Start Guide for HFD

HFD Start Guide

This start guide is designed to introduce you to HFD and give you some tips and pointers for organizing your own HFD event. If you have any questions please join and use the HFD mailing lists or contact us though our contact form. You can also chat with us via IRC on #hfd on Freenode if you want to bounce ideas around or get more advice. Also check our SocialNetworks page to start networking with the HFD community around the world.

Organizing a HFD event is a fun and effective community building experience for your area. Hardware Freedom Day is an outreach day where you can initiate newcomers to open hardware and communicate on the broader issues of Hardware Freedom through a variety of activities of your choice. Is there something locally relevant to your country or region that you need to express? Is there some great local success story you want to tell? Or do you want to introduce your cool hackspace?

Hardware Freedom Day is your chance to stand united with the entire Open Hardware community.

How can I celebrate Hardware Freedom Day?

There are three primary ways to celebrate HFD:

  1. Join an existing local HFD organization and help make their HFD event a success.
  2. Host your own HFD event!
  3. Encourage local colleges and hackerspaces to make their own HFD events!

HFD will be most effective if we keep some target groups in mind:

  • Geeks and makers
  • Schools, colleges and universities
  • Local government
  • Hardware related businesses

Steps to organize your HFD event

  1. Read the CodeOfConduct page and see if you can agree!

  2. RSS feed the [[|HFD news]]. Event discussions happen on the HFD mailing lists which you are also encouraged to join.

  3. Join the mailing list to get feedback of your planning.

  4. Register your event so people can find your event from our website.
  5. Report on your event. We'll have an easy report webform for you to fill in after the event!

The average HFD event usually requires only a few organisers to share the workload and ensure the event is in hand. You can often recruit helpers from:

  • Hackerspaces
  • Linux User Groups
  • Special Interest Groups (mechanic, DIY groups, photography etc.)
  • Universities & schools

  • Family and friends
  • Companies (Developers, Marketing departments, etc.)

We have found that the event can bring local hackers together and give them the recognition they deserves. Besides it can encourage other people to join current efforts and help grow the movement. The number of helpers required depends on the sort of activities you choose, but generally, the more the better. That way people have a good time and it also becomes a social event. If your volunteers enjoy themselves, they will pass on a good vibe and offer to volunteer next year too :-)

Remember, we are all volunteers so it is a matter of what we can, when we can. Always remember to thank your volunteers and make sure they have a good time.

What should we do?

Be creative! You can organise any kind of HFD event you want. You can find a location / time to have a few meetings to brainstorm / discuss about the HFD event:

  • Set your goals like objectives, target audiences, scale, style, theme.
  • Event timing (should it be a morning, afternoon, evening or a whole day event? why?)
  • Who can be the host?
  • what kinds of open hardware project will you showcase?
  • Will you have exhibits?
    • If so, who will supervise the items on display and provide demos?
  • Will you have simple workshops for adults and/or kids?
    • If so, what will you have people achieve and who can run those classes (and where)?
  • Will you organize video projection?
  • Have you considered giving away water, or selling drinks?
  • If so, are you authorized to sell those drinks?
  • Do you plan on having a group Q&A session with experts of your community?

    • If so, who will lead the discussion? Who else will be invited?
  • Who else can you get involved?

But just to get you started, here are a few ideas some people have had:

  • Run a booth at a market or fair and demo some open hardware while being ready to engage with people passing by.
  • Get together with schools, universities and other people who can benefit from open hardware.
  • Run a competition, best hack competition, fastest assembly competition or whichever you think suits best.
  • Run some demo machines in a public space and show off some open hardware.
  • Hold a open hardware exhibition in hackerspace (obviously a great place), schools (EE department?), relevant businesses, or other areas.
  • Hold a workshop on open hardware and deliver a training certificate to participant highlighting the skill(s) they acquired.
  • Have a social event - food, drink, showcase open hardware
  • Organise an exhibition to highlight open hardware success stories

You may also set a theme for your event / activity, we have a wiki page for event organizers to share your EventIdeas.


Depending on the sort of activity and scale of your event, you may need to set a budget for the event. It's good to prepare a budget plan and find ways to finance it, there are usually a few ways:

  • Sponsorship from open hardware friendly companies or local businesses interested in your demographics (e.g. coffee shops, pubs, libraries, etc.)
  • Donation from members of local communities and interested clubs.
  • Sharing cost among the organizers and/or participants.

If you plan to raise fund, it's good to prepare a proposal clearly specifying the event details suggested as below and then approach different companies / organisations.

  • Objective of the event.
  • Target audiences.
  • Messages to be delivered.
  • Date and venue.
  • Activity scale and form.
  • Estimated budget plan.
  • Benefits of sponsorship / donation.

Promoting the event in advance

It is very important to communicate the event to your target audiences, there are a lot of ways just to name a few here:

  • Posters and flyers: Download the poster design from here (tbc), put your event details, print them out and post them in selected places two weeks before the event.
  • Announcement in different websites, forums and mailing list: e.g. interested groups, colleges and universities.
  • Press release: if you have connection with local press of your country / city, approach them, either send them a press release to build awareness of your event before and after the event or host an interview if possible. Otherwise, you can always approach local technology related journalists to do so. You may want to contact them to make them come to the event.
  • Social Networking:, Twitter, Facebook, etc.
  • Word of mouth: ask around to bring friends, family and co-workers to the event.

Preparing for the day

Below is a basic checklist that should cover most events that you would plan on running:

  • Got your volunteers organised?
  • Your venue is well prepared? Microphones? Video Projectors? White Screens?
  • Are you planning to live stream your event?
  • Do you need insurance for your event? (some people can look to larger organisations to help out with this. Ask around.)
  • Do you have schwag to hand out? CDs, flyers, balloons? Anything shiny that will give you the chance to engage in discussion.
  • Have you liaised with any other HFD event organizers in your region or country? Sometimes this can help with pooling resources and having a stronger all round effort.
  • Do you have have decent signs prepared so people can find / recognise your event?
  • Do you have signs to tell participants how to tag, twit, etc.?
  • Do you have a board to allow participants to write down what they feel about the event?
  • Is your event in an easy to find place that is useful to reach out to a broad new audience?

On-site management

According to experiences, there are a few things you may want to pay attention during the events.

  • Documenting the whole event by taking photos or video and share them in different channels, it is suggested to tag the photos to "hardwarefreedomday".
  • Interviewing audiences to get feedback of the event (as sometimes paper surveys may not get the same result).
  • Others would be the temperature, ventilation, sound level of the speakers, noise control from different audiences.

After the event

  • You may want to gather those materials that can be reused for the next event.
  • Of course you have to indulge yourselves with a good meal to talk about the feeling of the event together with the other volunteers, thanking your volunteers is very important as well.
  • Post photos, videos and interviews taken during the event in websites and / or blog about it so that we can reach out even more people afterwards.
  • Send a press release to different news outlet.
  • Send thank you letters and report summary to sponsors, exhibitors, contributors, speakers and supporting organizations.
  • Report on your event! Summarize the event experience, share them in our mailing list so that we can put them into this StartGuide to make it more shinier. :)

HFD: StartGuide (last edited 2013-04-04 13:54:39 by FredericMuller)