Hackaday and Adafruit Launch the Pi Zero Contest

Hackaday and Adafruit are teaming up to bring you the Pi Zero Contest. Unless you’ve been hiding out in your workshop for the past month or so, you probably already know The Pi Zero is the $5 Linux-based computer which has been taking the world by storm. Think you have the next great project for this single-board computer? Enter it for a chance to take home one of three $100 gift certificates to the Hackaday Store. We know Zeros have been hard to find, so we’ll be giving away 10 of them before the contest is over. Even if you don’t have a Pi Zero, read on!

This is all about documenting quality projects to Hackaday.io. We’re looking for well thought out, well documented builds intended for the Pi Zero. Any project submitted to this contest can also be rolled over to the 2016 Hackaday Prize. Think of it as getting a head start.

Here are the details:

  • From February 2nd, to February 20th, Lady Ada will make 10 ‘From the Desk of Lady Ada’ broadcasts focusing on this contest. During each broadcast she will present an idea for a Pi Zero Project. You don’t have to build Lady Ada’s projects, they’re starter ideas to get your wheels turning. If you don’t have a Raspberry Pi Zero, don’t worry! You can prototype with a Raspberry Pi Model B, or a Pi 2. There are also 10 Pi Zero boards up for grabs before the contest is over.
  • The deadline for winning a Pi Zero is 12:00am PST February 25th, 2016. The judges will pick the 10 most well thought out and well documented projects.
  • On February 29th, the judges will announce the winners of 10 Raspberry Pi Zero boards.
  • The grand prize for this contest is one of three $100 gift cards to the Hackaday store. The deadline to enter is 12:00 am PST March 14th, 2016.

Entering is easy.  All you have to do is submit your project. Just click the “Submit to” drop down list on your project page. Then select Adafruit Pi Zero Contest.

So fire up your soldering irons, warm up your 3D printers, and load up your favorite code editor. It’s time to start hacking!

Swapping GPIO Pins on the Pi Zero for Audio

The new Raspberry Pi Zero is generating a lot of discussion, especially along the lines of “why didn’t they include…?” One specific complaint has been that audio is only available through the HDMI port. That’s not entirely true as pointed out by Lady Ada over at Adafruit.

Something to remember about the entire Pi family is the pins on the Broadcom processors are multipurpose. Does it increase the confusion or the capabilities? Take your pick. But the key benefit is that different pins can handle the same purpose. For audio the Greater Than Zero Pis (GTZPi) use PWM0_OUT and PWM1_OUT on the processor’s GPIO pins 40 and 45. On the GRZPis these feed a diode, resistor and capacitor network that ends at the audio output jack. They don’t appear on the GPIO connector so cannot be used on the Zero.

The multi-pin, multi-purpose capability of the Broadcom processor allows you to switch PWM0_OUT to GPIO 18 and PWM1_OUT to GPIO 13 or 19. Add the network from the Adafruit note, or check this schematic from the Raspberry Pi site – look at the lower right on the second page.


While you’re checking out the audio hack at Adafruit, read through the entirety of Introducing the Raspberry Pi Zero. Lady Ada provides a great description of the Zero and what is needed to start using it.

If you’re looking for Zero hacking ideas you might check the comments in our announcement about the Zero or article on the first hack we received. There is a lot of grist for the hacking mill in them.

Pi Zero HackChat with Lady Ada

This Thursday, December 3rd, join us for a Live HackChat about the Raspberry Pi Zero with special guest [Limor Fried]. You may know [Limor] as [Lady Ada], the founder of Adafruit Industries. Adafruit has been on the forefront of the Pi Zero release. The $5 single board computer was announced one week ago by the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

Join in the chat to discuss the Raspberry Pi Zero. Limor has done a lot of work with the board already, including hacking analog audio back into the form factor. This is a great opportunity to ask questions, talk about your own plans for the hardware, and to find collaborators for future projects.

Pi Zero HackChat starts Thursday at 5pm PST (here’s a timezone cheat sheet if you need it). Participating in this live chat is very simple. Those who are already part of the Hacker Channel can simply click on the Team Messaging button. If you’re not part of the channel, just go to the hacker Channel page, scroll to the bottom of the “TEAM” list in the left sidebar and click “Request to join this project”.

HackChat takes place in the Hacker Channel every few weeks and is a friendly place to talk about engineering and the projects you’re working on.

Judge Spotlight: Limor “Ladyada” Fried


We sent off a list of questions, just like every week, and [Ladyada] offered to do a video response. How awesome is that? Not only did she answer our questions, but she talked at length for several of them. We’re biased, but her explanation about Adafruit’s manufacturing processes and options for home hackers to get boards spun was a real treat.

Perhaps we should step back for a minute though. In case you don’t know [Limor Fried], aka [Ladyada], is a judge for The Hackaday Prize which will award a trip into space and hundreds of other prizes for hackers who build connected devices that use Open Design (Open Hardware and Open Source Software). She’s the founder of Adafruit Industries, an MIT double-grad, and all around an awesome engineer!

Check out the video after the break. We’ve included a list of the questions and the timestamps at which they are answered.

Continue reading “Judge Spotlight: Limor “Ladyada” Fried”

[Ladyada’s] thoughts on quick-turn and small-run PCB houses

So you’ve mastered your PCB layout software, and it’s time to make the board. But if you don’t want to etch your own you’ve got to decided where to have it fabricated. There’s a slew of services out there, most of which you cannot afford, but the short list of those you can is still pretty long. We think this set of PCB fabrication house reviews will help you make your choice.

[Ladyada] — aka [Limor Fried] — knows what she’s talking about. She owns Adafruit Industries and has done the lion’s share of designing the many kits and items they sell. If you’re going to charge money for something it better work right, and that involves lots of prototypes. But even if you don’t need a quick turn-around or numerous testing boards the post is helpful as she also covers some of the batch producers we’re already familiar with. These include DorkBot PDX and BatchPCB to name a couple.

[via Reddit]

FLORA: a better Arduino LilyPad

[Ladyada] has been working on FLORA, her wearable electronics platform, for a few months now. Even though it has just been announced the specs look much better than the previous queen of the hill, the Arduino LilyPad.

Going down the spec sheet for both the FLORA and the LilyPad, we see that FLORA has twice as much flash and SRAM as the LilyPad. The LilyPad has more options for I/O, but [Ladyada]’s FLORA has the benefit of not using an ISP header for programming; FLORA is completely USB-compatable. FLORA is also about a quarter-inch in diameter smaller than the LilyPad, something to take into account when you’re going for a wearable project.

On top of Bluetooth, GPS, accelerometer, compass and other modules planned for FLORA ( it doesn’t look like they’re available yet, though), FLORA has USB HID support so it can operate as a USB keyboard, mouse, MIDI device, or connect to a cell phone. If you’ve ever wanted a keytar cardigan, this is the board for you.

Check out [Ladyada]’s video demo of a LED-equipped fabric after the break.

Continue reading “FLORA: a better Arduino LilyPad”

A beginner’s guide to burning Arduino bootloaders

When it comes to learning about microcontrollers, everyone has to start somewhere. [Lady Ada] recently posted a tutorial on burning the Arduino bootloader to standalone chips for those just getting started with the micro.

The tutorial cites a common situation, where someone is working on a project using an Arduino chip but they don’t want to sacrifice their dev board when just the micro and a few other components would do just fine. A short list of supplies is required, including an Arduino, a proto shield kit, a ZIF socket, and a blank ATmega chip.

The process is probably pretty straightforward and likely familiar to many of you out there. The ZIF socket is soldered to the board and handful of wires are added for powering and programming the new chip. The protoboard is installed on top of the Arduino like any other shield, and using a sketch that [Lady Ada] has made available, the bootloader burning process is a cinch.

It’s a useful tip for newcomers, and definitely a skill that seasoned Arduino users should have under their belts as well.