Every day since launching more than 15 years ago, we at Hackaday have been writing about amazing feats of hardware sorcery found throughout the broad community. It became
clear that readers needed a virtual place to call home, a place to document their own projects and connect with each other. So we launched the project platform Hackaday.io in 2014, and it has become the place to be if you’re into hardware hacking. The site has grown into a vibrant community of 400,000 hackers, makers, doers, and thinkers with the passion to create and share. Members can build a team, engage with the community to get help, and celebrate successes and share the pain of failure. Here are a few of the almost 30,000 projects that really show off what it is all about.
1. MUSIC, ART, AND ELECTRONICS
Creator: Kelly Heaton
Some Hackaday.io projects straddle the border between art and technology. In Nature’s Musicians, Kelly Heaton uses electronics to replicate the sounds of birds, insects, and other non-human musicians, and incorporates them into sculptures and paintings of the animals. She’ll be presenting her work at the 2019 Hackaday Superconference in November.
2. QUADRUPED ROBOTICS
Creator: Josh Pieper
Josh Pieper is working on his own open-source robotic dog, similar to the one that Boston Dynamics is now offering for sale. But since it’s open source and 3D printable, you won’t need to have a Ferrari full of cash to afford it.
3. SERVOS FROM BRUSHLESS MOTORS
Creator: Oskar Weigl
Robots like Pieper’s need a lot of power at each joint, which is where the ODrive comes in. ODrive turns hobby-grade brushless motors into high-speed, powerful servos for CNC machines, 3D printers, and the occasional robotic dog.
Oskar Weigl’s ODrive is just one of the many Hackaday.io projects that started as a Hackaday Prize entry and became a commercial product.
4. A HELPING ARM FOR THE ELDERLY
Creator: Kristjan Berce
Not every project is about building autonomous robots, of course. Embettering the world is a big motivator, too. This affordable exoskeleton arm by Kristjan Berce started as an attempt to help the elderly lift heavy objects; it too is now a 2019 Hackaday Prize entrant.
5. MAKING WHEELCHAIRS BETTER ON A BUDGET
Creator: Kate Reed
With so many people relying on wheelchairs to get around in the world, Kate Reed thought there must be a better way to power them. So she built one: the Hand Drive. It’s a wheel-mounted lever drive that’s entirely 3D printed and costs only $40 to make, making it incredibly attractive compared to commercial versions.
6. TINY FPV BOTS FOR FUN AND LEARNING
Creator: Max Kern
Speaking of the Hackaday Prize, here’s an entry from the 2017 edition of the annual contest: ZeroBot. Max Kern’s tiny, simple robot can be almost entirely 3D printed, and it makes a great weekend project to get kids interested in robotics. A newer version, powered by an ESP32 and with low-latency FPV video, was also a submission in the 2019 Hackaday Prize. We love seeing designs refined and projects improved over the years.
7. A DIFFERENT KIND OF 3D PRINTING
Creator: Yvo de Haas
Hackaday.io was big into 3D printing long before 3D printing was cool. And while you can now buy a 3D printer anywhere, our members are still pushing the envelope with new methods of additive manufacturing. The Oasis 3DP by Yvo de Haas is a binder-jetting printer that uses recycled inkjet cartridges to shoot a binding fluid onto a thin layer of powdered gypsum. The early prototype shows a lot of promise.
8. BRINGING SATELLITE TRACKING DOWN TO EARTH
Creator: Pierros Papadeas
And finally, no Hackaday.io greatest hits list would be complete without a nod to SatNOGS, the Satellite Network of Ground Stations. SatNOGS won our first-ever Hackaday Prize in 2014, and while Pierros Papadeas and the SatNOGS team elected not to take the trip to space offered as a prize, they did manage to turn a lot of eyes — and antennas — skyward. SatNOGS has built out an extensive platform for tying together DIY satellite ground stations, which provides tracking data for hundreds of satellites.
THE HACKADAY PRIZE AND THE SUPERCONFERENCE
Launched in 2014 along with Hackaday.io, the Hackaday Prize has been a clarion call to hackers everywhere to put their skills to the test against the best in the world. Although the Prize differs every year in terms of theme, milestones, and requirements, it’s always announced in the spring and runs through November. And the awards are substantial: We offered a trip to space for the first Hackaday Prize in 2014, and have settled on more cash prizes and perks since then. This year’s grand prize is $125,000 and a residency at the design lab of Supplyframe, our parent company. The best entry from five categories will also win $10,000 each, and five honorable mention entries will get $3,000 a piece.
The Prize challenges hackers to create a project on Hackaday.io, assemble a team, and document progress as the year goes on. Entries are judged by the quality of the build, the impact of the project, how it addresses the theme of the Prize, and the quality of documentation. Winners are announced at the Hackaday Superconference in Pasadena, the premiere event of the hardware hacking year. The Superconference is where our community goes to connect, learn, engage, and network, while they’re not diving into workshops or kicking back at one of the many social events.