Adam Millican

I recently went to a hackathon hosted by The hackathon itself was a little bit different to the typical hackathons I’ve been to before in the fact that it was organised as a hacking session for fun with no competition aspect. Everything went similarly to other hackathons but after showing off what you’ve built that was it, no voting and winning or losing.

It was much more relaxed, less goal orientated, and instead of a select winning team getting a prize, everyone got to keep the hardware they’d been playing with. I’m very happy with my new Raspberry Pi.

The other way in which this hackathon differed from others I’ve attended was that it was far more hardware orientated, being an internet of things based hackathon. This meant that rather than spending the whole time coding or planning what needs to be coded, half of our team spent half of the hackathon building a robotic arm and duct taping/ zip tying it to a mini robotic car that they also built.

So what did I do?

the code

I actually spent quite a while setting up Resin on my laptop and getting it connected to the Raspberry Pi. It’s fairly straightforward but some steps took a while, such as updating everything as it was setting up for the first time.

I can say that once setup, pushing changes in the form of deltas to the hardware connected on a local network was much faster – as is a large selling point of theirs!

After everything was connected I got an example project codebase for controlling this type of robotic arm and a camera, removed the parts related to the camera as it was having some kind of import issue and we weren’t trying to include a camera on it, and deployed it to the Pi controlling the robot.

putting it all together

While some of the team built a robotic arm, and I loaded the code onto the Pi, other members of the team built the car, onto which we mounted the arm. The end result wasn’t exactly pretty, with all the wires, zip ties, and duct tape, but it was mobile and we were happy with the result.


How about you? Have you built anything interesting lately, or been to any good hackathons? Let us know in the comments.

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