AccessLab futures workshop

The AccessLab project has been a series of five workshops, aimed at decentralising research skills, encouraging open access, and building local communities. As the funding draws to a close, we ended by bringing participants back together for a scoping workshop to decide on possible future paths for the project. This is a brief write-up of the main outputs from the scoping workshop.

How to submit a UK VAT return if you are a strange organisation

As part of our continuing mission to promote and celebrate all forms of administration, we are publishing our UK VAT accounting procedure. This is important if you are running an arts organisation, non-profit or independent research organisation (or all three in one glorious muddle, like we are) as this means your income is likely to be a mix of commercial and grant funding, making you partially exempt for VAT and …

Another reply from a now resigned Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation

Our second reply in the series from Sam Gyimah MP arrived shortly before he announced his resignation from government. We've written a reply to be sent via our local MP anyway, although I doubt he will see it.

This letter I think perhaps gets us closer to the assumptions at the heart of a lot of UK policy, a surprisingly simplistic view that research is entirely something done by universities, …

How to run an AccessLab

A comprehensive description of the AccessLab format - a workshop to decentralise research skills and encourage open access publication of scientific research.

Making circuit boards with a CNC machine

One of the strategies we've been exploring at FoAM Kernow is using our hardware projects to research different ways of building things. For example our approach of design assuming collapse (& brexit) has resulted in much higher awareness of our supply chains, and through this - potential dependance on manufacturing in places with less environmental and health regulation.

Penelopean robotics part 3 - radio transmissions

On the Penelope project, our plan was to develop technologies that could be useful in constructing a swarm of robots which could be livecoded by using the pattern matrix - a general purpose tangible programming system based on the Raspberry Pi. In order to make communication possible remotely, radio is the most obvious approach to get up and running quickly (other options that are intriguing are infra-red and audible …

Penelopean robotics part 2 - building a robot by weaving

Penelopean robotics are about rebuilding technology in the woven cosmos. You can read more about the theory in part 1, but roughly our aims are to:

Embody Penelopean technological practice - they should be easily undone (taken apart) so they can be understandable, self documenting and repairable.

They are not automated looms, but must eventually be capable of weaving in some form, maybe by interacting with ancient Greek weaving …

AccessLab Penzance - notes from the event

In July we ran an AccessLab in Penzance (UK), for people who work in marine and fishing sectors. This event was the first of three AccessLabs for 2018, funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and in partnership with the British Science Association (BSA). This blog post is to document the format changes made, feedback received, and notes for future iterations.

Stackable hexagon prototype boards

We are working on a lot of hardware projects at the moment as we are interested in how to to rebuild technology from various alternative starting points. It seems most "off the shelf" hardware has converged on increasingly inaccessible and conservative forms, but luckily (and probably not due to entirely unrelated reasons) at the same time there has been an explosion in the availability, community documentation and potential of open …

Viruscraft: tangible interface electronics

Next up, we needed to get a working prototype of our tangible interface running for the second Viruscraft workshop, so that we could have a complete system up and running from the custom hardware to the on-screen game world for people to test and give us feedback on how it worked.

A recap on how this is supposed to work - we need to plug different types of ligand (protrusions …

Building Viruscraft planets

This blog post is about the Viruscraft world, how we came up with the idea and populated it with host species. This is a screenshot of the current 'alpha version' of viruscraft we tested with the custom tangible interface (more on that soon) during the second game testing workshop. You can read Amber's report on this workshop here. It took a while to develop this planet, we started with a …

Viruscraft: Notes from workshop 2

In April, we held our second Viruscraft workshop to begin testing a game and tangible interface that we are making together with evolutionary biologist Dr. Ben Longdon. This post describes the development process to date, and the outcomes of the game testing workshop.

AccessLab 2018: The launch of a new workshop series

We are launching a series of three new AccessLab events for 2018 - for those working in the fishing and marine sectors, journalism and blogging, and parliamentary, council and policy roles. The AccessLab project aims to improve access to and the judgement of scientific evidence, through pairing scientific researchers with people who are seeking reliable information. Our focus is on developing skills for finding scientific information and judging its reliability, …

Viruscraft hardware prototyping: etching PCBs

While we experiment with new fabrication techniques in order to shorten supply chains (with a philosophy of collapse in mind), electronics is problematic. Components can be salvaged and reclaimed but a particular problem is printed circuit board manufacture.

Like many we have tended to outsource this work to China, where the costs allow us to do short-run prototyping with our tiny budgets. Are these lower costs simply due to scale …

Midimutant in MagPi Magazine

Here's an article on midimutant we did with Aphex Twin for MagPi Magazine, written by Sean McManus. Most of the work on this project recently has revolved around exploring custom hardware using old FM synth chips from games consoles, but there should be more evolved DX7 sounds around here soon.