The Hackaday Prize


Frequently asked questions for the Hackaday Prize 2015. If you’re getting serious about winning The Hackaday Prize you can also read The Official Rules.

What is considered an entry?

We leave the parameters for The Hackaday Prize wide open so that you can be as creative as possible with your entry. To start you simply talk about a problem you see in the world and your idea of what a solution might be. Yes, you can enter the contest with just an idea and be eligible for simple prizes like shirts and stickers.

As time progresses we'll be awarding increasingly desireable prizes. Document your build plans early on and you may win things like free PCB fabriction, 3D prints, or laser cut parts to help with your prototypes. To win the top prizes you'll need to build something that works and document it as well as possible. Preference is given to those projects which exemplify Open Design, but it is not a disqualifying requirement to share everything.

What does "open" actually mean?

Open refers to how much you have documented about your project and how much you will make available to the public when you push your project out into the world. 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). This is a judging preference, so providing design files in a format that uses open source tools (and therefore allows others to easily use or modify them), will help you with the best chance of edging out your competition.

What are the judges using as criteria for who moves on to the next level?

Our panel of expert judges are making their decisions based upon the following criteria:

• How "Open" is the design? Preference will be given to projects that exhibit depth of Open Hardware and Open Source Software.
• "Wow" factor: is the entry innovative, is the build impressive?
• Does the entry address a wide-ranging problem?
• Is the project reproducible and could the work be extended for other uses?
• Is the entry innovative?
• Is the entry usable in the real world?
• Will others want to continue perfecting on this well-documented idea?

What is the Best Product prize?

This year we want to see what it takes to get from prototype to production so we've added the Best Product to the mix. If you ware willing to take on some extra requirements you can win $100,000 in addition to being eligible for the other prizes. You officially submit your build as an entry in The Hackaday Prize and you subsequently "opt-in" for best product before the 8/17/15 deadline.

What are the additonal requirements for Best Product entries?

The most notable different for builds entered as Best Product is that you need to supply 3 beta test units as part of your entry. This is not required of entries that do not "opt-in" for Best Product. But we feel that beta test units are an integral part of getting a product ready for production. There is also an accelerated timeline for documentation. You need to have all of the Stage 1, 2, and 3 requirements completed by 8/17/15.

How is Best Product judged?

There are a separate set of judging criteria for Best Product:

• Does this entry address a wide-ranging problem?
• Beta Unit Functionality: Does the product work for the intended purpose?
• Beta Unit Durability: How well will the production model hold up to normal use?
• Beta Unit Aesthetics: How well do the aesthetics fit the target user and product purpose?
• Has the process of going from prototype to product been well documented?
• Is the product manufacturable without a complete redesign?
• Does the product exhibit engineering innovation?
• Is there a usable interface that can be easily operated?

Is it possible to win both the Best Product award and the Grand Prize

Yes. All entries are eligible to win the Grand Prize and other top prizes. Opting-in to the Best Product does not change that.

How much of my build log will I be judged upon?

All parts of your project will be judged, but it is wise to include the core details of your project in your videos as these will be viewed first to get the gist of the entry.

When is the first hard deadline?

You must officially submit your project as an entry by 1:50pm PDT on August 17th, 2015 to have a chance at moving on to the next round.

What do I need to have ready by August 17th?

You need a video explaining your project (no matter its stage of completion), you must be a registered member of, and you need to have officially submitted your project to The Hackaday Prize (having accepted the terms and conditions associated with entering). Your documentation should include four Project Logs, links to any external resources (like a code repository), a system design document, and the components you have used or are planning to use.

Really? That's it?

Yes. Before the expert judges get to work on September 21st, you will have the opportunity to continue updating your project.

OK, then how do I win a trip to space?

From the initial pool of entries, the editorial staff will narrow the field to 100 semi-final entries based upon eligibility, quality of documentation, and judging criteria. The expert judges will narrow these 100 entries down to 10 finalists. From there, the expert judges and any special judges will decide upon the ranking of the top 5 finalist, including the grand prize winner.

What about the other prizes?

Once the grand prize winner has been chosen, the remaining prizes will be awarded in order of rank as decided by the judges.

How do I see which projects have already been entered?

Check out this full list of official entries.

I hate being on video! Can I win without making videos?

You must submit video in order to win. However, you don't need to be in front of the camera in order to make a video.

Video is the most reliable way to make a judgement call about whether something works, since the judges are unable to see the projects in person.

Nothing beats actually showing your project working. We won't judge on flashiness though... simply present the quality of the idea and how it was executed in your project. That being said, we loved seeing so many passionate hackers in front of the camera last year. You call did an amazing job and we can't wait to see more people on video with their hardware for the first time! Try it, you'll like it.

The 2015 Entries