No Wonder These Projects Won The Circuit Sculpture Contest

There are five winners of the Hackaday Circuit Sculpture contest, and every one of them comes as no surprise, even in a tightly packed race to the top.

Beginning with the gorgeous photo above, we have [Eirik Brandal’s] waldian being named the most beautiful. Imagine this hanging on your living room wall, then head over and listen to the video demo as it’s light-actuated synthesizer chimes like distant (or maybe not so distant) church bells. This isn’t a one-off dip into circuit sculpture for [Eirik], we featured his broader body of work back in 2018, all of it worth checking out in more depth.

The glowing mask is actually made of PCB. The seams are secured with super glue bolstered with baking soda. The labor behind this one is intense. As we mention back in September, the project took place over about two years, mostly due to the sheer volume of cutting and sanding [Stephen Hawes] needed to do to bring together so many pieces. This one grabbed him the most artistic award.

[Jiří Praus] takes the top spot for best video with his luminescent RGB LED sphere. We swooned over this one when it first dropped back in December. [Jiří] shows off a combination of patience and ingenuity by using a 3D-printed mold to hold each LED while he soldered brass rod in place to serve as both electrical and mechanical support.

Speaking of molds, one of the challenges was to show off the best jig for creating a circuit sculpture. [Inne’s] Soft Soldering Jig provides the channels needed to keep crisp right angles on the brass rod as you work, with voids to position components at intersections for soldering. Drawing on the advice of numerous circuit sculpture success from people like [Mohit Bohite] and [Jiří Praus], he was looking for a way to easily position everything on a surface that would not be burnt by the soldering iron. The answer comes in the form of Silicone jigs made with 3D-printed molds.

Finally we have the Binary Calculator project which won the most functional award. While it does operate as a binary calculator, the beauty of it is not to be overlooked. Among its many attributes are a set of cherry-wood keycaps that were milled for the project and a bell-jar display stand where the calculator rests and serves as a binary clock when not in use. You may remember seeing our feature of this project last week.

As prizes, the binary calculator, orb, and wall sculpture creators will each be receiving $200 in goodies from Digi-Key who sponsored the contest and will be featuring entries in a 2021 wall calendar. Creators of the soldering jig and the PCB mask will receive a $100 Tindie gift card.

Tech At Home Winners Who Made The Best Of Their Quarantine

Back in April we challenged hackers to make the best of a tough situation by spending their time in isolation building with what they had laying around the shop. The pandemic might have forced us to stay in our homes and brought global shipping to a near standstill, but judging by the nearly 300 projects that were ultimately entered into the Making Tech At Home Contest, it certainly didn’t stifle the creativity of the incredible Hackaday community.

While it’s never easy selecting the winners, we think you’ll agree that the Inverse Thermal Camera is really something special. Combining a surplus thermal printer, STM32F103 Blue Pill, and OV7670 camera module inside an enclosure made from scraps of copper clad PCB, the gadget prints out the captured images on a roll of receipt paper like some kind of post-apocalyptic lo-fi Polaroid.

The HexMatrix Clock also exemplified the theme of working with what you have, as the electronics were nothing more exotic than a string of WS2811 LEDs and either an Arduino or ESP8266 to drive them. With the LEDs mounted into a 3D printed frame and diffuser, this unique display has an almost alien beauty about it. If you like that concept and have a few more RGB LEDs laying around, then you’ll love the Hive Lamp which took a very similar idea and stretched it out into the third dimension to create a standing technicolor light source that wouldn’t be out of place on a starship.

Each of these three top projects will receive a collection of parts and tools courtesy of Digi-Key valued at $500.

Runners Up

Out friends at Digi-Key were also kind enough to provide smaller grab bags of electronic goodies to the creators of the following 30 projects to help them keep hacking in these trying times:

The Making Tech At Home Contest might be over, but unfortunately, it looks like COVID-19 will be hanging around for a bit. Hopefully some of these incredible projects will inspire you to make the most out of your longer than expected downtime.

Contest Winners: Machine Learning On All Kinds Of Gadgets

With nearly sixty exciting entries, the Train All the Things contest, presented in partnership with Digi-Key, has drawn to a close and today we are happy to share news of the winning projects. The challenge at hand was to show off a project using some type of Machine Learning and there were plenty of takes on this theme displayed.

Perhaps the most impressive project is the Intelligent Bat Detector by [Tegwyn☠Twmffat] which claims the “ML on the Edge” award. His project, seen above, seeks not only to detect the presence of bats through the sounds they make during echolocation, but to identify the type of bat as well. Having been through a number of iterations, the bat detector, based on Nvidia Jetson Nano and a Raspberry Pi, can classify several types of bats, and a set of house keys (for a “control”). It’s also been impeccably documented and serves as a great example of how to get into machine learning.

The Soldering LIghtsaber takes the “ML Blinky” award for using machine learning in the microcontroller realm. This clever use of the concept seeks one thing: destroying the wait times for your soldering iron to heat up. It takes time to make temperature readings while the iron heats up, if you can do away with this step it speeds things up greatly. By sampling results of different voltages and heating times, machine learning establishes its own guidelines for how to pour electricity into the heating element without checking for feedback, and coming out the other side at the perfect temperature.

Rounding up our final two winners, the AI Powered Bull**** Detector claims the “ML on the Gateway” award, and
Hacking Wearables for Mental Health and More which won in the “ML on the Cloud” category.

The idea behind our illuminated poop emoji project is to detect human speech and make a judgement on whether the comment is valid, or BS. It does this by leveraging a learning set of comments that have previously been identified as BS and making an association with the currently uttered words.

Wearables for mental health is a wonderful project that was previously recognized in the 2018 Hackaday Prize. Economies of scale have made these wearables quite affordable as a way to add a sensor suite to behavior analysis. But of course you need a way to process all of the sensor data, a perfect task for a cloud-based machine learning application.

All four winners received a $100 gift code to Tindie. Don’t forget to check out all of the other interesting projects that were entered in this contest!

Tell Time Contest Winners: Clocks To Knock Your Socks Off

The results are in and the Tell Time Contest was a spectacular showing of creativity. Five winners and a number of runners-up have have been chosen based on craftsmanship, functionality, and creativity.

The one that’s going to steal your heart is Fetch: A Ferrofluid Display. Pitting the force of gravity against electromagnetism, this project manages to wrangle a liquid into the segments of a display and the animations used to change between numbers are fascinating. It’s a wickedly complicated system and the gang over at Applied Procrastination did a great job of documenting the research and development that went into building this open source marvel. Has anyone tried to replicate it? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Mechanical movements date back to the transition away from sundials and hourglasses, but these two modern takes on “clockwork” prove there’s still plenty of room for creativity. The first is a plotter that uses two servo motors and a UV LED to draw hours and minutes on a phosphorescent material.

The second is both minimal and a stunning mastery of a traditional clock mechanism. TORLO uses the voice coil from a hard drive to move the gears. It’s 3D-printed and does it all in plain sight, superb!

Fans of the Alien franchise will immediately recognize this insect-like “facehugger”, the second stage of a developing Xenomorph. Embracing the tradition of the Cuckcoo clock, at the top of the hour a “Chestburster” pops through the chest of the bust to mark the passage of time. Creepy but well executed.

The flip-dot display uses a beautiful home-etched circuit board to keep things tidy inside of the case. Of course the question with these displays is always “where did you get the flip dots?”. This panel is on it’s second life after serving a tour of duty as a bus info sign.

Runners Up and Eight Score of Entries

Congratulations to all of our runners-up in the Tell Time contest. It was a tight field with 160 total entries, each of them a fascinating take on the simple, yet very complex practice of watching the seconds tick away. Add this to your weekend bucket list as you’ll certainly get lost in the details of many of these projects.

These Projects Bent Over Backward To Win The Flexible PCB Contest

Back in March, the call went out: take your wiggliest, floppiest, most dimensionally compliant idea, and show us how it would be better if only you could design it around a flexible PCB. We weren’t even looking for a prototype; all we needed was an idea with perhaps a sketch, even one jotted on the legendary envelope or cocktail napkin.

When we remove constraints like that, it’s interesting to see how people respond. We have to say that the breadth of applications for flex PCBs and the creativity shown in designing them into projects was incredible. We saw everything from circuit sculpture to wearables. Some were strictly utilitarian and others were far more creative. In the end we got 70 entries, and with 60 prizes to be awarded, the odds were ever in your favor.

Now that the entries have been evaluated and the winners decided, it’s time to look over the ways you came up with to put a flexible PCB to work. Normally we list all the winners in our contest wrap-ups, but with so many winners we can’t feature everyone. We’ll just call out a few of the real standout projects here, but you really should check the list of winning projects to see the full range of what this call for flexibility brought out in our community.

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Repairs You Can Print Contest: Meet The Winners

Six weeks ago, we asked you to show us your best 3D printed repairs for a chance to win $100 in Tindie credit and other prizes. You answered the call with fixes for everything from the stuff everyone has, like zippers and remotes, to the more obscure stuff, like amazing microscopes scavenged from dumpsters.

It was hard to whittle down the entries we received into the top 20 because you came up with so many awesome fixes. A few of them had us thinking hard about the definition of repair, but are brilliant in their own way.

So without further ado, we are pleased to announce the winners of our Repairs You Can Print contest. We also want to give honorable mention to those projects that wowed us with ingenuity.

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Coin Cell Hacks That Won The Coin Cell Challenge

It’s amazing what creative projects show up if you give one simple constraint. In this case, we asked what cool things can be done if powered by one coin cell battery and we had about one hundred answers come back. Today we’re happy to announce the winners of the Coin Cell Challenge.

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