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Hackerspace Challenge 2011


A major electronic component distributor suddenly realized that there is a huge market in the hackers and DIY community and founded a subcompany called element-14 to deal with those guys.

To get themselfes known they talked to the right people and these people had the right ideas.. and now there is a hackerspace challenge.

Many hackerspaces worldwide were contacted and asked to participate.

Every hackerspace gets USD 900.- in budget free to use and there will be a finale where the 3 winning teams will earn prizes..

The hackerspaces got 6 weeks to design something that has a microcontroller and a portable powersource inside and can be used for education.

We will contribute to the project with our own device, progress, details links aso will be documentated in various places on the Internet, foremost here in the wiki but also at the element-14 community website.

This is a kind of competition but i am really not a big fan of competition so i see it as a chance to make the world a better place and contribute to education today.

See also http://hsc2011.soup.io for fresh updates / work in progress.

Merge content below with those subpages:


Goals / Features

  • electronic "RAISE YOUR HANDS" mode
    • question from teacher
    • i think i know the answer so i press a button
    • random generator picks who is to answer / can be overridden
    • could be used for statistics on participation, and which kids need more integration based on statistics
    • enable to vote on a topic without raising your hand in front of the class which ultimately leads to a more honest voting behaviour
    • enables vote mechanisms that are hard to do with paper like multiple choices and ratings on preferred solutions as in "I'd like option A but if we don't get enough votes for that, option B would be my second favourite."

    • teams of pupils can be chosen by a random generator this would take the social stress off the teacher as in "i dont want to be in a group with this guy.." "..the computer has chosen ist fair"
    • games would be possible where groups compete and if a group performs better it has to let a member go into another group
    • also the opposite is possible where the best performing group gets new members..
    • if a pupil doesnt know the answer he could "ask the audience" and the kids could press what they think is the right answer..

    • this will probably not be in version 0.1 as it needs a lot of work that is unrealistic to be implemented with the very short deadline of 2 months
    • teacher should be able to have a live on-stage test where the kids can answer questions with multiple choice pushbutton modes
    • multiple choice tests are not very common in europe so we need to spend research on this subject
    • maybe something like the werewolf game
    • the remote choses who is the wolf and the others have to find out who it is by talking to each other on a round based system

    • multiple stations are layed out around the classroom
    • students go from station to station, plug in their ibutton, push a button to put in their solution to the quest presented at this station, go to next station


    • ATMEGA168
    • Radiochip
      • Idea: For prototyping, it might be better to use a ZigBee (e.g. XBee) -> more robust comms, easier firmware, standard compontents. More expensive per device (>40€ per student, probably too much for an average school), but this is just prototyping.
      • Alternative: RFM12, 3-6€ per device, no adhoc-network, probably problems with two devices sending at the same time.
    • 9V battery, later a lipo pack
    • 4 buttons
    • 5 RGB leds
    • iButton reader

    • Arduino
    • Shield
    • USBhub+usbstick for software


  • firmware for the basestation
  • firmware for the edubuzzer
  • dummy edubuzzer emulator for host software development
  • host software portable! maybe QT ? maybe a local server (java?) + webfrontend?
  • HTML/JS webapp running on teacher's laptop (see Frontend)



  • easy to manufacture
  • laser + acryl or similar
  • needs a prototype made from playdoh for production first :)

What are the benefits, what is completely new?

  • realtime statistics for the teacher
  • competition between teachers
  • fair choice by random generator or some clever algorithm instead of the teacher always picking the same guys
  • not being bullied for being a smartass for raising your hand all the time
  • not being bullied for NOT raising your hand very often..

Things to think about in later versions

  • accupack
  • buzzers stick together by magnets so no suitcase is needed
  • all buzzers can be charged at once when together by magnets
  • loader in a suitcase hat can be connected to a walloutlet
  • optional plugable parts (keyboards,mice..)
  • countdown when answering a question
  • optical/accoustic/vibration feedback