Wrencher-2: A Bold New Direction For Hackaday

Over the last year it’s fair to say that a chill wind has blown across the face of the media industry, as the prospect emerges that many content creation tasks formerly performed by humans instead being swallowed up by the inexorable rise of generative AI. In a few years we’re told, there may even be no more journalists, as the computers become capable of keeping your news desires sated with the help of their algorithms.

Here at Hackaday, we can see this might be the case for a gutter rag obsessed with celebrity love affairs and whichever vegetable is supposed to cure cancer this week, but we continue to believe that for quality coverage of the latest and greatest in the hardware hacking world, you can’t beat a writer made of good old-fashioned meat. Indeed, in a world saturated by low-quality content, the opinions of smart and engaged writers become even more valuable. So we’ve decided to go against the trend, by launching not a journalist powered by AI, but an AI powered by journalists.

Announcing Wrencher-2, a Hackaday chat assistant in your browser

Wrencher-2 is a new paradigm in online chat assistants, eschewing generative algorithms in favour of the collective expertise of the Hackaday team. Ask Wrencher-2 a question, and you won’t get a vague and made-up answer from a computer, instead you’ll get a pithy and on-the-nail answer from a Hackaday staffer. Go on – try it!

How may we help you today?
Talk to Hackaday

To give it a spin for all you folks we recruited our friend Roger from Fulchester Hackerspace, so now over to Roger the tester, who will show you how it’s done.



I have a difficult choice to make in selecting the MCU for my automatic teapot project. Should I go for a RISC-V chip like the Espressif ESP32-C6, or do you think the Raspberry Pi RP2040 would be a better choice?


Hi Roger, good question. We like the Pi chip, its peripherals are very vanilla ARM so refreshingly free of quirks, and those state machine peripherals have lots of potential. But on the other hand, the Espressif chip has on-board wireless, for which you’d have to use another module if you followed the Pi route.

Tell us, have you considered using a 555, by any chance?

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As you can see, we’ve delivered Roger some sage advice which definitely wouldn’t have come from any mechanical gizmo. Wrencher-2’s expertise doesn’t stop there though, we can also help you around the house!



The wind keeps blowing the lids off my trash cans. Can you suggest an easy way to stop this being a problem?


Hi Roger, this is a pretty straightforward problem to fix. First you will need an NVIDIA Jetson Nano with a camera pointed at your bins, and use Tensorflow to identify when the lids are being blown off, and also where they land. Then you should design and build an all-terrain autonomous tracked robot with a five-jointed manipulator arm and a vacuum pickup device. Equip it with GPS guidance and a camera, then use OpenCV to detect the bin lid before picking it up and placing it back on the bin.

Talk to Hackaday

Away from the bench and the home, of course, Wrencher-2 is always there for you. Not everyone is a workshop genius, so the help and advice of a team with our breadth of experience is beyond value.



I need to put a 10 mm hole in this piece of wood. What tools do you suggest I use?


Hi Roger, yes, that’s a tough one. In a sense you’re not so much making a hole in the wood as removing a cylinder of wood from it. We suggest first buying a laser cutter with a bed large enough to hold the wood, and then designing and positioning your ideal cylinder in your CAD package of choice. Then you can cut it out with the laser cutter, and if you still need a hole, there’s one handily left in your wood. But we have to ask, in 2024, why are you still relying on wood? There are plenty of very good wood analogue 3D-printer filaments available, why don’t you try 3D printing it instead?

Talk to Hackaday

Here at Hackaday we’ve for many years sought to bring you the best of new technology for a brighter future, and of these efforts Wrencher-2 is but the latest. People are doing exciting things with chat assistants, from identifying edible mushrooms to writing complex legal briefs, and we wanted to bring the same level of reliability and competence to your bench, along with our personal touch. We’re really looking forward to what you’ll do with it!

[Editor’s note: Sadly, due to human beings’ need for sleep and lack of VC funding, we had to limit access to our Wrencher-2 experiement to the wee hours of the morning on April 1st. If you missed your chance, there’s still the comment section!]

44 thoughts on “Wrencher-2: A Bold New Direction For Hackaday

  1. Does raise a potential use case for AI with the old trick of trying to deliberately design something crazily to help get you out of your self imposed constraints and think about the otter from a different angle.

    …Or just get your design on HaD and read the comments :p

    1. Clearly a joke. A laser cutter requires a 2D input file (xy). A circle (xy) is needed not a cylinder (xyz). The depth of the hole (z) is determined by laser power and cutting speed. Laser power and cutting speed are usually set using a color, for example black is for cutting , blue is for engraving. The time required for cutting is dependent on whether the input file is raster or vector. Cutting is quicker if the line is a vector. Raster is needed for engraving large areas. If you are needing a true hole (all the material is vaporized and no plug is left behind, you would deeply engrave a filled circle rather than cutting a simple circle which leaves a plug (column) behind. When cutting a small circle the plug may be vaporized depending on the kerf (width) of the laser beam. Also you should be aware that the focal point plays a role in determining the kerf. But I digress ….

  2. I’d prefer an Ai based chatbot specialising in tech that’s trained on Github, Stack Exchange and Hackerday.io data … and I’d want all the answers generated in the style of Donald Trump so that even a 6 year old could understand it (or myself after 3 pints of Dead Rat Cider)

        1. I mean I kind of agree, at some point there will be no more blog posts and looking back someone might realize the foolishness of wasting one on such a goofy idea

          These things don’t grow on trees ya know!

  3. Should’ve guessed it but I took hook, line and sinker.
    Apart from that, answers to most queries (on hackaday – not The Great British bakeoff :p) probably _should_ end with “Have you considered using a 555 instead?”.

  4. I was expecting some variation of “I’ve got a project I want to submit that does this this and that” and the chatbot responding “ugh repeat content, this was done a decade ago with a single screwdriver and a 555, you fail by virtue of the fact that you used a raspberry pi or used non-metric measurements in your writeup and only remembered to convert 8 out of 9 of them.”

  5. In all seriousness, it would be nice to have an AI “assistant” that could help locate relevant HaD articles. The search and tags are super limited. For example, I can’t for the life of me locate an article about a writing Portable Executable using only notepad and ASCII. It was super impressive since the usable instruction set was so limited but now I can’t find it! :(

    1. Go to Google or Bing or duckduckgo and type in this:

      Site:hackaday.com Portable Executable using only notepad and ASCII


      Site:*.hackaday.com/* Portable Executable using only notepad and ASCII

      And perhaps watch a couple YouTube videos about “Google dorks”… Alternatively you can make your own search engine that only crawls hackaday in a couple hours using apache nutch which is free and open source.

  6. Thanks for the reminder – I have a machine that I cannot EVER boot on April 1st, because it does several minutes of pretending to delete all of my files and trying to make me feel bad. Now if I could just remember which machine that was..

  7. they missed the obvious question to ask – “why does HaD have such a crappy comment system?” to which they could have responded “We are running it on a 555, and this is the best it can do”.

  8. Talking of human assistance, I noticed that they get more openly rude to clients these days, and now I’m wondering if that will retained with AI assistence.
    I heard stories that AI is certainly capable, but it depends if the AI takeover happens before or after blatant rudeness has become completely acceptable if that is implemented or supressed I guess.

  9. Didn’t think to check the date of the post until I got to the garbage can lid part! :-) This DOES spark a question though … would there be any value in Hackaday piping the stories that result from a search on the website through some kind of AI bot to summarize them or prioritize them according to likelihood to be relevant to your question or to compare and contrast how well some of them might answer your question?

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