At this evening meeting in London on Thursday 16 May we’ll be welcoming three women, all of whom are pursuing a career in open source. This is a joint meeting with BCS Women and the UK Open Source Hardware User Group.
Rain Ashford of Goldsmiths University will talk aboutPrototyping wearables with open source
Pietra F T Madio, a sixth form student at Brockenhurst College will talk about Starting out in open source
Prof Cornelia Boldyreff of the University of Greenwich, past Chair of the BCS OSSG and BCS Council member will talk about A more inclusive way of looking at open source projects.
For full details, including how to register are on the events page.
In this meeting, held on 21 March 2019 at BCS London, we heard from two speakers on the state of open source FPGA technology.
Once upon a time we could only use proprietary tools and development boards supplied by FPGA vendors, This all changed in 2016 with the advent of the IceStorm opensource toolchain combined with open Hardware like the myStorm board. With the 2nd generation of tools and hardware sophisticated FPGA features are opening exciting avenues for ‘Opensource all the way down’, we hope to provide an update and crystal ball on where some of this could be leading to.
Tools: past to present
David Shah looks at where we have come from with the IceStorm toochain, and looks at how this has devloped recently and expanded Ice40 Lattice support to include new lower power, lower cost, reduced pincount FPGAs to inlcude their Ultra & Ultra Plus range.
Hardware: past to present
Alan Wood talks about the journey through the early history of OpenSource FPGA open hardware from IcoBoard through myStorm too recent UltraPlus offerings recently made available.
Tools: present to future
Icestorm was aimed at a narrow family of Ice40 FPGAS, the new Symbiflow family of tools expands the opensource tooling exponetially. David Shah takes a look at NextPNR which lies at the heart of the toolset and deals with specific FPGA family functionality, in particular he concentrates on the Lattice ECP5 family support he has developed with Project Trellis as part of NextPNR and the recent 1.0 version supporting this new family and high end FPGA features.
Hardware: present to future
What comes next for opensource FPGA hardware, after the success of tinyFPGA and myStorm we are begining to see ECP5 opensource hardware emerging first with Radiona’s ULX3S and being followed up by offerings from both tinyFPGA and myStorm dev board stables, with new hardware comes new features building on NextPNRs tooling like DSP, SerDES IO Gearing and DDR memory etc, Alanplots the course for these new powerfull opesource development boards…
Time permitting we can show some of what’s possible with the new tools in a brave new ‘Opensource all the way down’ world.
David Shah, @fpga_dave, is a engineer at Symbiotic EDA and a Electronic and Information Engineering student at Imperial College London. He entered the world of open source FPGAs by extending Project Icestorm, the iCE40 bitstream documentation project, to include the newer iCE40 UltraPlus FPGAs. As well developing Project Trellis, he has been involved in the development of a new open source FPGA place-and-route tool, nextpnr.
Alan Wood, @folknology, has been working with parallel distributed programming for several decades. His recent work includes smart grids, 3D printers, robotics, automation, biotec diagnostics and designing FPGA devboards. His current research is focused on machine learning for embedded automation using FPGAs. He is a long term advocate of open source communities, a moderator (aka Folknology) for xCORE, the co-founder of myStorm open hardware FPGA community, as well as a co-founder of Surrey and Hampshire Makerspace.
“Artificial intelligence will reach human levels by around 2029. Follow that out further to, say, 2045, we will have multiplied the intelligence, the human biological machine intelligence of our civilization a billion-fold.” — Ray Kurzweil
Artificial intelligence promises to aid and augment humans in all facets of our life. As the decisions made by an intelligent system may have wide implications, ethical questions must be resolved as the technology development progresses. Open RD&E can help to increase the trust and reduce the risks.
Whilst open source is now more widely accepted, there are still large parts of the engineering community who have yet to “see the light”. Advocacy remains a key role for all who care about open source, while mentoring helps user make best use of open source technology.
At this evening meeting in London, we’ll be welcoming leading speakers on this topic.
An opportunity to hear about all the open source projects our members are working on. We’ll start with Chris Jones’ talk on Hammerspoon postponed from earlier in the year and then be followed by 8 short talks on the full range of subjects addressed by the Open Source Specialist group. This is a joint meeting with the UK Open Source Hardware Users Group. Venue is the BCS Offices at 5 Southampton St, London WC2E 7HA from 6-8pm.
Chris Jones’ talk will last 30 minutes, with all the subsequent talks lasting no more than 10 minutes including time for questions. We look forward to seeing you there.
We shall be videoing the talks for later posting on YouTube for those who are unable to make it. We also hope to live-stream the talks using gotmeeting – a first for us.
Hammerspoon exposes many parts of macOS to the simple scripting language Lua. Its goal is to make the most powerful and flexible tool for serious power users to automate and customise as many things as possible. In this talk we’ll look at the history of automation on Apple computers, how Hammerspoon works, and some of the excellent things it can help you do. Of course, it’s Open Source, so you can also jump in and help make it even better!
Chris Jones has been creating, using, and advocating for Open Source software, since the mid-1990s. He’s spent the last 12 years of his professional life working on/with Open Source – the first half at Canonical (creators of Ubuntu) and since then working on OpenStack at HP and Red Hat.
After 13 years of zealously running only Linux on his desktops/laptops, he has spent the last 8 years recovering as a macOS user, but has nevertheless retained his passion for contributing to Open Source.
This talk was to have been given at our June meeting which was cancelled. We are delighted Chris is available to give his talk at this meeting.
Sous-vide cooking with a Raspberry Pi
Cooking with a touch of science and a dash of engineering. Sous vide (under vacuum) is a technique that places food into a temperature controlled water bath. The vacuum bit isn’t that important, and squeezing the air out of a zip lock bag is generally sufficient; but precise temperature control is essential to ensure that the right proteins are denatured. The thermostat in a typical piece of kitchen equipment is nowhere near good enough, but add a sensor (immersible temperature gauge), an actuator (433MHz remote control socket), some control software and a dev board to run it on and you have the ability to cook perfect steaks, eggs, fish or whatever.
Chris has been tinkering with electronics since he was a small child, and got into software when he realised that it was necessary to make hardware do interesting things. In his day job as CTO for Global Delivery for DXC Technology he’s bringing a large services company and its customers into a world of DevOps and Infrastructure as Code. On evenings and weekends he can often be found making some sort of project around a dev board, with a particular fondness for Raspberry Pis.
Upspin: a personal storage and sharing system
Upspin tries to address the shortcomings of sharing, privacy, and availability of data on the internet, in the modern day. Whether it’s making state available across multiple computers or sharing with other parties, Upspin is a personal namespace which can accomodate and be built upon.
Sevan Janiyan is founder of Venture 37, which provides system administration & consultancy services. As a fan of operating systems and computers with different CPU architectures, in his spare time he maintains builds of open source software on a variety of systems featuring PowerPC, SPARC and armv7l CPUs.
Next Generation Storage Interfaces
The efficient, convenient, and robust execution of data-driven workflows and enhanced data management are key for productive in computer-aided RD&E. Still, the storage stack is based on the low-level POSIX I/O (or objects in cloud storage).
This talk introduces chances for establishing an open community-driven next-generation storage interface in a similar fashion to the existing forums. The forum would bring together vendors, storage experts, and users to discuss key features of the API and establish governance strategies. The envisioned coarse-grained API aims to overcome current obstacles for highly parallel workflows but would be beneficial also in the
domain of big data and even desktop PC. It bears the opportunity to create a new ecosystem.
Dr. Kunkel is a Lecturer at the Computer Science Department at the University of Reading and also a member of the BCS OSSG Committee. Previously, he worked as postdoc in the research department of the German Climate Computing Center (DKRZ) that partners with the Scientific Computing group at the Universität Hamburg. He manages several research projects revolving around High-Performance Computing and particularly high-performance storage.
Julian became interested in the topic of HPC storage in 2003, during his studies of computer science. Besides his main goal to provide efficient and performance-portable I/O, his HPC-related interests are:
data reduction techniques, performance analysis of parallel;
applications and parallel I/O, management of cluster systems;
cost-efficiency considerations; and
software engineering of scientific software.
Building an Open Source Electric Surfboard
With the increasing availability of 3D printers and the wide variety of components available over the internet, how hard is it to build an electric surfboard? This talk will cover the design and construction of an open-source electric surfboard from the concept to hitting the sea, including some of the challenges met along the way, especially those to do with managing lots of electricity very close to lots of water. The project can be found on GitHub at https://github.com/largeostrich/openelectricsurfboard and https://github.com/largeostrich/openwaterjet.
Peter Bennett (@thelargeostrich) is currently studying Mining Engineering at Camborne School of Mines, University of Exeter. He has a long standing interest in open source technology, particularly 3D printing
and electronics. He previously reimagined peripherals for the EDSAC using 3D printing and arduino for ChipHack at Wuthering Bytes 2017.
Jumbo Servo – I2C position control
When Andy needed a really big servo, rather than spend a fortune on an industrial monster, he decided to make one. As it would be used with a Raspberry Pi or Microcontroller he decided it would be digitally controlled rather than the usual analogue pwm.
Andy has been Making and Repairing in a shed at the bottom of the garden for the last 10 years. The code and designs for his often quirky and enchanting projects can be found on GitHub and documented on the Workshopshed blog.
A Plan 9 C Compiler for RISC-V
The Plan 9 operating system was developed at Bell Labs in the 1980s using a new C compiler written by Ken Thompson, which was also later used to implement the kernel of the Inferno operating system and to bootstrap early releases of the Go language. Like Plan 9 itself, the compiler is highly portable, elegantly minimalist, lightweight and quick. The ARM version, for example, is about 21,000 lines of code and compiles itself in 15 seconds on a Raspberry Pi 3.
This talk will describe the exercise of re-targeting the Plan 9 C compiler to generate code for the RISC-V open instruction set architecture.
Dr Richard Miller learned C in 1977 while re-targeting (and re-hosting) Dennis Ritchie’s original Unix C compiler from the PDP-11 to the Interdata 7/32. Since then he has re-targeted Unix and Plan 9 C compilers for various other CPUs from NS 16032 to Nios II.
Gigatron: An 8-bit TTL based microcomputer
Gigatron is an 8-bit TTL based microcomputer, that I built up from a kit from www.gigatron.io.
Although it consists of just 36 TTL ICs, a ROM and a RAM – it will run at 10MHz clock and delivers performance that exceeds that of the 6502/Z80 that were contemporary in the mid-1970s.
If time permits, I will also mention a very simple interpreted language (a bit like Forth) that could be ported to such a machine – and is on my to do list.
Ken Boak is an OSHUG regular
Open permits and the power of open source
Open source gives compounding value—the bigger the ecosystem, the more that can be done quickly and easily. I’ll give a demo of a open system that lets anyone make their own provable, machine-readable passes, which I’ve made rapidly by combining open source libraries.
Simon is a freelance software engineer and also works for the Government Digital Service.
At this evening meeting in London, we returned to the popular themes of open source 3D printing and making. We’re delighted to welcome three leading authorities in the field to speak to us. This was a joint meeting with the UK Open Source Hardware Users Group. Venue was the BCS Offices at 5 Southampton St, London WC2E 7HA from 6-8pm.
Each talk lasted 30 minutes and included plenty of time for questions. We welcomed 32 attendees on the evening.
Videos of the talks are linked below.
Fashion Technology, Stem Cell Research & Mental Health
Rachel “Konichiwakitty” Wong
Rachel will be talking about her personal projects in Fashion Technology and her work in stem cell research and how open source and social media communications has helped her achieve her goals. She will also touch on the importance of having a varied interest in relation to mental health.
Rachel “Konichiwakitty” Wong (@konichiwakitty) is a wearable tech innovator and a stem cell scientist. During the day, her PhD involves using stem cells to grow optic vesicles to study and find a cure for genetic childhood blindness. When she isn’t working, she creates wearable fashion technology. She combines her skills in sewing an jewellery-making together with programming and electronics. She exhibits and gives talks on her fashion tech projects around the world to encourage young girls into STEM education and careers. She was recently awarded a Electronics Weekly BrightSparks engineering award for her work in tissue engineering and fashion technology. She can be found on twitter as @konichiwakitty where she shares all her latest projects.
A short talk on the the ups and the many downs of delta machines, when & why you should use one, what the challenges are and a few different ways to conquer those challenges.
Bracken is a developer at IBM working on the Cloud. He was one of the five founding trustees of So Make It, the Southampton makerspace. He has been building 3D printers since the 3D printing boom in 2012.
“In the future, everyone will work for 15 minutes.”
There is much said about the coming impact on work of the robot and AI revolutions, some of it quite well-informed. But the powers of automation and intelligence are dwarfed by the power of something else: self-replication. After the fundamental forces of physics, self-replication is the most significant phenomenon that there is. Using the Sun’s energy over the last four billion years, self-replication and Darwin’s Law have created a world-surface that is knee-deep in reproducing nano-machines. Indeed, your very knees are made out of them.
Yet engineering hasn’t worked with the power of self replication much, if at all, until now. This talk will be about the RepRap Project—an open-source project that has created humanity’s first general-purpose self-replicating manufacturing machine. It will examine the likely social and economic impacts of self-replicating technology, and draw parallels with a twelve-thousand-year-old industry that uses natural self-replicating machines, the industry without which we would all starve: farming.
Adrian Bowyer holds a first degree and a PhD in engineering from Imperial College. He was an academic engineer and mathematician at the University of Bath for 35 years, from where he retired in 2012 to become a director of RepRap Ltd., a company that sells RepRap machines and components, and that undertakes research and consultancy in RepRap-related projects. RepRap Ltd is an entirely open-source company, and all its designs, software and documentation are freely available to everyone.
His areas of research are geometric modelling and geometric computing in general (he is one of the creators of the Bowyer-Watson algorithm for Voronoi diagrams), the application of computers to manufacturing, and biomimetics. He is the author of about one hundred papers and books on many different aspects of engineering, computing, mathematics and biology.