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Global HackerSpace Challenge

Mitch Altman's Great Global Hackerspace Challenge, sponsored by Element14 has come to a close a few months ago, and the winners were announced in May. I realize it is mid October, but this site is just getting started. So I thought we could go back in time and take a look at the entries.
Over the next few blog posts, I'll take a look at the top honors, as well as one or two of my favorites that didnt make the top 3 for one reason or another.
Mitch announced the GHC early in the year. Tokyo HackerSpace quickly filed a proposal. I might still have it, and will post it if I can find it. I was particularly keen on participating in the GHC, as it tied in everything I love about hackerspaces: The chance to MAKE something that inspires and educates. It is this philosophy that I now try to incorporate into A lot of the proposals centered around some form of DIY lab gear or demonstrator, which I totally dig.
Our project turned out to be similar to another group, but we were going to take a different approach. The idea was to build self charging mini sensor labs in a box. Essentially, an LCD, keypad, battery pack and solar panel mounted in a box with an Arduino. The box also would have several jacks to plug in a variety of sensors and actuators (provided as a project specific kit). The Arduino would come pre programmed with a menu system and basic sensor platform. One application was as a set of thermocouples and temperature sensors for chemestry classes. Another kit would be a set of optical switches and a solenoid for physics class. The solenoid would be able to release an object (say a steel ball at the top of a track) while the optical switches act as timer gates to start and stop a clock.
Unfortunately, in early March, Japan was struck by the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Suddenly the membership at THS had far more on their plates than the average person should have to cope with. All of our brainstorming power and resources went into what we could do for Japan, and we quickly had to make the decision to bow out of the GHC. But I kept abreast of the runnings, and remained impressed with the ideas coming out of the other hackerspaces around the world.

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