The 3rd PIFcamp is over!

The third edition of PIFcamp has ended successfully and if we rely on the testimonies of PIFparticipants and guests, we can safely state it has been the best yet. We would like to give thanks to all who made PIFcamp possible starting with the organizational team from Ljudmila, The Projekt Atol Institute and this year’s co-organizers BioTehna and Rampa Lab.

Immense gratitude is due to our team of tireless cooks for our delicious meals, to the photo and video team for their stunning documentation of the PIFhappening and PIFprojects, to the scout clan Zmajev rod for giving us extra shelter and working space in the tent, the local community of Soča village for every imaginable support and to the UCSB or MAT program for being there for us in key moments. Thank you!

Naturally it would be very hard to do it without the support of the Municipality of Ljubljana and the Slovenian Ministry of Culture, as well as all our sponsors and donors. Big thanks goes out to the HTE  store for all electronic components, to Iskra for potentiometers, to the Conrad store for all the tools, and to Radio Študent for enabling us to be heard!

Lastly and perhaps most importantly, the biggest RECOGNITION and THANKS goes out to this year’s participants and to the whole PIFcamp community for the selfless, benevolent and heartfelt sharing of knowledge, ideas, experiences, talents, courage, ingenuity and magic <3

See you next year!

P. S. We want your work zeal to outlive PIFcamp, so make sure you take full advantage of the 15% discount on all on-line purchases offered by Conrad.

May hacking live forever!

PIFcamp 2017 – Day 6

The end of the camp is getting closer, which is reflected in the projects, as they are all in their final phases. After breakfast we therefore took some time to hang out by the river. We went to the Great Soča Gorge, a truly fairy-tale-like location, where one can bask in the emerald sheen of Soča, take deep plunges into the river or just enjoy sitting by the gorge and relax with the light effects of Václav’s modified fidget spinner.

After Václav explained all about the history of flashing stroboscopic effects with psychedelic results, which inspired his modification of the fidget spinner, he led the participants of his Kastl workshop to the shade and continued explaining the various practical uses of the synths they made yesterday.

Back in the base Peter led the second part of his echo synth building workshop, and other continued work on their projects.

Hannah and Mika have also reached the final phase of their costume creation. We had a tasting of the fermented mate drinks and were most pleased with the ones which were flavoured with thyme, oregano and calamint.

After supper it was time for a Nintendo tournament.

Even the youngest tried out various instruments. We listened to music and socialised by the fire, which was a spot perfect for watching another laser show. This time others joined in its creation, as they threw corn starch (amongst other things) towards the laser beam to form a kind of a Milky Way effect. The frolicking went on long into the night.


PIFcamp 2017 – Day 5

Cindy left our camp in the morning. A part of the group attended Gea’s yoga session, a fine way to stretch their feet all sore from yesterday’s hike to Krn Lake. The daily dose of wasp stings is becoming mandatory. Andrew got stung in his tongue right after yoga, but it wasn’t fatal. His swelling went down in a few hours and he was back in shape again.

The crew of the Slovenian National Television came to visit. Before lunch we gathered ferns and other plants that will be incorporated into two costumes created by Hannah and Mika (Kobakant) for their ritual performance. Their team is getting bigger, as they have been joined by Andrew, Craig, Miro and many more.

Miro made a pair of stilts and Hannah was already practising walking on them in the afternoon. We got a good idea about the two costumes and their future form by the evening.

The ingeniously humorous Václav spent some time in making insoles for his sneakers. With the help of Hannah he equipped them with conductive strips and sensors, which control the sound coming from his modular synth. He also held a workshop. Ten participants were able to make their very own Kastl synths, a mini modular synths with an input for headphones.

Like every day there was a lot of swimming going on in Soča, and some even took to kayaking.

A large segment of the happening is taking place in the evening, as it is quite hot during the day. The brother Jure and Marko Lavrin graced us with an incredible pop-synth musical performance, Jure continued with Dario and Brgs on their excursion into psychedelic music, then it was time to listen to some noise generated by Staš and Peter. They were soon joined by Kleemar, and all of the aforementioned contributed to the making of diverse electronic harmonies that went on until the small hours of the day. The energy was phenomenal. Some danced like nobody was watching, others immersed themselves in the laser visualisation Bernhard projected on the nearby tree. A small performance was given by Andrew, who fitted right into the visual content of the evening with his costume and some simple lighting effects. Another visual performance was the work of Klemens Kohlweis who projected onto the wall behind the band.

It was high time to discuss the program of this year’s Open Saturday, when PIFparticipants present their projects to the public. Yair and Zohar are planning their lollipop presentation for noon, Dario will take us for a walk to and on the nearby meadows, and we will also get a chance to try out the fermented mate drinks created by Rosen and his team.

The Rampa team is working on several different nodes for our youngsters. On Arduino use in combination with sensors and visualisation, so one can visually imagine all the data gathered by the sensors from our environment, for example. Others are also working on their project presentations. Vincent and Mojca will upload a song to their accordion, so we will be able to play along the pattern of its LED lights. Vaclav and Bernhard will perform as Laser Bros (lasers and modular synths), Peter and Vaclav will also be performing together, and Hannah will make a presentation of the video she made about her last year’s project on PIFcamp – PIFpack. We will have our traditional picnic, and you will be able to screen print your own PIF T-shirt.

PIFcamp 2017 – Day 4

A group of PIFparticipants rose up early in the morning and went on a hike to Krn Lake. The most enthusiastic ones didn’t even wear proper shoes, but that had no effect whatsoever on the pleasure of their undertaking, as they enjoyed watching the ever-changing local flora and fauna. The lake served as a beautiful spot to have a rest and a quick panacea for soaring feet – the little fish in it even provided a pedicure. Those, who were up to it, continued to a nearby mountain top Šmohor.

Before returning to the valley Andrew tried out the robotic arm he took to the hike. He gave it a Sisyphean task – to move stones from one pile to the next and back again. He also shot some spectacular video material with his drone. On their way back the group gathered another batch of stinging nettles, which we have been eating fried for the last couple of days, and some rhodiola rosea or rose root. The root will serve as an invigorating addition to an alcoholic drink we are preparing.

The PIF participants that stayed in the base relinquished their morning yoga session. Rosen and the team working with him continued with their fermentation of yerba mate. It was time to take out the kombucha. They strained the liquid into smaller bottles and exposed them to the sun. They also added some herbs to the concoction to improve its flavour. They plan to serve at least 10 litres of the drink by the end of PIFcamp.

Batt-Girl (Bat Dezabeli), our guest from Jerusalem has been crocheting away in the shades of the tent. A photo of Soča River serves as an inspiration for her 3-D crocheted painting. Kristijan Tkalec, who has been measuring the temperature of the river every day and determined it has 9 degrees Celsius in the morning and 12 degrees Celsius at noon, decided to make an UV sensor, which will help us to ascertain the time it is advisable to socialize in the sun.

Jaka Berger – Brgs, one of the most versatile Slovenian musicians, has been tirelessly working on his project. He has finished his yearly upgrade of the prepared string pieces he uses on his percussions. He programed a patch for granular synthesis in pure data, which he plans to use on his next record. Luka Frelih also helped him to create the code for Arduino he will use to control sixteen servomotors he added to the drum he was working on at PIFcamp last year.

Our guests from Italy – Alice Pintus and Alessandro Contini – held a synth-making and the basics of sound production in Arduino workshop throughout the day. They explained a lot about generating simple noise patterns, translating light into sound, sequencing and so forth.

When the evening meeting full of reports about the experiences of the day and our progress ended, it was time for the Czechs to steal the show. Václav, who has been playing around with a fidget spinner he modified to create a kind of psychedelic contraption with a kaleidoscopic effect, made an introduction into the operational amplifier schematics reading. The lecture section was continued by Vadim Petrov, who provided a short and practical introduction to the coding of video content in browsers.

The Israelis Yair Reshef and Zohar Messeca-Fara who have been forced to work on their electronic lollipops by night as there is too much wasps around the tent during the day, made a demonstration of their work methods and a degustation of the first lollipops. Amongst other things they have been using silicon moulds of the plants we made with Andrew yesterday.

The electronic “freitonerin” with mechanical keys by Groenhuis and Miklavec is finished and is working. They will start on another version tomorrow. This one will have electronic keys, as they are testing different combination to find out what works best. The accordion will also have LED diodes. They will serve as a decorative element, but will also help you to learn new songs, as their blinking will point out the next key that needs to be pressed.

All project are linked in a sense, and the bonds among the participants are getting stronger as well. Although we are barely through the first middle of the camp, we already agree it is its most active chapter so far.

PIFcamp 2017 – Day 3

Despite a long previous night a small group woke up early and start the day with yoga. As Gea was absent it was led by our man with many talents – Andrew Quitmeyer. He is one of the central figures of this year’s PIFcamp and is the one, who might also be the most recognisable one. Some of you may know his as an author of the television show Hacking the Wild. Well, for a job well done he was awarded with a wasp sting at the end of the session.

After breakfast the majority of participants went on a hike with our wild man  Dario Cortese, who led us up the hill to a nearby deserted village Lemovje.

We made our base their for a short time. While some left to catch a glimpse of a spring, which was located approximately a ten minute hike away, the others joined the workshop led by Hannah Perner-Wilson and Mika Satomi from KOBAKANT. We gathered various morphologically interesting plants, which might be use as accessories to the interactive garments they are planning to build.

In the meantime we were having fun with co-creating Hannah’s “green” T-shirt. That meant we covered her in stinging nettles. As they have hairs they are highly suitable for instant textile design.

While we were walking, we naturally gathered some more of the delicious wild plants growing in the vicinity. We also got to find out about some new ones. What we gathered later became an ingredient in our meals, but we also made a really good tea. The hike was crowned with a mandatory daily swim and many refreshing jumps into Soča.

The wind was suitable enough for Cindy Regalado and Luka Frelih to try out if the day was good for flying kites. The kite did take of, but not high enough to take appropriate pictures. Cindy therefore decided to explain remaining steps in the process of this specific way of map making. We got to know the program with which one can process the images and “stitch” it together. They also tried to fly the kite again in the afternoon, but this time, although the altitude was suitable, something went wrong with the camera.

After lunch we partook in a short workshop, in which we learned a lot about the uses of whey and making yogurt. We added some black currants and several local herbs to milk in order to check if they contain suitable bacteria for yogurt making. We will find out if they do tomorrow. Vaclav Pelovšek lead a quick course about the of modular synthesis. Some joined Andrew in making silicon casts of the plants we gathered on the hike. In the coming days we will be using the moulds to make organic shapes from chocolate or epoxy resin.

Lavoslava Benčić (from ČIPke), who has been working on her electronic gloves for the third year on PIFcamp now, decided to try and make an orthopaedic insole from kombucha. But, as it turned out kombucha doesn’t have enough of a “spring” effect when dry. Staš Vrenko and his group successfully finished the etching of eight circuit boards in the bathroom, which they turned into an improvised darkroom.

The electronic accordion project is almost in its closing phase. Vincent and Mojca focused on determining if the electronics programming was done correctly, meaning, if specific tones answer to the assigned keys. Light box by Špela Škulj, made for screen printing, will be ready by Friday and we will get to try it out by making PIF T-shirts. By the evening we also got a first taste of the candy which will coat the electronic bonbons. The camp seemed like a well organised anthill at some point. Everybody was busy doing something. Gregor’s analog sequencer is also finally getting shape.

This night turned into a cacophonic symphony of sounds. PIFmusicians made them with drums, a bagpipe, flutes and synths, but this wild jamming was soon stopped by a temporary power shortage. So, most of us went straight into our beds, as the next day will be full of new adventures – some planned to go on another hike to Lake Krn at the break of dawn.

PIFcamp 2017 – Day 2

On the second day a good dozen of us started our day with yoga. Gea, our flexible yoga instructor, dedicated a good portion of our session to meditation and relaxation, while the rest was spent in various poses. We definitely got a good morning stretch.

Right after breakfast Staš Vrenko took care of the mandatory morning dose of knowledge-sharing. He led an introduction to circuit schematic drawing and  shed some much needed light on the principles of etching. Some circuits will be drawn and etched tomorrow.

The electronic accordion by Vincent Groenhuis and Mojca Miklavec is getting along quite nicely, but Cindy and her group didn’t manage to fly their kites. There was no suitable wind… Their spirits are nonetheless high, and they will try again in the forthcoming days.

The group that joined Rosen Ivanov in making a carbonated mate drink added wild yeast, ginger bug, whey, water kefir and kombucha to several glasses containing mate tea with sugar that was prepared yesterday. They tried out different ratios in order to find the combination with the right amount of carbon dioxide, which would also taste good.

After lunch some of us chose to go on a short stroll along the Soča river with our wild man Dario Cortese. We searched the nearby meadows to rob them of their aromatics and other edible plants. The summer savory,  wild carrots, wild garlic and nettles we gathered ended up in salads that accompanied one of the delicious meals prepared by our lovely chefs Tereza, Maruša and Tea. They are truly spoiling us.

We were joined by Hannah and Mika from KOBAKANT today. They shared the timeline of their project in which they will combine wearables with local plant life and sounds.

In the afternoon quite a few PIFparticipants made their own simple echo sound effect under the watchful eye of Peter Edwards. As there are so many musicians on PIFcamp this year, we can expect to witness and take part in many jam-sessions and performances.

When something turns out to be an excellent idea, it is bound to become standard practice, so like the first evening we went into the woods to gather wood and make a bonfire before it turned too dark. After another delectable dinner we were graced by the visit of the local chaplain. And after that the happening transformed into a super birthday bash – chocolate cake and all. The atmosphere grew more electrifying by the minute as sounds from modular synths permeated the evening air. John Dinger, who celebrated alongside Lio, had the honour to set the vibe to the pleasure of everybody present. It was not hard for Peter Edwards and Václav Peloušek to pick it up and make this night a thing to remember.

The PIFcrowd was enthralled also by Bernhard Rasinger, who use the nearby treetops as a screen for his laser wizardry.

Time flew by as August shooting stars this sweet night of music, dancing and passionate debates, and the sky was turning back to blue when the last man standing went off to his well-deserved rest.

PIFcamp 2017 – Day 1

After the initial introductions and some time to get to know our surroundings, we lent an ear to the first project presentations and started to plan the week that approximately 50 avid lovers of technology, art and science from all across the globe will spend in the beautiful Soča Valley for the third year in a row.

Peter Edwards, an American currently living in Czech Republic, is among us once again! He works with Václav Peloušek and Tomáš Niesner, who are part of BASTL Instruments, a company and a collective based in Brno. Some of the PIFparticipants familiarized themselves with their modular synths before their first PIFdinner.

Another guest of this year’s camp is Andrew Quitmeyer, who started the day by demonstrating how to use a drone and in the evening also explained all about laser cutting on various surfaces such as plant leaves and wood.

Some also got a chance to delve into the world of oscilloscopes. The man who brought them to Soča is Bernhard Rasinger, who wants to explore ways to integrate modular synth circuits, oscilloscopes and lasers.

Our very own agricultural dissident Dario Cortese announced several walks into the wild, where there will be heaps of opportunity to gather medicinal and edible wild plants growing in nearby pastures and woods.

A novelty of the camp this year is a focus on the development of workshop programmes for youngsters, which will be led by Cindy Regalado and Kristijan Tkalec, also a part of the Rampa Lab and BioTehna team, co-producers of the 3rd PIFcamp. Cindy explained all about her PIFnode, which involves flying kites, equipped with a camera, over the PIFvenue and its surroundings. With the kites she plans to take aerial shots of the area, and combine them in order to generate its map.

Naturally we are excited about all PIFprojects. Yair Reshef and Zohar Messec-Fara will create electronic lollipops, for example, and the Dutch-Slovenian connection – Vincent Groenhuis and Mojca Miklavec – are working on a modular accordion. We are also waiting impatiently for the arrival of Hannah Perner-Wilson and Mika Satomi from the KOBAKANT collective, as they will design and execute a new and “all-natural” wearable technology.

The nutritional enthusiast Rosen Ivanov completed some of the initial phases in his quest to find ways to use carbon dioxide formed in the course of fermentation in the creation of fizzy drinks. He plans to use wild yeast, whey, water kefir and kombucha. We might get to try out his creations from yerba mate by the end of the week.

A proper anthropological study of the knowledge-sharing processes at PIFcamp by Ahac Meden is apparently forthcoming. No wonder, since PIFcamp encourages all forms and the creative use of modern technologies while emphasising active project co-creation and the free distribution of knowledge, ideas and experiences.

Looking forward to the coming adventures!