Renesas RX Design Contest: $110K+ Of Cash And Prizes

It seems that we have caught Design Contest Fever here at Hackaday. After covering some other design contests, and asking readers to send in more, we heard from a couple tippers about Renesas’ challenge. Like many of the other contests, entrants can submit their ideas, and possibly receive a free development board to get them started. Unlike the other contests though, Renesas board (possibly) free development board is everything but the kitchen sink. Designed with RTOS’s in mind, rather than the normal microcontroller tasks, this board has an astounding number of capabilities.

On top of the excellent development kit, the contest is also offering books, software, and cash prizes to the winners. So get out there, design something amazing, and make Hackaday proud.

34 thoughts on “Renesas RX Design Contest: $110K+ Of Cash And Prizes

  1. I would love a chance to play with the board, but I can’t think of anything worth building with it. I’m used to simple circuits with a $5 uC and a few LEDs.

    Maybe Doppler Direction/Range Finding…? It’s been done already though.

  2. Just a tip: Don’t plug 12 VDC into the +5 jack like I did.

    I toasted a little 1-bit-wide level shifter for the CAN bus and the USB Host power controller.

    Removing them got the board working again thankfully.

    I’ve got to be more careful.

    But, this board has like 5,000 parts on it and they couldn’t put in a bridge and a 5 Volt regulator so we can use any old wallwart lying around?

    Still, it was 100% my fault for not readnig the silk.

  3. CutThroughStuffGuy – You can’t compare this thing to an Arduino. It’s triple the cost, much faster, and has so much more built in. From what I can see in the picture, it has an ethernet connector, two USBs, two audio jacks, an SD card slot, some sort of audio transducer, a potentiometer, several buttons, an LCD, several headers for an additional LCD and various other devices, some kind of serial connecter, a lot of LEDs… plus it has a much more advanced SDK.
    This is a professional board, not a cheap hobby board for learning to flash LEDs and print “Hello World” over serial.

  4. All signed up. Thought of a perfect application that will not only be useful but also make use of many of the onboard peripherals.

    They don’t really give you a lot of room to communicate your idea. Anyone else get to the max character limit and find that you can no longer edit your abstract? It wouldn’t even let me Ctl+C what I had, so I ended up having to retype it!

  5. “Anyone who is a resident of a country, province or state […] (including without limitation requirements that these Official Rules or other Contest materials be published in a language other than English) including without limitation residents of Puerto Rico and Quebec, Canada, is ineligible to enter the Contest.”

    Sorry, but that pisses me off. We’re not allowed to participate any f- contest outside Quebec.


  6. I had the exact same problem while I was typing out my abstract. You couldn’t ctrl+c it, but you could rclick to copy, then paste over it.

    I couldn’t think of a much better use for the board than in my undergrad research at school (phys chem), so I have a feeling my idea is going to end up being more specialized than they’d ideally like. Honestly, though, I’d just be happy with getting the board, even if I don’t have a great chance of winning.

  7. If it’s anything like the other Renesas boards then it’s horrible. The code is compiled using a Windows-only environment and it’s only been in the last few years that GCC has been ported to these platforms. Also, the board I was using was supposed to be programmed in ANSI standard C but that turned out not to be the case when using some pre-processor directives.

    I’m not a fan of Renesas. There are much better platforms out there from the likes of TI, Atmel, and others.

  8. @CutThroughStuffGuy
    Don’t mind Nicko01’s condescending comment.
    It’s just a bit faster and has more features, and a simple OS on top of it to let you run multiple ‘tasks’. Embedded software developers feel threatened by Arduino because they realize it’s not as difficult as they’d like to believe it is ;)

  9. I really hope that they haven’t run out of kits yet. Does anyone know what the status is on this? The latest update I can find is that 809 boards had been given away as of November 9th.

  10. @AntiMPAAMan


    >Renesas boards then it’s horrible.

    Now come on.. Renesas has a ton of architectures.
    Some from Hitachi, some from Mitsubishi and some from NEC IIRC. The H8 and SH stuff I have is great. It’s a shame the debugging stuff doesn’t work in non-windows environments.. but that’s the same for everything.

    >The code is compiled using a
    >Windows-only environment and
    >it’s only been in the last few
    >years that GCC has been ported

    Renesas pay Kpit to develop and support GCC+binutils toolchains for all of their processor lines IIRC. HEW is windows only..
    but from what I gather Renesas want people to use GCC and not their legacy C compilers.
    I think H8 support in binutils/GCC is older than AVR or support for any TI platform. And it works really really well.

    >ANSI standard C

    ANSI C doesn’t have support for processor specific stuff.. that’s what you have inline assembly etc for. GCC has a list of the attributes you need to add to for example make a function into an interrupt handler for each arch.
    The Renesas compilers had all of this too.

    >I’m not a fan of Renesas.

    I guess you had one board… and couldn’t work out how to use it? Couldn’t work out how to use it == Not my fault, bad tools right?

    >TI, Atmel, and others.

    And why is Renesas one of if not the biggest MCU supplier? The H8 is an awesome micro if you can get a board for it (hobby boards aren’t seen much outside of Japan), SH was the fastest arch per watt in the world for a long time.. R8C etc are great if you need something on the same level as an AVR.

  11. @CutThroughStuffGuy

    This isn’t an ATmega killer.. this is an ARM killer. The details are pretty limited on the architecture (I was guessing it was going to be a continuation of the SuperH line) unless you can be arsed to read the user manual for the RX62.
    This chip has tons of general purpose registers, hardware multiply and divide, hardware float instructions, proper DMA controller, USB and Ethernet controllers.. hell, it has a hardware CRC calculator.

    I guess the reason Renasas are giving away boards is to show people outside of Japan that there is something other than ARM or MIPS. A big problem for a hobbyist using Renesas parts is A: Only places like AkizukiDenshi in Japan sell hobby boards, B: Unless you can read Japanese you won’t have access to all of the example code, howto’s etc that are out there. But… the English user manuals are excellent!

  12. The Renesas stuff mostly pre-dates ARM. As cantido said, they’re a merger of Hitachi, NEC, and Mitsubishi microcontroller lines, All of which has relatively significant followings in certain markets. (but none in most hobbyist oriented markets.) Renesas is sorta holding on against ARM taking over.

    Comparing to Arduino… If you have to ask how it’s different, you probably need to stick to Arduino. Whatever other features the Renesas products might have, “Easy to use for beginners” is NOT one of them. (They’re probably not any worse than most mcus in the same class, but…)

  13. Dang it I wish I had the spare time. If anybody is board and want some suggestions.
    1. Autopilot. Add in a GPS, gyros, and a datalink like an XBee and you could have a complete autopilot.
    2. Automotive infotainment system. Add a GPS ,LCD ,an HD or flash drive and and IDE CD or DVD drive and you have a good start on a automotive infotainment system. I think it does have CAN on it so maybe an entire digital dash.
    3. Network attached home stereo system.. Okay a bit of over kill for this maybe depending on how bold one gets.
    4. Low power network monitoring system.
    5. Robot. Just go nuts maybe even use the kinnect with it.
    6. Home automation controller.

  14. I was one of the people who recieved a free board, and it’s all nice, but if you’ve never gone beyond arduino, stick with arduino… It has a header laid out for a character LCD, and silkscreens of the other headers on the bottom of the board, but a complete lack of documentation on how to do much more than what the board does when you plug it into USB…

  15. Posting in an ancient thread, but I was the guy who mentioned putting in an abstract regarding the physical chemistry research. Just got my board today. I’d totally forgotten about the contest, I’m stoked to have one to start playing with.

    We’re going to be working on interfacing it with the various heavy duty instruments around the chem building (Mass, HNMR, IR specs) for remote operation/data collection and transmission. There’s a lot of big modeling projects being worked on in our lab’s beowulf cluster, being able to stay there and get updates from the various instrument rooms in real time would be pretty useful.

  16. I also got my board today. I got the examples working, fun little thing. I am a bit annoyed that the compiler that came with it only has a 60 day full product evaluation until it gimps itself, but hey, beggars cannot be choosers.

  17. @Tom
    Interesting, my entry was about using it as a robotics control platform (that we use to do chemistry) We may have some of the same requirements and should consider working together on some of it.

  18. I had forgotten I put in for one of these, fedex knocked at the door and there it was. Very nice kit. Can’t wait to get it going. I started my project using the pic micros and I was banging my head against a pic related issue when fed ex arrived.
    Excellent timing !

  19. I too forgot about this. Assumed I had failed to meet the criteria. Now that its here, I’m impressed that it has more than I thought, and that it runs an OS (that seems closed, so idk) and I’m not sure what my next plans are…

  20. Anyone else notice some slight corrosion on the ethernet , usb ports area ? I had to clean that area with some alcohol . Not sure what the residue is, if its flux or something it picked up sitting on a shelf.

  21. Got an email from admin saying a package had arrived for me on campus, walk down to figure out what it is. See “Renesas” on package, never got an email or anything from them just showed up xD this thing rocks!

    Thought the LCD display was broken on my board, just had to tighten up the connector, everything is working perfect! Now I just need to get familiar with programming this thing…

  22. I just received mine :). Currently downloading the latest software, so I haven’t even fired it up but I’m excited. After working with the stk500 for a long time, it’s great to see all the extras stuffed into this thing. I’m going to try turning it into an accelerometer/temperature/pressure (using an ms5607) logger, with shutter control for a camera, then fly it on a balloon.

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