The final entry round of the Hackaday Prize begins today, and the theme is… anything! While we’ve guided you through work-from-home, robots, displays, and supportive devices, there are countless great ideas that don’t fit in those boxes. So for this round, just show us what you got!
Entering the Reactive Wildcard round is easy. Publish a page about your project over on Hackaday.io and use the left sidebar “Submit-to” menu on that page to add it to the Hackaday prize. The point is to build a better future, and we can’t wait to see what you think that looks like. Need some inspiration? Check out the four challenge update videos below to see what others have been entering so far this year.
What’s at stake here? Ten entries in this round will each receive a cash prize of $500 and move onto the final round. There, they content with finalist from the other four rounds for the $25,000 Grand Prize, and four other top prizes. There is also the geek cred of making the finals, a priceless achievement, even if we do say so ourselves.
There are still a few days left until the Redefine Robotics challenge deadline on Monday, September 27th:
Challenge 4: Redefine Robots
Entry Period 7:01 a.m. P.D.T on August 23, 2021 – 7:00 a.m. P.D.T on September 27, 2021
Finalists Announced 10/4
Rethink robotics with this challenge, utilizing hardware to create an assistant, a companion, or something else entirely!
Whether it’s a friendly digital face to keep you grounded, or a functional robotic arm to assist you in your projects, we want to see the droids and robots of the future! How can robotic companions or assistants help us thrive in this new normal? Your designs should utilize robotics in a unique way, as a personal assistant, a friendly companion, or something else entirely!
Robin Kearey writes about this clever use of space:
If you’re like us, you probably don’t finish a typical hardware project in one sitting. This doesn’t have to be a problem if you’re fortunate enough to have a dedicated workbench for your hacking activities; you simply leave your current project there, ready to continue when you have time again. But this is not always a workable option if you, or a housemate, needs to use the same desk for other tasks as well.
[!BATTA!] over at IKEAhackers ran into this problem, and solved it by building a complete electronics workstation inside a wardrobe. The base of this project is a storage unit called PAX, which is designed to store clothes and shoes but which also works just fine with project boxes. [!BATTA!] installed a variety of shelves and drawers to organize their collection of boxes and tools.
Not content with simple storage, [!BATTA!] decided to add a workbench, using a sturdy sliding tray that carries a working surface and a reinforced back panel to hold parts bins. Metal braces were added to prevent wobbliness, and the whole structure was bolted to a wall to prevent it from tipping over. When the workbench is not in use, the tray simply slides inside so the doors can be closed for a nice, clean look.
We really like the many clever storage solutions spread around the work area, such as a magnetic rail to hold hand tools and a “honeycomb” of PVC tubes for storing cables. Compact LED strips provide suitable lighting while a power strip with both mains and USB sockets brings juice to the tools and projects.
Now that September has arrived, it is time to start thinking about Halloween projects!
Trick or Treat, It’s Time to Hack Halloween! Bring Your Costume Upgrades, Haunted House Hacks, and Halloween-themed Technical Projects!
Donald Papp writes about Oskitone on Hackaday:
We’ve always been delighted with the thoughtful and detailed write-ups that accompany each of [Tommy]’s synth products, and the background of his newest instrument, the Scout, is no exception. The Scout is specifically designed to be beginner-friendly, hackable, and uses 3D printed parts and components as much as possible. But there is much more to effectively using 3D printing as a production method than simply churning out parts. Everything needed to be carefully designed and tested, including the 3D printed battery holder, which we happen to think is a great idea.
From Jim Heaney on Hackaday:
In 2019 [Simen] and [Amud], two students from the University of Oslo, set out to design a unique open-source display. The result was Fetch, a display that uses electromagnets to suspend ferrofluid on 252 “pixels” across the screen. After some delays due to COVID, they have recently unveiled version 2.0 of the display on their project’s page.
The new boards feature a PCA9685 IC, which allows for the control of up to 16 channels of 12-bit PWM over i2C, perfect for the size of the display. Since this IC can’t source enough current to drive the electromagnets, it was paired with a ULN2803 Darlington Transistor Array, capable of delivering up to 500mA to each electromagnet.
This is the final weekend to enter your supportive tech project in the 2021 Hackaday Prize. To goal is to find ways to make building or using electronics easier.
Accessibility is one obvious approach to this challenge. But you can also consider the example of reference designs in datasheets. Manufacturers know you don’t want to re-invent the wheel to use their switch-mode power supply so they give you information on how to lay it out on the PCB and what parts to choose. Now take that idea and run with it. This could be a modular design that takes the wizardry out of building electronic projects. But it could just as easily be a aimed at the end user — perhaps lab equipment that’s normally expensive and requires expertise to operate but you’ve reimagined it to have most of that expertise built in.
Need some more help figuring out what this is all about? Let’s look at some of the projects that have already been entered. With devices all around us that have superb cameras and dazzling screens, [Timo] realized it wouldn’t take much to turn one into an inspection microscope, which is just what’s been done with nothing more than a 3D-printed stand and a desk lamp.
[Alain] put his electronics knowledge, and the availability of cheap modules, to great use for his non-verbal son. The PECS Communication Board has a grid of sixteen images, each is a button to act as input. He makes the point that tablet apps exist for this, but durability and cost are both issues that his approach helps address.
There are already a ton of other great entries for this round of the Hackaday Prize, but it wouldn’t be complete without yours. Ten will be chosen to receive $500 each and move on to the finals with a $25,000 grand prize on the line. Start your project right now on Hackaday.io and use the left sidebar drop down menu on your project page to enter it.
Al Williams writes on Hackaday:
The name Gladys West is probably unfamiliar, but she was part of creating something you probably use often enough: GPS. You wouldn’t think a child who grew up on a sharecropping farm would wind up as an influential mathematician, but perhaps watching her father work very hard for very little and her mother working for a tobacco company made her realize that she wanted more for herself. Early on, she decided that education was the way out. She made it all the way to the Naval Surface Warfare Center.
While she was there she changed the world with — no kidding — mathematics. While she didn’t single-handedly invent satellite navigation, her work was critical to the systems we take for granted today.
From Donald Papp on Hackaday:
Nearly everyone likes nice pinout diagrams, but the more pins and functions are involved, the more cluttered and less useful the diagram becomes. To address this, [Jan Mrázek] created Pinion, a tool to help generate interactive diagrams from KiCad design files.
The result is an interactive diagram that can be viewed in any web browser. Hovering over a pin or pad highlights those signals with a callout for the name, and clicking makes it stay highlighted for easier reference. Further information can be as detailed or as brief as needed.
If you think Pinion looks a bit familiar, you’re probably remembering that we covered [Jan]’s much earlier PcbDraw tool, which turned KiCad board files into SVG renderings but had no ability to add labels or interactivity. Pinion is an evolution of that earlier idea, and its diagrams are able to act as both documentation and interactive reference, with no reliance on any kind of external service.
Interested? Pinion has a full tutorial and demo and a growing library of parts, so check it out.
Hackday editor Mike Szczys reviews the latest #badgelife masterpiece from AND!XOR:
For years I’ve looked forward to seeing each new unofficial hardware badge that comes out of the #Badgelife powerhouse known as AND!XOR. A mix of new and interesting components, alternate-reality game, and memes, you never know what they’re going to throw down.
A bubble pack landed on my desk on Thursday with the newest offering, the AND!XOR electronic badge built for DEF CON 29, happening this weekend as a hybrid in-person and online conference. While each previous year upped the ante on complexity and manufacturing magic tricks, it’s no surprise considering the uncertainty of both the global pandemic and global chip shortage that they took a different tack. What we have here is a badge hacking puzzle that challenges you to just figure out how to put the thing together!
The boards themselves are obviously the “After Dark” treatment of OSH Park (and sure enough, their logo is on the back of the board). The iconic treatment uses black substrate (the board itself), clear solder mask to let the copper traces show through, ENIG plating for golden pads, and white solder mask.