Gearing Up With The 2023 Hackaday Prize

You know how it goes. You’re working on a project, and you need to do some ultra-precise probing, so you end up making a custom PCB probing octopus along the way. Or you find that you spend more time making the jig to hold down a part for machining than you do machining it. Hackers are not merely a tool-using species, we’re a tool-making species – it’s in our nature to want to build the tools that make it easier to get the job done.

The Gearing Up round of the Hackaday Prize celebrates the tool makers. If you’ve got a project that maybe isn’t an end in itself, but rather one of those utility project that can make all the difference, we want to see it here. Maybe it’s obscure measurement gear, maybe it’s a test rig or a bolt sorter, maybe you’ve built your own reflow hot plate. This is the challenge round for you!

The Gearing Up round runs from yesterday, July 4th, until August 8th. As with all of the 2023 Hackaday Prize rounds, ten finalists will receive $500 and get entered for the big prizes to be announced in November.


A benchtop power supply is an absolutely classic gear project. Whether you choose to go all-out like [The Big One]’s Bench Power Supply or choose to go minimal like [John Loeffler]’s Open Power, we love to see what powers your projects. Another classic is the DIY soldering iron, like [vlk]’s OLED RT Soldering Pen or [Thomas Leputsch]’s USB-PD version.

Or how about building your own microscope? [Braun’s CNC] has a nice monocular Pi scope based on the camera module v 1.3 and the [FabLab München] doubles down with the Stereo Ninja, which couples two cameras with innovative display options.

Sometimes you need to build your own tools because nobody else out there is going to do it for you. That was certainly the case with [Colin O’Flynn]’s 2nd-place winning entry into the first-ever Hackaday Prize, the Chip Whisperer. Nobody else was making an affordable chip glitcher. Or take [Jiří Praus]’s lovely Precise Wire Bending Machine that he uses to make exquisite freeform circuit sculptures. We’re not sure which is the real piece of art. And from way out in left field, we still love [michimartini]’s Masking Tape Plotter. It’s a tool that fills a need we didn’t even know we had!

And don’t forget software! When developing embedded firmware, nothing comes in handy as often as a nice serial port plotter, and [Hasan Yavuz Özderya]’s is a great one. Any time I need a quick laser or CNC-cut box, I reach for [Florian Festi]’s box designer,

You get the idea, right? If it’s a project that helps you make other projects, it’s a tool project, and it’s a great fit for the Gearing Up Challenge. All that remains for you to do is write it up on, check out the contest rules, and enter it into the Hackaday Prize. We can’t wait to see what you’re up to!

3 thoughts on “Gearing Up With The 2023 Hackaday Prize

  1. As I’ve said elsewhere, these timeframes exclude most people. I’m moving to an area where parts can take 6+ weeks to deliver. If I want to submit a project with something I haven’t already made, then I’m automatically excluded from competitions because I simply can’t get parts in time. These challenges then become an in-crowd deal where I’m not really allowed to participate.

    1. This wasn’t really a “surprise, challenge round!” announcement, though. The dates, conditions, etc were all revealed back in March.

      Indeed, when we were scheduling the rounds, we took this into account. We put “Education” first because it’s probably the easiest category to enter on short notice. And that’s also why we have “Wildcard” bringing up the rear — to allow people who haven’t fit into any of the previous categories to enter at the end.

      Point is that we’re doing our best to make it as easy as possible to participate, but the thing has to have a begining and an end. The Prize already runs just under six months(!).

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