The idea started with the concept of a dedicated device to carry a complicated password; something that you couldn’t remember yourself and would be difficult to type. [Dan] also decided it would be much better if the device didn’t need its own power source, and if the user interface was dead simple. The answer was a wrist-band made up of a USB cable and a microcontroller with just one button.
To the right you can see the guts of the prototype. He is using a Teensy 2.0 board, which is capable of enumerating as an HID keyboard. The only user input is the button seen at the top. Press it once and it fires off the stored password. Yes, very simple to implement, but programming is just one part of a competition. The rest of his time was spent refining it into what could reasonably be considered a product. He did such a good job of it that he received an Honorable Mention from Hackaday to recognize his execution on the build.
[Dan] came up with the idea to have a pair of mating boards for the Teensy 2.0. One on top hosts the button, the other on the bottom has a USB port which is used as the “clasp” of the belt buckle. One side of the USB cable plugs into the Teensy, the other into this dummy-port. Early testing showed that this was too bulky to work as a bracelet. But [Dan] simply pivoted and turned it into a belt.
[Kenji Larsen] helped [Dan] with the PCB-sandwich. Instead of mounting pin sockets on the extra boards, they heated up the solder joints on a few of the Teensy pins and pushed them through with some pliers. This left a few pins sticking up above the board to which the button add-on board could be soldered.
To finish out the build, [Dan] worked with [Chris Gammell] to model a 2-part case for the electronics. He also came up with a pandering belt buckle which is also a button-cap. It’s 3D printed with the TechCrunch logo slightly recessed. He then filled this recess with blue painter’s tape for a nice contrast.
[Dan] on-stage presentation shows off the high-level of refinement. There’s not a single wire (excluding the USB belt cable) or unfinished part showing! Since he didn’t get much into the guts of the build during the live presentation we made sure to seek him out afterward and record a hardware walk through which is embedded below.
If you roll into a hardware hackathon empty-handed, you’re going to be at a disadvantage compared to those who bring equipment with which they’re already familiar. Pray that you never roll into one where [Kenji Larsen] is your competitor. Luckily, this weekend he came out to mentor for Hackaday’s hardware hacking village at the TechCrunch Disrupt hackathon and not as a competitor. In this video he shows off the huge rollerbag which he calls his “Hack Pack”. I’d say there’s a 50/50 chance his travel setup is better than your home lab.
Where do I begin (seriously, watch the video)? Perhaps best to note is how organized he is. For instance, the large plastic bag containing his battery-operated and plug-in Dremels also has conveniently sized stock like acrylic and metal. There are compartment boxes full of sensors, others contain things like passives, batteries, battery chargers, hundreds of Moteino modules, handfuls of BeagleBones Black, breakout and dev boards of every flavor. He has all the necessary tools like hemostat, x-acto blade, steel ruler, and magnifying glasses. There’s even a 3D printer in the bag — a Printrbot Simple which [Chris Gammell] played with all weekend err… learned to use as part of his role as a mentor.
We had a ton of hardware along with us, but time and again [Kenji] was there for the save on some of the less-common needs. He’s a expert when it comes to fabrication techniques and it showed. We also give him mad points for staying up overnight for all 20-hours of the build session. Thank you so much [Kenji], I think I speak for every one of the hardware hackers when I say you helped bring the event to the next level of exhilarating and exhausting fun. Please direct your own thanks, stories, and well-wishes, and follows to [Kenji’s] hacker profile.
If you weren’t able to make it to NYC this weekend, you definitely missed out. We’ll be telling the story of that all week. Those on the West Coast will have a chance next weekend at Hackaday Prize Worldwide: LA. The workshop is sold out but socializing on Saturday, and a Sunday free-build are both still available for RSVPs.
Teams hacking on hardware won big this weekend in New York. There were ten teams that answered Hackaday’s call as we hosted the first ever hardware hackathon at the Tech Crunch Disrupt NYC. These teams were thrown into the mix with all of the software hackers TC was hosting and rose to the top. Eight out of our ten teams won!
As we suspected, having something physical to show off is a huge bonus compared to those showing apps and webpages alone. Recipe for awesome: Mix in the huge talent pool brought by the hardware hackers participating, then season with a dash of experience from mentors like [Kenji Larson], [Johngineer], [Bil Herd], [Chris Gammell], and many more.
Out of over 100 teams, first runner-up went to PicoRico, which built a data collection system for the suspension of a mountain bike. The Twillio prize went to Stove Top Sensor for Paranoid, Stubburn Older Parents which adds cellphone and web connectivity to the stove, letting you check if you remembered to turn off the burns. The charismatic duo of fifteen-year-olds [Kristopher] and [Ilan] stole the show with their demonstration of Follow Plants which gives your produce a social media presence which you can then follow.
We recorded video and got the gritty details from everyone building hardware during the 20-hour frenzy. We’ll be sharing those stories throughout the week so make sure to check back!
We’re hosting one day of hacking in New York City next week. Stretch your skills with the power of deadlines and you can be immortalized in Hackaday history. If that kind of cred doesn’t do it for you, Hackaday is bringing along $1500 in prizes and there’s another $5000 cash prize at stake as well.
Only Hackaday can bring hardware to the TechCrunch NYC Hackathon on May 2nd. We need you to make it happen. Get your free ticket now (UPDATE: Our special tickets are all sold out but you might still be able to get some in the last few ticket releases. Check back often.). From there join the comment thread on our events page to connect with the rest of us who will be there.
Break the Hardware and Software Divide
Check out these pictures of last year’s TechCrunch hackathon. There’s a ton of people, they all seem to be having fun, but when it comes down to the end, they’re pointing to the screens of their Macbooks. This year you need to break that mold and and rise to the top with a hardware product to hold up as you are awarded TechCrunch’s comically large $5000 check.
Holding a hunk of hardware with electrons running through its veins is way more hardcore than software alone. We will end the segregation of software-only and hardware-only hackathons. After all, most hardware hacks these days are also software hacks. Team up with one of the iOS/Android app groups and add hardware to the mix. We want to see at least twenty of those tables strewn with jumper wires, breakout boards, and soldering irons. And we want to see someone from the Hackaday Community win this thing. So here’s the agreement — we’ll get you in, we’ll bring the hardware, you bring the awesome.
All Work and No Play (yeah right)
Ha! Like that has ever been our mantra. This is going to be a blast and because of it the Hackaday crew is flocking to town from all over the country. Confirmed so far are [Adam], [Alek], [Amar], [Brian], [Chris], [Jasmine], [Matt], [Mike], [Rob], [Sophi], and [Theodora]. We’re there to have fun, and you’re invited.
Most of the crew will arrive in town on Thursday night and we’ll definitely be meeting up. Anyone who registers for the Hackathon is invited for these pre-game festivities. Drop a comment on the events page and we’ll PM you details about where and when. But at the event our collective skills will be available to get your project past the sticking points. Of course we also need many hands to distribute all the swag we’re bringing along.
The Hackaday Prize Worldwide is coming to New York! Hackaday is adding a hardware-centric twist to the TechCrunch Disrupt in May. They’re kicking off the conference with a weekend hackathon which traditionally has been a software event. This year Hackaday is partnering with TC to make a change. If you’re a software-only sort of person, grabbing a ticket to the event is extremely tough. But those Hackaday community members who want to prove they can make electrons do their bidding still have hope; Hackaday can get you in!
Twenty Hours of Hardware
Show up at 12:30pm on Saturday, May 2nd. By 9:30am the next morning you must have a working piece of hardware having been totally built on-site. Starting at 11am on Sunday you have 60-seconds to show off your build. We’re not kidding around when we say the judging criteria for this hackathon is “Awesomeness”. TC is putting up $5,000 to the winning team. Obviously someone who hangs out around Hackaday should be the winner here so go sign up!
Ticket Registration is a Hack:
TC hackathon tickets are released in shifts and gobbled up immediately, but because you are a friend of Hackaday we’ll can get you in for some epic hardware hacking. Even signing up is a bit of hack but here’s how:
Form/Find a team (up to 5 people) in advance through ChallengePost or you may do so onsite. You’ll notice the tags are software-related so put in “other” and add “hardware” and specific tags you can think of.
We’ll be bringing the basics: lots of dev boards, sensor breakout boards, and tools you need to hook them together. We’ll be posting information about the items we are bringing on our Hackaday Prize Worldwide: New York City page. Make sure you check in for updates so that you can familiarize yourself with what we’ll have on-hand. It is highly recommended that you set up any IDE or other dev tools before arriving at the event.
Facebook’s internal valuation was revealed this week thanks to shoddy PDF redaction. Court documents from a settlement between Facebook and ConnectU showed that Facebook values itself at $3.7 billion, much less than the $15 billion that was speculated during the Microsoft investment. The AP uncovered this by cutting and pasting from the redacted court document. It’s the same thing we showed in our PDF redaction screencast last summer… and it will never cease to be funny.
Gadget blogs have been a fluster the last day about TechCrunch stating that netbooks “just aren’t good enough“. Writing a response post hasn’t proven very hard given the number of factual errors in the original. Boing Boing Gadgets points out that the low-end of the spectrum that TC post seems to cover are almost impossible to purchase because they’re so outdated. Liliputing rightly states that comparing the browsing experience to the iPhone isn’t worthwhile since it’s entirely a software problem. Laptop goes so far as to recommend the HP Mini 1000 and Samsung NC10 specifically for their keyboard. TechCrunch isn’t alone in their opinion; this week Intel stated that using the ultra portable devices was “fine for an hour“. TechCrunch is designing a web tablet right now using the collective wisdom of blog commenters. Looks like they’re just reboxing a netbook for the prototype.
We cover the netbook market for different reasons than most: Their low low price makes people much more willing to hack on the device. For the price of a smartphone, you’re getting a fully capable laptop. The low performance doesn’t matter as much since we’re running different flavors of Linux that are much lighter than Windows. People running OSX86 are doing it to address a market that Apple doesn’t.