EMF Camp day two (like day one, needs further work)

Toilets, for those that were at EMF 2014 these were terribad. This year they are way better but they are still festival toilets in a field. This time I drove off site, thanks Tesco for being near :)

First talk — https://www.emfcamp.org/line-up/2016/101-the-story-behind-50sat

Utterly amazing, chap in Wales launches a satellite that works with a cut up tape measure for an antenna. The story is of course more complex than that and also very interesting. There are cheap launches because of Russian rockets left over from the cold war. THey are using PIXAXE micro controllers and RFM22B radio modules. None of this should work in space at the range or radiation that it does but it does. Even the battery was just a cell bought for cheap from eBay.

As with everything the devil is in the detail, where he was doing his initial radio tests was the same place Marconi was doing some of his initial radio testing in Bristol. This is just amazing. The solar panels he was using were cutoff 28% efficient cut offs from larger expensive panels used for expensive satellites.

There was of course some fail, they did not think too hard about the position of the solar panels and did not expect so much time below 0C which caused problems with the battery charging but the whole point of this was an experment to learn and they have learned a lot.

The fact is it worked and given their use of off the shelf components and small form factor I think with a few tweaks this form factor could be the future of the orbital internet rather than some of the large cost schemes that are currently planned.

His next plans are, LoRa, Semtech 2013. Same cost but much better range. www.loratracker.uk.

Walking around met an old friend Tim Hawes. Always lovely to meet Tim and that is something EMF is great for.

Sadly did not get to the solar panel workshop because there were not enough kits. This was a shame but I think I am going to look into the solar panels mention in the $50 sat talk.

Next talk — https://www.emfcamp.org/line-up/2016/78-how-i-built-my-diesel-powered-motorcycle

This was inline with my interests because I love diesel engines thanks to how much power diesel has and I also love my motorcycle.

He made his because of the better mpg. Sadly there have been production bikes in the past but no more and while I do love this idea myself this is what would stop me. I like diesel engines but I doubt I will buy another one in my life unless we get better at emissions capture.

He gets about 140mpg at 60mph which is just amazing. No car I know of does this. Using a BMW R80 frame and a Kubota Z842 engine which is still in production. One of the biggest issues is no one makes diesel engines at this power to weight ratio as there is almost no demand for them, cars and industrial machines all use bigger engines.

Surprising part was there was little to no government hassle over this because the chassis has not changed. Just needed to update them on the engine size change and fuel type and then get an MOT.

This was not the first, this is the third attempt and seeing it in real life it still looked a little like a project bike. However knowing it was road worthy gives me more hopes about how achievable my project bike ambitions are. This is why showing off your failure is good, it helps give other people confidence to fail which leads to learning and growth.

Got EMFCamp t-shirts for me and Mrs Lazzurs. They are nice but having XXXL would have been good. Looking around I am clearly not the only person needing this size.

Also got my badge, this year they work and are very nice. While it would have been nice to have them on the Thursday or Friday to allow playing it is an amazing freebie and more playing with later will happen. Some of the dead boards from last year were strung around the badge tent. This was neat to see and makes me wonder if there is anything to be done with that old badge.

Next, USB hacking — https://www.emfcamp.org/line-up/2016/37-a-call-to-arms-lets-hack-usb-devices

Best start to a talk I have seen, he explained that he was not an expert and had been doing this for fun. This I think made the subject, which is complex, more accessable.

Started compaired USB to UART, FireWire and Ethernet. USB surprisingly does basically have packets like Ethernet but has less power than FireWire but thankfully does not have DMA and cannot just access your system directly. UART was simple and a lot of simple USB devices is just USB<>UART but UART did not support more than one device on an interface.

Covered some of the basic tools like lsusb and then device IDs and classes. Seemed to think that basically no devices used multiple configurations but I have used these and they do exist.

The packet nature is what is interesting about USB as it allows you to use Wireshark to read the packets. The basic steps are

1. get device working in a virtual machine like VirtualBox and Windows with passthrough.

2. Use Wireshark to dump commands

3. Use libusb to write commands to the dev

The host system needs to be Linux as the module usbmon is required to allow Wireshark to sniff the packets. Sadly I found macOS has nothing similar but when I opened Wireshark I noticed it does support FireWire.

Finished off with showing some of the devices he had reverse engineered. Was very neat.

Next — https://www.emfcamp.org/line-up/2016/65-my-self-built-eco-house

For anyone that has watched shows like Grand Designs this was basically a real life person that had done this and was giving a talk about it with the chance to ask questions afterwards. My partner and I want to build our own place in the long run so this talk was a must see.

What was not surprising is his motivations for this were the same as ours. Wants a decent garden to grow things and a house that can have custom things in without tearing it apart. He has a veg garden and animals.

Started off with a plot that already had a house but that was very broken and then built the garage first to store the tools, building materials and get power on site. Even that simple idea I would not have thought of as I had thought of bringing a caravan on site to live in while working.

He wanted to make sure he was building an eco house, I am not quite sure this is one of my goals. He had tried to use low impact materials and lots of insulation. I personally would rather use the best materials available and while ensuring insulation and the building was air tight I would want to ensure temperature control rather than just heating.

What I did love is he described this as a “forever home” and that is exactly what I want. Somewhere to build and then live, forever.

One of the issues that was nearly a very serious one was finding a geeky builder. I find this with most things in life, I want people I buy services from to be as geeky as I am about what I do. In this case the building company did not correctly build the roof and it was not able to support the water tank installed. This could have been fatal.

A final surprise was the heating system. Turns out for heating solar was a good option using evacuated tubes rather than photovoltaic panels. I would have thought that ground source heating would have been a good choice but as the speaker pointed out this is just using electricity for heating. Need further investigation and thought in my case.

The fail is the water tank issue above and the builders went bust and the soft wood windows have started to bend. The win is the random place they choose is in a village and it just happens to have gotten FTTC recently so will be well served with internet for at least a while.

Need to have a look at the green building forum but it is pay for :(

Then went ring making.

Then got more food.

Then hacked on a new project, hope to get MVP finished before going back to work.

Then watched fire pong.

Then played retro games.

Then drinking, chatting and bed.

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All I do is automate things, every so often I mix that up with some sleep.

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