Redbull’s new creation contest comes to your workshop

We get bombarded with press releases daily. Our inbox overflows with brand new iPhone cases and cheap LED manufacturers in china. We generally have no interest in sharing obvious product advertisement with you. However, some people understand what we’re interested in. Redbull gets it. They’re embracing hackers and running contests that promote DIY/hacking. Last year, we saw some cool results from their contest.

So, we’re happy to announce that this year, they are doing it again! Only this time, the contest will come to the location of the entrants! If you qualify to be one of the final teams involved, they’ll set up to stream live from your home workshop/hackerspace for the contest. You might be thinking, “aren’t you just advertising for red bull?”, we feel that as long as they’re promoting hacking, they’re advertising for us!

You can catch the details after the break.

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Win $40,000 for squirting plastic out of a nozzle

3D printers such as the RepRap and Makerbot turn spools of plastic filament into just about any object imaginable. There’s a problem though: this filament costs about $40 a kilogram, and raw plastic pellets cost about 1/10th of that. Obviously, there’s a lot of room for improvement. The folks at Inventables are throwing $40,000 at the problem in a contest to build a machine that takes plastic pellets and turns it into usable plastic filament.

The object is simple: build a device that takes ABS or PLA pellets and turns them into a 1.75mm filament. The machine has to cost less than $250, be able to add colorant to the plastic, and be usable in a 3D printer. The winner gets $40,000, a laser cutter, a 3D printer, and a CNC milling machine courtesy of Inventables. Sign up on the official contest website and don’t be shy about sending your progress into the Hackaday tip line

If you’d like to get started, here’s a great page that goes over the basics of plastic extrusion, and a few attempts (1, 2) from [Adrian Bowyer] and [Forrest Higgs] that show exactly how hard this is. There’s also the Filabot that had a successful Kickstarter, but there’s apparently been no (or very limited) progress in the four months since the Kickstarter. I’ve even given this idea a go, but am currently stuck at manufacturing a proper auger. To put this in perspective, this is the moonshot of the current crop of 3D printers; a simple device to lower the barrier of entry to 3D printing is desperately needed, and we’ve got to give props to the Inventables crew for putting this contest together.

Voting is open for the Buildlounge laser cutter contest

A few months ago, Buildlounge and Full Spectrum Laser started a contest to win a 40 Watt laser cutter. The only requirement? Submit a project that uses light in some way. The deadline is now over and voting is open, right on the buildlounge.com page.

First place gets a 40 Watt laser cutter provided by Full Spectrum Laser. Second place is a neat green laser courtesy of Wicked Lasers, and Third place is an EL wire starter kit  from Adafruit.

There’s a lot of really awesome projects that were submitted for this contest. The laser terminal looks really cool, as does the friggin huge LED wall and choreographed light show. We would be remiss if we neglected to mention that there’s a home-made x-ray machine in the running, and of course there’s the mathematical precision of fellow Hack a Day-er [Jack]‘s solar clock that isn’t a sundial.

The guys at Buildlounge got a lot of submissions for this project, so head on over and vote for your favorite. The winners will be announced next week, Friday, the 13th of January.

Hackaday Merit Badges now available at Adafruit!

The folks over at Adafruit had this idea to make “merit badges” for different achievements. One of the major achievements they mentioned was having your project posted to Hackaday. They asked our approval and got it. The badges have finally come in, so we are happy to announce them. You can purchase them directly from Adafruit, along with a plethora of other badges to adorn your projects.

[Phil Torrone] had a great idea though. To celebrate this, they are going to give away 10 badges to the projects that you, our readers, choose to be the top 10. Go on, dig back through the ranks and post links in the comments. We’ll dig through them and try to compile a list. We will then try to contact those people to send them a free badge.

Contest entry roulette

Over 150 projects made from scrap parts (translated) have been posted for your viewing pleasure. They make up the entries in the “Make fast the scrap” project from c’t magazine. We already looked in on a toilet paper printer, but there’s a ton of other fun stuff to look at as well.

Every time you load the link at the top, the page picks a different set of entries to display. You can click through all the pages, or reload to play a little project roulette. The image above shows three that caught our eye. To the upper right is a lighbulb-man riding an old computer mouse reverse-cowgirl style. Quirky, but anyone who has access to an electroplating setup can get away with making simple objects like this into awesome desktop sculptures.

Moving clockwise we have a tiny USB drive mated with an old vacuum tube. The machine translation is a bit rough, but it looks like the LED from the thumb drive gives the tube a bit of a red glow. We just think it’s interesting to carry around a vacuum tube with you.

The final banner image shows a gyroscope for a camcorder. This is an awesome setup, which you can see in action after the break. A pair of broken hard drives provide motion stabilization for a camera. The entire assembly has a handle on the top with a universal joint. When the drives are spinning, the platform holds very still, even if the operator is swinging the unit around wildly.

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Candied LEDs are a light, tasty treat

rock_candy_diffused_leds

[Emily Daniels] recently snagged a free iPad in the Instructables “Play with your food challenge” with an interesting way to work with LEDs. Growing up, most kids attempted to make, or at least have seen rock candy be produced. [Emily] thought it would be interesting to mix LEDs with the stuff to see what she could come up with, and her candied LEDs are the result.

The process is pretty straightforward, and involves mixing up a batch of supersaturated sugar syrup in which LEDs are suspended. The LEDs act as a nucleation point for the crystal formation, growing a nice solid coating of sugar after a couple weeks’ time. After some cleaning up, the LEDs can be connected to a coin cell battery or similar, as you would normally do. The sugar acts as a diffusing medium for the LEDs, giving them a nice soft beam pattern.

Obviously you likely wouldn’t want to use these for any long-term electronics project, but it’s a fun activity for the kids, and it could be a good way to incorporate electronics into baked goods.

Win a laser cutter by playing with light

Buildlounge and Full Spectrum Laser have decided to give away a laser cutter to whoever comes up with the best project involving light.

The contest is in part sponsored by  adafruit industries. The focus of the contest is light – just design something around light, submit it, and you’re in the drawing for your own laser cutter. A solar oven, photophone, solar fiber-optic lighting and hacking apart an old overhead projector are suggested on the contest page, but the winning project will probably be much cooler.

Entries are due by January 1st. First prize is Full Spectrum Laser’s 40 Watt laser cutter, second is an awesome green laser pointer from Wicked Lasers, and third prize is an EL wire starter kit from Adafruit. Entries are due by January 1st, so we expect to see a lot of awesome submissions on the Hack A Day tip line between now and New Years.