Last weekend we’ve gathered on a mission to make a friend’s dream come true — bringing Mortal Kombat to life but instead of gentle keystrokes, we’ve been throwing hardcore kicks and punches, blazing fire through kick ass combos and messing around with power tools. Boom.
This was the tenth year GeekCon, an unconference for hacking the digital lifestyle, takes place in Israel and gathers the nation’s makers, designers, hackers and engineers under one strict rule of teaming up to build a useless project. Other rules are optional. Oh, and you have to sign a legal waiver to get in. After all, mixing beer and power tools might get you in trouble.
Here’s 5 experiences we had at GeekCon
(at least those we still remember)
1. Punch Bob (and the Parking Ticket)
The star of the project was definitely Bob, a retired punching bag that was donated to our team. Bob needed some cosmetic tweaks, not only to perform but also to stay handsome! So we crafted a brand new Scorpion suit to fit the occasion. The problem was that he was super heavy, filled with sand and impossible to move — unlike Tel Aviv’s parking enforcement officers who didn’t take too long to slap a ticket on Bob’s escape vehicle’s windshield…
“Get Over Here!” — Scorpion
2. A Provocative Mannequin Named Fifi
To make this a truly multiplayer experience we had to find a friend for Bob - and there came Fifi. One nose job later and a change of clothes to something more comfortable (for us to punch) and she was one step away from joining the fight.
Fifi is resting in the sun with her new yoga mat outfit after a nose job which surprisingly didn’t go wrong.
(Can’t believe this sentence actually makes sense)
Following this quick medical procedure, and some more messing around with power tools and planks (thanks to everyone who helped!) — Fifi was ready for one last tweak: A 3D printed mount box for the Arduino controller on the back of her neck.
3. Oversensitive Sensor is Oversensitive
Somewhere in the middle of the first night we set up Bob for a test run, hooked the sensors with the computer and powered the projector. It seemed to work for a bit but a persistent bug was appearing — instead of discharging like they should, the sensors kept producing reads after a punch even when no one was hitting them. We started debugging, called in experts, changed some Python code, but nothing really helped.
We went to sleep at 4am and of course after we woke up a solution was found — we needed to add a resistor to control the charge the sensor was producing. This change led the sensors to behave like they should and the second day started with a small win.
4. Sugar Powered Pressure Sensors
The piezoelectric sensors on Bob and Fifi had a small surface and most of the hits didn’t count so we had to enlarge it somehow. A eureka moment came in the shape of… sugar sachets that helped sense the blow from a larger surface.
5. Linux Flavoured Ice Cream
Another tradition of GeekCon is the UGD (User Generated Dinner) where all participants take part in making dinner. It was time for desert so we took a few flavours of ice cream, peanuts, cranberries, chocolate chips, and whiskey (of course), mix it all together and there you have it: perhaps the world’s first Linux flavoured ice cream. Thanks to Uri Shaked’s mom for the recipe :)
There’s a saying that everything is possible at GeekCon, and what sounds like a worn out cliché turned out to be true. Otherwise, I just can’t explain a Bain voice mask translator, a helmet controller for PacMan, gesture controlled wooden ball in a maze puzzle, selfie camera for dogs, humus 3D printer and tens of other crazy projects coming to life on one single weekend.