this weekend i made my second trip to the Rechenzentrum — a sand-filled club on the Spree on the outskirts of Berlin. the photos here are from the first trip about three weeks ago when it was considerably less crowded. the club consists of a beach portion with a UFO style prefab structure (unfortunately not open to the public). dj’s spin on the beach portion and inside the rotary-phone-bedecked interior section.
this past saturday was a tad disappointing because the dj’s on the interior weren’t really feeding the crowds desire to dance. outside there was some sort of audio malfunction which resulted in one functioning mono set of speakers on the left. needless to say, my quest for perfect audio and danceability didn’t go so well. the atmosphere and crowd thankfully made up for any and all deficits of this venue. i ran into more than a few friends who had been there since the afternoon soaking up the rays on der Strand. if you want a hip, though remote, place to hang this summer, the Rechenzentrum is where it’s at.
thank you to everyone who came to hardhack, it was a lot of fun. the solder fumes were pervasive! for once i wasn’t the only one who was completely and utterly obsessed with circuits *smile*. so thank you one and all, i really had a blast watching people help each other and get inspired to try something new in the way of hardware. if you document all or part of a project online which you showed me at hardhack, don’t forget to email about it. my photos of the event are here. thanks again for participating if you were there.
there is a preliminary schedule up for hardhack, things may change a little bit, and a few more workshops may be added, but at least it’s a start. *smile* sign up for hardhack if you are into soldering or hardware or just want to sniff some solder fumes in berlin. [pictured above: marc's antenna mod for what i think is an rfid device which he showed me at cansecwest last week.]
so first of all it’s not really spelunking because most of it was above ground, but it sounds better than “exploring abandoned buildings”. i think that february activities can best be summed up as adventuresome. first i had the chance to tour a mostly-empty-for-a-long-time building on unter den linden which used to house various embassies and ddr offices. i snagged the green version of the adding machine shown above, which does plug into the wall but uses a system of rotors to do calculations. when you multiply the rotors go “clunk clunk clunk chunka clunk” for a long time because it is just iterating over addition. the building also featured a huge phone switch complete with hand soldered circuits and ddr era manuals with circuit board layouts so you can clone the whole switch. in other parts of the building there were abandoned piles of keys, holes in the floor, parallel ports in the walls, interflug rotary phones and bullet proof doors. you can see where some electronics were hastily ripped out of the wall, ah to think what sorts of spying was going on in that building.
next up on the docket of urban exploration comes der Flaschenturm, the bottle tower. it is a testament to the power of the graffiti and street artists who reside and travel through this fine city. (photos here). the entire inside is completely blanketed in spray art. the guys i went with were there to do some urban rappelling, who was i to say no? i brought along my climbing harness but as the light was fading fast the photos of the rope stuff were not as well documented as the street art.
i would venture to say that you haven’t really seen berlin unless you’ve been inside at least a few abandoned buildings — that doesn’t even include the squats, converted factories, and spontaneous parties. berlin is rife with left-over structures begging to be reanimated.
last weekend on saturday we had an open day at the k:ita and i displayed some wool and circuitry. thanks to all who passed by, even in the freezing un-heated conditions and despite the window-rattling audio from the installations on either side of my studio. thanks also for those who brought me heat, those who brought me drinks, and those who came to chat and pet some wool and circuitry.
so keeping with my semi-reverse chronology, before a’dam, before the rock concert in paris, there was camp. but after camp there was post-camp. at our place we hosted dan and dave and eliot and bre (eliot and bre shown above waiting for the u-bahn).
we did some power touristing and managed to fulfill greg’s dream and shoot a video podcast in the same afternoon. well, bre shot the podcast and then edited it brilliantly as he is wont to do. i just talked. dave was dubious about the powers of the kitteh:
but in the end all anyone wanted was a good german beer and a hot shower after a week of camping with hackers. some of us were too enthusiastic with our shouts of Prost! and there was a bit of a glass mishap (pictured below). come back soon guys, i had a blast.
so just a quick update post while i am traveling to say that you may not have noticed that i have migrated to a new photo sharing platform. it’s not perfect, but at least private photos don’t have un-private .jpg files associated with them and permissions can be negotiated for more than two groups and sets of photos can be shared with passwords for people that aren’t a member of the site. so the updates you would like to know, instead of using tag, the new term is keyword and the feed of new photos is now found here.
[pictured above: a gorgeous unbuffed s-bahn was live in traffic a little over a week ago in berlin, this is a very rare sighting. parts of the work can be attributed to "fuck your crew", the others not sure. luckily i was stepping on this beauty and fixed most of the light levels before stepping off the train and grabbing some shots.]
so because of so many wonderful people who have written me in the past two days with names and model numbers of devices they are going to bring (oh yes it is going to be a crazy mix of interesting dsl modems, routers, ethernet switches, and even some rare gadgets), we are going to have a solder fest on sunday. see you at ph!
in celebration of all the people that wrote me here is a little contest: if you are the first person who writes me (my email is fabienne at this website) and correctly identifies the circuit that is on the breadboard in the photo above (no not the type of microcontroller, that’s too easy), you win a wifi backpack strap kit.
if you are planning to come to ph-neutral and you want to make a serial and/or jtag cable to interface with your dsl modem or other device in my workshop, please let me know as soon as possible so i know how many participants there might be. i am purchasing parts on my own and it would be nice to know if, say, fifty people versus fifteen will be interested. i will probably start a few hours earlier than 14:00 on sunday, so show up earlier to get a head start. no there will be no charge (to stay within the everything-is-free-at-ph spirit), but you do need to bring the device for which you want serial or jtag cables and documentation and probably a laptop and a usb-to-serial converter. the full workshop description including what to bring is here. if you have any questions whatsoever, send me an email: fbz at this website.