2018 Hackaday Prize: Build Hope. Design the Future.

Today the 2018 Hackaday Prize begins with a roar. This is our global engineering initiative with huge prizes for those hackers, designers, and engineers who want to use their skill and energy to build something that matters. This year, we challenge you to Build Hope. Show the world the amazing ways technology enriches humanity, and that its benefits can be shared by all.

There is over $200,000 in cash prizes headed to the most interesting hardware builds of the year. With plenty of room for great ideas, the top 100 entries will each receive a $1,000 cash prize and continue the build to final judging. The top five entries will be awarded a $50,000 Grand Prize, and $20,000, $15,000, $10,000, and $5,000 for 2nd through 5th places. We even have some additional seed funding set aside to help early entries to get started.

What is Building Hope?

It feels like there is a steady drumbeat of doom and gloom surrounding technology these days. We hear this foretold in many ways, things like robots rising up to enslave humanity, artificial intelligence and big data being used to manipulate people, and quantum computing on the horizon that will invalidate cryptographic security. Our challenge? Get in there and show the incredible good that technology can do in the world.

Design something that shows the benefits of using knowledge and creativity to solve a problem. Be the shining light that proves our future is full of hope because smart people care about what happens in the world and to the people who live here. It is our responsibility as those who understand powerful technologies to show the best ways they can be used to build up humanity. This is your chance.

Build Hope. Design the Future.

Five Challenges to Choose From

We have five challenge categories to choose from in the 2018 Hackaday Prize. The top twenty entries from each category will receive $1,000 and continue work in order to compete for the top prizes.

2018 Hackaday Prize Challenges

Open Hardware Design Challenge:

This is the challenge you should enter right now. Choose a challenge facing the world today and design the best plan possible for the boldest solution you can envision.

Over the years we’ve seen thousands of Hackaday Prize entries that take on farming, transportation, pollution, safety, scientific research, education, and assistive technologies like custom prosthetics, innovative wheelchairs, and braille interfaces for smartphones. There’s plenty in the world that needs solving and you have the talent to do it!

Robotics Module Challenge:

Build a module that makes it easier to put together advanced robots. Show your designs for the parts that others can build on.

Power Harvesting Challenge:

Build a module that harvests ambient power. Show how we can reduce or remove batteries from more devices.

Human Computer Interface Challenge:

Build an innovative interface for humans to talk to machines or machines to talk to humans. Break down more barriers to make devices more intuitive and natural to use.

Musical Instrument Challenge:

Be creative with this round and build a module, interface, or full instrument that evolves or goes far beyond modern music instrumentation.

Seed Funding For Early Entries

Itching to build something? Get a boost on your material budget by securing a bit of seed funding. Enter your design in the first challenge and pack it with as much information as possible. Each “like” that you get from the Hackaday.io community translates to $1 in seed funding. We have $4000 set aside with a max of $200 per entry. You can follow progress by checking the leaderboard on the Hackaday Prize page.

2018 Hackaday Prize Celebrity Judges

Incredible Judges

The Hackaday Prize has something really special in the judges that volunteer their time and talent to review the 100 finalists. They are accomplished engineers working, researching, and forging ahead to new frontiers in technology. Learn more about the judges on the Hackaday Prize page.

Get Started at World Create Day

This coming Saturday is Hackaday World Create Day, and the perfect time to get started with your Hackaday Prize entry. Stop by a meetup in your area (or host your own) and put your heads together and pick the design challenge you want to work on. We love seeing collaborative entries and this is a great chance to build your engineering dream team.

Five Years of Amazing Engineering

Thousands of entries have been submitted to the Hackaday Prize over the years. Founded in 2014 by Supplyframe CEO Steve Flagg, the Hackaday Prize is now in its fifth year. The challenges change each year, but the goal remains the same: to Build Something That Matters. We are consistently amazed both by the quality of the solutions, and the uncovering of new and interesting problems targeted by the entries.

Studying earth’s oceans is increasingly important be it due to climate change or pollution. Alex Williams was awarded the 2017 Hackaday Prize for his Open Source Underwater Glider, a suite of sensors built into a cleverly low-power underwater autonomous vehicle. In 2016, Alberto Molina took the top spot for DTTO, a modular robotics system made up of multiple single-hinge segments that can reorient themselves. A team working toward an eye-controlled electric wheelchair placed first in 2015 for Eyedriveomatic — a solution that improved life for two of the team members with Motor Neuron Disease, (also called ALS). And the recipients of the first Hackaday Prize were recognized for their team’s development of a network of satellite ground stations (SatNOGS) which anyone can build, add to the network, and share time on to communicate with satellites as they make their orbit. This is an important tool to make low-cost research for things like Cubesats possible, and the network has been growing ever since.

If you feel the need for more inspiration, take a few minutes to look over the Hackaday Prize hall of fame of all of the top finishers through the years.

These are impressive ideas that began with the basic question of how can we do better? A simple idea can change the world but only if you share that idea and work to make it grow. Enter yours in the Hackaday Prize now!

One Week Left for Hackaday Belgrade Proposals

Do you have your tickets for Hackaday Belgrade? Our premiere European conference is on 26 May and tickets are on a rapid trajectory to sell out.

Those of you weighing the idea of presenting a talk, you now have less than one week to get your proposal to us. While we have already accepted several exemplary talks, final decisions won’t be made until after the submission deadline passes on Sunday, March 4th.

Mike Harrison showing off his demo work on the 2016 Hackaday Belgrade badge. If you have stories of the demoscene, consider sending in a talk proposal.

What kind of talks are we looking for? We’d love to have a few talks about the demoscene. The conference badge this year is a full-blown retrocomputer, and we’re working on a BASIC for it. If you can push pixels on a Comodore 64, we’d love to hear you talk about it. We’re also suckers for the lesser known stories of tech history (Mike Harrison’s talk on the Eidophor projector tech all but forgotten to history was a delight).

We’re always interested in creative design; think circuit boards that aren’t square and enclosures that go beyond just putting something in a simple box. And of course we’re forever in search of the rare gems that share a glimpse of the research world, like this computing cluster built to get around limited supercomputer time when calculating quantum effect simulations.

These are great talks presented to an audience hungry to share your excitement. Get those proposals in by the end of this weekend!

World Create Day is the Hackaday Event in Your Neighborhood

Hackaday World Create Day is on March 17th and it’s happening near you. Get together with hackers in your area and create something. Sign up now to host a World Create Day gathering! These are really easy to organize, but we can only do it with your help.

The Hackaday community from around the world will meetup and spend time building together on Saturday, March 17th. Pick one of those projects you’ve been meaning to dive into and get together with some old and new friends to hack on your projects together.

You should make this day your own. As with any hands-on hacking events it’s a good idea to block out a bit of time at the end for lightning talks to show off the builds everyone has been working on. Make the memories live on past a single day by taking pictures and posting the story of your World Create Day meetup. We enjoyed getting a great look at many of last year’s meetups this way and want to expand the builds we feature on the front page this year.

Meetup Organizers Wanted

Fill out this form to let us know you want to host a meetup.

Every year we have World Create Day meetups all over the world which are set up by local organizers. Many of those will happen again this year, but we also need you to organize an event in your area. We’ll help you get things set up and put your event up on the big map so others in your area will plan to join in. Do it now, if we get your shipping info early we’ll send you stickers and other swag to hand out at your gathering.

Build Something that Matters

The core of World Create Day is to stop making excuses and just build something. Great builds start with a plan. The Hackaday Prize will begin soon, and since you’re already getting together with other people, form a team and dream up your entry.

This is your take on building something that matters to the world. Come up with a plan that solves a problem facing humanity and publish your work on Hackaday.io. You may be surprised by the support you get for your idea, but you’ll never know until you put an idea out there. Join in Hackaday’s World Create Day on March 17th and let’s show the world the kind of hope that blossoms when we decide to build something that matters.

Retrotechtacular: The Best Jeep Commercial Ever

How often do we find ourselves thankful for advertising? When it comes to Hackaday’s Retrotechtacular column it’s actually quite often since it snapshots a moment in culture and technology. Today’s offering is a shining example, where we get a great look into vehicular utility of the day that is rarely seen in our modern lives.

The origin story of the Jeep is of course its prominence in World War II when more than half a million were produced. GIs who drove the vehicles constantly during the war greatly appreciated the reliability and versatility and wanted one for their own when returning home and a market rose up to satisfy that need. The modern equivalent would be the Hummer fad that started in the 1990’s. Humvee, the early ancestor of the Hummer, replaced the Jeep in the US military in the 1980’s and a version called Hummer entered the consumer market in ’92. But that was more of a comfort-meets-icon proposition, where the Jeep of the 1950’s (seen in the commercial below) delivered — even over delivered — on a promise of utility.

In this ad, the case is made for Jeep as farm implement, acting as plow, mower, even post hole digger. As a firefighting implement the announcer boasts that “One man with a Jeep can do the work of 100 men with shovels” by cutting fire breaks into the soil. It’s sold as the workhorse of cemeteries, ranches, county service crews, and anything else their marketing gurus could write into copy. We think the metrics are dubious but certainly the inexpensive build, versatile nature, and need for power equipment across the countryside brought these Jeeps into widespread rural and industrial service in myriad roles.

Power take off driving shaft to power circular saw. You can also see the hydraulics that lift and lower the saw.

What makes most of this possible is the existence of a power take-off (PTO). This is a mechanical connection from the engine of the vehicle to external components that can be switched out. Once connected, the speed of the engine can be controlled to adjust the power take-off operation. In conjunction with a hydraulic system that can lift and lower the implement, it becomes a remarkably versatile system. We begin to wonder the American vernacular includes the saying “it’s like the Swiss Army knife of…” rather than calling everything that’s insanely useful a Jeep.

Connect a pump to the PTO and you have a fire-fighting Jeep. Connect a generator and you can drive electric tools like the chainsaw used to cut down a tree in the video and to power an arc welder. There’s a gnarly-looking circular saw blade, and you’re going to spill your coffee when you get to the “Jeep-a-trench”. That’s right, a trenching attachment gives the vehicle’s suspension a rough workout. It boasts the ability to dig down six feet and complete the footings for an ordinary house in just three hours.

Willy’s MB, the company behind the Jeep must have employed a crew of hackers. What a blast it would have been to be in the research and development sessions to come up with 1,001 more uses for the equipment. The company has a bit of Jeep history you can peruse, but we’d really love to hear about the addon equipment ideas that didn’t make the cut. Are there any readers who have some stories along these lines? Let us know in the comments below.

Continue reading “Retrotechtacular: The Best Jeep Commercial Ever”

Hackaday Dublin Unconference: Grab Your Tickets!

Hackaday comes together in Ireland on April 7th and we want you to be there. Get your free ticket right now for the Hackaday Dublin Unconference!

An Unconference is the best way to put your finger on the pulse of what is happening in the hardware world right now. Everyone who attends should be ready to stand and deliver a seven-minute talk on something that excites them right now — this means you. The easiest thing to do is grab your latest hack off the shelf and talk about that.

Talks may be about a prototype, project, or product currently in progress at your home, work, or university. It could also be an idea, concept, or skill that you’re now exploring. The point is to channel your excitement and pass it on to others in a friendly presentation environment where everyone will cheer as your story unfolds.

Hackaday hosted an excellent Unconference in London back in September to a packed house for dozens of amazing presentations on a huge range of topics. We heard about bicycle turn signals, laser enhancing NES zappers, telepresence robots with IKEA origin stories, tiny-pitch LED matrix design, driving flip-dot displays, not trusting hardware 2-factor, and much more.

All the tickets for that event were scooped up in a few hours, and a huge waitlist followed. Don’t wait to grab your ticket!

We’re so happy to partner with DesignSpark, the exclusive sponsor of the Hackaday Dublin Unconference. DesignSpark is the innovation arm of RS Components and will have some staff on hand at the Unconference. They share our excitement in bringing together the Hackaday community throughout Europe. It is with their support that we are able to book an incredible venue and offer admission at no cost to all attendees. Hackaday events fill to capacity quickly, so get your ticket now before they are gone.

This Unconference is being held at Project Arts Centre, right at the heart of the Temple Bar area in central Dublin. The performing arts space has comfortable seating and is perfect for our presentation format. We’ll get started at 13:00. Tea, coffee, and snacks will be served throughout the afternoon and we’ll provide dinner as well. Anyone who is still standing when we close the doors at 21:00 is invited to join us at the pub afterward (we’ll get the first round).

As always, Hackaday’s success is based on the community of hackers, designers, and engineers that make it up. Please share the link to tickets on your social media and pester your friends to attend. Most importantly, don’t shy away from this speaking opportunity. We want to hear your story and this is the place to tell it. See you in Dublin in just a few short weeks!

The Most Utilitarian 3D Print Has the Widest Reach

3D Printing is often heralded as a completely new fabrication method, creating things that simply cannot be manufactured in other ways. While this is true, the widest reaching usefulness of 3D printers isn’t for pushing the limits of fabrication. The real power is in pushing the limits of manufacturing for individuals who need one-off parts.

The proof point is in the story shown above. A missing key on a keyboard could have meant an otherwise fine piece of hardware headed for recycling, but was saved by a single part printed on a desktop 3D printer. Multiply this by the increasing number of people who have access to these printers and you can see how using 3D printing for repairs will have a huge impact on keeping our gear in service longer.

We want to see how you’ve saved things from the rubbish pile. Show them off in Hackaday’s Repairs You Can Print contest. The best Student entry and the best Organization entry (think Hackerspace) will each win a high-end 3D Printer. But anyone can enter, with the top twenty entries receiving $100 credit for Tindie.

If you’re like us though, these prizes are just icing on the cake. The real reward is showing what some think is mundane but the Hackaday crowd believes is worth celebrating. Check out all the entries so far and join us below for a few highlights.

Continue reading “The Most Utilitarian 3D Print Has the Widest Reach”

Early Bird Tickets for Hackaday Belgrade

Early Bird tickets for Hackaday Belgrade have just gone on sale, but they will not last long. This is Hackaday’s premier European hardware conference with talks, workshops, great food and drink, entertainment, and a hardware badge for hacking and demos. Festivities will go all day on 26 May and carry long into the night. The last time we did this was two years ago and it was completely sold out — now’s the time to get in on the fun.

Who’s speaking, what are the workshops all about, what does the hardware badge do, and what music do you have lined up? Trust your gut — we’ll have more details soon enough but you know this conference will be epic and it’s worth your time and treasure to be there. To reward your enthusiasm, Early Bird tickets are a much better deal than general admission.

Our Call for Proposals is now open. We seek talks and workshops exploring the most interesting uses of technology and the culture that goes along with it.

The Circle of Friends You May Not Have Met

You know those people just outside of the Hackaday orbit who are tired of hearing about the stuff you build and the coding tricks you discover? Those people won’t be there. Everywhere you turn at Hackaday Belgrade, fascinating conversations await. You’ll want it to last a week but it’s just one day… plus a little more.

Plan to arrive in Belgrade on Friday. There will be an unofficial meetup at a bar (last time we took over most of the place). The weather in Springtime is amazing and having pivo on the porch until far too late in the evening was a blast.

Hackaday Belgrade Badge prototype. Voja Antonic, creator of the Galaksija computer — now in museums around the world — just Tweeted this teaser image of the conference badge design.

Things get started, not too early, on Saturday around 10 AM, and we’ll have coffee and treats to kick off the day. The baristas in 2016 were incredible, and the food — lunch and dinner — were as well. These amenities ring the socializing area of the conference in the lobby of the main hall. Talks and workshops will go all day but at 7 PM it’s all about hacking while our crew lay down a live IDM set. At 11 PM the badge hacking demos begin and the live DJ steps up at midnight.

See the Sights

Don’t let things end there. I vaguely remember a 3 or 4 AM ćevapi run after the last Hackaday Belgrade conference, and there were multiple groups planning museum trips the next day. Belgrade has a wonderful Museum of Science and Technology (I made it to that one), a Nikola Tesla Museum (I’m planning to get there this time), and a multitude of interesting attractions. I’ll save you from having to see my gallery of food photos, but the city is fun, inexpensive, and has really delicious cuisine.

This is a weekend you’ll remember forever. Make your plans now!

Hackaday Belgrade 2018 Posters (click for full size download link):