Bio-fermented Mate Drinks

“Materva” has become a symbol of Cuban diaspora and nostalgia of pre-Castro Cuba, “Club Mate” is the preferred and signature drink of most post-Fordist alternative engineering cultures (a.k.a hackers), and “Nativa” became a known Coca-Cola market flop in Argentina. What unites those three drinks is the idea of carbonating the famous mate tea into energizing soda pops, or gasiosas de mate.

This project by Rosen Ivanov comes from his passion for ilex paraguariensis, or yerba mate, and its fascinating social history and traditional uses. After working on a soda-pop from yerba mate in the local Barcelona biohackerspace, Rosen decided to try various methods of natural carbonation for brewing traditional tea fizzy drinks.

On the first days of the camp, he invites you to experiment with him on different ways of using fermentation’s CO2 for making sodas-pops. He’s intending to try the following cultures, but any other methods we can work with are highly appreciated: ginger bug, whey, water kefir and kombucha.

Environment reading sensors

Photo by Hana Josić.

With the help from Kristijan Tkalec (BioTehna) participants will submerge into a collection of sensors and use Arduino microcontrollers to assemble new devices, which will help them to sense the surroundings more efficiently. The node is open to all aspiring explorers who want to familiarize themselves with the basics of programming, Arduino use and sensors. The goal will be to make as diverse and interesting little exploration devices as possible. They will be used for tracking temperature, humidity, the UV safety according to the UV index, the amount of carbon dioxide and so forth. The most interesting specimens will be recreated in the workshop for children, which will take place on PIFcamp’s Open Saturday.

Prepared circuits

Project Prepared circuits by Staš Vrenko is based on the creative and individualized exploration of the basic principles of sound circuit integration and connectivity. Taking a hands-on approach the participants will therefore be able to familiarize themselves with the concepts of non-linear feedback, logical circuits, circuit bending and physical sound processing.

In the first part of the project participants will assemble the electroacoustic instrument and tool for the physical manipulation of sound Soda v0.5b.

Soda v0.5 is a semi-modular instrument with several inputs and outputs, which enable intervention into the circuit’s signal path. This signal starts with a jack input, which can be used for plugging a contact microphone, a synth, a guitar magnet and so forth. We can then amplify the signal, filter it and much more. What follows is a voltage controlled oscillator (VCO), which is turned into a live ramp waveform according to the range of the signal’s amplitude. In the circuit’s output phase the signal physically manifests itself in the form of a line output and an internal power amplifier which powers the speaker.

In the second part of the project participants will add various external circuits and physical contraptions for sound manipulation to the device. They will be chosen on the basis of personal musical/sound preferences.

The expansion process of the formal and consequentially functional features of the basic instrument will therefore serve as a possibility of the further individualization of instruments and sound generators.

Piezo invasion of integrated circuits by Anton Prykhodko

Ever been wondering how to use a contact mic with your DIY synthesizer? Say, as a trigger for the envelope generator or as an impulse to the resonant low-pass filter? If you think of contact microphones in modular fashion, this is just a pinch of what they are capable of.

Piezo electricity is there to be a transducer, the medium between electronic and acoustic domain. Meaning the piezo disc can pick up vibes as well as vibrate itself like a regular speaker. When both of these functions get together – with one mic listening to its own electrical signal from another mic – you get feedback which is nothing but an oscillator.

The contact mic also allows building processing units from solid materials. Turn slinky into a spring reverb effect, make a crumpled plastic case into a band-pass filter, boost the lows with a balloon equalizer or let piezo itself, considering its high voltage output, drive the op-amp overdrive unit.

Anton Prykhodko will spawn a plethora of contact microphones to explore interaction between electronic and piezoelectric circuits. To get all those squeaks and creaks he will plug sound modules into a mixer matrix with multiple outputs and feedback paths.

P/i\Fcamp Solar Power Plant

The goal of this project by Staša Guček will be to create small, efficient, portable solar power plant from plants for all noise fans, hikers and hackers. P/i\Fcamp Solar Power Plant will be able to power a microcontroller, LED lights controlled by touch or maybe even a small noise machine, synth, theremin to noise away in the forest or on the mountain top.

P_lant (or Microbial) F_uel C_ell will be the source of electrical energy which will with boost converter power different preprogrammed microcontrollers or other devices.

First we will jump into the forest undergrowth of the valley where Soča River flows and gather moss, plants and suitable soil which will be our base for microbial fuel cell (MFC). Microbial fuel cell is one of the renewable energy alternatives that generates electricity through breakdown of organic matter. Plants always produce more sugars than they need and the excess is released through their roots into the soil and dissolve into protons and electrons, therefore MFC system with electrodes in the soil can catch the plant waste.

In the next step we will built simple low-power boost converter, therefore we will be able to get enough energy to power microcontrollers. Later we will have to show (off) our programming skills in Arduino, program microcontrollers (ATtiny) and make this plant-moss-light installation interactive, sensitive to touch or use it as a battery for our synths and other instruments.

Last part will be for optimisation of the P/i\Fcamp Solar Power Plant, so that it will be wearable and portable (and we can hike to nearest mountain and make some noise above 2.000 m.)

Oscilloscopics with Bernhard Rasinger

Bernhard Rasinger will join PIFcamp for the first time to come and play with modular synth circuits, oscilloscopes and lasers. There will be basic analogue oscilloscope training to visualise sounds and other electric signals in real time. Once you are acquainted and are all tangled up in a knot of cables, it is time to let the electrons fly. The dance of signals will take you on a journey, where sine- triangle and square waves are your travel companions.  The oscilloscope will tell you little stories about the circuits you are probing.

With the help of the oscilloscope you can visualise behaviour of electric architectures and enjoy the magical beauty of the electronic maze.

We will talk about obsolescence, alternative energy sources and phase modulation.

As a personal goal Bernhard will try to hack and modify existing circuits and improve the vocabulary of performance. There will be highly hypnotic audiovisual laser performances in complete darkness and laserjams.

DIY aerial mapping by Cindy Regalado

In this two-part series of workshops participants will learn the art and science of DIY aerial mapping using kites: fly a kite, map an area of land, learn how to make a composite aerial photograph using, how to interpret and use aerial photos, and learn from examples of how DIY mapping has been used around the world by the Public Laboratory for Open Technology & Science community.

NDVI analysis of NIR aerial photograph over Regent’s Park, London. UK. Warmer colours = more vigour growth.

In Do-It-Yourself aerial mapping Part 1 we’ll learn how to use kites to gather aerial photographs over the surrounding area. We’ll use both an ordinary camera and a DIY Near Infrared (NIR) camera to capture data on plant health. No prior experience required!
What to bring: wind breaker as protection from the elements; sunglasses (we’ll be staring up at the sky a lot!); sunscreen and/or hat (that won’t fly away!); a water bottle; a notebook; a camera (on phone works) to document our adventure. Optional: an SD card to collect your own photos.

In Do-It-Yourself aerial mapping Part 2 (indoors) we will learn how to stitch together and interpret the images that we collected in Part 1 of the workshop. Bring your laptop.

Cindy Regalado is part of Public Laboratory for Open Technology & Science: a community that develops and applies open source tools to environmental exploration and investigation. As an open community of contributors from around the world, they collaboratively build a set of experimental open source tools and a network of local groups. They are creating an open data archive and free and open source software (from map making to spectral analysis). The platform helps them to build collaborations, practical knowledge, and provides organisational capacity.

Hack your own food!

So, we are told the best food grows on the shelves of superhiperultramega markets. And that eco/bio/organic is the best? Well, here’s the rest of the truth: we are literally surrounded by nutritionally very well rounded wild edibles, which can be prepared in any culinary way. But the rule is that the simplest is the best! This time we will leave cockroaches, larvae and other bugs behind (they are more or less edible by the way) and will concentrate on wild vegetables and herbs.

The aim of the node is to get closer to the plants, edible or not (all of the poisonous ones are very medicinal indeed, but there is a thin line between their medicinal and poisonous effect).

And, yes, did anybody mention Fly Agaric and Belladona? Some connections with the quite recent use of these Old World shamanic psychoactives in the region not that far away from the PIFcamp base will be mentioned, too.

The node is led (or at least he tries do it (t)his way) by Dario Cortese, an agricultural dissident and a proud dog pack leader. In his spare time he even wrote a few books on the subject.

Protect Me From The Future by KOBAKANT

Hannah Perner-Wilson and Mika Satomi from KOBAKANT will be joining PIFcamp this year to design and build “all-natural wearable technology”. Merging natural and technical materials and mechanisms to produce a new style of technological cladding – wearables that will protect us from the future.

We will hunt and gather nature’s treasures from the Soca valley and investigate how we can use these resources to build a new category of wearable technology. Technology inspired by the properties, qualities, textures, colours, rules and smells of the outdoors. These wearables will make us want to run out into the wild, to make noise and take action, to express our concerns through moving our bodies in all kinds of nature.

We will investigate, make, talk, choreograph and perform!

1) INVESTIGATE nature’s ability to make sound – both analog and digital

Explore following concepts with our hunted and gathered materials:
– Resistive and piezoresistive properties of materials
– Piezoelectric properties of materials (solar cell, temperature difference, physical strain….)
– Electromagnetic pickups (generating and amplifying small voltages)

Experiment with different sound circuits:
– Those from Bastl Instruments
– We will order some 555 timers and ATtinys
– Participants please bring stuff too!

Make things loud!
– How can we amplify these sounds so that they are heard? Especially outdoors.

2) MAKE the results of our investigation wearable

– Design wearables so that we can make sound with the movements of our bodies
– Make these designs durable so that they can be worn and performed

3) TALK about nature, human nature, technology and the built environment

We will gather around the fire to share and discuss:
– What is nature, what is natural?
– How are humans and nature intertwined?
– What do we want to make noise about?
– Who are we performing for?

Some proposed texts for reading:
Donna Haraway: Staying with The Trouble
Richard Sennett: Together

4) CHOREOGRAPH a performance (a ritual, a protest, a march, a dance, a game, a movement…)

Any choreographers and performers at PIFcamp? We would love your help and input on this part!

5) PERFORM on the last day of PIFcamp

Q: Who can join this node?
A: You must hunt and gather, learn and share. Then you may join.

Q: What do you mean by “natural”?
A: Good question. Lets discuss.

Q: What do you mean by “make noise and take action”?
A: We will discuss together what we want to make noise and take action on. This discussion will inform what costumes we build and the choreography of our performance.

Q: What materials and tools can I contribute to this project?
A: Bring yourselves, bring your bodies, bring circuits that make sound and materials that conduct. Bring your sewing needles and pocket knives. Your hiking boots and bathing suits.

Current Dictionary Definitions:

wearable – “an item that can be worn”
cladding – “a covering or coating on a structure or material”
technical – “of, involving, or concerned with applied and industrial sciences”
natural – “existing in or caused by nature; not made or caused by humankind”

More about the project.

Digital Naturalism with Andy Quitmeyer

Andrew Quitmeyer’s node will incorporate concepts and activities from his work in Digital Naturalism. The goal is to discover ways that DIY technology, created in the wild, can let us explore nature in new ways. The key relationship in this work is between field biologists (of any level) and technologists (of any ability), thus many of our activities will involve hybrid artistic and scientific examinations of the wilderness surrounding us. For instance we may develop biological tools for studying nearby creatures, and then adapt these into artistic devices for continued exploration and sharing of this phenomena.


Helping lead our investigation will be Digital Naturalism’s four main design guidelines (illustrated examples here).


The first is Behavioural Immersion, and looking at projects and activities that connect our senses and actions to those of wilderness creatures. For example, participants might be interested in making wearable scientific probes can map our senses to the activity of nearby ants, or birds, or fish.


Open Endedness encourages creating tools for general exploration increasing chances of serendipitously stumbling across interesting new phenomena. Making simple capacitive touch sensor probes that we can connect to nearby flora, for instance, lets us openly poke and probe novel questions in the environment. We might also program generalised tools, such as robotic arms, to poke and probe different ecological systems in multiple ways.


Technological Agency seeks to ensure our tools are open, understandable, and manipulable. By making our own devices together, and taking apart, or modifying existing tools, we can increase our collective ability to extend ourselves with these tools.


Finally, Contextual Crafting encourages shrinking our gap between the workspace and where we employ the objects we create. At PIFcamp we will, of course, be building our tools and devices in nature, and we will also be studying ways to harmoniously adapt workspaces to various natural features. Creating light-weight, transformable organisation units, and modular work surfaces that can be carried, or even incorporated into one’s clothing, is a goal we continually work on. Adaptable, portable, and wearable studios also lend themselves to exploring less utilitarian (and more fun) designs for keeping tools always close at hand.


No previous  experience in anything is necessary, just be alive and excited.