EDC CONTEST ROUNDUP: Musician’s Assistant AND BitMasher!

We’re getting all sorts of entries in the Trinket Everyday Carry Contest! Today we’re featuring just a couple of the awesome entries dedicated to creating music!

ma[johnowhitaker] is hard at work on A Musician’s Assistant. [John] is creating a device that does anything a practicing musician might need on the go. The Musician’s Assistant will include a metronome, tap/temp counter, and tuner. He’s hoping to also give it the ability to play back arbitrary notes using the Pro Trinket’s on-board ATmega328. [John] is trying to do all this with just LEDs and buttons as a user interface, though he is willing to go to an LCD or OLED if he needs to.

masher[Michele Perla] is working on BitMasher, portable lo-fi music sequencer. The BitMasher will allow a musician on the go to create music anywhere. [Michele] began with a SID based sequencer in mind, but he’s currently trying to do it all on the Pro Trinket. He’s already got [Roman’s] BTc Sound Compression Algorithm working on an Arduino Leonardo. Lo-Fi for sure, but that’s what makes BitMasher fun! [Michele] envisions the song entry to be similar to that of the classic Roland TR-808.  The primary user interface will be an Adafruit Trellis 4×4 button+LED driver board.

Don’t forget that our second random drawing will be held on Tuesday, December 9th, at 9pm EST.  To be eligible you need to submit your project as an official entry and publish at least one project log during the week. This week’s prize is a Cordwood Puzzle from The Hackaday Store. Check out the contest page for the full details!

Announcing The Trinket Everyday Carry Contest

Now that we’ve recovered from our Munich party and the awarding of The Hackaday Prize, we’re ready to announce our latest contest. We’ve been having a lot of fun with our Trinket Pro boards, both the 10th anniversary edition and the new Hackaday.io branded models.  While we were soldering, compiling, and downloading, a contest idea took root. Trinket Pro really excels when used in small projects, the kind which would fit in a pocket. To that end we’re holding the Trinket Everyday Carry Contest, a showcase for small, pocketable projects which are useful everyday. ‘Useful everyday’ is a bit of a broad term, and we intended it that way. Tools are useful of course , but so are jewelry pieces. It’s all in the eye of the builder and users. We’re sure our readers will take this and run with it, as they have with our previous contests.

There are some great prizes in store for the entrants, including a brand new Rigol DS1054Z  oscilloscope! The top 50 entrants will get custom Trinket Everyday Carry Contest T-shirts. Check out the contest page for a full list. 

submit-project-to-trinket-edcWe know you all love to procrastinate with your entries, so we’re going to be offering a few perks to those who enter early and update often. Each week, we’ll throw all the entrants who have published at least one project log full of details into a drawing for a special prize from The Hackaday Store. To be considered you must officially submit your project which is accomplished through a drop-down list on the left side of your project page.

Remember, the contest isn’t just about winning a scope, a meter, or any of the other prizes. It’s about creating new Open Hardware designs that nearly anyone can build. So grab those soldering irons, load up those copies of the Arduino IDE, AVR-GCC, or WinAVR, and get hacking!

You can view the all of the contest entries in this list.

Direct Digital Synthesis (DDS) Explained by [Bil Herd]

One of the acronyms you may hear thrown around is DDS which stands for Direct Digital Synthesis. DDS can be as simple as taking a digital value — a collection of ones and zeroes — and processing it through a Digital to Analog Converter (DAC) circuit. For example, if the digital source is the output of a counter that counts up to a maximum value and resets then the output of the DAC would be a ramp (analog signal) that increases in voltage until it resets back to its starting voltage.

This concept can be very useful for creating signals for use in a project or as a poor-man’s version of a signal or function generator. With this in mind I set out here to demonstrate some basic waveforms using programmable logic for flexibility, and a small collection of resistors to act as a cheap DAC. In the end I will also demonstrate an off-the-shelf and inexpensive DDS chip that can be used with any of the popular micro-controller boards available that support SPI serial communication.

All of the topics covered in the video are also discussed further after the break.

Continue reading “Direct Digital Synthesis (DDS) Explained by [Bil Herd]”

We’re Hiring

The Hackaday crew has done some amazing things this year, and we’re finding ourselves a bit stretched. Want to lend a hand while making some extra dough to plow back into your projects? This is a work-from-home (or wherever you like) position that affords you the opportunity to guide what we cover on Hackaday.com. We hire writers for their judgement, which helps keep our subject matter fresh. But don’t worry, we do have a very active tips line from which many of our story leads come.

Contributors are hired as private contractors and paid for each post. You should have the technical expertise to understand the projects you write 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 Hackaday. Include a banner image, 150 words, the link to the project, and any in-links to related and relevant Hackaday 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 you read here and you have a few hours each week to do some writing you need to apply now!

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

Artisanal Vacuum Tubes: Hackaday Shows You How

Homemade Vacuum Tube
Homemade Vacuum Tube

About a decade ago I started a strange little journey in my free time that cut a path across electronics manufacturing from over the last century. One morning I decided to find out how the little glowing glass bottles we sometimes call electron tubes worked. Not knowing any better I simply picked up an old copy of the Thomas Register. For those of you generally under 40 that was our version of Google, and resembled a set of 10 yellow pages.

I started calling companies listed under “Electron Tube Manufacturers” until I got a voice on the other end. Most of the numbers would ring to the familiar “this number is no longer in service” message, but in one lucky case I found I was talking to a Mrs. Roni Elsbury, nee Ulmer of M.U. Inc. Her company is one of the only remaining firms still engaged in the production of traditional style vacuum tubes in the U.S. Ever since then I have enjoyed occasional journeys down to her facility to assist her in maintenance of the equipment, work on tooling, and help to solve little engineering challenges that keep this very artisanal process alive. It did not take too many of these trips to realize that this could be distilled down to some very basic tools and processes that could be reproduced in your average garage and that positive, all be it rudimentary results could be had with information widely available on the Internet.

Continue reading “Artisanal Vacuum Tubes: Hackaday Shows You How”

SatNOGS Wins the 2014 Hackaday Prize

The Grand Prize winner of the 2014 Hackaday Prize is SatNOGs. The project is a thrilling example of the benefits of a connected world. It opens up the use of satellite data to a much wider range of humanity by providing plans to build satellite tracking stations, and a protocol and framework to share the satellite data with those that cannot afford, or lack the skills to build their own tracking station. The hardware itself is based on readily available materials, commodity electronics, and just a bit of 3D printing.

The awarding of the Grand Prize caps off six-months of productive competition which started in April with a first round reaching to more than 800 entries. Once the field had been narrowed and sent on to our judges the narrowed it to just 50 projects vying for a trip into space (the grand prize), industrial-grade 3D printer and milling machine, a trip to Akihabara electronics district in Japan, and team skydiving.

Congratulations to all 5 top winners


SatNOGS – Grand Prize


You already know this but such an accomplishment is well worth mentioning again!

ChipWhisperer – Second Prize


The ChipWhisperer is a hardware security testing platform that allows developers to explore side-band and glitch vulnerabilities in their hardware projects. The existing technologies for this type of testing are prohibitively expensive for most products. The availability of this tool plays a dual role of helping to inform developers of these potential attack vectors, and allowing them to do some level of testing for them.

PortableSDR – Third Prize


The form and function of the PortableSDR move forward both Software Defined Radio and Ham. The SDR aspect fully removes the need to use a computer. The wireless functions provided can be called a modernization of portable amateur radio hardware.

Open Source Science Tricorder – Fourth Prize


Inspired by the future-tech item found in the Star Trek franchise, the Open Source Science Tricorder uses currently available technology to produce a handheld collection of sensors. The design provides modularity so that the available sensors can be customized based on need. Equally importantly, the user interface gives meaning to the data being measured, and allows it to be uploaded, graphed, and otherwise manipulated on the Internet.

ramanPi – Fifth Prize


Raman Spectroscopy is used to help determine what molucules are found in test samples. One example would be determining possible contaminants in drinking water. These tools are expensive and the ramanPi project will mean more labs (at University or otherwise) as well as citizen scientists will be able to build their own spectrometer. One particularly interesting aspect of the project is the parametric 3D printer file used for mounting the machine’s optics. The use of this technique means that the design can easily be adapted for different types of lenses.

2015 Hackaday Prize


With the great success of these five projects, and the potential that Open Design has to move the world forward, we hope to host another round of The Hackaday Prize in 2015. When you’re done congratulating the winners in the comments below, let us know what you think the subject of the next challenge should be.

Thank you to our sponsor


Hackaday would like to thank the generosity of our sponsor, Supplyframe Inc., who supported the cost of all prizes. Supplyframe is Hackaday’s parent company and their values are closely aligned with our own.

Hackaday Prize Judge Elecia White Writes Tell-All Blog Post

The awarding of The Hackaday Prize is nearly upon us!  With just over a day left to go, Launch Judge Elecia White has decided to spill the beans and write a blog post about which of the five finalists she thinks should win. We don’t want to spoil the surprise… but what the heck, she wants them ALL to win.

ChipWhisperer because it brings high-end hardware security tools to the masses.

SatNOGS because it brings space to your back yard,

PortableSDR because of its great waterfall display,

ramanPi because come on, it’s a freaking spectrometer!

Open Source Science Tricorder because it uses sensors to help us see the science in the world around us.

Elecia knows how much time, effort, and passion went into these projects, and how each one embodies the open and connected spirit of The Hackaday Prize. Only one day remains before the big event in Munich, and the announcement of the winner.