Hackers on Planet Earth — We’ll Be There!

This weekend, Hackaday will be rolling into New York for the Eleventh HOPE. This biyearly conference draws hackers from all around the globe. There’s a ton going on at HOPE: talks, hardware hacking, workshops, and pretty much everything else you might be interested in. But really, this gathering which was founded by 2600 in ’94, is where you go to meet and hang out with other hackers. And we want to hang out with you.

Pre-sale tickets are gone. But if you don’t have a ticket yet there are a limited number still available at the door. We’re happy that Hackaday is a sponsor of HOPE this year and for that we have a spot in the vendor’s area. We’re not selling anything — we’re actually reverse-vending. We want you to stop by and show us your hacks!

Hackaday Meetups at HOPE

Find us in the vendor area for two meetups: Saturday 2:30-5:00 (after Cory Doctorow’s keynote) and Sunday 11:00-1:00 2:30-5:00. We’ll be there with our cameras at the ready so don’t forget to bring your hacks. We’re always hungry to hear interesting stories which will end up on the front page for all to enjoy.

We have swag like Hackaday and Tindie stickers, and dev boards to give away from our Hackaday Prize sponsors Atmel and Microchip. During the two meetup times we’ll have munchies (Hackaday branded of course) and a limited supply of T-shirts. Come early and come often.

Brian Benchoff and Mike Szczys will be on hand covering the best the convention has to offer. Hit us up on those Twitter links if you want to get our attention. Sophi Kravitz, Aleksandar Bradic, and Shayna Gentiluomo will also be there, so stop by whenever and hang out with us. Our spot in the vendor area will be open the whole weekend.

We are always looking for awesome things to do in addition to what’s on the official agenda. The meetup on Saturday is the place to get the inside scoop on those plans. Whether you’re going to be at HOPE or not, we’d love to hear from you in the comments. Let us know about any talks we shouldn’t miss, any hackers we should track down and interview, and any of those extra curricular activities for a bunch of hackers in the middle of Manhattan on a hot July night.

Hackaday SuperConference: Call for Proposals

The 2016 Hackaday SuperConference is coming. Now is the time to submit your proposal for a talk or a workshop at the world’s greatest conference about hardware creation. The SuperCon is an unparalleled opportunity to present on a deeply technical level where you can be certain everyone in the audience is following. All of those details, the war stories of production, the out-of-stock problems and board respins, the moments when you’ve bent physics to your will, these stories will be met with awe and cheers as the audience of your peers takes the ride along with you.

SuperCon will take place in Pasadena, California on November 5th and 6th, 2016. It is a gathering of hackers, designers, and engineers passionate about learning, teaching, and celebrating what goes into making new and exciting creations. The atmosphere will be that of a hacker village, with several venues in close proximity playing host to talks, workshops, and other activities. This breaks out of the beige prison that usually accompanies hotel-based conferences and opens the weekend up for you to meet and interact with a cadre of interesting people. SuperCon is the place to share your hard-won knowledge and experience, and to add to your own arsenal of skills.

Accepted talks will be scheduled for 20-40 minutes, and workshops will be booked for 1-4 hours. In both cases, topics may include themes like techniques for rapid prototyping, new and interesting uses of technology, creativity in technical design, and stories of product development and manufacturing.

Last year’s SuperConference was incredibly successful. If you weren’t able to attend you can still work your way through all of the talks which were recorded and posted shortly after the event. That success is a credit to all of the talented presenters in the Hackaday community who put together their stories to share for the benefit of all. Thank you!

To all of you reading this now and wondering if you should propose a talk, you should! We thank you in advance for taking time out of your life to make this year’s SuperConference even more amazing by submitting your own proposal. It won’t happen without you because this is a conference of active involvement and not one of passive consumption. Be the hardware movement; this is your chance.

What Is Home Automation?

Perhaps the buzziest among buzzwords when it comes to electronics is Home Automation. This is a branch of IoT where you can actually go to the home store and come out with bags filled with products. The current Hackaday Prize round challenges you to automate your life and setting your sights on the home seems like an area open to everyone. But we’re having trouble putting our finger on what exactly makes a home automated, and more importantly, the best ways to benefit those who live beside that technology. So we want to know what you think.

Do you have a great idea for what makes an automated home more than a buzz word? Perhaps you are already sold and have been building your own; tell us about it! We want to know how (and when) you think this will turn from a buzzword to something most people want running their house. We’ll round up the best from this discussion for a future post. As a thank you, we’ll select some of the best comments and send you a T-shirt from the Hackaday store.

automatic-ice-maker
Who doesn’t love an automatic ice maker?

You can go back fifty years to the cartoons of the 1960’s and see that home automation was just around the corner. The Flintstones had dinosaurs to handle the mundane, and The Jetsons had a robot maid reigning over a cadre of whimsical gadgets in the home. At that point in time the home was already moving into the automation realm with thermostatically controlled air conditioning and water heaters. This was around the same time that automatic ice makers started to appear in a home’s freezer and remote garage door openers came into use.

Beginning in the 1970’s and 80’s it became common to find a dishwasher under the counter in the kitchen. The porch light option of dusk-until-dawn sensors came into use and were followed later by motion detecting lights which used PIR sensors. Automatic lawn sprinklers started to appear in the yards surrounding the home, and security systems that monitor doors, windows, and often motion (using PIR sensors again) became a thing.

These are great examples of home automation which is often overlooked. Even smarter thermostats are all the rage today, and security system add-ons that let you monitor cameras and locks over the Internet.

Which brings us back to the question. Where is this all going? What kind of automation will be developed now in our time, and looked back in 50 years as obvious technology wanted in every home? Do we already have the automated hardware in place and just need something to stitch it all together? Let us know what you think below, and if you’re already working on your own automation project don’t forget to enter it in the Hackaday Prize.

Going Lo-Tech For The Perfect Pokemon Go Throw

We have our eyes on the horizon for an epic GPS spoof to catch some legendaries in Pokemon Go, but until that hack shows up, we really like [Brian McEvoy’s] hack for the perfect Poke Ball throw.

[Brian] started out thinking that a mechanical build would be the best way (we know he’s got the servo motors and controllers to drive them from this tea steeping robot he built last year). But the mechanics of that are just too complicated for what you get in return (less wasted Poke Balls).

He came to the realization that your finger is the best machine, it just needs some augmentation. Most of his Poke Ball throws missed to one side or another, so he turned to papercraft to guide his way. He made a tray from some paperboard packaging, then used two small stacks of Post-it notes to create a channel where your finger slides. Simply hold the phone and the paper with one hand, and use your other to follow the paper channel to a successful capture. The paperboard doesn’t affect the screen’s ability to sense your finger.

This is one we’re definitely going to try out. But visions of hardware hacks for the game that has rocked the world still dance through our heads. Are you working on anything? If so, we’d love to hear about (so send in a tip!). Those still in the idea phase can ring in below. We are weighing the feasibility of doing a man-in-the-middle between a phone and its GPS chip to spoof location. That feels like a pretty tall mountain to climb.

Continue reading “Going Lo-Tech For The Perfect Pokemon Go Throw”

MIT Thinks It Can One-Up TOR With New Anonymity Network: Riffle

Tor is the household name in anonymous networks but the system has vulnerabilities, especially when it comes to an attacker finding out who is sending and receiving messages. Researchers at MIT and the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne think they have found a better way in a system called Riffle. You can dig into the whitepaper but the MIT news article does a great job of providing an overview.

The strength at the core of Tor is the Onion Routing that makes up the last two letters the network’s name. Riffle keeps that aspect, building upon it in a novel way. The onion analogy has to do with layers of skins — a sending computer encrypts the message multiple times and as it passes through each server, one layer of encryption is removed.

Riffle starts by sending the message to every server in the network. It then uses Mix Networking to route the message to its final destination in an unpredictable way. As long as at least one of the servers in the network is uncompromised, tampering will be discovered when verifying that initial message (or through subsequent authenticated encryption checks as the message passes each server).

The combination of Mix Networking with the message verification are what is novel here. The message was already safe because of the encryption used, but Riffle will also protect the anonymity of the sender and receiver.

[via Engadget]

Challenge Accepted: Automation

Today marks the beginning of the Automation Challenge round for the 2016 Hackaday Prize. We want to see what you can create that automates life. It’s a terrifically fun jumping off point for a project, and done just right, it can score you some amazing prizes.

Technology can make life better and automation is one place that is about to see huge expansion. This is a chance to put your mark on the future by envisioning, prototyping, and explaining your ideas. The animated image at the top of this post is a perfect example of how fun automation builds can be. It’s the part of the Sunday Morning Breakfast Machine which steeps the tea. We covered this Rube-Goldberg like device a few weeks ago. About 1,000 hours went into building a completely automated breakfast machine.

Building something whimsical is fine for entering this round — a lot of discovery happens when having fun with interesting ideas. But there is plenty of room for serious builds as well. Technological development has always included iterating on automation; asking and answering the question of how can we do more with less effort.

AutomationFor instance, you can boil coffee in a pot but then you have to use some filtering technique to sequester the grounds. You can use a French press but that this hasn’t saved you much effort. So someone invented the percolator but you still must watch that you don’t burn your brew. From there we have espresso machines and drip brewers that both regulate how much water is used and at what temperature (in addition to keeping the grounds separate). And now we’re seeing single-unit machines like Nespresso and Keurig which make everything a one-step process, if you’re happy with the pods they sell you. I like to refill my own pods, which lets me choose my own grind. I’d love to see someone automate this entire process of cleaning, grinding, filling and presenting a reusable pod. That would make a great entry and help move more people away from disposable plastic/metal.

All I see when I look around me are ways that life should be more automated, and I bet you have the same proclivity. Now you have a reason to take on the challenge. Automate something and enter it in the Hackaday Prize. Twenty of those entries will be awarded $1,000 and move on to vie for the grand prize of $150,000 and a residency at the Supplyframe Design Lab in Pasadena, plus four other huge top prizes.

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Last Chance to Get In on the Citizen Scientist Challenge

The last week of the Citizen Scientist challenge round is drawing a close. Here’s what you need to know to enter your project, and to give it the best chance at making the top twenty. You need to do this by Monday morning, July 11th, to be in the running.

What is Citizen Scientist?

Sitizen ScientistCitizen Scientist is part of the Hackaday Prize. This round challenges you to make meaningful scientific study more approachable for everyone. Examples include projects that let people build their own lab equipment, sensor modules that can be distributed (or bootstrapped) for widespread data collection like weather stations and pollution monitors, or a new way of studying the world around us. The important thing is your explanation of the project. Show off your idea for making us all Citizen Scientists.

Right now we have a few hundred entries in this challenge round. Twenty of them will be selected to win $1000 and move on to the final round for consideration in the top five prizes: $150,000, $25,000, $10,000, $10,000, and $5,000.

This round ends on Monday morning, so make sure to enter your project now. Starting a new entry is easy but you may also enter a project that you have already document, or one that was submitted to an earlier round of the Hackaday Prize. In all cases, use the “Submit Project to” menu on the left sidebar of your project.

What Your Project Needs to Succeed

four-project-logsAn entry boils down to an idea, a picture, documentation, and four project logs.

You want to show that you are progressing toward a fully working prototype. We suggest that you start with a quick overview of the topic you chose for your entry. How does your project move Citizen Science forward? What led you to the idea, and what kind of impact do you hope it will have.

Don’t forget the build logs! One requirement of your entry is to have at least four build logs. At the minimum, pull out four different aspects of your design process and make them logs. To the right you can see a screenshot from the top of a project page. The log count is there and it needs to be at least 4.

A picture is worth a thousand words. You need at least one image, and we suggest that you put it in the image gallery — use the “Edit Project” button on the top right of your project page for this. It’s best to include some kind of system diagram that shows all parts of the overall project. If you have pictures of an actual prototype make sure to include those, as well as any other schematics, renders, CAD drawings, etc.

Upcoming Challenge Rounds

Don’t have something the fits with Citizen Scientist? Don’t worry, there are still two more rounds coming. On Monday July 11th we will begin the Automation challenge round. The name says it all; any and all automation projects will make great entries. The final challenge round, Assistive Technologies, begins August 22nd and seeks great ideas to make people’s lives better though technology that overcomes difficulties of body and mind.

No need to wait until those dates. Start your project now and you will be able to enter it into those challenges once they officially begin.

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