Dorkbot Sydney took part in a 4 day festival called Electrofringe over the Labour Day long weekend that just passed. Electrofringe is a festival that has been running for many years in the city of Newcastle on the coast of New South Wales, about 2 hours drive from Sydney. The city hosts a variety of talks, panels, workshops and screenings, performances and parties that represent emerging and established artists from Australia and around the world.
Boris Gordon and I arrived in Newcastle on Friday to partake in our first commitment to the Electrofringe Festival in the early afternoon which was a presentation entitled Dorktalk about Dorkbot-Syd where we discussed organising and producing a Dorkbot in Sydney. There was a nice intimate audience that had plenty of questions and ideas. We were able to network with some people that are considering initiating their own Dorkbot factions for different cities in Australia (watch www.dorkbot.org for updates).
If you would like to browse the websites I brought up in the talk I have posted them all on our delicious page, go to: http://del.icio.us/dorkbotsyd/dorktalk-electrofringe2007
In the later afternoon Nick Wishart and Aras Vaichas, John August and Boris and I sat in the Festival Bar and teamed up for the ElectroPopQuiz hosted by Daniel Green. Neither team won first place, which was rather disappointing, as you can imagine. We definitely can’t name ten Merzbow albums and were not given points for creativity when we submitted “The Merzbow Box Set”. However, John August walked away with a Nintendo console vibrator for his correct guesses in a heads/tails round.
The following day we got up early to begin the first day of Dorkshop at the Newcastle TAFE Worksheds. A four-hour intensive project based electronics workshop lead and designed by Engineer/Artist Aras Vaichas. The project for the day was The Nibbler.
The Nibbler is an audio pattern generator and noisemaker.
The turn out was great and almost every Nibbler left the building nibbling, working to it’s fullest, ready to play with. It was a pleasure to introduce people to the world of electronics and see other enthusiasts create this beautiful circuit.
Here is the handout from the workshop that includes the schematics and pictures with an in depth explanation of all the parts and recommendations for suppliers with hints for assembly.
Tim sent us a picture of his Nibbler that he finished housing at home.
With sore heads and bellies aching for coffee we dragged ourselves back to the workshops for another exciting day of soldering; this time a more advanced microcontroller project called The Brainlet also designed by Aras Vaichas.
The Brainlet is a networkable cellular automata based electro-organism.
The challenge of a smaller board with tiny parts and a microcontroller proved a little daunting for some at first but with time and practice everyone was tinning with ease. Before we knew it the singing sound of flax was whistling through the air and microcontrollers were attached. As we plugged Brainlets together we created a community of playful chaos and crazy bleeps and singing rings. The Brainlets were communicating!
This was definitely an advanced electronics project. There were many who had experience with making electronics. There were people who came for this second workshop that had experienced electronics for the first time with us the previous day. We were impressed and excited to see that most everyone got their’s working before they left in the afternoon.
For those who missed out on partaking in this workshop due to lack of space and boards and if you are interested in obtaining the handout we used for the day that includes the schematics, pictures, detailed description of parts and assembly hints please download this PDF:
All in all Dorkbot’s contribution to Electrofringe this year has been a great success. I would like to thank the directors for their support and Boris Gordon for helping out with the presentation on Friday and Nick Wishart for his help and assistance with the workshop both during the festival and throughout the workshop’s development and for his loan of an enormous pile of soldering power. Thankyou to the people who participated in the workshops!
Of course, most importantly, I would like to thank Aras Vaichas for his amazing designs and his brilliant expertise. His guidance and vision produced some brilliant machines! Dorkbot and Electrofringe are truly fortunate to have someone with so much experience, knowledge and enthusiasm We are already dreaming up what we might make together next year! Please feel free to contact us if you have any ideas or questions about the Nibbler and the Brainlet.
For more photos go to our flickr. And if you have some pics of your nibbler and brainlets please send them to us and we will add them!