Coin Cell Challenge: Use Coin Cell, Win Prizes

Today, we’re calling all hackers to do the most with a single coin cell. It’s the Coin Cell Challenge, and we’re looking for everything from the most low-power electronics to a supernova in a button cell battery.

Electronics are sucking down fewer and fewer amps every year. Low power is the future, and we’re wondering how far we can push the capabilities of those tiny discs full of power. The Coin Cell Challenge is your chance to plumb the depths of what can be done with the humble coin cell.

This is a contest, and as with the tradition of the Open 7400 Logic Competition and the recent Flashing Light Prize, we want to see what the community can come up with. The idea is simple: do something cool with a single coin cell and you’ll secure your fifteen minutes of fame and win a prize.

Three Challenges

To kick this contest off, we’re opening up three challenges to all contenders to the world heavyweight champion of button cell exploits. The first, the Lifetime Award, will go to whoever can run something interesting the longest amount of time on a coin cell. The Supernova Award is the opposite – what is the most exciting thing you can do with a button cell battery, lifetime be damned? The Heavy Lifting Award will go to the project that is the most unbelievable. If you think you can’t do that with a coin cell battery — lifting a piano or starting a car, for example — odds are you probably can. We want to see it.

Prizes and Rules

All Hackaday hardware hacking challenges need prizes, and for this one, we’re rolling out the red carpet. We’re offering up cash prizes for the top coin cell hacks. There are three $500 USD cash prizes, one for each winner of the Lifetime, Supernova, and Heavy Lifting awards. We’re not stopping there, because the top twenty builds overall will each receive $100 in Tindie credit, where the winners can cash in on some artisanal electronics sold by the people who design them.

What do you have to do to get in on this action? First, you need to build something. This something must be powered by nothing more than a single coin cell battery and must include some type of electronics. We also want this to be Open Source, and you’ll need to start a project on The full rules are available over here, but don’t wait — the deadline for entry is January 8th, 2018.

We’re excited to see what the community comes up with, and who will find a production coin cell that’s the size of a dinner plate. This is going to be a great contest with overheating coin cells and tiny bits of metal flying across the room. This is going to be a contest filled with blinkies and wireless devices that run for far, far too long. Someone is going to misread the rules and tape together a meter tall pile of coin cells. It’s going to be awesome, so start your project now.

74 thoughts on “Coin Cell Challenge: Use Coin Cell, Win Prizes

          1. NO THERE SHOULD NOT (or if there are, I will gladly take advantage of them)! Won’t give it away, but they are orders of magnitude better at certain things…

          1. I think the problem is worse than that. I made a mini bar code reader in 2002 with a CR2023 in it. I recently found a box of them – with the original battery in – and they worked as soon as I swiped a bar code (there was no off switch). That is 15 years with a cell battery in it, and it is still going… So I can stick a new battery in and pretty much guarantee if you read one bar code a month it will still be going in 2032..

      1. It would need to run a counter though to time those months. Or to charge a capacitor very slowly but that would have to be one without any loss or leakage.
        Either way it’s less simple than it sounds.

        1. I’ve had a device strapped to my wrist for years that runs continuously on a CR2016 coin cell, counting once per second with the LCD display always on. I just recently changed the cell, but I think the last one ran for about 4 years.

          1. Some of the newer Casio digital watches claim to last 10 years on a single coin cell, which I think is the maximum lifetime most coin cell manufacturers will guarantee no matter how little current you draw.

          1. I am not so keen to peel one open but that doesn’t matter as 1.5 Volts is the voltage of a cell. On the other hand a 9 Volt “batter” has 6 cells as 6 times 1.5 is 9

      1. If the car starter is being ran off of the single cell by means of an electric to chemical energy booster… like a rocket engine ignited by the coin cell to in turn transfer the “amplified” heat into a steam generator to turn over more heat to convert into further steam for the generator and then split off for a super capacitor bank for starting a car … and maybe further… Would that be an acceptable bending of the rules?

    1. There’s actually quite a lot of lithium in a AA. More than enough to spontaneously ignite in water.
      Even tiny coin cells tend to produce a fairly large explosion if they are presented with a reasonable current for even a few seconds. Heating lithium in an enclosed metal container isn’t good to stand too close to when you watch it. Wouldn’t think there was enough lithium to do anything useful with. Maybe a really tiny heat engine and a controlled reaction.

      1. Depends on how strict you want to be with your definition of ‘power’, 20mA draw is the spec for a 2477. You can squeeze 30mA from a CR2032 without too much of a lifespan hit. I don’t know what the short circuit max is.

      1. WTF, if that exist then why don’t they use them everywhere? I mean imagine two of these in a digital caliper, it would last a month in the off position!
        But certainly in keylights and such they would be better than those 150mA type cells that are not much smaller.

      1. NOT GUILTY!

        Hahaha… what we did as kids to get sweets out of those turn-wheel vending machines… Sometimes the coin will expand and you could just keep turning the wheel until the whole vending hopper was completely emptied!

        1. Hang on a minute Frank… You’ve probably aided in the Super Nova level prize entry… a dead short is technically “some form of circuitry”… just a circuit that is a little bit on the short side ;-)

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