April 25, 2017: Fat Cat Fab Lab, New York City

Tom Rondeau presenting at Fat Cat Fab Lab

My first Hackfest roadtrip stop at Fat Cat Fab Lab was a great start to my multi-city tour over the next month. I showed up to a demo of using RTL-SDRs with GQRX to receive FM and ham signals and an engaged and inquisitive crowd. This maker space located in the West Village of Manhattan is a nice space with an active maker community. We left after 10pm and folks were still there doing metal work and building all sorts of other projects. The roughly 30-person crowd included local enthusiasts, amateur radio operators, and small businesses looking to learn more about software radio and wireless in general. Most of the people who came had almost no knowledge of software radio when we started, but they were full of sharp questions. I started answering questions at about 6:30 and didn’t finish for another three hours! There were lots of questions about wireless in general, regulatory issues, software radio tools and hardware, and and how to get started with it all. We also spent a lot of time talking about the nature of the Hackfest and how people can participate, whether by working on the missions with a team or by coming to work and interacting in the hacker space. I’m already hearing great ideas for how to use software radio to advance UAV technology and capabilities, and I’m encouraging those who are interested to bring those ideas with them to the Bay Area Hackfest in November. And because of those ideas that I was hearing, which may or may not directly apply to the Hackfest missions (see https://darpahackfest.com/bay-area-hackfest), I’m considering setting aside some time at that event for lightning talks as a way for people to convey their ideas and work in this area to a larger crowd.