Ask a winner updates day 4: Answers

Not too long ago we asked our readers what they would like to hear about from the PUSH N900 winners and their hacks. We got some silly questions, and some serious, we asked both and now the PUSH teams have answered.

Solderin Skaters are really making progress. They’ve gotten their printed circuit boards and mounting equipment all set to go, and the code and algorithms are really shaping up. All that and more updates are seen in their latest video, and blog entry.

>Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions for HackaDay. We love when a hacker is willing to share their work with us.

>How did you and your team get together? Any fun backstory you care to share?

[Keywan] came back from Amsterdam with an N900 and everybody here was
envious. We saw the PUSH N900 project as an opportunity to equip
everybody with such a device. Because we couldn’t think about a hack
needed other ideas. We remembered funny things we did as
youngsters and *bam* there was the skateboard idea. We called
friends here (University of Bielefeld) and there (Berlin),
*tada* there was the team.
When we started working on the project we soon realized
we would need additional help to tackle such a big
project in such a short time (6 weeks), so we asked
three more highly qualified friends to join the team.

> Have you and your team worked on any other projects? Cellular related
> projects? N900 projects?

No, this is our first project together. [Jan] and [Sebastian] worked both on
different hardware projects. [Keywan] and [Flo] worked together a
shirt design and other non-technical stuff. [Nick] is involved in
a startup developing mobile applications. He sometimes suffers from
badly designed and closed source APIs during the development on other
platforms.

> What was your main inspiration for your team’s project?

We wanted to enhance a real everyday activity and
create an application beyond game controllers such as
Wii-Accessories and Tony Hawks: Ride.

> How do you think people will react when you finish/release?

We recruit a security team to protect us from fans and
paparazzi. Just kidding. We are curious how/if they will react,
but hope they will like it.
As with all open-source projects, we hope that the
work we did might be useful to other applications in
the future.

> Do you have any future plans with your team? Continued N900 development?
> Update your current projects?

We have not planned past the deadline, but we sure
would like to continue working together.

> What do you think of the other winners?

We like their projects and looking forward to meet them in
London. They are very nice and we are in contact with them.
Everybody tries to help each other. We share code, thoughts and
tips.

> Questions from our commentators.
>
> What are you thoughts on Arduino? Do you intend to use one in your
> project?

The Arduino family is a great timesaver for rapid
prototyping, so we did our prototype with an Arduino. But we needed small and
tough hardware, so we decided to design and build our own PCB.
It is based on the same microcontroller, an ATMega168.

> How is working with the N900 hardware and software?

[Nick] says: It’s like a cybernetic implant which I don’t want to
miss in my life. The hardware is very powerful and to be root on
a more or less normal Linux gives you a lot of freedom. The tons
of possible frameworks are sometimes a bit confusing, but gives
you possibilities like on no other platform.

> What do you think about the movement of cell phones towards open source
> software, such as the Maemo? Do you plan to, or have you ever tried
> Android?

We like Maemo even though it still have some glitches. Open
Source phone software gives you freedom in the hand. Just see
how the community around Maemo provide solutions for problems
Nokia didn’t see as crucial. Open Source on phones rocks!
Most of us didn’t worked much with the Android, but Nick tried
Android. For him it’s pretty painful installing an app for every
single messaging service. Google maps is nicer than the Ovi stuff
though. Developing on Android is a little more fun than e.g.
Blackberry, using Linux. But coding and running for example a rails
app on the N900 in minutes just changes the way you do developing for
mobile devices. You can even code on the N900 itself.

> (If you use a secondary power source, example – to run motors) What kind
> of battery life is expected for your project?

We expect a good hour of battery life (average power consumption
of our sensors boards is about 80 mA and our batteries have 130
mAh capacity. Bluetooth, status LEDs (10 mA each) and the ATMega
drain most of the power, the sensors power consumption is almost
negligible.

> Can we get a list of what you’re using in your project? (example –
> bluetooth sets, motors, dedicated sensors, etc)

Each Skateboard is equipped with two sensor boards. On each
sensor board, an ATMega168, running at 7,3728 MHz (to avoid
transmission errors) and connected to to an RN41 bluetooth
module, samples one triple axis accelerometer (ADXL345) and two
dual axis gyrometers (LPY/LPR5150). They are powered by through
a lithium polymer battery connected with BEC plugs to a
protection module. And of course, a large number of resistors
and capacitors. We used 0603 SMT components.

> And yes, we actually had a reader (Joe) ask the following (feel free to
> omit)
>
> How often do you change your underwear?

Underwhat?!

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