Travelling Hacker Box

lol travelling salesman problem

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What is it? It's a migratory box of random electronics stuff. The idea is simple: Pick a person on a list. This person will receive this box in the mail. They open it up, take one item, and add another (of about equal value). The box is then shipped to the next person on the list.

Has this idea been done before? Yes, yes it has. Why am I doing it? Because there are some really cool people on with weird stuff on their workbenches.

What the hell is this? It's a magical box of random electronic crap that's shipped from person to person. Everyone takes one item, and replaces it with another item from their workbench- that isn't food.

Want to get in on the action? Request to be added to the Travelling Hackerbox Project. There's a button to your left that will do that. Once you've been accepted, hang out in the Travelling Hackerbox Hacker Chat. Do that, and you'll eventually get a magical box of random electronic crap, if no one steals it before you.

The box has recently completed its trip around the US and now it's heading abroad:

Where is the box heading next? Here's a map showing the planned trip around the world:

With detail of Europe:

This trip around the globe is a minimum of 53,000 miles.


Prior to the first box's having lived up to its original title containing "will be stolen"... Someone was cool enough to include two white ceramic and gold EPROMs... This is their contents.

text/plain - 9.26 kB - 12/25/2015 at 09:37


  • Rogue box arrived in Latvia

    Arya08/07/2017 at 18:09 0 comments

    @jlbrian7 got a box from @Sophi Kravitz , and it's now in Latvia, in MakeRiga hackerspace. Next stop is likely in Estonia, unless @Benchoff advises otherwise. 


    Yes, it did cost $93 to ship =D

    The books are great! It seems that we're grabbing the Forrest M. Mims book, or one of the others.

    Some misc PCBs - theremin (working), Adafruit Circuit Playground, something something LEDs microphone PCB (working),  2x RFM12BS, protoboards, double relay board and, well, a Tandy PC-6! Tandy's batteries are flat, so they need to be replaced - hopefully, I'll test it.

    Read more »

  • rouge box

    jlbrian707/23/2017 at 00:55 0 comments

    here is what is in the box:

    Here is what I took from the box:

    Here is what I put in the box:

    I think I will find a few more bits and bobs before I get the box sent off though.

  • Next Stop

    StevenSemancik02/24/2017 at 23:50 11 comments

    I received the box early last week and was surprised at the variety of stuff. It was packed tight with stuff. My cat Cleo was particularly interested in the package:

    I took a quick look and found a few items to work with. An esp8266, trinket, some really nice big MOSFET's, two shift registers, an in-system programmer (I always forget to order one of these so now I have one), PIR sensor and even a piece of muscle wire!!. Some interesting stuff to make a motion activated cat toy.

    What I added, a few nice old miniature nut driver/wrenches, a couple of cold-war era sub-mini triodes (6247WA), a spare TI Launchpad, an HID ballast, one of those parrot picture frames (that runs Linux), Zilog Z8 micro, a vintage 'score and snap' (really handy for cutting PCB's), some Toshiba chips I think were used in cassette decks or telephones or something (sorry, no datasheet), two QFP test clips that I haven't used in years and some general purpose PNP and NPN's :

    I took the box for a tour of Kelowna (as promised) and here are some pics. Kelowna is situated on the beautiful Okanagan valley and is home to the Ogopogo lake monster:

    And now its off to the next stop, Calgary Alberta.

  • The Travelling Hacker Box Is On The Move!

    Benchoff01/26/2017 at 21:35 1 comment

    A few months ago, I received the Travelling Hacker Box for the Hackaday SuperCon in Pasadena. This was the end of the US tour, and the beginning of the trip around the world. After the SuperCon, I got a new box, packed everything up, and sent it to the first stop around Vancouver, Canada.

    The box came back. The very next day. The box came back. I thought it was a gonner, but the box came back, the very next day. It just couldn't stay away.

    I'm assuming it was a customs issue.

    I'm back in the office, so now the box is departing again. It's heading up to Canada, again, with the same game plan: Vancouver to St. Johns, then off to Greenland (!). I have plannedthe trip around the world, but I haven't contacted the recipients in Europe, Africa, Asia, and Oceania to tell them they will be receiving it. One continet at a time, I guess.

    Want proof the box is on the move? Here's a pic of the FedEx guy, in the office elevator, taking the box to his truck:

    The box is on the move! Expect an update from the first Canadian recipient within a week or two.

  • Hacker Box Visits North Dakota

    Carl Smith10/09/2016 at 04:48 6 comments

    The Traveling Hacker Box recently arrived in the mostly rectangular state of North Dakota. It was full of numerous goodies that any reader of Hackaday would be interested in having.

    Here are some photos of the stuff inside:

    First we have a bunch of stickers.

    A bare BeagleLogic PCB and LCD+CapTouch board, some sort of line scan CCD board, a bunch of random components, a couple motors, and a small LCD.

    A couple of standard character LCDs and some LED assemblies.

    A TI dev board, a couple LCDs, a PIC programmer, a busted reflow oven controller, MAX7219 based dot matrix LED kits, an NXP dev board, and some other miscellaneous stuff.

    A large selection of various integrated circuits, some large green LEDs, vintage transistors.

    A bunch of small plastic boxes of integrated circuits.

    An MB Quart speaker crossover, Vivitar camcorder, Apple charger, Zune MP3 player, and a little orange rover car.

    A bunch of Geppetto Electronics PCBs. Most unpopulated. A few GPS oscillators, AVR programmers, PiPower boards, a Divide by 3 circuit.

    A panel of Crazy Clock PCBs, and an empty panel of some other small PCB. Some smart cards to go with the card reader board, a Parallax RFID reader and an RFID card. Another programmer board, a Cypress PSOC development board, some addressable LEDs wired together, a motor, and some heat shrink.

    What I took from the box:

    The Parallax RFID card reader and RFID card. I’ve never done an RFID project so I thought this would be interesting.

    The BeagleBone BeagleLogic PCB. I have a BeagleBone Black board that I haven’t done much with, so this could be an interesting project and a chance to learn more about the BeagleBone board.

    One of the Max7219 LED dot matrix kits, some stickers, three Crazy Clock PCBs (there’s 24 left), and one of the USB ISP programmers.

    One of the Geppetto Electronics GPS disciplined oscillator boards.

    What I put in the box:

    One of my favorite components for motor control or other high current designs is the IXYS IXFN200N07 MOSFET. This is not your average MOSFET. It’s rated for 70 Volts and 200 Amps. And that’s not just a theoretical die current that you can never achieve, like with these MOSFETs that claim ridiculous currents but come in a TO-220 package that can’t dissipate the heat that would be created if the leads into the part didn’t melt first. These IXYS parts come in a package called a SOT-227B, which sounds like another small surface mount package but it’s really a large block with screw terminals on the top. Not your average MOSFET.

    Someone could build a really high current H Bridge to control a motor, or maybe a high current dummy load. Bolt them to an old computer CPU heatsink and you could control a lot of current.

    I realized that not everything in the box has to be strictly electronic. So I added a small bag with an assortment of terminals. Also a few microswitches that maybe could be used as limit switches in a 3D printer or whatever motorized device ends up being controlled by those giant MOSFETs.

    I threw in a webcam PCB. It’s probably not useful for anything but I like how you can see the whole sensor chip and the bond wires.Also I threw in a couple PCBs with jacks for Left/Right audio, Composite video, and S-Video. Useful for any audio project or anything that needs a few RCA jacks.

    And last, but not least, I threw in a back light inverter board. It’s an interesting design with a novel flat transformer. Maybe someone can use or misuse it for some sort of high voltage project.

    Oh, I almost forgot that I added a nice Maxxon DC gear motor. And a couple packs of “screen wipes.” They are very nice for cleaning anything from your phone screen to camera lenses to the LCDs in the box.

    The box had been crushed a bit in shipping so I decided to reinforce it a bit. I glued a layer of cardboard to the inside sides of the box, then glued pieces in the corners for double reinforcement. It should travel better now. I had thought about replacing the box but I thought it would be...

    Read more »

  • Visit in MN

    TechGirl09/26/2016 at 16:13 0 comments

    Box hasn't changed much since last log, but here's some highlights of what I found inside:

    I took this stuff :

    And replaced it with 3 8x8 LED kits, a digispark that I can find Mint drivers for, a RTC, some 10mm LEDs, and some things that won't be surprises if you watch the video, and some others that are undocumented<wink>

    And off it goes....

  • It's on its way

    Nick Sayer08/01/2016 at 15:00 0 comments

    I was going to take some more pictures, but my wife packed the box for me (she's good at organizing). Fortunately, it all fit including my additions. We've replaced the box. It's getting heavy enough that we thought the structural integrity of a new box was a good idea. Besides, they're free.

    I schnagged the EL tape, one of the USB breakout boards for testing, and an interesting looking AVR programmer in a cool anodized aluminum case. I also made off with a couple of the stickers.

    I added a blank panel of AD8495 breakout boards, a populated panel of crazy clock controllers, a few GPS Disciplined oscillators, a brand new TCXO, a couple of USB µISP AVR programmers, a Toast-R-Reflow power board and a bunch of bare boards - GPSDOs, and an "I can reflow!" badge.

    The (new) box will be on its way to the Great Salt Lake today.

  • Back to Silicon Valley

    Nick Sayer07/29/2016 at 01:15 1 comment

    The box arrived today here at Chez Geppetto.

    This is actually going to be... a challenge... It's chock-a-bloc with... everything!

    I'm going to have to take some stuff out to make room for the additions I want to make.

    I've taken some preliminary unboxing pictures I thought I'd share, but I haven't even gotten a quarter a way down from the top. It's really an amazing trove. Everyone who has contributed so far should be congratulated.

    A very nice note from @Reenigneesrever right on top.

    3D print filament. I would not have expected that, but it totally makes sense.

    I have not seen a DIP-40 in person in... gosh... 10 years now. Since I had 1980's arcade games in the garage.

    A very beefy... stepper motor, I believe.

    A MiFi! I had one of these a while ago when LTE was brand new and I was commuting on CalTrain.

    Stickers! I'll be liberating a few of those for sure.

    That's a good one. I've seen that slogan before, but it's a cool sticker, even if it is upside-down.

    I almost missed this. It was tucked in-between the purple tension sheets (this box clearly made it close to @oshpark) and the box wall... Bare copper clad PCB stock.

    A Zune. How quaint.

    Anyway, you can see how little progress I have actually made delving into the box's secrets.

    As for the actual box itself... I feel like maybe replacing it might be a good idea at this point. Flat rate priority mail boxes are free, of course... Does anyone have any objection to the next recipient getting a fresh box?

  • Back To Portland after being in Northern Washington

    Reenigneesrever07/26/2016 at 04:13 5 comments

    Sorry for the quality of the pictures and glare, I did my best to try and control my excitement and go slow but my self control is not that great. Lots of stuff in the box and it's holding up ok. At this point the tape and labels are starting to add structural integrity to the box.

    Here is the box as it appeared at my house.

    Opened revealing all of it's secrets!

    Top layer unpacked, stickers, 3d filament, iteaduino and various IC's

    closeup of iteaduino in packaging

    trying to get closeup of some of the labels, not sure if they are what they say they are as I wasn't in the search of any IC's so I didn't pull them out to verify.

    another closeup

    next layer down, more IC's, some electrical tape, and a few USB VA testers from The IC's were in nice little plastic cases, I'm sure some room could be saved by combining these but at this point room isn't an issue so I kept them as they were.

    Another Layer down:

    Panasonic LCD, motor, verizon mifi, vintage transistors some beaglebone capes, USB FTDI cables, some audio equipment, zune player, parkflyer reciever, TI Launchpad, PIC programmer and some things I don't know.

    I have no idea what this thing is but it looks like it busted.

    A Leap VR motion controller, fitbit, TP-Link travel router, and two boxes that I will unpack in the next couple of pictures.

    smaller cardboard box

    unpacked, a couple of LCDs, motors, IC, through hole led kit?, some small completed circuit boards, I think the thing with the black plastic housing has an IR led in it like for a remote control but I am not sure.

    back of the LUMINARYMICRO LCD

    Inside the toolbox some cool printed circuit boards from WeisTek Engineering, a leaflabs maple, some clock oscillators

    Cypress PSoC 4 Prototyping Kit

    rest of the stuff from the bottom of the toolbox, capacitors, heat shrink, some more IC's circuit boards, matrix display, dip switches, motors, seven segments, stuff and a lone green led that's begging to be the eye on someones robot, one IC was off the foam and the pins are trashed, I couldn't get it back on the foam either so it's still rattling around in there. Pins on the back of 7x5 matrix display was bent as well but I think its salvageable

    What I Took!


    -USB VA Tester

    -TP-Link router

    -weird display that looks like it may have come out of some phone or network device

    -7x5 LED matrix

    -WeisTeks Numitron

    What I put in

    -EL Tape (Red and Blue)

    - El Wire White (courtesy of my local Radio Shack going out of business sale)

    - 2 x Parallex RFID readers and a rfid card

    - an old programmer that I acquired and could never find documentation on

    - Stickers

    - throwing star Lan tap PCB

    - Joe Fitz's Simple Power Analysis Tool PCB

    I appreciate the opportunity to participate in this and hope it continues to make it's way across the US and eventually overseas. I'll be shipping this out tomorrow, down the West Coast to Santa Clara, CA!

  • HackerBox visits Weistek in Portland, Oregon.

    Jeremy g.06/20/2016 at 06:28 0 comments

    I guess it's about time I did an update for the box. The box is ready to go to the next person, just waiting on some info before it can be shipped out. I like photos, so this post will have a lot of them.

    It arrived!!

    The box has definitely seen better days.

    A note from @MobileWill I enjoyed that, made it seem like you weren't just receiving a box of random bits.

    My daughters new best friend, she carries it everywhere. Thanks to who ever put the bug in there, she said she just had to have it.

    ok here is whats in the box, or at least some pics of what is in the box. There's so much stuff in there i can't begin to list everything. Massive caps, random boards, lots of dev boards, some cell phones one of which still boots up.

    more stuff.

    Sadly the large display was broken, I took it out and chucked it since there were no usable parts on it.

    Here is the stuff I took from the box.

    • MobileWill's note.
    • a USB tester created by MobileWill
    • An Ipod
    • hackaday sticker since i don't have any.
    • VisaNet card reader (pics later down, contains Z80 parts :) ).
    • mini crt view finder
    • 3d printer hotend (mine is completely toast.) thanks to who ever put that in there.
    • pSoc from cypress.
    • I haven't decided if I can fully utilize the wifi enabled light yet. I will decide before I ship the box out.

    these are the things I put in the box.

    • 8Gb zune (needs battery) plus data cable.
    • some kind of audio equipment (I really have no idea what it does. picked it up as an impulse buy at goodwill.
    • some double sided copper clad 5cmX4cm if i remember correctly.
    • a few items created by me, 2 x custom perma breadboards, 2 Attiny84A kits, two usbISP programmers flashed with the proper firmware. 1 x VFD tube.
    • 2 x uCurrent boards created by dave jones.
    • a Chinese soldering iron wand.
    • a working LCD screen with combined micro, sdcard etc. I can't remember the micro controller (my boss loves them, TI bought them out a while back and he says they killed the line, it had the best API he had ever used.)

    usbISP packaged with a 10pin to 6 pin ICSP header adapter that I also make. Sorry colors of the cases are random.

    More stuff added to the box.

    • Analog meter, should still work.
    • a fitbit (I think it needs a new battery).
    • a flight controller for a remote control helicopter
    • a USB GPS module
    • and some car key fob

    And that's about it. I tried to put back equal to what I took out. The box is pretty stuffed, I wanted to clean it out but didn't want to seem greedy. Down below are more pics of what was in the box. I also repacked some stuff into the plastic box to clear room for the other stuff. I also put some bubble wrap on top of the other screen so it would not get damaged.

    two minute taredown of the visa machine.

    The visa machine contains just about everything needed to build a z80 computer. hell it just about is in its own. just needs some tinkering.

    The other side (top side) is just the control board for the VFD display and the buttons. Ill post a log when I tinker with it.

    more stuff that was in the box. I added some of the loose objects to this box for better packing.

    This plastic box is just packed.. I also repacked this box a bit.

    This was an amazing experience to be apart of, I'd like to thank @Benchoff for allowing me to take part in the hacker box. I would love to take part in the next round. I have more things I want to put in but cant fit into this one.

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1sdonio wrote 12/17/2021 at 04:46 point

is this box still being circulated because I would be interested in adding some stuff I have in my electronics drawer. Maybe some video glasses, a small solar panel, etc. would be interested to see what it contains currently. I am in Texas if it will head this way. 

  Are you sure? yes | no

ZaidPirwani wrote 03/09/2017 at 15:24 point

so when is the box coming to Asia, I had applied and would LOVE to get this and then forward...

Am from Karachi, Pakistan

  Are you sure? yes | no

j0z0r pwn4tr0n wrote 02/20/2017 at 14:04 point - I started a new one to keep things rolling, hopefully gets some people before too long

  Are you sure? yes | no

Daniel wrote 01/31/2017 at 09:58 point

Have all the selected participants been notified? I applied (including confirming I am not dumb) and live in one of the cities that were posted, but haven't heard anything...

  Are you sure? yes | no

icemandave wrote 04/04/2021 at 08:49 point

I posted and posted was told it would never leave the usa but now checking on it again it has past me in Australia

  Are you sure? yes | no

Shawn Wilson wrote 01/30/2017 at 15:11 point

Also, the instructions say take 1 item, but the logs show people taking more than that.  It would probably make for boring logs if the box is 99% identical to the previous log.  Is it okay to take more, as long as the box stays full?

  Are you sure? yes | no

Shawn Wilson wrote 01/16/2017 at 13:55 point

We were accepted for a Canadian stop, and we're trying to plan an event that would include the box.  Since we don't know when we'll get it, we can't promote the event before receiving the box.  How long is it kosher to have it in our possession before sending it on its way?

  Are you sure? yes | no

robert.webb2 wrote 12/12/2016 at 00:47 point

I would love to have the chance of sharing in this project, Better yet, It hasn't been to Montana yet, so I would be really ecstatic & feel priviledged to have the chance to add some items to the box for others to enjoy.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Ace wrote 12/04/2016 at 01:13 point

just curious what the progress is on the box and when the international contingent get notified if they were selected?

  Are you sure? yes | no

Benchoff wrote 12/06/2016 at 02:26 point

It's heading up to canada now, and I have everything planned up until Greenland. The Greenland trip alone is going to take 4-6 weeks, so I'll do the rest of the european scheduling then.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Greg Fenton wrote 11/20/2016 at 10:16 point

Thanks for accepting me, hope I get picked as part of the UK/Europe side of things - I have a great idea for my contribution :)

  Are you sure? yes | no

kolaCZek wrote 11/13/2016 at 09:38 point

Hey guys, what about Europe? I am from Czech Republic. Lets make this project intercontinental! ;-)

  Are you sure? yes | no

Benchoff wrote 11/13/2016 at 16:37 point

Yes! We're doing every country except the US. Here's a sign up form:

  Are you sure? yes | no

LottiebotTurbo wrote 11/11/2016 at 04:45 point

hi i would love to participate in this, im gonna send  some of my coolest retro video game stuff i have designed myself

i live in California thanks, :3

  Are you sure? yes | no

John Leonardelli wrote 11/03/2016 at 17:34 point

I completed the join tab to participate in this great idea. I am in toronto so lets get it into canada and i have someone in montreal and then we can send to calgary then vancouver then boot it off to outside the usa or have it go back. How heavy is this box?

  Are you sure? yes | no

John Leonardelli wrote 11/03/2016 at 17:34 point

I completed the join tab to participate in this great idea. I am in toronto so lets get it into canada and i have someone in montreal and then we can send to calgary then vancouver then boot it off to outside the usa or have it go back. How heavy is this box?

  Are you sure? yes | no

Shulie Tornel wrote 08/02/2016 at 19:04 point

I love this project so hard. That filament needs to be labeled. What even is it? PLA? ABS? Ninjaflex? Diameter size? 

  Are you sure? yes | no

Jasmine Brackett wrote 07/19/2016 at 00:13 point

We should send out a few more stickers to be added to the box. 

  Are you sure? yes | no

tyler wrote 06/27/2016 at 04:59 point

im in utah but i travel to idaho often for work if you want it sent from there. 

I have lots of surplus electronic part, and some intefesting stuff from servers and tape backup  libraries.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Benchoff wrote 06/27/2016 at 05:00 point

either or, really. PM me (on here) and you're on the list.

  Are you sure? yes | no


[this comment has been deleted]

Benchoff wrote 06/27/2016 at 04:22 point

you're on the list.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Bob Coggeshall wrote 06/10/2016 at 21:35 point

If you send the box to me, I'll put nixie tubes in it. Really really.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Charles Morgan wrote 06/10/2016 at 14:47 point

Man does that box need to visit the great state of TEXAS!  I've got a load of goodies to add!

  Are you sure? yes | no

Rbowers0828 wrote 11/20/2016 at 03:38 point

i second that motion.

  Are you sure? yes | no

camgoucher wrote 04/28/2016 at 18:25 point

Does anyone have stickers??!!!

  Are you sure? yes | no

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