The Square Inch Project Challenges Your Layout Skills

577901443070423938[alpha_ninja] proves that is not just about great projects, but about an awesome community. Over this past week [alpha_ninja] has created The Square Inch Project, which is a grass-roots contest. The contest rules are pretty simple: The project PCB must fit in a 1″ x 1″ square. That’s 2.54 cm for those that don’t use freedom units. Smaller than a square inch is fine. If the project has multiple PCBs like a cordwood module, ALL the PCBs must still fit within the 1″ x 1″ square. users coming up with cool contest ideas and inviting everyone to take a shot at winning? Awesome!

Of course a contest has to have prizes. [Alpha_ninja] has already lined up $100 in gift certificates to OSHPark. Many thanks to [Laen] and the rest of the OSHPark crew for sponsoring this contest. Hackaday loves the idea so we’re also kicking in eight $50 gift certificates to the Hackaday store, as well as four more $25 gift certificates to OSHPark.

Though the contest has been up for less than a week, the square inch project already has some great entries.

twiz[Drix] has entered Twiz, a 9 degree of freedom Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) connectivity. Twiz senses its environment with a MPU9150 IMU chip. A nRF51822 provides the Bluetooth connection and ARM Cortex-M0 processor. Put all this together, and you’ve got a great way to determine where an object is in space. [Drix] has used Twiz to control everything from holographic projectors to room lights. Contests aren’t new to [Drix], he’s already entered Twiz in the 2015 Hackaday Prize.


numi[WeisTekEng] has entered Micro DIY Lipo retro NumiTron clock. [WeisTekEng]  loves the classic IV-9 Russian numitron tubes. His plan here is to build a numitron clock driven by an ATmega328 microcontroller. The timebase for this clock is also a classic — The Dallas Semiconductor (now Maxim)  DS1307 I2C real-time clock chip. Everything is going to run on a single LiPo cell. Fitting within the project constraints, the board will be only 1″ square. This is [WeisTekEng’s] first big project on, so we’re happy to see him join the community. He’s also just getting started, so the PCB’s only exist in the virtual word of his EDA software for now. We’re looking forward to reading the numitron clock!


tiny7[Al1] has entered tiny7, a 7 segment display which is compatible with Atmel ISP headers. Ever notice those 6 pin headers on the Arduino? That’s the ISP connector, used to program the ATmega328 micro. In many designs these valuable IO pins spend most of their time unused. [Al1] decided to give them a purpose – displaying data! He’s connected a 75HC595 shift register to the SPI pins of the ISP header. Data clocked into the ‘595 is displayed on a 7 segment display. [Al1] designed the boards with castellated connections on the sides. Some careful soldering allows the boards to be daisy chained. Several 7 segment displays to be driven from a single ISP header.


nyan[Radomir Dopieralski] is using The Square Inch Project as a learning platform as well. He’s entering Nyan Board, a tiny PCB shaped like everyone’s favorite rainbow pooping cat. [Radomir] is using nyan board to learn how to work with ATtiny microcontrollers. Due to memory constraints, these little controllers can be a bit harder to program than their bigger brothers. [Radomir’s] early goals for Nyan are humble ones – he will be happy to have the cat’s eyes flash while it plays the Nyan Cat tune. Once that task is complete, the RAM and Flash of the ATtiny microcontroller will be his only constraints.

The contest deadline isn’t until November 28, 2015, so there is still plenty of time to enter. If you want to see more of the entrants, check out The Square Inch Project page, or the entrant list. Want to know more? Ask a question on the project page, or drop [Alpha_Ninja] a message!

That’s it for this week’s Hacklet, As always, see you next week. Same hack time, same hack channel, bringing you the best of!

Win an Internship at CERN Openlab

Have you ever wanted to visit CERN, or maybe even work there? Well guess what — one of the prizes for the Intel Modern Code Developer Challenge 2015 is a trip to CERN — and another one for a 9 week internship there!

The CERN and Intel sponsored competition is looking for a bright young developer (you must be a student) to improve the performance of the code used to simulate brains — specifically to simulate the growth of cells in the cerebral cortex. It’s called the Human Green Brain Project.

In this Challenge, you’ll be working with this code to improve its runtime performance, so researchers can make life-changing scientific breakthroughs faster.  Download the code, optimize it, and submit it to the Challenge.  The students who submit the fastest optimized code will win the prizes and help accelerate science – that could be you!

Improve it, and you’re literally accelerating science and research discovery. Oh — and you’ll get a chance to visit or work at the CERN OpenLab. What are you waiting for? Go enter!

[Thanks for the tip David!]

Caption CERN Contest – All Good Things…

Week 25 of the Caption CERN Contest is complete. Thanks to all the entrants who tried to figure out exactly what is going on with this scientist and his strange box. We’re still just as confused (and amused) as you are. He definitely is focused on the box and whatever is in there.

So, without further adieu, here are the winners of this week’s contest:

The Funnies:

  • “On the slim chance my invention does not go down in history. I hope no one makes a Schrodinger’s cat joke about it.” – [masterdurr]
  • “Step one, you cut a hole in the box” – [FuzzyNegguts]
  • “here is a rare shot of CERNs artificial heart prototype. Due to its size, it was only installed in whales. And badgers. I don’t know how, but somehow badgers.” – [jakewisher125]

This week’s winner is [Jack Laidlaw] with  “At Cern you have to be careful when having fun with the new guy, John was sent for a bucket of steam and only reappeared 6 months later with this contraption.” Jack is a web designer based in Scotland. He’s an avid fan of electronics, and is going to be getting a hands on course with his new Teensy 3.1 from The Hackaday Store!

A bit of a break

After 25 great weeks of the Caption CERN Contest, it’s time to take a bit of a break. The Hackaday Prize competition is really heating up, along with plenty of other work here at Hackaday HQ. I’ve said it each week, but I have to give one more big thank you to all the folks who have entered and made this a great contest. It’s been a pleasure to read the captions every week and to award the prizes to all the top captions. The science and fun don’t end here though – There are plenty of images in CERN’s archives waiting to be discovered. Take some time and browse through. You won’t regret it!

Finally, I’d just like to say don’t forget to document your own work, and take notes on what each image contains. Be it on, on Github, or even on your own drive. Otherwise you might see your own hacks in the next incarnation of the Caption CERN Contest!

Caption CERN Contest – What’s In The Box?

Week 24 of the Caption CERN Contest was one for the books. There were so many good captions that we had a hard time picking a winner! Thank you to everyone who wrote up a caption and entered the contest. We still don’t know quite what this device was. Our best guess is a coil from a beam line. Some creative positioning and camera focus sure turned it into a conversation piece though!

The Funnies:

  • “I am the Face of Boe. Has anyone seen the Doctor?.” – [jonsmirl]
  • “CERN’s brief attempt into the consumer “Pro” audio market. They lost out to the competitions because they didn’t use unidirectional oxygen free copper wires that are blessed by the Tibetan monks. They might be the expert with super conductor magnets, but one hard lesson they have learnt is that you can’t spell consumer without the “con” part.” – [K.C. Lee]
  • “Go ahead pick up the operating tool!! For your first task remove the patient’s tooth for 10 points. But beware!!! there’s the 10,000K volt charge if you touch the sides!! Enjoy!!!” – [EngineerAfterLunchTime]

This week’s winner is [surubarescu] with “Prototype of the sextuple face electric razor was a complete technical success, but it never went into full production due to some raised (then lost) eyebrows.” Enjoy your new Teensy 3.1 from The Hackaday Store, [surubarescu]!

Week 25

cern-25-smWe’re not kidding when we say CERN scientists and engineers really get into their work. Check out this CERN scientist looking down at his… uh, experiment. We’re not sure exactly what this device is. There is a sealed chamber, but is it a vacuum, or some sort of specialized atmosphere for the research this scientist is working on? Either way, he seems very interested in whatever is happening inside this box!

So what’s happening here? High energy physics, or some new coffee maker? You tell us!

This week’s prize is once again a Teensy 3.1 from The Hackaday Store. Add your humorous caption as a comment to this project log. Make sure you’re commenting on the contest log, not on the contest itself.

As always, if you actually have information about the image or the people in it, let CERN know on the original image discussion page.

Mech Engineers: Win 5k for Using a Bearing

Another year, another Boca Bearings Innovation Competition! Boca Bearings is a US based ball bearing manufacturer and distributor. They make bearings for anything from RC cars, to bicycles, to fishing reels — and even industrial applications as well. And they’re one of those companies that actually cares about the tinkerers at home.

They sponsor a lot of community events like RC derbies, but our favorite is their yearly Innovation Competition; which allows anyone around the world to enter their project — so long as it uses a bearing somewhere. And it doesn’t even have to be one of their bearings.

With all these fantastic entries we’ve been having into the Hackaday Prize, maybe if your entry features bearings, you can enter this competition too! What do you have to lose?

Continue reading “Mech Engineers: Win 5k for Using a Bearing”

Caption CERN Contest – Smile!

Week 23 of the Caption CERN Contest has been laid to rest. Thanks to all the entrants who stopped by to pay their respects and leave captions for the dearly departed SC-1. CERN engineers and scientists are a crafty bunch, so we’re betting that SC-1’s spirit (and many if its components) lived on in newer CERN projects. We have to thank CERN’s unnamed photographer for capturing these events. It’s always great to see the people and the personalities behind the science.

The Funnies:

  • “After many years of ignoring the pitiful meows, it was finally determined that Schrödinger’s cat was, in fact, dead.” – [Josh Kopel]
  • “We gather here to mourn the deaths of all those brave and noble components that left this world surrounded by magic smoke to reside forever in great the parts bin in the sky.” – [Kid Iccurus]
  • “CERN’s annual Halloween parade was a huge disappointment that year, which was probably due to the fact that they held it in June.” – [DainBramage]

This week’s winner is [Scott Galvin] with “Services were held today for SC-1. SC1’s life ended earlier
this week after a devastating head on collision” Scott describes himself as “Just a visiting Geek with dreams of universal domination”. We’d suggest you start small, [Scott]. Maybe dominating a Bluetooth personal area network with your new LightBlue Bean from The Hackaday Store is just what you need to set your plans in motion!

Week 24

cern-24-smThe scientists at CERN always take a personal stake in their work. Pushing mankind’s knowledge of science and high energy physics takes a special breed of person. Thankfully this special breed always seems to have a fun side as well. Here we see a CERN scientist posing behind a … a device. It looks to be some kind of coil or beam line part, though the actual use is thus far a mystery even to CERN’s own staff. We do know this photo was taken in June of 1973, the same month as one of the longest solar eclipses on record – over 7 minutes of totality! Was this part of some CERN solar experiment? Could it have been a section of a particle accelerator? Was this scientist just working on his latest art project – perhaps part of a dodecagon exploration? You be the judge!

This week’s prize is a Teensy 3.1 from The Hackaday Store. Add your humorous caption as a comment to this project log. Make sure you’re commenting on the contest log, not on the contest itself. As always, if you actually have information about the image or the people in it, let CERN know on the original image discussion page.

15 Quadcopters For Hackaday Prize Entries

We’re busy giving away tens of thousands of dollars in prizes for Hackaday Prize entries, and that’s before the contest even ends. Last week, we put a call out for projects with wings, wheels, and propellers, and now we’re doling out some fun Crazyflie 2.0 quadcopters  to the winners. Here’s the lucky winners, in no particular order:


Congrats to all the winners.

This week’s contest is for the best human interface, the winners of which will receive laser cutting time through Ponoko. If you need a control panel for all those switches and buttons, this is the contest to get in on. The deadline to enter the Human Interface contest is Thursday, 7/16/15, so:

Good luck, and remember to vote in this week’s round of community voting.

The 2015 Hackaday Prize is sponsored by: