May 9, 2017: SparkFun Electronics, Niwot, Colorado

SparkFun, outside of Boulder, Colorado, was my first stop on this week’s four-day roadshow to promote the Hackfest. I spoke about SDR and the Hackfest during a “Lunch and Learn” event, which I later learned was the first time that they had opened this up to the public and a great indication of the excitement we are generating in this community. Over 30 people came for my hour-long talk, and I was delighted by the level of engagement both from the visitors and SparkFun itself. I think the most difficult question asked was about the reward structure that I’ve planned for the Hackfest Mission teams, where we are hoping to engage successful teams with future contracts to continue the work. Among the many questions, I want to address one in particular. The concern one audience member raised is that a lot of people with the skills and interests in the Hackfest Missions have day jobs in completely different fields than SDR or UAVs. When they go back to their normal work after a week of hacking, they aren’t able to bring this work with them, and so the idea of follow-on funding of a project with DARPA isn’t a model that works. I can understand the issue. I’m hoping, though, that teams come to the Hackfest in November with a plan to continue their work in software radio afterwards either as a new project through their current work or even in the context of a new company they might be inspired to start up. These sorts of commitments will be impossible for some people whose day jobs have nothing to do with SDR or UAVs. But there is still the opportunity to come to the Hackfest and engage with the Hacker Space and community. This conversation will certainly inform how we run any potential follow-up Hackfests.