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I spent the last weekend as an advisor to Betaspring‘s Digital Meets Physical Hackathon. The participants arrived Saturday morning and organized into teams. I stayed until about midnight, and returned around 10am Sunday morning, where I was able to help a couple teams get unstuck. It wasn’t that I was any smarter than them; I just had more sleep!

After Allan Tear of Betaspring kicked things off, he turned the stage over to James Rutter of AS220 Labs, who explained that the labs would be open all day for hackathon participants. AS220 is an unjuried, uncensored, all-ages arts center in Providence, and AS220 Labs combines a fab lab, community access to those tools, and other programs. AS220 Labs made their tools (such as a laser cutter and a couple of MakerBot 3d printers) available to participants that day.

After James gave an overview of the labs, Chris Walker from Netduino spoke. Chris had brought a bunch of Netduinos for participants to make things with. A Netduino plus became the heart of Betaspring’s own hackathon project: an Internet-connected doorbell. After Chris spoke, Kipp Bradford of KippKitts spoke; he brought some recently-created kits and parts (motor shields, driver boards, LEDs), and some other unusual items that proved useful.

After that, hacking began, and participants completed a number of projects:

  • Matt Gillooly’s Hungrypotamus. He hacked a Hungry Hungry Hippos game to be played over the Internet. Matt’s project was the Hackathon Champion. The project was controlled by the Arduino-compatible Teensy.
  • Chris Meringolo’s connected kegerator (pictured above). This system embedded an RFID tag into pint glasses, allowing you to control who gets beer, and keep an eye on how much they have (the Betaspring folks saw potential for a leaderboard there). Chris used an Arduino-compatible Freeduino USB Host Board as the brains.
  • Chris Perez and Simon Norridge engaged in a variety of LED experiments: an epoxy glow stick and LED-illuminated tip jar.
  • Ramsey Abouzahra, Damian Ewens, and Pat DeSantis worked on a scalable system for turning a building into a dancer-controlled (Kinect-enabled) light wall. They received the Most Ambitious Project award.
  • Betaspring (excluded from the competition) designed a Netduino Plus-based Internet enabled doorbell. Hackathon partner GreenGoose supplied some sensors for the hackathon. Betaspring used one in their project.
  • Ryan Rogowski and Rob Sanchez used an Arduino and a RedPark Serial Cable for iOS, along with a LED fretboard accessory they developed in partnership with KippKitts, to start work on an iOS app that would teach you to play guitar.
  • Topher Brown (winner of the Hardcore Prize) stayed all night and worked on an Internet-connected taillight (it fell off the back of a car). He’ll use it to indicate the status of various server devices at work.

Hacktastic Days(and Nights) at Betaspring

Flickr set

Brian Jepson

I’m a tinkerer and finally reached the point where I fix more things than I break. When I’m not tinkering, I’m probably editing a book for Maker Media.


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