This year I attended the Chaos Communication Camp, which is a five-day open-air event organized by the Chaos Computer Club and a lot of volunteers.
People from all over the world came together to discuss technical, social and political topics. They built their tent villages and cool electronic/light installations.
The Ziegeleipark Mildenberg was a great venue with a lot of old abandoned machines standing around and creating a special atmosphere. There was also a great kids space including a self-build pizza oven, a tent full of bricks and toys and a beach.

Camp

Talks
In the big main tents you could listen to very interesting talks. Check them out!
But it was hard to attend to all of them because the offer of workshops, presentations and sessions in the other villages was overwhelming. So some people streamed them directly to their tents:

Picture of people streaming talks to their tent

My personal highlights:

1. Soldering & Chaos West

One goal for me at the camp was to learn soldering. There must have been at least 300 soldering irons at the camp and a lot of workshops too. Unfortunately I had a hard time finding someone who was willing to explain it to me. I bought a SMD starter kit at BlinkenArea village but I couldn’t solder it anywhere as nobody was interested to teach me. Or even worse people just ignored me completely.

Just when I wanted to give up I met a very friendly person from the Chaos West village who directed me to his friend Jürgen. Jürgen sold me some LEDs for my badge. Then he taught me placidly how to solder my LEDs to my badge and make them blink.

soldering

I also soldered my SMD starter kit there on the next day. All the people at Chaos West were really kind! Thank you so much!

SMD

2.) Amalettomat & LeiwandVille

“It’s a classical Austrian machine. Besides that… you know, everybody does 3D-Plotters and stuff, that’s not interesting anymore.” Food printing is the new 3D-printing! The Amalettomat is a machine that prints crepes/pancakes. They were perfectly baked and very tasty. You can follow it on Twitter or see the machine in action on Youtube.

Amalettomat

3.) The radio badge & muCCC village

On Thursday night the excitement rose to the top at 9 p.m. Everybody went to the north tent to see the talk about the rad1o badge. (By the way, the projectors screened incredible HD close-ups.)

projectors

So everybody who was patient enough to attend the talk and wait in a long line got their own rad1o badge.

What is the rad1o badge?
You can imagine it as a name badge but in reality it is more like a little computer, on which you can solder parts like LEDs or antennas and load your own C-programs.
Moreover, “the rad1o badge contains a full-featured SDR (software defined radio) half-duplex transceiver, operating in a frequency range of about 50 MHz - 4000 MHz, and is software compatible to the HackRF.” Find more detailed info in the rad1o wiki.

I think it is a great idea to give a piece of free-programmable hardware to attendees of a tech conference. It’s something that stays with you and inspires you to hack on new projects. It encourages to dive into topics that you might not have considered before (e.g. playing with radio waves).

Therefore, a big thank you to the great muCCC team who planned the badge and found sponsors to produce it. I am looking forward to hack with my little cute rad1o.

Rad1o Badge

On the back there is a very nice and important text. It says:

  • The access to computers and all that can show you how the world works should be unlimited and complete.

  • All information has to be free.

  • Distrust authorities - foster decentralization.

  • Judge a hacker on what the hacker does and not on common criteria like outer appearance, age, origin, species, gender or social standing.

  • You can create art and beauty with a computer.

  • Computers can change your live for the better.

  • Don’t mess with the data of other people.

  • Use public data, protect private data.

Rad1o Badge

4.) Creativity

I was really blown away by all the love the organizers and volunteers put into making this camp unforgettable. From the big beautiful light installations to the small ribbons at the engine of the party train. The party train contained a bar, drinks, music, relaxed people, nice decoration and on top of that a ball pitt. This train really got you in the mood of the camp. It was the most relaxed place in the world. I am actually sad that I didn’t spend all my time in the train during the camp.

party train

5.) Food

The food at the camp was just insane. (In a good way!) I have never seen so many professionally equipped kitchens at any other festival or camp in the world.
When walking through the camp I could see huge pans where people fried and cooked for their whole village or strangers for donation. Also in our village we prepared pasta, a Moroccan millet dish and yummy vegetable rice dishes.

But even if you had no kitchen in your tent you could try extremely good dishes from all over the world at the food area around the big rocket including Pierogi, Hummus, pulled pork, gnocchi and pizza.
The prices were also very much ok for the high quality of the food.
One night I fell in love with the spicy oil from the pizzaria: pizza

Wait a second...

I hear you say: What did you hack? Did you actually use your computer?
Of course! We hacked together and exchanged ideas about our hardware and software projects. But the chaos camp is so much more than just computers and Internet.
First of all, it was very hot. So our activities also included swimming and chilling out at the beach area. We gave sessions on sketchnoting, we painted fingernails, we listened to live radio shows and talks. We tried to send post through a pneumatic tube system, navigated robots and went dancing at night.
All in all, there were a million things to see and to attend to.

There are just 2 things I would love to see different next time:

  • Let’s use the generators less and let’s think about sustainable ways of generate our power. We are hackers – we can do this.

  • Let’s be more open and kind to beginners. It’s important to include people who have never heard about $TOPIC.

Credits:

I want to thank especially the CCC & all the angels (volunteers), my village: Open Code Town, Jürgen and Chaos West, muCCC, LeiwandVille, Bene, José, Kathrin, Johannes, Christophe, Til, all my little customers at the all-gender-unicorn-color-nailpolish salon and the pizza people!
Thank you all so much. This time was a blast!
See you in 4 years!