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    Ben Heck has been around the element14 community for about as long as its been around. The previous year saw Ben Heck performing record engagement, the maestro was as the top of his game, but just like any maestro he needed new challenges to feed his interests and new obstacles to overcome. Ben had an idea of at least two projects he wanted more time to fully develop and he turned to the community to Help The Ben Heck Team Decide on a Future Build Project! The poll was released at the end of last year, and the build you wanted to see The Team work on was Mini Pinball Kit .

     

    Regardless of what you think about the new format, some people love it more than others, you have to admire those who have the self awareness to go with what feels right to them.  While its easy to simply just keep going with what's working, it takes bravery to call for change when the world seems to be telling you to keep things always the same.

     

    2017 was a really exciting year for Ben Heck as it saw the most drastic changes to the format of the Ben Heck Show since it began.  There were a pair of exclusive live streams of a rare Nintendo PlayStation Prototype,  Core Builds brought you closer to what its actually like to work on a prototype you intend to take to market, Felix launched a spinoff called sudo Sergeant, and Karen launched a spinoff called The Learning Circuit.

     

    Here's a recap of all the things we saw that made this season special:

     

    Super Glue Gun: Ben's Favorite Hand Tool

     

    March 17th, 2017:

     

    Super Glue Gun Space Launches as the first of Three Core Builds with Episode 281: Super Glue Gun 01: Hot Tool Teardown !

     

     

    Super Glue Gun

    When the team decided to focus this season on three core builds, they looked at past builds and thought about which one they would want to develop further if given the choice.

     

    This project is based on the following weekly build episodes:

     

    Episode 108: Ben Heck The Great Glue Gun Episode Part 1

     

    Episode 109: Ben Heck The Great Glue Gun Episode Part 2

     

    They began this project by tearing apart a bunch of glue guns in order to see which one came closest to the one they wanted to build. As of this date the team has worked on all the individual parts and mechanisms within the super glue gun including the trigger, the circuitry, the hot end, the auto stand, and the extruder motor. When last we left them during Episode 318: Super Glue Gun 09: How to Make a Stand they were bringing things together in order to make a cohesive prototype and figuring out how the case design would work with the autostand they made for Ben's dream gun.

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    Nintendo PlayStation Prototype Live Stream

    March 22nd, 2017: 

     

    Working on a Sunday was shouldn't be this fun with Live Stream: Help Ben Heck Fix a Rare Nintendo Playstation Prototype !

     

    Live Stream: Help Ben Heck Fix a Rare PlayStation Prototype Part I

     

    In case you didn't know, Nintendo helped create its biggest rival in the 90s.  SNES-CD or Super DIsc, was a planned collaboration between Sony and Nintendo to create a standalone console that was capable of running both Super Nintendo cartridges and Sony-made CD-ROM games which you can read about here and here. As the story goes, a falling out at CES 1991 led to the companies parting ways but not before 200 prototypes had been created and ordered destroyed. Terry Dienbold found one of these prototypes, which had previously only been rumored to have existed stashed away in his father Dan Diebold's closet. In June of 2016, Dan let Ben Heck borrow the machine so he could tear it apart and figure out its inner workings.   You can view the teardown here:

     

    Episode 246: Ben Heck's Nintendo-Playstation Prototype Teardown Part 1 Episode

     

    Episode 247: Ben Heck's Nintendo-Playstation Prototype Teardown Part 2 Repair Episode

     

    and some update bonus content here:

     

    Ben Heck's Nintendo-Playstation Prototype Update!

     

    As you can see Ben did eventually get it working but only temporarily.   With the clock ticking,  maxgolmsted approached us with the idea of doing a live stream on the community where the community members could help us get this fixed in time for Ben to return it to Terry Dienhold.  While Max was handling the camera, I was feeding him questions from the community members, which he read out to Ben.   I wasn't alone in volunteering my Sunday to help out, cstanton from our social media team also volunteered to help out as well.   It didn't feel like work to me, I was having quite a fun time being part of history, and I'm sure if you asked  cstanton he'd tell you the same. While a lot of progress was made, enough progress was made that we eventually agreed to do a second part of the Live Stream at a later date before the prototype had to be returned to Terry.

     

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    Logic Board Game:  A STEM Learning Game

    March 24, 2017:

     

    Logic Board Game Launches with Episode 282: Logic Gate Board Game 01: Project Planning!

     

     

    Logic Board Game Launches

     

    The second core build the Team decided to work on was on a subject that I know is near and dear to makerkaren 's heart, STEM education. This build presented the biggest challenge to the team, as they went along it made the least amount of progress and required the most revisions.  For help with the Logic Board game, Karen enlists the expertise of JT, a proprietor of the Game Crafter, a company she used to work for.  JT works at a company that manufactures thousands of games every year, goes to dozens of conventions every year that focus specifically on game design, he’s designed lots of games including some best-selling games like the “Captain is Dead”, and has 20 plus years of experience in the industry.  According to JT, making an educational game to be something that is marketable is the hardest type of game to make.  You need to not only make it educational but you need to make it fun.

     

    The original idea was to base it off a Hackmanji weekly build they did:

     

    Episode 238: Ben Heck's Hackmanji Board Game Part 1 Episode

     

    Episode 241: Ben Heck's Hackmanji Board Game Part 2 Episode

     

    Episode 245: Ben Heck's Hackmanji Board Game Part 3 Episode

     

     

    However,  there were a lot of things added such as an LCD screen, which as you'll see later wound up coming back to haunt it.

     

     

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    Mini Pinball Kit:  The Build You Voted For

     

    March 31, 2017:

     

    Mini Pinball Kit , the build you voted on launches with Episode 283: Mini Pinball Kit 01: Project Mockup !

     

    Mini Pinball Kit Launches

    For the final core build, we let the community members decide which long term build they wanted to see via the following poll:

     

    Help The Ben Heck Team Decide on a Future Build Project!

     

    The weekly builds that this was based on can be found here:

     

    Episode 187: Ben Heck’s Teensy Pinball Portable Part 1 Episode

     

    Episode 189: Ben Heck's Teensy Pinball Portable Part 2 Episode

     

    For this build, they were able to take a look at the original pinball machine so they could rebuild it. The original Mini Pinball machine was built to a 1:2 scale of an actual pinball machine but there wasn't very good control to prevent the ball from flying all over the place.

     

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    Nintendo PlayStation Prototype Live Stream Redux

     

     

    April 5th, 2017:

     

    makerkaren joins the party as the team gives another live look in with Live Stream: Help Ben Heck Fix a Rare Nintendo Playstation Prototype - Part II!

     

    Live Stream: Help Ben Heck Fix a Rare PlayStation Prototype Part II

     

    Unlike the previous live stream, this one was done in the middle of the week and featured makerkaren who wasn't able to attend the last time. I still haven't watched the full live stream because I was attending my manager kellyhensen 's going away celebration with flyhaf1 , the producer of the show. Although she's no longer my manager, we still work together for the show. she's taken on an executive producer role, and as you'll see later, continues to play a leading role in the evolution of the show.  I think I can speak for everyone involved with the show that we're grateful she's back to help lead.   While I am grateful to have her back helping the community,  my new manager e14mindi has done a really great job working with all of us, and making sure we all get the support we nee to make everything possible.

     

    Here are some high resolution photos that makerkaren provided:

     

    Nintendo Playstation Prototype (High Res Images)

     

    and here is the episode where it finally gets fixed:

     

    Episode 288: Nintendo PlayStation Prototype: Finally Working!

     

     

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    Community Feedback: A Spotlight On You

     

    June 28th, 2017:

     

    A new video series called Community Feedback where you get a Free Ben Heck T-shirt if your question gets answered launches with Community Feedback 01 - We Respond to Your Theme Ideas!

     

     

    Community Feedback Launches

    This was the first new video property we created since I've been around. It works similarly to the Top Build Ideas where I would send T-Shirt to community member's whose builds were featured on the show.  With the new format of the show, this evolved to essentially replace that.   Now, when a community member has their question answered by Ben, Karen, or Felix I'll send them a free Ben Heck T-shirt.   If you heard your name mentioned in one of these segments but did not get your T-shirt than send me a direct message at tariq.ahmad !

     

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    sudo Sergeant: Felix Goes Solo

     

    July 11, 2017: 

     

    Felix indulges your obsession with all things Open Source when sudo Sergeant launches with sudo Sergeant 00: What Is Linux?!

     

    sudo Sergeant Launches

     

    This is something I've wanted to see for about as long as I've been in the community.   A standalone video property that's exclusively devoted to Linux and Open Source.   Felix has been the resident Linux enthusiast on The Ben Heck Show for quite sometime.  When I first got started on the community the first Ben Heck giveaway we did asked you if you were a fan of open source:

     

    Winner Announcement: Novena Hacker Laptop!

     

    If we were going to do another video property outside of Ben Heck this seemed to be a prime candidate.  As you can tell from the giveaway above there are a lot of fans of open source on the community!  kellyhensen deserves all the credit in the world for pushing this through and finally making this happen!  Since, it's launch, it's been a hot spot on the community and taken on a life of its own!

     

     

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    Logic Board Game Abandoned

     

    August 4th 2017:

     

    Logic Board Game is nixed when the Team announces Episode 301: Logic Gate Board Game 05: Epic Conclusion!

     

     

    Login Board Game Finale

     

    As mentioned earlier, some of the problems mentioned earlier, such as straying to far from the original vision, led to complications that made it necessary for the Team to abandon this project.   They knew going into this challenge that this was always a possibility. As the build went along Ben and Karen found themselves kind of fighting against each other in trying to make a product that would work.  In the end, they found that they both needed to come to terms with whether either one of them had any passion left for the project.  Sometimes passion is the thing that helps get you through hard times when working on a project.  The mounting obstacles they faced along the way slowly eroded the passion they required to face the challenges of taking their product to market.  Even had they squared away each and every one of their obstacles, the question still would have remained, whether or not it would have even been worth it in the end.

     

     

     

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    N64 Portable: The Most Requested Build is Completed

     

    August 18th, 2017:

     

    The Bane of Ben's Existence and the Most Requested Build from the Community, The Nintendo 64 Portable is Completed in Episode 303: N64 Portable: It's Alive!

     

    N64 Portable Finished

    The N64 Portable was a big deal.  Any End of Year Review had to include it,  along with the PlayStation Prototype Live Stream,  the Core Builds to take to market, and the new video properties!  This became so much of a big deal, the comments section on YouTube and elsewhere would frequently pop up with questions about it right up until the above episode was released.  You see, this wasn't easy, and it took makerkaren 's N64 away from this world in the process.  That's because the N64 is notorious for being difficult to hack because it's easily damaged due to all the rewiring required to miniaturize it.  But because you wanted to see it,  The Ben Heck Team took was their to take on the challenge earlier this year:

     

    Episode 275: Ben Heck's Portable N64 Part 1 Episode

     

    Episode 276: Ben Heck's Portable N64 Part 2 Episode

     

    Because the community was so helpful with helping to fix the Nintendo PlayStation Prototype, The Team once again reached out to the community for help with completing this build:

     

    Help Ben Heck Finish His Portable N64!

     

      but thanks to some help from some Ben Heck Forum Members at the Midwest Gaming Classic in Milwaukee he was able to finally complete it:

     

    Episode 303: N64 Portable: It's Alive!

     

     

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    Hex Game: STEM Learning Game Revisited

     

    October 20th 2017:

     

    From the ashes of the aborted Logic Gate Game the Hex Game rises in Episode 312: Hex Game 01: Breadboard and PCB Design !

     

    Hex Game Launches

    The Hex game was an evolution of the aborted Logic Board Game. Ben goes over the parts he’ll use for this project.  The Hex game could easily be made into a kit that could teach you how to solder and learn binary or hexadecimal arithmetic. With the Hex Game you can easily convert between decimal, hexadecimal, and binary.  Its intended to be sold as a kit that can also be used to teach you how to solder.  The term Hex, while technically the number 6 as the term is used in reference to a hex wrench, is almost always used in reference to the number 6 with anything coding related because it comes up so often that its come to be used as shorthand for hexadecimal, as in the hex code you use to represent color with HTML

     

    While numbers exist as a construct that uses objective symbols to express exact quantity, our subjective understanding of them forces us to project meaning onto them.  The number 10, the same number of digits on our hands, is the basis for the decimal number system which is how we typically think of numbers.  Decimal, is a base 10 number system, but you could alternately use any base to symbolically represent numbers. Base 2, or binary, is used with computers as 1s and 0s as the on or off state is an approximation of the on or off state of switches and transistors. When you are talking to your machine, you'll be able to process data a lot more easily if you convert those 1s and 0s to a format you can quickly identify.

     

    Ben Heck has been kind enough to provide us with two prototypes of the Hex Game Giveaway.   

     

    This is your last chance to get your hands on one so just do it: 

     

    Winners Announcement:  We're Giving Away Two Ben Heck Hex Game Prototypes!

     

     

     

     

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    The Learning Circuit: Karen Goes Solo

     

    November 1st 2017:

     

    makerkaren  gives some TLC to STEM and starter projects when The Learning Circuit launches with The Learning Circuit 01: Circuit Basics with Cardboard Circuits!

     

     

     

    The Learning Circuit Launches

    Earlier, we talked about sudo Sergeant getting his own video property, but what about our friend makerkarenmakerkaren is a passionate advocate for STEM education, co-founded Maker spaces such as the Bodgery and STEAMboat Workshops, as well as been my go to for all the Ben Heck related events that we've done on the community since I've been around.  It was a thrill to get to hang out with her and Ben at Maker Faire in San Mateo this year, special thanks to my manager e14mindi for bringing me around, it's truly been one of the highlights of my time with the community, and I'm grateful to you for giving me the opportunity!   Again,  kellyhensen , my former manager, now an Executive Producer with The Ben Heck Show, just like with  sudo Sergeant put in a lot of work to make this a reality and deserves a lot of credit for pushing this into reality!  Also, want to give a shout out to  jlucas for his help with cross promoting it with  Learning Center and STEM Academy.

     

     

     

     

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    Finally, to make all these video properties a reality,  it really does take a village. The Ben Heck Team has been one of the hardest working teams I've been around in my professional career. Bringing anything into the world that's truly awesome takes a whole lot of work, who would have thought?   Lots of exciting and cool stuff happened this year, and someday we'll look back and remember this as a really special year.   I want to thank my manager e14mindi for coming into what's a pretty intense environment and working with me to see what she could do to make things run smoother;  kellyhensen for coming back and really saving the day with so many things she did when she decided to return to us and make sure we all succeeded;  flyhaf1 who is also the boss (I have a lot of bosses!) and producer of The Ben Heck Show; the talent without which none of this would exist:  benheck  (Ben), makerkaren (Karen), technicus (Felix), and  maxgolmsted  (Max);  maxgolmsted  is the on camera and off camera guy and was architect of the Nintendo Playstation Prototype Live Stream (the Wednesday new releases are getting smoother I swear!);  Matt Stevens from Newark element14 who works on video with flyhaf1 and maxgolmsted ;   pchan our lead designer who worked on all those new logos and new subspaces we created for all the stuff we did,  your effort was so appreciated and really appreciate all you did with this and also working with me to launch Project14 our newest electronics & design project competition space; cstanton whose been the lead with social support along with plowe , they've been right in the middle of all the success we've had with the Ben Heck Show the last couple of years and are super awesome in every way; Sarribas their colleague on social who I've gotten to know a lot better this year because of all her great work with Project14 and also providing support for giveaways (which we'll have more of!);   dkibbey our fearless leader; and most importantly you (this all exists because of you)!

     

    Stay thirsty my friends....