Earth Day Challenge: A Better Way To Wrangle Water

How far do you have to go for a glass of clean water? Not very? Just go to a sink and turn on the faucet? We would venture to guess that is the case for most Hackaday readers. Maybe you even have a water softener, or a filter on your tap to make your drinking water even more palatable and free of heavy metal.

In Ethiopia and many other countries, people do not have access to clean, flowing water and must walk several kilometers to fetch it from somewhere that does. And they’re not doing this on paved roads, either — these women are cutting treacherous paths across mountains and through muddy, rocky terrain that make wheeled transport nearly impossible. How do you comfortably lug around 25 kg (~55 lbs) worth of sloshing water? You don’t, unless you have [Anteneh Gashaw]’s ingenious jerrycan.

As you can see in the video below, the current crop of jerrycans are just big plastic jugs that have to be carried on top of the head or the shoulder, both of which are bad for bodies. [Anteneh]’s can evenly distributes the weight by wrapping it completely around the person carrying it and suspending it from both shoulders like a beer-and-peanuts vendor’s carrying case. Basically, it’s a PVC inner tube with shoulder straps. Simple, cheap, and effective = absolute genius in our book. Ideally, everyone would have free access to clean water, both cold and hot. Until that time, [Anteneh]’s entry into our Earth Day Challenge is a great workaround that will no doubt save a lot of spines.

Potable water may be closer than you think. Build a portable potability predictor and you might not have to travel so far.

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New Contest: Earth Day Challenge

The Earth Day Challenge is now under way! Spin up your take on an Earth-Day-themed electronics project and you’ll be in the running for one of the three $200 shopping sprees at Digi-Key, who are sponsoring this contest.

Gutters to Gardens is a great project example; using a rain barrel and solar panel for off-grid automation.

This is all about raising awareness for environmental protection. You might considered something as direct as measuring and plotting air quality data, or as abstract as weighing your home’s recycling bin and garbage bin and making a game out of generating less waste in general, and boosting your recycling-to-landfill ratio. Find an application that can be moved from grid-power to solar power, or build a carbon-savings counter that calculates the impact you have when choosing your bike over a car. The coolest projects are the ones that make us all think in new ways.

In addition to those $200 prizes for the top three projects, there are $50 Tindie gift cards for the twelve most artistically presented projects. Digi-Key is looking for great images to include in a wall calendar for 2022.

Pop over to to start your entry today. Don’t forget to use the “Submit project to:” drop-down box on the left sidebar of your project page to make sure it’s considered in the contest. You must have your entry in by April 19th!

Earth Day: Environmental Sensors

Before you attempt to solve a problem, you must first study the problem. If there’s a problem with the environment, you must therefore study the environment at a scale never seen before. For this year’s Hackaday Prize, there are a lot of projects that aim to do just that. Here are a few of them:

[Pure Engineering]’s C12666 Micro Spectrometer has applications ranging from detecting if fruit is ripe, telling you to put sunscreen on, to detecting oil spills. Like the title says, it’s based on the Hamamatsu C12666MA spectrometer, a very tiny MEMS spectrometer that can sort light by wavelength from 340 to 780nm.

The project is to build a proper breakout board for this spectrometer. The best technologies are enabling technologies, and we can’t wait to see all the cool stuff that’s made with this sensor.

[radu.motisan]’s portable environmental monitor isn’t just one sensor, but an entire suite of them. The design of the project includes toxic and flammable gas sensors, radiation detectors, dust sensors, and radiation detectors packaged together in a neat, convenient package.

[radu] has already seen some success with environmental sensors and The Hackaday Prize; last year, his entry, the uRADMonitor placed in the top fifty for creating a global network of radiation sensors.