Have you failed hard enough to be on Hackaday?


There’s so much more to be discovered when your projects just don’t want to work. Grinding out the bugs, getting past roadblocks, and discovering gotchas is where real hacking know-how comes from. But most people aren’t motivated to document their failures. We want to change that.

We want to roll out a new weekly feature that showcases failure… well documented failure. But we need YOU to give up the goods. Write about your failed experience on your blog, post it to our project forums with [FAIL] in the title, or you can just write everything in an email and send it to us. Which ever way you choose, you’ll need to tip us off that you’d like to make it to the front page (come on, it’s not bragging since it didn’t even work!). If you already know of well documented project fails send in those links too even if they’re not your projects.

Make sure you include at least one descriptive image — snapshots, diagrams, schematics, screencaps, anything that tells the story is fair game. To show you what we’re after here’s a few of our favorite failed projects:

We’d like to point out that all of these projects are interesting ideas that show off missteps along the way. We will not be trashing on your skills as a hacker, but instead celebrating the lessons learned and hearlding the sharing of ideas from otherwise doomed projects.


  1. ginge says:

    Well.. I have more than a few failures. Problem is they don’t get documented before I scavenge.Interesting idea though!

    • I agree. It’s a fantastic idea, but I usually don’t document much of my failures. Maybe now that I know about this, I’ll try to document the point of failure and the bullet-point lessons learned for the next one that blows up in my face?

  2. mobilewill says:


  3. J says:

    Coming soon: “Hackaday Top 20 Hilarious EPIC Fails LOL”.
    Or a collection of application notes and lessons.

    I feel this could go either way but I’m very wary of the former. Dangerousprototypes regularly posts application/manufacturing notes and while occasionally dry they’re usually good reads. However when I see ads for http://failblog.cheezburger.com/fails type things I usually consider them spam. I hope these are screened for educational content.

  4. TheRafMan says:

    You mean stuff like plugging in the wrong AC adapter into my $80 [Black Widow] (http://www.seeedstudio.com/depot/blackwidow-10-p-613.html) and frying it?

  5. Sven says:

    Maybe i should make a page with all the failure pictures from my high voltage noticeboard… I have had some very unexpected mishaps such as carbonizing plastic and disappearing metal due to high voltage creepage and ionization…

  6. bigbob says:

    Great idea, so long as #1 is the spell/grammer/fact checker here at hackaday…

  7. Styx says:

    Making mistakes is easy.

    Now, admitting them AND then learning from them, THAT’s something only a few individuals are capable of.

  8. MS3FGX says:

    I definitely have the market cornered on this one. My personal website was created to document both my successful projects and failures with equal zeal. Hence the name “DigiFAIL”:


    • ginge says:

      interesting read there. I love the GC cluster… so insane it is brialliant.
      It reminds me of the time I got my first smartphone in 2001. The jornada 968 wince phone. I spent months hacking it to run a kernel… got it booting but never reliably working with a stable initrd. I eventually used it as a read only (no keyboard) serial terminal to the server!
      Thanks for the trip down memory lane

  9. juno says:

    Some failed projects could go further: post the design/planning and let the crowd guess where/why it’s going to fail.

  10. Mystick says:

    Failure? I’m good at that!!!

    Where to start?

    I guess it a good place would be while I was in Middle School, in the heyday of electronics, 1986…

  11. Sven says:

    By the way, i have never had a failed project, i just have a lot of projects that are partially finished for several different reasons… such as waiting for a solution to severe spontaneous combustion or complete rebuild due to bad circuit design…

  12. pcf11 says:

    If you’re not failing at least half of the time you’re just not challenging yourself enough.

  13. Chris C. says:

    Heh, love the idea. Wish I had one to share that meets the criteria. The fails coming to mind, although memorable, could each be summed up in short paragraphs.

  14. dan says:

    I’ve failed plenty of times.
    but I also usually fail to write up fails.

  15. Evocube says:

    Wish I still had my high school pictures. Lets say 8 foot tall Jacobs ladder and a class full of freshman and a 16+ inch arc. You can only imagine :)

  16. Adobe/Flash hater says:

    “how not to build a robotic lawnmower”
    Am I the only one thinking of Tool’s “Vicarious” ?
    And as for the dislike (mentioned elsewhere )
    of video only postings.
    I wonder if they would approve of a category for
    “letting the magic smoke out” ;P

  17. SolPredator says:

    Just this last May I was preparing for a road trip and wanted to make a fuel-improving hack for my vehicle. I’ve done this before on another vehicle with much success. However, with time running out and a ton of “project ideas” on my wish/work list I thought I would build a spot welder to help me complete my main project and “simplify the build.” So I surgically removed the MOT, bought and cut the wood, assembled everything according to the plans available online and plugged it in to test it.
    Expecting magic smoke or a popped circuit breaker, but instead nothing happened….absolutely nothing. Because of the other vehicle preparations I was doing in conjunction with the spot welder and the main project, I overlooked a section of the mains coil that I had inadvertantly severed with a chisel (about 4 wires deep!) So I have a 30 pound paperweight and was unable to enhance my fuel performance for a 2500 mile trip. :( Currently looking for another MOT to extract to complete both projects (sigh!) LOL

  18. Juniper says:

    You should add the fail tag to the post about the gent making a combustion engine out of parts from the hardware store… Nothing says fail like a combination pipebomb, flamethrower on a wooden base… powered by a grill igniter.

  19. This is what the Mistake Engine is for http://mistakeengine.com/

  20. Damn, and I just threw out my soda can sterling engine that so did not work. *L*

  21. Peter says:

    Oh, where to start?

    The one I remember the best, is being at the top of a 60 foot antenna tower, trying to remove a mast (pipe), which had been bent by the wind, so it was jammed in the tube at the top of the tower. Couldn’t remove the attached antenna, because it was too high to reach from the highest point I could stand on. So, I had the ground crew hauling on the rope on the gin pole (so hard, they ended up bending the pole), trying to get the mast loose.

    Suddenly, the mast broke free. Mast and antenna went shooting up out of the tower, flipped over and were caught by the branches in the trees next to the tower. The tower rocked from side to side, with me at the top.

    Time to change the underwear. And never again.

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