The Upcycle It Design Challenge achieved liftoff in March of 2017 and marked our second challenge of the year, and what a challenge it would become! The challenge tasked its participants to up-cycle an obsolete item, computer, piece of electronic equipment or appliance and make a cool new electronics project built around the Intel® Edison Kit for Arduino. The participants did just that, as this challenge saw record numbers of updates being posted each week, and the resulting projects were nothing short of amazing.



The Official Kit, and The Prizes


Featured as the second design challenge of 2017, the Upcycle It design challenge tasks its participants to upcycle an obsolete item, computer, piece of electronic equipment or appliance and make a cool new electronics project built around the Intel® Edison Kit for Arduino.




The Official Kit, and The Prizes


Challengers will build their projects using an official assortment of parts from Arduino, Intel, and Element14. Each kit contains the following items:


The Upcycle it Design Challenge features 15 official challengers that received a Challenger Kit for FREE, but thereafter anyone can join the Challenge simply by posting in the Upcycle it space (tagging their blogs 'upcycle it') to be in with a chance to win prizes. Anyone completing a project by the June 4th deadline and posting at least 10 times on the Community detailing their project build will be in the running to win some awesome prizes, including a Keithley DMM7510 Digital MultimeterKeithley DMM7510 Digital Multimeter worth almost $4,000.


*The official Challengers must build their project in accordance with the challenge's terms and conditions. All projects must include the Intel® Edison.



The Challengers and Their Projects



The Winners






My Top Projects



There were a few projects that I considered quite exceptional during this challenge. I do not have any set criteria that I use to determine what makes a great project, but I do look at a few key factors when determining which projects I feel are awesome. I also want to note that my opinion on which projects were the best have no bearing on the judge’s decisions, and my opinion is my own and is not the opinion of Element14. So I am going to list my three favorite projects from this challenge, and highlight my favorite update from its timeline. I would love to hear from all of my readers on which project was their favorite, and why that particular project stood out for them.



Nixie Display #8 - Controlling the nixie tubes




Nixie tubes have always held a certain curiosity for me, and I think that my interest in them go back to the cold war era scifi movies I would watch as a kid that had these huge computers and control panels filled with the tubes. Im sure that it also has something to do with the ominous glow that they omit, and the retro feel they ad to an environment, but my love of Nixies is not what I am here to write about. Gerrit’s nixie display is nothing short of gorgeous and is quite ingenious in how he merged such a dated piece of technology into modern times. More importantly though, each of Gerrit’s post were very informative and full of photos, diagrams, and source code so that others could follow along at home easily. I chose his eighth update for this feature because it is a prime example of how well written Gerrit’s post are. The entire project is worth reading from beginning to end, but if you only have time to check out one of the many entries, this one is the one you should read.



Upcycled Clock – Summary



Clocks have long been one of the household items that I felt needed an update to bring them into something more than a single function role. There are companies making smart clocks that can answer your questions via a voice assistant, and others that can mimic the rising sun with RGB LED technology, but there has been a serious lack of innovation around clocks in the DIY / Maker scene. This is why Carmelito’s project was such a wonderful breath of fresh air to me. With integration such as weather and traffic monitoring, email and twitter notifications, and adding a voice assistant made this project really stand out, and ultimately is why this project was chosen as the grand prize winner. Much like Gerrit Polder’s project, every update was on point, and featured all of the elements that make a great update. I have spent almost an hour trying to decide which post from this project to feature, and in the end, I am not able to come to a conclusion, so I decided to share it’s summary post, so check it out!



Interactive Race Car Driver - Furby Hacking



[Image Credit: Kelly Heaton]


Furby’s are one of the coolest and creepiest consumer toys that has been released in the last two decades, and Andy Clark (workshopshed) has shared his autopsy of one of the creepy little mechatronic creatures in one of his updates to project Interactive Race Car Driver. If any of the current, or future challengers are wondering how to structure their project, Andy has done an excellent job with this project. His post are informative, and filled with information, as well as research sources, something that I absolutely love seeing! I must say though, I am a little envious of Andy, as I would love to get my hands on one of these little guys to hack on a bit. Before losing my home to a fire in 2012, I had been collecting Furby’s with the intent of hacking them to small X-Mod RC Cars and trying to make them swarm when near each other. Unfortunately that project died with the rest of my lab in the fire. I may return to it someday still though. Head over to the link above for Andy’s full autopsy of the Furby!



A Complete List Of My Content On This Design Challenge


Below are links to each piece of content I wrote that pertained to this challenge.




Final Thoughts


I have been writing about DIY electronics, electrical engineering, makers, and DIYers for over a decade now, and the projects that appear in these design challenges always seem to amaze me. It’s not just the actual projects themselves, but it's also the people who make the projects that make them so intriguing. As a content creator, and someone who builds projects just to document their build, I understand how daunting of a task it can be to produce a weekly update to that project that includes photos, code, and thorough explanations of what you accomplished over the last several days. Its not an easy thing to do, and Murphy’s law is always present when trying to build a project from scratch. This is why I have so much respect for each challenger who completes their project, or at least attempts to post weekly updates.


I want to take a moment and thank everyone who participated in this challenge. Logging in every week and seeing that there were 10+ updates posted was an amazing feeling, and it let me know that these challenges are so much more than just a list of cool projects. They are filled with amazing people who are part of a wonderful community, and are also a source of inspiration, education, and entertainment for so many. So with that, I tip my hat to all of the challengers who left me absolutely astonished at the level of talent and intelligence we have here at Element14 who are willing to share their knowledge and tackle fairly large projects with ease.


With that said, I am going to end my coverage of the Up-Cycle It Design Challenge here. Thank you for returning every week to read my updates, and for cheering on the challenger's time and time again! We truly are a community here at Element14, and these challenges and their participants are proof of that. I’ll be back in a few weeks when the next challenge kicks off, so until then, remember to Hack The World and Make Awesome!