Looking for OSH projects and leads for my next Make Magazine article

Hey there

Long time lurker (since meeting a few GOSHers at MozFest in London a few years back), first time poster! I’m Helen Leigh (@helenleigh on le twitter) and I do a lot of work in open source hardware, with a personal focus on education and making ridiculous experimental instruments. I also write a regular column for Make Magazine about hardware. The next column I’m writing is about tech designed for the great outdoors - conservation tech, interesting sensors etc etc. I try and highlight OSH projects where possible. I have got my eye on the lovely folks at Conservify and a few other cool projects too, but I wanted to ask if there are any other initiatives out there that are doing interesting things in this space that you think I should know about?

I’d also like to give GOSH itself a shout out but I’m not sure who I should ask for clarifying some things?




Hi Helen, nice to see you post here. Check out Open Acoustic Devices’ Audio Moth if you haven’t come across it already.

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I hadn’t but someone just recommended it to me on twitter - it’s very much the kind of thing I’m looking for in terms of projects.

I’d also be interested to hear from ppl here about their thoughts on how Open Science HW is developing, what the response has been like in academia, what kind of thing GOSH get up to etc. Who are some good ppl to approach to ask about this kind of thing?

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Check out this recent article, might help give a sense of how OScH is progressing: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-03193-5

I’m happy to talk about what GOSH is up to (shannon@openenvironmentaldata.org), but hoping that others who are working on a variety of GOSH related things will chime in (@jarancio @marinappdf @julianstirling @gbathree @thomasmboa etc etc…)


Thanks for the @ @shannond. At the risk of sounding like a broken record and always talking about OpenFlexure. The microscope is designed to be small, low power and portable. This allows to to be used in the great outdoors:

From the jungle:

to the Antarctic:

I would also get in contact with @hikinghack. Designing tech for the great outdoors is what he does all day every day.


great article and thanks for tagging in some people! I’ll be in touch via email over the next week or so

Fabulous project and great pictures. What’s the best way to contact you for more info?

You can email j.stirling@bath.ac.uk .It would also be good to email Richard who is PI. He may not get back to you quickly as he is on shared parental leave.

A lot of the cool open tech for conservation people can be found over at WILDLABS

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Hi Helen,

I’m working in this area myself, I’ve made forays into underwater robotics and acoustics. Tackling gunshot/poaching detection now, with an obligatory stop at passive acoustic wildlife monitoring. I’m fairly regular on Wildlabs that Jenny mentioned.

Also if you haven’t been contacted by @TheCavePearlProject you should probably just ping him.

-harold htarold@gmail.com

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@biomakers_lab and @pazbernaldo @gpereyrairujo, great opportunity to share the awesome work of Gorgas and Vuela in Latin America.

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Some great responses here. I’ll add that Conservation X Labs “applies technology, entrepreneurship, and open innovation to source, develop, and scale critical solutions to the underlying drivers of human-induced extinction.” From what I can tell the majority of their projects are open source hardware! :smiley:

For example, the OpenCTD project is a great open source hardware tool that replaces expensive proprietary instrumentation for oceanography and marine conservation. (full disclosure: I know one of its creators!)

I could talk to you about GOSH, but also about the work we’ve been doing in latino america to organize the open hardware community (what we called reGOSH).
I could also talk about the work we’ve being doing at CTA since 2015, developing open science hardware at the university!
You can always call me!

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Super fun! Sorry i missed this earlier, was out in the field!

Jungle Interaction Design
Our research at DINALAB has been about DIY interaction design for field biology (quick zine primer on dissertation here: http://andy.dorkfort.com/andy/digitalnatural/2015/11/03/dissertation-booklet-digital-naturalism-theory-and-guidelines/ ).

A quick and easy pointer to lots of great projects comes from our “Dinacon.” We have been running a couple large scale, long format conferences where people document and share their projects openly and we compile them into a color+photo book dinacon.org/book (All free to download and use and share).

Recently we have been setting up our Jungle Makerspace here in Panama next to the Smithsonian Tropical Research institute, but the Pandemic really set us back (we had lots more expeditions, jungle hacking events, and residencies here all scheduled and had to cancel).

Ant Sensors
One of my main projects has been about developing super cheap Wild Insect Traffic Sensors https://conservationx.com/lab/projects/wildinsecttrafficsensors/2414
with my goal of being able to track ant traffic throughout a jungle in many spots over many days, and my artistic goal of making a set of “Wearable Ant Farms” (one early example)


and we have been making some progress with a nice little funding and support from Conservation X Labs but some illnesses, emergency volunteering, and freelance work to keep the lab afloat have set us back this fall, but we got a little more funding and will be taking a break to focus on that this upcoming year!
Jungle Bridge Repair for Science!
Meanwhile the kind of “emergency volunteering” we have been doing that i mentioned has been pretty fun. There’s an important scientific field site here called “Pipeline Road” that due to bureacracy and now pandemic has been left to become incredibly dangerous and threatens to become shutdown permanently. But us and the sustainable architecture company Cresolus, and a handful of rogue volunteers have been somewhat secretly maintaining it, but now have successfully also raised funds publicly to repair the first set of bridges (built in the 1940’s!) and help scientists maintain access to studies that have been going on for decades there! It’s funny, doing open science hardware work, I usually have been thinking about making designs and code, but didn’t realize I would be helping reconstruct gigantic jungle bridges was going to be as important of a scientific project too!

For folks who want to see videos of rescuing and repairing cool old jungle bridges check these out:

and the crowdfunding video has lots of great shots of this incredible road:

Animal Interaction
The other emergency volunteering project we have been doing is with a group called https://www.appcpanama.org/ . They are an endangered animal rescue and rehab center here in Gamboa Panama, which had a lot of its funding and resources cut with the pandemic, so we have been volunteering there and building animal enrichment toys. I’ve also been teaching some interaction design classes at like ITP NYU, and NMHU to let students design digital enrichment projects which we can build and test out. Some things include 3D printed food bowls with integrated moats to prevent ant attacks, Monkey houses, and designing sensors for playtoys for a 400lb tapir! Plus we collect lots and lots of very cute animal footage because of this:

WARNING here’s an incredibly cute rescued baby sloth https://www.instagram.com/p/CIcHcCUB8aj/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

here’s a 360 VR video from when we were working to measure the Tapir https://youtu.be/oE29G6nk6mw

Smithsonian Outreach
These aren’t really outdoors or hardware proejcts, but we have also been doing some last minute little projects for the Smithsonian in Panama (who, because of the pandemic had a bunch of their stuff cut, and reorganized) so we provided all the content for their Q-Digital Kids platform

We made Bilingual (spanish+english) open source games and video for them. For instance a Covid-19 simulator game:

and a fun Leaf-Cutter Ant simulation game:

So anyway, that’s a bunch, but also free to contact with more suggestions and sharing about other projects and stuff from folks I encountered. andrew.quitmeyer@gmail.com :slight_smile:


Also @helenleigh for outdoor tech projects and groups, in europe there’s another group https://www.ferallabs.net/ that helps sponsor things like pifcamp and shmiede for outdoor hacking. The https://www.makery.info/en/ writes lots of cool articles about them and their projects

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