It has been quite a ride this year, watching entries pour in during the five challenges of the 2016 Hackaday Prize. Our yearly engineering initiative is designed to focus the skill, experience, and creativity of the world’s tinkerers, hackers, designers, and fabricators to build something that matters: things that change lives. The final ten entries, from more than 1,000, exemplify this mission.
For a brief overview of these entries, check out the videos below where we spend about ninty seconds recapping each one, along with some thoughts from the Hackaday Prize judges. These recap videos will be shown during the Hackaday Prize awards ceremony, held this Saturday during the SuperConference. I would love to invite you to attend but we’re completely sold out. You should, however, jump into the conference chat channel to talk about what’s going on, follow along with the badge crypto challenge, and hear where each entry finishes in real time as the top prizes are awarded.
Congratulations to all ten of these finalists, who outdid themselves. Each of the 100 projects that moved past the preliminary rounds has already won $1,000, but these finalists will also be taking home one of five $5,000 prizes, two $10,000 prizes, $25,000 for the runner-up, or $150,000 plus a residency at the Supplyframe Design Lab for the winner of the Hackaday Prize. Which project is that going to be? Find out this Saturday.
The Economist is an interesting publication, a British weekly newspaper that looks for all the world like a magazine, and contains pithy insights into world politics and economic movements. It’s one of those rare print news publications that manages to deliver fresh insights even to hardened web news junkies despite its weekly publication date.
It was typical then of their wide-ranging coverage of world industries to publish a piece recently on the world of supercapacitors, with particular focus on Estonia’s Skeleton Technologies. This is an exciting field in which the products are inching their way towards energy density parity with conventional batteries, and news of new manufacturing facilities coming online should be of interest to many Hackaday readers.
Exciting though it may be it was not the news of a new capacitor plant in Germany that provided the impetus for this piece. Instead it was the language used by the Economist writer delicately skirting the distinction between the words “Supercapacitor” and “Ultracapacitor”. Images of flying crimefighters in brightly coloured capes spring instantly to mind, as Captain Ultra and Superman battle an arch-villain who is no doubt idly bouncing a piece of burning Kryptonite against the wall in readiness for the final denouement.
[Ryzee119]’s GBA might not look so different at first glance. The screen is way better than you remember, but that may just be your memory playing tricks on you. The sound comes out of the speakers. It feels the right weight. It runs off AA batteries. Heck, even the buttons feel right.
It’s not until you notice that it really shouldn’t be playing any games without a cartridge inserted that you know something is not right in the Mushroom Kingdom. When you look inside you see the edge of a Raspberry Pi Zero instead of the card edge connector you expected.
It took a lot of work for [Ryzee119] to convert a dead, water damaged, GBA to a thriving emulation station based around a Pi Zero. The first step was desolder the components he couldn’t find anywhere else. The LR buttons, the potentiometer, and even the headphone jack. The famously hard to see screen, of course, had to go. It was replaced by a nice TFT. Also, the original speaker was too corroded from the water and he sourced a replacement.
Next he took a good photo of the GBA’s circuit board. We wonder if he used the scanner method mentioned in the comments of this article? He spent a lot of time in Dassault’s DraftSight, a 2D CAD program, outlining the board. Then, after thoroughly verifying the size of the board for the Nth time he imported the outlines to EagleCAD.
He managed to cram quite a bit onto the board while remaining inside the GBA’s original envelope. The switches, potentiometer, and jack went back to their original locations. Impressively, he made his own pad traces for the A, B, and D-Pad buttons. The mod even handles slowly decreasing battery voltages better than the original.
In the end it all snaps together nicely. He’s configured it to boot into the emulator right at start-up. If you’d like one for yourself, all his files are open source.
One facet of the diverse pursuit that is amateur radio involves the use of amateur radio satellites. These have a long history stretching back to the years shortly after the first space launches, and have been launched as “piggy-back” craft using spare capacity on government and commercial launches.
Though a diverse range of payloads have been carried by these satellites over the years, the majority of amateur radio satellites have featured transponders working in the VHF and UHF spectrum. Most often their links have used the 2m (144 MHz) and 70cm (430MHz) bands. A few have had downlinks in the 10m (28MHz) band, but this has been as far as they have ventured into the HF spectrum.
A new cubesat designed and built by trainees at the US Naval Academy promises to change all that, because it will feature an all-HF transponder with a 15m (21MHz) uplink and a 10m downlink. To that end it will carry a full size 10m wire dipole antenna. The 30KHz wide transponder is an inverting design intended to cancel out the effects of Doppler shift. In their write-up they provide a fascinating description of many aspects of cubesat design, one which should be of significant interest beyond the world of amateur radio.