Weekend Proves Hardware Wins Hackathons

Teams hacking on hardware won big this weekend in New York. There were ten teams that answered Hackaday’s call as we hosted the first ever hardware hackathon at the Tech Crunch Disrupt NYC. These teams were thrown into the mix with all of the software hackers TC was hosting and rose to the top. Eight out of our ten teams won!

As we suspected, having something physical to show off is a huge bonus compared to those showing apps and webpages alone. Recipe for awesome: Mix in the huge talent pool brought by the hardware hackers participating, then season with a dash of experience from mentors like [Kenji Larson], [Johngineer], [Bil Herd], [Chris Gammell], and many more.

Out of over 100 teams, first runner-up went to PicoRico, which built a data collection system for the suspension of a mountain bike. The Twillio prize went to Stove Top Sensor for Paranoid, Stubburn Older Parents which adds cellphone and web connectivity to the stove, letting you check if you remembered to turn off the burns. The charismatic duo of fifteen-year-olds [Kristopher] and [Ilan] stole the show with their demonstration of Follow Plants which gives your produce a social media presence which you can then follow.

We recorded video and got the gritty details from everyone building hardware during the 20-hour frenzy. We’ll be sharing those stories throughout the week so make sure to check back!

Hack with Us in the City that Never Sleeps

We’re hosting one day of hacking in New York City next week. Stretch your skills with the power of deadlines and you can be immortalized in Hackaday history. If that kind of cred doesn’t do it for you, Hackaday is bringing along $1500 in prizes and there’s another $5000 cash prize at stake as well.

Only Hackaday can bring hardware to the TechCrunch NYC Hackathon on May 2nd. We need you to make it happen. Get your free ticket now (UPDATE: Our special tickets are all sold out but you might still be able to get some in the last few ticket releases. Check back often.). From there join the comment thread on our events page to connect with the rest of us who will be there.

Break the Hardware and Software Divide

techcrunch-disrupt-hackathon-2014Check out these pictures of last year’s TechCrunch hackathon. There’s a ton of people, they all seem to be having fun, but when it comes down to the end, they’re pointing to the screens of their Macbooks. This year you need to break that mold and and rise to the top with a hardware product to hold up as you are awarded TechCrunch’s comically large $5000 check.

Holding a hunk of hardware with electrons running through its veins is way more hardcore than software alone. We will end the segregation of software-only and hardware-only hackathons. After all, most hardware hacks these days are also software hacks. Team up with one of the iOS/Android app groups and add hardware to the mix. We want to see at least twenty of those tables strewn with jumper wires, breakout boards, and soldering irons. And we want to see someone from the Hackaday Community win this thing. So here’s the agreement — we’ll get you in, we’ll bring the hardware, you bring the awesome.

All Work and No Play (yeah right)

Ha! Like that has ever been our mantra. This is going to be a blast and because of it the Hackaday crew is flocking to town from all over the country. Confirmed so far are [Adam], [Alek], [Amar], [Brian], [Chris], [Jasmine], [Matt], [Mike], [Rob], [Sophi], and [Theodora]. We’re there to have fun, and you’re invited.

Most of the crew will arrive in town on Thursday night and we’ll definitely be meeting up. Anyone who registers for the Hackathon is invited for these pre-game festivities. Drop a comment on the events page and we’ll PM you details about where and when. But at the event our collective skills will be available to get your project past the sticking points. Of course we also need many hands to distribute all the swag we’re bringing along.

Hackaday part of TechCrunch NY Hackathon

The Hackaday Prize Worldwide is coming to New York! Hackaday is adding a hardware-centric twist to the TechCrunch Disrupt in May. They’re kicking off the conference with a weekend hackathon which traditionally has been a software event. This year Hackaday is partnering with TC to make a change. If you’re a software-only sort of person, grabbing a ticket to the event is extremely tough. But those Hackaday community members who want to prove they can make electrons do their bidding still have hope; Hackaday can get you in!

Twenty Hours of Hardware

Show up at 12:30pm on Saturday, May 2nd. By 9:30am the next morning you must have a working piece of hardware having been totally built on-site. Starting at 11am on Sunday you have 60-seconds to show off your build. We’re not kidding around when we say the judging criteria for this hackathon is “Awesomeness”. TC is putting up $5,000 to the winning team. Obviously someone who hangs out around Hackaday should be the winner here so go sign up!

Ticket Registration is a Hack:

TC hackathon tickets are released in shifts and gobbled up immediately, but because you are a friend of Hackaday we’ll can get you in for some epic hardware hacking. Even signing up is a bit of hack but here’s how:

  1. Follow this link which includes a promo code to get a Hackers – Friends of TC ticket
  2. Form/Find a team (up to 5 people) in advance through ChallengePost or you may do so onsite. You’ll notice the tags are software-related so put in “other” and add “hardware” and specific tags you can think of.

The Hardware

We’ll be bringing the basics: lots of dev boards, sensor breakout boards, and tools you need to hook them together. We’ll be posting information about the items we are bringing on our Hackaday Prize Worldwide: New York City page. Make sure you check in for updates so that you can familiarize yourself with what we’ll have on-hand. It is highly recommended that you set up any IDE or other dev tools before arriving at the event.


The 2015 Hackaday Prize is sponsored by:

PDF redaction still not working

facebook

Facebook’s internal valuation was revealed this week thanks to shoddy PDF redaction. Court documents from a settlement between Facebook and ConnectU showed that Facebook values itself at $3.7 billion, much less than the $15 billion that was speculated during the Microsoft investment. The AP uncovered this by cutting and pasting from the redacted court document. It’s the same thing we showed in our PDF redaction screencast last summer… and it will never cease to be funny.

[photo: Bryan Veloso]

Hackit: Netbook haters?

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Gadget blogs have been a fluster the last day about TechCrunch stating that netbooks “just aren’t good enough“. Writing a response post hasn’t proven very hard given the number of factual errors in the original. Boing Boing Gadgets points out that the low-end of the spectrum that TC post seems to cover are almost impossible to purchase because they’re so outdated. Liliputing rightly states that comparing the browsing experience to the iPhone isn’t worthwhile since it’s entirely a software problem. Laptop goes so far as to recommend the HP Mini 1000 and Samsung NC10 specifically for their keyboard. TechCrunch isn’t alone in their opinion; this week Intel stated that using the ultra portable devices was “fine for an hour“. TechCrunch is designing a web tablet right now using the collective wisdom of blog commenters. Looks like they’re just reboxing a netbook for the prototype.

We cover the netbook market for different reasons than most: Their low low price makes people much more willing to hack on the device. For the price of a smartphone, you’re getting a fully capable laptop. The low performance doesn’t matter as much since we’re running different flavors of Linux that are much lighter than Windows. People running OSX86 are doing it to address a market that Apple doesn’t.

What’s your experience with netbooks? Do you have one that you adore or are you annoyed by their shortcomings? Models we’ve covered in the past include the Acer Aspire One, Asus Eee PC, Dell Mini 9, and MSI Wind.

[Photo: Onken Bio-pot]

Hackit: Designing a web tablet for $200


TechCrunch is asking its readers to help them design a web tablet costing just under $200. They claim that there does not yet exist a cheap and usable web tablet designed for things like browsing, web conferencing, mail, chat, and VoIP. Here are some of the specs they are asking for:

  • thin as possible
  • touch screen (except for power button)
  • WiFi
  • video camera and low-end speakers
  • 4 Gigabyte hard drive
  • 1/2 Gigabyte of RAM
  • Linux and Firefox (in kiosk mode)
  • no desktop interface

We are not completely sure that this device does not exist in some form. Tablets have been around for a while and many cover most of these features. Consider the Nokia N800 or the Pepper Pad.

We also think the TechCrunch readers, who generally concern themselves with what they can buy rather than what they can make, are not really the best crowd for this job. Considering our reader’s abilities to do things on the cheap, we thought we would pose the question ourselves with our own spin. What old and cheap hardware could you re-purpose to create this product?