Your Homework For This Weekend

Your homework for this weekend: Build me something and enter it in The Hackaday Prize. I’m not joking.

It’s very rare for me to come out with a big “ask”, but this is it. I need you now. The Hackaday Prize is our STEAM initiative. It very publicly shows that you can have a lot of fun with engineering in your free time. This is a lesson we need to broadcast and to do so, I want to see dozens of entries come together this weekend.

Here’s the gist of it: Choose a problem that is faced by a large number of people. Build something that helps fix it, and document what you did. You need to start a project, publish 4 project logs, a system design diagram, and a video of less than 2 minutes in length. That’s it, and you can easily be done with all of this if you choose to make this weekend a hackathon.

You may win, you may not. But everyone who posts a project is helping to inspire the next generation of great engineers. The next [Forrest Mims] is out there, lets make sure he or she knows how amazing the world of engineering is! Get to work.

The 2015 Hackaday Prize is sponsored by:


51 thoughts on “Your Homework For This Weekend

  1. What a joke. Anybody starting now has zero chance of winning against organized groups of hackers working on their projects for months, even years.

    And remember, you always have the chance to inspire others, no matter when you submit your project to!

  2. Sounds a little desperate man, Have there not been enough entries? Not enough voters? I love reading about all the entries but I’m guilty of lurking and not getting involved, I’m sure lots of readers do the same. I will start voting. I feel kinda guilty for not putting forth the effort and reaping the benefits of others that keep this alive.

  3. Kinda tangential to the topic, but I’ve been unable to access the page for almost a week (error 403). No responses to my ‘Contact Us’ emails, either. So I can’t update my current project, let alone contribute new ones.

  4. To all the naysayers… if you don’t like HaD, don’t visit. It’s as simple as that. Personally, I love the community and all the different ideas circulating around. And yes, I have already entered the HaD 2015, and while I have no expectations of winning (my entry would be useful to many small / home hackerspaces, but it won’t change the world), it has been a wonderful ride so far.

    Thanks to Mike and the rest of the HaD crew for putting on such contests and encouraging us to get out there and make stuff. Don’t mind the haters! ;-)


  5. Fine, I’ll say it, nice post – I shouldn’t be surprised to see other comments are the normal hackaday complaining, but I was.

    I have been for, and now against the HAD prize – as it stands. I think dividing the prize into many smaller but still substantial amount of money, would’ve been a much better bet.

      1. Err, I’ve also been a HaD critic in the past, but this doesn’t sound right to me.

        You make a grand prize when you want to have big things entered. Otherwise you get lots of small entries. I’m fine with the grand scale, although I wish the stuff fed to me as a project entrant were more descriptive.

        But I think voting should not have a big giant 1000$ giftcard prize. Voting was kinda terrible in 2015 with lots of people getting tshirts and less than a handful of “winners”.

        By the way, I haven’t been able to scrape up any time for my project this year and I might rescind it. Something about February-August is usually my busiest season. Maybe I’ll put some time into the super-simple prototype this weekend but it doesn’t feel competitive at all.

  6. I strongly support the HAD prize. I would change things if I was an omnipotent controller, but I am sure managing the work load, sponsor needs, community needs and HAD vision is like herding cats on meth; so I will not fault them for supporting hacking the way they are. The cools projects alone justify the contest.
    My goal this year is to make it in the top 100 and I have learned so much by having a goal with hard deadlines and a supportive community to help out. I am behind schedule, but that will just give me better skills and better time management for the next one. For now I would love to get my parts in my hands so I can start logging CO data with csv dumps and maybe have a cool little phone app to read the results. At the moment having my ESP 8266 tweet me is encouraging.

  7. I’m trying to think of something many people deal with and for which a solution might be thought up with the purpose of sharing with you guys. But it’s not easy. And I mean something realistic, it’s easy to throw out wild impossible issues of course.

      1. But sorting materials in an automated manner is an extremely complex issue. Consider: you can approach this at any point in the process between Jo(lene) Consumer and Big Bidness Recycling. Trying to convince Jo(lene) of anything results in a PR campaign, not engineering. Setting up a trio of bins for people to use (paper, plastic, landfill) doesn’t mean the materials will be sorted.

        Designing a system that checks the Rockwell hardness scale, ion content (mass-spec), color, solvent compatibility, etc. is a massive task. Even doing one would be a huge task.

        Even masticating and sorting by weight won’t get you where you’re going.

        All I’m saying is that just sorting materials would be an extremely difficult engineering task…

      1. STEM = Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathmatics
        a popular acronym for school programs that emphasize these disciplines.
        STEAM = Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathmatics
        So [Singular Engineer] is saying (writing) that we have too much Art already, and need to focus more on STEM.
        Otherwise, (and I don’t follow this leap in logic) we’re going to need Doctoral degrees (PhD) to enter the HaD Prize

        1. P – psychology
          H – History
          D – Dance

          I know I’m missing social works and other, but don’t we already have enough of those. STEM is to raise the number of qualified people to balance the non STEM and fill the actual demand in this world or at works. Don’t know where there is a shortage in Art/Artists, but we sure do have shortage in STEM people.

          Just my thoughts.

          1. I have to speak up; I’m not at all seeing a ‘shortage’ of stem people. perhaps its my locale (I’m in the bay area), but I have been on the job search for well over 8 months and so far, no real offers. yet, I have decades of software experience. is there a ‘shortage’ when a motivated and experienced person tries his damnest and still can’t get a single company to hire him in the silicon valley area?

            I am sick and tired of this ‘we need more tech people’ story. we are oversatured; and with the companies outsourcing every god damned thing they can, locals are getting turned away with the ‘not a cultural fit’ (yeah, right) BS excuse. if I had kids starting out and looking for a career, the LAST thing I’d push them toward is tech! tech is a race to the bottom. india owns it now; and in 10 years time, it may be africa. but its most definitely NOT a creative pursuit anymore and the desire of companies to treat tech workers like factory slaves is not at all encouraging.

            sorry to vent and spoil the party, but stem this and stem that – it makes the ceo’s happy to have a super labor pool to pick from, but as a job seeker (who is nearly ready to declare defeat and just give up trying) I just cannot sing the same ‘go into tech!’ song that is so common these days.

          2. reply to [bl]
            I share in your frustrations, but non-STEM is not going to help 1st world countries as 3rd world countries supply the non-STEM labor force. There is such a thing as ‘transferable skills”, and agility in transfering what you _know_ into something else you can _do_ is going to be the best way to survive this world.

          3. This is also a reply to “bl”.

            The bottom line is you’re probably not getting offers BECAUSE you have decades of experience. There’s a lot of fresh, albeit in-experienced, blood in the veins of the work-force right now, which means you’re competing with people who will take a quarter of what you’re worth in salary.

            As an aside, if you’re only looking in the Bay area I would suggest you broaden your search to other locales as well as a wider variety. Consider re-writing your resume from an “I learn quickly” perspective in order to appeal to a more diverse group of employers.

            If you want a second set of eyes feel free to email me as I would be glad to go over your resume.

  8. The truth is there’s a lot of wasted energy out there and not only Mike needs us to do something, each of us does. Life’s short, remember , and we’re yet too dumb to change that. This start now! is a wake up call.

    1. yeah, some of us need a kick in the pants to get started on something.
      This was just [Mike]’s tongue in cheek way of giving us sluggards a two minute warning.
      But if I spent the weekend working on a HaD Prize entry, my wife will give me the kick in the pants for ignoring the Honey-Do list!

  9. I have lots of projects at home, partially documented on my blog, but do the ‘fix a problem faced by a large number of people?’.

    IMHO, nope, I’m usually fixing first world problems of my own, people who are delivering clear water for doing something about mosquitoes qualify for this.

    Perhaps next year the scope may not be so grand!

      1. Dear HaD, it seems people are a bit overwhelmed by the scope of the HaD prize. Perhaps what we need is some way of making lofty projects seem more achievable.
        How about something like ‘HaD Initiatives’ where HaD themselves lay down an issue to be solved. E.g. clean drinking water. We all submit hair-brained ideas, and a HaD staff member steers the initiative in a sensible direction. E.g. out of 100 crazy suggestions, the initiative might end up with branches: solar stills, production of carbon filters, and antiseptics. Each branch runs as a separate project, and the HaD project leaders focus peoples efforts to make sure we keep moving forward, by using something like git issues.

  10. What if I had in mind a design for a sea vessel that can produce freshwater, hydrogen and electricity using solar energy while it floats out in the open sea? How many people do you think I would be able to help with that? Hell, how many people do you think would help make it work?

      1. Well, the reason for the solar part is to alleviate any fears of nuclear contamination. Also, with proper heat exchangers (operating as evaporators under pressure), you could use just one solar dish to flash boil the seawater to generate the steam to run generators. The heat exchangers will boil more seawater that could run more generators. By the time the steam cools down to become liquid, the water should be fresh. The brine (concentrated seawater) can be released back into the sea without having to worry about whether or not it has to be decontaminated. As far as hydrogen production, the electricity could be used for electrolysis blah, blah, you guys know the rest.

    1. A lot of work in desalination’s been done in the last 20 years or so. The new way is, big greenhouses with big bits of wet cardboard hanging down, to get lots of evaporation just using sunlight. It uses electric fans, but most of the energy is just solar heat. Then for the condensing, you use cold seawater. It makes optimal use of the resources available at the location.

      It works best on land, near the sea of course.

      1. If it was on a boat, you wouldn’t have to worry too much about the effects of weather as you can just move the boat to avoid bad weather conditions. It would however require a port system to off-load the water and hydrogen. I don’t think that would be much of a problem since that type of technology already exist or is easily made.

        1. I imagine they factor the weather into it, architects in places like that must know all about storms etc. The greenhouse system is good because it’s very energy efficient. I remember when they were invented about 20 years ago, New Scientist did a feature. It’s handy that sunlight both causes dehydration, and can desalinate water.

          Also of course, much cheaper to build on land. And desalination plants are something with a constant demand, not something you’d need to move around.

  11. I spent like 3-4 months thinking of a project that was aligned w/ what was advertised initially (something to “save the world” so some kind of energy/environmental based electronic). Then all these projects showing up that have nothing to do w/ original goal of competition. As long as I know this is happening each year (not changing up requirements) I can start now and have something half decent…

    1. So, a project that can save the world may still be selected as the winner. Maybe all the “little projects” (my emphasis, not yours) will be a cog or inspiration to a future project that will save the world.

  12. Something I thought about… What if we there were time and people categories? So you could have a category for projects done by teams, projects done by a single person, projects that started more than a year ago, projects that started less than a year ago etc. I think it would get more people interested, since otherwise people can end up thinking they don’t have a chance.

  13. Nice idea, but please do not compare me or my knowledgeable friends with Forrest Mims. Changing the World might require some calculus of complex numbers or some tensor geometry and Kalman filters to deal with the real world. Anything with navigation and positioning uses vector algebra. How about the next [Sprite_tm]?

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