The Hackaday Prize: You Build Open Hardware, We Send You To Space



For weeks we’ve been teasing you that something BIG was coming. This is it. Six months from now one hardware hacker will claim The Hackaday Prize and in doing so, secure the grand prize of a trip into space.

You have the skills, the technology, and the tenacity to win this. Even if you don’t take the top spot there’s loot in it for more than one winner. To further entice you, there are eyebrow-raising prizes for all five of the top finishers, and hundreds of other rewards for those that build something impressive. You can win this… you just need to take the leap and give it your all.

Wait, what?


We want the next evolution of connected devices to happen now and we want it to be Open. Why shouldn’t Hackaday be the biggest cheerleader, encourager, and enabler for the cause of Open Hardware?

Build a piece of hardware that moves past the rut of “Internet-enabled refrigerators” and billion dollar thermostats (we couldn’t resist). Think big, come up with a piece of hardware that has the potential to change the lives of many. Or just build something silly and fun. But do it at a high level, and share your work. We’re not disqualifying entries that don’t share their secrets, but we are giving a strong judging preference on just how open each design will be.

It’s no secret that Hackaday is in favor of Open Design. The benefits of Open Hardware and Open Source software are vast for all of society. Stop banging your head against the same wall that has already been broken down by another engineer who posted the solution for all to see. Learn new skills by reading the code of masters and studying the design files of successful products. But for this to happen, the Openness must grow.

You’ll Be in Good Hands

We like to think we know a thing or two about this stuff. But for a trip into space Hackaday reached out and recruited remarkable people to judge your work. So far, the panel includes: (alphabetical order) Limor “Ladyada” Fried, Jack Ganssle, Joe Grand, Bunnie Huang, Dave Jones, Ian Lesnet, Sprite_TM, and Elecia White are all on board. We expect a few others to join and will update as that happens. If you know them or follow them on social media, please reach out and say thank you. We’re both honored and lucky to have them for The Hackaday Prize.

Hackaday Needs Your Help!

Obviously we need to you to enter the contest and build something awesome. But we really need your help getting the word out too. For one thing, this is a great way to encourage more Open Design in the projects and products we see. But wouldn’t it be awesome to see The Hackaday Prize as a recurring challenge? It all hinges on the success of the program we launched this morning.

Please publicize in as many ways possible. Call in favors from your friends who work in media, post it to your blog, Tweet about it until your fingers bleed, post on Reddit, Facebook, MySpace (kidding…), and anywhere else that will let you sing the praises of the awesomeness that is this initiative. The the hashtag #TheHackadayPrize and let’s see how far we can get with this thing!

You have the heartfelt thanks from all of the Hackaday crew for anything you can do to share the message. Thank you! Now get hacking.

166 thoughts on “The Hackaday Prize: You Build Open Hardware, We Send You To Space

  1. ” for building the next evolution of hardware” That’s a damn high bar to cleareven for a team of professional engineers. No doubt there are such teams trying to do that everyday. What happens if a winning entry is so similar to one of those efforts and that team cries foul? “… You won’t be disqualified for keeping the secret sauce a secret.” “In other words: we want to reward Open Hardware and Open Source Software.”; So in other words, if you want a shot at the top five prizes, no secrete sauces. I’m unlikely to participate, to those that do I wish them an enjoyable and safe diversion from their normal daily grind.

    1. Yeah I prefer not to have a contest to develop (aka a time limit, tick tock goes the clock); especially if it’s going to be groundbreaking physics (very hard, got to get lucky). Will be interesting to see the results though still b/c it’s a hefty chunk of cash. I don’t know whether to scrap my builds I was working on now or just put them in the contest.

  2. “It must involve some type of electronics that are connected to something”

    Uhm, I’m struggling to think how you can have any electronic component that isn’t connected to another in order to do anything. If you have a transistor, and a something driving that transistor, by definition those two things are connected.

    Or are you talking about some sort of communications protocol? In which case, how complicated protocol is necessary, because again, pushing on a transistor’s base is communication of sorts.

    Or are you talking about being “internet connected”? In which case does that mean that some system involving a local network is excluded?

    Or are you talking about a general “network connected” thing? In which case does that mean that a system consisting of a pair devices with a specific communications protocol between them is excluded?

    I think that you really should firm up the requirements here, it would be pretty annoying for people to put in a lot of work only to be told “sorry that’s not what we were thinking of when we said “connected to something”.

    1. I have $621; sometimes the most ingenious hackers make due w/ nothing b/c it forces you to hack b/c you can’t buy your way out w/ easier pre-made components. But seriously though, that doll is going to give me a nightmare. Anything but the freaky zombie doll w/ LED’s in her eyes and hair hackaday!

    2. given that I rarely leave my over draft, I’ve got less than that.

      But if you’re so broke, then consider the $200k prize, or a trip to space incentive to make a good idea.

      A lack of funds will likely make sure that whatever you make is properly designed *before* you pay to get boards made etc…

      Plus, I kind of have to ask, how expensive of a project are you planning to make?

  3. Great contest. Congrats to the winner. Newbies like me, with limited electronics “knowledge” or limited access to tools and other hardware will never have the chance to win this thing. It would have been better to lower the “standards” and to give everyone an equal chance to win.

  4. …:O

    WOW… No other website has ever had such an awesome prize up for grabs!

    My Wife made me promise I’ll take the cash instead of go to space though – I’ll get her convinced though!

    1. Ha!

      I’m sure my wife would say the same thing…

      But a trip to space. common!

      Do the prize rules allow for taking a significant other (wife/husband/girlfriends/boyfriends), or a child? (assume your own child!).

      I’m assuming that if you had a group of 20 enter, and that’s all one person from a 3 kid family then the answer may be no, (that’s 100 people).

      But if you enter on your own and have wife and 1 child, then that’s only 3 people to go on the trip?

      In short, I really want to go to space, but I also like having a wife, not accepting $200k cash and going to space without her might sour things a little…

  5. I actually have a million dollar idea that I’ve been sitting on for a few years that would fit this contest nicely. I think it might be time to come up with plan to drag it off of the drawing board. I too, am wondering if launching a Kickstarter is fair game to fund a prototype. In my case it would require a small seed to get a working “system”.

  6. “Post a YouTube video which is no longer than 2 minutes that describes and demonstrates your entry. Tag the video “TheHackadayPrize””

    Why not vimeo? The damn presentation video is on vimeo. And some of us don’t like google and prefer to avoid them as much as possible, so it would be more reasonable to be a bit flexible in regards to the location of video.

    “Residents of these area are specifically excluded from entry: Italy, Quebec, Cuba, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Sudan, Syria, or any jurisdiction where the Prize would be restricted or prohibited by law.”

    TIL italy and quebec are considered to fit in the category syria and north-korea and such…wut?

      1. Incidentally, weird URL there with the .io, which is the tld of “British Indian Ocean Territory” I understand.

        Indian ocean, where reportedly weird things happen to boeings too O_o
        And it includes an island called ‘diego garcia’ where the british and US have a combined military presence and where the native population was removed in the 60’s so it’s nice and private,. and which seems to have a nice landingstrip too… the plot thickens

  7. Impressive! I thought the free T-Shirt was generous for the L.A. Gathering. Seriously, the odds are very good considering:
    (HAD Readers) – (self doubters) – (over worked) – (unforeseen failure) = several hundred people

    Good luck to the inspired ones!

  8. I like how it has vague criteria and I had a great idea for the contest! Then I learned it has to connect to the internet, which I find to be rather limiting, so sadly, I will not be able to participate.

    1. Not the internet. Just connected.

      So you could build a mesh network, or a set of devices that talk to each other. A remote control car is a connected device. Think creatively and you’ll soon find that most things are connected in one way or another.

  9. I was amazed when I read “Think big, come up with a piece of hardware that has the potential to change the lives of many.” above, as I’ve been working on something down these lines lately, but just until I happened to read on the official rules:

    “Internet access, a Twitter or Facebook account, a YouTube account and a personal and project profile page on are required to participate.”

    While not everyone can have internet access at home, I still believe uploading from a public library wouldn’t disqualify anybody as long as he/she can keep things going and meet deadlines.

    A Youtube account to upload videos, and a profile to keep update logs and all the info related to the project is also easily understandable.

    But a facebook or twitter account? Man, I’m personally so contrary to all this “social” stupidity, that wouldn’t even
    support any of these by creating an account in first place. Not even when, apparently, an empty/unused account would allow me to qualify for a $200k price, so I think I’m off this competition.

    Also, where it says:

    “The project must be a connected device (i.e., transmits information through the Internet).”

    Leaves a bit unclear whether the requirement is actually some dumb hardware (must be connected to something else to do some useful work), or a device per se (can connect to other hardware whatever the bus and protocol to achieve some common goal, but can still be used without relying on data transmission to do some useful work on it’s own).

    My case is the latter. I actually fail to see how dumb hardware could change the life of many, but of us, living in the 1st world.

    And while I actually appreciate a lot the attitude, time, effort, and funds put into having hardware and hacks in the public domain, far from patents and other absurds forbidding global development, how could authors be sure that whatever they’d publish on `’ this time around would stay in the public domain for the benefit of all?.

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