The 2022 Hackaday Prize continues to hurtle along, with two of the five Challenges already in the rear-view mirror. While we’re naturally excited about every phase of this year’s contest, we’ve got particularly high hopes for what the community can do with this third Challenge: Hack it Back.
It’s a simple formula: find some outdated and disused piece of gear, spruce it up, and keep it out of the landfill. But extending the lifetime of consumer hardware is only one side of the coin, by upgrading and modifying something instead of buying an off-the-shelf replacement, you also turn the mundane into something unique and personal. But of course, we hardly have to explain the benefits to you fine folk — this is the sort of bespoke engineering we see on a nearly daily basis here at Hackaday. The difference now is that there’s cash prizes on the line.
So if there’s an old iPod collecting dust in your desk, perhaps now is the time to replace its guts with some modern silicon and teach it a few new tricks. Sure a brand-new robotic vacuum might be nice, but you could save yourself some money by picking up a second-hand Roomba and tucking an ESP8266 onboard. Got a nice piece of test equipment that predates the handy data export functions we take for granted these days? You might need to use the nuclear option and skim the desired data right off the unit’s LCD controller. We could spend all day pulling examples from the archives, but you get the picture.
What’s that you say? You aren’t the type to be seduced by shiny new features? Happy to keep things local while others ship it all off to the cloud? You’ll get no complaints from us, and that’s why the Hack it Back Challenge also recognizes repairs that simply put a piece of gear back into service. But don’t be fooled, as fixing something can often be harder than rebuilding it from scratch.
When you’ve got to crack out the x-ray machine to find all the damaged traces on a decades-old PCB, only to then tediously replace them all with microscopic bits of wire, you may find yourself wondering what you’ve done to anger the Keeper of the Magic Smoke. On the other hand, plenty a gadget has been disabled due to nothing more exotic than a single bad solder joint. In either event, there’s a certain sense of satisfaction when you can return a literal piece of history to working condition.
Ready to put your hardware-reviving skills on display? Just head over to Hackaday.io, make a new project page, and get hacking. But don’t wait too long, you’ve only got until July 24th to enter the Hack it Back Challenge and stake your claim on one of the ten $500 awards up for grabs.