555 Design Contest, Win $1500+ In Prizes!

Sure, microcontrollers are useful, easy to apply, and ubiquitous, but where is the fun in the easy route? Well, for those of you out there with a little imagination and a 555 timer sitting around, there could be rewards in store. Brought to you by such famous personalities as Jeri Ellsworth and Chris Gammell, the 555 contest has prizes and awards for a number of different categories, such as over the top designs as well as awards for most minimalistic. To top it all off, they are even selling T-shirts to benefit engineering education charities.

The craziest (and possibly coolest) part of the entire contest is that the it has all been put together by the hacking community, with no exclusive sponsorship deals or payment to the organizers being accepted. In the spirit of giving, we will be adding some Hack a Day merch to the swag pile, so keep an eye out for the skull and wrenches. Currently the prize list includes a pair of Beagle Boards, a custom hacked Commodore 64 Joystick from Jeri, as well as a number of other project parts and lots more. The sponsorship list is still growing, so all of our information is tentative (and exclusive!), but be sure to check out the complete list so far after the break.

Here is the tentative list of prizes. Subject to change.

  • Eagle Pro (Layout+Schematic+Autorouter) from Element14 and Cadsoft
  • Free shipping on 555’s with no minimum from Element14
  • Hacked C64 Joystick from me
  • 20sq in of PCB from @laen and DorkbotsPDX PCB pool
  • OLED displays from Savage Circuits
  • Maker T-Shirts from MakerTees.com
  • 2 Beagle Boards
  • Hackaday stickers and shirts
  • Altium FPGA Nanoboard
  • Extech’s “five for five” free pen meters to random contestants
  • Extech’s Multiscope
  • SumoBot Competition Kit from Parallax Inc and Digikey
  • Oomlout Arduino Kit

Special prizes:

  • 40 Text LCD Modules from EEvblog for the best Aussie project
  • To be determined prize for the best under 18yrs old entry. This will include adult/child entries.

35 thoughts on “555 Design Contest, Win $1500+ In Prizes!

  1. I have been reading about this for a few weeks on Twitter. It looks really exciting. If you don’t follow Jeri Ellsworth on there already then I would you might like to add her.

  2. I love the claim that it has been put together by the “hacking community”. This community knows virtually nothing of real hacking. It’s a bunch of people, copying each others ideas – Ideas that were concieved by actual hackers, a long time ago.

    Yes, there are a few really creative things that pop up here and there that might actually qualify as “hacks”, but a majority of the stuff on this (and similar) sites is comprised of unoriginal ideas and copied instructions for someone else to copy again.

  3. I love people who come to websites to trash talk the very website they are on. *facepalm. Holy crap it should be the new definition of dumb shit. No one asked you to be here genius, go eat a shit if you don’t like it.

  4. It says “a little imagination and a 555 timer sitting around” are we limited to a single 555? There are a few good ideas I can think of with a single 555, but allowing more opens up a great number of possibilities.

  5. Jeri, Can’t wait to see what people come up with(hopefully you’ll have a place where we can go see the ideas after the contest is over). I have a drawer full of 555s that I’ve had for years and would love to make something fun with them. Unfortunately I cant design myself but, as an electronics manufacturing engineer, I can build stuff. Looking forward to seeing the results!

  6. A project of mine uses 555s for control and EVERYONE asks me if its an ardino running the projects. That just goes to show everyone only uses them for blinking lights (ardunos, I mean). Although I only use two in my project and they are far outnumbered by the other components, they are pivotal to its function and no mcu anywhere.

    I once had a guy proclaim to me “GAH! A 555? There is too much math and formulation to bother with those beasties!” Me? I just grabbed a couple random resistors and the one electrolytic cap I had handy to build it, all I needed was a relatively quick timing signal, I don’t care about the precision of the 1/0 timings. In fact the project looks best with skewed/unpredictable timings!

    Srsly, if you don’t care about precision timing, 555s are cake.

  7. Well let’s just hope there be no problem with sending a prize to Romania. :P If i get my act together my project will be done in a couple weeks – i’ve done it before only not to the degree of refinement needed to enter such a contest.

  8. Hey Bogdan,

    We’re not planning on claiming rights on any circuits or designs, but we will try to publish results on our page so everyone has a central place to see them. I’d guess you’ll probably see some of the entries pop up on Hackaday and elsewhere, but only because we’re expecting some seriously good entires. Because we’re trying to be open about everything, we don’t want to just list the winners…we want to show WHY someone won. So if you think you have an idea you want to keep to yourself, it might not be the best forum for it. However, we hope you do, we’d love to show off your design skill and whatever you come up with. Good luck!


  9. Got the breadboard ready, power supply set to 5V…now to get a few parts out of the bin, and a building I will go. “The 555…analog in, digital out…or is it?” Have I got a project…muhahah

    The “Aussie Prize” will be about 80 x 16×2 LCD display modules, not 40. A “lifetime” supply surely!
    And yes, it’s only for Aussie entrants, judged by me. So if you are the only Aussie entrant, you win by default!


  11. Hi,

    The free 555 shipping as a prize from Element14?? Surely that’s during the contest – or is it actually a lifetime supply of shipping for 555s xD

    Definitely having a go though – LOVE the contest!!!


  12. @Erik Johnson: For simple tasks like blinking LEDs I prefer the Tiny series of Atmel microcontrollers. They require a much smaller part count to make them work (decoupling cap and an optional reset pullup).
    Plus, Tiny4 for example is really small (SOT23-6 package).
    The downsides are the input voltage and the output current.

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