An image board, as the name suggests, is a web forum where users share images. Most popular image boards allow users to post anonymously, and the images are often memes. Because of that, image boards tend to be known for being crass, vulgar, and offensive. The most well-known is likely 4chan, which became infamous for the extremist and politically-incorrect images posted by users. Still, image boards are an important part of internet history and culture. That’s why JRWR decided to build HatChan, which is a portable Raspberry Pi-hosted image board that is mounted to a pith helmet.
HatChan is designed to be worn at tech conferences and other geeky events. It runs a locally-hosted image board using TinyIB, which is built on a stack of NGINX, PHP, and Alpine Linux. Anyone within range can connect to HatChan and post whatever image they choose — no rules here. That image will then be stored on HatChan’s server and shown to anyone who connects to HatChan and pulls up the local website. People trying to find HatChan can either look for the LED-lit safari hat covered in stickers, or find the GPS coordinates that are frequently updated using u-blox GPS receivers mounted to the hat.
All of HatChan’s software, including the web server and database, are running on a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ that is attached to the hat. That connects to a Mikrotik mAP 2n wireless access point via an Ethernet cable, which broadcasts a 2.4GHz WiFi signal through antennas on the sides of the hat. There is also small LCD shield on the Raspberry Pi to display current status information. Both the Raspberry Pi and wireless access point are powered by large 26,000mAh Anker USB battery packs. Finally, there is a strip of Adafruit NeoPixel individually-addressable RGB LEDs around the hat to add some flair. We can’t guarantee the quality of the memes posted to HatChan, but you should definitely keep an eye out for it at your next conference.