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Celebrate the Best of Gadget Freak

Celebrate the Best of Gadget Freak

Take a look at The Best of Gadget Freak, Volume 4, a stellar collection of successful brainstorms from Design News readers.

Gadget Freak has come a long way over its 12 years with Design News. The feature began when then-Editor-in-Chief Karen Field set forth a feature that displayed gadgets of all sorts from all over the Internet. In those first few years, most of the gadgets were found through searches on maker sites. Even in its humble inception, Gadget Freak began to draw real reader attention.

Everything changed when Karen decided to invite readers to submit their own gadgets and asked them to include build instructions. Allied Electronics stepped up to support Gadget Freak, which allowed us to compensate our eager developer readers. That's when Gadget Freak began to attract serious attention. We added a video of each gadget and a parts list to deepen coverage and give our readers a crack at building the gadget themselves. We also upped the schedule to one or two gadgets each month.

Just a few short years ago Design News -- with the support of Allied -- started awarding the Gadget Freak of the Year. The winner -- chosen by our readers -- receives $6,000, and two runners-up each receive a monetary award. Each year the winners are presented at the Pacific Design and Manufacturing show in February in Anaheim, Calif, and each year we bring the winners to Anaheim to show off their gadgets.

Three years ago, we decided to create an annual ebook showing off the more impressive gadgets over the past year, and thus, The Best of Gadget Freak, Volume 4. The ebook presents 10 gadgets, as well as a "Gadget Freak Blast from the Past" collection.

First up in the ebook is the Attack Dyno, a performance metrics tracker for vehicles created by then-Colorado State University students, Marco Martinez, Logan Rutt, Bryce Goertz, and Robert Coloroso.

The gadget, seen above, has the ability to output vehicle torque, speed, horsepower, 1/4 mile times, 0-60 mph acceleration times, ambient air temperature, and more. The Attack Dyno -- our 2016 Gadget Freak of the Year winner -- is perfect for those who want to experience and gain knowledge of their vehicle's full potential without breaking the bank.

The Portable Weather Station is another outstanding gadget from 2015. Created by Matt Todd, Max Beard, and Kyle Roberts from Colorado State University, the Portable Electronic Weather Evaluator (PEWE), seen above with its creators, is equipped with multiple sensors: a barometric pressure sensor; an anemometer for measuring wind speed; an altitude sensor; and a thermistor to measure the change in temperature.

On the PEWE's front panel, as seen in the image below, there are 10 LEDs along the right side that light up proportionally to measure the wind speed, as well as another 10 LEDs that correspond proportionally to measure the temperature. There are also two LCD displays. The top LCD displays all of the sensors readings.

You too can be part of the Gadget Freak family of excellent inventions. The proliferation of new inexpensive tools is fueling the maker movement and that's spilling into Gadget Freak. It doesn't take a fortune to come up with something ingenious, useful, and fun.

Tell us about your Gadget Freak project at

Rob Spiegel has covered automation and control for 15 years, 12 of them for Design News. Other topics he has covered include supply chain technology, alternative energy, and cyber security. For 10 years he was owner and publisher of the food magazine Chile Pepper.

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