Hackaday Podcast 108: Eulogizing Daft Punk Helmets, Bitcoin Feeling The Heat, Squeezing Soft Robots, And Motorizing Ice Skates

Hackaday editors Elliot Williams and Mike Szczys travel through the greatest hacks the week had on offer. Charge up your ice skates (literally) by adding spiked electric motors to push you across the frozen pond. If that’s too cold for early March, snuggle up with a good book under the warm light of a clever lamp made from a rotary-dial telephone. We discuss CAD and CAM in your browser, and a software tool to merge images with PCB gerber files. The episode wraps up with a discussion on the balance of quality versus speed when prototyping, and digesting the environmental impact of the Bitcoin network.

Take a look at the links below if you want to follow along, and as always, tell us what you think about this episode in the comments!

Direct download (~60 MB)

Places to follow Hackaday podcasts:

Episode 108 Show Notes:

New This Week:

Gerbolyze hex shaped half-tone example

Interesting Hacks of the Week:

Quick Hacks:

Can’t-Miss Articles:

2 thoughts on “Hackaday Podcast 108: Eulogizing Daft Punk Helmets, Bitcoin Feeling The Heat, Squeezing Soft Robots, And Motorizing Ice Skates

  1. Regarding Bitcoin and the ability to pay taxes:

    It’s not just the requirement to pay taxes in dollars or euros, but the reason WHY you have to pay the taxes in that currency, which is what makes fiat money money. The state has issued the money as debt – bonds that they sell to banks – which they have to buy back with the same currency, so they HAVE to take back the same money they create.

    The very reason the money exists is because the party that issued it has to reclaim it back one way or another. This is what serves as a guarantee of its value, although the exact amount may vary. If nobody else is paying anything for dollars, at least the state is obliged to buy it back and accept it as tender even when nobody else does. In that sense, it becomes part of the social contract.

    Bitcoin doesn’t have that property. Its value is based solely on a make belief that it has value in order to have another person buy it from you at a greater price than what you paid for it – for whatever excuse. This belief is supported by the fact that people keep speculating on its price in terms of real money, such as dollars or euros, so you can put a price on a bitcoin even though that has no relevance in terms of the actual value of the token. It is valued in dollars because people think it they can exchange it for more dollars later on, which really points to the fact that people value dollars and not bitcoins.

    1. First, the “fiat” bit really is just that the state declares it to be whatever they want their taxes paid in. When the dollar was backed by gold, pre-1970, you still couldn’t pay your taxes in gold — only dollars. It’s unrelated to bond issuance and the banking system.

      “Legal tender” means that the state is telling you that you have to accept this currency for transactions. You can barter, you can accept gold or bitcoin, but _by law_ you must also accept dollars. This is over and above the tax repayment stuff.

      Bitcoin’s speculative value is yet a third thing. My gut feeling is that it’s waaay more driving the Bitcoin price than anything else, although you’d also expect to see the price going up as more people wanted to hold more Bitcoin for whatever other reason, including simply wider adoption. But that could explain the prices as well. Anyone have data on the volume of Bitcoin transactions over time?

      The main thing that makes national currencies vary against each other is differential interest rates. If you get a higher return on your money by putting euros in the bank, you’d convert your dollars to euros and put them in the bank overseas, and then convert them back to dollars when you want to spend them. Exchange rates are dominated by this “interest rate parity” effect.

      The same doesn’t really go for Bitcoin, because Bitcoin interest rates are frankly crazy. At the moment they vary from 6% to like 0.5%, depending on where you stash your coins, which makes it look like it’s more of a risk premium than a return for lending the money. Unlike national currencies, there’s no bank insurance for Bitcoin, which makes the risk of putting it in the bank depend on how likely you think the bank is to go under. So sketchier “banks” have to offer you a higher “interest” rate to compensate this risk. It’s hard to call that an interest rate in the same way we do with dollars, where you get essentially the same rate from any bank.

      In short, I have no idea what’s driving the value of Bitcoin. :)

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.