SMD Challenge Extreme Edition Gets Our Flux Flowing

Skills challenges have become a fun way to facilitate friendly competition amongst anyone who appreciates a fine solder joint. If you’ve seen any Supercon / Remoticon coverage there’s surely been a mention of the infamous soldering skills challenge, where competitors test their mettle against surface mount components sized to be challenging but fair. What if there was a less friendly SMD challenge designed to make you hold your breath lest you blow the components away? Well now there is, the SMD Challenge Extreme Edition by friend-of-the-Hackaday and winner of the 2019 Supercon soldering challenge [Freddie].

When assembled the SMD Extreme Edition uses a 555 timer and a 74HC4017 decade counter to light a ring of 10 LEDs lights around its perimeter, powered by a coin cell. However the  Extreme Edition deviates from the typical SMD Challenge format. Instead of ramping up in difficulty with ever-shrinking components, the Extreme Edition only has one size: torturous. See those gray blobs in the title image? Those are grains of rice.

The Extreme Edition’s 0201-sized LEDs aren’t the absolute smallest components around, but to minimize enjoyment all passives are 01005. (Check out the SMD Challange Misery Edition for even 01005 LED action.)

The Extreme Edition has other tricks up its sleeve, too. That 555 may be venerable in age, but this version is in an iron-frustrating 1.41 x 1.43 mm BGA package, which pairs nicely with that decade counter in 2.5 mm x 3.5 mm QFN.

Despite the wordwide pandemic locking down travel and conferences, a few brave challengers have already taken up their iron and succeeded at Extreme SMD. Want to see it in action? Check out the original Tweets after the break.

Continue reading “SMD Challenge Extreme Edition Gets Our Flux Flowing”

No Wonder These Projects Won The Circuit Sculpture Contest

There are five winners of the Hackaday Circuit Sculpture contest, and every one of them comes as no surprise, even in a tightly packed race to the top.

Beginning with the gorgeous photo above, we have [Eirik Brandal’s] waldian being named the most beautiful. Imagine this hanging on your living room wall, then head over and listen to the video demo as it’s light-actuated synthesizer chimes like distant (or maybe not so distant) church bells. This isn’t a one-off dip into circuit sculpture for [Eirik], we featured his broader body of work back in 2018, all of it worth checking out in more depth.

The glowing mask is actually made of PCB. The seams are secured with super glue bolstered with baking soda. The labor behind this one is intense. As we mention back in September, the project took place over about two years, mostly due to the sheer volume of cutting and sanding [Stephen Hawes] needed to do to bring together so many pieces. This one grabbed him the most artistic award.

[Jiří Praus] takes the top spot for best video with his luminescent RGB LED sphere. We swooned over this one when it first dropped back in December. [Jiří] shows off a combination of patience and ingenuity by using a 3D-printed mold to hold each LED while he soldered brass rod in place to serve as both electrical and mechanical support.

Speaking of molds, one of the challenges was to show off the best jig for creating a circuit sculpture. [Inne’s] Soft Soldering Jig provides the channels needed to keep crisp right angles on the brass rod as you work, with voids to position components at intersections for soldering. Drawing on the advice of numerous circuit sculpture success from people like [Mohit Bohite] and [Jiří Praus], he was looking for a way to easily position everything on a surface that would not be burnt by the soldering iron. The answer comes in the form of Silicone jigs made with 3D-printed molds.

Finally we have the Binary Calculator project which won the most functional award. While it does operate as a binary calculator, the beauty of it is not to be overlooked. Among its many attributes are a set of cherry-wood keycaps that were milled for the project and a bell-jar display stand where the calculator rests and serves as a binary clock when not in use. You may remember seeing our feature of this project last week.

As prizes, the binary calculator, orb, and wall sculpture creators will each be receiving $200 in goodies from Digi-Key who sponsored the contest and will be featuring entries in a 2021 wall calendar. Creators of the soldering jig and the PCB mask will receive a $100 Tindie gift card.

New Contest: Say Goodbye To 2020

Every year you find yourself wanting to build an awesome hack to show off on New Year’s Eve, but like all hackers, you procrastinate and it’s a rush job, if it happens at all. But considering the hot mess of a year 2020 has been, let’s all plan ahead and give 2020 the boot by building the things that make us happy.

The Goodbye 2020! contest kicked off this morning: build something that ushers in the new year in a fun and creative way. Maybe it’s a robot that tears off the pages of a daily desk calendar of 2020, shredding one for each of the last 365 minutes of the year. Build a video countdown device that works with any HDMI screen, or a dedicated LED display — perhaps in hat, glasses, or sweater form factor? There’s unlimited room for creativity here, so don’t forget to show us video of it to get the full effect.

Top three finishers will win a $500, $250, or $100 shopping spree from Digi-Key electronics who are sponsoring the Goodbye 2020! contest. Start your project page on Hackaday.io right now and use the “Submit project to…” drop-down box on the left sidebar to enter it into the contest. We’ll be keeping an eye out for awesome entries from now until the end of December.

Binary Calculator For All 0b10 Types

You know the old joke: There are 10 types of people in the world — those who understand binary, and those who don’t. Most of us on Hackaday are firmly in the former camp, which is why projects like this circuit sculpture binary calculator really tickle our fancies.

Inspired by the brass framework and floating component builds of [Mohit Bhoite], [dennis1a4] decided to take the plunge into circuit sculpture in an appropriately nerdy way. He wisely decided on a starter build, which was a simple 555 timer circuit, before diving into the calculator. Based on an ATMega328P in a 28-pin DIP, the calculator is built on an interesting hybrid platform of brass wire and CNC-routed wood. The combination of materials looks great, and we especially love the wooden keycaps on the six switches that make up the keyboard. There’s also some nice work involved in adapting the TLC5928 driver to the display of 16 discrete LEDs; suspended as it is by fine magnet wires, the SSOP chip looks a bit like a bug trapped in a spider web.

Hats off to [dennis1a4] for a great entry into our soon-to-conclude Circuit Sculpture Contest. The entry deadline is (today!) November 10, so it might be a bit too late for this year. But rest assured we’ll be doing this again, so take a look at all this year’s entries and start thinking about your next circuit sculpture build.

Continue reading “Binary Calculator For All 0b10 Types”

The BYTE Is The Grand Prize Winner Of The 2020 Hackaday Prize

The BYTE, an open-source mouth-actuated input device for people with physical challenges has just been named the Grand Prize winner of the 2020 Hackaday Prize. The award for claiming the top place and title of “Best All Around” in this global engineering initiative is $50,000. Five other top winners and four honorable mentions were also named during this evening’s Hackaday Prize Ceremony, held during the Hackaday Remoticon virtual conference.

This year’s Hackaday Prize focused on challenges put forth by four non-profit partners who have first hand knowledge of the problems that need solving as they work to accomplish their missions. These organizations are Conservation X Labs, United Cerebral Palsy Los Angeles, CalEarth, and Field Ready. Join us below for more on the grand prize winner and to see the Best in Category and Honorable Mention winners from each non-profit challenge, as well as the Best Wildcard project.

Over $200,000 in cash prizes have been distributed as part of this year’s initiative where hundreds of hardware hackers, makers, and artists competed to build a better future. Continue reading “The BYTE Is The Grand Prize Winner Of The 2020 Hackaday Prize”

Finalists Announced For The 2020 Hackaday Prize

In light of everything going on in 2020, the 7th annual Hackaday Prize is devoted to nurturing ideas that could literally help change the world. In a first, we partnered with several nonprofits to help identify some of today’s most difficult problems, ranging from conservation and disaster relief to the need for advanced assistive technology. With over $200,000 up for grabs, including microgrants to help teams work full-time on their projects, this year’s competition was designed to help bring critical solutions to fruition which otherwise might never see the light of day.

But it hasn’t been easy. The global pandemic has made it far more difficult to collaborate on projects in the way we’re all used to, parts have become harder to source, and many makers found themselves so engaged with grassroots efforts to combat COVID-19 that they found little time for anything else. But despite all of this uncertainty, we received hundreds of incredible entries from all over the globe.

It’s never easy to select who will move on to the next round of the competition. But with the help of our nonprofit partners, the panel of expert judges was able to whittle the list of entries down to the 34 finalists that produced some of the most impressive and impactful ideas the Hackaday Prize has ever seen. Let’s take a look at just a few of the projects that will be vying for the top prizes in November.

Continue reading “Finalists Announced For The 2020 Hackaday Prize”

New Contest: Circuit Sculpture Challenge

We’re bringing back one of our most popular contests, the Hackaday Circuit Sculpture Challenge! Make your functional circuits go beyond utility by turning them into art!

Solar-powered circuit sculpture by [Mohit Bhoite] which was featured last year.
Wire and circuit boards are a fantastic media for creating beautiful projects, and for this one we want both the copper and the boards (or lack of) to be part of the beauty. Your sculpture could be crisp and angular bends in brass rod, a rat’s nest of enamel wire, PCBs with organic shapes, or something completely wild. Your only constraint is that there needs to be some type of working circuit involved.

Three entries will be chosen as top winners in the Most Functional, Most Beautiful, and Best Video categories and be awarded $200 in components from Digi-Key who are sponsoring this contest and also putting together a calendar with images of the top twelve sculptures.

The Wonderlandscape by [Michael Aichlmayr] takes the “sculpture” part of Circuit Sculpture to new levels.
Tell us the story of your creation, including a deep dive into how you built the sculpture and what trial and error you went through to pull it off. Many circuit sculptures in the past have included jig-building to get the wire bends just right, so we have a fourth prize of $100 in Tindie credit for the Best Jig build.

Get your project started now on Hackaday.io and use that “Submit Project To:” button in the left sidebar of your project page to enter it in the Circuit Sculpture Challenge. You have until November 10th to submit your entry.