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Sparklecon, bitches

Sparklecon is imminent. Saturday, January 30 at 23b Shop

If you've never been to 23b Shop before, here's the quick and dirty version. Hackers do more than break into computers. We consume mundane and excrete awesome, with old school methods and bleeding-edge technology. Sparklecon is our yearly showcase of those things.

This year, we're doing things a bit differently. Rather than a marathon 3-day event, we're going to squeeze as much action as we can into a single Saturday*. The emphasis this year is going to be on building cool stuff. At 23b Shop, we pride ourselves on our wide variety of talents, between our members and our friends. We want you to build some cool stuff with us.

Official Daytime Events

  • 0800 Hours - Learn to Weld in 20 Minutes or Less - MIG (Metal Inert Gas) welding is as easy as squeezing a tube of toothpaste, if the toothpaste was 6000* C and made of molten steel. We'll be welding together a cage for Gringo Warrior. Space is highly limited, so email your best welding haiku to bender (at) sparklecon (dawt) org. If your haiku meets our stringent standards, you will receive a confirmation email.
  • 0900 Hours - FPV Drone Workshop - Droneflux will be out with their crew tweaking their machines for flying in the afternoon and night. This is a great time for you to tune up your rig and get some pointers from the pros. We'll have our electronics repair bench set up for any soldering you may need, and geeks on hand to help fabricate small parts. Daytime flying will be from 12-3PM, and NIGHT FLYING from 8-late.
  • 1100 Hours - Gringo Warrior - All day long, lockpick your way to freedom, or else stay locked in the cage for eternity (just kidding). Pick as many locks as you can on the "Wall-o-Locks" and get the highest score. The winner will be laser scanned, and duplicated on the 3D printer in the form of a unique trophy. Need a quick lockpicking lesson? Ask someone important-looking.
  • 1100 Hours - Hacker Art Show - We have culture, and we can prove it, with fancy visual stimuli. Do you produce fancy visual stimuli, that can somehow be remotely called "art"? Bring your finest handiwork along, and display it proudly, for all your fellow geeks to admire.
  • 1200 Hours - 3D CAD Showdown - We're always making things, by hand and by machine. We can never agree on which piece of software is better to engineer with. Sketchup? Solidworks? Onshape?  ??? Plasma and machinist will settle the score once and for all, and you might learn a thing or two watching these guys at work. If 3D CAD is your thing, feel free to compete with us.
  • 1600 Hours - Hebocon++ - More flavor, familiar taste. Clumsy amateur sumo bots that everyone can play, spend 2 days or 2 minutes making your bot for some floppy pushy goodness. We'll have limited facilities throughout the day for you to modify, upgrade, or F.U.B.A.R. your Hebo-bot here, but we HIGHLY suggest you start building your machines NOW.

  • 1700 - Hacker Feeding Time

    Kathie is the best cook I know, and she's offered to feed us hungry hungry hackers. She makes the best sausages on the planet, you would never even notice they're vegan unless you read this far.

    Evening Events

    • 1800 Hours - Sparklecon Bottle Share - Like good beer? Details available here
    • 1800 Hours - Sparklebot Death Battle - The main event, 20lb combat bots pound each other until death. Two bots enter, one bot leaves. Live improvised battle music by Craque, the analog synthesizer magician.
    • 1900 Hours - Dangerous Lights featuring: Big-Ass Tesla Coil, 300 Amps of Angry Electric Pickle, Carboy Borealis, and HV Dendrites. Look, but don't touch. On second thought, don't even go near these things. Enjoy them from a reasonably safe distance. You might want safety glasses, though.
    • 2000 Hours - Live Music After Dark! - Timon Marmex strikes again with awesome chiptune musical performances by NK Riot and Here Between You Me.


    • Can I submit a talk?
    • Do you feel compelled to speak in front of a group of your peers about technology, philosophy, beer, or ??? We'll be happy to provide you with a soapbox and an audience.
    • Should I bring my kids?
    • MAYBE. We aren't specifically catering this event to children. The events will be more family-friendly during daylight hours, however, 23b Shop is a working machine shop with things that bite if unapproved hands get too adventurous. Would you take your child to a Sci-Fi convention in Las Vegas ("...with real monsters that can eat you?" -Dano)? If so, then you're probably okay.
    • Where do I buy tickets?
    • Attending Sparklecon is FREE. We won't say no to donations, preferably in the form of cash, precious metals, first born children, spare computers, beer, or bitcoin.
    • Where can I RSVP?
    • Heading in from out of town, or other far-off lands? Let us know ahead of time by shooting a note to RSVP (at) sparklecon (dawt) org. BRING YOUR OWN SEATING! We'll have limited seating for those who RSVP, but if you're local, just bring a camping chair or two.
    • How do I get there?
    • A few miles due north of Disneyland, two blocks east of the Fullerton Metrolink Station. 33.869719N, 117.917010W 418 E Commonwealth Ave #1 Fullerton CA 92832
    • Where can I park?
    • Parking is not available at the 23b Shop complex. Ample parking can be had at the Fullerton Metrolink Station two blocks west of our location. Be warned - Fullerton parking ordinance is draconian, so check yourself should you park anywhere else.

    Other Distractions Through the Day

    MAME arcade cabinet(s)

    Plasma's Phabulous Photo Parlor

    3D scanned selfies

    CNC mumble peg

    Queeg wrestling

    Today's News, with Harald and John Galt


    Update 11.30.15

    Sparklecon is approaching rapidly, apologies for the radio silence, we've been very busy scheming up this year's events. Now 62% moar Sparkle, less filling.

    Update 10.27.15

    Media from last year's Sparklecon is up. Check out the action, learn a few things, and make arrangements to show up this year.

    Update 10.21.15

    It's 100 days to Sparklecon 3

    The Robot Combat Rules are ready for you.

    We're doing Hebocon again, but better.

    We'll have live music

    Want to present? Our Call For Content is open.


    Update 10.4.15

    The contest has been defined:

    • Two robots will fight to the death. The 1" thick acrylic arena walls can stop .50 cal bullets.
    • Twenty-pound weight limit must fit within a milk crate.
    • Melee-focused, electric / microwave / EMP encouraged; no projectiles, flammables, or goos.
    • 220V 30A service for maximum mayhem fun.
    • Lithium chemistry batteries only
    • Be creative, push the envelope, try not to kill anyone.


    4 teams have been confirmed:

    • 23b Shop
    • MAG Lab
    • Null Space Labs
    • CharlieX/M

    Want to compete? email bender (at) Entry period is closed, thanks for looking!

    More info to follow shortly.