In their words: Benefits of the world’s biggest engineering community
Hackster.io and element14 help hardware developers innovate
In the summer of 2018, Avnet celebrated a major milestone: 1 million community members across Hackster.io and element14. As a project-based site, Hackster enables anyone to jump feet first into hardware through knowledge sharing, as well as contests and tutorials. The discussion-based element14 attracts emerging and experienced engineers alike, who solve each others’ technical and design challenges while working on tests and competitions around new or emerging technologies.
To join in on our milestone celebration, five hardware developers participated in our social media contest and shared a bit more about themselves, their projects and how the communities helped them #reachfurther.
About Varadaraju: After studying electronics and communication engineering, Varadaraju completed an embedded systems course in Bengaluru, India. Now, he’s interning as a developer for DSP Group.
About the Project: In his final year, he thought of the idea for his highlighted project: Magic Gloves. It’s a sign language translation product that uses a flex sensor to detect hand gestures, enabling “users to display English characters specified for the particular shape of a hand” Varadaraju explained. By leveraging the knowledge in Avnet’s communities around the Arduino Uno, as well as peripherals such as the accelerometer for interfacing, flex sensors for hand gestures and ZigBee as the trans-receiver, he was able to create “a glove that helps people with hearing disabilities as a communication bridge.”
About the Communities: “I am happy to be a part of the 1 million Avnet community members,” Varadaraju said, “because they connect all the like-minded people from all over the world.”
About Marcel: As a contractor at embedded systems companies in the Netherlands, Marcel tests hardware, software and firmware for various peripherals and systems. In his free time, he works on his own hobby projects, making embedded software applications and playing with Arduino boards.
About the Project: For the last three years, Marcel has been active on Hackster, where his previous projects included a variety of microcontrollers, sensors and software languages. “It is always informative and fun to work with new types of hardware and Hackster gives me the opportunity to use different hardware through their contests,” Marcel said, noting this was crucial in creating his variety of projects from an infinity mirror to a person recognizer and object detection. “With the help of Hackster.io, I got the opportunity to use a Walabot sensor—a 3D imaging sensor based on RF” and Marcel implemented this sensor in his project to detect objects as well as people.
About the Communities: “The community even pushed me to learn about writing Android applications, which talks with Bluetooth to Arduino and Raspberry Pi boards,” Marcel said. “I learned a lot by making those projects and that is my spirit to Reach Further in the future.”
About Lahcen: Lahcen works as an electrical engineer, also living in the Netherlands, spending his spare time with hobby projects in embedded electronics and keeping up to date with the latest technical news.
About the Project: After being presented with an engineering problem at school to sort Lego blocks by color and size, Lahcen created the idea for the sorting device. Then, he had to build it. “I was then responsible for writing software in C ++ to drive a stepper motor and it was my first time using one,” Lahcen said. “So I looked at element14 community and there I found datasheets on stepper motors and also found example software code to drive a stepper motor using a H bridge.” This was the basis for the eventual sorter motor. Lahcen continued: “I had formulas built in my software so that I can give an angle in degrees and rotation direction where the motor has to go, then the software calculates how many steps the stepper motor must move to get to the right position.”
About the Communities: Lahcen joined element14 all the way back in 2011. “Since that time, I follow projects in the element14 community and when I have questions I put it on the community. There is undoubtedly someone who has an answer, and when I see that someone has a question and I know the answer I’m gladly to help them to come to a solution.”
About Oliver: Oliver is a physics student at the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom who has “been interested in electronics and making projects for a long time, competing in a national robotics competition at school and launching high altitude balloons at university.”
About the Project: Creating an air quality device with a Raspberry Pi? No problem. Oliver’s Particulater “is designed to be cheap enough for anyone to use,” according to Oliver. “The intention is that everyone would carry this device around, be able to view their data and then use it to be able to avoid polluted areas.” He describes how the Particulater measures “the concentration of particulate matter in the air. Particulates are produced by engine exhausts, as well as aerosols and the combustion of wood and coal. These readings are then transmitted over the cellular network to an IoT platform … The intention was that my device would raise public awareness of a growing health concern all across the world and allow individuals to reduce their exposure. Hackster has moved me towards this ambition.”
About the Communities: “I was able to create my project thanks to the free hardware provided through the Hackster competitions,” Oliver noted. “Hackster helped me to realize how many people are already interested in air quality and want to make their own devices. I gave a presentation on my project at Pylondinium and it was great to see people from the conference going on to use my write-up themselves.”
About Arnab: Arnab is an engineering student with a deep passion for bio-inspired robotics and their applications in military, defense and aerospace applications.
About the Project: Arnab’s project was a quadruped robot that could support military fleets in extreme conditions. “I took inspiration from nature to build the robot,” Arnab said, which was part of the differentiator between his and other project’s in the DRDO robotics championship where Arnab reached India’s top 30.
About the Communities: “The Hackster community helped me in optimizing some parts of the code in this project,” Arnab said of his early community experience. “From then, I became a regular follower of the community. I’ve been greatly enriched by Hackster.”