Along with working on the RF hardware for the Zigbee development platform, I've also been pretty busy with helping get the Tokyo Hackerspace up and running. This past Saturday, I co-taught a class on basic electronics for members of the hackerspace as well as the Tokyo 2.0 crowd.

The Tokyo 2.0 group is mostly a bunch of IT people in Tokyo that get together once a month to talk about all things tech/IT/internet. The meetings are semi-networking events where you can see a bunch of hipster geeks sipping beers in a night club turned conference hall with a DJ spinning carefully selected non-intrusive music. I figure they're trying to recreate the hip, tech vibe that you see at events in San Francisco or SXSW (South by Southwest). 

The last talk was about cloud computing and I actually went to check it out since I had no clue what cloud computing was. After the talks, I can definitely say that I still have no clue. It seems it means different things to different people, but in my opinion, it just sounds like a fancy name for cheap web hosting. 

Anyways, the class turned out pretty good and everyone was enthusiastic to learn about electronics. It wasn't easy teaching the basic principles of electronics within two and a half hours, but we managed to pull it off. These days, you pretty much just need to know a bare minimum of theory since the main goal is usually to get the signal of interest into a microcontroller. However we had to conceptually explain and show what resistors, capacitors, diodes, voltage, current, and transistors were. I think teaching basic electronics is much more difficult than teaching more advanced topics because you have to really have mastered the fundamentals to teach it well. It was certainly a challenge to explain things in a way that non-electrical engineers could visualize and understand conceptually.

Along with that, I also got the first batch of the Tokyo Hackerspace development boards back. We'll be selling these in order to raise funds to buy equipment like oscilloscopes, soldering stations, and furniture. It's also going to handily serve as a common platform for future workshops that we do for embedded programming and analog interfacing to digital circuits. 

When we were discussing the boards, I gave people the option to choose different solder mask and silkscreen colors and made it a majority vote decision. The winner was a red silkscreen with a white soldermask since that was supposed to be symbolic of the colors of the Japanese flag. However the red lettering over the white solder mask made the silkscreen come out pink. I was surprised at first, but it really grew on me. The color scheme is definitely different than any other boards I've seen out there, and it appeals to the girls in the group who wanted a girly board. FYI, a lot of the guys wanted a red mask with black silkscreen which was a bit overly testosterone-charged. It would've made the boards look like video cards.

Also, I threw down some cash and bought some cheap, surplus multimeters from Akihabara for the group. It's mostly symbolic, but it's to show that we're taking steps to equip the hackerspace.

Overall, things look like they're moving forward  quite well. The space/studio is already rented and we should be moving in there next month. We're also planning an art/tech exhibition inside and inviting different artists and IT people to collaborate on it. 

So basically, with this and Zigbee, looks like things are going to be getting pretty busy for a while.

Here's a couple of pics of the boards and other miscellanea...