The Countdown to Maker Faire Bay Area is On!


Gadget Freak Design Contest winners!

Computers & Mobile Craft & Design
Gadget Freak Design Contest winners!

Thanks to everyone who entered the MAKE/Design News Gadget Freak Design Contest sponsored by Alibre, Allied Electronics, and Texas Instruments. We had lots of great entries and were really splitting hairs among the top five or so, but after careful consideration we are now pleased to announce the winners:

Grand Prize: Infrared seeking sentinel

IR Sentinel.jpg

[flickr video=4787714043 secret=a80644a566 w=600 h=450]

Rick Prescott outfitted a Nerf® Vulcan EBF-25TM foam dart shooting machinegun with an array of Devantech TPA81 thermopile sensors, all controlled by an ATmega168, to create this wicked Aliens-style heat-tracking autocannon:

An idea sparked in my mind one day while walking the toy gun isle in a store with my kid and later that evening learning of the workings of a thermopile array while surfing the internet. The result is this infrared seeking sentinel which joins a realistically priced infrared sensor to a realistically operatable Nerf® machine gun to create a slightly less deadly yet still highly deterring automated machine. Personally I have grand plans to deploy the infrared seeking sentinel facing the entrance of my work cubical in order to speed interaction with less desirable visitors.

Rick has won $1,000 and a storefront in Makers Market with 6 months of free service. Congratulations!

Second Prize: GPS bus notifier

Bus updater.JPG

University of Florida student Miles Moody used a WizNet Ethernet module wed to an Arduino Nano to scrape and parse HTML from a local web service that reports the real-time GPS coordinates of the bus that takes him to school every day:

The program compares the location to where my apartment is located and depending on where it/they are, the device will light up one of three LEDs: red if no bus is close, yellow if a bus is somewhat close, and green if the bus is coming and I need to hightail it out of my apt. For the green case, a piezo buzzer also sounds so I dont have to be looking at the device all the time. It also twitters the current location of the busses every five minutes. This allows me to check via text message the bus locations when I am on campus.

Miles has won $500! Congratulations!

Third Prize: Not lazy Susan

not lazy susan.jpg

[flickr video=4792434582 secret=fc9995b92e w=600 h=450]

MAKE buddy, occasional guest author, and all-around wondergal Dustyn Roberts built a custom board and enclosure from scratch to create this hands-free Lazy Susan for the dinner table that rotates with just a wave of the hand:

In this project, we’ll use at lazy Susan (also called a turntable or thrust bearing) to create a rotating platform. To make things interesting, we’ll use an infrared LED and phototransistor to make the table rotate with just a wave of your hand. You can use this as a table to magically serve food to dinner guests, or to make a fun interactive centerpiece for the next wedding you plan.

Dustyn will receive one of two $100 gift certificates redeemable at the Maker Shed. Congratulations, Dustyn!

Third Prize: Magic 8 ball mod


Mariano Alvira replaced the message die in a standard “Magic 8-Ball” toy with a blue OLED display that can be wirelessly programmed from outside the ball:

The steps outlined here will show you how to modify a standard Magic 8 Ball to replace the normal message icosahedron with a OLED screen, and how to add wireless microcontroller, and accelerometer. The screen is submersed in the normal Magic 8 Ball goo so that all the original aesthetics are preserved. The messages can be reprogrammed wirelessly without having to open the 8 Ball. The accelerometer detects when the 8 Ball is in use (e.g. tipped from resting to looking through the Magic Hole) and signals the microcontroller to turn on screen and fade in the messages.

Mariano, as our other third-place winner, will receive one of two $100 Maker Shed gift certificates! Congratulations, Mariano!

Thanks again to everyone who entered!

8 thoughts on “Gadget Freak Design Contest winners!

  1. knuckles904 says:

    You have no idea how much this makes my day (night rather since its ~3:00 am). Thank you so much for the opportunity to compete and for choosing me as a winner! Seeing this will hopefully give me some renewed vigor for that final Im still studying for. Thank you make magazine and all the sponsors who helped make this possible.

    (PS. Alibre design rocks for a free cad software. TI, I cant wait for my Launchpads to be shipped. Also mad props on the TI89, it makes engineering classes almost bearable)

  2. dustynrobots says:

    Ditto on what knuckles904 said! I saw this post right before I went to sleep thanks to a Google alert I had set up. This is a project for my upcoming book – Making Things Move – that I was lucky enough to get to write while in residency at Eyebeam Art + Technology Center with the help of two great interns (thanks Sam and Stina!) that worked on this project. We’ll be splitting the prize! Thanks Make and all the sponsors!

  3. Sal_The_Tiller says:

    The coolest thing about that bus tracker is that the service, transloc, works in many major cities and universities. The University of Alabama’s CrimsonRide is one example. Some lines, including CrimsonRide, are color coded, offering the possibility to add a second RGB light to denote the bus that’s approaching.

    I, for one, plan to take that mess of wires and get it on a PCB before my first semester at UA. (If I go there)

  4. knuckles904 says:

    One thing, @dustynrobots, have you gotten any emails back from the contest ppl? Cuz I still havent. Also congrats!

    Also, @Sal, yeah Id be honored to see someone else get some use out of the system. Btw, I have a pcb designed in eagle that Im trying to get made. Ill probably post the design on my blog eventually, but id be glad to send it to ya if youd like. It was pretty straightforward except I also had to make a design for the wiznet module since it didnt exist anywhere I could find. Congrats on getting into Bama. Maybe Ill see you if I make a roadtrip to the game.

Comments are closed.

Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

View more articles by Sean Michael Ragan
Maker Faire Bay Area 2023 30% off early bird ticket sales ends August 31st, 2023!

Escape to an island of imagination + innovation as Maker Faire Bay Area returns for its 15th iteration!

Prices Increase in....