Photo credit: Natalie Downe on Flickr
This summer hosted the inaugural EMF Camp in Milton Keynes, a weekend for geeks to convene in a field and, well, be geeky of course! More specifically,
Electromagnetic Field is a three-day UK camping festival for people with an inquisitive mind or an interest in making things: hackers, geeks, scientists, engineers, artists, and crafters.
Photo credit: Portcullis on Flickr
The camp was set up in a field between a BMX track and the M1 and roughly divided up into a few different “villages” each centred around a marquee – I managed to become a Portcullis villager for the weekend. Power and internet were provided to each tent via a network of portaloos housing all the necessary data and power distribution gubbins, and there were even hot showers. In fact, over the course of the weekend we were encouraged to use more bandwidth!
Photo credit: Nick Hubbard on Flickr
There was so much to see and do there. Several hackspaces were in attendance, including NottingHack who had an impressive set up with their laser cutter, soldering workstations, knitting table and fire pit. Their mascot rubber ducks were extremely popular, even being kidnapped and ransomed by the lock pickers next door. They were even so kind as to lend me a needle and thread to fix my bag when the strap broke.
The bar was set up under the M1 motorway bridge, with a selection of locally brewed beers. You’d have thought it would be incredibly noisy, but it turned out to be the perfect place for watching Dr Who on a projection screen. Lights and projection were a big theme in the camp – there were several psychedelic projection tents, coloured LED floats in the stream by the bar, and ginormous lit pacman characters.
Talks ran on two stages pretty much continuously throughout the weekend, plus there was a tent dedicated to workshops, and a special blacksmithing tent for learning some basic skills (sadly I was too slow to sign up for a lesson). Videos of some of the talks are up on the EMF Wiki Videos page. I managed to see some really interesting talks, like the one on using lasers to 3D scan body parts inside the body cavity, or the practicalities and issues facing communal sensor networks. I saw some that went straight over my head, and I also missed a few I really wanted to see.
I had an amazing time, met lots of great people and can’t wait to do it all over again! There is a one-day event planned next year, with the next camp scheduled for 2014.
It even made it onto BBC News!