These Twenty Projects Won The Musical Instrument Challenge In The Hackaday Prize

The Hackaday Prize is the greatest hardware competition on the planet. It’s the Academy Awards of Open hardware, and over the past few months we’ve challenged makers and artists to create the Next Big Thing. All things must come to an end, though, and last week we wrapped up the final challenge in the Hackaday Prize. The results were fantastic, with over one hundred entries to the Musical Instrument Challenge. Now, we’re ready to announce the winners.

Over the past few months, we’ve been running a series of five challenges, and picking the best twenty projects to come out of these challenges. The Musical Instrument Challenge was the final challenge in The Hackaday Prize, and now we’re happy to announce the winners. These projects have been awarded a $1,000 cash prize, and they’re moving onto the final round where one lucky winner will receive the Grand Prize of $50,000. Here are the winners of the Musical Instrument Challenge, in no particular order:

Musical Instrument Challenge Hackaday Prize finalists:

These projects are fantastic

There’s nothing that appeals to hackers more than musical instruments, and over the years we’ve seen plenty of hardware engineers develop their own synthesizers, their own instruments, and their own sound systems. These projects are the best of the best from world-class hackers, and yes, you too can be just like them.

The current trend of electronic musical instruments isn’t vast analog polysynths, despite the latest cool thing from Moog. No, the future is cheap toys, evidenced by Teenage Engineering, those tiny things from Korg, and an innumerable variety of Pocket Operators. This shouldn’t come as any surprise; there are far more Honda Accords sold than Lamborghinis. With a popular product, that means there’s a opportunity to build an Open Source version, and the Teensy Beats Shield from [Chris] is just that. It’s a portable audio sequencer just like a Pocket Operator. It’s based on the Teensy, and features a keyboard matrix and a high-resolution TFT display, a huge improvement on the LCD Soundsystem that is a Pocket Operator. This is a fun project, and something that is also a marketable product, and we’re glad to see it in the running for the Hackaday Prize.

But the musical instrument challenge isn’t just about making new instruments, it’s also about making new interfaces to create music. One of the winners that exemplifies this philosophy is the Turnado Hardware MIDI Controller from [Liam Lacey]. This is a controller for a very interesting piece of software, the Turnado from Sugar Bytes.

Turnado is a hardware effects controller with a few twists, but that really doesn’t quite capture everything it can do. Because it runs on a computer, the GUI and user interface is what you would expect — keyboard, mouse, and if you’re lucky, a touch screen controller. Musicians are tactile people, and messing around with graphical user interfaces and menus doesn’t really cut it for them. What’s really needed is a hardware interface — some knobs to turn.

That’s exactly what [Liam] built. It’s a hardware MIDI controller specifically developed to control Turnado. On board are nine independent joysticks, more than that many encoders, a few buttons, and a display to have everything make sense. All of this is controlled by a Teensy, and it is mostly a plug-and-play solution for controlling Turnado.

Two Hundred Thousand Dollars

These twenty entries in the Musical Instrument Challenge have already won $1,000 and they’re on the way to the final round of The Hackaday Prize where they’ll be in the running for the Grand Prize of $50,000.

In the coming weeks, we’re going to be sending the results of all five rounds in the Hackaday Prize over to our incredible panel of judges. They’re the ones that will find the best of the best, and best project in the running will receive the Grand Prize of $50,000. That’s not all, though; the second place winner will receive $20,000, the third $15,000, the fourth $10,000, and the fifth place winner $5,000. We’re giving out over two hundred thousand dollars in cash prizes, and already the results are phenomenal. We’ve got one hundred projects in the running, and one of them is going to walk away with the big prize.

We’ll be announcing the winner of the Hackaday Prize at the Hackaday Superconference — the greatest hardware conference on the planet — on November 2-4th. It’s not an event to be missed, and tickets are still available. This is three days of hardware hacking, and we’ll finally find out who is the greatest hardware hacker on the planet. Don’t miss it!

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