For the third year in a row, we’re running the greatest hardware challenge on the planet. It’s the Hackaday Prize, a contest to build something that matters. We’re giving away $300,000 to people who build something that solves a problem. We’ve already awarded $1000 to 20 lucky hackers for the first challenge in the Hackaday Prize — and we’re doing that every 5 weeks this summer! Now it’s your turn. You, too can build something for the Hackaday Prize. It doesn’t have to be complex. All it has to do is solve a problem.
Think building something that solves a problem is too hard? Not true. Last year, [Kate Reed], a high school student, built a device that makes a wheelchair much easier. Her device, the Hand Drive, allows anyone in a wheelchair to use a rowing motion to move forward, instead of pulling themselves by the rim of the chair. It is perhaps the most clever and elegant device we’ve ever seen; it’s basically a ratchet that bolts onto a wheelchair, and if wheelchairs were around five hundred years ago, the Hand Drive would bolt right on to those antique chairs. For her entry, [Kate] was a finalist for last year’s Hackaday Prize, gave a talk at the Hackaday Supercon, and demonstrated her device to the president in the White House.
Is the simple tech behind a ratcheting wheelchair attachment not cool enough? Here’s a device that tells you to sit up. This device is just a few bits of electronics mounted to a chair that tells you to get up and walk around every hour or so. Deep vein thrombosis isn’t a joke, and for this entry to last year’s Hackaday Prize, [electrobob] was one of the 100 creators that made it to the finals.
Your project for the Hackaday Prize doesn’t need to be complex. It doesn’t need to be complicated, and you don’t need to invest months of work into your entry. All you need to do is build something that matters.
If you have an idea for a project that solves a problem, start your project now. There’s nothing to lose, and we’re giving away $300,000 in prizes for people who build something that matters.
If you want to learn how to defeat computer security, nothing beats hands-on experience. Of course, if you get your hands on someone’s system without their permission, you may end up having a very short training that ends with a jail term. And that’s where capture-the-flag (CTF) events come in.
A CTF is a system of increasingly-difficult challenges that can’t be too easy or too hard. A well-designed CTF teaches all of the participants stuff that they didn’t know, no matter how far they get and what skills they came in with. Designing a good CTF is difficult.
But since it’s also a competition, running one also involves a lot of horrible bookkeeping for the folks running it. Registering teams and providing login pages is the dirty work that you have to do in the background, that takes away time from building the systems which others are going to take apart.
Which is why it’s great that Facebook is opening up their CTF-hosting platform, along with a few starter challenges, for us all to play along. We love CTFs and related hacking challenges. If this spurs the creation of more, we’re all for it. You can find the whole setup on GitHub.
If you’re new to CTFs, here’s an awesome collection of CTF-related material on GitHub to get you started. And if your tastes run more toward hardware hacking, we’ve covered previous firmware CTFs, but frankly there’s a lot more material out there. We feel a feature post coming on…
Thanks [ag4ve] for the unintentional tip!
Can you build a HF SSB radio transciever in one weekend, while on the road, at parts from a swap meet? I can, but apparently not without setting something on fire.
Of course the swap meet I’m referring to is Hamvention, and Hamvention 2016 is coming up fast. In a previous trip to Hamvention, Scott Pastor (KC8KBK) and I challenged ourselves to restore tube radio gear in a dodgy Dayton-area hotel room where we repaired a WW2 era BC-224 and a Halicrafters receiver, scrounging parts from the Hamfest.
Our 2014 adventures were so much fun that it drove us to create our own hacking challenge in 2015 to cobble together a <$100 HF SSB transceiver (made in the USA for extra budget pressure), an ad-hoc antenna system, put this on the air, and make an out-of-state contact before the end of Hamvention using only parts and gear found at Hamvention. There’s no time to study manuals, antennas, EM theory, or vacuum tube circuitry. All you have are your whits, some basic tools, and all the Waffle House you can eat. But you have one thing on your side, the world’s largest collection of surplus electronics and radio junk in one place at one time. Can it be done?
Continue reading “Two Guys, A Hotel Room And A Radio Fire”
We’ve heard reports that internet connectivity in Australia can be an iffy proposition, and [deandob] seems to back that up. At the limit of a decent DSL connection and on the fringe of LTE, [deandob] decided to optimize the wireless connection with this homebrew Yagi antenna.
Officially known as the Yagi-Uda after its two Japanese inventors from the 1920s, but generally shortened to the name of its less involved but quicker to patent inventor, the Yagi is an antenna that provides high gain in one direction. That a homebrew antenna was even necessary at all is due to [deandob]’s ISP using the 2300MHz band rather than the more popular 2400MHz – plenty of cheap 2.4GHz antennas out there, but not so much with 2.3GHz. With multiple parallel and precisely sized and spaced parasitic elements, a Yagi can be a complicated design, but luckily for [deandob] the ham radio community has a good selection of Yagi design tools available. His final design uses an aluminum rod for a boom, 2mm steel wire for reflectors and directors, and a length of coax as the driven element. The result? Better connectivity that pushes his ISP throttling limit, and no more need to mount the modem high enough in his house to use the internal antenna.
People on the fringes of internet coverage go to great lengths to get connections, like this off-grid network bridge. Or if you’d rather use a homebrew Yagi to listen to meteors, that’s possible too.
Sometimes a project doesn’t have to be technically amazing to win over our hearts. [Malte]’s ESP8266-based weather station is so cute, and so nicely executed, that it’s easily worth a look. It could totally be a commercial product, and it’s smaller than a matchbox.
It combines temperature, humidity, and barometric pressure sensors on one side of a PCB, with pads for soldering a pre-built ESP8266 module on the other side. Solder it all together and flash the firmware and you’re almost all set.
The final step is to configure it to work with the network. For this, [Malte] built in a nice web-based configuration (and display) application. It also can log its data to an MQTT system, so there’s a bunch more configuration (which we’re trying to make easier) needed there, and the web frontend makes that light work. Everything, from the hardware to the firmware, and even a pre-compiled binary, is up on his GitHub. Very complete and very well done.
If you can read German, or are willing to run it through a translator, give his personal projects webpage a look as well. Good stuff here. Now all he needs is a matching nice display for inside.