And So It Ends: Hey everyone, that was fun! It looks like the fury of questions has simmered down so I'm closing down this thread. Feel free to ask new questions or make replies and I'll try to check back again later today and once more tomorrow. Thanks everyone!

My short bio: is a Technology Blog that celebrates Open Design. We're 2-months into the 6-month long run of The Hackaday Prize which is awarding the best Connected Device designs that are Open Hardware and Open Source Software.

It's been almost two years since we did our last AMA. Since then the blog has changed owners, grown in both staff and readership, and taken on this new and (what we think is a) noble cause.

What's on your mind?

Date/Time (EST): 6/26/14 10:00am Eastern

My Proof: Here's an image of Mike with username which can be compared to the bios on the staff page or any one of the Maker Faire video interviews.

Comments: 235 • Responses: 45  • Date: 

florinandrei68 karma

How do you pronounce your last name?

szczys37 karma

It's pronounced "Stish". It's a Polish name. But you can just call me Mike ;-)

calebkraft24 karma

Mike! So happy you're doing this and absolutely love what you've done with Hackaday since I left. I read it every day.

What do you guys think you'll do for the international day of hacking?

szczys17 karma

Caleb! Thanks for the compliment! For those that don't know, Caleb Kraft was our Senior Editor for several years and is not now the Community Editor for MAKE.

I have no idea what we're going to do for the International Day of hacking. But I have the email you sent me about it starred in my overflowing inbox. I show August 11th but I don't have a source (other than a 2012 Hackaday post for it). Do you have a link to more info?

Currently I'm trying to nail down plans for the Hackaday 10th Anniversary which will happen sometime between the beginning of September and October. But once plans are underway for that we'll figure something out for Hack Day.

EDIT: changed "not" to "now"... hehe!

cuddlebadger19 karma

Have you ever had to take a post down? Have you considered running a spellchecker over your posts (joke!)?

szczys21 karma

Yes, I have taken down posts before. We have done this after receiving "cease and desists" orders. If this happens we review the C&D carefully to make sure it is justified. But I hope you'll agree this is the right thing to do.

Hackaday is trying to take back the word "Hack" which has received a negative connotation. We are NOT interested in breaking into computers to steal information. We are all about the productive use of "Hack": using something in a way in which it was not originally intended.

Spell check... yep that is something that every author and every editor uses on every posts. Despite this, errors do still sneak by. We're always trying to get better.

EDIT: I trailed off in the middle of my thought on that second paragraph... if we publish an article that is divulging information that creator of a product doesn't want public we respect their wishes. But in general Hackaday supports the free and open exchange of ideas. If it's interesting for engineers and engineering enthusiasts I want to publish it!

d4rch0n2 karma

Good luck taking back the word hack. You might try going to Defcon and tell them that they can't have the word anymore.

szczys9 karma

As a matter of fact, we are going to DEFON this year. I'll do that!

Spritetm16 karma

Hi Mike! Love the site and many thanks for featuring many of my hacks. Since Hackaday has been taken over by SupplyFrame, Hackaday seems to have taken on new things: the Hackaday prize and the framework are two of them. Are there any other cool things you have in mind? A 3d-printer farm with your 3d printed things being delivered by drones perhaps? Sharks with lasercutters on their heads? A site which you can use to hit people in the head over the Internet?

szczys13 karma

For those that don't know, Sprite_TM is a legendary hacker and one of the judges for The Hackaday Prize. He recently shared some extra tidbits in a Judge Spotlight

Hackaday's acquisition by Supplyframe last July has been quite excellent. The first time I met all the "overlords" in person they asked what the Hackaday community need and project hosting is something the staff has always wanted. I mentioned that and didn't hear anything until late in December when Alek sent me a link to a working site they coded from the ground up (I'm sure they're using libraries, etc. but you know what I mean).

I love the site, especially the fact that it won't let you save a draft. This forces hackers to show off their build during the project, instead of waiting until everything is done. Love That!

So right now we're not actively developing sharks with lasercutters as we want to continue adding features (new Feed on the way soon!) as fast as we can.

There is a Hackerspace in the works which I'm pretty excited about. Have you seen this?

unnaturalpenis4 karma

This forces hackers to show off their build during the project, instead of waiting until everything is done. Love That!

This is why I haven't posted anything yet, you'll have a flood of entries as we near the deadline, I promise you this.

szczys2 karma

I sure hope you're right.

I really want to make The Hackaday Prize something that happens more than once (change up the theme and prizes for future years). The only way that's ever going to be considered is if we get a flood of entries.

What are you all waiting for? Now's the time to show off your hacking skills!

DrBerminverter12 karma

I asked last time and I'll ask again: WHY CAN'T I BUY A HACKADAY HOODIE!?!

You know, the important questions.

szczys5 karma

Hey, I've been asking for a T-shirt store since SupplyFrame came into the picture in July. Guess what... they finally gave in. Ben, our site hacker, is working on the framework for it as we speak. Watch the blog for an announcement soon since I don't have a firm launch date for you yet.

I don't know if we're selling hoodies or not. I think Jasmine (community manager) has been working on what stuff we're going to offer. Feel free to leave other requests in this thread.

JohnS_AZ9 karma

I've been reading HaD almost since its start and love it. Up until recently it was almost a running joke; "HaD is great, just don't read the comments." due the numbers of ill-spirited trolls occupying the comment space. This has seemed to improve dramatically. How did you manage that? Are you reviewing/editing all comments now? Whatever it is, keep up the good work.

wanderingjew12 karma

Alright, guy who pretty much manages the comments section here. We have always had a policy that you're always free to make a complete and total jackass out of yourself. We don't edit comments, we don't delete comments (except for obvious spam, which there's a lot of, and anything that includes the words, "reblogged this and commented:"), and for sake of principle, we will never remove any comment that is critical of hackaday.

This has led to some extremely hateful comments, directed both at hackaday and other commenters.

This has seemed to improve dramatically. How did you manage that? Are you reviewing/editing all comments now?

Here's the thing: I haven't done anything differently about how I moderate the comments. Your guess is as good as mine. We haven't even banned anyone, and I can remember a few times when that would have been a worthwhile thing to do.

We're looking at improving the commenting system, hopefully something with an upvote/downvote system. I'm a little hesitant about this because that means the comments will devolve into a series of stupid puns (see: reddit, and even slashdot with the insightful/funny/etc tags). We're trying to figure out a way around that, and maybe a default sorting by 'controversial' will help. That's pretty much unexplored (or at least poorly implemented) territory in terms of encouraging valuable discussion on the Internet. We'll probably screw it up somehow, but when we start on that, we're not going to stop until we have a system that's better than what we have now.

szczys3 karma

Well put, Brian. I would add that we do remove hateful remarks (racism, sexism, etc.). But in general, we don't like to censor because where do you stop with that?

My hope is that responsible Hackaday readers will act as "White Knights". All it takes is some even-tempered and well spoken responses to bad actors to help keep things in line. Shouting people down just escalates the situation but being reasonable by asking for examples of a person's claim or recommending a more productive way to articulate their concerns is the way I'd like too see this approached.

I'm a long-time lurker pretty much everywhere on the Internet. I love reading the comments section of Hackaday because it the readers have depth of experience and insight... unfortunately this is often interspersed with cruft which I hope is on the downswing as the community grows.

sciguy147 karma

Hey Mike & other Hack-a-Day folks-

I want to hear what your thoughts are on project documentation for open source projects. I think it's really great that you've put together to encourage hackers to share their projects early and often. I frequently find that compiling proper documentation for my projects (to the level where people can reproduce the project with minimal background knowledge) can be just as hard as making the project itself. However, I still try really hard to do it, because I think open source hardware is basically useless without some good instructions.

It's great to see more folks posting things on project sharing sites, but I have found that sometimes documentation is seriously lacking, somewhat defeating the purpose of the project being open source hardware in the first place. How do you handle the documentation process for your own projects? What suggestions does the hack-a-day team have to encourage more folks to do a more comprehensive job of making good documentation?

-[Jeremy Blum]

szczys5 karma

Hiya Jeremy! It was great to finally meet you at Maker Faire Bay Area.

This question is one of my missions in life.... I'll try to keep to a few thousand words:

Hackers need to document their projects because it will save them time

I have been bitten so many times for not documenting my projects. I start on a new build and remember that I solved a particular problem a few years ago and I go to look up how I did it. Depending on when I took on that build it might be really well documented, or it could be on a git repository that I never pushed off-site and now has been lost. How frustrating is that!?!

So, when we were getting ready for the first few users and were talking about the interface I set a goal that it should be dead simple to start a new build log on your project and hammer out a few hundred words at 3am before passing out and getting up for work the next day. This way, when life inevitably gets busy and you have to drop a project for a couple of months, you'll be able to come back to it.

You're right though, proper documentation that can be understood by others is a tall bar to reach. So I always try to recognize what parts of my projects could be useful later (library for addressing 9-bit SPI LCD screen on an 8-bit micro, etc.). Take time out to document these parts of a project really well. Eventually, you'll have enough well-documented parts that stitching them together to detail the entire project won't be quite so much work.

I also find that Hackerspaces are notorious for not publishing member projects publicly. The thing is, if you build something in your basement there's an instinct to show it off. If you take it to the Hackerspace meeting and present it to the members it quenches that urge and you're less likely to write a post about it. We want to see these hacks! Plus, you can only share so much in a lightning talk at the Hackerspace. Please... write about your projects and post them before showing things off publicly. This gives people who were enthralled by your presentation a way to learn more and connect with you later about the build.

Okay.... whew that was preachy, sorry!

sachamohabeer6 karma

What kinds of hacks should be entered into the contest? Does it have to be a new invention or can it make an existing technology or product better?

szczys3 karma

Here's the gist of it:

  • Some type of electronics
  • "connected" which means that it transfers data in some way
  • As "Open" as possible

You can enter anything that you want, but when you write about the project make sure you cover and explain how these bullet points fit in your project.

In regards to making an existing technology better... I think that's going to be the case for all entries, right? "new" inventions usually to replace an older way of doing things (email, replaced a lot of paper correspondence, etc.). There is a judging preference for "innovation".

portugalthephilosoph3 karma


Here's the gist of it:

  • Some type of electronics

  • "connected" which means that it transfers data in some way

  • As "Open" as possible

You can enter anything that you want, but when you write about the project make sure you cover and explain how these bullet points fit in your project.

In regards to making an existing technology better... I think that's going to be the case for all entries, right? "new" inventions usually to replace an older way of doing things (email, replaced a lot of paper correspondence, etc.). There is a judging preference for "innovation".

szczys2 karma

Thanks, fixed.

sylviebarak6 karma

Explain the trip to space... What's the thinking behind that as a top prize? Also, talk us through the logistics of how that's going to happen for the prize winner.... Thanks!

szczys3 karma

As I mentioned in the title of the thread, we're giving away a trip to space. This is the grand prize for The Hackaday Prize.

The initial motivation boils down to this: We want to see the next generation of Connected Devices right now. The technology exists, but it hasn't been proven in a way that elicits a groundswell of adoption. We'd also like to see it as Open Design (Open Hardware and Open Source Software). The benefits of this are that you can look and see how connected devices are collecting and using your information which is important for privacy issues. It will also allow you to add your own devices, features, interfaces, etc. This is what the Hackaday community is all about.

As for the logistics. Right now you just need to submit an entry that explains your concept and how you plan to make it happen. The registration deadline is August 4th, 2014. After that, we'll make the first cut and the projects that advance will need to start building a prototype for our panel of awesome expert judges to view during the subsequent round. Everything wraps up when we announce the winner in November.

creativetaboo6 karma

Yeah, but what about the logistics of the trip? How are you guys sending the winner to space? It's a tall order.

szczys2 karma

The winner has until 2017 to book on a carrier of their choice. If the trip into space is chosen there is also extra money allotted to help cover the taxes associated with winning a prize of great value.

Perhaps the winner will ride this space balloon?

Heck, maybe we just need a surplus space suit, parachute, lawn chair, and a bunch of weather balloons?

Macon-Bacon5 karma

Why isn't your logo Creative Commons licensed? I can understand having a trademark on it, but copyrighting the logo seems overly restrictive. I gather that you fund the site in part by t-shirt sales and whatnot, and a trademark on your logo lets you keep others from passing off fake items as yours. But that’s what trademarks are for, not copyright.

Just curious. :)

wanderingjew2 karma

HaD editor here. The logo is CC licensed. It was created by a former editor, Eliot, and uploaded to Thingiverse as CC. I don't know why the logo is copyrighted. It shouldn't be. The logo is trademarked, though, so... just don't sell stuff with the logo on it.

If you want to use the logo in a project, feel free. In fact, that's the #1 way to get your project posted. CNC router? Carve the logo. Oscilloscope vector display? display the logo.

szczys3 karma

Thanks Macon-Bacon for asking this and wanderingjew for answering. I didn't know about the CC license for the logo. I'll get it figured out and make an update.

jmigandrade5 karma

what was the biggest challenge concerning the change in ownership?

szczys9 karma


The story I hear Steve, the CEO of Supplyframe, tell often is that they were in a meeting with a major chip manufacturer just after the acquisition of Hackaday was announced. As they were leaving a group of engineers were waiting at the door for them. The conversation was basically "please don't mess up Hackaday". And they take that admonition very seriously. The Hackaday community that has grown over the last 10 years is amazing, and we all value that!

Luckily, we're well over the hump on building trust. It's obvious that Supplyframe is well-aligned with what we do here. They have budgeted for more live coverage of events, a ton of original content, they were immediately on board with building the site, and are all-in as the sole sponsor of The Hackaday Prize.

We have complete editorial freedom and continue our tradition of never publishing paid-for content. This may not sound like a lot, but it's HUGE.

chiggers5 karma

Where can I purchase hackaday stickers? Thanks!

szczys3 karma

Currently you cannot purchase stickers, you can only be awarded them by being awesome ;-)

But in the coming weeks we should have a store up and running. I believe the plan is to throw in some stickers every time someone buys a T-shirt. Watch the blog for an announcement.

mz_per_x5 karma

Why do you put names in brackets? An example from the proof post: "[Mike Szczys] started the thread". It's a small thing but it's incredibly annoying.

szczys12 karma

Proper names are in brackets to make them stand out. A lot of people use an alias instead of their real names and the brackets make it clear that weird alias' are actually names. So you're not confused by someone whose name is [Crappy Soldering Job].

At this point it's part of our identity, kind of like the dark page theme. I really like that!

Dr_Hootenanny5 karma

Do you ever have difficulty in deciding what constitutes a hack, or is worthy of posting on Hackaday? The lines between hacks, projects and neat tricks can seem blurry sometimes.

limpkin2 karma

(hackaday writer here): for a given number of tips we usually feature 75% of them (for these lasts months at least)

szczys2 karma

Well, we might feature 75% of the actual tips we receive. The vast majority of what comes in on the tips line is cruft though....

There's a TON of spam, mountains of press releases, scores of kickstarter links, but occasionally there's gold in them there tips. For instance, the Retrotechtacular we ran yesterday on the first DSLR ever built is fantastic and it only made it into a post because a reader sent the link to the tips line.

ekliptik4 karma

What do you see in the future of HackADay? has been a great success in connecting all the project docummentation dots from many many services all around the web. Other big things coming up? I sure am looking forward!

szczys3 karma

I'm glad you think is a success! I think we're just starting to take that baby for a spin. There's so much potential there!

On a daily basis we are talking about how to make it easier to collaborate with other hackers using the .io site. I'm an orchestra musician by trade and none of my colleagues want to talk about the stuff happening on Hackaday (I talk about it, but they don't have interest or understanding of building electronics). I really want .io to be a place where you can easily find other people to have a meaningful interaction about any hacking topic. For instance: "What do you think of my code commenting technique?". "What am I doing wrong with this MOSFET, it doesn't seem to be shutting off all the way!", "Where can I find nichrome wire locally?", "Anyone want to build Internet-enable walkie-talkies with me?".

This functionality is basically the "virtual hackerspace" concept. I can see the potential, and we're pushing like crazy to reach it!

TheASopko4 karma

After entries have closed on August 4th, are you going to create a gallery of all submissions?

szczys3 karma

Actually you can look at the entries as they come in. Here's a list that is automatically added to as new entries are submitted.

If that's too daunting, try the Astronaut or Not interface that pits two projects head-to-head.

enkiv23 karma

Hardware projects dominate HaD, but a handful of software projects have been featured. Is this a side effect of software being less flashy, or is it because you have primarily an EE/MechE audience, or something else?

(I had a software project featured, but it was an OS and therefore close to the bare metal. Most of the featured software I've seen has been embedded.)

szczys4 karma

We do lean heavily toward physical builds. I often tout that Hackaday is about building rather than buying it and fixing it rather than trashing it. This mantra doesn't fit software as well as it does hardware. That being said, a ton of hardware projects have a heavy software element to them as well so you could say we do cover both hw and sw.

We don't specifically ignore software-only projects. I enjoy seeing the occasional game solvers that pop up, and we often see computer vision hacks. Next time you pull off a gnarly hack send it to our tips line!

TheASopko3 karma

A trip to the “final frontier” is awesome as a grand prize but what are you offering for the finalists?

szczys2 karma

Everything is listed on the rewards page.

Grand Prize: Trip into Space 2nd: drool-worthy milling machine 3rd: drool-worthy 3d printer 4th: trip to Akihabara in Japan 5th: team skydiving

There will be 50 electronics grab bags worth approximately $1000 each

Plus we're giving away hundreds of prizes like shirts, stickers, patches, posters, etc. These are being awarded right now through our community voting.

Go vote now!

Roxel3 karma

I read HaD every morning and evening. I also have HaD stickers on my toolchests.

How were judges responses in regards to the HaD prize? Were there any judges that you wanted that wouldn't agree/participate?

szczys2 karma

Nice to hear you have the jolly wrencher plastered on your toolchests. I have Hackaday stickers in all kinds of strange places. But then again, I have nearly-unlimited access to these stickers ;-)

The judges (bio page located here) all said yes. Can you believe it? I feel amazingly lucky.... these people are superbly qualified to judge The Hackaday Prize. And obviously that means they're in high demand from so many parts of their lives.

Can we make this into a "Thank You" thread for the judges who are all donating their time? Thank you all so much!

RschDev3 karma

Mike - Would you consider building and/or hosting a set of resources for makerspaces? Specifically, things like bylaws, articles, membership agreements, tool use policies, rules, hackerspace infrastructure projects, etc? I know it would be incredibly useful to the community.

szczys3 karma

Yes, I think this is a great idea.

We did add a place where you can write about your Hackerspace on and the plan is to add more features to that. For instance, it would be a great way to document projects built by multiple hackerspace members but right now I don't think you can add a project as the hackerspace (you'd have to add it as an individual then add contributors).

As far as a "playbook" for hackerspaces. That would be a truly awesome resource. The obvious things, like navigating the process of getting non-profit status in the US, should be up there. But things like how to deal with troublesome members (not following rules, etc) and developing safety standards and training guidelines for the more dangerous tools would save hackerspaces from continually reinventing the wheel.

We're working on this kind of thing and I'm happy to hear from you that there is interest in it.

AtheistComic3 karma

This gas to electric car conversion project is one of the coolest hackaday projects I've seen. What's the coolest project you've seen?

szczys2 karma

So that project is from James Hobson who is one of the Hackaday writers. I don't know if I have an answer for you about coolest project but I wanted to make sure you knew he's currently working on an electric dune buggy conversion which I think is totally awesome!

baharini2 karma

What do you think is the most expensive hack ever done? I know the "Saving $20,000 USD With a Single LED" post, but I'm sure there's something bigger ;) And ps, I've been a fan for years and just received some stickers in the mail from you guys - thanks a lot, one is looking good on my Macbook, need to figure out where to put the rest ;)

szczys1 karma

If we're talking cost savings I would say any of the hacks that helped to fix the International Space Station had the biggest bang for the hacking dollar. Thanks to Ed Van Cise for writing that guest post!

tdicola2 karma

Are any Hackaday folks going to ToorCamp in a few weeks?

wanderingjew2 karma

HaD Editor here.

Probably not ToorCamp (at least this year), but we have a booth at HOPE this year!

-CottonEyedJoe-1 karma

Cool you guys going to be selling anything at HOPE or just hanging out?

wanderingjew2 karma

Uh, I'm going to be giving away stuff. Tons of stickers (enough for everyone) and depending on how efficiently I can pack them, some t-shirts. Of course, if you want to trade a shirt for some club-mate, I'd be cool with that.

Also hanging out.

-CottonEyedJoe-1 karma

Cool. I'm hoping to go again this year. NY is a fun city.

So many conferences, so few vacation days.

szczys1 karma

I still haven't been to NYC in my adult life -- I live in Wisconsin. Some day I'm going to have to make a grand tour of all the hardware happenings there!

PS- Had a call the other day and it looks like we're going to be sending "a lot" of shirts to Brian for HOPE. Exactly how many that is I don't know but if you want one and you're attending make sure to track down the Hackaday table.

128keaton2 karma

Hey Mike! I was the guy who took a selfie with you at Bay Area 2014. What's your input on the making/hacking process? I always have issues with ideas never working out due to many variables and I thought you might have some tips about planning properly.

szczys1 karma

I'm a binge hacker. I think my family (both my side and my wife's) think I'm insane because whenever I travel to visit them I usually take hardware projects with me. Last Christmas I sat on my in-laws' couch and coded the firmware for the NFC voting machine. A couple of years earlier I layed out the board for my Binary Burst clock in the same fashion (and got pretty good at KiCad at the same time). And even when hardware isn't around I find ways to hack, like this terminal-based game of life I coded when visiting my parents a few years back.

My advice is always have a few projects in mind that you're interested in. You'd be surprised how much you can work out in your head while you wait for a block of a couple of days in which you can hold your own personal hackathon.

ZombieFlash2 karma

Hi there. I have been following HaD for many years now, so lots of appreciation for the work put in by past and current staff.

I have found inspiration in many of the projects featured, but never found time to follow the open ideology and share documentation or blog about my own projects. I doubt I'm the only one in this situation. I find Instructables (and similar sites) to be very easy to use, but generally dislike the format of them all. Also I am a bit lazy :p seems awesome and I will make an effort to post something proper this year.

Are any new features planned for

I know HaD also has the goal of changing the current perceived meaning of "hacking" to its true meaning. Please don't allow low quality content (like life tips and other silly stuff) to sneak in just for the above.


szczys1 karma

There are so many features planned for Most notably I've seen the design mock-ups for a new "Feed" which will greatly improve the ease with which you can see what's going on since your last visit. Right now you get one line per notification, they don't give very much info (you're told a comment was made but you don't get a snippet of the comment itself) and they all take the same vertical space. The new feed should have better grouping of new items, some more visual stuff based on hackers you're following, snippets of comments, and a bunch more. I can't wait!

I've really been pushing for vendor integration with the parts lists. I'd like to store the Bill of Materials for my projects on and when I'm ready to put in an order just push a button and select a vendor. There's a ton that goes into that kind of thing but one can hope!

Dippyskoodlez1 karma

There are so many features planned for

I'm still hoping for STL support.

szczys1 karma

Can you explain what goes into "STL support"? Is it more than just a place to upload the file?

dandroid882 karma

your picture on hack a day is gustav mahler right? whats your favorite symphony?

szczys1 karma

Wow! So few people make that connection. Bonus points for you.

So, I have favorite parts from so many of his symphonies. I have now played all but #3-6. I'm hoping to play #4 some day because I think of it as "The Christmas Mahler" since it starts with sleigh bells. That one's really magical. #7 has a special place in my heart too because I love the interplay between the 1st and 3rd horn parts (I'm a horn player btw).

GoProDad2 karma

Mike huge fan of Hackaday. Just want to thank you for putting together a great and informative website. Which is your favorite hardware hack? Any preference to one? Thanks again for doing this AMA.

szczys3 karma

So someone asked me this at the LA Gathering in January and I didn't have an answer. I see so many hacks go by and I usually have something of a "favorite right now" rather than an all-time winner. But after mulling it over for a few months I came up with an answer.

This AVR RFID tag is my all time favorite hardware hack ever featured on

It's the simplicity and ingenuity that I love about it. It's just an axial inductor soldered to two IO pins of an 8-bit microcontroller. It's not even soldered to the power pins. The concept uses the clamping diodes of the I/O to power the chip just long enough to fire off the firmware. It's the definition of the word "Hack"... the chip is not intended to function this way, but a brilliant hacker made it happen. Genius.

AdamOutler2 karma

Mike, you write about electronics and hacking all day long. So, you probably have more insight than most. I'm asking about your favorite, single tool, to use for hacking.

Say you were told you had to go on-site to work with/hack/get the scoop on some random new invention and you'd be able to tear it apart. You will be provided a multi-tool and laptop(with internet connection,running Linux of course) on-site, and you can bring in one tool of your own. What would that tool be? What is the most versatile tool you can think of when examining/hacking a new device?

szczys2 karma

It really depends on the device. But if you nail me down to a single tool it's just got to be the Bus Pirate, right?

Actually, I've seen you use one several times for hacking into the Android serial ports on some of your XDA-TV episodes. If given the same question would you choose the BP?

AdamOutler1 karma

Bus Pirate as well. I was wondering though because I am a committer to the project.

szczys1 karma

Well that makes it even more useful, right? You find a way to make it better and they incorporate it so all can benefit.

Why can't the world adopt this model?

SamGJackson1 karma

What would suggest for someone who has an interest in electronics but has very limited resources to get started in it?

szczys3 karma

If you have a computer the battle is already mostly won.

Ask around to see if anyone you know is into electronics. If they are they might lend you some dev boards to try out. This would be if you wanted to get into embedded stuff.

If you're interested purely in electronics, the first thing I would do is go to the public library and check out a copy of "There are no electrons: Electronics for Earthlings" by Kenn Amdahl. This is one of the first ones I read and it stuck with me.

Next I checked out a book called "Robot Building for Beginners" by David Cook. I ended up following through on the entire book over the course of maybe 3 months. I did end up spending around $250 because I bought a digital multimeter and soldering iron (both from radio shack), and ordered some motors and the components to build "sandwich the line following robot". If you're lucky you could borrow these tools from a friend, and maybe salvage some of the parts.

Be creative and you will be able to get started without much cost. Most people are happy to give you their broken electronics just to get rid of them so ask around.

keepingthecommontone1 karma

Mike, did you study music in Colorado? If so, I have a follow-up question about how cool your music theory teacher was.

szczys1 karma

Yes, my Bachelor's degree in Music Performance is from the University of Northern Colorado.

keepingthecommontone1 karma

Woo! I can put another notch on my "former students who have become famous" wall. Congrats on your success with Hackaday!

szczys1 karma

Now I'm at a loss for your identity. Can you give me a clue?

PS-- I play in two orchestras here in Madison. Hackaday is a part time day job that ended up swallowing my life. In other words... that music theory is still getting used and passed on to private students.

keepingthecommontone1 karma

Ha... sorry, I didn't mean to cause you any grief! I'm Toby Rush... I think you had me for one or two sections of sophomore theory. I saw your name on the AMA and thought, "Hey, he has the same name as someone I had in class years ago." And then your picture looked really familiar...

Glad you are still using the theory... I wasn't going to hold you to it. :) Trombone, right? How often do you gig? How big is your studio? Do your two lives ever cross paths? (I have a few students into music tech programming, and I do quite a bit of it, so I figure it's a possibility.)

szczys1 karma

Toby, I remember you well. It's nice to make the connection again.

Horn, actually. I studied with Jack. The two orchestras keep me busy, about 8 weeks in the summer, 2 or 3 weeks a month the rest of the year. I'm cutting back my studio and other jobs to make a bit more room for this one which is fine by me for now.

vcp3231 karma

My apologizes if this has been covered elsewhere. Are there any types/kinds of hacks that you either have not seen yet and would like to see, or have seen and would like to see more of?

szczys1 karma

I have enjoyed seeing some of the home chemistry hacks and would enjoy seeing more of those.

I'm always delighted when I see something clever... cleverness is what I'd like to see more of :-D

S-Aint1 karma

I was going to ask you how your MotoCzysz project is coming along but I now realize that I've got the wrong guy. How often do people confuse the two of you?

szczys2 karma

Never? Actually, just once, by you ;)

Yserbius1 karma

A couple of questions:

  • You have in front of you the following: A microprocessor. A breadboard. Electrical components (resistors, jumpers, diodes, etc). Batteries. Some tools. A 1983 boombox. 4 hours. What do you do?
  • Why are there thousands of open source and home brew 3D printers and components but not a single useable standard printer not made by a big company?
  • Do you ever get into legal trouble for posting articles that show how to hack consumer products?

szczys1 karma

  • Umm... chiptunes galore? Just build an R2R ladder, connect it to the boombox, start coding and then put on a show!
  • It's a difficult problem. Maybe Brian can answer better than that. I think resin printers do a much better job but resin is expensive and has an expiration date. So most printers are plastic filament which has it's own issues like warping, not sticking, clogging, etc.
  • Yes. See this thread

JohnS_AZ1 karma

From the Hackaday Prize rules (stages 2 and 3) it says "...and post the video to Hackaday’s YouTube channel at...". How does one post a video to someone else's YouTube channel?

szczys1 karma

That's a good question and I don't have an answer for you.

When you post your entry (which I hope you've already done!) just make sure to add your video as an "external link" which will appear in the left sidebar.

I would also advise that you embed your videos somewhere in your writeup. This is super easy to do, just paste the URL and press enter.

thanksalotpal1 karma

Hi Mike, I've been interested in your site for a while, and electronics and such for even longer. I don't have an extremely technical background and I would like to know more to fully comprehend your projects.

What direction would you point someone in to learn the technical stuff at a beginners level? And further than that? If this is on the site I apologize, wanted to ask and try to catch you.

szczys1 karma

I started out with no knowledge of electronics (I'm a musician and both of my degrees are in performance). I did have a programming background from what I taught myself as a teenager.

Pick something you want to build. For me it was robots. Check out some books on the topic and read them. When you start to feel more comfortable find a simple project you like and build your own version of it. Along the way you'll find something else that you find interesting and you'll start studying about that. Before you know it you'll realize that there aren't all that many concepts that you need to learn in order to build an understanding. From there it's a matter of speicalization: embedded programming, analog circuits, learning programming languages, etc.

btwinch1 karma

Is that a Polish last name?

szczys1 karma

z4ch4ry51 karma

Hi Mike, are you familiar with FIRST Robotics? I'm the team captain of Team 2204 and a daily reader of Hackaday. I really want to get my peers excited about just making stuff in general and having fun while doing it. What do you think could most excite a group of otherwise unmotivated highschoolers about the maker movement?

szczys1 karma

Of course I'm familiar with FIRST Robotics! Did you see the video from our visit to the FIRST team at Clark Magnet School back in January? They were building some awesome stuff.

As far as getting your peers excited, show them some cool examples. If you're controlling your home lights from minecraft, driving your robots from an Android phone, or making toothpick chuckers from clothespins it's pretty hard not to be excited about it. I think the trick is to have an example of how engineering gives you the power to build your own cool stuff just because it's fun and not because there's a good reason to take on the build.