Tech minds mesh at Bega Hackathon

A community network linking computers independent of internet technology was the standout project at the weekend’s South Coast Hackathon.

The brightest IT minds of the Bega Valley and beyond gathered at the University of Wollongong Bega campus for a weekend of creativity and development.

Participants were given two days to develop and pitch their IT-focused project to their fellow techies and a select group of judges, with cash prizes on offer for the top efforts.

James Hebden claimed both the best overall award from judges, as well as the coders’ choice from his colleagues for his “mesh network”.

Using computers of any age and capability, linked through Wi-Fi and line-of-sight aerial technology, Mr Hebden said any node on that network could speak to any other.

It even had the potential that if one of those nodes had broadband internet access, then, given permission, any other node on the mesh could access the internet regardless of their own home limitations.

He said it was particularly applicable in areas with patchy internet coverage like Brogo where he lives.

The power consumption of his mesh network was also marginal, with the potential for small nodes linking multiple computers to each other to be run on solar power – the car battery hooked up to a TV antenna in Mr Hebden’s demonstration was “overkill” he said.

A particular pleasing aspect of this year’s Hackathon – only the second for the South Coast – was the involvement of several beginners.

Without much prior knowledge of software coding, three young boys created a graphic variant of Rock-Paper-Scissors and were deservedly chuffed with their win in the amateur category.

Other projects worth mentioning were an all-encompassing smartphone app – WotzOn – looking to collate all event and entertainment options in the Bega Valley; and using an Xbox Kinect sensor to scan objects able to be replicated on a 3D printer. 

The South Coast Hackathon was hosted by IntoIT Sapphire Coast.