In two weeks the Hackaday Community is gathering in Belgrade for Europe’s greatest hardware con, The Hackaday Belgrade Conference — an event not to be missed — but of course the city itself is a spectacular place to visit and has the perfect feel for those who like to build electronics. Why not join us for your own geek world tour to Serbia? Here’s a few of the things you’ll want to see while in Belgrade.
Aircraft, Inventor, Architecture
Belgrade is a tech center and a hidden jewel of Europe. Need proof? Fly into Belgrade, and you’ll land at Nikola Tesla Airport. Pick up a car at the airport and you’ll pass a great glass torus housing Serbia’s Museum of Aviation. Here, you’ll find aircraft from both sides of the cold war, Sabres and MiGs, Hurricanes and Messerschmitts, a quite rare Sud Caravelle, and the canopy of the only stealth bomber ever to be shot down. It’s an aviation geek’s paradise, and you haven’t even left the airport.
What else is in store for you when you visit Belgrade? For the Hackaday crowd, the most interesting bit will probably be the Nikola Tesla Museum. You might know of Nikola Tesla from a webcomic, but he’s actually the greatest inventor of all time, even more so than Elon Musk. Tesla invented radio, even though Marconi got the credit. Tesla invented radar and discovered x-rays. The only person they could find to portray a figure like Tesla in The Prestige was David Bowie. Nikola Tesla is the most iconic inventor to ever live (change my mind), and his museum is in Belgrade.
Belgrade is the home and final resting place of the greatest inventor of the modern era, and there are multiple statues honoring this great mind. He’s even on the money. At the museum, you’ll find exhibits (in English, by the way) of what this magnificent person created.
There’s a copy of Tesla’s two-phase induction motor from 1887, a demonstration of his polyphase system, and even a copy of Tesla’s remote-controlled model boat — the first remote-controlled vehicle ever. Tesla’s ashes are housed in a golden sphere next to a model of the Wardenclyffe tower, Tesla’s experiment to deliver wireless power to the world.
What about food and drink? Pivo is beer, and Gin and Tonic is the same in every language, but the real draw here is rakija, a fruit brandy that will destroy you. A lot of it is homemade. Did we mention the Hackaday Belgrade conference is going on until the wee hours of the morning?
Is that not enough? Are you not entertained? Belgrade is home to some of the greatest architecture on the planet. You’ll find ruins from when Belgrade was known as Singidunum, architecture from the Ottoman conquest (Belgrade was at one point the second largest Ottoman town in Europe, surpassed only by Constantinople), and Brutalist masterpieces like the Western City Gate (popularly known as the Genex Tower) shown here and more artistically at the top of the article. This impressive twin skyscraper is connected by a sky bridge with a revolving restaurant at the top. This tower is the purest expression of either Eastern Bloc architecture or the Orwellian dystopia Def Con is claiming for their theme this year.
Silicon Valley of Soviet Times
Belgrade was the industrial center of the former Yugoslavia and a lot of the chips and components that went into Soviet-era computers were manufactured here. In fact, Belgrade calls our own Voja Antonic one of her sons, and we call him the Woz of Yugoslavia. Voja is the designer of the Galaksija microcomputer an infamous home computer from the era where having your own computer could be slightly legally troubling. We’re in luck, he’s also building the conference badge for the Hackaday Belgrade conference, and it’s out of this world. Like the Galaksija, the Belgrade badge is a BASIC microcomputer replete with far too many buttons, PEEKs and POKEs, and everything you would ever want in a handheld computer. It is a work of art from one of the great PCB artisans of our time. To back up that claim, you need to check out Voja’s Hackaday.io portfolio.
Belgrade has great food, plenty of entertainment, and it’s inexpensive (a Pivo will cost you less than two Teslas). The city stays up late; it keeps the schedule of the hacker by working into the evening and partying from late night into the morning. If you haven’t been there, this is your excuse. If you have been there, we bet you’ve already made your plans to join us.
Come to the Hackaday Belgrade Conference on 26 May. We have an amazing slate of talks and workshops, and festivities stretch into the next day as the Hacker Village takes shape with live EDM and DJ sets, demos and presentations, lightning talks, and of course badge hacking. It’s an entire day of the greatest people you’ll ever meet and hardware hacking galore. But be sure to spend some time the day before and after enjoying the city itself. You’ll have no problem finding some of the Hackaday crowd in town to hang around with while there.