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 Hackaday.io, 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!

Announcing: The 2022 Hackaday.io Sci-Fi Contest

Ladies and Gentlemen, Sentient robots, Travellers from the distant future, or Aliens from the outer rim, it’s time to enter the 2022 Hackaday.io Sci-Fi Contest!

We last ran the Sci-Fi contest in the far, far past — before the Voigt-Kampff machine was detecting replicants on the gritty streets of 2019’s LA. Back then, we had some out-of-this-world entries. It’s time for the sequel.

Thanks to Digi-Key, the contest’s sponsor, your best blaster, your coolest costume, or your most righteous robot could win you one of three $150 shopping sprees in their parts warehouse. Create a Hackaday.io project, enter it in the contest, and you’re set. You might as well do that right now, but the contest closes on April 25th.

Sci-Fi is all about the looks, so if it’s purely decorative, be sure to blind us with science (fiction). If your project actually functions, so much the better! Of course we’d like to know how it works and how you made it, so documentation of the project is the other big scoring category. Whatever it is, it’s got to be sci-fi, and it’s got to have some electronics in it.

If you’re looking for inspiration, you could do a lot worse than to check out [Jerome Kelty]’s Animatronic Stargate Helmet, that not coincidentally took the grand prize last time around. It’s an artistic and engineering masterpiece all rolled into one, and the description of how it’s made is just as extensive. [Jochen Alt]’s “Paul” robot isn’t out of any particular sci-fi franchise that we know, but of rolling on one ball and reciting robot poetry, it absolutely should be.

Honorable Mentions

In addition to the overall prizes, we’ll be recognizing the best projects in the following honorable mention categories:

  • Star Star: Whether you’re “beam me up” or “use the force”, fans of either of the “Star” franchises are eligible for this honorable mention.
  • ExoSuit: This category recognizes sci-fi creations that you can wear. Costumes and armor fit in here.
  • Stolen off the Set: If your blaster looks exactly like Han Solo’s, you’re a winner here.  This is the category for your best prop replica.
  • Living in the Future: If your sci-fi device was purely fantasy when imagined, but now it’s realizable, you’re living in the future. A working tricorder or a functioning robot companion would fit in fine here.
  • The Most Important Device: Has no function, but it certainly looks like it does. Just blinking lights that blink back and forth, yet the government spent millions of dollars on it.

You don’t have to tell us where your project fits in. We’ve got you covered.


Get started now by creating a project page on Hackaday.io. In the left sidebar of your project page, use the “Submit Project To” button to enter in the 2022 Sci-Fi Contest.

You have from now until April 25, 2022 to get it finished. Of course, if your time machine actually works, you can finish it whenever. Check out the Hackaday.io contest page for all the fine print.

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Hackaday Links: January 23, 2022

When Tonga’s Hunga-Tonga Hunga-Ha’apai volcano erupted on January 15, one hacker in the UK knew just what to do. Sandy Macdonald from York quickly cobbled together a Raspberry Pi and a pressure/humidity sensor board and added a little code to create a recording barometer. The idea was to see if the shock wave from the eruption would be detectable over 16,000 km away — and surprise, surprise, it was! It took more than 14 hours to reach Sandy’s impromptu recording station, but the data clearly show a rapid pulse of increasing pressure as the shockwave approached, and a decreased pressure as it passed. What’s more, the shock wave that traveled the “other way” around the planet was detectable too, about seven hours after the first event. In fact, data gathered through the 19th clearly show three full passes of the shockwaves. We just find this fascinating, and applaud Sandy for the presence of mind to throw this together when news of the eruption came out.

Good news for professional astronomers and others with eyes turned skyward — it seems like the ever-expanding Starlink satellite constellation isn’t going to kill ground-based observation. At least that’s the conclusion of a team using the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) at the Palomar Observatory outside San Diego. ZTF is designed to catalog anything that blinks, flashes, or explodes in the night sky, making it perfect to detect the streaks from the 1,800-odd Starlink satellites currently in orbit. They analyzed the number of satellite transients captured in ZTF images, and found that fully 20 percent of images show streaks now, as opposed to 0.5 percent back in 2019 when the constellation was much smaller. They conclude that at the 10,000 satellite full build-out, essentially every ZTF image will have a streak in it, but since the artifacts are tiny and well-characterized, they really won’t hinder the science to any appreciable degree.

Speaking of space, we finally have a bit of insight into the causes of space anemia. The 10% to 12% decrease in red blood cells in astronauts during their first ten days in space has been well known since the dawn of the Space Age, but the causes had never really been clear. It was assumed that the anemia was a result of the shifting of fluids in microgravity, but nobody really knew for sure until doing a six-month study on fourteen ISS astronauts. They used exhaled carbon monoxide as a proxy for the destruction of red blood cells (RBCs) — one molecule of CO is liberated for each hemoglobin molecule that’s destroyed — and found that the destruction of RBCs is a primary effect of being in space. Luckily, there appears to be a limit to how many RBCs are lost in space, so the astronauts didn’t suffer from complications of severe anemia while in space. Once they came back to gravity, the anemia reversed, albeit slowly and with up to a year of measurable changes to their blood.

From the “Better Late Than Never” department, we see that this week that Wired finally featured Hackaday Superfriend Sam Zeloof and his homemade integrated circuits. We’re glad to see Sam get coverage — the story was also picked up by Ars Technica — but it’s clear that nobody at either outfit reads Hackaday, since we’ve been featuring Sam since we first heard about his garage fab in 2017. That was back when Sam was still “just” making transistors; since then, we’ve featured some of his lab upgrades, watched him delve into electron beam lithography, and broke the story on his first legit integrated circuit. Along the way, we managed to coax him out to Supercon in 2019 where he gave both a talk and an interview.

And finally, if you’re in the mood for a contest, why not check out WIZNet’s Ethernet HAT contest? The idea is to explore what a Raspberry Pi Pico with Ethernet attached is good for. WIZNet has two flavors of board: one is an Ethernet HAT for the Pico, while the other is as RP2040 with built-in Ethernet. The good news is, if you submit an idea, they’ll send you a board for free. We love it when someone from the Hackaday community wins a contest, so if you enter, be sure to let us know. And hurry — submissions close January 31.

E.T. Video Game Gets Re-Imagined In 10 Lines Of BASIC

Most people would recognize E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial for the Atari 2600 by its reputation as one of the worst video games of all time. We’ll have more to say about that in a moment, but E.T. was nevertheless chosen as the inspiration behind [Martin Fitzpatrick]’s re-imagining of the game in ten lines of BASIC code for a contest that encourages and celebrates games written in ten lines of BASIC, or less.

Ten lines of BASIC is a big limitation, even when getting clever by stacking multiple statements into a single line, so [Martin]’s game has a much narrower scope than the original Atari 2600 version. Still, the core elements are present: E.T. must find and gather all the parts of the phone in order to contact his ship, after which he must meet the ship in time to escape. All the while, FBI agents attempt to interfere. The game was written in SAM BASIC, used by the SAM Coupé, a British Z80-based home computer from the late 80s with an emulator available for download.

Now, for lovers of “um, actually” topics, do we have a treat for you! Let’s take this opportunity to review a few things about E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. That it was a commercial flop is no doubt, but the game itself is often badly misunderstood. Way back in 2013 we covered an extraordinary effort to patch improvements into the binary for the 2600 game, and in the process there’s a compelling case made that the game was in many ways far ahead of its time, and actually quite significant in terms of game design. You can jump right in on an analysis of the hate the game receives, and while reading that it’s helpful to keep in mind that In 1982, many of its peers were games like Space Invaders, with self-evident gameplay that simply looped endlessly.

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Hackaday Links: March 7, 2021

It’s March, which means Keysight is back in the business of giving away a ton of test gear. Keysight University Live starts on March 15, with daily events the first week followed by a string of weekly live events through April. We always enjoy these Keysight events; sure, they’re clearly intended to sell more gear, but the demos and tutorials are great, and we always learn a lot. There’s also a feeling of community that feels similar to the Hackaday community; just a bunch of electronics nerds getting together to learn and share. If you’re interested in that community, or even if you’re just looking for a chance to win something from the $300,000 pile of goodies, you’ll need to register.

There’s another event coming up that you’ll want to know about: the 2021 Open Hardware Summit. Because 2021 is the new 2020, the summit is being held virtually again, this year on April 9. Tickets are on sale now, and we’re told there are still plenty of Ada Lovelace Fellowships available to those who consider themselves to be a minority in tech. The Fellowship covers the full cost of a ticket; it usually covers travels costs too, but sadly we’re still not there yet.

Once we do start traveling again, you might need to plan more carefully if cities start following the lead of Petaluma, California and start banning the construction of gas stations. The city, about 40 miles (64 km) north of San Francisco, is believed to be the first city in the United States to ban new gas station construction. The city council’s decision also prevents gas station owners from expanding, reconstructing, or relocating existing gas stations. The idea is to create incentives to move toward non-fossil fuel stations, like electric vehicle charging stations and hydrogen fueling. Time will tell how well that works out.

Go home Roomba — you’re drunk. That could be what Roomba owners are saying after an update semi-bricked certain models of the robotic vacuum cleaners. Owners noted a variety of behaviors, like wandering around in circles, bumping into furniture, and inability to make its way back to base for charging. There’s even a timelapse on reddit of a Roomba flailing about pathetically in a suspiciously large and empty room. The drunken analogy only goes so far, though, since we haven’t seen any reports of a Roomba barfing up the contents of its dust bin. But we’re still holding out hope.

And finally, if you’re not exactly astronaut material but still covet a trip to space, you might luck out courtesy of Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa. He’s offering to pay the way for eight people from around the world on a planned flight to the Moon and back in 2023. Apparently, Maezawa bought up all the seats for the flight back in 2018 with the intention of flying a group of artists to space. His thinking has changed, though, and now he’s opening up the chance to serve as ballast join the crew to pretty much any rando on the planet. Giving away rides on Starship might be a harder sell after this week’s test, but we’re sure he’ll find plenty of takers. And to be honest, we wish the effort well — the age of routine civilian space travel can’t come soon enough for us.

New Contest: Data Loggin’

What are we gonna’ do with all this data? Let’s make it something fun! That’s the point of the just-launched Data Loggin’ contest. Do something clever to automatically log a data set and display it in an interesting way. Three winners will each receive a $100 Tindie gift certificate for showing off an awesome project.

One year of baby sleep patterns encoded by @Lagomorpho in a knitted blanket.

Data logging is often an afterthought when working on a project, but the way you collect and store data can have a big effect on the end project. Just ask Tesla who are looking at a multi-thousand-dollar repair process for failing eMMC from too much logging. Oops. Should you log to an SD card? Internet? Stone tablets? (Yes please, we actually really want to see that for this contest.) Make sure to share those details so your project can be a template for others to learn from in the future.

Next, consider Schrodinger’s dataset: if the data is never used does it actually exist? Grab some attention with how you use this data. That automatic donut slicer you built can be used to slice up a tasty pie-chart of the minutes you spent on the elliptical this week. Your energy consumption can be plotted if you connect that OpenCV meter reader up to your favorite cloud service to visualize the data or a NodeRED dashboard if you’d rather keep things local. You could also make some of that data permanent, like this blanket that encoded baby’s sleep patterns in the colors.

You probably already have something harvesting data. Here’s the excuse you need to do something silly (or serious) with that data. Tells us about it by publishing a project page on Hackaday.io and don’t forget to use that “Submit Project To” menu to add it to the Data Loggin’ contest.

Basic In 10 Lines Or Less

For the last 11 years [Gunnar Kanold] has run the annual BASIC 10 Liner contest, and the rules for the 2021 edition are now available. There are four categories and each category has specific definitions of what constitutes a line. All entries must run on an 8-bit computer system that can be emulated.

The first three categories are for games but differ in the line length allowed. You can elect to compete with 80 character lines, 120 character lines, or 256 character lines. There’s also a category for demos, tools, and other applications that must constrain lines to 256 characters.

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