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The Open Hardware Miniconf 2018 will take place as part of LCA 2018 in Sydney, Australia.

The concept of Free / Open Source Software, already well understood by LCA attendees, is complemented by a rapidly growing community focused around Open Hardware and "maker culture". One of the drivers of the popularity of the Open Hardware community is easy access to cheap devices such as Arduino, which is a microcontroller development board originally intended for classroom use but now a popular building block in all sorts of weird and wonderful hobbyist and professional projects.

Interest in Open Hardware is high among FOSS enthusiasts but there is also a barrier to entry with the perceived difficulty and dangers of dealing with hot soldering irons, unknown components and unfamiliar naming schemes. The miniconf will use an Open Hardware assembly project as a stepping stone to help ease software developers into dealing with Open Hardware. Topics will cover both software and hardware issues, starting with simpler sessions suitable for Open Hardware beginners and progressing through to more advanced topics.

The day will run in two distinct halves. The first part of the day will be a hands-on assembly session where participants will have the chance to assemble a special hardware project developed for the miniconf. For 2018, the project will be a small robot called the "LoliBot", running with an ESP32 microcontroller on a Lolin32-Lite dev board. Instructors will be on hand to assist with soldering and the other mysteries of hardware assembly. The second part of the day will be a presentations about Open Hardware topics, including information on software to run on the hardware project built earlier in the day.


Registrations are now closed. You are welcome to attend, but all the kits for the morning assembly session have been allocated. If you are interested in purchasing a kit after the conference, please complete the registration form and we'll follow up with you later.


The venue for OHMC2018 will be announced soon.


Date: Monday 22nd January 2018

Project assembly in the morning followed by talks in the afternoon:

  • 10:45 - 12:25 LoliBot Assembly Workshop (registration required to participate, spectators also welcome)
  • 12:25 - 1:40 Lunch
  • 1:40 - 2:05 John Spencer: Design of the LoliBot hardware
  • 2:05 - 2:30 Andy Gelme: Micropython on the LoliBot
  • 2:30 - 2:55 Mike O'Conner: Clockwork on the ESP32
  • 2:55 - 3:20 Robyn Willison: The Hackerspace Adelaide robot
  • 3:20 - 3:45 Afternoon Tea
  • 3:45 - 4:10 Marc Merlin: Getting conned into writing IoTuz/ESP32 drivers and example code (while being held prisoner in a share house in Hobart, Tasmania)
  • 4:10 - 4:35 Paul Schulz: Muon detector hardware for displaying the presence of cosmic rays
  • 4:35 - 5:00 Alastair D'Silva: Emulating 1wire and creating new devices and drivers
  • 5:00 - 5:25 Lightning Talks (5 minutes)
    • Steve Dalton: The WIO weather project
    • TBA: TBA
    • TBA: TBA
    • TBA: TBA
    • TBA: TBA

Lightning Talks

Please email Andy and Jon if you'd like to present a 5 minute lightning talk.

Call For Papers

Please email Andy and Jon if you'd like to present at the miniconf. Talk slots are 25 minutes, including changeover between speakers.

Discussion Group

There is a Google Group email list for discussion of topics related to the miniconf, including the assembly session:


Assembly Project

Each year we help attendees build a project specially developed for the Open Hardware Miniconf.

The project for 2018 is LoliBot, a 2-wheel robot controlled by an ESP32 microcontroller on a Lolin32-Lite dev board. LoliBot is designed to be used for robot soccer, with a ball capture system in the front and a servo to "kick" the ball. It also includes an IMU, and breakouts so that other sensors can be added.

The board is based around the ESP32, which is the big brother successor to the ESP8266. Hack-A-Day article describing the ESP32.

Cost of the kit for LCA2018 is AU$65 inc GST.

Through hole parts on the board will be assembled on the day, with all the SMD parts being pre-loaded on the board.

Repository for the project is on Github:

The hardware kit includes ...

  • Main robot base PCB
  • Lolin32-Lite dev board with WiFi and Bluetooth
  • 2 x wheels and motors
  • IMU
  • 18650 Li-Ion battery
  • Servo

Project (im)maturity

Regardless of your current level of experience and skill, you will have an excellent day and walk away with working hardware and software. If you want to get in at the ground floor of the ESP32 developer community, then this is a great place to start. There will be some uncharted territory, some trail blazing and plenty of learning from our mistakes :)