33 observations in 3 expeditions

Recent Observations

This project is a collaboration with the US State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and ZERO1. I will be leading the Philippine version of this project, in the seaport of Dumaguete on the Island of Negros throughout the Spring. The main project will be held in April. The project consists of 2 parts. First I will lead my own primary community art project. For my project, I will build a floating community hackerspace. This builds off my previous work creating mobile electronics and new media art spaces during hiking expeditions in what I call "Hiking Hacks" ( openexplorer.com/expedition/disseminationlabmadagascar ). Within our new mobile raft / tool-making station, we will work on 4 projects developed through workshops by the community. I aim to teach skills to show the participants how to build their own citizen-science-style tools. Additionally, we will work to discover key conservation issues, and foster environmental pride within the community. Finally we will combine all these technological skills with the community and environmental values to bring these 4 community projects to fruition. Timeline: Jan-March will be spent preparing for the project, scouting key locations, and connecting with community leaders. April is the main month of this expedtion. It's when we will build the eco-makerspace and lead the 4 community art/science/technology projects.

We tried to generate power from Citico Creek using a fire hose and some sort of generator. This was originally Scott Gilliland's idea, and we volunteered to put this craziness to the test by carrying an extra compatible hose all the way down the mountain with us! We were trying to make it entirely gravity driven, but the place we were at on the creek didn't drop far enough to create enough pressure to work with the equipment we brought. img_5588a80614377 Attempts to create a portable system for harnessing energy from rushing water. A 50-foot firehose was placed upstream connected to a PVC opener. At the low end, an electric generator was attached to hopefully created electricity. This generator was not useable with low-pressure systems, and thus a different generator will need to be attached in future trials. The basic proof of concept seems valid however! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Shiva with the top end of the hose in the creek Portable Hydro power system made by Scott Gilliland Hand-made turbine electrical generator The fire hose was so heavy that the water wouldn't even push the sides out enough to get unobstructed flow. Basically the hose was restricting flow through it. Also, the generator we brought was designed for higher pressure that we could create, so the water flowing through it wouldn't even turn the turbine. We could solve these problems from two different directions. We could have hike up in to the mountains to find a suitable waterfall, so that we really could have gotten a 50ft drop from the 50ft fire hose. That theoretically could have generated enough pressure to turn the turbine, but getting a hose to the top of a waterfall isn't exactly easy, and if there's not a waterfall near the campsite, getting the batteries to the base of the waterfall and on dry land isn't really convenient. Better would be to bring gear more suited to the environment and task that we were dealing with. We now know that in the location we were at the creek drops about 5 feet over 50 feet of length. We could calculate the pressure that could generate and find a hose that works with that low of a pressure and a generator that works with the pressure also. We'd generate less voltage, but there are ways to deal with that, like a voltage booster, that would do the job for recharging batteries. We tried building our own, low-power generator from a small vibration motor and a plastic cap. It delivered about 50 millivolts of electricity. This amount is quite insignificant, but it does prove the entire concept of harvesting electricity in a quick portable way from nearby water sources is valid. if anyone has suggestions of good, pre-existing turbines we should use, let us know! 043-P1060248 Late Night Hacking of our own turbine We came prepared to jump start a car when all we really needed was to trickle charge a LiPo. Next time, we'll be even better prepared to harness the power of the water!

Hugh Crawford - June 11 First day out of Unicoi Gap (TN) opened with an easy (albeit pack-heavy) stroll down an old logging road, later turning steep, wet, and slippery. After a night sleeping in a trailside encampment and a shorter hike down a much easier trail, we arrived at the NFCCDL (Owl Camp) site. Lunch was followed by a short but intense rain shower, what we erroneously supposed would be the first of many, so we scrambled to set up tarps for protection and as the first stage of the NFCCDL. A 20x20 silnylon tarp stretched between four trees-- a hickory, an oak and two dead hemlocks--and tied up by the Jeannette Andrew Elevation Team (JAET) became the main staging area, with headroom provided by another conveniently located uprooted hemlock trunk (probably the result of an earlier wind storm which also produced a ready stock of dead branches). Protected from water from above, the next order of business was avoiding the stream flowing through the nascent NFCCDL. Shiva gathered forked sticks, planted them upright, and we arranged and lashed rows of sticks, forming a 4x4 low table. Rain all you want, the designing can commence.

Paul Clifton: June 11th, 2015 The first day of hiking was easy, until it wasn’t. I had planned it to take two days of walking to get to the NFCCDL (Owl Camp), but the early part of the day had been so easy that we’d gotten optimistic that we could make it in one day of walking. That turned out to not be the case. It started getting bad when we realized that my map was out of date and that the terrain would be somewhat different than we’d expected. At the end of the day, we had hiked 7 miles and still just ended up completely exhausted and camped on the side of a waterfall. It really was for the best that we stopped though. If we’d kept going, we wouldn’t have made it to basecamp before nightfall, and there’s no way Andy and I would have recognized it in the dark. The second day of walking started out only moderately difficult, at least compared to the end of the first day, and it just got easier. Andy had scouted ahead and found the place we had eaten lunch on our scouting hike a few weeks before and had reported that the trail went downhill a lot and that it flattened out as it got closer to the creek bed. But when the group got down towards the creek, we never passed any landmarks that we recognized. As I walked along the creek, I got more and more concerned that we had either missed our target or that it was much farther away than we thought it was. I didn’t see our lunch spot, and I didn’t even recognize the trail. We weren’t passing terrain that seemed familiar at all, and I didn’t remember walking on a raised spot in between two branches of the creek. I’m getting more and more skeptical when Andy runs back up the trail and says that he thinks he’s found the campsite but that he needs me to come take a look, because he’s been having the same problem. He didn’t remember passing our lunch site today, and the campsite looks quite a bit different. I followed him down the trail and took a look at the site. It looked similar, but I didn’t think it was the same place. Something seemed off, and I still didn’t think we were on a part of the trail that we’d seen before. But there was a nice fire ring, and a little knoll next to the creek with a couple trees that were just right for a hammock. Whether it was the right site or not, it would make a good site, and people were getting a bit restless (and maybe doubting my navigation and planning abilities). Each hiker who trickled in to this perfectly acceptable, yet possibly unknown place, asked a version of the question, “Is this it?” I had to answer that it seemed like maybe but that I wasn’t sure (not a very good answer). We decided to eat lunch there regardless and to take a little break. While others ate, Andy and I walked down the trail a bit looking for anything we recognized, but all I saw were obvious landmarks that I definitely did not recognize. I was certain we’d never hiked this section of trail before and couldn’t reconcile the fact that that campsite looked so familiar even though nothing else did. There was a tree nearby that had been struck by lightning, which I knew could have happened since we’d last been there, and I was willing to accept that things may have changed, but I needed at least one more landmark to be certain. Andy finally spotted it: the beaver dam. It’s probably not a real beaver dam, and it didn’t look the same anyway, but sure enough, there was a bunch of sticks blocking a branch of the creek where the trail crossed it, and you could either cross in the deep end or the shallow end over a kind of weird drop in some rocks. Andy wasn’t convinced it was the same, but I was. We walked back to the quizzical looks from the crew eating lunch at the basecamp. Andy said he was like 75% sure it was the site. I said 90%. We hemmed and hawed until I saw the stick Andy had stuck in a hole in a tree, exactly where’d he’d left it on our scouting trip. This tipped the scales for me. There was no way we weren’t there, although Andy played the skeptic for a few more minutes. The thing that convinced Andy was me getting a GPS reading on my phone that showed us pretty much exactly where we thought we should be (that's a discussion for another post though). This experience had a pretty profound effect on me. It had only been three weeks, but so much had changed. Different plants were blooming, some severe weather had knocked down some trees, and we eventually figured out that there had been some really significant trail maintenance that changed things. Even a place established to minimize the impact of people can change with the blink of an eye, and when you aren’t accustomed to the landmarks and signs that do stay relatively constant, you can stand in the exact same place and think you’ve never been there. It’s very disorienting, and it made me want to learn or develop techniques for avoiding it. How can you observe and annotate the important landmarks in the wilderness? What even are the important landmarks in the wilderness? And if they change, how do they change and how can you learn to see what was there before? Creeks rise and fall; flowers bloom and wilt; trees fall and crush other trees, and people clear the brush from the trail. Maybe environmental consistency is a human construction and requires concrete and alphabets to establish and maintain. Change may be the only constant, and when you’re confronted with it, how do you relate it to the things that you are actually certain of? I don’t know, but we camped in a wonderful location for several nights. It began to feel very familiar, and each day I began to notice little things that had changed from the day before. Even though I felt comfortable, the forest seemed new and different every time I woke up. By normally living in an environment that is so severely controlled, maybe we forget that one of the things that makes the wilderness wild is the fact that we aren’t the thing that has control over the environment. And maybe, for me, that’s the thing that bothers me (in a very mild, non-confrontational way) about the core concept of the hiking hack. Are we going to the wilderness to tame it, or are we going there to observe it, and where is the line between the two?

After the last day of the prelim workshops, there was still SOO much for me to do. I had to finish charging all of our batteries, finish up several projects, organize the last bits of electronics we needed to take, and prep the hacking laptop (hacktop). Just getting this laptop ready was a major time suck. I had recently switched to an old macbook air (2010, 11 inch version) because it was super lightweight, cheap, and rather power efficient. But i didn't have lots of the software and drivers and libraries we needed on it t work with lots of different projects. We were leaving at 6am, which mean i just didn't sleep. Luckily Laura drove my car for me, and I passed out immediately (while trying to charge an extra battery). I apparently put a penguin mask on my head to block out the light. I have no recollection of this: Hitting the Trail [caption id="attachment_4194" align="aligncenter" width="625"] OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA[/caption] Everyone was already loaded to the gills with STUFF. The lightest packs were over 35 pounds (16kg), and most ranged around 18-23kg (40-50lbs) . Paul was pretty worried about us being overloaded, but I was feeling bizarrely terrific. So i tried to hide the fact that I was carrying a superfluous 50 foot fire hose and generator in my backpack. I had so little room I had to carry Hannah's portable day pack on my front. My total load ended up being 36.8 kg (81 lbs). I was a bit worried. I had little sleep, and just 6 weeks before I had broken my left foot. But the weird thing was, i felt fantastic. My whole body just felt comfortable and strong tromping through the forest with all this gear. I think all the injuries and illnesses from the previous hiking hacks had torn my body down to rebuild it into a fantastic machine for carrying ridiculous amounts of potentially useless stuff.  

Overall Schedule for the Hiking Hack Days i and ii: Pre-workshopsFirst DayBrainstorming wearable technology ideasBuilding two select itemsSecond DayFinishing wearable technologies for field useSorting gearSorting foodPackingPrepping hack computer with drivers and librariesDay 1: Hike InChallengeFind an interesting organism while we hikedActivitiesHikingSet up mini-campReflection·         Evening Journal WritingDay 2: Hike InChallengeFind a biological structure that performs a functionCybiotic Life drawingDraw an animal, plant, fungus, and ecosystemlabel senses and actions taking place in the drawingsActivitiesHikingDesigning a cell-phone game that could share the experience or mechanics of backpackingSet up basecamp hacker tarpsMountain lion gameReflectionPerformances based on creatures from life-drawing. Three teams were given three genres to push their creatures into: A fairy tale, A heist, and a horror film. ·         Evening Journal Writing  Day 3: Exploration DayChallengeSmell Adventure: Go out and collect interesting smellsActivitiesSetup hacking stationsTesting HydroelectricitySetting up Bear Bag ElevatorReflection·         Evening Journal WritingDay 4: Build DayChallengeCreate a digital device to interact or explore our surroundingsActivitiesCard Sort: Collecting ideas, arranging concepts, in a non-reductive processRefining Hydroelectric turbinesForest Speaker makingReflection·         Morning Journaling·         Evening Journal WritingDay 5: Documentation DayChallengeCapture and explain device on videoWhy you made itWhat does it doWhat are next steps / future improvements / things you learnedCreate a Performance that involves or explains your deviceActivitiesFinish Hydroelectric TestsHugh and Paul Collect our Cars with FishermenReflection·         Morning Journaling·         Evening Journal Writing·         Digital Daypack Design Jam o    Teams create and present new physical concepts forDay 6: Bonus Day!ChallengeFinish the performances of the things you builtDocument side projectsActivitiesLunchtime performancesPack up digital gearPack up hacking tentsContact: campfire gameReflection·         Morning JournalingDay 7: Hike OutChallengeFind delicious food back in the real worldTry to keep feet dry over stream crossingsActivitiesPack up rest of campCleanReally really cleanReflection·         Morning Journaling·         Chat and hang out in van   Day iii: Documentation WorkshopChallengeDocument a digital device you createdIn WordpressIn an Indesign layoutDocument an experience in the fieldIn WordpressIn an Indesign layoutDocument a bonus activity or thing you madeIn WordpressIn an Indesign layoutActivitiesUnsort gearGet it back to andy’s placeReflectionArrange after party celebration  

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 2015 Wearables in the Wild Hiking Hack takes a crew of biologists, engineers, designers, and craftspersons into the Appalachian wilderness. Our mission, as with many of the hiking hacks, is to test out contextually creating tools for understanding living creatures in nature. Sponsored by the Georgia Tech Wearable Computing Center (wcc.gatech.edu), an extra component of this investigation is how wearable devices can be built in the wild and to withstand the harshness of the wild. Goals Biology Target: explore the Synchronous Fireflies that occur in June! Technology Target: Making Wearable devices for exploring the environment and interacting with animals. Hiking Hack Target: developing and testing tools Information Field Notes: We will not have communication access where we are going. Thus we will document the trip when we come back, reliving the trip day-by-day and posting updates as if we were in the field. So stay tuned! Safety: This is the first Hiking Hack where we will have to worry about bears! We will be needing to be setting up bear traps and all sorts of stuff, but should be all good! To be extra safe, our emergency contact info is here: [We all made it back safe! contact info removed] Location: This map also shows about where we will be: https://www.google.com/maps/place/35%C2%B023’14.2%22N+84%C2%B002’07.5%22W/@35.4031385,-84.0116501,12z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x0:0x0

Another Rockwell Kent hand-drawn remix of Madagascar experiences. Following 18 hours of hiking during what we called the "Death March," Hannah and I collapse on a hill overlooking the river that will take us back home. We lay down as the sun drops behind the horizon. Time slips by. The sky changes brilliantly from colors and clouds to a monochrome speckled matte of the southern stars. The weather is perfect; the air is so pleasant you want to snuggle with the intangible vapor. To tired to actually sleep, but no where near awake. The boats eventually come to take us away. Different textures of darkness and moonlight surround us. Hannah's face in the canoe is lit by moonlight and framed by stars. The jungle plants passing by on the shore are the only sources of true darkness. Again can't sleep, not awake, excited by adventure, beaten down by the same. Perfect feeling.

It's been over a month since the expedition ended, but some memories remain etched into my mind. There was a tough day, our first day making our way up the river. The entire day was a slippery climb over steep rocks covered in moss and slime. The speed of the porters made us feel so stupid with our fancy future gear and falling constantly. Bazille, the 62 year old amazing guide, stayed with us slowfolk. Everytime I managed to pull myself up a steep boulder, there would be Bazille, standing magnificently, pointing the way out of this labyrinth of rocks and water. This image stayed burned in my mind. I wanted to convey this experience, and looked to the adventure artwork of Rockwell Kent. I studied his woodcuts and created a remix of features to try to tell this story using a marker to emulate his style.

Before we went into the jungle, Brian had told us about the Malagasy's extreme love for honey. Lucky for us, we were able to participate in a genuine "Honey Party!"

Death March (Part 2) Made it! We left at 5am and walked ALL DAY. We covered what had taken us 4 days, and got through it in one crazy day. Made it at 1am, ate a meal, and passed out at 3am. A full 24 hour day. After that crazy march, we got up at 7AM, packed up and started the long drive to Ft. Dauphin. From our drive-in, the 100km took us 10 hours with river crossings and quick repairs. But we had more problems this time. The battery doesn't work AT ALL. So we had to push it starting. This seemed ok, until we realized that if the car stalled at all in the long trip of mud and rivers that we had to drive through, we'd be totally screwed. Brian is an incredible driver. I don't understand how the car can b SO sideways at times and not tip over. On top of the battery, other problems started happening. Weird grinding noises and things caught underneath that started sounding worse and worse. We fixed and shoved the truck out of really hairy predicaments all day, but now, just 17 km away, on a nice flat road, the transmission goes out. So badly destroyed that the car cannot even roll or be towed. Brian says for 15 years he has driven this beast, and this is the first time it has actually, all-the-way failed on him. It's 10pm on a dark, quiet road. Our flight is at 6am. Eating papaya now, figuring out what to do. :)

The Death March Been a bit scared of this day for a while. Brian always seemed cheerful about it, "It's amazing! You take four days to get out here, but then you just walk the whole thing back in one day" - "also there's no more food, so you HAVE to make it back!" Get up at 3AM to take down camp, eat, and leave at 5AM. I shove as much bland rice into me as possible. The Chef, Berlin, also has a little sack of sugar I start eating mouthfuls of: I am camel-ing up whatever nutrients i can before our 12+ hour hike into the unknown new path back. Walking down a mountain in the dark is super difficult. Also WALKING is a wrong verb. We moreso do a controlled fall for 3 hours. Make it to the 540m raincamp and barely give it enough respect. Just march through. Brian is CRAZY fast at this. Hannah and I keep getting lost, and have to look for clues. Tiny ridiculous clues in the terrain. Like disturbed patches of moss to track where everyone is. This is crazy. When we get to deforested areas, we start to move fast, but get tired-er, hotter, and thirstier. We find guava growing along the path and hannah feeds me some which saves me and prevents the trail-crazies. I stumble along for hours behind a woman carrying a baby and ton of vegetables to go to the market. She's amazing. She uses our porters (one guy named "James Bond") to carry her baby across rapids for her. These malagasy have such smart feet. My feet feel stupid and crippled locked in their shoe-prisons.

Final Day in Cloud Camp Didn't find the ant. Looked everywhere at the summit, but no - show. Brian is anxious. After so many years, we are here, but no ant. Against his own judgement, he decides to lead a SECOND expedition up to the top to hunt for that ant once more. It's gonna be crazy because he'll have to pack everything in camp today as well when he gets back from the top, AND then be ready to leave at 3 AM for the long walk home. While he is gone, Hannah and I try to finish up and document beaucoup de notre projets. I become a tiny bit frustrate because I realized that before, I kinda thought I had the excuse that the reason that some of my project electroniques looked terrible was because I'm in the jungle and EVERYTHING IS HARD TO DO. But now Hannah is here and her hands turn vines and wires into beautiful objects. She has those smart, strong hands of a real craftsperson. Meanwhile, I cobble together some fun projects with my less-honed aesthetic. I turn leaves into an electro-tongue display. And I make the worst robot ever from mushrooms and a linear actuator. It's so stupid looking, hobbling over the floor. (Illustration includes drawing of terrible mushroom bot and hannah's leech disco-dancefloor).

The Summit This basecamp up in the clouds only has 3 Days. Day 1 we had to rest and set up camp. Day 3 we had to pack and prepare. So before we even realized it, we suddenly knew that today, Day 2, would have to be our chance to summit, and find that mystery ant. We shove as much food as we can into us at 5AM and head up into the unknown. There are parts where we are crawling up waterfalls and snaking around chasms. mostly it becomes a long enjoyable walk through a radidly changing landscape as our guides chop a minimal path through the jungle. At no point are we ever sure our path will actually bring us to the summit, and not just a dead-end ridge. The jungle gives way to a psychedilically shifting new types of forest. Suddenly everything is spongy and teal. Then it is all burnt. Then grasslands. We see bizarre new forms of plants. We get close in elevation but panic sets in as our guides detect HONEY. We almost lose them but brian convinces them to summit! We get to the top. It looks like the alps. So strange but maybe hannah feels as home! We hunt for that ant!

First post with an actual GPS! Spent the day long layover also getting a little SD card Arduino GPS Lipo Powered Gizmo going! Was easy at the start, but then converting to decimal degrees kinda sucked more than it should have! Anyway, seems to be going good now!

GEAR GEAR GEAR GEAR What to do when your plane doesn't work, document and upload all your GEAR. flickr.com/photos/8560499@N02/sets/72157650421540887 (Also seeing if i can embed HTML here?) Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Ahhhhh crap. There are apparently much different and stricter baggage restrictions for DOMESTIC flights in Madgascar. Which means, that what used to be in 4 bags on the way here from the US, now needs to go into 2 bags. And also the biggest bag cannot be over 20KG. I think my tiny Box RPI that i spent time building before i came here won't make the cut either. My problems and concerns that have come up over the past 48 hours: The USB hub i had the RPI didn't like, and thus it didn't work, and I wasn't able to hook peripherals up I bought another one in the UK and it ~kinda works the small, rollup keyboard I had turned out to have broken UIO keys, and so i had to send it back to amazon on friday. So no keyboard +But andy is crazy and always has backups! Yep! I have my twiddler which is a combo keyboard and mouse. -Whups, looks like the Raspbian version of linux doesn't like the twiddler and just repeats characters endlessly :( -My mom was super nice and sent me her old laptop, but it had weird battery issues. So, looks like I am bringing my fancy macbook out into the jungle. oh man. leaving in 3 hours. The fun of gear logistics never quits!

SOOOO CLOSE. I am in Tana, and I have all my gear (Minus 1 pocked knife knicked by the TSA), and now I am sorting through all of it, double checking and documenting everything I have. I leave at 5AM to finally meet up with Hannah and Brian in Ft. Dauphin! This is 5 hours from now... I will have a flickr set that has all the equipment on it soon: flickr.com/photos/8560499@N02/sets/72157650421540887

Ultra tiny field computer. We need an energy efficient, lightweight computer to program out arduinos out in the field. The problem was, we didn't have one. And I leave tomorrow. So I built one this morning! I took the basic principles of Adafruit's Touch Pi: learn.adafruit.com/touch-pi-portable-raspberry-pi/overview and Made an ugly hacked-together one, that actually has a much more beautiful display (HDMI ). I also just hacked a box instead of fancy 3D printing I am leaving it as un fancy and basic as possible because I want to let the jungle influence the rest of its design.

I leave tomorrow. This stuff needs to be in bags instead of everywhere. ummmm.....

One of the challenges Hannah and I were discussing before leaving was how to have large work surfaces in the jungle that were also lightweight. At the same time we were also thinking of how to design collaboratively with lots of people at the same time. In the Panama Hiking Hack, I took a large 14x18 notebook and let participants do drawings and design diagrams on those to share with each other. The size and format of these pages worked nice, but we had to keep carrying around all this heavy (and wet) paper with us the whole time. Hannah mentioned the Betabook http://bit.ly/1Ac5cWp , which would be like a Dry-Erase board that's portable. We also happened to be talking about Chalk pens http://bit.ly/1Ac5dtr13?ie=UTF8&qid=1423672512&sr=8-3&keywords=chalk+pens I bought some super thin cutting mats to use as worksurfaces, and then the idea hit me to see if they would work well with the chalk pens. Turns out they work great! In my opinion it's even better than the dry-erase option because A) no fumes or weird chemicals for the environment, B) It comes off completely with just water, (no gross cleaners for old marks) C) Unlike dry-erase, this won't rub off just from brushing against it (so You can make a design, toss it in your backpack, and let is jangle around with minimal smudging I cut holes in it too so we can hang it up with lots of designs in the tent to share and discuss with each other!

Backing up your data in the field is super tricky. Here's a quick preview of a hack i made so that we can duplicate the information on our SD cards without computers. And we can copy this info to multiple hard drives. You can even plug SSD hard drives in if you are worried about a bumpy adventure! Full how-to article will come after the expedition!

Built my fancy new first aid kid! Reminds me of the sublime badass-osity of May Dixon who kept our asses safe in the jungle. Advice from Chris Koentz and Nathan Julius. Bonus support supplies from Kristy Marynak and Jessica Anderson. Hopefully i never have to open this box.

Ecole Polytechnique Vontovorona Hannah and Brian went of on a visit to the Polytechnic school to talk about our project and show some neat DIY electronics projects. Hannah demonstrated some local leaves that she turned into musical speakers!

It's like picking out the right dress for the big dance! Except it's like picking out thousands of little dresses that you want to wear all at the same time. Also if you bring too many you will tear your rotator cuff again ;) Transferring gear from the old Panama Hiking Hack Boxes into the new (watertight) tackle boxes for Madagascar! Making some tough decisions. Though some are easy: I brought 3 RFID readers last time and didn't use any? Well that should go!

Andy is still in Atlanta taking care of lots of last minute business before joining Hannah and Brian out in the wild. The thing I am working on tonight is making our hacking center. One thing we learned from the previous Hiking Hack in Panama, was the importance of making a large group shelter for designing, and even more for constructing technology. Unlike a regular backpacking expedition, where you just need to provide shelter for yourself, we are going to need a communal area. We will need a spot where many of us humans can work together, discuss large designs, plot out drawings, and craft with sensitive components - all while shielded from the almost certain, torrential rains we will encounter. In the earlier trip we just strung up a large, 12x15 regular, old, blue tarp that I got for 18 dollars. It worked fine, albeit a little cramped. The problem was that is was actually kinda heavy, and quite bulky. So over the past year I have been researching alternatives and found out about Silnylon. This ultra-lightweight material compresses really small. It's problem is that the stuff is REALLY expensive! For instance you can get a 10x12 foot silnylon tarp for like $150 dollars! http://bit.ly/16jrTtMsbssg_6?ie=UTF8&refRID=0RQMN4NZ08ESTHFZQW1Y So we have a couple super light tarps for ourselves, but for the big shelter, I wanted to try to make it myself to save cash. I bought a bunch of silnylon seconds from DIYgear supply. They sell it for the super low price of just $5.50 per 5x3 foot piece. (diygearsupply.com/product/silnylon-2nds) Unfortunately that means I have to sew a bunch of it together. So that's what tonight is! At the end, I will have a HUGE 16 x10 foot tarp that packs down to the size of a loaf of bread!

Sometimes the hardest part is just getting to the airport. We are packed and ready to go. Stay tuned for posts from the field.

Core Team: For a rather Ad-hoc trip that came together at the last minute, we managed to pull together an amazing, strong team! Here's a couple posts about each of the Core Team Members. Andrew Quitmeyer: Andy's a digital media PhD student at Georgia Tech. He's writing his dissertation on how field biologists can use new forms of digital technology for sharing and exploring animals and ecosystems. He launched his first "Hiking Hack" during his research in Panama, and learned a LOT. His previous research is located at www.digitalnaturalism.org He also has an interesting side business (comingle.io), and is joining up with the rest of the crew in madagascar on Feb 13. Meanwhile he is running base command from Atlanta.

Core Team: For a rather Ad-hoc trip that came together at the last minute, we managed to pull together an amazing, strong team! Here's a couple posts about each of the Core Team Members Brian Fisher: Brian L Fisher is a scientist, speaker and teacher with a passion for adventurous expeditions and conservation fieldwork. The Fisherlab research focuses on leveraging new technologies and tools to discover, document, and understand the diversity on earth and ensure these results are available and used immediately for conservation action. He's currently in the air leaving from his job at the California Academy of Sciences on the long journey to Madagascar to meet up with Hannah. (Photo by Alex Wild)

Core Team: For a rather Ad-hoc trip that came together at the last minute, we managed to pull together an amazing, strong team! Here's a couple posts about each of the Core Team Members Hannah Perner-Wilson Hannah's a renown e-textile hacker and co-creator of How To Get What You Want (www.kobakant.at/DIY/) , an online resource for making textile electronics from scratch. She is flying from a workshop in Abu Dhabi to Tana, Madagascar today!

Just 48 hours before we start leaving for Madagascar. One issue we needed to figure out is how to connect to the internet while in the field. I choose to get an The Wideye iSavi IsatHub wireless satellite terminal. The next challenge was to figure out how to keep it charged. With a little hack, I modified the laptop output on the GoalZero 100 to charge the ISavi. Now the challenge to pack 10 large duffle bags and then get them checked in on the plane. I'll keep you updated on how that goes.

The Dissemination Lab is a experimental initiative to discover new methods for sharing field research using digital technology. We will be developing and testing an assortment of new ways that we can connect people around the world with biological fieldwork. The first instantiation of this project will take place in Madagascar from Feb 1 - March 30 2015, Contribute your ideas for fun, weird, or engaging new forms of outreach that you would like to see us try out. Submit your ideas here We are looking to target new ways of connecting people around the world with our Animals - The creatures we are studying Environment - The amazing ecosystem we work in Practices - The how and why of what we do