I need someone to explain this to me.

Judge Spotlight: Elecia White

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If you’re a fan of the Embedded podcast you know her voice well. If not, you need to check out the show! Of course we’re talking about [Elecia White], who spent her recent holiday answering our questions.

She’s an accomplished embedded systems engineer — she literally wrote the book on it. We’re delighted that [Elecia] agreed to lend us her skill and experience as a judge for The Hackaday Prize!


judge-spotlight-q5We find that embedded engineers come from all manner of backgrounds. Can you tell us a little bit about how you got into the field?

judge-spotlight-a5I majored in a combination of applied computer science and theoretical systems engineering: my classes were all about programming, C, Fourier, and control loops. I had no idea I’d built a major that would be perfect for low level embedded development.

After school, I went to Hewlett-Packard. I was in the network server division, monitoring servers, writing drivers, and getting ever closer to the hardware. I moved over to HP Labs’ BioScience division to do real embedded work, though I didn’t understand that at the time (yay for a hiring manager who did!). Once I made a motor move, well, it was all over for me. I loved having my software touch the physical world. Happily, the environment was great and the electrical engineers were very patient.


judge-spotlight-q5Do whimsical embedded challenges ever come to mind? For instance, do you ever flip on the TV and think to yourself: “some day I’m going to reprogram the uC and write something that works!”?

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Detroit Meetup this Friday

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The plans are made, the swag has shipped, are you going to show up or what? Friday night at 8pm we’re having a Hackaday Meetup at i3 Detroit. That link is how you get your free ticket.

You can come for the hacking, the leisure time, or just to score a free shirt and enough stickers to avoid actually repainting that 1991 POS you call a car.

i3 is offering up their facilities for those that want to work on projects or just hang out. They share a roof with B Nektar so there are an amazing array for tasty beverages available (part of the reason we’re calling this an 18+ event). There’s even talk of parking a food truck out front for the night but they’re still working on that.

Bring some hardware to show off and see if you can keep up with the yarns that [Brian Benchoff], [Chris Gammell], and [Mike Szczys] are known to spin.

Astronaut or Not — Voter Lottery Tomorrow!

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Fair warning, if you haven’t voted on Astronaut or Not you may come up short tomorrow. [Brian] will once again draw a random hacker number at 10am EDT (GMT -4).

If that hacker has voted in this round (we’re still in the first round of voting) they will win this fabulous oscilloscope. If they haven’t voted… no fancy scope for you!

We’re hoping to close this round of voting early next week at which time we’ll award prizes to the projects that received the most votes and start another round with a different theme.

Fail of the Week: Blown Light Bulb Controllers

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We’ve been meaning to get around to this one for many weeks now. It’s been hard to find good fail write-ups… it’s as if hackers are afraid to admit that sometimes projects fail. We hope you’ll shake off that opinion as failure is the fastest path for learning and true understanding!

[xymax] was working on a control system for a chandelier with 150 bulbs which use 5 Watts each. This project was being readied for the NYC Resistor Interactive Party which [Adam Fabio] attended last month. As deadline for the show approached, the last piece was put in place late into the night… but it was connected backwards. In a tale worthy of a slapstick movie, the reverse polarity caused a chip on all seven controller boards for this module to blow like the one seen above. But that’s not all, the laptop being used during prototyping was connected by USB and started smoking!

All of us feel the pain of this type of equipment failure. Luckily [xymax] looked for lessons to learn instead of dwelling on the mistake itself. Use protection diodes, keyed connectors, and write about your failures. Hopefully reading this will help others avoid a similar equipment-destroying mistake.


2013-09-05-Hackaday-Fail-tips-tileFail of the Week is a Hackaday column which runs every Thursday. Help keep the fun rolling by writing about your past failures and sending us a link to the story – or sending in links to fail write ups you find in your Internet travels.

THP Hacker Bio: radu.motisan

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Here’s a great example of thinking big while keeping it simple. [Radu Motisan's] putting together a global radiation monitoring network as his entry in The Hackaday Prize.

The simplicity comes in the silver box pictured above. This houses the Geiger tube which measures radiation levels. The box does three things: hangs on a wall somewhere, plugs into Ethernet and power, and reports measurements so that the data can be combined with info from all other functioning units.

After seeing the idea we wanted to know more about [Radu]. His answers to our slate of queries are found below.

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Don’t Freak Out — Your TODO List for August 4th

The registration cut-off for The Hackaday Prize is August 4th. But this is not the day you need to have your project finished. You simply need to register your concept before the cutoff. This video walks you through the process, and we’ve included bullet points and links after the break for your convenience.

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Hackaday Descends on Detroit: Redbull Creation and a Meetup with You

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If you live in a flyover state and never thought you’d see the Hackaday crew gallivanting through your neck of the woods, think again. We’re planning to descend on Detroit, Michigan later next week. The trip started when Red Bull invited [Mike Szczys] to come out and judge the 2014 Red Bull Creation contest. But we wanted to see what Detroit has to offer so [Brian Benchoff] and [Chris Gammell] are going to be in town too.

The Red Bull Creation has been a favorite here on Hackaday for years. Who doesn’t love a 72-hour hackathon that results in all kinds of crazy, spectacular, or horrifying builds? You can see the schedule for Creation here. If you can’t make it out when the teams are at work, the complete projects will be showcased on Saturday at Eastern Market followed by a party hosted at the Omnicorp Detroit hackerspace.

Detroit Meetup — Now with Actual Hacking!

hackaday-detroit-meetupSpeaking of parties, Hackaday is having a Meetup as well, but it’s going to be much more than just a party! On Friday night i3 Detroit hackerspace is opening their doors to us starting at 8pm.

The i3 members have decided to make this a night for hacking and camaraderie. Bring your projects to show off and you can get some hacking done on them too.

The building does share a roof with the legendary Meader, B Nektar. We mention this because they’re awesome, and so that you’ll know this is going to be much more than you’d find if meeting at a plain old bar or a plain old workshop.

Do us a favor and let us know you’re coming. We’ll make sure to bring plenty of swag for anyone who makes a point to stop in!

We Need Your Help Finding Stuff in Detroit

There’s going to be plenty of amazing coverage of Creation, but with three people in town it’s nice to do some field-trips as well. So far we’re planning to visit Marvelous Marvin’s Mechanical Museum and The Henry Ford Museum.

But we need more suggestions. Stuff that’s off the beaten path and Hackaday worthy. To get you thinking, we loved visiting Apex Electronic when we were in Los Angeles. What’s in or close to Detroit that should be on the hacker approved list of attractions? Leave your suggestion in the comments.