This past weekend Carlos and I went to a Hack Princeton, a 36 hour hackathon taking place in (you guessed it) Princeton! This hackathon had an amazing hardware track and we were thrilled to be part of it.
We left for Princeton on Friday afternoon with our circuit printer, lots of printing materials, and a bunch of parts including some Curiosity boards and RN4020 Bluetooth modules from Microchip. Thanks to our phenomenal sense of direction, we arrived only an hour after we planned and still had plenty of time to get setup.
We spent most of the weekend in the hardware lab mentoring and helping the hackers get their hardware up and running. When we weren't mentoring (or eating), we were checking out what everyone else was making and there were some really exciting hardware projects!
We really love this one because they prototyped a board with Squink! Even with no experience in using a CAD tool, Colleen was able to learn how to use KiCAD and put together a board on Saturday afternoon.
Running M8 combines a Raspberry Pi, Myo Armband, and custom light/sound board to guide runners along different paths and serve as a turn signal/light.
Spin To Win
This is a super cheap Arduino based 3d scanner. It was by far the best use of cardboard and electrical tape at the entire event. It has a similar style to our first model of Squink.
An Electric Imp based sensor network that can tell you if someone is using a particular desk in the library (or if they're being too loud).
An oscilloscope that you control with your voice. Perfect for when both hands are holding the probe: "Go go scope, auto-calibrate!"
Wearable Machine Learning Sign Language Translator
If you could not figure out what it is from the name, it's a Myo armband and machine learning software that converts sign language (as gestured by the wearer) to text.
The other projects were equally impressive and covered some amazing areas like: machine learning, natural language processing, computer vision, virtual reality, web and mobile development, among many others. I was blown away by how much could be accomplished in such a short time in those seemingly complicated area from a position of little to no experience. It really reminded me of how easy it can be to pick up a complicated topic and make something if you have the right tools (for example: you could learn KiCAD and build your first circuit in a weekend with Squink) and a lot of determination.
Congratulations to all the participants and a huge thanks to the organizers! We had a blast at Hack Princeton 2016 and can't wait to see where these projects go (literally).