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  • Feedback Please

    Need some feedback on the HHV from those that hung out and attended.

    Besides more public soldering irons what else did you like or not like?

    Was there enough talks? The hours of the village? Contests or projects?

    Need some feedback so we can move forward and make DC21 (HHV #6) even better.

    I personally enjoyed helping all those that stopped by my table either complete the free kit from Evil Mad Scientists Labs or those that wanted to learn how to solder the connector on their badges. Thanks for making my CON great!!

  • #2
    Re: Feedback Please

    Of course I'm biased having been a volunteer but I had a few items to add to the discussion.

    Volunteers - This was the fifth year that the village ran and every year it happens because of the hard work and dedication of volunteers running it. Much like in previous years, A did a great job of leading everyone, getting the village the resources it needed, and keeping us back on schedule (read making sure we even open in the first place). I want to thank him for all he's done over the last five years, and especially this year when he took full control. Bombnav as always went out of his way to make sure he had parts/supplies/tools/etc there for you folks and dedicated three days to teaching and helping folks with soldering. Heck, he even convinced his wife (who is a specialist) to come down and do some training for us as well! KillerSpud, l33tbunni, and Danny did a great job keeping talks and everything else running smoothly this year (even if it was from the comfort of a leather couch). Also a shout out to folks like firmwarez who donated stuff for people to use in their projects. Additional shout outs to Kampf, TieShort, Phat32, SmittyHalibut, JustRyan, VoltageSpike, Phorkus, and c0re who have helped make the village a success in years past and help in their own ways to this day. If there is someone I left out, I apologize but, thank you - you're all just so awesome.

    Talks - I think it was great that we had the talks this year. I really enjoyed sitting in a few of them and they definitely made for some interesting times. I think next year it would be good if we posted some information about it ahead of time in the program so folks know more about it. It's can be as simple as "Follow @DC_HHV for the schedule" and mentioning that we have talks, people can come talk, etc. Overall I think for our first year officially doing this it was great and we should keep the separate speaking area. I think that we also need to be wary of the content of these talks. It's important that we keep a good balance of talks for newbies and talks for the experienced to keep all parties interested. Having a difficulty rating associated with talks could be cool too! I'll discuss this more in the trainings section.

    Contests - This year the only contest we had was TieShort's awesome Black Box Challenges. These were a lot of fun for folks to play but not many knew it was going on. I think we should definitely focus on having more of these things going. This year's challenge was great for getting people to work together and I wish we could somehow roll this into the spirit the village had during the badge hacking competitions. KillerSpud had some ideas (which we'll have more on this later) but I really think we need to get folks working on projects as teams in the village again.

    Soldering Stations/Equipment - It was great that Bombnav set up so many soldering stations and that folks donated some as well but I really think we need more. At the same time, I don't think it's fair to expect the volunteers to bring all the irons. I would hope that if there was another year where the badge requires assembly, we could somehow get someone to either sell irons in the vendor area or donate them to us. While 99% of the attendees are great, there is that 1% who feel overly entitled and demand things from the volunteers. I want to repeat this: everyone should thank bombnav for the awesome amount of time, effort, and resources he contributed to the village. Without him and his equipment it would not have been the same. Next year please bring this man food, beverage (non-alcohol), and shake his hand for all the hard work he's done not just this year but, at the last five.

    Communications - The twitter feed was great for getting the news out there but I'm not sure most attendees knew about it. It would be great if we could get this into the program and also figure out a way to have things written up. The info booth does this with a projector and in previous years we've done it with a white board. Either will do but giving folks a way to know what's going on besides having to ask would be a great improvement.

    Classes/Training - The talks were great but I really think it would be good if we could somehow get trainings back. I remember Smitty giving his soldering course at previous years. We had a few during the talks but the issue with the area was lack of work bench. I think putting a table where the speakers are talking would be great to allow them to setup. One speaker used a webcam to show their stuff off as well. It would also be great if we could take advantage of the setup of the tables such that speakers could talk towards the tables for people who want to follow along. I'm not sure a good solution to this since we typically suffer over crowding but I think training would be great to bring back. I had a few first year DEFcon attendees as friends who had been to the Lockpicking village and took some of the training they offered. Having something similar in the HHV would just be awesome if we could. This of course requires some pre-coordination with folks but this is why I'm bringing it up now. For example: I for one wouldn't mind teaching a short 10 minute soldering course on the hour that we could announce would be happening. This way people know when to come and if they want to learn have an easy way to do so. Others could tag in and out of teaching it but if we just covered some basic things (soldering, test tools, basic circuitry) I think these could be fun and enlightening.

    As always I look forward to next year and expanding this. Thank you to everyone who made this possible and I look forward to hanging out with you all again next year!
    Last edited by afterburn188; July 31, 2012, 20:37.


    • #3
      Re: Feedback Please

      Well said Afterburn. We need some signage and I am working on the irons. This year I am going to be out there looking for donations of equipment and kits so I got about 360 days. HHV6 is going to be over the top I can feel it and I will make sure regardless of the badge we will have something to get the crowds in. I sure the rest of you are going to get that idea going so its going to be cool. Early next year I am going to start looking for additional volunteers to help me man the solder stations. My hat is off to A for giving me the chance to move forward and to DT for letting us exist.


      • #4
        Re: Feedback Please

        Wow. Hat's off to Bombnav, A, KillerSpud and all the others who made the HHV happen. It was amazing seeing the numbers of people pour in when the doors first opened!

        Suggestions I've heard that I like: signage, face-to-face picnic table style seating, more irons (of course!), on the hour basic soldering presentation per LPV. Contests are nice too.

        Some thoughts from my side: people like to see a couple of "big" projects -- like a makerbot. I know that many of these bigger projects are things that people have just brought in, but perhaps reaching out to folks for these would be good. I had a couple of people ask me if I knew if a makerbot was going to show up. I think everyone finds it inspiring to see complex projects up and running, whether they were made in the village or not. Maybe that's a contest: bring your latest greatest hardware hack/mad scientist gizmo and the village can do a "people's choice" judging. Sign up before some time, show up in the village, show off your thing and the people choose a winner. Get someone like SmittyHalibut who exudes passion for tech and compassion for techies to MC the thing.

        Another thought I've had for myself is to bring a big but possible showcase project and build it over the course of a day in the village. I've thought about this the last couple of years but as people who know me know, I tend to move around a lot at the con.

        Thanks again guys for making a great HHV, and thanks for the opportunity to speak about some of my crazy goings on.

        Remember, "lithium is no longer available on credit".

        TSA luvs my Uzi.

        "We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started, and know the place for the first time." -T.S. Eliot


        • #5
          Re: Feedback Please

          Talks - I think it was great that we had the talks this year. I really enjoyed sitting in a few of them and they definitely made for some interesting times. I think next year it would be good if we posted some information about it ahead of time in the program so folks know more about it.
          <-- This. If we can coordinate the talks ahead of time and get the schedule published in the program, that would be fantastic.

          Another thought I've had for myself is to bring a big but possible showcase project and build it over the course of a day in the village. I've thought about this the last couple of years but as people who know me know, I tend to move around a lot at the con.
          Now I'm going to demonstrate how much of an asshole I am because it wasn't until the VERY end of DefCon 20 that I realized that KillerSpud and Kampf were different people. Seriously, it wasn't until the end of DC20 that I saw the two side-by-side and realized it wasn't just the same guy going by two handles...

          Anyway, the reason I bring this up is because I can't remember which one it was that had the idea (I THINK it was KillerSpud), but I _LOVED_ the idea of making a crowd sourced electronic Rube Goldberg machine. I am _SO_ on-board with building part of one and bringing it next year. This could be something that folks could work on over the weekend and demonstrate and would be a good conversation starter: "What is that? How does it work? What do you mean it's bouncing the signal off the moon?" ;-)


          • #6
            Re: Feedback Please

            I think Afterburn pretty much covered it and I concur. I would like to add some additional weight and make some additional comments. I've been to 3 of the last 4 Defcons and I think I spent the most time in the HHV this year then any of my previous visits.

            The badges were a big reason why I think I spent more time there. However I can't stress how important the talks were. A couple of them were con highlights for me. I don't recall the gentlemen who gave the I2C/SPI present but that was a light bulb for me. As Afterburn mentioned the @DC_HHV Twitter was awesome. It was a day or so before I found out about that, having found that earlier would have been ideal. Along those lines getting more into the program is key. I think modeling it after the Skytalks would be good. They got a whole page with a more or less schedule and a website to keep up to date with. An HHV page in the program could have a rough schedule and links to Twitter and an HHV landing page somewhere.

            I think classes, training, and contests are important items as well and could also get highlighted better via the program, i.e. "Black Box Challenge, see the HHV for more details..." I know TieShort worked hard on the Black Box challenge this year as well as past years. An early more formal call for entries could produce more challengers. I don't think classes or training have to be very elaborate, look at how big the soldering station was. I echo whats already been said about keeping the talk area separate but I also think it may work well to have some of those skinny tables and not just the chairs lined up facing the talk/screen in addition to the work area, this could make it a productive talk/training/class area as well.

            In amateur radio (as well as other endeavors) there is the concept of a "Go Bag". This is an emergency backpack or small box of your radio and emergency gear for when you need to step up for an emergency (or drill), just your bare essentials. I think with some preparation and planning we could come up with a list of some basic tools and components that would make up an HHV "Go Bag". We could then promote (Twitter, DEFCON Forums, MAKE, HackADay, etc) that list of items and recommendations prior to the con so people could show up with a Go Bag and leave with hands on knowledge. For example the contents could include a basic soldering iron, solder, perfboard or even solder-less breadboard. Along with some basic components (resistors, capacitors, pots, LEDs, transistors), some basic IC's (555, OpAmps, shift registers, etc), and maybe an mcu. We probably shouldn't always count on the badge being electronic, if it is great people will have components and tools to hack with. If not additional projects could be taught or hacked together with what people have from their Go Bags. Numerable circuits could be taught and devised from just the stuff I tossed out there.

            Lastly I just want to echo what Afterburn said about the volunteers. That solder station/workshop was PACKED dawn to dusk. Bombnav and his wife did a phenomenal job. I did not get a chance to sit and learn directly but I came away a better solder-er just watching and listening. I also think A did a great job of keeping the lights on and the trains running. MAKE magazine had some good coverage of the HHV. This was my best HHV year at Defcon. I'm looking forward to 21.

            4a 52


            • #7
              Re: Feedback Please

              Thanks to all those who made the village happen. It was a hit and I really had a great time. Bombnav and wife (I will remember her name this year!), A, KillerSpud, Kampf, VoltageSpike and a ton of others did an awesome job! Thanks again.

              I agree with Afterburn. And Smitty, The Rube Goldberg machine shall raise next year.

              I think a Go bag for HHV, could be a great idea. Even if it was just published as a BOM, and posted some where. There is so much to hardware that every little bit of prep helps. Without it, it is really hard to make anything happen in a weekend away from home resources.

              I have a few ideas brewing. If I can get a couple to solidify, there will be some additional fun. No matter what, I think there will be some great hardware hacking in the village for 21!

              Last edited by TieShort; August 23, 2012, 20:57. Reason: auto save helped, but not fully
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