Interview – Hardware Cat

Hardware Cat has agreed to do the first interview in this series. Welcome, I appreciate to have you here! First of all, can you tell us a bit about your background and what you have been doing before you got into Skycoin?
The scope of the Skycoin project is huge. It is a whole ecosystem, that includes the currency Skycoin, the platform Fiber, the decentralized internet Skywire, its own hardware production and a handful of other sections. With such a huge scope, there are many people working on the project. In this new series, I want to bring the public closer to the Skycoin team and interview contributors to the project.

Hardware Cat has agreed to do the first interview in this series. Welcome, I appreciate to have you here! First of all, can you tell us a bit about your background and what you have been doing before you got into Skycoin?
I discovered the world of cryptocurrencies about two years ago, Ethereum was at 12 USD at that point. It was a time when lots of new tokens got released, most of them were ERC-20 tokens. So I went through each of the top 300 cryptocurrencies and tried to grasp what each of them was doing. While it took hours to a maximum of a couple of days to figure out, what the tokens were aiming to do, this did not apply to Skycoin. It was hard to wrap my mind around everything that Skycoin was doing, because the project is so huge. So, I went into the Telegram channel and asked multiple questions, until I had fully understood it. It was great to see, that the developers were available to answer many questions, you don’t see that in a lot of other projects. Therefore, I got really amazed by Skycoin and then asked the team, how I can participate.

So, when did you start contributing to the Skycoin ecosystem and on which parts of the project have you been working on in the past?
About half a year ago, I started to get into the project. I participated in a few meetups, had a brief look into marketing but then figured out, that working on the tech behind Skycoin is the most interesting for me. At the beginning of this year, I purchased one of the first 50 Skyminers and started to build different DIY miners to see, which ones bring the project forward. I also did research on routers and antennas, to find the ones that suit the best for Skycoin.

In which parts of Skycoin are you currently involved and what will you be working on in the next months?
Right now, we are working on different versions of the hardware wallet. One of them is a modified Trezor with complete new software, which was presented at the Skycoin conference in Shanghai in April. We are currently testing it, optimizing it and developing a case for it. We are also working on a redesign of the antenna, because our previous design approach got too expensive for mass production. The current design of the antenna includes an engine at the bottom and the top, which enables an antenna to move in every possible direction. This allows users to position antennas at several locations. The antenna itself is surrounded by a protective cover. We have developed a prototype of that antenna design and are now testing the frequencies. Furthermore, we are developing a Skywire router, which will automatically direct all of a user’s network traffic using a VPN, once the router is plugged into the Skyminer. And last but not least, we have also been working on the gold plated Skyminer that is given away as a price in the Binance trading competition.
I want to get more into detail on a specific piece of hardware. The most read article on my website is the one about the Pine64 miner with Sopine modules. In his most recent interview with Crypto Rich, Synth stated that Skycoin will be using Sopine A64 modules in future Skyminers. Can you tell us a bit more about that?
There is the current setup with the Pine64 clusterboard and Sopine A64 modules plugged into it and we are working on a really nice case for that. However, we are still in the process of deciding, whether we want to use the official Pine64 clusterboard or if we are designing a custom board. We might even develop our own custom board with our own custom modules plugged into it, that might be using the A64 chip. We will do more research on that.
Speaking about the hardware team in general, how many people are working there right now? How are the teams structured?
There is a project management, that manages the people working full-time, as well as the external service providers and freelancers. There are different teams working on different projects. Examples for different tasks that specific teams are working on are: Designing the software for hardware wallets, building custom boards, developing antennas, creating prototypes for 3d printers or testing all the new developments. The teams are connected to each other, there is a lot of interaction between different team members. I would estimate, that there are 30-40 people working on Skycoin’s hardware projects right now.
Prior to this interview, you told me that you are visiting several blockchain conferences with Skycoin. In which conferences are you participating and in what way are you representing Skycoin there?
The first one is the CoinAgenda in Singapore. I will be at the Skycoin booth presenting Skycoin, giving away merchandise, demonstrating the Skyminer and generally talk to people about Skycoin. After that I will be heading to Amsterdam to the Blockchain Expo. I am really looking forward to that one, because many big companies are attending it. I am aiming to get into conversation with them to show them the various parts of Skycoin’s ecosystem.

That’s great! Thanks so much for doing this interview and all the insight looks you gave us about the work of the hardware team!