Hackaday Podcast Ep 015: Going Low Frequency, Robotic Machines, Disk Usage For Budgets, And Cellphones Versus Weather

Hackaday Editors Mike Szczys and Elliot Williams discuss the highlights of the great hacks from the past week. On this episode we discuss wireless charging from scratch, Etch-A-Sketch selfies, the robot arm you really should build yourself, bicycle tires and steel nuts for anti-slip footwear, and bending the piezo-electric effect to act as a VLF antenna. Plus we delve into articles you can’t miss about 5G and robot firefighting.

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!

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Next Week Is KiCon: Come For The Talks, Stay For The Parties

KiCad is the electronic design automation software that lives at the intersection of electronic design and open source software. It’s seen a huge push in development over the last few years which has grown the suite into a mountain of powerful tools. To help better navigate that mountain, the first ever KiCad conference, KiCon, is happening next week in Chicago and Hackaday is hosting one of the afterparties.

The two days of talks take place on April 26th and 27th covering a multitude of topics. KiCad’s project leader, Wayne Stambaugh, will discuss the state of the development effort. You’ll find talks on best practices for using the software as an individual and as a team, how to avoid common mistakes, and when you should actually try to use the auto-router. You can learn about automating your design process with programs that generate footprints, by connecting it through git, and through alternate user interfaces. KiCad has 3D modeling to make sure your boards will fit their intended enclosures and talks will cover generating models in FreeCAD and rendering designs in both Fusion360 and Blender. Dust off your dark arts with RF and microwave design tips as well as simulating KiCad circuits in SPICE. If you can do it in KiCad, you’ll learn about it at KiCon.

Of course there’s a ton of fun to be had as interesting hackers from all over the world come together in the Windy City. Hackaday’s own Anool Mahidharia and Kerry Scharfglass will be presenting talks, and Mike Szczys will be in the audience. We anticipate an excellent “lobby con” where the conversations away from the stages are as interesting as the formal talks. And of course there are afterparties!

  • Friday 4/26 Pumping Station: One, the popular Chicago hackerspace now celebrating its 10 year anniversary, is hosting an afterparty (details TBA)
  • Saturday 4/27: Hackaday is hosting an after party at Jefferson Tap from 6-8:30. We’re providing beverages and light food for all who attended the conference.

If you still don’t have a ticket to KiCon, you better get one right now. We’re told that you can count what’s left on two hands. Supplyframe (Hackaday’s parent company) is a sponsor of KiCon, and we have two extra tickets that came with that sponsorship. We like seeing a diverse community at these events and have saved these tickets for people from under-represented groups (such as for example women, LGBT+, and people of color) in the hardware world. Email us directly for the tickets, your information will remain confidential.

We’re looking forward to seeing everyone next week!

Hackaday Podcast Ep014: Keeping Raspberry’s SD Card Alive, We Love MRRF, And How Hot Are Flip Chips?

Elliot Williams and Mike Szczys take a look at advances in photogrammetry (building 3D models out of many photographs from a regular camera), a delay pedal that’s both aesthetically and aurally pleasing, and the power of AI to identify garden slugs. Mike interviews Scotty Allen while walking the streets and stores of the Shenzhen Electronics markets. We delve into SD card problems with Raspberry Pi, putting industrial controls on your desk, building a Geiger counter for WiFi, and the sad truth about metal 3D printing.

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!

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Cyphercon Badge Has a Paper Tape Reader Built In

Cyphercon 4.0 came to life in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on Thursday and the conference badge is a brilliant and engaging design. At first glance it looks like a fairly mundane rectangular badge. But a closer look reveals simplistic elegance wrapping around some clever mechanical design and the awesome interactive mechanism of being able to read paper tape.

That’s right, this badge can read the series of holes punched in the long paper strips you normally associate with old iron of 50 years ago.

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This Week: Cyphercon 4.0

Dust off your rainbow tables and grab a  burner laptop, this Thursday, April 11,  Cyphercon 4.0 roars into Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It’s a security conference with all that entails, but there is a bit of emphasis on crypto. A founding principle of Cyphercon is to support a  “free and open discussion on strong cryptography”.

You’ll find 10 community submitted puzzles to get warmed up for solving clever challenges. There’s a wireless capture-the-flag challenge to boost your wireless sniffing/spoofing skills using simple tools like Raspberry Pi and the YARD stick One (which we just saw doing keyless entry attacks). As you’d expect, a wide range of talks from well know security professionals has been planned.

Cyphercon 3.0 Badge

There’s a few talks I’m particularly interested in seeing. Vi Grey’s talk on NES ROM polyglots is a can’t miss for me even though I’ve I’ve read about his work at length. Oh, and you know all those 23andMe DNA tests? Michelle Meas has a talk about what happens when genome databases from companies like that get breached. Eric Escobar isn’t just running the wireless CTF, but giving a talk along with Matt Orme on hardware for remote wireless pen testing. And I’m a sucker for talks from legal experts so Amit Elazari Bar On’s presentation on legal issue with bug bounty programs is very high on my list.

But these are just the things that are formally planned at the conference. I missed out on last year’s Cyphercon and heard the badge hacking challenges were on-point. I’m looking forward to seeing what they can come up with this time around! I’ll report back on what I encounter… I’m hoping to run into you there!

Hackaday Podcast Ep13: Naked Components, Shocking Power Supplies, Eye-Popping Clock, And Hackaday Prize

Editors Mike Szczys and Elliot Williams geek out about all things hackerdom. Did you catch all of our April Fools nods this week? Get the inside scoop on those, and also the inside scoop on parts that have been cut in half for our viewing pleasure. And don’t miss Mike’s interview with a chip broker in the Shenzhen Electronics markets.

We rap about the newly announced Hackaday Prize, a word clock to end all other word clocks, the delights of transformerless power supplies, and tricks of non-contact voltage testers. You’ll even find an ode to the App Note, as well as a time when electronics came in wooden cases. And who doesn’t love a Raspberry Pi that grinds for you on Nintendo Switch games?

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!

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2019 Hackaday Prize Begins Right Now

This is the 2019 Hackaday Prize, the worldwide hardware design contest focused on product development. We know you can build a working prototype, and we still want to see you do that. But a great idea should have reach beyond your own workshop. This year’s Hackaday Prize is about taking your product across the finish line, from concept to design for manufacture.

Prizes to Jump Start Your Product

$125,000 and a Supplyframe DesignLab Residency await the Best Product winner. There are five focus categories this year, with the winner of each receiving a $10,000 prize. And to help encourage those early beginnings, we have another $10,000 in seed funding set aside which means up to $500 for each of the top 20 entries who get in and gather those “likes” before June first.

There are a few areas of focus you should have in mind as you work on your products. These are Concept, Design, Production, Benchmark, and Communication. All entries are eligible to receive prizes related to these, and in addition to the $50,000 we mentioned above for the winner in each area, we have another $3,000 for each set aside to recognize an honorable mention.

$200,000 is on the line and the final results will be revealed live on stage at the Hackaday Superconference in November. Your name should be in one of those sealed envelopes!

Why You? And Why the Hackaday Prize

Something amazing happened thirty years ago. A core of very motivated hackers took on the mantle of design, software, and even business skill, to build the computers that thrust us into a new information age. As these machines matured, a wave of software engineers picked up that torch, themselves embracing product and design thinking to accelerate the startup craze to new levels, again changing the world.

Ask yourself where we are right now. What are the hot new startups? The buzz now is all about billion dollar valuation but where is the substance? What we really need are the scrappy hackers who have a flag to plant to change the world. We’ve mistakenly been waiting for software companies to use their special sauce to lead a hardware renaissance, but instead it feels like we’re solving more and more trivial problems — where are the world-changers?

This is the hunger behind the 2019 Hackaday Prize. Three decades later, it is time for Hardware Engineers to be recognized as Innovators and leaders again. This is the call for the hardware community to come together, share knowledge, acquire new skills, and embark on a journey that uses the technological raw materials at our fingertips to invent the solutions that really matter. Make the idea and the execution happen now, and that enormous valuation will follow. Now is the time to change the world, you are the hackers who will do it, and this time around hardware will be leading the charge.

Improvisation, Mentorship, and Your Ability to Do Everything

We know you can build a working prototype of just about anything. But just like the creators of the Commodore, the Sinclair, Amiga, Apple, and Atari, you need to be more than a hardware designer. You need to know your users like you know yourself. You need an eye for industrial design — each of the machines mentioned above are iconic by how they look and not just by how they work. People behind these products knew what they were up against, and chose to make them stand-out designs in terms of performance, price, and how they fit into our lives.

You don’t have every skill necessary to make a great leap forward in every one of these areas — nobody does. But with the right community around you, you will learn some of them and find collaborators for the rest. Throughout the 2019 Hackaday Prize we’ll be pushing everyone to step past where you think your skills end, to learn what makes a product great, what makes it loved by the end user, and what makes it feasible to follow through to the end of the rainbow.

Get in early and take part in Prize demo days. Get matched up with world-class mentors and work with them in a masterclass situation from which everyone can learn. Show off your work and you’ll attract good ideas and good people. This is the Homebrew Computer Club of the new millennium. You’re going to find inspiration (and become the inspiration!) from everyone in the club. You’re going to riff on the breakthroughs of others, and together we’re all going to lead that Hardware Renaissance.

Don’t let this call go unanswered. Start your Hackaday Prize entry right now, and don’t look back.