If you were to paint a few stereotypes surrounding our community, where would you start? Maybe in apparel habits: the t-shirt from a tech conference, or the ubiquitous hoodie. Or how about leisure pursuits: gaming, or even D&D? There’s one thing I can think of that unites most of us, we have a curious affinity for caffeine. Is it a propensity for working into the dark of the night that’s responsible, or perhaps those of us with ADHD find the alertness helpful, but whatever it is we like our coffee and energy drinks. Rare is the hackerspace without a coffee machine and a fridge full of energy drinks, and I have lost count of the times I have been derided by the coffee cognoscenti among my peers for my being satisfied with a mug of mere instant. Deprived of my usual socialisation over the festive period by the pandemic, and contemplating my last bottle of Club-Mate as I drank it, I took a while to ponder on our relationship with this chemical.
While most of the teams in this year’s Red Bull Creation didn’t really pay attention to the theme of ‘reinventing the wheel’, 1.21 Jiggawatts did. Their creation, a giant typewriter that can be suspended along the side of a building, takes its inspiration directly from 1970s typewriters and printers. Yes, it’s a giant daisy wheel typewriter.
The basic idea of a daisy wheel typewriter is a wheel with a few dozen petals, on the end of which is a single letter. To print a letter, the wheel spins around, and a solenoid mechanism strikes the letter against a piece of paper. This was cutting edge tech in the 70s, and was a fast (and cheap) way for computers to print out letter-quality reports.
1.21 Jiggawatts used a ladder as the rail to move down a line of text. The movement from line to line was supposed to be done by dangling the ladder off a chain with a few sprockets attached to motors. Unfortunately, the team couldn’t quite get the machine working for the competition and live event, but the build does show an amazing amount of creativity and respect for classic, forgotten technology.
If there’s one thing I learned about Detroit last weekend, it’s that it is freaking huge. It’s an unbelievably large city, and looking at the population numbers, you can really start to see the problem of providing city services to such a large area. With such a sparse population, it’s the ideal environment for experimentations in urban farming, after a few seasons of planting crops that will leech everything out of the soil of course.
If you have a farm, you’re going to need some means of irrigation, and you might as well throw a scarecrow in there as well, giving i3 Detroit the idea for RoboCrop, the perfect project for an urban farm or anyone who is putting on a production of The Wizard Of Oz but is a little shorthanded for a full cast.
RoboCrop is an all-in-one irrigation and bird and small mammal scaring device, controllable with webcam video streamed right to the remote. It’s a fun project, and fits right into the apparent unofficial “urban gardening” theme of this year’s Red Bull Creation.
i3 is also the largest and arguably the best equipped hackerspace in the Detroit region. They were kind enough to let us throw a little get together there last weekend where we gave away a 3D printer for The Hackaday Prize. Good times all around. We’ll have a video tour of i3 up a little bit later.
While the bulk of the building for the Red Bull Creation happened at a recycling center/art space in Detroit, the judging was at Detroit’s Eastern Market, a huge farmer’s market that has just about everything. The Omnicorp hackerspace is just off Eastern Market, so this is their territory: they know what will work. For their entry for this year’s RBC, they’re going local: a wheeled information kiosk that’s also a great place to make smoothies and grill up a few veggies and dogs.
While the information kiosk the team is commendable, the idea of giving all the visitors to the Red Bull Creation event a halfway decent lunch is a great idea: all the ingredients are already there, so all that’s needed is an extension cord and a little bit of charcoal.
After the Red Bull Creation event is where this project would have really shined: hundreds of people going through at least six kegs, fireworks, a friggin’ dragon dump truck, and a DJ loud enough to be heard a half mile away. We’ll get to that in a post tomorrow. Let’s just say our head editor had fun.
Hackaday took a trip to Detroit last weekend for the Red Bull Creation Contest. It was a blast, we had a lot of fun, and we were lucky enough to catch a glimpse at seven teams hacking, grinding, sawing, and soldering their way through the 72 hour buildoff.
Team Detroitus started their build with the idea of building a giant air cannon. The theme of the build was ‘reinventing the wheel’, but they apparently didn’t let that get in the way of building a giant double barrel air cannon, filling it with candy and stuffed animals, and shooting it, point blank, at children. I was wanged by a lemon Starburst, but that’s my favorite flavor anyway.
We rolled into Detroit this morning and immediately wanted to know what the teams for the Red Bull Creation were up to. But first thing’s first, what’s the surprise theme? [Brian Benchoff] caught up with [Tyler Hansen] and [Jason Naumoff] who filled us in. The theme is “Reinvent the Wheel”.
The seven finalist teams are competing in a live, non-stop build which started yesterday and continues until tomorrow evening.
If you live in a flyover state and never thought you’d see the Hackaday crew gallivanting through your neck of the woods, think again. We’re planning to descend on Detroit, Michigan later next week. The trip started when Red Bull invited [Mike Szczys] to come out and judge the 2014 Red Bull Creation contest. But we wanted to see what Detroit has to offer so [Brian Benchoff] and [Chris Gammell] are going to be in town too.
The Red Bull Creation has been a favorite here on Hackaday for years. Who doesn’t love a 72-hour hackathon that results in all kinds of crazy, spectacular, or horrifying builds? You can see the schedule for Creation here. If you can’t make it out when the teams are at work, the complete projects will be showcased on Saturday at Eastern Market followed by a party hosted at the Omnicorp Detroit hackerspace.
Detroit Meetup — Now with Actual Hacking!
Speaking of parties, Hackaday is having a Meetup as well, but it’s going to be much more than just a party! On Friday night i3 Detroit hackerspace is opening their doors to us starting at 8pm.
The i3 members have decided to make this a night for hacking and camaraderie. Bring your projects to show off and you can get some hacking done on them too.
The building does share a roof with the legendary Meader, B Nektar. We mention this because they’re awesome, and so that you’ll know this is going to be much more than you’d find if meeting at a plain old bar or a plain old workshop.
Do us a favor and let us know you’re coming. We’ll make sure to bring plenty of swag for anyone who makes a point to stop in!
We Need Your Help Finding Stuff in Detroit
There’s going to be plenty of amazing coverage of Creation, but with three people in town it’s nice to do some field-trips as well. So far we’re planning to visit Marvelous Marvin’s Mechanical Museum and The Henry Ford Museum.
But we need more suggestions. Stuff that’s off the beaten path and Hackaday worthy. To get you thinking, we loved visiting Apex Electronic when we were in Los Angeles. What’s in or close to Detroit that should be on the hacker approved list of attractions? Leave your suggestion in the comments.