Science Hack Day India 2019 Experience

© Sayan Chowdhury

This was my first year attending Science Hack Day India. I came to know about Science Hack Day after I met Praveen at FOSSASIA Summit 2017 at Singapore. He started the Science Hack Day (aka SHD) event in Belgaum, the city where he lives. This year was the 4th Edition of SHD India. The idea of Science Hack Day is to make anything in 24 hrs using Science. But it’s actually more than than. You will get to know how it turns out at the end of this post.

Day 1

I booked my tickets for SHD India 2 weeks before the conference. I reached the venue on Saturday, 19th Oct. My bus was 2 hrs late. The venue was in Sankalp Bhumi Resort in Parvati Nagar, Belgaum where SHD India is held every year. Once you reach the team picks you up from the bus stop to their venue, but since I was late Praveen guided the Auto driver to take me stratight to the venue. After I reached I met few students who come each year to the event. I met Sayan at the Breakfast area which they call ‘Dhaba’ . After Breakfast I went to my room to freshen up and get ready for the event. The venue of SHD India is really picturesque. It’s calm and quite place full of greenery around with some awesome spots for Hacking ! Here is a image I took of the cottage house I was living.

I went to the stage where the event was about to start. I met Jithin and Saptak there. They were going to work on a robotic arm powered by KuttyPy. Jithin is the maintainer of KuttyPy and he showed how it is used to send signals to a output port of a ATmega32 microcontroller by simple clicks of a button using the KuttyPy gui.

The event kicked off by introducing Science Hack Day. After that Mentors introduced their hacks to the audience and welcomed everyone interested to join their hacks. I introduced about the Papercraft Spectrometer by PublicLab which I was going to make for the event. There were many young hackers among us who were excited to Hack among us and also introduced their Hacks. After that I went to the Hacking area at the ‘Cafeteria’ . I met Hitesh who was hosting a CTF . It was the first time a CTF event was being organised at SHD. Me, Sayan and Saptak started solving the CTF puzzles. The problems were intriguing and we kept solving them one by one. Other hackers were working in some interesting stuff. I met Akshai M who was working on a LoRaWAN Transmitter. We breaked for lunch around 2 pm. The weather was cloudy and it was raining for most part of the day. Post lunch there was a Python 101 Workshop for college students hosted by Sayan. I helped people around to Install Python in their systems and writing their first Python Program. After that I continued solving CTF questions while others continued their hacks. Here is a photo of everyone busy Hacking 🙂

In the evening there were Lightning Talks. There were all sorts of lightning talks starting from Hardware Systems, Security and Privacy over Web to Gardening plants. I gave a lightning talk on my HydPy community experiences on how regional communities play an important role on engaging more people towards a shared objective and idea. It was the end of the day. We had Dinner after that where we had more interesting discussions. I returned to my room since it was raining quite a lot, where everyone (Me, Praveen, Sayan, Saptak, Akshai, Hari, Jithin) gathered beside the balcony of the cottage house discussing their experiences in FOSS and Conferences. It was bed time soon, end of an exciting first day.

Day 2

The next morning we had a video conference with the SHD San Francisco Team at 9.30 am. SHD was also happening in the same days at San Fransico this year. I woke up and went for breakfast with Sayan. The item served for breakfast was unique for me – Mishar and bread, a typical Maharashtrian breakfast item. After having breakfast everyone gathered near the Cafeteria for the video call. Ariel who is the global Director of SHD was hosting the call from San Francisco. Everyone was excited to share their hacks they were working on. It was really amazing to see people from 2 different timezones sharing there awesome hacks and their excellent level of enthusiasm. After the call ended everyone started working on their hacks again. They were to be presented soon to the audience so there was little time left. I went to take some materials for my Papercraft Spectrometer. There was a team which made the Da Vinci Bridge using wood. People were walking over it turn by turn. I also had a walk over the bridge. Hari was taking a Unicycle riding session for people.

Meanwhile there was a microcontroller Workshop using KuttyPy going on in parallel which was hosted by Jithin. My hack was almost complete and I was seeing hacks of other people. A team made an awesome Ruben’s Tube where we could see flames dancing with music. Shortly after everyone gathered for the SHD India group photo in the lawn. There was a Treasure Hunt event after that. Reminded me about my college days. Hackers were giving final touches to their hacks which were to be presented after lunch.

After lunch everyone gathered near the stage and get their hacks ready for the audience. I got Table 1 where I was talking to people Regarding Spectrometry and my Spectrometer hack. It was nice to talk to people from all age groups. There were some really good hacks around. Praveen was demonstrating Hacks using Liquid Nitrogen, breaking flowers after freezing them with Liquid Nitrogen. It was really spectacular to see science Lab experiments done in fun but careful way.

After the demonstrations were over it was time for Awards for the Best Hacks. The Da Vinci Bridge and Ruben’s Tube were among the Award winning Hacks. The Best Hack of the event was given to a Team who made colourful clay plasters . There were more Awards coming in. Me, Sayan and Saptak were jointly awarded the CTF Award for scoring 950 points individually. I got a medal for that 🙂 Finally it was time for the closing address, thanking all organisers and Sponsors and See everyone at next SHD. Fun events continued after that. There was a Domino sequence made by some students. It was really nice. Then there was Bubble blowing by participants. Enthusiasm was still high among the participants and Hackers.

Also it was time for me to say goodbye to friends at SHD. I had my bus at 9.15 pm. It was raining quite a lot. Before I left for my room for packing my things I spoke to Akshay Deshpande who was a mountaineer and doing Treks at Himalayan ranges. He was sharing anecdotes about his mountaineering experiences. He took a session on Mountain Raffling in SHD. Then there was music and lights and people dancing together. I had my dinner and after saying goodbye to everyone at SHD it was the end of event for me. Praveen arranged by drop at the Bus Stop. He has been a Super Host !

I really loved my first Science Hack Day. It was a weekend full of Hacks, Fun and exciting discussions beside the tranquil venue at Sankalp Bhoomi. Making friends is the best part of the event which I look out whenever I go to Conferences and meetups. Eagerly waiting for the SHD India event !