The Future Doesn’t Need Another Internet-Connected Teddybear – Hackaday at SXSW Create

Hackaday happened to be at South by Southwest this year and visited SXSW Create – part of the festival dedicated to hackers, makers and DIY scene. While modest in size, this event serves as a great contrast to the internet-hype machine omnipresent everywhere else in the city during this time. So we thought we should drop by and show them some love.

sxsw-launchpad-croppedTrey German showed us a couple of great real-time power control demos using his C2000 Launch Pad as well as his Bluetooth Cooler which, for whatever reason, decided to fail on him just in time for the big show. The demo we have been looking forward to the most was a thermocouple-controlled barbecue using Energia framework but were disappointed to learn that The Man has banned grilling hotdogs in the tent. The universe was telling us we’re not here to party.

atx_hackerspace_TARDISATX Hackerspace had a large booth featuring the full-size replica of Doctor Who’s TARDIS (who wouldn’t like to have a picture taken in one ?) and a fully-functional 1930-es vacuum tube radio with a mandatory iPad dock. We have also learned that a massive collection of working vintage vacuum tubes has been donated to the hackerspace, so if you’re in need you know who to call.

The event has also featured a long list of industry participants. The product launch we were most impressed with was Easel by Inventables, an in-browser app that enables easy control of their Shapeoko CNC milling machine and definitely has the potential of bringing the joys of design and fabrication to much larger masses.

e_coli_ut_austin_experiment1However, the most interesting things we saw were the ones a bit outside of the current tech mainstream. [Dennis] from UT Austin iGEM team showed some of the crazy work the synthetic biologists are doing out there. They have engineered Escherichia coli so that it is addicted to caffeine, used cell growth as a measure of caffeine content in particular drinks, and used that to rank local Austin coffee shops! We have also talked with several guys working on automated gardens and soil sensors who were educating attendees about the huge potential that increased environmental data aggregation can have on the ways we grow food.

To quote the Growerbot guys : “We definitely have enough Internet-connected teddy bears. We need more Internet-connected tomato plants”.

Stick with us after the jump to see a gallery with all our adventures at 2014 SXSW.

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Hackaday Gathering: Shanghai

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Does Hackaday have any readers living in Shanghai? You bet! We’re going to be in Shanghai next week so we decided to invite the Hackaday community to a Shanghai Gathering!

We booked a venue and want to pack the place with at least 150 people on Thursday, March 20th. We’re picking up the bar tab and bringing along a few cases of T-shirts. At some point we’ll make some formal remarks about the path on which Hackaday is traveling, and where we hope to go. Get your tickets now, and start the perplexing process of deciding which piece of portable hacked hardware you want to bring along with you to show off to all of the other Hackaday aficionados.

Still not convinced? Check out the follow-up post from our Los Angeles Gathering back in January to see how much fun it is to get together with other readers. The Xin Che Jian hackerspace in Shanghai is helping us get this organized; we saw a hackerspace intro from them a couple of years back. Thank you so much to [David] and [Paul] for their help with this! If you haven’t checked out the hackerspace, this gathering is a great way to meet some of the members.

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Sci-Fi Contest Prizes Make You Drool Like a Rancor

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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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Hackaday Projects: Open to the Public

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We’re letting anybody in — now’s your chance to lay claim to your piece of Hackaday Projects.

We’ve been watching as a few thousand Hackadayers kick the tires and light the fires of our new hosting website: Hackaday Projects. But you can’t keep these things under wraps forever, and we’re happy to open up the service to anyone who would like an account. Join this vibrant little community by setting up your profile (real or anonymous, we don’t really care) and showing everyone what you’ve been working on in that basement lab of yours. Perhaps we should mention that public doesn’t mean finished. We’re still in Alpha with the site, but with the help of the testers over the last few months this is a very respectable alpha!

If you already had a testing account there are a few new things to note. Astute readers who hovered over the link above noticed that it’s a different URL from the one to which you’re accustomed. We registered hackaday.io as the main domain and also hac.io which will eventually be a URL shortener. We also implemented “The Stack” which is the complement to “The Heap” (currently unimplemented). The two serve as… well, why don’t you go and find out for yourself what they’re for? After all, hackers don’t need to be told how to do things, right?

Next Weekend: The Midwest Reprap Festival

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Guess what next weekend is? It’s the Midwest Reprap Festival, in Goshen, Indiana. We’ll also be there keeping tabs on an absurd amount of new RepRaps and other 3D printers, new filaments, and distributing a ludicrous amount of Hackaday swag.

The highlights of the fest include the folks from Lulzbot and UltiMachine, [Prusa] showing off his i3, [Nick Seward] and the WallySimpson, and Lisa RepRaps, and hundreds of other RepRappers showing off their latest projects and printers.

Here’s the best part: it’s all free! It would be cool if you register before making the trip out, but any way you look at it, it’ll be an awesome weekend. It’s also the largest US gathering of 3D printer aficionados that isn’t on the east or west coast.

We’re Hiring

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The title says it all. We need more writers to keep the fresh hacks coming, now’s your chance to apply for the job.

Contributors are hired as private contractors and paid for each post. Writers should have the technical expertise to understand the projects they are writing about, and a passion for the wide range of topics we feature. If you’re interested, please email our jobs line and include:

  • Details about your background (education, employment, etc.) that make you a valuable addition to the team
  • Links to your blog/project posts/etc. which have been published on the Internet
  • One example post written in the voice of Hack a Day. Include a banner image, 150 words, the link to the project, and any in-links to related and relevant Hack a Day features.

Words of encouragement

First off, we won’t be discussing compensation publicly. Want to know what we pay? Send in a successful application and we’ll talk about it.

Secondly, don’t pass up this opportunity. I watched one of these posts go by and waited another year before I saw the next one and applied. Now I’m running the place. Our team is made up of avid readers. If you’re passionate about the stuff here and you have a few hours each week to do some writing you need to apply now!

Why are we hiring more writers?

You may have noticed that we’re starting to send people to events, and continuing our push to develop our own unique original content. Both of these take time and we need more team members to fill in the publishing schedule so that the Hackaday community gets the posts that it deserves.

So what are you waiting for? Ladies and Gentlemen, start your applications!

Hackaday Scouts For Hacks at SXSW

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It seems like everyone is going to South by Southwest this year. We even heard about it on The Today Show this week. But we still have hope that there’s awesomeness to be found. A few of our crew will be there this year and they’re on the lookout for something special. The festival starts on Friday and runs more than a week to the following Sunday but our guys will be on the ground Sunday, March 9th through Tuesday the 11th.

Sure, we’ll take a gander at the interactive hardware areas, but preliminary research tells us these may be watered down to the lowest common denominator. What we really want to see is if a Burning-Man-like culture is beginning to coalesce around SXSW. Are you carrying around your own hacked hardware at this year’s event? Do you roll up in a custom party-mobile and spend the week trying to keep the 24-hour tailgate alive with your fold out pig roaster and awning-based entertainment system? We’d like to check that out.

[Eren], [Alek], and [Ivan] are handling coverage of the event. They’ve been killing themselves making Hackaday Projects an awesome place to share and interact. What they wanted was a bit of down time, but handing out T-shirts and Stickers in exchange for a look at your hacks doesn’t get in the way of that. Connect with them on Twitter using the hash tag #HaD_SXSW. They’ll be using it to tweet their activities but of course it works both ways. Your best bet of just crashing into these guys is to check out [Alek's] talk on StageTwo.

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