Polycom Communicator C100 Conference Speakerphone

Over the last years, I helped non-profits use technology for social impact. At times the technology solutions were complex; at other times they were off-the-shelf consumer electronics. In this post, I'll share an example that added value to the NGO Resource Centre in Hanoi, Vietnam.

NGO Resource Centre needed a solution to improve the audio quality of teleconferences. People connected to the NGO Resource centre's working group meetings using Skype from all over Vietnam and the world. We need an affordable conference speakerphone, non-profits often have very limited budget for technology. This device had to be simple to use, without the need for additional training and able to capture voice of half a dozen people sitting around a large conference table.

C100 Conference Speaker Phone

First I considered using regular Bluetooth hands free speakerphone, however they are really designed for use of single person and the quality of microphone is not suitable for conference use. After some research, I found the Polycom Communicator C100 that fitted the bill perfectly. We were able to buy this device locally in Hanoi.The feedback from NGO Resource Centre staff and the participants of the teleconferences was very positive. The audio quality was really great. The dual microphones provide great audio quality and speaker volume was loud yet clear. The Polycom C100 plugs into your computer and works with Skype software client on the computer out of the box.

When providing technology solutions, it is very important that the technology should make one's life easier not challenging. That means finding a solution that is easy to find locally, easy to use and within the budget.

And don't forget to share your experiences working with technology for social impact projects using the comment form below.

The Silent Horn: Design flaw in HornIt bike horn

The Hornit is certainly the loudest bike horn on the market by not the strongest. One morning Jack discovered his Hornit bike horn was suddenly all quiet. He opened the casing at Hackerspace Phnom Penh to find the over sized resonator(not quite sure if it one) had broken off. Perhaps the designers could have reinforcing this component with some glue or something instead of relying on strength of soldering alone. After all this is meant to be mounted on a bike and should withstand bumpy rides and vibrations. This is a very good example of technology world as built.

Broken resonator in Hornit bike horn
This component had broken off due during a ride

Hackerspace Phnom Penh's Jack, Leo managed to solder it back on. And put some copious amount of glue to prevent it from breaking off in future. I hope someone at Hornit is listening and try to remedy this flaw.

Buying Cameras, Lens and other photography gear in Tokyo

If you are ever flying through Tokyo and have few hours to spare. Head into town on the airport bus to Shinjuiku's Yodobashi Camera. The store is situated few hundred feet from the Shinjiku station airport bus stop. The Yodobashi camera store is photographers delight. The staff speak good English and are very helpful. It might be a good idea to first check the Yodobashi website to see they have the products you want in stock.

Photo credit Daisuke Matsumura

The store offers VAT discount for foreign travelers and further discount on purchases using Visa cards. The only downside is that the warranty on the products tends to be limited for Japan only.

Enjoy! And don't forget to share your Japan camera shopping experiences in the comments below.

Teaching 3D Printing at Hackerspace Phnom Penh Cambodia

Recently we started a novel experiment at Hackerspace Phnom Penh to introduce 3D printing technology to kids. We organized a saturday afternoon workshop for the coding club members of local international school. The parents who brought the kids were just as excited about the 3D printing technology.

Teaching 3D printing at Hackerspace Phnom Penh

Photo Credit: Akira

The workshop started with Leo Jofeh walking the kids through the basics of 3D printing technology. The Makerbot Cupcake CNC was used to show various parts of 3D printing machine. The DIY model of the Cupcake CNC 3D printer makes it easy to see all the parts unlike the more recent models of the 3D printers.

Next we brought in the modern Lulzbot Mini 3D printer and did a quick test print of small object from Thingiverse.com to show the whole 3D printing process. The kids were already bubbling with ideas for building model tanks to full scale super hero characters. However we suggested something simpler that doesn't take hours of print time. The code club members were already familiar with the Google Sketchup program. So they quickly started creating drawing of comic characters and creating custom currency coins. With a Sketchup STL export plugin they could export the drawings into a 3D printable STL file.

Leo collected these STL files and added to them the Cura printing software with minor changes. The kids and the parents were totally engrossed all throughout the workshop. Indeed 3D printing unleashes your inner tool maker in everyone.

The workshop was a learning experience for us. Next we are going to expand the program to cover more schools and with few working templates that kids and the parents can work-together.

If you want to help or get involved please get in touch with us at facebook.com/groups/hackerspacepp.

Closing Hanoi Hackerspace Site

Hanoi Hackerspace site is dead.

After few years of trying to build a hackerspace in Hanoi to promote make culture. We failed to secure a space to host the hackerspace and gather core group of makers. Later Eoin Kinsella and I have moved away out of Hanoi city.

Now it is up to other projects like FabLab Hanoi to carry on the torch.