Santa-pede Challenge: the conclusion

At the end of October we announced the Buy, Break, Build series kick off with “The Santa-pede Challenge“.  The goal was to get your hands on one of those annoying dancing santas, tear it apart, then use its parts to build something that walks. We got our hands on some cool prizes and even got [Phillip Torrone] to be a guest judge. Join us after the break to see just what we came up with and maybe have a few laughs.

So, as you can see in the video, this contest was a complete failure. We didn’t get a single entry. I quickly tossed this horribly lame attempt together in about 30 minutes. I’ll show some pictures of what I did, just for fun. It really doesn’t technically “walk” so much as it creepily scoots across your desk making you question your life decisions.

Here’s the beginning of the disassembly. Nothing amazing here. You can see that his lower half is a solid plastic piece (not jointed or motorized).

Here is the basic breakdown of what I did. I cut off the feet, Removed the servo that made his hat flip back and forth, and melted the middle piece to for the leg things. There is a wire that went into santa’s arms. This was too thin and flexible to be useful for much of anything so I just tossed it in the parts bin.

I couldn’t find the attachment for my propane torch, so I had to resort to some pretty questionable tactics. I wouldn’t recommend using a space heater to get your plastic soft for most projects. It did get the job done though.  After putting this piece back on, all I had to do was tweak the newly created “legs” until it pulled itself forward. Its pretty pathetic, I know. It was meant to be the joke entry that made all the others look good.

What we would like from you, are ideas. What contest ideas do you have? What would you compete in? What item can you think of that has tons of hacking potential for a variety of skill levels?

66 thoughts on “Santa-pede Challenge: the conclusion

  1. @Hack-A-Day

    I am going to echo the sentiments of others on here, and add a few things.

    1. I read hack-a-day frequently and didn’t even know about the contest! Put a banner or more visible icon up.

    2. Availability of parts. I don’t know where to get a dancing Santa, and I am not too keen on the idea of go out to the store and spend $20 or $30 on something I am probably going to ruin and throw in the trash after I am done.

    If you’d like us to mod something specific next time, provide some links to where we can pick up the parts cheaply and quickly.

    I picked up a bunch of RF transmitter remotes that have 3 buttons and a plastic case from Electronics Goldmine for .40 a piece. These are great candidates for hacking.

    2a. Example. The video you posted today might have gotten people in the right direction for a final hack.

    3. Prizes. A $20 or $30 prize isn’t much of an incentive for me, but a cool-one-of-a-kind price would be. How about a custom-printed t-shirt or badge? How about letting the winner pick someone notable to research/execute a new hack of the winners choosing?

    4. Collaboration. How about encouraging a way for people to form into teams into future projects? I enjoy collaborating with people since you usually learning something interesting this way.

    4. Timetable. Contests are fun. Having limited time to do the stuff is fun and challenging too but like some other users mentioned, it’s busy this time of year.

    -Booker T. Worthington

  2. I thought about this a bit and considered entering, especially since this was more of a physical hacking challenge (rather than an electronics or software hack challenge) and I think I stand a better chance in that arena. However, I thought you’d be flooded with entries and I wouldn’t be able to put forth an effort that would land on your radar.

    I won’t make that mistake a second time.

    My suggestion is to let us all learn from our silly failure this time, but change nothing. Run another contest.

  3. Not to sound lame, but I would have been more apt to enter if it was simply “hack a dancing santa” as opposed to “make a dancing santa walk.” I had grand visions of robo-santa’s walking around, and I don’t have the know-how/ time to make something like that. Perhaps in the future, offer two or three classes of BBB.

  4. Bugger, completely forgot about it. Banner at the top of the page would be good just to keep people reminded that there is a contest being run.

    There was no entries anyway so why not re-run it? With Santa’s now being cheap after Christmas and everyone now having ideas, what is there to lose?

  5. New ideas…. The item to buy needs to be cheap and easy for everyone to buy… (There is a ‘your mom’ joke somewhere in there.)

    I think I remember there being some sort of cheap ($15-$20) RC cars that ran off of 9 volt batteries. Those could be used to make some sort of remote controlled lemon or orange juicer… or something…

  6. I will agree with a few other people: do a hacking contest using old cell phones. Everyone has a few laying around, and it would be interesting to see what people would try to do with them.

  7. …I think [mjrippe]’s suggestion is a good one… make a BBB that must utilize one or more cellphones. I cleaned up a spare room over the holidays and found around four old-school brick-phones just dying to be tinkered with, though, so I’m biased, I suppose.

  8. I too struggled to find a cheap Santa to tear apart. I was excited though…I’ll jump on the next challenge. Perhaps a hard link to the competition would keep this one on the radar.

  9. I can’t believe that I missed this contest. Perhaps a weekly reminder about the current contests will help keep them in our minds.

    I suggest a contest for the new year having to do with the best use of a dried dead Xmas tree.

  10. I did find a Santa, had it torn down, and a prototype for the walking mechanism built, but the tight Holiday timing just caused the project to get sidelined. I second the motion on trying this contest again now that the Holidays are over. For those still looking, I got my dancing santa at a Dollar Store here for $10.00. Last time I was out, the ones he used in this video, which were the Sax Playing santas, were still available locally and should now be at 50% off.

  11. Hahahahaha, kaleb, thanks. The way you look when you turn on the santa.. brilliant.
    About contests on hackaday, i’d say you’d have to look at the various genre’s of hacks that are available, and then award something for best build, best video, or something for the awesomeness, like e.g. that home built fusion reactor was a complete mess, however, awesome.

    If you want a good contest, make people go to extremes, say, (well known processing unit) in space or something similar.

    I was thinking about an electronic alternative for fireworks, coz frankly, fireworks are crude.

    good luck!

  12. oh and by the way, I couldn’t get myself to kill the dancing santa we have at work. it’s my bosses and we already beheadded it last year..

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