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.

The 2015 Hackaday Prize is sponsored by:

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:

Hackaday Prize Entry: Laptop Batteries For A Power Bank

USB power banks – huge batteries that will recharge your phone or tablet – are ubiquitous these days. You can buy them at a gas station or from your favorite online retailer in any capacity you would ever want. Most of these power banks have a tremendous shortcoming; they need to charge over USB. With a 10,000 mAh battery, that’s going to take a while.

We already have batteries with huge capacities, are able to charge quickly, and judging from a few eBay auctions, can be picked up for a song. [Kumar] is working on a device that leverages these batteries – and the electronics inside of them – to build a smarter power bank.

Right now, [Kumar] is working with Dell Latitude D5xx/D6xx replacement batteries that he can pick up easily. These batteries have an SMBus interface, and with a low power ARM microcontroller and a TI BQ24725a, he has everything he needs to efficiently and safely charge these batteries.

[Kumar] says he’s looking for some community suggestions and feature requests for his project. If you have any, be sure to drop them over on his project page.

The 2015 Hackaday Prize is sponsored by:

Hackaday Prize Entry: Circular Knitting Machines

Deep in the recesses of a few enterprising hackerspaces, you’ll find old electronic knitting machines modified for use with modern computers. They’re cool, and you can knit colorful designs, but all of these machines are ultimately based on old equipment, and you’ll have a hard time building one for yourself.

For their entry to the Hackaday Prize, [Mar] and [Varvara] is building a knitting machine from scratch. Not only is it a 3D printed knitting machine anyone can build given enough time and plastic, but this machine is a circular knitting machine, something no commercial offering has yet managed.

We saw [Mar] and [Varvara]’s Circular Knitic last January, but this project has quite the pedigree. They originally started on their quest for a modern knitting machine by giving a new brain to old Brother machines. This was an incredible advancement compared to earlier Brother knitting machine hacks; before, everyone was emulating a floppy drive on a computer to push data to the machine. The original Knitic build did away with the old electronics completely, replacing it with a homebrew Arduino shield.

While the Circular Knitic isn’t completely 3D printed, you can make one in just about any reasonably equipped shop. It’s a great example of a project that’s complex and can be replicated by just about anyone, and a perfect example of a project for The Hackaday Prize.

Check out the video of the Circular Knitic below.

The 2015 Hackaday Prize is sponsored by:

Continue reading “Hackaday Prize Entry: Circular Knitting Machines”

THP Community Voting: Results & A New Round

Last Friday we wrapped up a round of community voting for The Hackaday Prize. The theme? Most Likely To Save The Planet. Now it’s time for some results:

2015THPVotingRound2 (2)

The projects voted Most Likely To Save The Planet by the Hackaday.io community are, in order:

Congratulations to everyone who has a project that was voted up to the top. Even though these rounds of community voting don’t decided which projects make it into the Hackaday Prize semifinals, you’ve earned the respect of your peers and a nifty Hackaday Prize t-shirt.

Since NIRGM – Non-Invasive NIR Glucose Meter won last week, we’re moving down the list to #11 and awarding SciPlo a Hackaday Prize t-shirt as well.

A New Round Of Voting!

This week, we’re asking the Hackaday.io community to vote for the most Amazingly Engineered project entered into the Hackaday Prize. To entice everyone to vote, I’m going to pick a random Hackaday.io user next Friday around 22:00 UTC. If that person has voted, they get a $1000 gift card for the Hackaday Store. If that person has not voted, I’ll be giving a few prizes away to people who have voted. Last week, we gave away a SmartMatrix, an Analog Stepper Gauge, and a Simon Says kit. We’ll probably change that up this week; I don’t know what it will be, but someone who votes will get something. Imagine; giving away stuff just for clicking a button. How magnanimous can we get?

As with every community voting update, it is requested that you vote. If you need a nudge to understand how this works, here’s a video tutorial on how to vote.