot of hands-on electronics work at the site, more specifically my steampunk sonic screwdriver. Most of what I've been doing lately has been repairing or lengthening wires (because they were never intended to see any motion outside of their intended housing) so that I can re-package the circuitry inside of a piece of brass pipe. As I wrote last time, I was having a lot of trouble getting the momentary button to stand up in the tube so that it could be bolted down.

As it turned out, the button was just too big to fit reasonably. I looked at taking it apart, compressing the button so that it could pivot as required, pulling on it with a piece of string and a piece of wire by turns, using a set of files to widen the hole (which actually helped), and using a few pairs of hemostats to wiggle things. What I wound up doing was using the toggle switch I'd bought as a backup, which fits perfectly when you take the mounting hardware off. Once that was worked out I went back to lengthening and repairing the connect wires, specifically those of the (original) power button and LED power leads.. between the crappy wire I was using (heavier gauge than the hookup wire I'd used previously in an attempt to save what's left of my sanity) I kept running into solder joints breaking, and more often the wires themselves crystallizing and snapping like dry twigs.

After the fourth or fifth such occurrance, I packed it in for the night. As if that weren't enough, the batteries had gone dead, so I wasn't able to do any bench tests. I picked up a pack from CVS on my way home. Chronologically, this doesn't make any sense but it's another example of the way the project's going right now.

Not long after I packed up my tools for the night, Nick mentioned that he'd been contacted by the guys over at - they wanted to interview a few of us for their SecuraByte podcast about hacker spaces. Nick agreed, but among everyone present on Tuesday night only Mitch and I were the only two who seemed to be in a position to do so. So, we packed up our kit, headed over to Nick's place, and fired up Skype. Mitch was the only one who had a microphone, however, so we used his laptop for the interview. We had a good spread of experience on the topic: there was Nick, who hung out at the first hacker spaces (training under the masters, as it were); Mitch, who's no stranger to hardware hacking and is founding one in San Francisco; and myself, who is new to hanging out at hacker spaces but not to getting together with people to geek out and teach each other new things.

While editing this post (which was written offline on Wednesday afternoon), I discovered that they put this episode online last night, which you can download for free and listen to at your leisure. I haven't listened to it yet so I don't know how it turned out, but if the interview itself was any indication I think it'll be pretty good.

Skype seems to work well over an 802.11g wireless link, I find. Or at least it did last night.

Okay, enough of that.. I need to get some rest if I'm going to be functional tomorow.