Today’s Challenge Is All About Work-From-Home Life

You sure do learn a lot when life suddenly makes it impossible to go into the office and asks that you instead do the same work remotely. Sure, there are the obvious challenges like needing a device to do the work on and an internet connection that’s not going to melt down when family or roommates are trying to Zoom at the same time as you one-on-one with the boss. But there’s way more to it. The Refresh Work-From-Home Life challenge takes this on as the next phase of the Hackaday Prize gets under way this morning.

If the global pandemic caused you to find yourself working from home, I’m sure it’s been quite a ride. Maybe you learned what your spine feels like after hunching over a MacBook in bed for 40 hours. Others discovered that the commute had been silently serving as a power-down sequence for your “work brain” — without it you never stopped thinking about, or more likely worrying about, work. And without that change in venue, it’s far too easy to feel like you were now living at work. So let’s invent the things that can make us productive from home while maintaining physical health and preserving our sanity.

Ten entries in this challenge will be awarded with $500 and ushered into the final round where the grand prize of $25,000 and four other top prizes await. What kind of things are we looking for? The best ideas are the ones we haven’t had yet, but I can spitball a bit to get things rolling.

Mirror with a bracket turns a laptop webcam into an overhead project for Zoom classrooms

Furniture and other infrastructure can be a real sore-spot when not a good fit. We’d love to see your design that uses a single sheet of plywood (I know, those cost a bazillion dollars these days but just go with it) to build an adjustable workspace that fits your chair height and needs. Bonus points for one that folds away at quitting time to reassure you that work is done!

Office interruptions from co-works sometimes feel like a distraction. But without them you might not get your body moving for hours on end… not good for you! Design an assistant that watches for your poor sedentary habits and sasses you until you take some time to stretch your old bones. Or show off the gadgets that make living the digital nomad life easier like the awesome document camera hacks we saw from teachers when classrooms were closed last year.

Show off your proof of concept by starting a project page on Hackaday.io and using the dropdown in the left sidebar to enter it into the 2021 Hackaday Prize. You can continue to update it until judging begins at the end of July.

We’re already living in the future. Working or learning remotely is a big part of that. Let’s bend our homes and our habits to find a better way to do it!

Hackaday Podcast 122: Faster Than Wind Travel, Sisyphish, ALU Desktop Calculator, And Mice In Space

Hackaday editors Elliot Williams and Mike Szczys marvel at the awesome hacks from the past week. We had way too much fun debating whether a wind-powered car can travel faster than the wind, and whether or not you can call that sailing. Low-temperature desoldering was demystified: it’s the bismuth! And we saw a camera gimbal solve the problem of hand tremor during soldering. Ford just wants to become your PowerWall. And the results are in from NASA’s mission to spin mice up in a centrifuge on the ISS.

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 (around 55 MB)

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Final Weekend For Display Challenge Of The Hackaday Prize

This is the final weekend to enter your display-related project in the 2021 Hackaday Prize. The good news is, pretty much anything that has a display on it fits the bill here.

The goal of the “Rethink Displays” challenge is to envision interesting ways to visualize data. How many times an hour do you reach for an unlock a smartphone just to get a small bit of data — current temperature, upcoming appointment, the next street to turn on, or how much time is left on your soufflé. There must be another way!

The newspaper is an eInk display that hides in plain sight among non-dynamic framed artwork.

That’s where you come in! Show off us a clever way to convey meaning by choosing a display that makes sense for the type of data and power budget available. Maybe it’s an ePaper display that camouflages itself as wall art, a set of analog meters for the current weather, or a way to upcycle old displays to live on after their portable lives have ended.

This doesn’t need to be a final product. Ten entries will be selected to receive a $500 prize and move on to the final round at the end of October. So if you spend this weekend pulling together a proof of concept, and do a superb job of telling the story of what you’re building, you’ll be firmly in the running! Finalists will have plenty of time to work on completing the designs.

Have a great idea but no time to work on it? Let people know it’s up for grabs by sharing the concept below.

Hackaday Podcast 121: Crazy Bikes, DIY Flip Dots, EV Mountain Climbing, And Trippy Tripterons

Hackaday editors Mike Szczys and Elliot Williams discuss a great week of hardware hacks. Two delightful mechanical hacks focus on bicycles: one that puts a differential on the front fork, and the other a flywheel between the knees. Elliot was finally impressed by something involving AI — a machine-learning guitar pedal. You’ve heard of a delta bot? The tripteron is similar but with a single rail for the three arms. After a look at flip dots, tiny robots, and solar air planes we close the show geeking out about racing electric vehicles up a hill and stories of the hardware that has made closed captions possible.

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 (55 MB or so.)

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Hackaday Podcast 120: Chip Shortage, VGA Glitching, Truly Owning Roku, And Omniballs

Hackaday editors Elliot Williams and Mike Szczys recount a week of awesome hacks. One you might have missed involves a Roku-based smart TV that was rooted and all secrets laid bare for the sole purpose of making an Ambilight setup work with it. We take a look at a creative blade-tracking system for a scrollsaw CNC project, and a robot arm that brings non-flat layers to 3D printing and envisions composite material printing. There’s a great template for video glitching using inexpensive VGA to CGA converter boards, cleanly squeezed into a nice enclosure. We are a bit giddy for the omniwheel robot designs [James Bruton] has been showing off. And we finish out the show with a great conversation happening this week on Hackaday: people from throughout the community share how the chip shortage is affecting their projects.

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 (Weighing in around 55 MB.)

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Hackaday Podcast 119: Random Robot Writing, Slithering Snake Shenanigans, And Phased Array Phenomena

Hackaday editors Mike Szczys and Elliot Williams pick up on the neatest hacks you may have missed. We start off with another “What’s that Sound?” so put your geeky-ears to the test and win a Hackaday Podcast T-shirt. Here are a couple of classic hacks to bring you joy: music based on Markov chains, and a squiggly take on the classic Nokia game of snake. For the more hardcore science geeks we dive into the B Meson news coming out of CERN’s physics experiments. And after taking a detour in bristle-bot-based pen plotting, we unpack the hidden system of pipes that carry oil, gas, diesel, and more from the refinery to your region.

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 (The best 57 MB you’ll download all day!)

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2021 Hackaday Prize: Rethink, Refresh, And Rebuild

The 2021 Hackaday Prize begins right now. Tap into your creativity and build your piece of a better future on the topics of supportive technology, everyday robotics, imaginative displays, and work-from-home innovations.

Now in its eighth year, the Hackaday Prize is a global engineering initiative that seeks out new and interesting uses of electronics and other technologies with an eye toward open source/open hardware and a goal of getting your creations out into the world.

The grand prize winner will receive $25,000 and a residency at the Supplyframe Design Lab. In addition to top prizes for the second through fifth place winners, 50 finalists will each receive a $500 prize. But you don’t need to win the Hackaday Prize to take something away. This is your calling: spend time working on those abstract ideas and figuring out how they will fit into life tomorrow, next month, or next decade. Whether it changes peoples’ lives or just brings a smile to a few faces, every interesting step forward is an example where people had ideas so crazy they actually worked. Let’s get in on that!

There are five categories to target with your builds. If you have an idea kicking around, you can probably enter it this year.

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