EMF Camp

As you could probably tell by the serious amount of tweeting that was going on, Ragworm sponsored EMF Camp 2014, meaning we would be there in all manner of forms.

It’s been a hell of a journey and if you attended, I’m sure you would have heard even the briefest story of the badges; there have been highs and lows… but, you had to be there to find out the real story!

Anyway let’s get talking about the camp.

We drove up in our van packed full of goodies on the Thursday. We’d done our shopping online to be delivered to Ragworm HQ. In the morning we were meant to receive our shopping for the weekend delivered to the factory, turns out it never came and went back to the depot, as you can tell we were so happy with this service, we decided to drive up to EMFCamp and get the shopping on our way.

After lots of playlist’s repeating until pigs discovered flight we made it to the gate… only to find there was a crane in our way, we had to wait but during this moment of madness our Caravan driver decided to pick a very secluded spot to park up on, all of a sudden the van moved… we were thinking “Great we’re going to get a better spot” only to find out he’d reversed 3 foot and moved 2 foot to the right.

In the heat of things this was all fine as we had a hell of a lot to set up as it was!

Besides the badge story things were looking up, “Oh the Ragworm guys are here, you did amazing work on the badges!”… That’s literally what we heard until we went home, we’re not complaining we actually really liked it! Anyway we got in and parked up.

Thursday being a normal working day you don’t really expect to be up until the small hours. Well we were! We were working till gone 3am the next morning to try and get the badges out to all you folk. And for this we have to thank everyone who volunteered and helped out to finish the final build of the badges, even though we had planned on doing this in London the week before. It wasn’t a war site but with marquees struggling to be put up, the one tent we had was pretty darn warm and we weren’t moving… until Jonty told us we’ve got to move to the lounge with lots of squishy bean bags; which when I think about it, I didn’t even get to sit on one.

Day 2 – Friday

The Friday was the first official day of EMFCamp and this included everything and everyone; it was great to see such diversity at an event like this, there really is no limit on you being able to call yourself a #Proudgeek. There were even around 100 children onsite.

After setting up our geeky Camper Van the day before, when we awoke, there were crowds around us waiting to find out what we could do for them. It surprised me how much interest a company can get at 9 in the morning. Obviously you can understand why when we basically planted anything and everything orange on this moving vehicle to get your attention; pictures can be found on our Flickr album listed at the end of blog.

After meeting lots of awesome geeks we headed on over to explore the rest of the festival and find out what the rest of the community had been doing recently. We finally took up residence in Nottinhack’s tent due to a little something called Bar Bot. Whilst enjoying the great service from a robot, the place was lacking some music and atmosphere so I decided to jump on the bicycle to produce some kinetic energy and turn it into some funky songs.

Whilst all the fun and games were occurring at EMFCamp we still had people working hard back in the office. None other than our lovely Steph was working away, keeping me up to date on all things Ragworm, sending over some pics from the factory to make sure we hadn’t all left her behind!

Most of all she’s been putting some evil plans together for the new #futuregenius who is yet to be revealed. If you haven’t seen Ragworm Education around yet then head on over to the site to read more about it!

Day 3 – Saturday

Before we knew it, it was morning again… Three bright and breezy Ragworm faces were up and ready to head for the shower. Whilst on Friday there wasn’t really a queue, on Saturday with over 1,000 people onsite, a queue for the shower was sort of expected….

After de-smelling, the Ragworm team headed up to our second lot of talks only to discover we had quite a few customers of our supplying them. Whilst walking around we see some very strange modes of transportation getting to and from the talks; yes there was even a giant duck courtesy of TOG. One talk that I headed up to and was really excited to see was SimPrints, you should all go and check out their site as they’re making a change for the better in third world countries.

Most of our time for the rest of the day was taken up by these guys!

Ben @ Phenoptix. Now we’ve known Ben since Ragworm began and we’ve been close for ages, he’s supplied us with some awesome Orange acrylic contraptions. Originally Ben was meant to hand over some #meArms for the Prize draw going to be announced on the 5th but he accidentally sold them… don’t ask me how, but as usual Ben is here to save the day and he’s now making it up to us by making some Orange etched #meArm’s specifically for the Prize draw, so head on over to Phenoptix if you don’t win one and get one anyway!

Paul @ Pimoroni. We’ve got some exciting stuff happening with Pimoroni at the moment and the majority of it is very tightly under wraps, but it’s safe to say it’s something different!

It was really nice meeting Paul as I hadn’t met him before. Unfortunately, Stacey got carried away talking and completely forgot to introduce me so I did the typical, “who is this?” under my breath, then I realised and jumped for joy, Sorry Paul!

We’ve got a few meetings in the pipeline so keep your eyes and ears open for all the latest news and updates from the folks @Pimoroni.

As for the end of the night we ended up at another amazing tent, WhiskyLeaks, the tent with all the whisky! I didn’t realise 99% of the people there loved whisky; I suppose I will need to be more of a man next time and not run away at the smell of it!

Across the course of the evening we had some very interesting conversations with Phenoptix. At one point, Ben unknowingly called Stacey a blonde idiot; a story for another time but that’s what happens when you start scanning the internet in the wee hours!

Hang on, how could I forget?! The best thing about this day was that the badges were handed out! They were finished and ready for you to go and pick up. Me being me I had to have something special so in an attempt to steal some of Matt @Ciseco’s thunder, I cable tied a prototype board to either side of my Tilda as well. However, he had 3 working prototypes while I only had bareboards…. But it’s what we do best so why not!

It’s Sunday, the day we didn’t want to come…. Unfortunately this was to be our last day at EMFCamp.

Our last day onsite, we decided to set up a stand so everyone could come and ask questions and find out some more about Ragworm, but before we could even finish setting up the stand, crowds were gathering around to throw questions at us.

Despite it being a very windy day I got burnt to a crisp (which I’m still trying to recover from). The wind actually attempted to kill our orange pull-ups but we’ve managed to recover the wrecked salvage and bring them back. As it was such a sunny day all of you guys went mad for the orange sunglasses. Over all the stand was a roaring success as we gained so much interest and it gave us some pretty amazing ideas for future Ragworm development.

Near the end of the day we attended one last talk; “Trials and Tribulations of the Badge”. We knew all about this… Stacey even went on stage to help tell the story. This was a great talk to find out how far we will go to save you when you need us most. No doubt you’ll want to find out more so Stacey has written a little in her paragraph below.

Ragworm’s EMF Camp journey was certainly a turbulent one! After agreeing to support EMF Camp with the provision of the badges none of us could have anticipated the roller coaster journey that we were all letting ourselves in for. As a regular supplier of volume PCBs, both bare boards and assembly, we thought this would be a relatively simple task. How wrong could we had been! The project time was pushed back due to a number of issues suffered at the organisers end – at one point we even thought that there wasn’t going to be any badges at all due to sponsor drop outs. After what can only have been some very late nights, the event organiser Jonty came to the rescue and managed to secure the backing for the components and we could kick into action with the production of the final boards. Already behind our on our schedule time was tight and the stress kicked in here at Ragworm HQ – even with all hands on deck it was going to be a battle to get to the finish line in time. If you were on site I am sure you have heard many a story about the ups, downs and horrifically late nights! It is certainly not ideal to be soldering and building badges in a tent in the middle of a field – but it was a display of teamwork at its best and a real show of what can be achieved when a group of likeminded people work together towards a common aim.

This year was my first experience of EMF Camp and I can honestly say that I enjoyed every minute of it! A fantastic event completely organised and run by volunteers. The community spirit felt on camp is a huge contributor to what makes this event so great! With numerous workshops to take part in, talks covering all manner of subjects, a gaming tent, bar and so many makers displaying their inventions there wasn’t a minute to spare across the weekend. There was certainly no excuse to be bored!

Highlights of the weekend – where do I start, there were so many! A few immediately spring to mind:

A highlight of all events for me is meeting new people and discussing ideas and new ventures. There was no shortage of this at EMF and through the talks I was able to explore new subject areas and share in peoples passions

The discovery of Basebot – for those of you who don’t know me, I love robotics. Granted I don’t know how to build them myself but anything robotics gets me talking. Meeting Tom Oinn and discussing his Basebot adventure is a particular highlight for both myself and Ragworm and we can’t wait to get involved in the project.

Making my own ring. As a person who would usually shy away from doing anything practical in public I am particularly proud of my handmade ring!
Finally – being part of the EMFCamp family and the badge making team. It may have been hard work and there may have almost been tears at points but being involved in the group that made it happen brings me a real sense of pride and achievement. It was fantastic to work with suck a great group of people!

Overall it was just a great event and I cannot recommend it enough. If you like making things of any kind, enjoy meeting new people and being part of the festival vibe then you need to be involved!

“Okay Stacey calm down, you can tell she liked the event!”

And of course that wasn’t all of us, we had Adam on the scene to and here’s what he had to say!

So when we arrived at EMF camp on Thursday, we crested the hill on the track down to the site to see a mass of marquee tents and hi-vis vest activity! A flustered Jonty came to meet us, said hello, and was promptly called away again by the radio. We drove onto the site and set up the Ragworm Mobile HQ. It wasn’t long before we got the first (and definitely not the last) view of a quadcopter zooming over our heads from one side of the site to the other!

After a batch of EMF Camp badges had been delivered, we sat down with the amazing badge team to help with final assembly, which went on well into the early hours of the morning.

The next two days were full of amazing talks, and another batch of badge assembly on Saturday. In the evenings we ventured out to meet some of the many hackers and makers who’d come along to EMF. We ended up in the Nottinghack Bar Bot tent and Whiskyleaks, where we had a great time chatting to lots of incredibly interesting people.

On Sunday, we set up a stand to meet you all, and we had a great response. It was fantastic to meet so many people that we’ve worked with and who want to get involved with making their own stuff. It was also nice to see everyone with an EMF Camp badge, as we love seeing our boards out in the wild. On a personal note, it was nice to see everyone so happy with the badges, making it feel like all the hours and miles I spent driving boards and components round the country was well worth it. I had a great time at EMF camp as did the rest of the Ragworm team, and thanks go to the brilliant organisers for putting on such a good event, and to everyone who came for being so interesting and enthusiastic. It’s a lot of fun getting to meet such a large number of fellow geeks.

Over all, it was a fantastic weekend and we can’t wait for next year and the year after.

Obviously the event wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for all of the organisers, as there were so many I can only name a few off the top of my head but I would like to give a big shout out to Jonty as he made this all possible and created an amazing welcoming event to all of us #Proudgeeks.

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