8 out of the 10 Hackaday Prize finalists are powered by Atmel

Hackaday reveals the 10 finalists who are one step closer to a trip into space or some big bucks.

One simple idea can make a difference, but together we Makers can change the world. That was the premise behind this year’s Hackaday Prize, which encouraged participants to build something that matters.


As our friends at Hackaday explain:

“The problems that these projects tackle come from many different angles. Some improve safety in extreme situations by giving emergency workers the ability to detect the presence of dangerous gases, or by helping to find unexploded munitions in war-torn areas. Others make improvements in transportation by working on transportation where infrastructure is poor, and looking toward the future of electric vehicle transportation. There are projects that tackle pollution through monitoring and also by scrubbing pollutants from indoor air. Improvements in wheelchair mobility and advancements in prosthetics can transform the lives of people living with loss of function. And feeding the world can start with more automated farming options, and becoming more efficient with farming methods. These are the problems the finalists have chosen to solve with their entries.”

Now, the pool of 100 semi-finalists has been narrowed down to 10 finalists who are one step closer to walking (or flying) away with the grand prize of a trip into space or $196,883. Plus, four others will claim top prizes each valued between $5,000-$10,000. These winners will all be revealed at the Hackaday SuperConference in San Francisco on November 14th and 15th.

And guess what? There’s a pretty good chance that this year’s winner will have Atmel inside… again. We can’t say that we’re too surprised either, as eight of the last 10 are embedded with AVR or Atmel | SMART MCUs. Here they are…



This open source, automated precision farming machine and software package is designed for small-scale precision food production. Similar to 3D printers and CNC mills, FarmBot’s hardware employs linear guides in the X, Y, and Z directions that allow for tools, such as plows, seed injectors, watering nozzles and sensors, to be precisely positioned and used on the plants and soil. The unit itself is controlled by an Arduino Mega (ATmega2560) + RAMPS stack and a Raspberry Pi 2.

Eye Controlled Wheelchair


The Eyedrivomatic system takes advantage of existing eye tracking technology to enable those who have lost the use of their muscles to operate their own wheelchairs. The system is comprised of a wheelchair-mounted computer running an accompanying app and software, which is connected to a 3D-printed, Arduino Uno (ATmega328) brain box. This command center receives and inteprets the program’s requests and controls a pair of servos that drive an electronic hand to move a joystick in the user’s desired location.

Gas Sensor For Emergency Workers


Designed primarily for emergency response workers, these ‘grenade-like’ sensors can be thrown into dangerous areas to remotely report levels using their voice. With an Arduino Nano (ATmega328) at its core, each ball-shaped gadget is equipped with smoke, liquified petroleum gas and carbon monoxide sensors along with an inexpensive 433MHz transmitter for communication with any basic radio inside the potentially hazardous space.



The problem that LUKA is attempting to solve is a big one. Mindful that internal combustion engine cars pump billions of tons of pollutants into the atmosphere each year, this group of Makers hopes to provide an open source platform that’ll unlock the possibility for cost-competitive, all-electric automobiles to be built and sold locally, on a global scale. This electric vehicle is capable of achieving top speeds of around 80mph and a range of over 185 miles. Although the concept of an EV is far from new, using hub motors to power it isn’t so ordinary. What’s more, this project will introduce a revolutionary technology to the production line, reducing weight and eliminating a great deal of unnecessary parts along the way. LUKA will also help in energy storage, as your home can power LUKA or vice versa.

Portable Environmental Sensor


The uRADMonitor is able to detect pollutants in the air that otherwise go unnoticeable, ranging from toxic chemicals to radioactive dust or radon. Packed with an array of powerful sensors and an ATmega128, this handheld battery-operated device connects to the Internet via an embedded Wi-Fi module and shares readings to its global network. The online data is then used to build graph, track stats and send automated notifications when certain thresholds are reached.

Light Electric Utility Vehicle


Transportation is major issue in the developing world due to its lacking physical infrastructure, and unfortunately, off-road SUVs are outside the means of the average person. In an effort to make them more accessible to everyone, this light electric utility vehicle is capable of battling harsh environments and rugged terrain. The basic design of the vehicle is made of locally sourced components, and features a frame that can rotate at the point of articulation so that all four wheels are in constant contact with the ground. Steering is accomplished by differential motor control, while each wheel is powered by a single PMDC geared motor via a chain drive. Power comes from two large tubular gel batteries which are charged by solar panels. System control is accomplished by two Arduino Pro Minis (ATmega328) — the first handles the motor controller, the other monitors the current.



OpenBionics is an open source initiative for the development of affordable, lightweight prosthetic hands that can be easily reproduced using off-the-shelf materials and rapid prototyping techniques such as 3D printing. The fingers are constructed out of Plexiglas with silicone knuckles that are flexed by tendon cables running in sheaths and extended by energy stored in elastomeric material along their dorsal aspects. Each finger can be selectively locked in place using a differential based on the whiffletree mechanism, resulting in 16 combinations of finger positions with only a single motor. Combined with nine unique thumb positions, 144 unique grasp are possible with the prosthetic hand. Meanwhile, electronics are provided by an embedded Arduino Pro Micro (ATmega32U4).



Given the water crises affecting California, wine growers are in need of low-cost, customizable and easy-to-maintain soil moisture monitoring systems. As luck may have it, Vinduino is an accessible measurement tool for irrigation management that isn’t just ideal for cutting irrigation costs for vineyard owners, it can be just as useful for a wide range of other agricultural applications, science class experiments or even to reduce the H2O consumption of your backyard sprinklers. The system consists of moisture sensors, an Arduino handheld device for taking sensor readings, and a series of irrigation valves, water pressure sensors and data loggers for managing the irrigation system.

Congratulations to all of the 2015 Hackaday Prize finalists, especially those using our chips! As we await next month’s announcement, head over to the contest’s official writeup to see more.

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