Hack Chat Transcript, Part 1

A event log for Hackaday Prize 2019 Hack Chat

The challenge of design for manufacturing

LutetiumLutetium 04/17/2019 at 20:010 Comments

Dan Maloney12:00 PM
Hello everyone, welcome to the Hack Chat. Let's get started with today's chat, which is all about the 2019 Hackaday Prize. @Majenta Strongheart is here to tell us all about it and answer your questions.

Majenta, can you kick things off with a little about what your role is in the Prize?

Dan joined  the room.12:01 PM

Majenta Strongheart12:01 PM
Of course, thanks for the welcome!

Majenta Strongheart12:04 PM
I'm the lead coordinator for the Prize this year, but of course work with a ton of amazing people to help it run smoothly. As the Staff Designer and Community Programming Coordinator at the DesignLab I'm excited to tie in more of the DesignLab's resources and network to the prize :)

Scott Swaaley12:05 PM
Hi @Majenta Strongheart ! Is it ok if I start with a question?

Majenta Strongheart12:05 PM
@Scott Swaaley yes!

Frank Buss12:06 PM
I don't like meta-questions

deshipu12:06 PM
I don't like meta-likes

Paul Stoffregen12:06 PM
I like meta meta

Scott Swaaley12:06 PM
We noticed in the Hackaday Prize 2019 FAQ what looked like some copy-paste from last year's competition. Specifically, mentions of hardware being open source. Is that a big part of this year's evaluation?

Scott Swaaley12:07 PM
Excerpt: "Optimally, we would like to see open source drivers, hardware, and development tools; the final project would also be licensed as open source (using the wide range of licenses that are possible)." Not sure if that is copy-paste leftover or intentional.

Majenta Strongheart12:08 PM
Open source will definitely be an important part of the criteria for the judges this year

scott.mcgimpsey joined  the room.12:09 PM

deshipu12:09 PM
How does that work with making it a successful product? Won't it be immediately drowned by clones?

morgan12:09 PM
but isn't that the true sign of success?

Paul Stoffregen12:10 PM
Would you say the contest has changed these last couple years, more towards an emphasis on professional (perhaps startup) hardware, rather than "hacks"?

Scott Swaaley12:10 PM
@deshipu - Yeah, that seems to contrast a little with the product development focus.

deshipu12:10 PM
depends on how judges define it

Majenta Strongheart12:10 PM
However projects are not required to be open source to be eligible for finals

Frank Buss12:10 PM
how can open source be a criteria, if it is not listed as the 4 evenly weighted criteria in the rules?

scott.mcgimpsey12:10 PM
Re: Open source, that same FAQ states: "But everyone should enter the Open Hardware Design Challenge too" -- Are there separate sub-challenges like last year?

Jakob Wulfkind12:11 PM
@Frank Buss, I'm guessing that it's a condition of entry

Scott Swaaley12:12 PM
@Frank Buss +5 points

Majenta Strongheart12:13 PM
Often products on the market can benefit from being open source, or having elements be open source, you can get excellent feedback, upgrades, and solutions to challenges your product might be facing. For example last year's winner Haddington Dynamics has been able to advance their product Dexter thanks to their work being open source.

Frank Buss12:13 PM
if it is open source, there will be a cheap Chinese clone for it faster than I could sell my product :-)

Arsenijs12:13 PM
not necessarily. Nobody has bothered to clone the ZeroPhone yet =D

deshipu12:14 PM
or µGame :(

Arsenijs12:14 PM
(inb4 it's not that good)

deshipu12:14 PM
even when I offered them to help with that

[skaarj]12:14 PM
One from me: I noticed there are a lot of projects describing toys, and only a few serious stuff such as medical devices, power supplies, laboratory tools and of course retro hardware which involves a lot of knowledge, hardware + software level 99000+ wizardry and tons of $ when applied in industry due to the proven immunity to latest virus threats.

I would like to ask which are the criteria for selecting the projects: toys and games? useful tools? life-saving devices? skills? industrial stuff which if you sell three...four of them will bring as much money as 10 thousand sold games?

Majenta Strongheart12:14 PM
Finals judging criteria: v. Communication- How thoroughly have the final round requirements been completed? How well documented is the project? How “Open” is the design? Is the project marketable?

Arsenijs12:15 PM
like, there's, there should also be where we could submit our projects so that they at least get a chance of being cloned

Dan Maloney12:15 PM
@Frank Buss - If patents don't protect anyone for Chinese cloners, I don't think open-source makes a product any more of a target.

Jakob Wulfkind12:16 PM
Is the focus purely on production of a specific product, or would projects that support the production of other products (i.e. better open home power grid, prototyping lab, etc) also be considered?

Paul Stoffregen12:16 PM
The Chinese cloners don't start copying until you've put in all the marketing work, so the sales are there. So you get to enjoy that early adoption curve, where you work like crazy without breaking even (at least if you time is worth anything)

todbot12:16 PM
Clones can be made of anything, regardless of license or pre-existing available information. Give me any consumer product to a half-decent reverse-engineer and they'll have schematic and CAD diagrams available in a week. Most products don't warrant having clones made of them.

Josh Lloyd12:16 PM
@Arsenijs Just patent it. That will forward directly to

Scott Swaaley12:16 PM
@Majenta Strongheart Ok. So (roughly), "open sourceness" is about 1/4 of 1/5 of the criteria? So about 5% of the criteria ...

Scott Swaaley12:17 PM
Based on the criteria listed, not considering weighting.

Majenta Strongheart12:17 PM
@[skaarj] i. Concept- Is the project creative, original, functional, and pushing boundaries? Does the project benefit society in some way? We are most interested in entries that clearly define a problem and how their project is a solution to that problem

deshipu12:17 PM
@Scott Swaaley last time I checked 1/5 was 20>#/span###

Arsenijs12:18 PM
and 1/4 of 20% is 5% of total? no?

Scott Swaaley12:18 PM
@deshipu One out of five criteria bullets (1/5), one out of four sub-bullet questions (1/4).

deshipu12:18 PM
ah, sorry

deshipu12:18 PM
missed that

Andrew Sowa12:19 PM
How will phase of development factor? 4-5 months is unlikely to be enough time to make a product of any reasonable scope. It seems like it is currently setup to benefit people who already having a working prototype who can focus on documentation for the next 4 months.

Dan Maloney12:19 PM
@deshipu - I got confused too. I thought he meant "1/4 or 1/5', not a quarter of a fifth

Frank Buss12:19 PM
ok, so it needs to be open source for the final round, but not for the entry round?

deshipu12:19 PM
@Dan Maloney same

[skaarj]12:20 PM
well, Pokemon games still keep crowds under control and brought a solution to certain people that got photos after Pokemon players trespassed certain.... protected areas... and brought a lot of money...

Majenta Strongheart12:20 PM
@Jakob Wulfkind projects that support the production of other products will definitely be considered

scott.mcgimpsey12:20 PM
@Andrew Sowa +1 -- I'd love to know that too -- Thoughts, @Majenta Strongheart ?

[skaarj]12:22 PM
and about open source.... this ting may be difficult if someone decides to program straight into assembly due to real-time speed restrictions

deshipu12:22 PM
aseembly is also source, no?

deshipu12:23 PM
and it can be well structured and commented

Arsenijs12:23 PM
If there's less emphasis on open-source than it used to be in previous editions, I just can't help but feel like it's only going to lower the quality of resulting projects on .io. When I see closed-source projects of any value in .io, they tend to not only lack production-ready files in a format suitable for me, but also hide critical details, i.e., parts of their journey and how they got where they are. Like, "here's our review of our own closed-source software, ohbtw, you can buy it by using this link", and sometimes the link is not there either.

Dan Maloney12:23 PM
@[skaarj] - Can't assembly be open source?

Frank Buss12:23 PM
could be still open source, and of course you would add lots of comments for your assembly code, right?

Arsenijs12:23 PM
I'd say if you know assembly *well enough*, then everything is open-source for you

[skaarj]12:23 PM
Yes, it can, but difficult to understand

Arsenijs12:23 PM
but also, god help you

Dan Maloney12:24 PM
@Arsenijs good point

Majenta Strongheart12:24 PM
@Andrew Sowa the entry does not have to be a finished product, if the concept, production plan, documentation of working prototype, and analysis of what makes your solution better than what is on the market are competitive then the project is competitive

deshipu12:24 PM
@Arsenijs there is a big difference between ability to read assembly sources written by good programmers, and ability to read disassembled code

todbot12:25 PM
I think it's possible to be fairly public during the development process but not be fully open until you launch. I've seen some Kickstarters do this well: only completely open source when product starts to ship. I dislike knowing all the details but I understand it and even recommend it for certain aspects of a design

Scott Swaaley12:25 PM
@Majenta Strongheart - that's a huge clarification. Thank you.

todbot12:25 PM
I dislike *not* knowing all the details, that is

Majenta Strongheart12:25 PM
Yes @todbot !

deshipu12:26 PM
sometimes you simply don't remember everything you tried in a debugging frenzy :)

Scott Swaaley12:26 PM
@Majenta Strongheart - Maybe it would help if you shared the thinking behind this shift to a product development focus? That could help us get in your heads a bit and steer our entries accordingly.

Scott Swaaley12:27 PM
@Majenta Strongheart And for the record, I think it's a great new focus and will stir things up in a great way.

scott.mcgimpsey12:27 PM
@Majenta Strongheart The FAQ states: "But everyone should enter the Open Hardware Design Challenge too" -- Is this referring to another ongoing challenge?

Arsenijs12:27 PM
@deshipu it's tongue-in-cheek, of course

[skaarj]12:28 PM
there is one guy with a submited project - an Arduino shield which allows interfacing old retro CPUs and controllers for people to learn how to program them. This is extremely valuable tool for future engineers - start with the basics then get to implement their own architecture. I would love to see that project. This covers the open hardware design challenge perfectly.

Arsenijs12:28 PM
@todbot wrt Kickstarters - it's incredibly easy to not release your files even if you promise to do it. Hell, I've done it a couple of times without any intentions!

Frank Buss12:28 PM
and is an electronics product required? I think a (sophisticated) T-shirt could meet all rules as well

todbot12:28 PM
Agreed, I like the focus on DFM, even if the idea doesn't go to production. One often finds efficiencies in design when thinking like a manufacturer.

Majenta Strongheart12:29 PM
@Scott Swaaley We've seen people in the community make a prototype really well, we want to see the community take it to the next level, so we've raised the stakes and want to raise challenge accordingly

Dan Maloney12:30 PM
@todbot - Bingo!

Arsenijs12:30 PM
DFM knowledge would be cool to have, indeed, but can most entries even get to the stage where they need DFM before contest ends, given that there's 4-5 months?

[skaarj]12:31 PM
what is a "dfm"?

Arsenijs12:31 PM
design for manufacturing

salec12:31 PM
Basically, this is an additional step

todbot12:31 PM
@Arsenijs, true. I was thinking more about changing how one approaches parts: instead of using this one-off lamp I found a swap-meet, going to Digikey and searching for what lamps have >100k in stock

Yannick (Gigawipf)12:32 PM
Will probably enter with OHSC if it is worthy with the next prototype. But might be a good motivation to get it done correctly and documented with all its challenges :)

At least i will definetly show a demonstration of its (planned) capabilities and current features at makerfaire berlin if someone is in the area.

Arsenijs12:32 PM
also, does the contest actually encourage people to tell about their journey? I think there's a link between that and open-source, at least, that's what I've learned from observing projects here, the projects that don't go explicitly open-source also tend to have less to tell overall, as I've mentioned.

Andrew Sowa12:32 PM
I understand the shift toward dfm thinking but making something at a scale does not need to be product focused. It feel like the prize is less unique now because there are many other finical prizes for good products from a business standpoint. There are less Financial prizes for important projects that don’t have a good financial case as a product

Arsenijs12:33 PM
but given that the "documentation" requirements are still there, there might be not as much of a reason to worry.

todbot12:34 PM
@Andrew Sowa ah that's a good point. Hmm. I do like how much Hackaday is about open source and moving the entire community's knowledge forward

[skaarj]12:35 PM
It's the U.S.A. - absolutely everything must function from a business standpoint so forget about "interesting" projects and focus on stuff that brings money.

Scott Swaaley12:35 PM
@Majenta Strongheart - Are there any other things we should consider as we start to submit entries? Any lessons-learned from what you've seen entered so far? (with an emphasis on examples, when possible)

deshipu12:35 PM
@[skaarj] can't anything that brings money be interesting?

Arsenijs12:35 PM
I think the question I should ask is - what was the reasoning behind changes that were made to this years HaD prize, compared to last year's one? What were the insights that you can tell us about, that led you to change focus? Or was it something other, i.e. "let's try something new for a change"?

Dan Maloney12:35 PM
@[skaarj] And that's different in other parts of the world exactly how?

Arsenijs12:36 PM
that's quite a "personal" question, I know =)

Frank Buss12:36 PM
I guess finally Supplyframe wants to make some money with Hackaday :-)

Scott Swaaley12:36 PM
@Arsenijs - See her answer above.

deshipu12:36 PM
@Frank Buss unlikely

Frank Buss12:38 PM
or getting some PR, otherwise they could have used the same name, "Hackaday Prize"

Arsenijs12:38 PM
oh, now I noticed it, my bad - had to scroll through the log three times to notice =) If there's any other insights, of course, it'd be great to hear them.

Majenta Strongheart12:39 PM
@Scott Swaaley definitely consider the user of your product, that will make many decisions in the process of design and development more straightforward and result in a stronger entry

[skaarj]12:39 PM
well, in some other parts of the world some projects start to bring money after 15....20 years - for example the educational system which is not required to bring money as fast as possible. A