EMF 2014: Speakers

With a month to go until Electromagnetic Field 2014 opens, it’s time to announce some speakers! This year we’ll have over 90 speakers across three stages, with workshops happening in parallel all over the site.

Our Call for Participation is still open so if you’d like to get involved with EMF go and submit a talk or workshop. Don’t worry if you’ve not heard back yet - our selection process is ongoing.

We’re pleased to announce six amazing speakers today, with many more to come in the following weeks:

An Operator’s Guide to the Enigma Machine

Simon Singh, bestselling author of Fermat’s Last Theorem & The Code Book, will be demonstrating his German Enigma machine and discussing how it was cracked during the Second World War. He’ll also be covering the history of encryption from Ancient Greece through to the Information Age.

How to be an Effective Terrorist: Fear and Loathing in Cyber Security

Dr Jessica Barker is a security consultant often present in the media helping people to understand the threats they are exposed to. She’ll be talking about how we should be explaining risks rather than hiding them from users, allowing people to effectively manage their online activity and protect themselves.

The three main parties railroaded the Data Retention Act through in a week. Where does the fightback begin?

In 2010, Tom Watson MP was one of the few members of Parliament fighting the Digital Economy Act. Since then he’s published a book on corruption at News International, and in July 2014 he sued the UK government over the recently passed DRIP act. He’ll be talking about how citizens can fight back and protect themselves against ubiquitous surveillance.

Why Fantasy is the Key to Motivation and Creativity

Leila Johnston is a writer, journalist, podcaster, and speaker who also organises events on weird technology and art alongside a companion quarterly magazine. With the aid of unique hand-made 8-bit console slides she’ll be discussing her relationship with technology, motivation, and creativity, and explaining what possessed her to write a branching narrative novel.

Hacking the ZX Spectrum

Ben Heck, famed retro console modder and youtube star, will be talking about how he recently miniaturised a ZX Spectrum to make it portable and playable on-the-go. He’ll also be talking about some of his other mods that have been widely publicised over the years.

Zoë Star: Neurotic IoT Machines from an Alternate Reality

Rachel Rayns is Raspberry Pi’s creative producer. She’ll be introducting her Zoë Star machines - satirical art works poking fun at the Internet of Things, Quantified Self and Digital Natives whilst (hopefully!) creating some charming and inspiring interactive experiences.

If these talks sound good, tickets to EMF are on sale for £105.

2014 Starts here!

All previous blog posts are from 2012, so they’re only relevant if you’re interested in EMF history.

Revealing TiLDA, our camp badge!

Its been a long-standing tradition at US and EU hacker camps to give people a badge that does more than hang around your neck, and we really wanted to have something similar for Electromagnetic Field. Thanks to sponsorship from the UCL Institute of Making, we’ve developed one specially for this camp.

We call our badge TiLDA, and every attendee will receive one when they arrive at the camp!

TiLDATiLDA is a completely reprogrammable battery-powered development board that hangs on a lanyard around your neck.

By default it communicates with all the other badges on site, playing a networked game that encourages you to meet other people with differing interests. They also communicate with things on site, but more about that soon.

The design is fully open-source and based on the Arduino compatible Vinciduino, as we wanted to give people a device that they could actually use for something useful after the camp has ended, rather than sitting in a drawer.

TiLDA is powered by an ATMega 32U4 and comes equipped with 2.4 ghz wireless communications, infrared communications, two RGB LED’s, and a powerful lithium polymer battery that is rechargeable via microUSB. It also has a button, just in case. There are plenty of free I/O pins for you to augment your TiLDA, and it can be programmed using the standard Arduino software. We can’t wait to see what you do with it at EMF.

The badges are sponsored by the Institute of Making at UCL, home to a new hackerspace for university students. Without their assistance TiLDA could never have got off the ground! We also need to thank the amazing Charles Yarnold, who spent many sleepless nights working on the badge.

Right now the badges are being manufactured at a fabrication house in Scotland, and as soon as they reach us we’ll be posting photos for you all to see!

EMF Camp, the site and Networking

Provisioning high bandwidth connections is always fun, especially those that are only required for a very short period of time, and most notably, out in the middle of a field.

We’ve been very lucky to have Pulsant sponsor us. They’re providing us with rackspace in both their Milton Keynes datacentre and in Telehouse East in London Docklands, giving us our own 1Gbps circuit between the two. Using this we’re constructing our own multihomed network, with multiple transit and peering connections, ensuring speedy Internet access for the entire camp.

Due to the 2.8km distance between the Pulsant data centre and Pineham Park, we’ll be erecting temporary 30 metre tall masts and creating a point-to-point microwave link to connect the camp. As you can see the masts are pretty impressive!

radio mast at emf camp

Here is a brief overview of what our core network will look like:

EMF Camp network diagram

(bigger version)

Like all large hacking events in Europe (HAR2009/CCC) we’ll be using portaloos, or datenklos, to house network switches and power distribution around the site. If you want super-fast wired access please make sure you bring a 40 to 50m Cat5 cable with you to connect your tent! (we are still finalising power plans and will post about these shortly).

toilet network hubs

(credit binarycoco)

Chaos Computer Club in Germany are lending us their event IP address space, so everyone at the camp will get a real public IP. At the moment we’re working on configuring the core network, wireless controllers and various services (DNS, DHCP, monitoring etc).

EMF Camp network kit

flexOptix have sent us the first shipment of loan optics, we’ll be using these to building multiple rings around the site, linking venues and dateklos.

networking optics

At the site we will have blanket wireless coverage on 2.4GHz (b/g/n) and 5GHz (a). If you have any particular network requirements, or if you plan to use any non-Wifi devices in these frequency bands, please let us know in advance at noc@emfcamp.org

Finally, a big thanks to Nick Ryce and Matt Lovell at Pulsant for providing the rackspace and circuit between London and MK, CCC for use of their address space, and flexOptix for loan of their SFP optics.

EMF camp planning updates: participating communities, ticket sales plans, and more

It’s time again to update you all on some of the things we’re currently working on. Much of this is still evolving, but we’re now getting to a point where certain aspects are becoming more and more clear. As you may know our meeting minutes are always posted on our wiki where you will find many more details about our progress.

The photos in this post were taken during our recent site visit, have a look at the full Flickr set: “Pineham Park Site Visit.”

General Updates

First off we’re now starting to keep track of all the communities that are attending the event. We still haven’t started promoting the camp in a big way, but already have confirmed attendance by: London Hackspace, Nottingham Hackspace, BuildBrighton, Reading Hackspace, dorkbotlondon, dorkbotsheffield, dorkbotcardiff, MzTEK, Surrey and Hampshire Hackspace, Edinburgh Hacklab, Faculty Unix / Funix, Milliways, Code Club, and a few others. Let us know if your community is planning to come as well by replying in this mailing list thread: “Who is coming to EMF? Let’s start a list.”

After having talked to the first communities and some internal discussion we’re currently busy cleaning up how we present ourselves. In the last weeks we learned a lot about how to explain the idea of the camp to new people, and we will update the website accordingly. As part of that we’re also working on an updated event description. You can see a draft on our wiki. This will become a starting point to create all kinds of other documents.

Ticket Sales and Pre-Sale Deposits

You may already have seen our previous announcement of the ticket pre-sales that we started a few weeks ago. Pre-sales are going well, but as mentioned we need to sell a few more so we can cover the next weeks of deposits (for e.g. the camp site, Internet infrastructure, generator, and other basic camp infrastructure.) If you’re planning to attend then please participate in the pre-sales, your £30 deposit will get you a £5 discount of the final ticket price.

Good news for all European attendees: as of a few days ago we’re now also accepting payments to a Euro account without requiring an international bank transfer at a pre-sales deposit of €40. Note that it may take us a few days to process your payments. (On a related note, Jasper asks me to curse banks for not supporting online banking in 2012.)

Full ticket sales are coming very soon, we’re currently working on a website update with some improvements to the payment process and many small tweaks. You can have a look at our Github issue tracker for the website, and note that we do accept pull requests :)

We’re now also reviewing what it will take to allow children and teenagers to attend. Alex (yaxu) is now helping us with this; there are a number of open questions, but we will post updates as we learn more.

Event Structure

We will soon start moving more of our time towards actual event (talk/workshop/session) planning. My personal impression is that while there will be centrally scheduled talks/workshops/other activities, many of the most interesting bits will emerge in the moment. This is a weakness (we don’t know how to describe that in advance) but also a natural strength (we already know that there will be many interesting participants from different backgrounds who will make stuff happen just by being there and getting excited.)

Consequently we’re currently re-thinking the event structure. Meaning: to us it now is becoming more important to say which organisations are going to be attending; and to then give camp attendees channels for collaboration (a stronger focus on villages, unconference tracks, work/hack spaces, the social experience.) Less formal conference, more organic community gathering.

I’m personally very excited about this part, but as I say, there’s much to be figured out first. Let us know if you’d like to help with that :)

Want to help out?

We’re a community-run non-profit event. Want to help organise the camp? Join the mailing list, introduce yourself on IRC, participate in our weekly planning meetings. For details see the Contact page, have a look at our Teams and their open positions, and the plans we have for camp volunteers.

Tally ho,

Electromagnetic Field pre-sale tickets are now available

As promised pre-sale tickets for Electromagnetic Field are now available at emfcamp.org, we’ve already sent out some announcements earlier this month.

A pre-sale ticket reserves your full ticket and gives a reduction on the final ticket price. Your £30 deposit enables us to gather capital for various necessary payments required for the camp to take place. We’d really appreciate your support for ticket pre-sales if you plan to attend.

Final tickets will likely cost between £80 to £100 each, which gives you a place to pitch your tent with power and Internet, access to all events (some workshops may charge a small fee to cover costs), the bar, and the camp’s social areas from Friday 31st August to Sunday 2nd September. If you plan to arrive by car there will be an additional charge for a parking permit.

If you discover at a later date that you can’t attend the camp we’ll gladly refund £20 of your pre-sales ticket price, with £10 kept as an administrative fee. We won’t charge this fee if the final ticket price is over £100.

We’re only selling a limited number of pre-sale tickets, so if you don’t get one, don’t worry! More tickets will be available later when we begin full ticket sales.

Other Updates

Two important announcements in case you haven’t been following our progress:

You may have seen that we’re currently setting a minimum age limit of 18 years. This is a result of the regulations and statutory requirements for such events in the UK. However after some research and a lot of discussion we are now reasonably confident that we can remove this restriction soon. We will post more updates later.

We aim to be as accessible as possible, so if you have any special requirements please get in touch and we’ll try to accommodate you. Animals will not be allowed on site, except for guide dogs.

Want to help out?

We’re a community-run non-profit event. Want to help organise the camp? Join the mailing list, introduce yourself on IRC, participate in our weekly planning meetings. For details see the Contact page, have a look at our Teams and their open positions, and the plans we have for camp volunteers.

Thanks for reading and hope to see you there!

Mark and all the rest of the EMF team

EMF camp planning: basic infrastructure and community outreach

Up until a week ago we were almost exclusively focused on choosing the location, and then preparing the basic infrastructure (power, sanitation, Internet, etc.) There are still many details to take care of, but we’re getting to a place where we have a solid understanding of our basic cost structure, and contacts with great suppliers. Some of these aspects may be worth a blog post of their own at some point; it is delightful to observe well-experienced networking geeks design and negotiate Internet infrastructure for a field!

Some of the things we did last week:

  • We’re aiming for a small ticket pre-sales round soon (to kick the tyres), with a more public round after that.
  • We’re planning our next site visit for Saturday 9 June. Jontyw will post an announcement soon.
  • We’re starting to research accessibility questions. Get in touch with the team (particularly Solexious and Russss) if you have experience in such matters or are planning on coming and have any special requirements.
  • We reviewed our team structure and made some refinements. We will grow the org team quite quickly, so this is currently one of the focus areas.

Community Outreach

We’re now starting to look at community and social aspects of the camp. We want to focus on making the camp a great social experience by bringing communities together, and giving them space to shape the event; and less on creating a conference that people “consume.”

We’ve seen incredible interest by the right kind of people already, and know that it will be something special. But a result of this approach is that we don’t yet have enough concrete things to show in our “programme” to excite even sceptics. I imagine this will change quite quickly, but also that things will stay fluid until the very end. We’ve already seen various plans by UK hackspaces to set up villages etc. Check back in a few weeks…

In concrete terms we’re now approaching the first communities and inviting them to shape the event. This could mean offering talks, workshops, performances, or starting a village (a tent community), or preparing ambitious installations, etc — you get the idea. Last week we sent the Call for Participation to all larger UK hackerspaces (get in touch with martind if you haven’t received yours!) and already received some very positive responses. We’re also starting to reach out to some larger European communities, as well as to our immediate social circles; and we encourage you all to do the same. And please tell us who we should get in touch with!

We’re also now starting to consider how we will coordinate our volunteers. An event like this is not possible to run without a lot of help by all participants. More updates on that at a later time…

Hugs & kisses,

EMF 2012 Call for Participation

As mentioned we’re organising a UK camping festival later this Summer: Electromagnetic Field 2012. We are now searching for contributors to give talks, workshops, and performances. We’re also inviting communities to participate by forming camp villages.

More details on ticket sales will follow soon: follow @emfcamp for updates.



About the Event

Electromagnetic Field 2012 is a three-day camping festival for people with an inquisitive mind or an interest in making things: hackers, geeks, scientists, engineers, artists, and craftspeople.

A great gathering of specialists, enthusiasts, and newcomers from many disciplines, with talks and workshops on a wide range of subjects, and many opportunities to collaborate or have a drink with someone new.

A festival for anyone interested in 3D printing, DIYBio, knitting, electronics, Internet culture, space, lockpicking, homebrewing, robots, UAVs, mind hacking, radio, or pretty much anything else you can think of. EMF is a volunteer effort by a non-profit group, inspired by European and US hacker camps like CCC, HAR, and toorcamp.



A 1h presentation about a topic in science, engineering, DIY, technology, arts, or crafts. The allocated time includes Q&A, setup, and teardown. 


A 1h, 2h, or 3h workshop involving practices in science, engineering, DIY, technology, arts, or crafts. The allocated time includes setup and teardown. 

We hope to have enough desk space and chairs for everyone, but details are yet to be determined. If you prefer to hold open-ended workshops then we encourage you to start or join a village: see below for details.


Musical performances, DJ sets, artistic performances, general evening entertainment, …  

We will provide a stage area in a tent and a basic PA.


Villages are dedicated camping areas for particular groups, with shared access to power and Internet. You can form a village for your local hackerspace, art form, project, or any other community. This makes it easier for people to get to know each other and encourages collaboration while at the festival, be it for cooking sessions or to build ambitious installations. 

Villages are not planned through our submissions system. Instead you can register your village here: http://wiki.emfcamp.org/wiki/Villages

You may also be interested in our mailing list and IRC channel: http://wiki.emfcamp.org/wiki/Contact

Venue Details

EMF 2012 is a camping festival in a field. The venue is Pineham Park, near Milton Keynes in the UK.

We plan to have two event tents with an audience capacity of about 100 each, both with access to power and Internet, each with a projector, and at least one of the tents will have a PA for larger presentations. We also aim to have camp-wide wifi, and ethernet ports in key locations.

We will attempt to stream the talks and performances and publish the recordings after the event.

Budget and Travel expenses

The EMF camp is a non-profit event produced entirely by volunteers, and speakers are not paid. Unfortunately we can not subsidise your entry ticket, and we do not have a travel budget for contributors either; due to the nature of the event we expect that everyone pays. We may be able to make a few very rare exceptions, but don’t count on it.

Dates and Deadlines

We’re keeping submissions open right up to the event. Notification of acceptance will be sent by e-mail as early as possible.

Electromagnetic Field 2012 is held between Friday 31 August and Sunday 2 September 2012.


If you’d like to give a talk or workshop on anything at all, have a look at our submission details.

For more details about the event in general see our wiki at http://wiki.emfcamp.org.

Please note that much of this may be subject to changes, in which case we will make corresponding announcements. To stay up do date follow @emfcamp, or have a look at our mailing list and IRC channel: http://wiki.emfcamp.org/wiki/Contact.

Announcing Electromagnetic Field 2012

After just a few years of rapid growth there now are dozens of hackerspaces and makerspaces in the UK, with thousands of members. In addition there are countless other communities of craftsmen, artists, designers, engineers who are interested in the same DIY ethic, who are inquisitive, and keen to make things.

This large community still has few opportunities to meet up across disciplines and talk shop, socialise, meet new people, teach others and learn from others. Most events are small regional conferences and often focused on very specific themes.

This year we want to bring everyone together for a large UK-wide camping festival, held in a field near Milton Keynes from 31 August to 2 September. The event is organised by a non-profit organisation and produced entirely by volunteers. We are members of well-known hackerspaces and other organisations.

We hope that you will join us, and invite you to help us turn it into something special! More details will follow very soon.

For more details and to register your interest go to emfcamp.org.
And follow us on Twitter at @emfcamp.