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Gadget Freak contest runners upGadget Freak contest runners up

October 8, 2010

3 Min Read
Gadget Freak contest runners up

A few weeks ago I wrote about the grand prize winner in the Design News/Make Gadget Freak contest.  There was also a second prize, and twin third prize winners.

Second place

Second place was taken by  Miles Moody, a student at the University of Florida.  Miles’s invention is an Arduino powered gizmo that scrapes html from the WWW page of his local bus service to determine the GPS location of buses on his route.  It then lights one of three LEDs (green, yellow, red) to indicate how much he needs to hustle to make the bus (the red LED “hustle” mode also sounds a buzzer).  But wait, that’s not all.  It also tweets the location of the bus every 5 minutes, so when Miles is miles away from his gadget he can still check the bus’s location by sending a text message to Twitter on his phone.

Miles’s WWW page includes the source code for the project, and links to resources he used.  There is no schematic but it’s probably not that difficult to figure out — It is composed of an Arduino nano and an Ethernet shield.  For second place, Miles won $500!  Way to go Miles.

Third Place, twin A

Dustyn Roberts wanted a Lazy Susan for her table, but didn’t have the energy to reach all the way over there to turn it. The answer?  Build a motorized turntable, using an infrared LED and phototransistor so you can move it just by waving your hand.  For this project, all I could find online is a flickr archive of photos.  From the photos it looks like it’s as simple as can be:  a 9V battery, linear voltage regulator, switch, LED/phototransistor, and motor.  Presumably your hand reflects infrared light from the LED to the phototransistor, turning the motor on and spinning the top.  Dustyn is writing a book, and this project is from Chapter 10, so if you need more details you can buy the book.

Third Place, twin B

Mariano Alvira has just the kind of gadget hack I love.  Silly, entertaining, and a good dose of high tech well hidden behind the scenes.  He got several venerable Magic 8 Balls, cracked them open, and rebuilt one of them with a floating OLED display that shows custom messages.  If you’re going to go to all that work you don’t want just the same canned messages over and over, you’re going to want to be able to change them, and you’ll want to do it wirelessly so you don’t get blue stuff everywhere.

Mariano’s 21st century Magic 8 Ball is  ARM powered, using a $5 Motorola MC13224.  This 24 MHz ARM7 part has enough power and RAM to run a webserver and 6LoWPAN.  At Mariano’s WWW page you’ll get to peek inside an 8 ball — I’ve always wondered what’s inside there.  The whole ball isn’t filled with blue stuff, just a vial.  In Mariano’s 8 ball the microcontroller and batteries are in the empty space inside the ball but outside the vial.  The display and its breakout board are inside the vial, protected with a conformal coating, with a few wires connecting to the microcontroller.  The project involves quite a bit of hacksawing and hot gluing.

Both Mariano and Dustyn won $100 gift certificates to the Maker Shed for their entries.

So there you have it,  the rest of the winners in the Make/Design News Gadget Freak contest.  Congrats to all the winners, and to all the entrants.

Send in your gadget!

Design News is always looking for new gadets to feature in the print edition of the magazine.  Mechanical, electrical, pneumatic, whatever.  Believe me, if they’ll run my hot rodded Billy Bass they’ll run anything.  If you’ve creating something clever and would like to see it in print, submit it to the Design News editors:


You’ll get the thrill of seeing your product show up in a print magazine right in your mailbox, and you’ll get a check for $500 as well.

Steve Ravet

Design News Gadgeteer

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