Hacking the Sci-Fi Contest Team Requirement


We saw that some readers were not entirely happy with the team requirement for our Sci-Fi contest, which is running right now. We figured that those who do not work well with others might commit a bit of fraud to get around the requirement. But we’re delighted that someone found a much more creative solution. Why not enlist an AI to collaborate on your project?

[Colabot] is a hacker profile over on hackaday.io which is driven by ELIZA, a computer program that achieves limited interaction through natural language. Supposedly you add [Colabot] to your project and as it questions. We asked one on the profile page and are still awaiting the response. We think this itself could be a qualifying entry for the Sci-Fi contest if someone can find the right thematic spin to put on it.

As far as contest entries go there are only seven so far. Since everyone who submits an entry gets a T-shirt, and there are 15 total prize packages, we encourage you to post your entry as soon as possible. We want to see teams from hackerspaces and we can cryptically tell you that good things come to teams who post their project with the “sci-fi-contest” tag early!

Sci-Fi Contest Prizes Make You Drool Like a Rancor


It’s been awhile since we hosted a contest, now is the time to up our game. You have a few weeks to come up with the best Sci-Fi themed hack. We’ve amassed a number of prizes well worth fighting for, and the challenge will be won by a combination of clever, collaborative, and open. The booty includes rad (yeah, we said it) tools like Oscilloscopes, Logic Sniffers, Solder Stations, and Dev Boards, as well as themed offerings like classic Sci-Fi films and tchotchkes from our favorite fictional universes.

Yesterday we announced that Hackaday Projects is open for public registration and now we’re taking the new site for a spin. Previous contests like the Trinket and Fubarino versions became unwieldy for the Hackaday crew just because of the sheer volume of entries. The new interface will make it much easier. We also want to test out the collaborative features so one of the requirements for entry is to participate as a team. The winners will be picked based on how well the project is documented, how open (as in software and hardware) it is, how it fits the theme, and on how well the team worked together.

The contest starts right now and ends at 12:00:00am Pacific time (we know a lot of you like to push deadlines) on April 29th, 2014. Head over to the contest page to see all of the details. Let the games begin!

[Official Contest Page]

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Interfacing with the HTC Desire Display and its Touch Panel

Part of [Linas]‘ submission to last year’s Cypress Smarter Life Challenge involved using the HTC Desire display and its touch screen. This particular phone includes a full-color active-matrix OLED (AMOLED) display that has a 3.7″ diagonal and a 480×800 resolution, resulting in a 252ppi pixel density. Using a MSO2024B oscilloscope, [Linas] originally started his adventure with the touchscreen by sniffing the I2C signals. As some math was required to extract the data, he later found the HTC Desire source code and included it on his STM32F429 (so much for reverse engineering!).

After spending many hours searching for the AMOLED display and controller datasheets, [Linas] resorted to pay a company to get the resources he needed. He produced a custom-made PCB to provide the display with the required voltages, as well as offering a 0.1″ connector to interface with it. A RGB565 interface is used to communicate with the screen so only 65k out of the 16 million colors are used. You may download all the program files and datasheets in [Linas] write-up.

Fubarino Contest Winners


It is with great pleasure that I announce the winners of the Fubarino Contest (alphabetical order): Brian, Daniel, Dave, Dominic, Eric, Gerben, James, Joel, Joseph, Laurens, Luis, Mats, Mike, Nathanael, Pete, Peter, Sebastian, Taciuc, Vojtěch, and Wes. They rose to the challenge and added our URL as an Easter Egg in their microcontroller project. Their hacks were chosen for their creativity, as well as completeness of presentation. Congratulations! Links to all twenty project features are after the break in reverse order in which they were originally published. To see all the entries hit up the contest tag.

We also want to take a moment to thank Microchip Technology Inc. They not only put up twenty Fubarino SD boards as prizes, they are also covering the cost of shipping to each winner. Many thanks!

We thought it was interesting that the twenty winners live in 11 different countries: Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Malaysia, Romania, South Africa, Spain, The Netherlands, UK, and the USA. Hackaday really is a global community!

If you are one of the winners please leave your acceptance speech in the comments section. This is also a great place to leave feedback — if you didn’t submit an entry we want to know why!

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Fubarino Contest: Splash Screen On System Reset


Here’s a Fubarino contest entry for all those homebrew computer nuts out there. [Danjovic] modified an NTSC/PAL display adapter to show an ASCII version of the Hackaday logo when his board first boots up.

The build is based on [Daryl Rictor]‘s Video Display Adapter intended for use with homebrew computers, microprocessor projects, and any other minimalist digital setup that needs an NTSC or PAL video display. It’s a surprisingly simple circuit, made of a few logic ICs and an ATmega8.

[Danjovic] modified this video display adapter with an easter egg: if one pin on the ATmega8 is shorted when the board is powered on, a neat Hackaday splash screen is displayed for several seconds before falling back to the stock display of a blinking cursor. [Dnajovic] converted the ASCII Hackaday logo with the help of a short Python script and loaded it onto the AVR with a small firmware change.

Video of the boot screen in action below.

This is an entry in the Fubarino Contest for a chance at one of the 20 Fubarino SD boards which Microchip has put up as prizes!

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Fubarino Contest: Hackaday On An RC Heli


[SF Tester] (his real name, honestly, with a brother who does QA for Blizzard) recently picked up a Blade SR remote control helicopter. Compared to the cheap coaxial helicopters you can pick up from eBay or Amazon for $30, this heli is a huge step up, but it does have one weakness – it comes with its own transmitter, and binding it to [Tester]‘s shiny new DX9 transmitter is a pain.

The initial attempt at getting the proper values from the stock transmitter into his big-boy transmitter originally consisted of taking the stock transmitter, some servos, attaching them to homebrew protractors, and reading out the values of each axis manually. That’s a brute-force method of improving his new toy, so [Tester] sought out a better method.

The solution came via Arduino’s pulseIn() command. By connecting the stock receiver to an Arduino, [Tester] was able to precisely read the values coming from the stock transmitter and import them into his very fancy Spektrum DX9 transmitter.

Every Fubarino contest entry needs an easter egg, so when the value of the pulses coming from the stock transmitter is exactly 1337 microseconds, the Arduino spits out Hackaday’s URL to the serial console. Cleverly hidden, and a great way to improve an awesome heli. We can’t ask much more than that.

There’s no direct link for this, but you can literally see the code in the image after the break.

This is an entry in the Fubarino Contest for a chance at one of the 20 Fubarino SD boards which Microchip has put up as prizes!

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Fubarino Contest: NTP Clock


[Toni] has been playing around with NTP, the Network Time Protocol. This allows the alarm clock build to keep very accurate time by synchronizing with an NTP server on the Internet.

The project serves as a bedside alarm clock. When it comes time to wake in the morning an alarm sounds and the screen switches from using a blue backlight to using a red one. This is show in the video below, but you’ll want to turn down your speakers before watching it; the alarm sound will have no problem waking you up in the morning. After the unwelcomed jolt you’ll get a glimpse at the Easter Egg which reminds you to check for new posts on Hackaday.

Afraid of ending up with a steaming pile of slag instead of a server [Toni] asked us to host the project files. You can find the first-hand description of the project and a link to the code below.

This is an entry in the Fubarino Contest for a chance at one of the 20 Fubarino SD boards which Microchip has put up as prizes!

[Read more...]