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Datastorm 2010
Party Report

Submitted by MagerValp (MagerValp) on February 8 2010
Written by MagerValp

DATASTORM 2010 Post Mortem
*** DATASTORM 2010 Post Mortem by MagerValp/G*P 2010-02-08 ***

With LCP not happening this year, and us having just concluded our first attempt at throwing a party, I've gotten a few questions about organizing it. I figured it would be best to sum it all up in a post for all to see, so here's DATASTORM 2010 from an organizer's point of view.

First up some details about the economics (all prices in SEK, divide by 10.16 for EUR, 7.42 for USD):

Up front we had to pay for:
* Tables and chairs: 3800 kr
* Power cables and multisockets: 2241 kr
* A/V cabling: 747 kr
* Misc stuff: 394 kr
for a total of 7182 kr

We didn't have to pay for the projector + screen (Coffe's the man with connections!), and the staff at the party location graciously agreed to share profits instead of being paid up front.

Each visitor paid 200 kr at the door (300 kr for those who arrived without having signed up first), which we split with the staff - they got 140 kr and we kept 60 kr. The staff money paid for: two breakfasts, one dinner, and 2-4 people working around the clock keeping the bar open, serving food, cleaning, keeping the toilets stocked with paper, and so on.

There were 113 paying visitors (88 or so arrived on Friday, the rest on Saturday), three of which hadn't signed up before, for a total of 110*200 + 3*300 = 22900 kr. The staff got 15820 kr, which together with bar sales hopefully made it a profitable experience (I think their rent for the place is about 30000 kr/month) - I'm not sure how it compares to a normal weekend with concerts etc. We got 7080 kr, so in the end we lost exactly 102 kr, which is a result we're pretty damn happy with! Next year we won't have to buy as much stuff before the party, so it should be easier to make ends meet.

Next up power:

The place used to host printing presses, so there was a nice big 32 A 3-phase power socket available. Unfortunately it wasn't connected to anything, which we didn't notice until the day of the party - we only had 16 A gear which uses an incompatible socket, plus my multimeter's fuse had gone. However, had we noticed it earlier we probably would have tried to run the party using the regular wall sockets there, and considering the state of the wiring at the place I doubt it would have gone smoothly. Instead we dragged Coffe's cousin over there in a state of panic (he's an electrician, and was home on a sick day) who fixed the distribution board at the place. That gave us three virgin 16 A power phases (sadly our cabling wasn't rated for 32 A :), which ran the party without a single hiccup.

The 3-phase power was split into three single phases, which were in turn distributed to a group of ten tables each with three heavy duty 10 m cables. We then spread the power with 18 x 1.5 m 3-way multisockets and three 5 m extension cords, and to those we connected 12 x 1.5 m 6-way multisockets. Unfortunately we had no way of measuring the load, it would have been interesting to know how many amps an average party setup draws.


Then audio:

The party place had a 20-channel mixer board that we hooked everything into, which was total overkill - we only used five (two amigas, two C64s, one microphone). The amp and speakers proved more than capable (too capable, some would say :), but I have no idea what the specs were. The audio caused us a lot of trouble though, as the mixer was half broken, with a lot of dead channels and generally being flaky. When SceneSat hooked up their setup to the mixer board it generated tons of intereference - our best guess is that the part of the building where they were set up was connected to a different power distribution board. Next year we'll use a different mixer, and we'll have to work on buffering the audio for SceneSat.

And video:

We got extremely lucky with the bigscreen, as we got to borrows a huge screen and a very capable projector for free. The projector was a Sony VPL-CX80 and it displayed a perfect 4:3 progressive 15 kHz signal without any artifacts at all. We originally planned to use a video mixer (visitors of LCP 2005 might remember it) with a bunch of 80s style wipes, but that proved problematic as our dear computers don't conform to official video specifications. Specifically the mixer interlaced all signals and needed a perfect 50 Hz display. We settled for a simple mechanical A/V switch instead, to minimize the need to plug and unplug machines. To simplify cabling we decided to hook up all machines via S-Video, and got the required adapters for C64 and Amiga. It should be noted that C64s need a 300 Ohm resistor in series on the chroma signal, otherwise the colors will be hyper-saturated.

The compo:

We created a form that had to be filled out for each entry that was turned in, which helped immensely with organizing the compo. The details were also entered into the voting system, and we made playlists for the various categories. After the deadline everything was sorted and prepared (the 1541Ultimate is a HUGE help for the C64). Something we missed was to sort out the prices beforehand, which was hard to do in the middle of the night when all we wanted to do was sit down and relax.

Who, what, when:

Sixx manned the door at all times, from Friday afternoon until the compo started on Saturday, handling the money, informing everyone about the boozing and smoking rules, handing out compo forms, and so on. Getting everything rigged and ready in the main room took most of Friday for all of us. Saturday was dominated by the compo, which was VERY stressful for me, Spot and Yonx who were accepting entries. We literally had to hide to go to the bathroom and eat food, as everyone needed our attention. During the compo Yonx managed the announcements, Coffe handled the mixer board, I ran the C64 entries, and Spot ran the Amiga entries. After the compo the voting kept Spot busy for a few hours. The five of us were kept busy pretty much round the clock, so I have no idea how Frantic pulls it off by himself.

That's all I can think of right now. See you all there next year!
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