Is It A Stupid Project If You Learn Something From The Process?

Fidget spinners — so hot right now!

[Ben Parnas], and co-conspirator in engineering inanity [Greg Daneault], brought to the recent Boston Stupid Hackathon in Cambridge, MA, their IoT-enabled Fidget Spinner…. spinner. A Spidget Finner. Yep, that’s correct: spin the smartphone, and the spinner follows suit. Stupid? Maybe, but for good reason.

Part satire on cloud tech, part learning experience, a curt eight hours of tinkering brought this grotesque, ESP32-based device to life. The ESP can the Arduino boot-loader, but you’ll want to use the ESP-IDF sdk, enabling broader use of the chip.

Creating an app that pulls data from the phone’s gyroscope, the duo set up the spinner-bot to access the WiFi and request packets of rotational data from the smartphone via a cloud-based server — the ‘spincloud.’ Both devices were enabled as clients to circumvent existing IoT services.

[Parnas] stipulates that — theoretically — you could control as many spinners as you can imagine with this setup, but one is quite enough of a silly idea for us. Ridiculous or not — if you learn something, then it’s probably worthwhile! So keep hacking away at those ideas and you might be able to justify it to all the people with concerned stares.

To start, you can tell them you’re in  good company.

25 thoughts on “Is It A Stupid Project If You Learn Something From The Process?

  1. My 14-year-old son made a fidget spinner of his own design in the machine shop class he just took at a local community college. Next year, he joins the robotics team, probably as a fabricator.

      1. Your messing with my mind! Lol.

        I’m fine with fidget spinners, but they are a toy. Toys distract other students who are trying to learn.
        I remember when fidget spinners were called “yo-yos” and they weren’t allowed in the classroom….
        Because they distract the other students!

        Spin all you want, but not in the damn classroom!
        I want to purchase a gross of terrible, horrible, cheap spinners, and give them away for free.
        The obnoxious sound of them annoying everyone that goes to a PTA meeting will get them banned from classrooms, and everybody wins!

        I mean, go ahead and spin them on your own time. They are a toy.
        Don’t improve your grades by distracting the other students.

          1. ADD is a real medical condition. Being a badly-behaved little twat isn’t. It’s important to learn the difference, lest children grow up making excuses for everything and never taking responsibility for themselves.

            Also Asperger’s.

          2. As my wife (a teacher) and her coworkers say, “If it’s not in the IEP or 504, they don’t need it and it’s at the teacher’s discretion.”

  2. No one mentioned that [James Hobson] used dithering with a reduces palette to get that huge multi-frame gif down to about 3 MB. I want to know if he used some specific software?

    As for the fidget thingy … it’s a “proof of concept” and being able to do a “proof of concept” is always a good thing in my books.

  3. Very few things are stupid if the point is to learn something, especially collectively.

    by, “very few things are stupid”, I’m excluding any darwin award level blatantly stupid… i.e. excluding those who experiment with base jumping without a parachute (sometimes literally, other times using alternative, i.e. wing-suites, jet-man and others who dared their life, survived and got famous for it)

    1. Damn. forgot to include:

      One of the many things learnt by this includes the massive latency between the phone, internet, server+code, internet and back to the fidget spinner.

      Oh, fun fact: Where I’m at fidget spinners are also called, “Autism amusers” by the general public.

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.