Hackaday Prize Entry: It’s Like Apple Pay, But For Receipts

There’s Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Google Wallet, and a host of other ways to pay for stuff with your phone. What about receipts, though? Do you really need to carry around little bits of paper to prove to incredulous friends you have, indeed, bought a donut? The proof is back home, in the file. Under D, for donut.

[Hisham] is working on a very interesting system for the Hackaday Prize. It’s effectively the the opposite side of every point of sale transaction that Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Google Wallet are working on. Instead of handling payment, [Hisham]’s Aelph handles receipts.

[Hisham]’s project is hardware, with a small device that plugs into a point of sale terminal. This device transmits a receipt to the Aleph app (or a third party app), and uploads a PDF copy of the receipt to a server. Other than a small hardware box, there’s no additional software required for a POS terminal. For retailers, it’s as easy as plugging in a box, and for consumers, it’s as easy as downloading an app.

The hardware was prototyped on a TI LaunchPad featuring a TIVA C microcontroller. This, along with the NFC eval kit give Aleph more than enough power to connect to a company LAN and spit out a few PDFs. You can check out one of [Hisham]’s demo videos below.

There are a lot of benefits to a electronic receipts; if you ever need a receipt, odds are you’ll scan it anyway – a dead tree receipt is just inefficient. There’s also some nasty chemicals in thermal receipt paper. You only need to Google ‘BPA receipt’ for that evidence. Either way, it’s a great idea, and we long for the day that our wallets aren’t stuffed to Costanzaesque proportions, and a time where we won’t need a scanner to complete an expense report.

The 2015 Hackaday Prize is sponsored by:

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Hackaday Prize Entry: DIY Eye Tracking

Deep in the dark recesses of Internet advertisers and production studios, there’s a very, very strange device. It fits on a user’s head, has a camera pointing out, but also a camera pointing back at the user. That extra camera is aimed right at the eye. This is a gaze tracking system, a wearable robot that looks you in the eye and can tell you exactly what you were looking at. It’s exactly what you need to tell if people are actually looking at ads.

For their Hackaday Prize entry, Makeroni Labs is building an open source eye tracking system. It’s exactly what you want if you want to test how ‘sticky’ a webpage is, or – since we’d like to see people do something useful with their Hackaday Prize projects – for handicapped people that can not control their surroundings.

There are really only a few things you need to build an eye tracking camera – a pair of cameras and a bit of software. The cameras are just webcams, with the IR filters removed and a few IR LEDs aimed at the eye so the eye-facing camera can see the pupil. The second camera is pointed directly ahead, and with a bit of tricky math, the software can figure out where the user is looking.

The electronics are rather interesting, with all the processing running on a VoCore It’s Linux, though, and hopefully it’ll be fast enough to capture two video streams, calculate where the pupil is looking, and send another video stream out. As far as the rest of the build goes, the team is 3D printing everything and plans to make the design available to everyone. That’s great for experimentations in gaze tracking, and an awesome technology for the people who really need it.

The 2015 Hackaday Prize is sponsored by:

Hackaday Prize Entry: Controlling Relays Over WiFi

It’s been less than a year since the ESP8266 WiFi Module was released. This is a chip whose original data sheets were only available in Chinese, could only be controlled through AT commands, and was (originally) only sold through Seeed Studio and other various Chinese retailers. It had one thing going for it: it was five dollars. For the price of a crappy sub, you can blink an LED from the Internet. Needless to say, the ESP8266 is now very popular.

There are a lot of ESP8266 projects in The Hackaday Prize this year, and [David]’s project is making great use of the relatively meager pinout of this module. He’s built an 8-channel relay controller with a WiFi interface to control industrial equipment. It’s a great project, but just of many ESP projects in the prize this year.

The ESP doesn’t have a huge number of pins, but there are enough for some serious work with the right hardware. He’s using the ESP-12 module to get the most pins, and using an SPI port expander to drive an octet of relays. It’s a simple board, but everything you need to control a bunch of relays over WiFi is right there: LEDs, reset buttons, and RS232 level conversion.

You can check out a pair of very satisfying videos of relays clicking below.


The 2015 Hackaday Prize is sponsored by:

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Hackaday Prize Entry: They Make FPGAs That Small?

There are a few development boards entered in this year’s Hackaday Prize, and most of them cover well-tread ground with their own unique spin. There are not many FPGA dev boards entered. Whether this is because programmable logic is somehow still a dark art for solder jockeys or because the commercial offerings are ‘good enough’ is a matter of contention. [antti lukats] is doing something that no FPGA manufacturer would do, and he’s very good at it. Meet DIPSY, the FPGA that fits in the same space as an 8-pin DIP.

FPGAs are usually stuffed into huge packages – an FPGA with 100 or more pins is very common. [antti] found the world’s smallest FPGA. It’s just 1.4 x 1.4mm on a wafer-scale 16-pin BGA package. The biggest problem [antti] is going to have with this project is finding a board and assembly house that will be able to help him.

The iCE40 UltraLite isn’t a complex FPGA; there are just 1280 logic cells and 7kByte of RAM in this tiny square of programmable logic. That’s still enough for a lot of interesting stuff, and putting this into a convenient package is very interesting. The BOM for this project comes out under $5, making it ideal for experiments in programmable logic and education.

A $5 FPGA is great news, and this board might even work with the recent open source toolchain for iCE40 FPGAs. That would be amazing for anyone wanting to dip their toes into the world of programmable logic.

The 2015 Hackaday Prize is sponsored by:

Astronaut Or Astronot: Win $1000 For Clicking A Button

Over the last few weeks, we’ve had a lot of fun running the Community Voting for The Hackaday Prize. We’ve been offering up a $1000 gift card for The Hackaday Store to a random person on Hackaday.io if they have voted in the latest round of community voting. Unfortunately all of our weekly random drawings for someone on Hackaday.io has come up empty-handed.

Now we’re changing it. Due to popular demand, someone who has voted in the latest round of Community Voting will win a $1000 gift card. We will draw a winner this week! We’re giving away a thousand dollar gift card to a random person who has voted in the latest round of community. It’s the change you’ve asked for.

Next Wednesday, July 8th at around 22:00 UTC, I’m going to find a random person on Hackaday.io. If that person has voted, they get $1000. If not, I’m going to choose someone who has voted and give them a $1000 gift card. It’s really that simple. If you vote in the current round of Community Voting, you have a good chance at winning a thousand dollar gift card for the Hackaday Store.

What do you need to do to get in on the action? Go here and choose the most Amazingly Engineered project. You will be presented with two projects. Pick the project that is the more ‘amazingly engineered’ project. That’s it. That’s all you have to do. Show up and vote!

Hackaday Prize Entry: What To Do With A Bunch Of Old Computer Adapters

Back in the old days of 2014 when Radio Shack still existed, you could drive up to any strip mall in America and buy D-sub connectors that were made all the way back in 1972. Yes, connectors for all those SCSI, serial, parallel, and other weird ports you’d find on old computers could be bought for less than five dollars. For some reason or another, [yesnoio] has a ton of these connectors. Not just the connectors, but also those little plastic shells that clip onto the connectors. What to do with them? Retro Modules! It’s basically LittleBits if LittleBits were invented in 1987.

The goal of Retro Modules is to be able to put prototypes into your backpack without tearing a wire or two out of a breadboard. The basic foundation is to have a specification that outlines the pinout of DB-25 and DE-9 connectors, using these signals for power, an I²C bus,. analog lines, and SPI lines. Put a microcontroller in one of these plastic shells, a sensor in another, and a display in a third; you have an electronics prototyping platform that was designed in the backroom of a Radio Shack.

[yesnoio] has a Getting Started guide that takes you through the creation of the first three Retro Modules. The first is an Arduino nano or micro stuffed into a plastic shell with one female DA-15 connector. The second module is just a LED and resistor, and the third is just a servo. These can be connected together, and controlled because of the specification lined out. It’s brilliant, a little bit crazy, and something that has the potential to be much, much cooler than any electronics prototyping platform you’ll find at Maker Faire.

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Hackaday Prize Entry: An E-Juice Robot

E-cigarettes are increasingly popular, with weird hipster head shops popping up in towns around the globe. While you can buy this e-juice at gas stations and just about anywhere else analog cigarettes are sold, there are inevitably people who want to mix their own propylene glycol, glycerin, water, and nicotine. For them, [conklinnick] is building The End Of An Evil Industry, an e-juice printer that automates the entire process.

This ‘e-juice printer’ is designed to mix the basic ingredients of the consumables for e-cigarettes. These ingredients are propylene glycol and/or glycerin, water, flavorings, and nicotine. [conklinnick]’s project is using different ‘stations’ and a camera slider to dispense these ingredients into a small vial. It’s effectively a barbot dispensing ingredients for silly putty instead of alcohol.

It’s a great project, and although it’s not for everybody – nor should it be for everybody – it’s a great application of homebrew tech we already have for new uses.


The 2015 Hackaday Prize is sponsored by: