"What is electronics development moved as fast as software development?" That is their motto. Will they also provide some Design-for-Testability methodologies with their kits?
Hackathons have traditionally been about software programmers (including graphic and interface designers) coming together to brainstorm and develop software on the fly in a matter of days. This trend has traversed over to the hardware side in the last few years and is continuing to gain in popularity, however the time-frame for development has been significantly reduced compared to software hackathons. One of these events was recently held at the Facebook Campus in Menlo Park, California where a group of 60 individuals came together to rapid-prototype new hardware in a time frame of only 12 hours.
The second annual Open Compute Hackathon featured teams coming together to come up with productive hardware ideas which were then designed using Upverter to garner a schematic of their respective projects. Some of those projects, in circuit board form, were actually prototyped on-site using Tempo Automation’s ‘Electronics Factory’ to etch the PCB boards. Hackers could also take advantage of TechShop’s CNC router for drilling holes on the boards, as needed as well as their laser cutter for the boards templates. Contestants also had access to TechShop’s toaster oven to facilitate any soldering that needed to be done. The hackathon centered around three key areas of innovation, which included engaging an entrepreneurial demographic, developing financial capital for start-ups with promising products and devising academic engagement through project development. Teams submitted a myriad of different designs with some of the more interesting being a mesh network-debugging tool, using HipHop to create a group of 32 port ARM-based servers (LLVM was used to convert x86 architecture to ARM) and a brainwave monitoring tool that detects a person’s alert state while driving.
Another notable project was devised by Deepti Yadlapalli whose team created the Centaur II, which plugs into a car’s OBD II diagnostic port and takes the information collected (lights, brakes, engine info, etc.) and makes it available for analysis on the internet. The tool is invaluable for those who would like to know what that ‘strange ticking sound’ is while they are driving. This year’s winner went to the team who created the mesh network-debugging tool, as it was the most completed design. So what did they win for their efforts besides hacking notoriety? How about $20,000 US donated by SKTA Innopartners as well as a grant from Open Compute Foundation in an effort to get their product design off to a running start and placed on the markets as fast as possible.
Proof that development is not about time but hard work.
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