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HSF15½

Hacklab Mikkeli otti osaa HSF15½ -tapahtumaan, joka järjestettiin Helsinki Hacklabin tiloissa. Mikkelin lisäksi tapahtumaan osallistui porukkaa Helsingin, Turun, Tampereen, Porin ja Vaasan Hacklabeilta.

Viikonlopun aikana ohjelmassa oli mm. paintballia, kierros Patterimäen linnoitusalueella, robokisa, saunomista ja grillausta sekä paljon muuta. Häpeäkseen Mikkeli ei kerennyt mukaan robokisaan tällä kertaa mutta seuraavalla kerralla luvataan yrittää kovemmin. Kilpailussa radan kaltevuus, ahtaus sekä maasto-olosuhteet pääsivät yllättämään osan kilpailijoista mutta voiton vei kuitenkin Tampereen O10-nimeä kantanut robotti.

Myöskin Hacklab.fi yhteistyön kehittämistä suunniteltiin ja päätettiin mm.

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Suuret kiitokset Helsinki Hacklabille hyvin järjestetystä tapahtumasta sekä kaikille osallistujille mukavasta viikonlopusta.

Hacklab Mikkeli was invited to “Wärkkee-päevä” in Pielavesi to host a basic workshop about programmable robots and 3D printing. Audience for the workshop was supposed to be all visitors of the event but in particular the students of local schools.

Programmable robots for students? First that felt like a challenge but soon we managed to gather our ideas together. We had a clue that they teach Scratch programming language in schools in Pielavesi. Scratch itself sounds great: it is open source, it works with most major operating systems and it is said to be quite easy way to get introduced into programming.

So Scratch for software, what about hardware? Arduino was our first idea. It is open source just like Scratch and can be acquired easily at low price. Arduino has also pretty nice userbase. Boards we used in our case were Arduino Uno clones. Luckily for us there is a project called S4A which is a modified version of Scratch that works with Arduino.

We wanted to keep “the robot” simple. Nothing too difficult but still enough functionality to be enjoyable for all ages and skill levels. In the future the students can equip it for example with sensors or break it down into pieces and use the Arduinos for something completely different. Three wheels, two motors, one Arduino. Powered by either USB or 4 x AA batteries.

But the technical part was only half of the whole workshop. Next we needed to instruct and teach the young ones how to work with the robots. Most of the people didn’t know about programming, some were familiar with basic logics of programming with Scratch. All four of us from Hacklab Mikkeli had a great day making robots with local people.

We weren’t the only group presenting their do-it-yourself hobby. Around 30 other groups joined the fun with activities ranging from park yoga to cupcake decoration workshop. It felt like the whole community was there enjoying their Saturday.

It was nice to notice how creative and enthusiastic kids can be. Local school had participated in Tämä toimii! challenge where teams formed of 4th-6th graders create totally new toys from pre-assigned set of materials. Case presented at the event was called Disco-Doggy. Two tiny motors making weird noise and moving it around. Impressive!

The event was part of pilot project run by the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra. Sitra’s New Education Forum and its projects aim to explore ways in which Finnish education can be improved. We enjoyed the whole trip having fun together with people and the great hospitality of our hosts. Thank you!

Space Apps Challenge Mikkeli was one wonderful weekend. No question about it. 74 registered participants which of great majority arrived and started working on NASA Challenges. On Sunday afternoon it was time for the award ceremony…

First prize went to SpaceShield team. Four students from Mikkeli University of Applied Sciences successfully solved the Neuromorphic Studies of Asteroid Imagery. Lots of excellent work which also received enthusiastic feedback from NASA. You should take a look at their comprehensive report.

We as Hacklab Mikkeli wanted to award two teams – insteaf of just one as planned – due to extreme dedication on hacking shown by both two teams. Hacking > sleep. Also keeping up the morale in the hackathon was considered a nice bonus. Both teams did meet their goals and break their technical skill limits. Some might say this was a learning experience. The awarded teams were 2 Guys 1 ISS and Challenge? Accepted!.

This was maybe the biggest hackathon ever in Mikkeli. Wonderful people. Wonderful weekend. Wonderful hacking. Wonderful sponsors. Wonderful organizing teams. Hacklab Mikkeli will be definitely arranging more events like this.