Hackaday Prize 2022: A Cooler For Your Footwear

Sweaty feet can be uncomfortable, and the smell generated in one’s shoes isn’t much to admire, either. In an effort to help solve this issue, [Revoxdyna] has created a cooler for one’s feet that should help out in hot conditions.

Modern shoes, particularly sneakers, are often ventilated, but it’s not always enough. This build takes things further, using active cooling. Water is pumped through tubes and into a copper insole which cools the sole of the foot. It’s achieved thanks to a pump assembly that mounts to the rear of the shoe in a 3D printed housing. The water itself is chilled with a thermoelectric cooler, which helps remove heat from the shoe area.

There is some bulk to the design, which would prevent its use in performance applications in its current form. However, we could imagine companies like Nike leaping at the chance to build some very fancy, high-tech shoes along these lines in future. After all, they already managed to create power laces, and this is even cooler again! Pun definitely intended.

Hackaday Prize 2022: A Spring-Driven Digital Movie Camera

These days, most of us are carrying capable smartphones with high-quality cameras. It makes shooting video so easy as to take all the fun out of it. [AIRPOCKET] decided to bring that back, by converting an old spring-driven 8mm film camera to shoot digital video.

The camera in question is a magazine-fed Bell & Howell Model 172 from the 1950s. In its original spring-driven form, it could shoot for approximately 35 seconds at a (jerky) frame rate 16 fps.

In this build, though, the film is replaced with a digital imaging system designed to fit in the same space as the original magazine. A Raspberry Pi Zero 2 was pressed into service, along with a rechargeable battery and Pi camera module. The camera is timed to synchronise with the shutter mechanism via a photosensor.

Since it uses the original optics and shutter speed, the resulting video is actually very reminiscent of the Super 8 cameras of the past. It’s an impressive way to get a retro film effect straight into a digital output format. The alternative is to just shoot on film and scan it afterwards, of course! Video after the break.

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Hackaday Prize 2022: A Sun-Chasing Robot

There’s plenty of power to be had from the sun, but you need to be out of the shade to receive it. [Dennis] built a robot by the name of Sun Chaser that has the smarts to go where the sun is shining.

Sun Chaser is essentially a robotic solar panel, tasked with filling up its batteries as much as possible. It can then be used as a power supply for campsites or other remote areas, and used to charge devices as required.

A Raspberry Pi runs the show, paired with a Squid motor controller to run the drive system. Sun Chaser has a motorized solar panel onboard which can track the sun for maximum output, with the aid of six photoresistors to guide the positioning. A camera is used to image the area around Sun Chaser, too, and processing is used to identify sunny regions which will provide the most energy.

Even outside of its useful applications, the idea of having a robot that can run around and keep itself juiced up is a fun one. Solar power gives a robot a greater sense of autonomy, after all. This author has experimented in this field to great enjoyment, too. Video after the break.

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Hackaday Prize 2022: Compact Solar Tracking System Doesn’t Break The Bank

If you need to squeeze every available watt out of a solar panel, you’ll probably want to look into a solar tracking system. Unfortunately, they are usually quite large, heavy, and expensive. As an alternative, [JP Gleyzes] has put together a DIY solar tracking system that aims to address these issues.

Starting with a 100 W flexible solar panel purchased during a Black Friday sale, [JP] first created a simple frame using 20 mm PVC tubing and a few 3D printed brackets. It mounts on a wooden base with a printed worm gear rotation mechanism, powered by a stepper motor. The tilt is a handled by a lead screw made from a threaded rod, connected between the wooden base and the top of the solar panel, and is also driven by a stepper motor.

For even more efficiency, [JP] also created an MPPT charge controller with companion app using an ESP32, modified 20 A buck converter, and current sensor module. The ESP32 also controls the stepper motors. The optimum angle for the solar panel determined using the date, time, and the system’s GPS position. [JP] had also created a simple Android app to calibrate the panels’ start position.

This project is a finalist in the Planet-Friendly Power challenge of the 2022 Hackaday Prize, and all the details to build your own are available on your project page. Looking at the size of the system, we suspect future iterations could be even smaller.

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2022 Hackaday Prize: Boondock Echo Connects Your Radios With The Cloud

[Mark J Hughes] volunteers as a part of a local community fire watch which coordinates by radio. The La Habra Heights region of Los Angeles is an area of peaks and valleys, which makes direct radio connections challenging. Repeaters work well for range improvement, but in such areas, there is no good place to locate these. [Mark] says that during an emergency (such as a wildfire) the radio usage explodes, with him regularly tracking as many as eight radio frequencies and trying to make sense of it, whilst working out how to send the information on and to whom.

This led him together with collaborator [Kaushlesh Chandel] to create Project Boondock Echo, to help alleviate some of the stress of it all. The concept is to use a cheap Baofeng radio to feed into a gateway based around an ESP32 audio development kit. Mount this in a box with a LiPo based power supply, and you’ve got yourself a movable radio-to-cloud time-shift audio recorder.

By placing one or more of these units in the properties of several of the community group radio operators, all messages can be captured to an audio file, tagged with the radio frequency and time of transmission, and uploaded to a central server. From there they can be retrieved by anybody with access, no matter the physical location, only an internet connection is needed.

The next trick that can be performed, is to reverse the process and queue up previous recordings, and send it back over the cloud to remote locations for re-transmission via radio into the field. This is obviously a massive asset, because wherever there is some urbanization, there is likely an internet connection. With the addition of a Boondock Echo unit, anyone that has a receiver within a few miles can be fully connected with what’s going on outside the range of direct radio communications.

Source for the ESP32’s firmware as well as the web side of things can found on the project Boondock Echo GitHub, complete with some STLs for a 3D printed box to sit it in. Like always, there’s more than one way to solve a particular problem. Here’s an amateur radio repeater based using an RTL-SDR and a Raspberry Pi.

2022 Hackaday Prize: Plant Monitoring System Grows To Include LoRa

Change on industrial scales is slow, but if you’re operating your own small farm or simply working in a home garden there are some excellent ways to use water more effectively. The latest tool from [YJ] makes it possible to use much less water while still keeping plant yields high.

This is an improvement on a previous project which automates watering and lighting of a small area or single pot. This latest creation, called FLORA, includes a LoRa module for communication up to 3 kilometers, and the ESP32 on board also handles monitoring of soil moisture, humidity and other sensors. It also includes a pump driver for managing irrigation systems so that smart decisions can be made about when to water. Using this device, the water usage when testing was reduced by around 30% compared to a typical timed irrigation system.

Using a smart system like this is effective for basically any supply of water, but for those who get water from something like an off-grid rainwater system or an expensive water utility, the gains are immediate. If you aren’t already growing your own food to take advantage of tools like this, take a look at this primer to get you started.

2022 Hackaday Prize: Talking Clock Built With Old-School Gear

Any smartphone or laptop could be a talking clock if you wished it so. However, we think this build from [Marek Więcek] is more fun, which uses discrete vintage chips to get the job done the old fashioned way.

The work started when [Marek] was tinkering with a 65C02 CPU, giving it an EPROM, some RAM, and some logic ICs to create something akin to a modern microcontroller in functionality. It came to be known as the 6502 Retro Controller Board. Slowly, the project was expanded with various additional modules, in much the same way one might add shields to an Arduino.

In this case, [Marek] expanded the 6502-powered board with a series of 7-segment displays, along with an RTC to keep accurate time. A classic SP0256-AL2 speech synthesis chip was then added, allowing the system to not only show the time, but read it aloud, too. As a bonus, not only can it tell you the hour, minute, day, and date, but it will also read various science-fiction quotes on demand.

Like most 80s speech synths, the output is robotic and a little difficult to parse. However, that’s part of the charm that makes it different compared to the speaking virtual assistants of today.

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