2017 Hackaday Prize Begins Right Now

Today the 2017 Hackaday Prize begins!

This is Hackaday’s global engineering initiative that encourages people to direct their skill and energy to make the world a better place. We call it the Hackaday Prize, but it’s far more than that. Join a community of talented people who enrich their own lives by seeking out new challenges and new technologies, then pioneers a way to combine them to Build Something that Matters. Show us your build by starting a Hackaday.io project page and enter today!

You Have Every Reason to Get Involved

The Hackaday Prize truly has something for everyone. Making the world a better place doesn’t end with a grand prize for a single build. Just by talking about your ideas and sharing your excitement you become the inspiration for this and every successive generation of problem solvers. But yes, there are prizes — a lot of prizes — and they’re spectacular.

We have over $250,000 in cash going out to hundreds of entries this year. The Grand Prize of $50,000 is joined once again this year by the Best Product Prize of $30,000. Four other entries will place second through fifth and receive $20k, $15k, $10k, and $5k respectively.

But the breadth of entries is too great to stop at that. We’ll select 120 projects as finalists and award each $1000. You can even get in on Seed Funding starting right away. We’re saving those details for the end of this announcement.

How Do I Build Something that Matters?

Whoa, all this talk of prizes, but you want to know what kind of hardware will be a hit for the Hackaday Prize? Here’s what you need to know: you can enter your project at any time from now until October 16th. But the exact time that you enter matters.

Your best bet is to get started right away. The first challenge of the Hackaday Prize is: Design Your Concept. Every great build starts with a plan and this is the time to show us what you got. The key is to consider if the project benefits society in some way. Show us how, document your build plan, and you can be one of the first twenty finalists to receive $1k cash and move on to compete for the big prizes.

We’ll have four more challenges that focus on different types of entries. You only need to enter one challenge, but you may choose to enter (and win) as many of the five challenges as you wish. We’ll be looking for connected devices that don’t suck Internet of Useful Things during the IuT ! IoT challenge. After that, it’s on to all things mobile with the Wheels, Wings, and Walkers challenge. Assistive Technology challenges you to make the world a better place for the physically or mentally challenged and aging or sick people of the world. And finally, a Hackaday favorite closes the challenge rounds with Anything Goes — as long as it clearly benefits society. Each of these five challenges will yield twenty finalists who receive $1000. That’s $100k!

The Return of Best Product

Two years ago we tried something new by adding the Best Product Prize to the mix and it was an enormous hit. We’re happy to be able to bring it back again this year.

There is a difficult path from a working prototype to a product ready for its audience. As hardware development is unlocked for an ever wider engineering community, we want to see the path made wider so that the journey becomes easier. Best Product is designed to do just that.

Any Hackaday Prize entry may also choose to compete and be named the Best Product (receiving much deserved recognition as well as the addition $30k prize). You need to submit your entry no later than July 24th, which includes full documentation of the project as well as a bill of materials used in the build. We’ll select twenty finalists (sending $1k to each) who will then need to deliver three working beta test units for the final judging round of the Best Product.

How Can We Pick the Top Entries?

One amazing part of the Hackaday Prize family are the world-renowned experts who donate their time and talent as Judges. They are just as eager as everyone else to see all of this creative energy focused on solving the problems facing our civilization.

Learn more about all of these amazing people on the Hackaday Prize page.

One Last Thing: Seed Funding

When realized to their full potential, design concepts should knock the socks off of anyone who reads through them. Because of this we have one more thing in store for you during the first challenge which starts right now.

Entries with the most likes at the end of the first round will split $4,000. Each time someone on Hackaday.io “likes” your project it will move a bit higher on the leaderboard found on the Hackaday Prize page. The top projects will receive $1 for each like, with a max of $200 per entry so that at least twenty will win (but likely many more).

This seed funding is a little push to help offset the cost of building prototypes. But it really comes down to your decision to make the time and to make a difference. Enter your project in the Hackaday Prize now.

75 thoughts on “2017 Hackaday Prize Begins Right Now

  1. Hi, i want to participate in the Hackaday Prize’17. The first step mentioned is to put up an idea. But I started working on a project earlier this year and i have the first prototype ready but still a lot of work can be done and i have realized that the hardware can be optimized more so i will have to roll out another prototype. Does this still allow me to participate as i not only have the idea but i also have a very basic proof of concept ?

  2. Hi Shantam! Yes you can still enter with this project. If it was an entry in any of the previous Prize rounds, you will need to make a separate entry for it. Looking forward to seeing it, Good Luck!

    1. Yeah, I had like $20 or so from that and never heard anything more about it. I don’t really care that much, but it definitely could have helped with components. Was that the case with everyone, or do you have a different beef?

      1. From my memory, it was a crazy mess. I got some bucks in the end, anyway, but my point is : this is only a call to scammers, spammers, crackpots and anybody wanting a “quick buck” instead of doing ACTUAL hacks that matter.
        The benefit for HaD is a surge in subscribers, more exposure and better advertising, but the actual overall quality of the site is actually diluted :-(

        People hack better when they don’t think about money.

        1. Or more importantly don’t rip off other ideas. Wasn’t last year’s HAD prize awarded to a someone who basically stole a research robot design and just 3D printed it? I was thinking of actually doing the competition that year but when I saw that project get a bunch of traction it was rather demotivating. I’ve got a technical background but there’s no point in submitting anything if the guy who “wins” doesn’t really do something innovative, original and just steals ideas.

          Another huge turn off was the whole “Used Rasberry Pi to create X, or Arduino from YZ sponsor to make IOT-Dildo” type projects. I’ve seen enough of these “winners” claim they’re brilliant geniuses only to fall flat on their face for anything technical when they have to deal with real world problems. Some are just dicks who aren’t technical and just throw buzzwords while bring a hammer to a problem that needs a knife to solve.

  3. I have never been excited over the make the world a better place stuff. It is an unnecessary constraint on innovation. Furthermore the implied selflessness of the- Wait! How much money? Hmmmm.

    1. I kind of agree. I want to build something ’cause it would be awesome and I want to experiment. To compete in the competition I would have to try and think of a use case for saving the world… As far as the prize money goes, maybe they thought the same that’s why they cut the grand prize into a third, lol

    2. I also find the veneer of social consciousness entirely nauseating. (I even do occasionally want to do something to make the world a somewhat better place, I just find it detracts heavily from the “for the heck of it / because I can” aspect of the hobby and instead makes it more like being at work on that I have to pitch or at least justify my project. Just not worth it in my opinion).

      I would much rather just enjoy hackign on my own projects and ignore the prize and all related posts, promotional blurbs, etc.. I have no desire to poison the well of my one non-work-related creative outlet but I suppose the constraint was put there to discourage decadent slobs such as myself from participating so I don’t. (Also between work and kids I already have to sacrifice two or more hours of sleep a night just to have my project time and thus I don’t find the deadlines and such appealing either).

    3. What’s the criteria anyway, I mean when coffee pods came out it was all “OMG, coffee 2.0 so easy, much helpful.” then a while later “holy nuckfuggets, this shit is destroying the planet, by 2025, entire mass of planet will be used coffee pods.”

      Then there’s the odd thing that nobody knew would make the world a better place, but had that spinoff.

    4. My advice is to upgrade your understanding of the word “better,” and understand that it is inclusive. You don’t care about what other people care about? That is not the obstacle you think it is! Making the world a better place can be done from multiple perspectives, it is not exclusive.

      Hating hippies probably doesn’t make things any better, but if you do hate hippies, there might be some other area that you think is more positive. Maybe the world be a better place if consumers could buy some product that they can’t buy now, that they would want? See, you don’t have to care about anybody or anything to participate! You can even be greedy and try to make the world better at the same time! Everybody can play!

  4. I like the “buck” for “like” part of the contest-Very helpful to get the stuff I need to get and keep things moving.
    It’s Buck hunting season again!!!! So please buck me!…otherwise I gotta buck myself…….

        1. You must create a new project. Per the rules:

          Existing projects, or projects that were entered in previous presentations of The Hackaday Prize but did not advance to at least the Semifinal round, are eligible for submission as entries in this Contest with the following restrictions:

          A new project page must be created.
          The project must be significantly different from when previously entered and show meaningful development during the course of the Contest.

          You already entered this in the 2016 prize, but it didn’t make it to the Semifinal round. That’s fine – you just need to make a new project.

          1. I might have missed this but what are the requirements for entering a project in more than one round? Assuming that there’s an idea now and by the time that a later round comes active there’s a physical project ready to go, would a single project page be eligible to be entered in both the first round and an applicable later round, assuming it meets the criteria for both?

          2. @RogerA
            > what are the requirements for entering a project in more than one round?

            From the rules:

            > An entry may be submitted to any or all of the Challenge Rounds as long as it meets the requirements for each Challenge Round in which it is submitted.

  5. What is a ‘societal benefit’? Will an ‘assistive’ design that may improve the quality of life for a few do much to improve society? As Spock said, “logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few … or the one.”

    1. The Spock quote, per my wife, is probably from Aristotle’s “…securing of one individual’s good is cause for rejoicing, but to secure the good of a nation or of a city-state is nobler and more divine.” Western democracies and republics will always have this ideological quandary – the relative value and rights of the individual vs the greater advancement of the society, which can and has been distracted by demagoguery.

      More appropriately, the contest should be goaded by Star Wars rather than Star Trek, where the better quotes come from the swamps of Dagobah:

      “You must unlearn what you have learned”


      “Try not. Do or do not. There is no try.”

  6. If you could leave the favicon in peace, that would be nice. It’s enough of a nuisance to land on a page i didn’t want to land on when clicking my bookmarked link…every damn time.

  7. I have an urgent project to save lives… tornado and other hazardous weather detection with direct display on a map showing location and direction. No time for any contest. The electronics is just an esp8266 with a bme820 and wall wart… and distribute these to homes wherever internet is connected… IoT… and have them phone home to a central computer at a tv station for broadcast as a local map showing location and direction of travel of the tornado, derecho, or t-storm line. It beats Doppler as it requires NO expertise to interpret the display to locate the tornado(s)… you just see a dot… and direction of travel and can tell which intersection it is at. This method of detection was already forwarded in legistlation years ago, but shot down by manufacturers with Lobbyists because it would have made your cable tv box cost $10 more. NWS wanted it. Well… the esp8266 and esp32 have dropped it into OUR laps as possible. Hackers now have a shot at doing something great and life-saving that our esteemed legislators could not get for us.

    I want this out and in use for spring 2018. Working alone I can do the IoT module and code no problem, but the mapping will likely take me more than the timeline allows. Also needed is a city tv station willing to review and test this. Anybody know a tv meteorologist? Contacting one has been like pulling teeth. Likely a key needed item here unless someone has a better idea.

    I DO NOT CARE WHICH WAY THIS HAPPENS. Nor is this for any profit or recognition. And it’s KNOWN that once the public sees just one TV station successfully use this to save lives that it will be demanded EVERYWHERE. Then my job will be done. Manufacturers will jump on it and take it away from us, improve it, and spread fast. Just getting public recognition will do the trick. This is how hackers will change this bit of the world… a spark that will light a fire…

    My motivation? Barneveld. I was there the day after. Was watching tv radar when it went through that night… couldn’t tell a thing, just looked like bad rain. It was before doppler made it onto tv. It was 1/2 mile wide tornado that caused the Fujita Scale to be revised to measure increased powers of tornado.

    Hackers can save lives with this. Screw any contest. No time for games. I invite that we join and be the force we can. I don’t have to lead… lots of you are better than me at specifics…

    —— brief references

    A barometric pressure of 850 mb (25.17 inches) was recorded in a tornado near Manchester, S.D., which is likely the lowest pressure ever recorded in a tornado. The tornado occurred on June 24, 2003, and caused F4 damage. The measured pressure drop of 100 mb as the tornado passed is a record listed in the Guinness Book of World Records.

    While it is very difficult to measure pressure and wind speeds inside a tornado, severe storm researchers have been able to do so using specialized equipment and by being in the right place at the right time.

    Engineer and professional storm chaser Tim Samaras has had success using 20 inch-wide, 45-pound, cone-shaped devices known as “turtles” to take measurements that include temperature, pressure and humidity at ground level as a tornado passes nearby or overhead. The “turtle” probes are aerodynamically designed to withstand the violent winds of a tornado. In fact, the stronger the winds, the more firmly the probes are pushed against the ground.


    I have a bme820 graphing on an lcd here. When a tornado not yet on the ground passed 5 miles to my north it traced the same graph though not to as low a pressure. Distance changes how much of the drop you will see. It only gives a few minutes notice at best should one try to use this to take cover so I decided a line of such sensors a few miles in the direction the tornados come from would be the best idea… and then just laying sensors out in a grid and displaying the results on a map came to me.

    I’ve spoken to a university meteorologist about this. The attitude is we do it with doppler, and doppler takes a trained meteorologist to interpret. Negative acceptance. Well folks… this eliminates the multi-million $ doppler and the trained meteorologist and allows any 12 yr old to look at the map and directly see which intersection the tornado is crossing and it’s recent path. For the cost of a doppler radar we could cover a couple of states with a grid of esp/baro modules.


    Sorry about the contest HAD,

    This one just needs to GO NOW. Can you support people selflessly working to save lives?

    Would be nice if you could support us with a space to collaborate in relative privacy to allow concentration on the work… but this is no contest item. And I don’t have to lead. Heck I’ve dumped enough data for all to understand, and among these masses there ARE people better than I at each aspect.


    Contests separate the people with great ideas and place them in competition with, and self-imposed isolation from, one another while shining the bright hot spotlight of idiots from the sidelines to take better aim with dismissive and interfering comments. No hackerspace, lab, or manufacturer invites public observation and review of the ongoing development process and it’s not because of secrecy… you don’t rally the public at a playground to observe and assist while teaching your child to tie their shoes… nor does one gather a group to observe father/son replace the alternator in the car… … and you don’t these because you actually want to get the job done rather than become the target of ridicule from those that never managed to do enough to get themselves off the sidelines and perform yet speak large and loud as though holding authority and vast expertise… , but won’t lift a finger to help…

    Contests are great for competetive activities… build community, scare up great attention… money changes hands, excitement is gathered… and you have a winner or perhaps a winning team… but EVERYONE else loses.

    Engineering best thrives in the ubiquitously known, dimly lit, messy tesla/edison/frankenstein lab, where barely more than gentle voices are heard save for when distance requires raising a voice or the rare EUREKA is exclaimed, or a plain-out argument over technical detail erupts to “lubricate” the process. Collaboration is not a public event. I point to a garage where the APPLE computer was designed… the Wright Brothers… Edison’s lab… Archimedes… and every university lab…

    1. First off, I agree with you that the dynamics of a Contest are in firm opposition of the stated goal of “making something that matters” and “changing the world”. However, it seems to me that your project actually fits their timeline pretty good. In your case, which, I’m saying is the exception, you actually aren’t hindered any by participation. Just my opinion.

      Secondly, I can help you with the mapping. That’s easy. I have some questions though:
      You say that doppler looks just like a rain storm. Isn’t that the same with barometric pressure? I don’t know much about the subject, but I know people used to have barometers in their living rooms right next to the clock, or even built into the clock, specifically so they’d know if it was going to rain, and thus how to dress. So how does your solution tell the difference? Is it the exact nature of the curve? What are the maths you are using? Have you tried taking a measurement from 3 probes and doing direction finding? Does it work? How often do storms happen where you are?

      Seems to me publicity would actually help your project. Being that experiments need to be done when actual tornados come, and you can’t make a tornado come, that you’d need as many geo-diverse people as possible working on the project.

      I wouldn’t worry about getting cooperation with broadcasters either. Once you have a working product, you can just point them to a url and tell them “please use this”. They either will or won’t. Until you have the working product, contacting them would be premature.

      1. Re-read. The non-doppler radar shown on tv during the Barneveld event meant you could not tell it was a tornado, it all looked just like rain, you were not seeing wind direction and speed, just rain. Doppler is a great improvement but requires a meteorologist or technically oriented individual to interpret, the common person can’t tell much.

        The example graph I included is where researcher Tim Samaras placed a barometer in the expected path and the tornado did paed over it shows what happens to the local barometric pressure at the point of the funnel itself. A quarter mile away you would see the same negative going peak as it passes by but to lesser depth, further away still the same negative peak but again even lesser. Imagine a ball bearing lying on a sheet, it would cause a depression, and if you were to measure height of the sheet at many different points you could determine the location of the ball bearing and how deep the drop it was causing. Same here, but measuring air pressure.

        1. It was true in the past that you needed a meteorologist to interpret doppler, but they don’t still do that. The raw data is processed by software, and the meteorologist uses that data. If they’re tweaking it, they’re just tweaking the threshold values on the software, they wouldn’t actually be trying to visually interpret doppler by hand; and if they did, they wouldn’t end up with any corrected images to show on the map overlay!

          To start with there is just minimal directional correction. Then they run an algorithm using a bunch of other data to predict if the rain actually hit the ground or not. That’s the big problem with doppler; a lot more rain falls out the bottom of clouds than lands on the ground! Quite often there is rain coming down out of the cloud but it evaporates before ever hitting the ground, and if you just look at raw doppler you see all this “extra” rain. That is one reason that airplanes need different weather data than people on the ground. Most of the processing is so that people on the ground aren’t being told about rain that didn’t get that far. In the old days, a meteorologist had to look at that and there a lot of fuzzy art/skill in telling if it would actually rain or not. But now computers can calculate it in a reproducible way.

          You don’t need a TV weather person, (BTW they’re just talking heads who read what the computer predicts) you need a programmer who is good at math and cares about your problem.

      1. Oh, believe me. I don’t mind if someone else gets this out there quicker. There’s tons of motivation to see it out there ANY way possible… like the PBS show recounting a tornado striking a school building and a class of kindergarden children killed when the hallway wall collapsed on them.

    2. If anyone else DOES wish to do this as a HAD contest item, you have my permission to take the idea and run with it. If I were to do the HAD contest it would be a large loss of time spent learning to manipulate the site to post all the reports, pics, data, progress, software, and then maintain it all… Universities just make you easily and quickly document all effort and results in a Lab Notebook so there is a record of it and you get to quickly move on. A much greater method that I’ll stick to.

      There was a HAD article including incubators just a few days before this contest was announced. In posts to THAT article is where I disclosed the concept by describing it for others to work the problem too, and did this on HAD SPECIFICALLY to get the attention of the most flexible minds in the world to comment and knock ideas around. With a thing like this it doesn’t matter which way it gets done, only matters how quickly… hence making the concept public. So fault me for taking a shot at getting a large collaboration going… It’s a personal fault that I repeatedly keep trying to push rope despite knowing better. With a concept of service to humanity like this it doesn’t matter if it gets done by me or someone steals it and gets it done… doesn’t matter at all. Humanitarian. The needs of the many.

  8. Love how u guys do these prizes to get more ppl making cool stuff, but please just use a cookie or whatever for that splash page, or fix the home and logo links to point to /home/ for the time being.

      1. Though multiple actual people collaborating on the same project, each with their own account, is allowed, right? I didn’t find any mentions of it in the rules. (Is collaborating with robots allowed? I saw “automated entries” are prohibited, but I guess that refers to e.g. using a script to spam many projects in hopes of getting more skulls.)

    1. Where does it say that?
      In my understanding, #7 says you own the intellectual rights, but the content should be free (like in free beer) and open source. The sponsor own the right to use your project for publish/advertise activities.

    2. OK I went and read Rule #7.

      If you don’t understand what it says, why not just ask instead of making wild assumptions/accusations?

      What it says is that the projects are expected to be open source. Not only can the sponsor therefore use your idea, I can too, and so can everybody else on hackaday, or anywhere else. The part about the sponsor license is that they can use and reproduce it in any way they want for the purposes of the contest. If the contest entries were proprietary, then that would raise worrisome edge cases for those who are highly protective of their IP; but when the entries are open source, it is meaningless. And outside of their running the contest and using the entries as advertising, they would still have to follow whichever open source license you used.

  9. I fully understand the competition and how it’s rigged, but anyone doing a serious project with plans of commercializing it is in for a tough lesson on fine print.

    1. I found all the rules to be in regular-sized print as defined by default browser setting, but your mileage may vary.

      The problem with Serious Projects With Plans of Commercializing is not any fine print, but that this contest is intended for open source projects. I think, if you’re very serious about commercializing an open source project you’re probably going to be totally OK with all of the contest rules, regardless of font size. Some people who are doing open source might have a personal or political aversion to allowing the sponsors to use entries in advertising, but from a Serious Business Perspective it would just be free advertising for you, too.

      But yeah, if you were planning on making a proprietary project and want to enter it here for the chance to make a couple bucks, you should be advised of three things: Lots of people enter, the prizes are pretty small, and you have to open source it. That is not exactly a sweet spot for attracting otherwise-proprietary projects. Much more important to consider is that a successful business strategy for an open source product is very different than for a proprietary product.

  10. “The Contest is not open to residents of Quebec, Cuba, Iran, Myanmar (formerly Burma), North Korea, Sudan, Syria, or any jurisdiction where the Contest would be restricted or prohibited by law.”

    I hate French Canadians as much as the next guy, but it seems excessively harsh to lump them in with North Koreans….

    Obviously that’s required to comply with some law, I’m curious what that might be…

    1. Pretty much every contest I see, Canadian or otherwise, excludes Quebec, but I’ve never looked up what the problematic law is. Let me see…

      Turns out Quebec has some unusual requirements for contests, such as everything published for the contest must be provided to the contest regulator well in advance for editing, and these are very inconvenient to comply with: https://www.quora.com/Why-do-many-Canadian-contests-exclude-Quebec

  11. At the previous prize I proved the pollution of the ignition-based motors can be reduced.
    Damn, I even rebuilt a gas chromatograph!
    Studies were done, graphics were presented, results were discussed.
    Nothing happened, nobody was interested.
    So nothing from me for this year.
    I prefer to keep my projects and experiments for myself instead of giving them for free.
    I am sorry guys but I can not trust you anymore.

    1. Never ever ever open source anything because you wanted credit for having given it away.

      Open source it because you want the world to have it; because you believe making it available to the world makes the world a better place.

      You shared your project. You don’t know of anybody being interested so far. Does that actually make its availability to the world less useful? If it was a good idea before, and if it would have been good if people were interested, then would it not still be just as good if they became interested in the future? And isn’t making it available achieving that goal of availability either way?

      If it has to be popular to be useful, then that would require a different project, not the making of the thing but the promotion of it, and that would take years of effort before much progress could be expected. Not just one annual contest. Also, totally unrelated to the part of making it available to the world. And it doesn’t have to be done by the same person as the one who made it available, or at the same time!

      Personally, I don’t even know what an “ignition-based” motor is! Does that mean non-diesel IC engines? The thing about that is that these are expected to be phased out over the next couple decades for most uses, like automobiles, so that decreases the interest. Especially if it is a very theoretical proof-of-concept that doesn’t lead to a DIY project!

      Never compete because you want to win. Compete because you want to compete, and then give winning your 100% effort. Notice that trying to win is only the means, not the goal.

  12. From the rules, section 7:

    “No Conflicting Obligations / Government Employees: By participating, Participant represents and warrants that Participant is not subject to any conflicting obligations that may restrict Participant’s participation in the Contest or the use of Participant’s submissions by Sponsor, judges, or other parties as contemplated herein. A Participant who is an employee of the U.S. Government, or who is employed by any other entity that may restrict participation in the Contest, represents and warrants that he or she has obtained all necessary approvals needed to participate in the Contest and submit intellectual property as contemplated by these Official Rules.”

    That would cover employers’ intellectual property agreements, the ones we discussed a couple of weeks ago, right?
    (I don’t mean it shouldn’t, but people under those need to be cognizant of this potential conflict.)

    In related news, GitHub has just started allowing its employees to work on personal projects on company time and equipment: https://www.reddit.com/r/programming/comments/60n6or/github_employees_can_now_develop_their_own_ip/

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