[Chris Anderson] Joins The Hackaday Prize As An Orbital Judge

[Chris Anderson] has had many labels in his lifetime: Punk rocker. Technology editor. Best selling author. UAV enthusiast. CEO. He now will also be able to add “Space Enabler” to that list as he joins The Hackaday Prize as an “Orbital Judge”. He will be on the panel choosing the Grand Prize winner (space-goer) from the list of five finalists. He joins the cast of “Launch Judges” who will be narrowing from 50 semifinalists down to 5.

Chances are that you already know [Chris] in one way or another. His book Free: The Future of a Radical New Price was an early analysis of how free and freemium models are changing the way that businesses connect with customers. On the hardware side of things he is the author of The Long Tail and Makers, both of which discuss the specialty hardware market that we so often explore around here. He has been an editor for Nature, Science, and The Economist. He served as the Editor in Chief of Wired for nearly 10 years, and most recently he started DIYdrones, the 50K+ member community that works on open source software and hardware for UAVs and RC controlled flyers. This spawned a company called 3DRobotics, of which he is the co-founder and CEO. 3DR continues to push the frontier of Open Source Hardware for hobbyists and professional drone users.

If you’ve been on the fence until now, this should convince you to take an afternoon to enter your project idea. You have until August 20th to document your concept of an Open, Connected device. Entry is easy and requires only that you outline your idea with a 2-minute video, proposed system diagram, and four project logs which may discuss different aspects of your plan. If you make the first cut of 50 in August, you’ll already be a winner of at the least a $1000 grab-bag of electronics. You’ll also be well on your way having [Chris] study your work as you advance to a functional prototype in November.

Want a step-by-step view of putting together an entry in under 4 minutes?

12 thoughts on “[Chris Anderson] Joins The Hackaday Prize As An Orbital Judge

  1. Chris, not sure if you will be reading comments or not but I thoroughly enjoyed your book Makers. Thank you for being a part of the judging panel as well by the way. I wanted to get your opinion on open source businesses seeing as DIYdrones started out in a way I envision possibly starting up an outgrowth of an existing business of mine. Specifically building a community for open source hardware makers. Kind of an open source Shapeways but not 3d printing only and kind of like Thingiverse but again, with a focus on physical things rather than 3d printed parts. Fabrication would be limited in the beginning to a set range of materials and more 2d parts (cut from flat sheets) than 3d due to machine and cost limitations but with a focus on metals and silicones and functional parts rather than plastic parts and you can build fairly large 3d things from 2d parts. Not sure how best to engage people and make it a valuable resource or if this idea even has merit but it seems worth looking at given we already have production machinery in place to pursue this idea and have spent several years working on the details. Do you think something like this is worth pursuing? I would appreciate any and all insight you might have.

    Keep up the amazing work!

      1. Ahh, thank you for responding. It’s funny you mentioned Ponoko. In terms of who is out there already doing this, they are probably the closest. However, they are more of a laser cutting service for thin, low wattage laserable materials, such as acrylic, cardboard and fabrics. I see that they have recently branched out into 3d printing as well, similar to what Shapeway offers. However, they don’t really offer materials that offer any kind of strength, such as stainless or aluminum or titanium. We could though. They also are somewhat limited in their ability to assemble things together by using various clever construction techniques to build more complex 3d objects. I see the “tab and slot” method put to good use but there are plenty of other ways to assemble the types of objects they produce together that we have been working on. They don’t really offer much in the way of larger objects or parts and lastly, they don’t really have much of an ecosystem where other people can share and remix designs, like Thingiverse (Makerbot) has. There is more to it but those jump to mind.

        Our focus would be more on waterjet or laser cut metals as well as molded parts that come from 3d printed molds in moderately low production quantities but with little to no setup costs for the end user (or us). So, similar to Ponoko conceptually in that they offer small quantity products with minimal to no setup costs but we would be serving both the small quantity customer (who might want one of something) and also a larger customer that might want 100 or 1000 of something without either having to pay setup costs as we have no tooling to speak of (by design) and a library of off the shelf components to choose from. We would fit in this unconventional land between a customer who desires to make 50,000+ of something by using conventional construction techniques (injection molding, etc) and somebody who wants to just make one or a few hundred parts but still wants a professional result and who lacks the access and training on the equipment used to produce these things and who also doesn’t want to pay tens of thousands of dollars in setup costs or inflated low quantity numbers to a traditional machine shop. So also sort of like Protomold in a way except we wouldn’t deal in injection molded, plastic parts and sort of like Ponoko in that if you want to buy just one of something that we normally work with, sure thing. Upload the design, here’s the price and we will place it into the production queue. Even if it is as small as a single part.

        We could also offer larger objects that are much physically larger in size and scale than Ponoko. For example, something the size of a king sized bed could be fabricated in pieces, shipped and assembled by the end customer. If the customer wants extra features that they specifically request, great. No problem. That’s baked into the cake and it doesn’t cost us any extra to produce those changes because everything is being made to order on equipment that doesn’t care what shape is being made.

        Those would be a few of the differences. That and being able to serve markets that are under served due to all sorts of reasons – extremely rapid design iterations, too limited of a market share to justify large production runs of products, specialty products that the average fabricator is unwilling to pay the large setup cost premium for, prototype products, specialty products that are sold in low volumes that could be fabricated only when an order is placed, entrepreneurs who want to make an initial iteration of their product to ensure it has market acceptance before moving to traditional mass production, the DIY market that has design knowledge but lacks access to industrial fabrication equipment, inventors who focus on their clever designs but who want to outsource all of the fabrication and quickly incorporate design improvements, etc.

        1. If you’re trying to do something like, “Ponoko, but with waterjet and 500W lasers”, my only advice is to keep going. That’s a hugely underserved market.

          Spend the time and money to build the web side of the business, though. Being able to drop a .DXF onto a web page, get a pull down menu of materials and thicknesses, and get a quote in real time is required for something like that.

          1. “Being able to drop a .DXF onto a web page, get a pull down menu of materials and thicknesses, and get a quote in real time is required for something like that.”

            Agreed. That’s exactly (in part) what we are working on. No frills, nothing too fancy but being able to offer DXF to part without setup costs or any real interaction needed to the DIY market and to other underserved markets that would benefit from one off or low quantity metal parts cut from 2D metal materials is a big goal of ours. Similar to Shapeways only less of a 3d printed focus and more of a 2d fabrication focus (though we do own several high end Stratasys polyjet machines). There are so many practical, durable and attractive products out there that people want to produce in moderate quantities but they lack the machines and equipment to do so and setup costs can be extremely high, which discourages people from trying. If you want to purchase one part or one hundred parts, the setup costs for us remain fairly flat.

            Most laser cutters and services such as Ponoko that use them are immensely popular but limited in availability and cutting power. We want to bridge the gap that makers face when they want to make something out of materials other than wood or acrylic and they want to do so at an accessible price without huge setup fees or lengthy lead times. Nobody has really done that before. It’s significantly harder than it appears at first glance.

  2. I’m a little concerned about the Curated Lists on the hackaday projects. I see some are HaD prize entries. Does it hurt the standing of your entry to not be on a list? Is being on the list an endorsement by the curator (she seems to be on the HaD staff)?

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