Community Weigh-In for Sci-Fi Contest

sci-fi-community-weigh-in

The entry period for the Sci-Fi Contest ended at mid-night yesterday morning. Now’s the time to weigh-in as ten prizes will be awarded based on the community outpouring for the project. Go check out all of the projects that were entered and register your opinion through “Follow Project” and/or “Give a Skull” buttons.

We’re hoping to announce judging decisions for the contest on Thursday, May 8th.

Ask Hackaday: (How) should we control Kickstarter campaigns?

Kickstarter campaigns helped bring new and innovative products to the market during these last years. However there often are failures that can happen at several stages. We’d like to hear your opinion about them and discover what you think could be done to foresee/prevent these kinds of bad experiences that damage the trust between individuals and funding platforms.

Post-funding failures

There are a few project teams that give up a few months after receiving the funds, like the people behind the iControlPad 2 recently (disclaimer: we’re not backers). Even if [Craig] stated that he would document the entire production process on film and be open about all the project life steps, that didn’t prevent the project from being dropped (oddly enough) exactly one year after they received the funds. The more the project was headed towards failure, less was the frequency of updates regarding the project’s current state. The official reasons for this decision were difficulties that arose with the chosen LEDs, we’ll let you make your own opinion by having a look at the updates section. Thanks [Nikropht] for the tipping us about it.

Pre-funding failures

What is happening even more often on kickstarter is (usually successful) campaigns being canceled by the website itself after a few people rang the alarm bell. This may be due to an unfeasible project idea, a fake demonstration video/photos or even an attempt to resell an existing item under a new name.

The best examples for the first category undeniably are free energy generators. Here is an indiegogo campaign which actually succeeded. The creators announced one month ago that the project is running a bit behind schedule (aha), that the machine will cost around $5000 and that they’ll “need the funds before they make the units”. What can be done to educate the public that such energy is not created out of thin air?

The second category includes the recently canceled LUCI advanced lucid dream inducer (thanks [Michael] for the tip), which ended 2 days before the deadline. Technical guys got skeptical when they saw that the electrode signals were amplified several feet from the brain with an audio amplifier. At first glance, this was the only sign that this project may have been a scam (let’s give them the benefit of the doubt). Further research indicated that GXP (the company behind the campaign) didn’t exist, and most of their pictures were photoshopped. Here is a link to a quick summary of the situation and if you want to be entertained we advise you to make some pop-corn and head to the comments section of the project. What’s terrible here is that backers started to turn against each other, as the company always had a ‘good’ explanation for all the backers’ questions.

At last, there are some persons that just make funding campaigns with already existing products. This is the case of the eye3 flying robot and the vybe vibrating bracelet (don’t order!). Note that all of them were successfully funded. The eye3 was created by the same persons that made LumenLab, a company that created the microcnc. You’ll find more details here. The vibrating bracelet was just this one, which would be made in different colors. We just discovered this website that covered both project in greater lengths as well as many others.

Kickstarter fraudsters

Scams can also happen on the backers’ side. Recently, a Kickstarter backer named “Encik Farhan” attempted to rip off many Kickstarter projects. A ‘credit card chargeback’ technique was used, were the backer would contribute to the campaign, receive his perk and later cancel his credit card transaction using diverse reasons. The money would later be taken from the campaign funding by the payment processor.

What can be done?

The examples cited in this article set precedents which may turn people away from crowdfunding. In your opinion, what could be done to prevent this? Another reason we ask is because Hackaday may launch a sponsored product soon, thanks to the new overlords. This hypothetical product would be designed with the Hackaday community in a completely transparent process.

In the meantime, if you find any perpetual motion machines on kicstarter or indiegogo, be sure to send them in. You may also want to checkout this website predicting the success probability of a given kickstarter campaign.

Official Hackaday forums

Yes, finally, we have a forum. We get regular requests, both in the comments and in our email for a hackaday forum.  We put it in operation a few days ago and started letting people trickle in and it hasn’t completely blown up in our faces. Please join us there and help build our community. Also, notice there is a button for it over on the right column now.

Some items of interest or common answers to common questions:

  • No illegal activities allowed. Yes, we have the word “hack” in our name. That does not mean that we will hack a website for you. (we get that request weekly).
  • Keep it moderately clean. Sure you can cuss, this isn’t a kids site, but no pronography/gore please.
  • No personal threats.
  • There will be google ads. We are trying really hard to balance the business with the fun, so bear with us. So far, they aren’t in the way. We have no plans on going overboard.
  • This will be readable without a login. You must register to post.
  • We’re working out the kinks. Please report any problems to caleb@

That’s it, enjoy and be civil.

$100 free from your favorite hobby supplier!

We were wary at first when the email came in with the headline “SparkFun is having a free day” and figured surly this is in relation to recent events? But no, after 7 years of loyal customers, SparkFun is simply giving back to the community.

It’s interesting to think that without their services, we wouldn’t have some of the amazing hacks we introduce every day. Such as the DIY mood lamp, or Cell phone alt-variometer, or Arduino iPod remote control. And their free day will allow some disadvantaged hackers the ability to finally flex that muscle sitting between their shoulders. What do you plan to make?

Mark your calendars folks, On January the 7th 2010 SparkFun is giving every household a $100 (until they reach $100k), if that’s not an incentive to wake up early, what is?

As a side note, do you think we’ve had enough posts about SparkFun lately?

[Thanks Diego]