BBB #1: The Santa-pede Challenge

Welcome to the first Buy Break Build at hackaday,  sponsored by Adafruit Industries and Make. This challenge will be focusing on dancing Santas, or what is inside them. We’ve seen them everywhere, and may even have one or two in an attic somewhere. These annoying little guys should have enough bits and pieces inside to build some pretty interesting stuff. This time, we want to see a multi-legged walking device. We don’t care if it has 2 legs, 7 legs, or 32 legs, as long as it “walks” using its legs.

Join us after the break for the rules, the prize breakdown, and to find out who the guest judge will be!

The challenge:
Acquire a dancing Santa. We don’t care which one it is, how much you spend, how big it is etc. We know there are tons of models out there ranging from dancing Christmas [Homer Simpson] to giant life sized Santa.  It might be a good idea to do some patent searches first to figure out what is inside. Here’s an example of what you can find (pdf).

Tear the Santa apart and use the pieces to build a multi legged walking thing. There are tons of ways to pull this off. Try to use only the pieces that came from the Santa. You may add tape/glue and solder (as well as batteries). We realize that you may absolutely have to add some stuff to get your plan working. Please document exactly what you added as this will be one of the judging points.

Photograph and document the entire process and submit it to us by November 30th.

Your entries will be judged by the Hackaday staff, as well as our guest judge [Phillip Torrone]. For those who are unfamiliar, [Phillip] was the founder of Hackaday. Judging will be based on the final result, the presentation, how many external parts were used, and how well it is documented.

There will be three winners chosen, each with their own strong point.

The best result: This project will walk somewhat efficiently using the least amount of external parts. We’re going for function over form on this one.

The best presentation: Your walking machine will look fantastic. Your cuts are smooth, your motion is fluid, your photos are delightful… maybe it doesn’t work that well, but it looks great.

The most overkill: So you decided to put a 6hp Briggs and Stratton engine in there instead of following the rules and you managed to make it actually work. What’s that? You also programmed it to retrieve frosty beverages? Sweet! We’ll give you an award for that.

The prizes for the Santa-pede challenge have been supplied by Adafruit Industries and are as follows.

Best Result: The Mintyboost. The Mintyboost is a battery charger for your mobile devices. Just plop 2 AA batteries into the nifty altoids tin case and you’re ready to start charging.

Best Presentation: The Drawdio. A peculiar instrument that makes noise based on the motion of the writing utensil you’ve attached it to.

Most Overkill: The Brain Machine. A set of glasses that flashes pulses of light into your eyes. The claim is that it can put you into a meditative state by synchronizing your brainwaves. We just think they look cool.

We will also be choosing one out of the above three to win a box set of the first year of Make Magazine courtesy of the . This decision will be based on a whim mostly, but will probably go to the person who does the best in more than one category.

FAQ: –this will be updated as people as questions. It’s our first, so there will be a few —

  • How many times can I enter?
    You can enter as many times as you want. We don’t mind.
  • Can I melt the plastic to completely change the shape?
    Absolutely. That sounds awesome.
  • What should I submit to you, a pdf? a website?
    We’re pretty open to what you give us. Ultimately, we want to post your writeup on hackaday so a pdf or word document would work. We won’t turn down other formats though. Keep those original pictures though. We don’t want to have to pull them out of a document if we re-publish yours!

33 thoughts on “BBB #1: The Santa-pede Challenge

  1. Thanks you for spending all that time supporting the spirit we all like !

    What is the due date ? My personnal feeling would be that it should be /after/ christmas so we can buy all those $2 unsolds.
    Well, maybe hacking is no longer about having fun for $2 in the garage at 2 a.m. but is now about having a great christmas with family… Things are changing :)

  2. I don’t think there is enough time for me to purchase any of these online. They do look like the perfect evil creatures for hacking. I’ll be keeping my eyes open for a local supply.

    Ending Nov 30 is a good timing for the ho-ho season.

    BTW – If you’re not adverse to shipping, search for “a09102600ux0005” with a search engine then use “1EA6WJQMA2” as a discount code you’ll be looking at the cheapest I’ve found yet.

  3. I don’t see dancing santas haveing many parts. Some plastic, some plastic gears, a motor, and an annoying singing circuit.

    Maybe I should find some with the motion detection circuit. Convert the circuit for use as a quadrane encoder. Use the motors and the encoders to build a mill and then use that to make parts for an octo-pod.

    Only question would be … which category would that win?

  4. I think it’d be funny to have a category like, “Most Ghetto” or “Cheapest.” It would be something along the lines of what Afrotech tries to capture. Bonus points would be awarded for sourcing parts from junk, or using only components from the theme item.

    P.S. I’m broke.

  5. For those of you worried about the mechanical portion of this project look into passive dynamic walking. Here is a wonderful paper on it: .

    Also, be careful with which dancing santa you chose. As stated in the contest post several different variants exist. I will say that some will be much easier to modify than others. Before purchasing one and ripping it apart try to find it online.

    Happy Hacking.


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