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    It's been a tradition on element14 to announce the Roadtester/Review of the Year at the beginning of the new year. That time has come. I had time over the holidays to think about this years awards. It's usually awarded to someone who has written fantastic reviews, filled with interesting media, videos, screenshots and data--the things that will get any engineer's mind cooking! I think we have plenty of those types of reviews. With around 127 roadtesters these year, we have a lot of experienced roadtesters who reliably produce outstanding reviews. I want to personally thank all of our experienced roadtesters; you are the rock of the RoadTest program. But this year I wanted to do something a bit different. I wanted to highlight and award the element14 members who became roadtesters for the first time in 2019. (Note: I define "new" roadtester as someone who completed his or her first roadtest review in 2019.)

     

    From listening and reading to some of the blogs and comments about roadtesting, I realize that for some members roadtesting is a challenge and I think some members may not participate because they feel they don't have the background or the skills, etc. I don't think there are qualifications for being an element14 roadtester other than a desire to experiment with a product, ask questions about it if you have them, write about it in a honest and authentic way, and a committment to complete the review in 60 days.

     

    In this past year, I made a special effort to include as many first "new" roadtesters as I could. It does take a bit more administrative time to onboard new roadtesters to the program, and help them when they need it, but our "new" roadtesters are an important element to the RoadTest program. They give us fresh ways of looking at things and are a valued part of the program and the element14 community as a whole.

     

    If you are an element14 member, you are eligible to be a roadtester. We awarded in this program some of the most interesting and current products that we sell. I went back and looked at all the roadtests we did this year. (All 48 of them!) And it was nearly 50-50 split between new roadtesters and expoerienced roadtesters (see pie chart). I make an effort to be as inclusive as I can, so in 2020, if you haven't roadtested yet, by all means, complete an application. I look forward to your application and participation in the RoadTest Program.

     

    So, without further adieu let me announce the new roadtesters of the year for 2019:

     

    First Place -- Gary Yohe ( robogary )

    Gary became a member in 2018, and completed his first roadtest in 2019. He has been a test engineer (GE Wind Turbine controls), but retired a little while ago. While he does part-time consulting, he has led the Roanoke Robotics and Makers Club for several years. He regularly teaches coding Python, Scratch, C (Arduino), on iRobot Create, Arduino, MicroBit, Raspberry Pi, Parallax PBASIC classes at the local library. Gary has been a reliable go-to roadtester in 2019. His reviews are detailed. When he doesn't know something he asks, as such, he helps other members get involved in the RoadTest program. For his dedication, amazing output, and fantastic reviews for a first-timer, Gary Yohe is our first place "New" RoadTester of 2019.

    Raspberry Pi 3B+ Media Center Kit - Review

    STEM: micro:bit Inventor's Kit - Review

    RoadTest the Raspberry Pi 4 Model B (2GB) - Review

    Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+ - Review

    Arduino Engineering Kit - Review

    Arm Education: Internet of Things Course - Review

     

    Second Place -- Attila Tőkés ( bluetiger9 )

    Attila became a member of element14 in 2019. He is a software engineer with experience in different fields (distributed system, computer vision, AI). In his free time he likes doing hardware projects using different technologies. He had taken an interest in the RoadTest program early in his membership, having frequently applied to roadtests. I recall a roadtest by ON Semiconducator that I was having a difficult time finding roadtesters; he offered to do the roadtest and produced a fantastic review! Now, Attila writes rather short roadtest applications. For example, for the ON Semiconductor roadtest, this is what he said when asked what his test procedure was: "I would like to see, how easy it is to create low power applications with the RSL10.More specifically, I would like to measure the current consumption in different workloads (CPU usage), data transfer rates and modes (ex. sleep mode, deep sleep mode, etc.)." He says a lot in a few words. But I really noticed what a great roadtester Atilla was with his review of the PYNQ-Z2 board. For his great reviews and consistency as a first-timer, Attila Tőkés is our second place "New" RoadTester of 2019.

    NXP Layerscape® LS1046A Freeway Board - Review

    PYNQ-Z2 Dev Board: Python Productivity for Zynq® - Review

    Integrating NFC with the NXP PN7150 - Review

    Bluetooth 5 Radio SoC EVM - Review

     

    Third Place -- Sean Conway (colporteur )

    Sean has been a member of element14 since 2015, but he completed his first roadtest in 2019. I think I first communicated with Sean regarding his interest in working as a freelance technology writer for element14. He recently retired from an IT Security position with a national telecommunication company. He has an interest in Open Source Hardware. I have seen Sean's comments around the community, and mentally noted that he is an articulate and detailed-oriented person, so I was hoping for a time when he was interested and available to do some roadtests. For anyone who has done a roadtest (or anything technical), problems are bound to appear. I think most roadtesters find ways to figure them out. But there are times when we have to go back to the supplier and work with their technical support team to solve the problems. This is what stood out for me about Sean. He took on the Roadtest of the Siretta Cellular Signal Strength Analyzer and some problems cropped up. He worked with the supplier in a professional and reliable way, which really impressed me. Writing a well-documented, interesting, and honest review was icing on the cake, so to speak. For his ability to work through problems, collaborate with the supplier, and his writing of a truly great review, Sean Conway is our third place "New" RoadTester of 2019.

    Siretta Cellular Signal Strength Data Logger - Review

    New Year's Grab Bag RoadTest - Review