Howduino is an informal collaboration between MCQN and Liverpool neighbours Glow New Media to run hardware/tinkering/Arduino hackdays/weekends. The first was held in Liverpool last year, and since then we've travelled down to Poole and hung out in Birmingham. We generally partner with a local who finds a venue, a bit of sponsorship to cover expenses (so that we keep them free for attendees) and helps with promotion.

Thanks to Brian Degger and the ever hardware-hacker-friendly Centre for Life (host to the UK Maker Faires) we were delighted to take the Howduino goodness up to the North-East in late July.

It's a completely open format, where enthusiasm is more important than qualifications or experience, and Howduino NCL was typical of the mix in attendees. Of the thirty-odd people who came along we had people who came along 'cos their mate had recently bought an Arduino, through to veterans from the first Howduino.

After a round of introductions we ran a simple "getting started" session for the beginners to get them up to speed, and after that Thom (my co-conspirator from Glow) and I roamed around helping people out with their projects. One of the things I love about running these events is the level of collaboration and community that builds up over such a short time. There's a great atmosphere of people helping and encouraging each other with their projects.

This video from attendee Stuart Childs captures a flavour of the weekend...

By the end of the weekend we had a wealth of projects up and running: a hacked radio-controlled Ferrari that performed handbrake turns; a scrolling LED display that had been rescued from a skip and used to make the world's longest game of pong (probably); a radio-controlled blimp made from scratch out of a couple of helium balloons (some video of it here); an SVG-to-whiteboard plotter (actually started at Howduino Liverpool - great to see how it's progressing); and much more.

A last couple of projects, because I can embed video for them...

A couple of excellent homemade LED matrices, built from individual LEDs and ping-pong balls...

And a face-tracking Dalek (inspired in part by the Doctor Who exhibition that was on in the rest of the building)

Brian has written about the weekend on his blog and Stuart has also done a write-up. There are photos up on Flickr tagged with Howduino and some more photos over here. If anyone knows of any other write-ups or photos then let me know and I'll add them.

We're still finalising the details for the next one (we're overdue a return to our home city) but join the Howduino mailing list or follow @Howduino on Twitter if you want to hear about future events.