The Hackaday Prize Semifinalist Update

There are only a few more days until The Hackaday Prize semifinalists need to get everything ready for the great culling of really awesome projects by our fabulous team of judges. Here are a few projects that were updated recently, but for all the updates you can check out all the entries hustling to get everything done in time.

Replacing really, really small parts

accThe NoteOn smartpen is a computer that fits inside a pen. Obviously, there are size limitations [Nick Ames] is dealing with, and when a component goes bad, that means board rework in some very cramped spaces. The latest problem was a defective accelerometer.

In a normal project, a little hot air and a pair of tweezers would be enough to remove the defective part and replace it. This is not the case with this smart pen. It’s a crowded layout, and 0402 resistors can easily disappear in a large solder glob.

[Nick] wrapped the closest parts to the defective accelerometer in Kapton tape. That seemed to be enough to shield it from his Aoyue 850 hot air gun. The new part was pre-tinned and placed back on the board with low air flow.

How to build a spectrometer


The RamanPi Spectrometer is seeing a lot of development. The 3D printed optics mount (think about that for a second) took somewhere between 12 and 18 hours to print. Once that was done and the parts were cleaned up, the mirrors, diffraction grating, and linear CCD were mounted in the enclosure. Judging from the output of the linear CCD, [fl@C@] is getting some good data with just this simple setup.

Curing resin and building PCBs

uv[Mario], the guy behind OpenExposer, the combination SLA printer, PCB exposer, and laser harp is chugging right along. He finished his first test print with a tilted bed and he has a few ideas on how to expose PCBs on his machine.

You don’t need props to test a quadcopter

bladesGoliath, the gas-powered quadcopter, had a few problems earlier this month. During its first hover test a blade caught a belt and bad things happened. [Peter] is testing out a belt guard and tensioner only this time he’s using plywood cutouts instead of custom fiberglass blades. Those blades are a work of art all by themselves and take a long time to make; far too much effort went into them to break in a simple motor test.

THP Quarterfinalist: Hypoglycaemia


For somewhat obvious reasons, there aren’t many medical hacks making their way to the quarterfinal selection of The Hackaday Prize. One exception to this is [Thomas]‘ Hypoglycaemia Alert System, a Bluetooth device that detects low blood sugar in sleeping diabetics and calls for help.

This isn’t the only blood glucose monitor that made it to the quarterfinals of The Hackaday Prize. [John Costik] reverse engineered a continuous glucose monitor for his Type 1 son (we also did a hacker bio on him). This project has a slightly different scope and doesn’t rely on pre-existing blood glucose sensors. In fact, it doesn’t detect glucose at all. Instead, it uses humidity and temperature sensors to detect the heavy sweating that often occurs with low blood glucose levels.

This hypoglycaemia monitor is meant to be worn by a user at night. Glucose levels can drop while sleeping, and if they drop too low blood sugar can result in death. When the monitor detects the symptoms of low blood glucose, it connects to a smartphone through a Bluetooth link and sends an SMS alert to phone numbers in the contact list. Whoever receives this message will then try to wake the potentially unresponsive diabetic, and failing that, would put some cake frosting under their gums (Seriously. Ask a police officer/EMT for cake frosting. The good ones have some).

[Thomas] is well on his way to a functional device despite having a few problems with his enclosure. Right now he’s working on the Bluetooth comms part of the build, and we hope a complete, working device is right around the corner.

SpaceWrencherThe project featured in this post is a semifinalist in The Hackaday Prize.

THP Hacker Bio: AKA


Thermal imaging cameras are the new hotness when it comes building DIY tools that are much less expensive than their commercial counterparts. [Mike Harrison] built a very high-resolution version from Flir’s Lepton module, but an IR temperature sensor and a servo can also create a decent image. [AKA] played around with some of these thermal imaging modules, but found them a little hard to interface. Panasonic’s Grid-EYE module, however is reasonably cheap as far as thermal imaging devices go, and can be read over an I2C bus.

[AKA]‘s entry for the Hackaday Prize, the GRID-EYE Thermal Camera is one of two Prize entries that survived the great culling and made it into the quarterfinalist round. [AKA] was kind enough to sit down and do a short little interview/bio with us, available below.

[Read more...]

THP Hacker Bio: Felix Rusu


As far as entries for The Hackaday Prize go, Moteino is exceptionally interesting. It’s the only project to be used in other projects for The Hackaday Prize. The two other projects making use of the Moteino, 433MHz transceiver and Plant Friends didn’t make the cut, but [Felix]‘s Moteino did.

Like many of the Internet of Things project, Moteino is a radio module and a microcontroller in an extremely convenient package. The radio is a HopeRF RFM69 operating in the  315, 433, 868 and 915MHz ISM bands. The microcontroller is everyone’s favorite – the ATMega328, but [Felix] also has a Mega version with the ATMega1284 on board. Already there are a few great examples of what the Moteino can do, including a mailbox notifier, a sump pump monitor, and a way to Internetify a water meter.

[Felix]‘s bio below.

[Read more...]

Extrinsic Motivation: And You Thought Inverted Pendulums Were Hard

gimbalAn extremely common project for a control systems class is the inverted pendulum. Basically, it’s a robot mounted on a linear rail, a hinge, and a pendulum sticking straight up in the air. Get your algorithms right, and you have a pendulum that seemingly resists the inexorable pull of gravity and a great understanding of how Segways, balancing robots, and quadcopters work.

[zakowy] is taking this to the next level with his entry to The Hackaday Prize. It’s an inverted pendulum with two counter-rotating propellers in a gimballed fan, and the most unstable UAV design we’ve ever seen.

The mechanics of the build consist of a carbon and epoxy frame, with a motor mount that can move in the X and Y axes. This mount holds two brushless motors and is actuated with rather large pitch and roll servos. The electronics consist of the usual suite of sensors found in a quadcopter – gyros, accelerometers, magnetometers, and a barometric altimeter. Everything is controlled by an Arduino Due, getting commands from an RC receiver and sending telemetry back to a computer

[zakowy]‘s project didn’t make the cut for the quarterfinalist selection, but he is undeterred. He’s building this strange contraption because he can, not because we’re dangling some great prizes in front of his nose. Right now, [zakowy] is working on a testing rig. This thing will fly, make no mistakes about that.

Videos available below.

SpaceWrencherThis project is an official entry to The Hackaday Prize that sadly didn’t make the quarterfinal selection. It’s still a great project, and worthy of a Hackaday post on its own.

[Read more...]

Global Radiation Monitoring Network Update


Things have been busy at Global Radiation Monitoring Network Central Command. As a semifinalist in the Hackaday Prize, project creator [Radu Motisan] has quite a bit of work to do. He’s not slacking off either. With 33 project logs (and counting), [Radu] has been keeping us up to date with his monitoring network and progress on uRADMonitor , the actual monitoring hardware.

[Radu's] latest news is that he’s ready to go into production with model A of the uRADMonitor. Moving from project to production can be an incredible amount of work due to sourcing parts, setting up assembly houses, and dealing with any snags that come up along the way. We’re sure [Radu] can handle it, though.

The network of uRADMonitors is also growing. A new monitor was just installed in Prescott, Arizona. This is the 10th unit in the USA.  You can view the map, data, and graphs of global radiation live on the uRADMonitor website.

SpaceWrencherThe project featured in this post is a semifinalist in The Hackaday Prize.

THP Quarterfinalist: Low-Cost Solid State Cosmic Ray Observatory

Cosmic Rays There are a number of crowdsourced projects to put data from around the world onto the Internet, tracking everything from lightning to aircraft transponders. [aelias36]‘s entry for The Hackaday Prize is a little different. He’s tracking cosmic rays, and hopes to turn his low-cost hardware into the largest observatory in the world.

Cosmic rays are protons and other atomic nuclei originating far outside the solar system. They hit the very top of Earth’s atmosphere at a significant fraction of the speed of light, and the surface of the Earth is frequently sprayed with particles resulting from cosmic rays. Detecting this particle spray is the basis for all Earth-based cosmic ray observatories, and [aelias] has figured out a cheap way to put detectors in every corner of the globe.

The solution is a simple PIN diode. An op-amp amplifies the tiny signal created in the diode into something a microcontroller can use. Adding a GPS module and an Ethernet connection, this simple detector can send time, position, and particle counts to a server, creating a huge observatory with crowdsourced data.

The detectors [aelias] is working on isn’t great as far as cosmic ray detectors go; the focus here is getting a lot of them out into the field and turning a huge quantity of data into quality data. It’s an interesting project, and the only one with this scale of crowdsourcing we’ve seen for The Hackaday Prize.

You can check out [aelias]‘ entry video below.

SpaceWrencherThe project featured in this post is a semifinalist in The Hackaday Prize.

[Read more...]


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