The UpcycleIt Design Challenge Challengers was announced on Mar 23rd.


During my challenges, I always found it useful to have a calendar of sorts as a gentle reminder.


Closes 04-Jun
IntroBlog 1Blog 2Blog 3Blog 4Blog 5Blog 6Blog 7Blog 8Blog 9

Blog 10



By my calculation we're now at week 3 (give or take a day depending on what time zone you're in).


CharlesGantt does a weekly overview of the Design Challenges   Design Challenge Weekly Summary: Week Ending April 1, 2017.

Due to storms and power loss, he had some issues, but no doubt will be in a better place this week to highlight the progress of the competitors in Upcycle It


It's a great stage to showcase your efforts every week, and it may get the judges attention which can only help you!




There have been some great blogs presented so far.

Some of these come from seasoned challengers, but others have provided very useful and informative blogs on their design.


As a Judge I have to be impartial, and my taste in fast cars means any monetary bribe is ... well just too expensive.

So I'm not going to single out any particular blogs.


I've also learnt that it's not over until the fat lady sings ... but then I've never been to an Opera and have no desire to go.

So while some might be slow off the mark, they can easily catch up and pass fellow challengers.


The journey to the finish line means that the challengers need to heed the Terms and Conditions, so a reminder here is appropriate as I'd like to see everyone in the running for the awesome prizes.


The T&C's state:

Post to the Competition Site blogs on the progress of their Project (Blogs) not less frequently than once per week during the Competition Period.

One or two weekly omissions are permissible as long as the total number of Blogs is at least 10.


The competition period is stated as  ... Competition Period: Challengers’ Announcement to Project Submission Close


Since the challenge only runs 11 weeks plus three days, there isn't a lot of room to miss many dates.

Any you do miss, will mean extra work in one of those weeks to make sure you post 10X.



Nothing to write

In my guide Design Challenge Blogs I gave an example of how to meet the blogging requirements that form part of the T&C's.


The first blog is easy, you put in an application which was chosen, and therefore your Introduction is already formulated and just needs a few tweaks and maybe a picture or two.

Many of the challengers did that within a day or two and the response was great, with ideas flowing between challengers and onlookers.


While the challengers wait for that knock on the door or package in the mailbox, you should have fleshed out the parts you need to concentrate on.

There should be some sort of plan about how you're going to implement your idea (i.e. the actual construction and hardware). You don't have to use all the parts in the Kit, just the mandatory component specified, which should help!


Your second posts were due on 6 April.

Again some challengers have done exactly that and spelt out how they will implement their designs, or the work they have done on the item they are Upcycling.


Sadly 30% are missing that blog, and it's now the start of week three of a program that lasts a little under 11 weeks.

A few people have already finshed their Intro and two blogs about the progress of their project ... well done.



No progress to write about

When undertaking these challenges, we all face issues where the software doesn't do what we thought, the parts haven't arrived, or we got sick.

All of these are part of the progress on the project.


It may not be progress in the right direction, but it is progress.

     Photo source


Your blog about how xyz didn't work, may be answered by another challenger, or someone following the challenge, so don't be afraid to share throughout.


Some challengers have already found that others have made some great suggestions to either improve their design, or modify it to achieve what they expect, and with less work.

IMO anything that achieves the same output with less effort is a win.


The message here is that the weekly blogs can be very useful to help you progress your design.

The other challengers are not going to change track and copy it, so don't be afraid to share.




The T&Cs ( Upcycle it Design Challenge: Terms and Conditions  ) state this.

The same page suggests adding the tag "Upcycle it" to the blog


Judging Criteria: All of the following which will have equal weighting:

 Originality;

 Innovation;

 Technical merit;

 Meeting the goals and intentions of the Challenge as set forth in these Terms;

 Completeness and clarity of Blogs and supporting media describing the evolution and completion of the Project


Your idea may have the first two covered.

Some people may consider they should win a prize simply because their idea is original or innovative and therefore the content they provide is of little consequence.


Sadly, someone else may have the last two covered and therefore is in equal standing to be considered for a prize.


If you want to increase your profile to the judges, then good blogs are not just important, they are essential.

Have a look at past challenges to see what the difference is, and see if you can add content to make your blog standout.



Blog Criteria

The T&C's have a good explanation about what is required.


The sponsor has provided the goods in exchange for something.

For these challenges they want to see it exposed to Engineers and others that are interested in technology.

It's also a great way for them to see other uses, and any difficulties that you may have experienced.


element14 community provides that through the website and their social media channels.


The other aspect to this :

If you work for someone and are in charge of a project, the management (or the customer) will be expecting progress reports or updates on how it's going.

It could be the original specification, budget or timeline was impossible (who hasn't had those before), and these reports show that while the work is progressing, it will never meet the expected result.

They may be able to provide more resources to bring it back on track, or they note the 12hr days you're doing to help it, and you will stand out above your peers when the next promotion comes along.


So you should be considering these challenges as a practice for the real world.



Break It Down

Projects, large or small, can seem overwhelming when you look at the whole thing.

Breaking it down into smaller chunks, means you can concentrate on one aspect and then move onto another.


You need to be careful that you have the overall picture in mind when you arrange your resources.

It is better to order parts used in week 4 today, so they are waiting when you get to that aspect of the build.


I was once told that you need to have a plan.

The plan can change, but without a plan, you can't change it.


Some people might challenge that by saying they never have a plan, but the the reality is they do.

They may not write it down, but they do have one somewhere inside their head.


In my career I've seen some extremely complex, and IMO not entirely useful project workflows.

They seem to be generated just for the project manager to have a complicated looking timeline.

To add to the uselessness, the individual timeframes bore no relationship to the actual times required, and the whole thing seemed to be a box ticking exercise for bonus or progress payments.


For my challenges I had a piece of A4 paper with 10 or 12 subjects, and dates they were due.

It lived in plain view next to the mousemat.

Under each of the subjects I had some notes or single words that related to that part of the plan.

I ended up swapping a couple of subjects due to parts hold-ups, and I recall shifting some words from one subject to another as it fitted better. It doesn't need to be complicated.


These challenges have a very short timeframe (approx. 11 weeks), which means delays have a much greater impact.

Using your blogging plan means that should you have a delay in one area, you could skip to the next.

You may run across information that might suit further down, or the slight change in direction has an impact later.


The important part here is that while you need to break down a project and concentrate on that aspect, you need to always consider the impact on the overall project.




A DNF is "Did Not Finish" and I've seen it used in motor racing.

In that world you either cross the finish line or you don't, and the rules limit what sort of assistance is allowed.


          Photo source      Flip Schulke Photography » After running out of gas on the final lap, Jack Brabham pushes his car across the finish line…



The Design Challenges don't have a finish line as such, and the only way to achieve a DNF is to fail to meet the T&C's.

Under the judging criteria it doesn't say "Must work as designed".


Your initial design may not meet it's desired objective, but you've identified the problems, sorted out some solutions, and done just about everything you can to make it a possibility.

This is not an excuse for promising "world peace" in your application, and then saying you couldn't achieve it because of xyz.

It is an accurate reflection of the progress of your project, which due to various reasons was not fully working at the competition close date. That's OK!


So my advice is don't give up because it was not going as expected, see it through for the sponsors and more importantly your integrity.

The lesson you learn will be invaluable later, and other members will definitely learn from your efforts!...that's what Community is all about .