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How to wake up your tech-creativity? – an interview with Bartek Pytko, Hackerspace co-founder

Programming microcontrollers, building 3D printers, hackathons, shortwave radio courses – people passionate about technology will come across all this in Hackerspace in Wroclaw. Here you will also meet Bartek Pytko, the co-founder of the Hackerspace association, a C Developer from Sii Wroclaw and the participant of the Sii Passions Sponsorship Program, who will talk about the activity of the workshop and about his interests.   

Katarzyna Domańska, CSR Manager at Sii: Describe the feeling when a 3D printer built by you prints… yes, what exactly was it?

Bartłomiej Pytko, Software Engineer at Sii Wroclaw: Different parts of other products: a quadrocopter, a remotely controlled car and elements of other printers. I built my first printer together with my friend, about 5 years ago. It took us a month. We didn’t use any ready sets, we had to gather or make all the elements by ourselves. Our printer was based on the Mendel 90 project.

The second machine is my personal, eternal project. I started making it more than 2 years ago, when I worked at a company manufacturing 3D printers. I designed the printer head, carriage and most of the other construction elements. It serves as my testing ground until this day. Unfortunately for this same reason it isn’t working very often. Hopefully this will change soon, as recently some force is making me work on it during the nights.

When my first printer finally started working, I spent long minutes observing the printing process. I was like hypnotised. This first printer still works in Hackerspace. You feel a lot of satisfaction in such moments. I recommend it to anybody who would like to give it a go. You don’t have to start on your own, you can come to Hackerspace and take advantage of the equipment and knowledge of persons who have experience in construction, or find a team, with which you can take the challenge together. Recently, I talked about this in more detail during the 25th Level Code meeting in Sii Wroclaw.

K.D.: What is Hackerspace?

B.P.: It is a place for people passionate about technology and science – but not only. We also had some artists, yet all of them with a fondness for technology. Hackerspace provides them with infrastructure necessary to develop their own projects. Our workshop in Wroclaw is located in an old tram depot in the Dabie District and is registered as an association. Our doors are open every Wednesday, starting from 19p.m. On most Saturdays we organise hackathons, work on our own projects or on improving the workshop – then we are also there. Apart from this, every member of the association has a 24/7 access to the facility.

K.D.: How to join your association?

B.P.: There are no rigorous rules when it comes to the membership. All you have to do is show up at several meetings and express the willingness to join the association. As I have mentioned before, this usually refers to persons who are passionate about technology and construction. At present, in Wroclaw the association has 30 members, but the situation is getting better and better. Currently there are 1400 hackerspaces around the world. In Poland, the biggest and most active ones are located in Warsaw and Cracow. I think we are catching up with them considering a number of members. Sometimes we cooperate between cities – as in the case of creating a stand at Woodstock.

K.D.: At „this” Woodstock?

B.P.: Yes, in 2017 during the festival we organized a workshop about guitar effects and tying sailor knots. There were also soldering, arduino and 3D print workshops, as well as one dedicated to privacy on the Internet. Events of this kind were held at the festival already several times – for hackerspace it was a debut here and we liked it very much.

K.D.: If I decide to pop in to Dabie, who will I meet there?

B.P.: Many persons, who show up in Hackerspace are professionally connected to programming, system administration or electronics. Often what they do at work is also their hobby and sometimes their hobby is a getaway from everyday duties. The mechanical part of the workshop is used very often! Also university and even high school students come along.

K.D.: Sii has just become your sponsor under the Passions Sponsorship Program. As the co-founder of the workshop you convinced us that it is worth supporting these technological interests. What are your plans now?

B.P.: We want to equip the mechanical and electronic part of our workshop. For example, we want to buy a lathe. It will allow us to make mechanical elements for machine models. We want to try organizing a lathe course. I hope that a lathe in the workshop will attract fans of mechanics.

The electronic part will be further equipped with a good oscilloscope, a functional generator, soldering station and a pre-heater. We already have some of this equipment but they are very basic models, which sometimes don’t do their job. The functional generator and oscilloscope will let us test and examine the electronic systems that we build and diagnose defects in broken devices. The pre-heater will improve the servicing of electronic plates. Without it, soldering the elements is often very difficult and can end in damaging the plates or entire systems.

K.D.: Is work at the workshop more about building something together or learning under the watchful eye of the teacher?

B.P.: This depends on what you do. Usually it is both. Even if we work on something together, it is worth keeping in mind that the members of our association are masters of their craft. It is really worth taking advantage of their knowledge and experience. This is why I strongly recommend paying a visit to our workshop! If you are passionate about technology, you are a researcher or a nerd, who would like to meet people or you are looking for inspiration and would like to learn something new, I am sure that Hackerspace is a place for you.

We also organise different special events: in the nearest future we are planning another edition of the shortwave radio course. We will teach how to use the moon to make intercontinental calls without paying for international connections. Maybe it’s worth coming not only for technological but also economic reasons.

K.D.: You are a technological aficionado and the co-founder of Hackerspace. The association functions also thanks to your work and passion. What is your technological dream to make come true in the nearest future?

B.P.: In the coming months I’m planning to turn some vehicle into an electrically powered one. I don’t know yet what type of vehicle it will be: a go-kart, a motor bike, maybe something bigger…? It’s important that it’s something with a kick and that it brings a lot of fun. I hope that I won’t get killed testing it. Maybe someone has an idea for a vehicle? I will be happy to listen to advice, especially at the workshop, where I invite you with all my heart!

K.D.: I wish you good luck! Thank you for the conversation.

The article prepared by: Katarzyna Domańska

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