Why less FM?

volumiopiToday we turned on the first of a series of low power FM transmitters to begin rebroadcasting our favorite online radio stations and personal audio playlists using MPD – Music Player Daemon.

We began with a tiny RaspberryPi PC running Volumio hifi audio player. Then we trawled our archives to bring together available usb drive, NAS and radio streams for transmission and will continue to extend resources and access to this pool.

Next we patched in the FM transmitter and antenna we got on ebay several years ago for just £50 and set it all up on a rooftop in SE8.

Listening in we were pleased at the basic quality of the inbuilt sound card of the Pi despite a lot of hype about need for DAC add-on eg. Highberry we will keep it simple for now.

5wfmkitWhen next in SE8 try tuning your FM radio [if you still have one] to 103FM [variable] then visit the playback interface with option to build a playlist from the collection or select a internet radio station to re-broadcast.

SPC regulars WirelesFM have recently uploaded all their radio archives to Mixcloud so we will certainly feature their shows alongside the many residual audio archives we hold. ResonanceFM have been using Airtime to manage schedules of pre-recorded material and switch to their live shows and public events using the control dashboard. Perhaps this is a bit more sane than our ad-hoc approach today but would you expect anything less? Ok we will look into running our own soon enough!

So why bother.?

In case you hadn’t noticed, mass media is a closed door to all but your ennobled lovelies, so don’t wait till the FM band only plays the same tune, polluted with adverts, predictable playlists and inane banter, make a station of your own and take to the airwaves pronto!

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All iterated

In the warm up to this years Party in the Park a series of promotional and fund raising events have been lined up by this years party protagonists. Such great success in 2014 has propelled the ambition for this year, not least to raise the modest development and production cash needed with a kickstarter appeal. (where is that?)

resistandcreate Minesweeper collective will be instrumental in the print and promotional aspects of the event. They already hold screen printing workshops on Tuesday and Thursdays and are set to run next PITP craft workshop on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14st June and then monthly, where you can get an introduction to the screen print process but also print a few of your existing garments with PITP 2015 artwork.

Madcap coalition have completed the move to storage and workspace on Norman Road and will begin preparing the series of community enclosures, tents and stages needed. Planning meetings for this years festival are being held on Mondays 6pm at NXL. Funding is needed for Generators, Toilets and Tenting and the call for volunteers will be made shortly.

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Adhere to this

Strands of the recent ‘offline networks’ panel @ Transmediale, prove to be of ongoing fascination as this meme builds momentum.

Projects like Superglue and Qaul shed contrasting light on the needs of open wireless networks with their respective software developments.

TP-LINK TL-WR710NOur very own SuperGlue-SPC unit is in use during weekly Wireless Wednesday Workshop at bitspace. Here is Danja presenting Superglue at recent floss4p2p event in London. It’s firefox and chrome plug-in enables live WYSIWYG editing of html and image upload via the web browser. Your graphics, text and custom code can be customised to extend the basic web hosting and page authoring functionality on offer.

Qual software is available for most operating systems and will build you a spontaneous mesh network, reconfiguring the network adapters of your local PC’s for wired and wireless connections interlinking peers automagically. This level of network infrastructure manipulation won’t be to everyone’s taste but is very progressive thinking.

Both projects are still in development and show how small groups of individuals can make progress with open source code, add-hock collaboration and minimal resources.

We are looking forward to working with these systems and more during MAZI project research later this year should funding allow.

If you can’t follow all this, please get in touch!

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Ubiquiti-LocostationPrior to the remodelling of Denmark Street this year,  YT stepped across the rooftops with Daniel of Peerpoint to set up and distribute access options to the 1gb capacity fibre service available at the ESOL school there.

It’s now distributed over high speed wireless links between buildings and for local business needs in the surrounding areas of Soho, Bloomsbury and St Giles.

denmarkstreet2014-2kIf you can see your place in this panorama and are seeking a top quality broadband connection for your space then get in contact soon for more information on how to link up easily, quickly and economically.


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Fibonacci Bluesky

YT stood on this roof for about an hour yesterday and shot images whilst scanning for RedRaw Internet radios in case we could forge a link up to serve the tenants of Fibi House. In an area so well endowed with ‘world class’ architecture and positioned there in the heart of the City on London you may be surprised to hear how poorly it is serviced with ADSL broadband. No FTTC available? Well, not really shocked but it is curious how much of the UK has yet to be equipped with last century service let alone ready meet current expectations.


Wireless infrastructure ? Well, your well laid plan for rooftop spanning will come to nothing when that new 21 story building completely blocks the light and line of sight to your preferred connectivity vendor. (see conspicuous red crane in this shot!)

300px-34-21-FibonacciBlocksFibre of course would be the preferred choice but with spaces on short leases and with little patience for the continuity issues of managed broadband, many landlords cut the umbilical of any existing service at the end of term and assume each new tenant will plumb their own new (minimum) 3 year fibre contract on moving in or struggle with legacy copper connections. They don’t treat the water and electrical supply in this way so they simply don’t understand the issues. It’s a huge business opportunity so expect we will hear more and more about it before long. Meanwhile many customers are left with little alternative to the clusterfuck of bonding 2, 5, 8 and even 13 ADSL lines to meet the capacity needs of their voice and date networks, with diminishing returns.

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Mazi Mondays

Panayotis Antoniadis co-founder of Nethood has gathered a group of thinkers and network activists around the MAZI project. As part of this effort SPC have proposed to revisit the Creekside network in Deptford and engage with people of the area to help compose a Mazi toolkit for establishment and operation of offline network services over free information infrastructures such as the long lived OWN. Here he is talking at a recent floss4p2p event in London.

Panos-small“What I had in mind is that the research would focus on an area covered by a local network either permanently or at least during the duration of the project. This network would host locally crafted educational material and floss applications that would showcase emerging tools and technologies. This could be as simple as a single web hosting device offering short-range access or a community mesh network with broader objectives. “

This preferred area of focus may well coincide with existing mesh node installations.. it’s along the creek so there are indigenous social housing, boating, artistisan, hoodlum, drinking and eating communities as well as inevitable high rise developments and mixed emotions!

SPC has capacity in it’s network to offer uplinks to Mazi for the duration..  Mesh solutions are great for mobile network nodes and for resilience in an unstable environment. Primed with a set of great locations and willing collaborators aplenty, a point to point radial model will ensure greater stability and higher speeds for community needs. We already have a few low power servers and resources available and have set up a mazi subdomain of spc.org

SE9 mateThere is a swell of social, cultural and creative interest along Creekside in Deptford where we have enjoyed success in the past. We hope to rekindle interest and activity in support of the Mazi workshop program and the adoption of a locally delivered alternative to commercial web dependencies.  Meanwhile the whole area is being “developed” so there are rising blocks on every quarter isolating areas of Deptford which will present a challenge when fixing links and bridging ideas.

The river Ravensbourne snakes from Bromley through Lewisham and opens out after Elverson Road DLR into naturalised riverside alongside Brookmill Park. It retreats into a concrete slot under the A2 at Deptford Bridge DLR and emerges as Deptford Creek up behind LeSoCo (Lewisham College) canyoned by new flats and hotels on the Greenwich side, developments that are set to run the length of Norman Road.


Babar Luck @ Birdsnest

Just as the Creek broadens a little and gets really muddy there is a branch mooring a dozen barges and smaller boats. On land there are a similar array of trailers and vans where people live and work. At the top of Creekside on the corner of Deptford Church Street is the Birdsnest live music pub and local flux point. The yard that wraps around it features Big red Pizza Bus and an array of related performance and construction trades. Other adjacent properties are in progress of reactivation in the sweep of enthusiasm for SE8. APT (artists in perpetuity trust) purchased the old factory building in 1995 and their community of traditional crafts practitioners are at the core of Deptford artist reputation.

Creekside Education Centre  has the only direct access to the creek. Boundless broadband coop was first implanted here in 2004, and is still operating an OWN node today. Over the road is the Crossfields council housing estate, repopulated  by young families,  artists and musicians in 1970’s and regularly commented on. Thereafter it’s a pick n mix run of light industrial yards, Scaffolders, Machinists, Work Units, Art Studios, Cockpit Arts, Laben Dance and bonanza of real estate prospectors with plans to block out the light.

cropped-minesweeper2001A 2nd world war Minesweeper is moored alongside one of few remaining light industrial estates off Norman Road. It has a mixed crew of arty anarchos who screen print t-shirts and lead on refurbishment of the aged hull, host great parties and a flotilla of smaller boats. Madcap Coalition have just moved to one of the remaining warehouses adjacent to the cement works by the Creek Road lifting bridge. Finally at the mouth a new pedestrian swing bridge links between swanky new condo’s before the creek tips into the Thames.

More, much more info about the area and it’s many great features, ideas and activities are reported in a clutch of local blogs, projects and innovations to numerous to detail here.

Here is the MAZI project outline;
Do-It-Yourself networking refers to a conceptual approach to the use of low-cost hardware and wireless technologies in deploying local communication networks that can operate independently from the public Internet, owned and controlled by local actors.
MAZI means “together” in Greek and the MAZI project invests in this paradigm of technology-supported networking, as a means to bring closer together those living in physical proximity. Through an experienced interdisciplinary consortium, MAZI delivers a DIY networking toolkit that offers tools and guidelines for the easy deployment and customization of local networks and services.
The MAZI toolkit is designed to take advantage of particular characteristics of DIY networking: the de facto physical proximity between those connected; the increased privacy and autonomy; and the inclusive access. Such characteristics are used to promote information exchanges that can develop the location-based collective awareness, as a basis for fostering social cohesion, conviviality, knowledge sharing, and sustainable living.
To achieve this objective, MAZI brings together partners from different disciplines: computer networks, urban planning and interdisciplinary studies, human-computer interaction, community informatics, and design research. These academic partners will collaborate closely with four community partners to ensure that the MAZI toolkit benefits from the grounded experience of citizen engagement.
MAZI draws from the diverse mix of competencies of its consortium to develop a transdisciplinary research framework, which will guide a series of long-term pilot studies in a range of environments, and enhanced by various cross-fertilization events.
The main goal of this process, and its measure of success, is establishing DIY networking as a mainstream technology for enabling the development of collective awareness between those in physical proximity, and the development of surrounding research and theorizing of this approach.
Participants; University of Thessaly, NetHood, Edinburgh Napier University, Berlin University of the Arts, Open University, INURA Zurich Institute, SPC, Prinzessinnengarten, and unMonastery.
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IMG_20150409_135632TB spent a couple of hours visiting Vinyl Cafe in Deptford to deliver and fit a couple of IP cameras so that events can be streamed and general view of the place is visible when required. The cafe camera just posts an updated jpg to an ftp server so it can be displayed here.

A second camera is fitted in the basement where live music and DJ performances are a regular occurrence. A new video clip is recorded each time motion is detected then copied up to the web host for review and future use.

if the re is no image then it’s dark out there!

Both camera1 and camera2 offer live streaming using rtsp which browsers can’t easily display but which can be viewed with VLC or similar media players. vinylcafeWe just activated their wordpress blog to enble more regular updates and news to be communicated.

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DIWO Virtual Studio

FF-gallerySPC currently helping Furtherfield optimise network interlinking between Furtherfield Commons in Finbury Park, Drake Music and musician John Kelly.

This in preparation for a DIWO season of Virtual Studio experiments and performances starting in May 2015.

TB visited FF-Commons hosting the primary studio, to replace the lousy BT ADSL router with a more sturdy model,  just 8mb/s down and less than 1mb/s up is best possible telco service available there. We checked the line of sight between FF-Gallery (capable of high speed FTTC) and FF-Commons.. looks good, so recommended install of a 5ghz wireless ‘bridge’ for up to 300mb/s link up asap!

viewfromcommonsProject partners Drake Music will host a studio at their Old Nichol Street space. We helped resolve their long term network access issues with introduction of a powerline startup kit (ethernet over power) which links the studio without need for cable installation. a new gigabit switch and bag of ethernet cables to link their PC’s instead of wireless will liberate their day to day workflow!

Artistically the project will be led by John Kelly, who will work with 3 other musicians, including Roger Mills. John works from his SW London homestudio which already has fast FTTC service in place so is ready to make a start in early May.

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Mad reCapped

Kevinand RankineTB popped into the new Madcap warehouse off Norman Road in Greenwich to have a poke about and size up the work needed to prepare the place for use.  There is more than enough space to hold anything Rankine can pull together in the few months of reliable tenure offered. This site, as most other on the Creek is now under huge pressure of redevelopment and can’t outlast the year.

PANO_madcaplabThe lovely big space is currently very dusty following years as an exhibition wood workshop and still hosts the huge flatbed and jig saws as well as fork lift truck! Much of the huge collection of theatrical and event tents and carnival props has already made it over but a sizable portion remains at the old Pepys Estate store, though before bringing that over the dust must go! See you down there over the next week, take a mask.


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Off-world call

nxlLewisham council dropped all but one of it’s borough libraries in 2011.  Most have been picked up and operated independently since then, not least the New Cross Learning centre bang opposite Deptford Town Hall in New Cross High Road.

SPC have recently taken on support and development role to improve of the scope of network services available and help prepare for the “party in the park 2015” scheduled for late summer.

S8twTdTMeanwhile we have been keeping up with Marcell Mars during his residency at MaydayRooms this month where he will complete development of [let’s share books] the Calibre plug-in which integrates with open reading library Memory Of the World. His assignment at Maydayrooms is to refine publishing processes and assist in the building of their growing archive catalogue and to promote awareness of the hosted collections.

So far during February we have been continuing network development in recently refurbished Spacestudios @ Deborah House whilst nurturing progress of a new studio building, Brickfields, where 100mb/s fibre service is being installed and which goes live at the opening early in April. This brings the number of spacestudios now equipped with broadband connectivity to nine with the tenth due soon.

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