PortableSDR Makes It To Kickstarter

Last year’s Hackaday Prize saw a lot of projects that were crying out to be Kickstarter Campaigns, but non has seen people throwing money at their screens quite like [Michael]’s PortableSDR. It’s a small, handheld, battery-powered shortwave software defined transceiver that can do just about everything with coverage up to 30MHz. It’s the ultimate apocalypse radio, a contender for to the throne now held by the ‘my first radio’ Baofeng, and now, finally, a campaign on Kickstarter.

The PortableSDR (now called the PSDR) started off as [Michael]’s ideal radio. It just so happened the Hackaday Prize gave him the impetus design, develop, and build the radio that would eventually land him third place in The Hackaday Prize.

The radio itself is completely self-contained and battery-powered, implementing a software defined radio on an STM32F4 processor. The design includes an LCD for the waterfall display, vector network analysis, and the ability to receive GPS.

In keeping with its ham heritage, [Michael] is offering the PSDR as a kit, with a PCB, enclosure, and all the parts you can’t get on Digikey available for a $250 pledge. Get those toaster reflow ovens warm, because there’s a lot of SMD parts in this build.

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[Sophi Kravitz] Joins the Hackaday Crew

Please join us in welcoming [Sophi Kravitz] to the Hackaday crew. She is coming on board to crank on the 2015 Hackaday Prize. You may remember a post from a few weeks ago when we were in search of a person with a skill set that could only be described as mythical. [Sophi] jumped at the chance and it is immediately clear that she belongs here.

[Sophi] walks the walk, and talks the talk. She’s an EE and has worked with art installations, built props and FX for movies, and tackled jobs that some might consider ‘more serious’ engineering challenges. Her passion for electronics has led her to evangelize education on the subject by working with student programs, and she recently served as a Hacker in Residence with Sparkfun. Her love of the hardware community already has her promoting hacking by immersing herself in Hackerspace culture and organizing events like the Bring a Hack meetup at Maker Faire New York.

We have big plans for the 2015 Hackaday Prize which will be announced soon. In the meantime, anyone attending the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) next week can meet up with [Sophi] and find out about the plans we’ve made so far. She will be at CES to represent Hackaday along with [Mike Szczys] and [Sarah Petkus]. We’re planning an impromptu meetup for anyone interested. Reply to this Tweet to tell us you’ll be there and we’ll make sure to get you the details when we have them. And of course, if you want to get your hands on some Hackaday stickers track us down during the conference. Check out our CES Twitter list to make more connections.

$50k in Components Hit the Hands of Hackaday Prize Semifinalists

We anticipate a cornucopia of hacks from the top fifty 2014 Hackaday Prize entrants based on the recent awarding of the 50 grab bags of electronics. That’s right, the grand prize was out of this world but there were a lot of other rewards worth shooting for. Instead of making hardware choices without the seminifinalists’ input we went with a shopping spree on Mouser.com.

It’s a great idea if we do say so ourselves. However, it turned out not to be as easy as purchasing fifty-grand in gift cards. Did you know that none of the major parts distributors have gift card systems built into their sites? We’re of two minds on this. We’d love to open a birthday card from grannie and pull out some chits that can be traded for chips. But at the same time, it would be a longshot for your non-hacker relatives to even know what sites are our go-to parts emporiums.

Long story short these prizes are themselves a hack. We had a lot of help from the sales crew over at Mouser who abused their account tracking software in order to make these credits work. All fifty of the Hackaday prize semifinalists now have a cool G to spend and we’ll be watching their Hackaday.io accounts for updates as they inevitably use the upcoming holidays to embark on exciting builds.

A big thanks to Supplyframe Inc. for sponsoring these 50 prizes, as well as all others awarded for the 2014 Hackaday Prize. Get those workbenches cleared off and sharpen tin your soldering tips because details about the 2015 Hackaday Prize will start to roll out in just a few weeks. Until then, occupy your time trying to win one of the many prizes offered during our Trinket Everyday Carry Contest.

Surviving the Hackaday Prize Party

What a week it has been. I’m in Munich, Germany along with [Brian], [Jasmine], [Ben], [Alek], and the rest of the crew who helped plan and guide the 2014 Hackaday Prize. If you somehow missed it, we announce the rank order of the finalists. It was SatNOGS that claimed the Grand Prize, congratulations!

We have a ton of content headed your way, but to be honest there’s going to be a bit of “recovery lag” before that hits the front page. We spent the entire day at Technikum in the Munich Kalturfabrik. It was originally some sort of factory complex (having to do with potato processing) which has since been turned into co-working spaces, restaurants, and performing arts venues. We felt right at home in the post-industrial, brightly muraled maze of buildings.

The official activities started with the Embedded Hardware Workshops which were packed! The previously assured “robust” WiFi immediately, and repeatedly, went down. Fortunately hackers being hackers everyone pooled their local copies onto one SD card and passed it around. We’ve segregated that piece of hardware in an evidence bag for future testing.

We pushed back the closing of the workshops by about 40 minutes since everyone was having fun. This marginally outraged the company who was handling furniture and food as we weren’t following the plan. They were pleasant enough about the issue but for me it was an interesting peek at the difference in cultures. During the switch we had lightning talks which I found both enthusiastic and interesting. We then moved to the major presentations of the night. [Jeroen Domburg] aka [Sprite_TM] gave a stunning presentation about reverse engineering the ridiculously overpowered microcontroller on a special lighted keyboard. We’ll surely have a standalone post about it. We then closed with a recap of The Hackaday Prize and the naming of the winners. That too will have its own feature.

DSC_0095After handing over the trophy, and taking a few photos the writers all rushed to the downstairs “backstage” area. I had previously written the announcement post and we spent some time getting the word out, first to all the finalists, then to the sites that are close friends, and finally started pushing the news on social media. All work and no play? Forget about it. The party was raging and the food and drinks were fantastic. They were, however, far outshined by the conversations with interesting people to be found at every turn. I spoke with people who had driven in just for the event from France, Austria, and of course all over Germany.

The venue was packed up starting around Midnight. You know it’s a great time when the crowd hangs out in the cold for another 40 minutes afterward. The point of the story? Any chance you have to spend time with the great people who make up the Hackaday community is a chance to jump at. Where to next?

The Hackaday Prize Judge’s Recap

With the Intertubes atwitter about the finalist – and winner – of the Hackaday Prize, it’s only fitting the rest of you get to hear what the judges thought about the finalists.

We had some amazing judges combing over these projects, ranging from people who have told Congress they could shut down the Internet at will to a Dutch guy that just figured out how to order a plain hamburger in the Munich train station. Really, really smart people. Here’s what they had to say about each project:

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Hacking Werkstatts and Other Workshops

We had a few very cool workshops at our party in Munich today, with Moog synths, robotic arms, Linksys routers splayed open on a table, and Club Mate flowing like water. We’re wrapping the workshops up right now and the kegs are being tapped. Before that, though, it might be a good idea to show off all the other Hackaday Prize projects that showed up today.

The M.A.R.S. Rover, a 3D-printed rocker-bogie robot showed up around noon. I didn’t see it driving around, but there will probably be video up later.

Also shown was the AutoCut robotic lawn mower. No blood was shed today.

[Mario] was cool enough to fly in and show off the OpenExposer, a laser resin printer that is heavily inspired by the RepRap project.

Pictures below.

T Minus Several Hours Until The Hackaday Prize

We’re only a few hours away until we announce the winner of The Hackaday Prize. Until then, we have a huge workshop and party to put together. It’s only noon here in Munich, and we’ve been up since the crack of dawn putting stuff together.

The doors open in a little bit, but so far we have people putting together the workshops. [Ben Gray] from Phenoptix is busy putting together a few MeArm robots for a workshop. They take one person 45 minutes to put together. There’s kinda something resembling an assembly line going on:

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[Ben Gray] @phenoptix working on a MeArm

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[Sprite_TM] shows off soldering skills
Hackaday Prize judge [Sprite_TM] made it out to the workshop/party. He’s working on soldering up some Teensy 3.1s for the Moog workshop. There are a ton of parts for this, everything from extremely expensive slide pots to opamps, audio caps, pressure and pulse sensors, and a vintage wah pedal that also has +5v CV expression output. Really cool.

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Parts!
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Setting up the venue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since we’re announcing the winner of The Hackaday Prize, there was the question of what the trophy should be. Trophies are not utilitarian in any way, so we thought we would put our own spin on this. It’s a PanaVise, emblazoned with a 3D printed plaque.

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Doors open in a few minutes. More updates to follow