Year in Review Banner 2016.png

Also read: Member of the Year Awards

 

The Design Challenge series here at Element14 is one of my favorite sections of the whole community, and I am unsure if that will ever change. I spend a good portion of my week browsing through many of the sections here, but I definitely spend the most time in the Design Challenge section. I have spent 2016 covering the challenges every week, and summarizing the progress from each challenger, and this means that I have read through every update that was posted to every challenge this year. To end off the year, I wanted to write a year end recap post that summarizes my favorite challenges, projects, and post from the year. Before we jump into the meat of this post, let's take a moment and look at some impressive statistics from the Design Challenge series as a whole for 2016.

 

In 2016 we officially held three design challenges, with all of them being held completely inside of the 2016 year. Overall there were 43 projects and challengers selected to participate in the challenges as a whole, and somewhere around 390 project updates were posted. Finally, about 36 projects either made it to completion, or at least posted regular updates, which is something to be proud of as these challenges demand a significant commitment of time to bring from concept to fruition. If those numbers were not impressive enough, lets take a moment to thank some of the sponsors who helped out with both prizes, and the hardware each challenger used in their builds: Beaglebone, Raspberry Pi, Wurth Electronics, Autodesk, CadSoft, NXP, Oculus, GoPro, DuraTool, and many more!

 

The Challenges:

 

Open Source Music Tech Design Challenge

 

We kicked off 2016 with the Open Source Music Tech Challenge, which bled over from 2015. The challenge featured the Beaglebone BlackBeaglebone Black as its main component, and tasked its challengers with developing a new, useful musical instrument, or other electronic system that somehow improved, or innovated within the DIY music community, and was designed to be completely open source. A few of the more impressive projects I have seen were part of this challenge, and after following each project for its duration, I honestly had no idea who would take the win home after the judging had completed.

 

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Sixteen challengers were selected to compete in this challenge, and over the next nineteen weeks, the challengers toiled away on their projects, posting a grand total of ninety-six blog post, thirty videos, and hundreds of informative photos, code samples, and tips. With almost one-hundred blog post, this challenge was a close competitor to our largest ever!

 

 

On the fifteenth of April, the challenge officially closed, and the judges set to work rating each project that was completed, and just a few weeks later, the winners were announced. In the end,  Liam Lacey’s (liamtmlacey) project, Vintage Toy Synthesizer claimed the top spot. Second place went to Luis Zayas Garin (luiszayas) and his project, Kazumi. Third Place was awarded to Carmelito Andrade’s (carmelito) DIY Drum Kit, (a personal favorite of mine).

 

If you would like to read through the entire challenge, head over to it’s content page for a full listing of all of the content its challengers created. If you would rather skim through the highlights, I have included a list below of all of the weekly summaries that I wrote about the Make Life Accessible Challenge. Additionally, I have included second list below, that showcases a few of the projects from the challenge that I wrote complete summaries on.

 

Design Challenge Summaries January 1, 2016 - April 11, 2016

 

Open Source Music Tech Project Summaries

 

 

Make Life Accessible Design Challenge

 

 

The Make Life Accessible Design Challenge, our second challenge of the year, was centered around the ever growing need of high-tech solutions  to help give people freedom from their physical limitations. Challengers were tasked with creating a prototype that utilizes a motor control system from NXP with the ultimate goal of bringing benefits to people who are disabled or considered vulnerable, enabling them to live well with their conditions as a result of the challenger’s solution. Thirteen projects were chosen to participate, with their creators receiving an official challenger kit that contains the sponsored hardware from NXP, specifically the FRDM-KV31 Freedom Development PlatformFRDM-KV31 Freedom Development Platform and FRDM-MC-LVPMSM Low-Voltage Motor Control KitFRDM-MC-LVPMSM Low-Voltage Motor Control Kit.

 

 

With more than ninety blogpost being written, the challenge lasted for about eleven weeks, running from the third week of April to the first week of July. I have said it many times in the past, but if you are looking for a source of inspiration, you need to look no farther than the Design Challenges here at Element14. This challenge was filled with inspiring innovation, and a good bit of repurposing existing things to make helpful solutions to real world problems. When it was all said and done, Douglas Wong (dougw) walked away with the grand prize with his project, Clear Walk. Second place was awarded to Scott Coppersmith’s (rsc) ElapShelf, while Ambrogio Galbusera (amgalbu) took the thrid place spot with his project, Eye Prints.

 

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If you would like to read through the entire challenge, head over to it’s content page for a full listing of all of the content its challengers created. If you would rather skim through the highlights, I have included a list below of all of the weekly summaries that I wrote about the Make Life Accessible Challenge. Additionally, I have included second list below, that showcases a few of the projects from the challenge that I wrote complete summaries on.

 

Design Challenge Summaries April 17, 2016 - July 3, 2016

 

 

Make Life Accessible Project Summaries

 

 

Pi IoT Smarter Spaces Design Challenge

 

Our third and final Design Challenge of 2016 was the Pi IoT Smarter Spaces Challenge, which tasked its challengers to create a smater living, working, or educational space using an assortment of hardware from the Raspberry Pi foundation, and EnOcean. Each challenger received a Raspberry Pi 3Raspberry Pi 3, Raspberry Pi B+Raspberry Pi B+, Pi Noir Camera 2Pi Noir Camera 2, Pi Camera 8MPPi Camera 8MP, 7-Inch Touchscreen7-Inch Touchscreen, an EnOcean PiEnOcean Pi, a EnOcean Sensor kitEnOcean Sensor kit, and more.

 

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With more than two-hundred blog post being written, this challenge was one of our largest ever. The challenge lasted for about fifteen weeks, running from the third week of May to the last week of August, giving the Smarter Spaces Challenge the title of our longest running Design Challenge of 2016 as well. I do have to say that this challenge was by far my favorite of the year. I am absolutely captivated with anything home automation, and this challenge definitely held me captive throughout its duration. I mentioned the innovation that was present in every project of the Make Life Accessible challenge, and if it set the standard, the Smarter Spaces challenge broke the mold, and redefined that standard. From smart key hooks that let the system know who was present in the home, to exercise challenges being built into one challenger’s home automation system, this design challenge had it all. If this challenge was any indication of the quality, and level of craftsmanship we can expect to see in future challenges, then 2017 is going to be a great year!

 

 

When it was all said and done, Frederick Vandenbosch (fvan) walked away with the grand prize with his project, Pi IoT Alarm Clock. Robin Eggenkamp’s (rhe123) Project Thuis took home second place, while Gerrit Polder’s (gpolder) took the thrid place spot with his project, Plant Health Smart Camera.

 

If you would like to read through the entire challenge, head over to it’s content page for a full listing of all of the content its challengers created. If you would rather skim through the highlights, I have included a list below of all of the weekly summaries that I wrote about the Make Life Accessible Challenge. Additionally, I have included second list below, that showcases a few of the projects from the challenge that I wrote complete summaries on.

 

 

Design Challenge Summaries June 12, 2016 - July 3, 2016

 

Pi IoT Smarter Spaces Project Summaries

 

 

My top 3 Favorite Design Challenge Projects Of 2016

 

2016 was a great year filled with awesome design challenges, and I am so grateful that Element14 chose me to cover them. I wish I had the time, to write a small feature about all of my favorite projects from this year, but unfortunately I only have time for three. These three projects are in no particular order, and as I mentioned, I loved almost all of the projects that were completed this year.

 

Smart Competition Home by Caterina Lazaro (clazarom)

 

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I really enjoyed this project, and it’s fresh approach to making a smart home even smarter. Innovation is very hard to come by in the smart home world, as everyone is chomping at the bit to become the most refined version of whatever aspect of the smart home they are working on. When I first read Caterina’s proposal I knew this project had massive potential and the concept of integrating a fitness competition into the daily lives of those residing in the home was one of the most innovative ideas in recent design challenge history. I can honestly say that I looked forward to each and every update that Caterina made to this project. Head over to its main blog page to read through the entire project.

 

 

EyePrints by Ambrogio Galbusera (amgalbu)

 

 

As I have mentioned in several other post, for some reason, every new Design Challenge will feature a project that incorporates a design element in it that seems to align perfectly with a topic I am studying at the time. EyePrints was one of those projects, specifically the eye tracking development. During this challenge, I was working on a concept for a project that would benefit from built in eye tracking. Ambrogio’s code examples, and thorough explanations of how each small piece of the puzzle worked was just the jump start I needed to begin to better understand how DIY eye tracking systems worked. I have yet to build my own, but you may see something from me in 2017. Head over to the project’s main blog page to read through the entire project.

 

 

Project: DIY Drum Kit by Carmelito Andrade (carmelito)

 

 

DIY Drum Kit was one of those projects that really brought out the maker in me. The code examples, schematics, and documentation was just so good, but what really solidified this as one of my top three favorite projects was the second version of the kit that Carmelito debuted near the end. The pocket version of the DIY Drum Kit was pretty cool, but Carmelito stepped it up another notch with a second design that utilized a hand-shaped, 3D printed form that houses coins that act as capacitive sensors. Called BB Drum Fingers, this version of the project is aimed at those who want to create some cool projects with their friends at maker spaces. This is a very cool version of the project, and I am working out something similar use with the YoungMakers class I teach, to help them learn more about digital music creation.

 

 

 

 

Design Challenge 2017 Teaser

 

 

 

The element14 Community is pleased to introduce the‘Safe Sound Design Challenge featuring the Texas Instruments  https://www.element14.com/community/view-product.jspa?fsku=2473128&nsku=41Y9541&COM=noscriptMSP-EXP432P401R LaunchPad. Members are invited to use this https://www.element14.com/community/view-product.jspa?fsku=2473128&nsku=41Y9541&COM=noscriptMSP-EXP432P401R LaunchPad to create a wearable that could protect you from risk, monitor your health or protect your personal property.

This LaunchPad enables you to develop high performance applications that benefit from low power operation. It features the MSP432P401R – which includes a 48MHz ARM Cortex M4F, 95uA/MHz active power and 850nA RTC operation, 14-bit 1MSPS differential SAR ADC and AES256 accelerator.

 

Enroll today to take part in the Safe & Sound Design Challenge; entries open until 23:59 GMT on January 27th 2017.

 

 

Final Thoughts

 

If the 2017 Design Challenge Series is anything like 2016 was, we are in store for an awesome year! A lot of you have messaged me about when the next design challenge will start, and will I be back to cover the series every week. The first question was answered above, and the answer to the second question is, yes. I will be back covering the Design Challenges on a weekly basis with my usual weekly update post, as well as summarizing many of the projects as they progress. I will also be around in other areas of the site, building projects, and writing articles about interesting happenings in the electrical engineering and maker communities. With that said, I am going to wrap this one up. I hope you enjoyed the 2016 Design Challenge series as much as I did. For now, that is it for me, but I will see you in 2017 and remember to Hack The World, and Make Awesome!