Enter the 2022 Hackaday Prize and Help Save the World

This year’s 2022 Hackaday Prize challenges you to think of big or small ways to create greener energy sources, make recycling easier, hack old devices to save them from the landfill, or build out the networks that keep our local communities together and conscious of our group effort. If you’ve got a super solar harvester, a recycling robot, or even reverse engineering tools to help combat forced technological obsolescence, we want to see your hacks. Or if you’d like, you can simply save the world in the wildcard round.

As always, courtesy of our overlords at Supplyframe and the generous sponsorship of Digikey, we’ve got tons of prize money to give out to the best projects. The top ten projects in each of five challenge rounds will receive a $500 cash prize, and five winning projects will bag from $5,000 to $50,000 in the finals in November. But you shouldn’t wait — the first round, Planet-Friendly Power, starts right now!

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Enter the 2022 Hackaday Prize and Help Save the World

Backpack Board for OLEDs Boasts Fancy Features

From Donald Papp on Hackaday:

Back when LCD character displays based on the HD44780 controller were the bee’s knees, a way to make them easier to work with came in the form of “backpack” PCBs, which provided an accessible serial interface and superior display handling at the same time. [Barbouri] has updated that idea with a backpack board that mounts to OLED displays using the US2066 display driver, and provides an I2C interface with powerful and convenient high-level functions that make the display simple to use.

On the software side, the backpack uses this I2cCharDisplay driver project which provides functions like cursor control, fading, display shifting, and of course writing characters or strings. While [Barbouri] designed the board specifically to accommodate Newhaven Slim Character OLED displays, it should in theory work with any US2066-based OLED character display. [Barbouri]’s design files for the Slim-OLED Display backpack board are available for download directly from the project page (link is near the bottom), or boards can be purchased directly from OSH Park.

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Backpack Board for OLEDs Boasts Fancy Features

KiCAD 6.0: What Made It and What Didn’t

Dave Rowntree writes:

I’ve been following the development of KiCAD for a number of years now, and using it as my main electronics CAD package daily for a the last six years or thereabouts, so the release of KiCAD 6.0 is quite exciting to an electronics nerd like me. The release date had been pushed out a bit, as this is such a huge update, and has taken a little longer than anticipated. But, it was finally tagged and pushed out to distribution on Christmas day, with some much deserved fanfare in the usual places.

So now is a good time to look at which features are new in KiCAD 6.0 — actually 6.0.1 is the current release at time of writing due to some bugfixes — and which features originally planned for 6.0 are now being postponed to the 7.0 roadmap and beyond.

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KiCAD 6.0: What Made It and What Didn’t

This USB-C Connector Is Flexible

From Hackaday:

The USB-C standard with its smaller connector has so far mostly escaped this trend, though this might be about to change thanks to the work of [Sam Ettinger]. His own description of his USB-C connector using a flexible PCB and a BGA-packaged ATTiny84A microcontroller is “cursed”, but we can’t decide whether or not it should also be called “genius”.

Key to this inspired piece of connector fabrication is the realization that the thickness of BGA and flex PCB together comes to the required 0.7 mm. The BGA provides the necessary stiffness, and though it’s a one-sided connector it fits the space perfectly. There are several demo boards as proofs-of-concept, and the whole lot can be found in a GitHub repository.

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This USB-C Connector Is Flexible

Sniffing Signals To Teach Old Speakers New Tricks

All Jay Tavares wanted was for his Bose Cinemate speakers to turn themselves on and off as needed. It seems like a reasonable enough request, and indeed, is exactly the point of HDMI’s Consumer Electronic Control (CEC) feature. But in this case, it would take a bit of custom hardware to get similar functionality.

Unfortunately, the speakers [Jay] has only support optical audio; so any interoperability with HDMI-CEC (hacked or otherwise) was immediately out the window. Still, he reasoned that he should be able to detect when the TOSLINK audio source is actually active or not, and give the speaker system the appropriate signal to either power on or shut down. You might think this would require some kind of separate stand-alone device, but as it turns out, all the necessary information was available by reverse engineering the connection between the receiver and the subwoofer.

After some investigation, [Jay] found that not only was the content of the TOSLINK audio source being sent over this DB9 cable, but so were the control signals required to turn the system on and off. So he designed a simple pass-through device with an ATtiny85 and a couple passives that latches onto the relevant lines in the cable.

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Sniffing Signals To Teach Old Speakers New Tricks

The 555 Timer Contest Returns! — Hackaday

The Hackaday 555 Timer contest has returned:

The short of it is you just need to use a 555 timer and you qualify for this contest.

The longer story is that we want to see just about anything 555-related. In fact, projects that don’t use a 555 are fine as long as they are based on the idea. So, if the global chip shortage has you struggling to even find one of these, just build the parts of the internal circuit yourself and you’re golden. The real trick here is to explain what you’re doing and why.

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The 555 Timer Contest Returns! — Hackaday

Watch Blender Plugin Make Animated PCB Traces

Donald Papp writes on Hackaday:

[Staacks]’s Blender plugin to animate growth is behind the sweet animation seen above. It’s an add-on that cleverly makes creating slick growth animations easier when using Blender. It isn’t limited to PCB images either, although they do happen to make an excellent example of the process.

The idea is that one begins with an image texture with a structure showing a bunch of paths (like a maze, or traces on a PCB), and that gets used as an input. The plugin then uses a path finding algorithm to determine how these paths could grow from an origin point, and stores the relevant data in the color channels of an output image. That output is further used within Blender as the parameters with which to generate the actual animation, resulting in the neat self-creating PCB seen above. That PCB isn’t just for show, by the way. It’s the PCB for [Staacks]’s smart doorbell project.

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Watch Blender Plugin Make Animated PCB Traces

Hackaday Remoticon: What’s Happening Right Now

Hackaday Remoticon is live now! Watch all of today’s talks on the live stream and interact with everyone by joining Discord.

All talk and schedule information is available on the conference webpage, but here are the things you don’t want to miss (all times are Pacific time zone):

  • 11:10 am | Keynote: Elicia White
  • 5:15 pm | Hacker Trivia: https://youtu.be/uRpUdQi31tg
  • 6:15pm | Bring-a-Hack: Remoticon ticket holders will receive an email on how to join, we’ll also share that info in the Discord
Hackaday Remoticon: What’s Happening Right Now

Four More Talks Added to the 2021 Hackaday Remoticon Lineup

An update on Hackaday’s Remoticon.2:

We’ve already unveiled multiple keynote speakers and a slate of fascinating presenters that will be showing off everything from reverse engineering vintage calculators to taking those first tentative steps on your CAD journey for this year’s Remoticon. You’d be forgiven for thinking that’s everything you’ll see at the conference, but there’s still plenty to announce before the two-day virtual event kicks off on November 19th. Normally we’d be promising to make sure you get your money’s worth, but since tickets are cmpletely free, we’re shooting a bit higher than that.

Jeroen Domburg (aka [Sprite_tm]): Rickrolling Buddha: A Deep Dive in Reverse Engineering and Thoroughly Pwning an Unknown Chip

Sergiy Nesterenko: Don’t Flip My Bits: Electronics in Spaaaace

Vaibhav Chhabra: M19 Initiative – A Case of Open Innovation & Distributed Manufacturing at Scale

Arsenijs Picugins: Laptop-Be-Done

Four More Talks Added to the 2021 Hackaday Remoticon Lineup

DIY Badge for Remoticon.2

While we’ll have to another year for Supercon, prolific badge maker Thomas Flummer is helping to bring the communal hardware hacking spirit to Hackaday’s upcoming virtual conference:

If you would like a badge for Remoticon.2, this project is for you. It’s a design in KiCad, with a bit of space for you to add in whatever you would like to have on your badge (and maybe already have parts for), but still in a look that will make it be part of the visual identity of Remoticon.2

So, compared to a badge that are handed out at an in-person event, this will require a little bit of effort ahead of time. If you want to have a badge for the event, you will need to send if for production fairly soon.

This years color theme matches OSHParks purple PCBs very nicely, and the fine silkscreen details will come out great, as they use a high DPI printing technique.

The KiCad project includes a badge design with a grid of regular 0.1″ spaced pads, but the idea is that you remove all those and add in some circuitry that you think would be cool to have on your badge. And with the current state of silicon parts supply, probably something you already have or at least have found in stock somewhere.

This is ment to to be a fun little extra thing, so no need to spend too long on doing the perfect design, but maybe try to remix something you did previously, or experiment with that little part that you never got to use and is just sitting there on the shelf.

The important part is having fun and sharing with each other.

There are shared projects of this variant at https://oshpark.com/shared_projects/gRSf01dV and the simple version with 0.1″ spaced holes are at https://oshpark.com/shared_projects/YJqAizIf if you don’t want to make your own changes to the files.

DIY Badge for Remoticon.2