Starting the Wearable Hiking Hack

This latest hiking hack is the most organized one to date. Lessons learned from the magnificent experiences in Panama and Madagascar left me prepared to tackle the many obstacles standing in the way of prototyping digital equipment in the wilderness.

This is also the first funded hiking hack thanks to Georgia Tech’s wearable Computing Center which gave us nearly $5,000 to run this expedition. It’s amazing how far this little bit of money can go!

The weeks leading up to this expedition were full of the millions of little tasks always needed before any big trip. We have to purchase supplies, figure out food, scout locations, and work out meetings between everyone’s schedules.
I held informal building-stuff workshops just at my house throughout april and may. We got some of the participants up to date in learning basic electronics and soldering skills, and we also built some of the major infrastructure for the project, such as sewing and sealing our own custom tarps.
We bought lots of our supplies from a great site called Diygearsupply.com, where they have lots of materials perfect for outdoor crafting and weatherproofing. For instance we could purchase huge lots of silnylon, which is an silicone infused, ultra-light, ultra compact-able material for making waterproof tents and tarps. Usually these tarps are extremely expensive, and a >20×20 foot tarp could cost well over $200. Instead we purchased silnylon “2nds” which have imperfections in their coloration, so they are discounted in cost, but are stuff waterproof and light! Working together we, sized, cut, and sewed the french seams of the fabric into a massive tarp within just a couple hours. Most importantly these early workshops helped us to get to know each other and understand our backgrounds and strengths.

The first two days of the workshop were held at Georgia Tech’s App Lab. We brainstormed ideas for wearable devices that could solve problems we expected to encounter in the field. We came up with many ideas (which ill describe more in posts tomorrow!)

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