All posts by Jeff

Electrical engineer, tinkerer, maker.

The Last HOPE

This past weekend, I attended The Last HOPE at the Hotel Pennsylvania in NYC.  The con was awesome and I had a great time.  This was my first HOPE, and I noticed a few strong themes this year, including:

  • Hardware hacking is getting a lot of attention and there is a lot of interest in microcontrollers including new design and reverse engineering off the shelf hardware like RFID.
  • Local community based physical spaces for hacking are booming.  Hackerspaces like NYC Resistor and the Hacktory are becoming a very big part of the scene, and new hackerspaces are popping up all over the world.  Each space has their own unique interests, but common themes seem to be microcontroller hacking (especially Arduino), fabrication (like Reprap and Fab@Home) and other more physical projects instead of just writing code.  There was even a new wiki announced at the show that is devoted to tracking hackerspaces and helping start new ones at hackerspaces.org.
  • There was an awesome talk about Biohacking by Chris Seidel (I wish I could find a link) that makes me wonder if we will see more of this in the future as Bioengineering becomes more accessible to the masses.  The parallels Chris identified between biological processes and electrical circuits were spooky.

It was announced during the closing ceremonies that the Hotel Pennsylvania will not be demolished as was previously announced, and that there will indeed be another HOPE in 2010.

NYC Resistor has some info about the 3D Wiremap demo, one of my favorite exhibits, shown below.

3D Volume Renderer

Club-Mate, the hacker’s beverage of choice.

I’m at The Last HOPE in NYC this weekend, checking out lots of cool talks about hacking both hardware and software.  I took a few pictures today and put them up on flickr.

Club-Mate is a very popular beverage this year, a shipment arrived from Germany yesterday and bottles are on sale at the 2600 store on the Mezzanine.  Based on my experience, I have to agree with their motto, which is “You get used to it!”  The flavor is something like prune juice (!) crossed with tea and honey.  But honestly, are people drinking it for the flavor?

I’ll be at the con all weekend and should have an update soon.

Is Electronics Surplus Still Alive in Silicon Valley?

Bins of ICs at Excess Solutions

Last Monday I went on a surplus run in the South Bay.

This was a common pastime for myself and a few especially geeky friends around 1994-2002. After that, eBay and mail order electronics pretty much took over, forcing the most interesting surplus electronics stores in Silicon Valley (ie. RA Enterprises) to close their doors.  With the news that HSC Electronics is moving to an undisclosed location and Triangle Machine is going out of business, I was starting to worry that the days of finding cheap, local electronics surplus were over.

However, thanks to this guide I discovered a few new surplus goldmines:

So maybe electronics surplus is still alive in Silicon Valley.  Both stores are a bit of a drive from the city, but both are still open to foot traffic and appear to have almost every component you could possibly need for an electronics project.  What I did find lacking at both locations was cheap surplus equipment.  One of the most rewarding things for me in the past has been taking apart mysterious equipment to collect interesting bits and pieces for my junk box.  Triangle Machine still has some, but may only be around through the end of August.  Regardless, I will definitely be making the trip back to the South Bay for some electronics scrounging soon, whether HSC sticks around or not.