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Finnish hackerspaces meet in Jyväskylä

Finnish hackerspaces meet in Jyväskylä

Ten participating hackerspaces must be a record for the biannual gathering of Finnish hacklabs! Hacklab Summit Finland 2018 was arranged in Jyväskylä, and despite the local hacklab was in charge of the event for the first time, they managed to make this happening one of the best in the history of HSF.

Our hangout place

The major theme for this year was planning the way how to formalise as an official organisation of hackerspaces in Finland. We now have initial idea how the organisation should work, based on opinions and votes of those, who took part in this meeting. Unanimous conclusion was, that the founding assembly is going to be the next HSF in Helsinki this summer. has a history of more or less informal co-operation between cities since 2012. The new organisation will be strictly for member-operated hackerspaces, supporting new groups to get started, offering web services, representing our local scene in events both in Finland and further away, and making all kinds of PR work to help people find their local hacklabs.

Jyväskylä Hacklab took the responsibility to arrange HSF in connection with Instanssi demoscene event. This enabled us to have more space, content and possibilities than before. As usual, the program was fixed weeks before the start, and a hourly timetable kept us on track with finishing robots ready for the competition, remembering to eat, presenting recent happenings in different hacklabs, doing something more than just sitting behind the laptop, going to a indoor trampoline park and of course, the sauna.

Staying active

Helsinki participated in the robot race track competition with two robots. The robot track is a 1 × 2 m box which has copies of itself in some of the member spaces. Joonamo found his robot from last summer still working, and I assembled hastily some LEGO robot that had code running just few minutes before the competition started. The program was written in Python from scratch, the robot did zero practicing on the track, and I only knew it could probably move forward when turned on. For my complete surprise, it actually managed to make one clean complete round on the track, and didn’t even finish last on the results list. Joonamo’s robot came 3rd in speed results and 4th in popular vote, and the host city Jyväskylä took the first place. Robot competition was also included in the Instanssi program, so we had a great audience supporting the bots on the racetrack.

Posing before the race

The weekend ended in visiting Hacklab Jyväskylä, which is about to move to a larger location soon. Tampere Hacklab is  expanding its place with a new metal room and textile work section. There are also plans in other cities to look for larger workspaces and Nokia just started their own lab. This HSF had a very positive athmosphere where collaboration is taken for granted.

Definitely looking good for hacklab scene in Finland right now. A big thanks to Jyväskylä for hosting us!

Photos from weekend:
Helsinki Hacklab flickr
Tampere Hacklab flickr

Robot competition:
Twitch video

Blog posts in Finnish:
Jyväskylä Hacklab
Tampere Hacklab


Next time:
HSF18½ in Helsinki, 8.—10.6.2018

Exceptions in Open Tuesdays

Exceptions in Open Tuesdays

Random stuff moved from other room
The hackerspace is waiting for new paint on its floors in some areas. We have already emptied two rooms in advance and moved all stuff to other locations. The electronics room and vinyl cutter etc. are not currently in use. We do not yet have the exact date when the painting will begin, but hope it will start soon.

Because of the painting and other renovation, there are currently no general Open Tuesdays until we inform otherwise. If you have the time, you can come help us with renovation, reorganizing and cleanup and other tasks on Tuesdays or other occasions. Please ask on Slack or IRC if you want to know more.

Sorry about the inconvenience. We hope that the lab will be even better than before once this all is over!

Disobey 12.-13.1.2018

Helsinki Hacklab, along with our friends from, are coming to Disobey infosec event this weekend. Come say hi and meet us at our table.

This was 2017

This was 2017

Year 2017 at Helsinki Hacklab had some remarkable moments. Most importantly, we made a major expansion in the workspace, adding more room space from 215 m² to somewhere around 370 m² effectively, when excluding rented out areas. We also got a grant from Arts Promotion Finland (Taike) for our yearly children’s event and other expenses. The unfortunate piping leak, which happened closer to the end of the year, meant that some areas had to be rebuilt completely. While this is still ongoing issue and the floors waiting for a new coat of paint, we can hopefully now say that the end result might become something way better than the original ever was. Next year we have a usable separate workroom for chemistry.

The expansion and our new woodworking area

The expansion plans – including figuring out how to finance everything – had to start quickly because our behind-the-wall neighbor was leaving the building, and letting anyone else seize this opportunity would stall our hopes of any expansion for years to come if staying in this address. A quick draft showed that with some active keyholder member recruiting and finding subtenants would make this a feasible plan. The old woodworking room was in pressure to grow larger, as it could not fit more users to meet the demand. It had no room for table saw or any other new tools. The quickly negotiated expansion plan reserved most of the new free space for woodworking alone, one third for a subtenant woodworker with his separate workshop, and the remaining part mostly for storage. The new areas include a back door, a lifting garage door and a second WC. At the end of this year, we seem to be doing okay and call it a success.

Robots racing on a track

Robots in Strömberg Park, a family event organized by the co-op network in Helsinki, was organized for the second time and is very very likely to happen in 2018 too. (How soon we can call it a tradition?). We had competitors from at least five other hackerspaces and a large new tent bought with Taike’s grant. The competition was preceded by weekly robot meetings, to prep the bots to be ready enough for the big day.

SHA2017 Finnish Village tent with sauna

The sauna we brought to SHA2017 hacker camp turned out to be a wildly popular, at least in number of photograph attention it got. Let’s say this was our contribution to Finland’s 100th year of independence festives. Greetings to all who were brave enough to try out the sauna and to all our Nordic fellow camping neighbors! We fear we have no other option but to try to bring a sauna for the next hacker camp too.

In organizational stuff: we started to have so much diverse discussion and many users on our IRC channel, that we tried using Slack and so far got stuck to it. The old IRC channel is available too, but many topics have now their own places in our Slack group. In the workspace, the layout of things got shuffled again. We switched all our tables for folding ones in the classroom – thanks to Stockholm Makerspace for the idea!

The FPGA course continues our many year long continuous tradition of digital technology Thursdays, which started sometime while still in our previous address. We again collaborated with visual artists and also helped a samba group building their costumes in our workspace.

Assembly Summer 2017

Some memorable member projects:
– steam powered maze robot, with Lego mechanics
– synced clock displays for broadcasts and event audiovisuals
– experiments with woodturning using our new lathe
– towable grill for bicycle
– large LED display matrix

2017 in numbers
– 2500 new uploaded Flickr photos
– 100% increase in rented floor area
– 128 member applications received
– 6 events visited and one organized by ourselves

New rental contract and extending our hackerspace

New rental contract and extending our hackerspace

The new contract waiting to be mailed

Helsinki Hacklab ry. has today signed a new rental contract that increases our floor area from 215 m² to around 430 m². The contract is both for our current workspace and its neighboring storage rooms, which are now combined. Some of this area is subrented for other users, which means a total of something about 360 m² area in shared use for all our members. The extension enables us to rebuild our wood workshop completely, with more room for working and handling larger workpieces.

The area that extends our hackerspace has both a lifting door and another door for exit. The right to use the loading area in the back yard, which is the ramp that leads to our main door, is now included in the contract. Starting from July, the whole basement level of the building and most of the back yard is now shared only between our organization and our subtenants. In case of large workpieces, twin doors were installed between the rooms that lead to the wood workshop in the other end of the building. Oh, and we now also have a second bathroom too.

This area will be subrented for a woodworker. The room with lifting door can be seen in the background. Viewed from our our new wood workshop direction.

When we moved in our current address the wood workshop was designed too small, with possible future extensions in mind. We couldn’t fit a proper size wood workshop back then, so we built a tiny one instead. The new extension enables us finally to have more people working at the same time, build dust collection, and to have some floorspace reserved for possible future equipment purchases.

The lifting door makes it easier to work with large items. The room immediately behind it is probably used for storage purposes for now. Other near future plans are building compressed air piping lines in most of the hackerspace and installing the compressor in its own room in our new area.

We were generously given this June free for moving in and renovating the extension before starting to pay complete rent. So far we have progressed with necessary changes quite a lot, but we still need more volunteers to help us build and renovate the area. We also have plans for more work in the old section of the hackerspace too. Improvements could also be made outside when we have time for it.

Building the wood workshop in progress
We now have a second workbench
New shelves for tool storage in wood workshop
The dimensions of the extension before building new walls
Robots in Strömberg Park 2017

Robots in Strömberg Park 2017

Small robots try to find their way in a maze and bump against walls. This is our annual robot race in nearby Strömberg Park, which was organized by last Saturday! (Or actually biannual, if you count in the indoors winter races organized in Hackerspace Tampere Hacklab)

The idea is to build robots in Hackerspaces all over Finland, and many spaces have their own copy of the “ standard robot maze” at their location. The track is 1×2 meter wooden box with corners that turn left and right. Although it’s a speed race, usually the best show starts when a robot has no idea of its next move.

This is the second time we have made our previously closed doors competition into a public event here in Helsinki, especially for families and children. New this year was a large and sturdy pop-up tent in case of bad weather, better marketing, posters, website, stickers, sound system and more better general idea how we should handle building the event site. This year all our robots were autonomous, and in total eight took part in the race. Robots from previous years were on display in the table and some of them (working ones) took laps on the track as well.

Most bizarre robot this year was thjt‘s Höyry robot, which consisted of a Wilesco steam engine, rotten plywood, bunch of old Legos and IR sensor electronics. It managed to go about ⅔ of a lap before literally running out of steam or dropping a pulley belt. Because it had difficulties to turn right, we gave it a special permission to run the track counterclockwise.

The race was dominated by robots from Kuopio, which took both first and third place. Second place went to Tampere with a robot that was controlled by external computer that monitored the course with hanging camera setup over the track.

Co-operation network is an attempt to have more interaction between Hackerspaces in Finland, in similar fashion as UK Hackspace Foundation etc. Robot competitions such as this one have been in our schedule once or twice a year since 2012 as a part of Hacklab Summit Finland, which gathers Finnish Hackerspaces together making the scene work more with each others. Making the robot competition a public event became more obvious as the competition became more established tradition and the number of robots started resemble a real competition. This year’s race was supported by Arts Promotion Centre Finland. Participants in Hacklab Summit Finland event came from cities Helsinki, Tampere, Kuopio, Vaasa, Turku and for the first time, the small town of Virrat, which might see its own hackerspace in near future.

Photos by Helsinki Hacklab
Photos by Tampere Hacklab
Photos by Kuopio Hacklab

Results page in Finnish:

Taiken avustus työtilan kehittämiseen ja tapahtumiin

Taiken avustus työtilan kehittämiseen ja tapahtumiin

Helsinki Hacklab has received support from Arts Promotion Centre Finland (Taike) in March 2017. The 5 000 euro amount will be used in developing our workspace, helping the coordination network and in participating SHA2017 event in Netherlands. Workspace improvement topics include storage organizing, indoor and outdoor lights, accessibility and chemistry workstation.

Taike logoTaiteen edistämiskeskus Taike myönsi Helsinki Hacklabille avustuksen työtilan kehittämiseen, sekä kotimaan ja ulkomaan tapahtumiin. Avustuksella voidaan organisoida työtilamme entistä paremmaksi, valoisammaksi, sekä huomioda esteettömyttä ja viihtyvyyttä. Avustuksella voidaan kehittää myös varastotilaa, kemian työpistettä ja koulutushuoneen käyttöä.

Osa avustuksesta on osoitettuöhön, tapahtumaosallistumisiin ja omaan HSF2017½-tapahtumamme Helsingissä (Robotit Strömbergin puistossa). Haimme tukea myös SHA2017-tapahtumaan osallistumiseen.

Helsinki Hacklab kiittää avustuksesta, sekä erityisesti hakemuksemme lausuntojen kirjoittajia suuresta avusta!

HSF 2017

HSF 2017

Last weekend got together for the biannual Hacklab Summit Finland weekend at Tampere Hacklab. We usually try to make some plans together for the following year, so this time we made an easy decision to sign up for a shared Youtube account (will be announced later), had some talk about SHA2017 and shared thoughts how things are going on in different cities since we last met face to face.

20170128_hsf2017a20170128_hsf2017b.jpg20170128_hsf2017c has a tradition of robot competitions, and there are replicas of the standard maze course in Helsinki, Tampere and other cities too. This winter’s competition had eight autonomous robots that had never participated before in any previous races. As usual, strategies on the track varied: ultrasound sensors, color recognition, wheels, walking with legs, laser-cut plywood, Arduinos, Legos, 3D-printed parts and recycled materials – and also a logic-less build up with motors, wheels and batteries stick together with hot glue. Piispa by Vurpo @ Turku Hacklab won the race this time with fastest lap.

This years program included a visit to the recently started Finnish Museum of Games and to meet an association that does anything related to VR tech. A nearby band surprised us with an unplugged gig next to our trailer sauna at about 3 or 4 am. Turku Hacklab has restarted the LED party hat project, which has been in hiatus for too long, so we soldered few example boards to test out the new PCB layout. We flew FPV drones and also fixed some hackerspace management software problem.

Helsinki Hacklab got a excuse to dump donate excess components and materials to other labs, including our extra vending machine. We shortly met with some folks from Lahti, who are thinking about forming a new Hacklab in the city. hopes it can support Lahti with this project!

20170128_robokuvahsf2017Thanks to Tampere Hacklab for hosting us again, and see you all in Helsinki this summer for another HSF.

More photos in this Flickr album. 2017 2017

Shortly in English: co-operation network gathers at Tampere this weekend for robot competition, making plans for future and having a good time. Another similar event is organized in Helsinki Hacklab later this year.
We are looking for interested people to join us for SHA2017 camp in August. The event takes place in Netherlands and organizers expect about five thousand people across world to come there. Our IRC channel is @ IRCNet.

Hacklab Summit Finland 2017

HSF järjesteään Tampereella nyt viikonloppuna logo

Mistä on kyse? on Suomen hacklabien yhteinen verkosto, joka kokoontuu kaksi kertaa vuodessa säätämään kaikenlaista yhdessä, kisaamaan roboteilla ja tekemään suunnittelemia tulevasta.

Paikalle voi tulla myös vain pitämään hauskaa yhdessä, vaikka lennättämään quadkoptereita tai saunomaan. Tänä vuonna tehdään vierailu Suomen Pelimuseoon.

Kuvia vuodelta 2016

Kevään ja kesän tapahtumia

Helsinki Hacklab ja osallistuu tänäkin vuonna suunnitelmien mukaan seuraaviin tapahtumiin:

  • Model Expo 2017, 21.-23.4. – Tule tapaamaan Hacklabeja osastollamme. Expoon lähtee myös Suomen Avaruustutkimusseura.
  • Järjestämme Helsingissä kesällä vuoden toisen HSF:n. Ajankohta täsmentyy myöhemmin.
  • Assembly Summer


SHA2017 logoKeräämme porukkaa lähtemään elokuussa Alankomaihin SHA2017-leirille. Kyseessä on Keski-Euroopan tämän vuoden suurin maker/hack/yms. -kulttuurin tapahtuma, johon odotetaan osallistujia joka puolelta maailmaa. Esityksien, pääohjelman ja workshoppien lisäksi leiritunnelmaan kuuluu oleellisena osana osallistujien itse tuottama ohjelma ja tekeminen leirialueella – ja yliampuvat LED-valaistukset.

Suomesta lähtevä joukko kerääntyy suunnittelemaan osallistumista IRCNetin kanavalla, jossa mm. pohditaan omalle leiritontille yhteistä isoa telttaa ja saunaa. Tähän mennessä listalle on saatu n. 20 henkilön lista kiinnostuneista lähtijöistä. Leirille odotetaan yhteensä 5 000 – 6 000 osallistujaa. Vastaavanlainen vuoden 2015 leiri Saksassa näytti tältä.

Uploading photos to Flickr from Eye-Fi card with Raspberry Pi

Uploading photos to Flickr from Eye-Fi card with Raspberry Pi

Helsinki Hacklab’s policy for photographing sometimes puzzles our guests which might come from other hackerspaces with limitedly allowed or strict rules for taking photos, for privacy reasons or some others. Back in 2014 we still had very scattered collection of photos by individual members, maybe hosted on their own homepage or somewhere else, until lost forever. To preserve our history better and and have more up-to-date content online, we decided to make both taking photos and publishing them as hassle-free as possible. So we bought then an Eye-Fi card along with our camera and configured it so that all photos are automatically published in Flickr anytime the shutter recloses. So far, no complaints.

kuva kamerastaBut now, Eye-Fi has announced shutting down its service, which we have used for uploading over 4000 photos during the last 18 months. The X2 product line (and some other models) that are affected by this shutdown have still been sold in 2015. First card we had, a 4GB SanDisk branded version, failed this summer, but luckily one member had an unused X2 Connect somewhere, so we were soon back posting more photos of our weekly activities and blurry accidental snapshots of our feet. But, to continue using this Wi-Fi SD card after the service shutdown, we needed a replacement solution for both getting the photos from the card and sending them into our Flickr photo albums – and maybe making some improvements too.

RaspberryPi 3 in our tele rackWe had just received a bunch of Raspberry Pi 3 boards and tried to figure out what we could do with them, and because model 3 had Wi-Fi capability, connecting to Eye-Fi card could be done using eyefiserver2 project. For Flickr upload, I chose using Flickraw library for Ruby, which seemed to be a well-maintained project, so that possible future changes in Flickr API should not be a problem.

First, eyefiserver2 process is started on startup, this gets the photos from the card into RasPi, then every 5 minutes a Ruby program is run, which uploads new photos and marks them published.

The project (or step by step tutorial) can be found in Github:

We previously had all our photos ordered in albums by their date. One thing I wanted to improve was to put photos taken between 0 am and 3 am in same album with photos taken on the previous day, which makes less time line discontinuation when viewing photos by start date of an event. The Ruby program also by default renames photo titles by their timestamps. See our Flickr page for results.

In our setup, the RasPi is connected to Internet using Ethernet, and only the Eye-Fi card’s internal network name and password are stored in known wireless networks. If the camera is used outside our Hackerspace, and there is an Ethernet port for the RasPi available (maybe shared from a computer), we should be able to keep publishing photos from ongoing events, happenings, fairs etc. as we usually do. This is different from Eye-Fi center we previously used, in which we configured the card to know new local Wi-Fi and its password. This task required someone (which is me) to have Eye-Fi Center program first installed, and was usually a dull and slow thing to do during ongoing event or buildup. Now we just have to remember to take the readily configured RasPi with us anywhere we go with the camera.

If you don’t have an Eye-Fi card and would like to build a similar auto-publish system, I can’t say if it’s a good idea to buy an aftermarket Eye-Fi card anymore. Configuring this setup requires user to obtain card specific information that might need Eye-Fi services to be available (you cannot login to or create a new Eye-Fi center account after Sep 16th). If you have the card, but don’t really know what to do with it after Sep 16th, go enable its internal wifi (direct mode network) and store the password and MAC address for possible later use while you still can. If I’ve understood correctly, also the current Eye-Fi product line does not offer Flickr publishing. Try googling “hacking transcend wifi sd” for more ideas. Check out FlashAir API guide

(2016-09-01) Yesterday Eye-Fi announced a new tool for older cards, which might help to get card Wifi and MAC information after Sep 16th, which are needed this for python server solution.