Show Us Your Odd Inputs And Peculiar Peripherals!

Just as the Jedi youngling would have to build their light saber, so is it a rite of passage for a true geek to build their own computer interfaces. And nothing makes a personal computer more personal than a custom keyboard, a bespoke mouse, an omnipotent macropad, a snazzy jog wheel, or a fancy flight yoke.

In this contest, we encourage you to make your strangest, fanciest, flashiest, or most custom computer peripherals, and share that work with all the rest of us. Wired or wireless, weird or wonderful, we want to see it. And Digi-Key is sponsoring this contest to offer three winners an online shopping spree for $150 each at their warehouse! More parts, more projects.

Make It Yours

Anyone can just go out an buy a keyboard, but if you want a custom ergonomic keyboard that’s exactly fit to your own two hands, you probably have to make one with your own two hands. And if you an engraved brass mouse, well, you’ve got some engraving to do — Logitech ain’t gonna make one for you. Maybe you only type in binary, or maybe you need a keyboard for some alien language that has 450 individual letters. Or maybe the tiniest keyboard ever? You’ve got this. Continue reading “Show Us Your Odd Inputs And Peculiar Peripherals!”

2022 Hackaday Prize: Congratulations To The Planet-Friendly Power Finalists!

The 2022 Hackaday Prize is focused on lightening our load on the planet, and one obvious way to do so is to get and store renewable power locally — the theme of our first challenge round: Planet-Friendly Power. Our judges have studied all the entries and their votes are in. All of these ten projects will receive $500 right now and are eligible for the Grand Prize of $50,000, to be announced in November.

Most of the alternative energy sources you’d expect to see were represented: solar, wind, and water. But everyone brought their own twists to the topic. For instance, the Low Cost Solar Panel Solution demonstrates that there’s a lot more to a DIY solar project than just the panel. You need to support it, protect it, turn it to face the sun, and convert and store the power harvested. And [JP Gleyzes] even goes so far as to use recycled water bottles to make the 3D-printed parts. Sun Chaser 2 puts the panel on wheels, driving it out of the shade to collect maximum energy in a real-world backyard situation. Cute!

Finally, we had two great kite projects to harvest wind with minimal setups on the go: Kite Propulsion and Energy Independence While Travelling. Both are still in the experimental stages, but both have great documentation of where the research projects stand.

Finally, Moss Microbial Fuel Cell is really out there on the edge of current research. Combining the reasonably well established microbial fuel cell with the photosynthetic power of moss, [Guru-san] is able to light an LED for a few seconds at a time. It’s not much, but it’s also a desktop-scale project. And who can say no to leaf-shaped capacitor circuit sculptures to store the energy?

Hacker Power!

Those are just a few of the ten finalists, listed here in no particular order. Congratulations to all of you! We’re excited to follow your projects along their journey, and wish you all the best.

Ten Finalists from Planet-Friendly Power

2022 Hackaday Prize Enters Second Round: Reuse, Recycle, Revamp

Ding! That’s the bell for the second challenge round of the 2022 Hackaday Prize. If your project reuses or recycles what would otherwise be waste materials, or helps you to do the same for further projects, we want to see it.

Hackers are often frugal folk — we’ll recycle parts for projects because it’s easier on the pocketbook when prototyping. But in these strangest of times, when we’ve seen $1 microcontrollers in such shortage that they fetch $57 apiece (if you can get the parts at all), making use of what you’ve got on hand can be an outright necessity. If this is going to become the new normal, it’s going to make sense that we automate it. There’s gold, literally and metaphorically, in busted PCBs. How are you going to get the most value out of our broken electronic waste in our post-apocalyptic near future? Have you built an unpick-and-unplace machine? We’d like to see it.

But electronic parts are a small fraction of your recyclable materials, and plastics might play a larger role. If you’re a 3D printerer, you’ve doubtless thought about recycling plastic bottles into filament. Or maybe you’d like to take some of the existing plastics that are thrust upon you by this modern world and give them a second life? This factory churning out paving stones by remelting plastic with sand is doing it on an industrial scale, but could this be useful for the home gamer? Precious Plastic has a number of inspirational ideas. Or maybe you just need an HDPE hammer?

Have you built a fancy can crusher, or a plastics sorter, or a recycling robot? Head on over to, write it up, and enter it into the Prize!

Basically any project that helps you recycle or reuse the material around you is fair game here. (But note that if you’ve got epic repair hacks, you’ll want to enter them in the upcoming Round Three: Hack it Back.) This round runs until June 12th and there are ten $500 awards up for grabs, so get hacking!

Fireball-Flinging Figurine Feeds Fiction

If you’re writing a screenplay or novel, there will likely be points along the way at which you can’t get enough encouragement from friends and family. While kind words are kind, acts such as [scubabear]’s can provide a push like no other. By commissioning another 3D designer friend to model a character from the first friend’s screenplay so he could print and animate it, [scubabear] fed two birds with one scone, you might say.

Designer friend [Sean] modeled the mighty Braomar in Maya and Z-brush, and [scubabear] did test prints on a Formlabs Form2 as they went along to keep an eye on things. Eventually, they had a discussion about making space for wires and such, so [Sean] took to Blender to make Braomar hollow enough for wires, but not so empty that he would collapse under the stress of being (we presume) the main character.

Braomar stands upon a sigil that changes color thanks to an RGB LED ring in the base that’s driven by an Arduino Nano. A single pixel in the fireball is wired through Braomar’s body and flickers with the help of an addressable LED sequencer board.

Our favorite part of this build has to be the power scheme. Not content to have a wire running out from the base or even a remote control for power-draining concerns, [scubabear] used disc magnets in the base to switch on the 9 V battery when Screenplay Friend rotates it.

Of course, if you need inspiration to even thing about beginning to write a screenplay or novel, maybe you should lead with the maquette-building and then construct a story around your creation.

This project was an entry into the 2022 Sci-Fi Contest. Check out all of the winning entries here.

A small PCB with an OLED screen showing a Dinosaur Game

Hackaday Prize 2022: RunTinyRun Is A Fully Solar-Powered, Portable Dinosaur Game

Fully solar-powered handheld gadgets have so far mostly been limited to ultra-low power devices like clocks, thermometers and calculators. Anything more complicated than that will generally have a battery and some means to charge it. An entirely solar-powered video game console is surely out of reach. Or is it? As [ridoluc] shows, such a device is actually possible: the RunTinyRun gets all its power directly from the Sun.

To be fair, it’s not really a full-fledged game console. In fact it doesn’t even come close to the original Game Boy. But RunTinyRun is a portable video game with an OLED display that’s completely powered by a solar panel strapped to its back. It will run indefinitely if you’re playing outside on a sunny day, and if not, letting it charge for a minute or two should enable thirty seconds of play time.

The game it runs is a clone of Google’s Dinosaur Game, where you time your button presses to make a T-Rex jump over cacti. As you might expect, the game runs on an extremely minimalist hardware platform: the main CPU is an ATtiny10 six-pin micro with just 1 kB of flash. The game is entirely written in hand-crafted assembly, and takes up a mere 780 bytes. A 0.1 farad supercap powers the whole system, and is charged by a 25 x 30 mm2 solar cell through a boost converter.

RunTinyRun is a beautiful example of systems design within strict constraints on power, code size and board area. If you’re looking for a more capable, though slightly less elegant portable gaming console, have a look at this solar-powered Game Boy.
A Dinosaur Game implementation running on a breadboard setup

2022 Sci-Fi Contest: The Winners Are In

The Sci-Fi Contest closed out on Monday, and we put our heads together and picked our favorites. And it was no easy task, because in addition to many of the projects simply looking stellar, many went all-out on the documentation as well, making these stellar examples that we can all learn from, whether you’re into sci-fi or not. But who are we kidding? From the responses we got, you are.

The Winners

[RubenFixit]’s Star Trek Shuttle Console is a Trek themed escape room in a box. The project’s extraordinary attention to detail and exhaustive project logs absolutely won our judges heart. From the LCARS graphics to the 3D printed isolinear chip bays and mimetic crystals, it’s all there. [Ruben] estimates about 300 hours of work went into this one, and it shows.

We had no shortage of robotic projects in the contest, but [RudyAramayo]’s R.O.B. won our judges over. This one is not a joke, weighing in at over 140 lbs of custom metalwork and righteous treads. It’s also made out of some expensive hardware all around, so maybe this isn’t your weekend-build robot. We love the comment on the Arduino test code suite: “For gods sake man, you must test your code when it becomes an autonomous vehicle.”

Finally, [zapwizard]’s Functional Razor Crest Control Lever is a prop and a video game controller in one. We can totally see Grogu playing with this, and we were wowed by the attention to detail in the physical build — with custom gears and a speed limiter — as well as the attention to prop-making detail. Some parts are custom-cut stainless steel plates. 3D printed parts are covered in aluminum tape and chemically aged. Awesome. Oh yeah, it’s also a working USB joystick.

These three winners will be receiving a $150 shopping spree at Digi-Key.

Continue reading “2022 Sci-Fi Contest: The Winners Are In”

Hackaday Prize 2022: Glass Tube Solar Thermionic Converters

Typically, if you want to convert solar energy into electrical energy, you use either photovoltaic (PV) cells, or you use the sunlight to create steam to turn a turbine. Both of these methods are well-established and used regularly in both small- and grid-scale applications. However, [Nick Poole] wanted to investigate an alternative method, using thermionic converters for solar power generation.

[Nick] has been gearing up to produce various styles of vacuum tubes, and noted that the thermionic effect that makes them work could also be used to generate electricity. They are highly inefficient and produce far less power than a photovoltaic solar cell, meaning they’re not in common use. However, as [Nick] notes, unlike PV cells etched in silicon, a thermionic converter can be built with basic glassworking tools, requiring little more than a torch, a vacuum pump, and a spot welder.

Experiments with a large lens to focus sunlight onto a 6V3A diode tube showed promise. [Nick] was able to generate half a volt, albeit at a tiny current, with the design not being optimized for thermionic conversion. Further experiments involved electrically heating a pair of diode tubes, which was able to just barely light an LED at 1.7 V and a current of 7.5 uA. The conversion efficiency was a lowly 0.00012%, around 5 orders of magnitude worse than a typical PV cell.

[Nick]’s hope is that he can produce a tube designed specifically to maximize thermionic conversion for energy generation purposes. It’s likely there is some low-hanging fruit in terms of gains to be made simply by optimizing the design for this purpose, even if the technique can’t compete with other solar generation methods.

In any case, we’re eager to see what [Nick] comes up with! We love to see makers building tubes in their own home workshops.

Continue reading “Hackaday Prize 2022: Glass Tube Solar Thermionic Converters”