Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Solarbotics & BPS Spring 2013 Maker Faire Contest Winners

At the 2013 Maker Faire in San Francisco, Solarbotics and BusBoard won an “Editor’s Choice” award for giving away $2000 in BPS breadboards & proto boards with the Prizenator (see below) and our $500 giveaway contest.

Congratulations to our winners in the $500 giveaway contest.  Elizabeth from Houston, Texas (age 11) was our first place winner with her drawing of a robot unicorn.  She won $500 worth of BusBoard products of her choice.
Elizabeth's Contest Entry (Age 11)

Our second and third place winners were MV from Los Altos, CA and Kyle from Oakland, CA.  They each received $100 of BPS products of their choice.

On the contest forms, entrants could either…
a. Tell us something they would like to build.
b. Draw us a picture.     or
c. Tell us a joke.

People that just provided their name and email were entered in the random draw.

Enter the Fall 2013 BusBoard Maker Faire Contest

We are having another $500 giveaway contest for the Calgary Mini-Maker Faire on September 14-15.  The contest is open to everyone worldwide.  The draw will be on Oct 30, 2013.

You can enter in person at the BusBoard booth at the Calgary Mini-Maker Faire.  
You can enter online by downloading the BPS product list (PDF or Excel spreadsheet) and telling us what products you would like if you win the $500 prize in an email.  The list of products must add up to close to $500 (within $10).  Send your entry to sales@busboard.com .  You can either send the filled in spreadsheet, or a text list of the parts you would like.
Please go to www.BusBoard.com/contest for more information.

The BPS Prizenator

We used the BPS Prizenator to give away most of the products at Maker Faire in San Franscisco.  The Prizenator is a wearable display that shows “Stop Me! You Have Won A Prize!” and "You Have Won a Free BreadBoard!" every few minutes.  Whoever saw the display first and stopped me got a voucher for a free BB400T breadboard or SB404 Solderable PC BreadBoard. They turned the voucher in at the Solarbotics booth to collect their prize. 

The Prizenator uses an AVR-3U microcontroller board with an 4x20 character OLED display that was worn on my back.  There were also some flashing LEDs on my hat to attract attention.  The front had some examples of breadboards and Solderable PC BreadBoards to balance the weight.  The ribbon cables over my shoulders carried power and the signals from the 4 blue control buttons and LEDs on the front to the AVR on the back.

I was encouraged by how enthusiastic many of the prize winners were.  I think this is because anyone that is interested enough in electronics to notice my AVR board and look close enough to read the display is someone who would like to win free proto boards.


The BusBoard Prizenator
at the Bay Area Maker Faire 2013

For those interested in the details: The Prizenator uses an Atmel Atmega644 microcontroller on an AVR-3U board (http://kornakprotoblog.blogspot.ca/2011/03/introducing-avr-3u-dev-board-for.html) with a Newhaven NHD-0420DZW-AG5 yellow 4x20 character display (Digikey NHD-0420DZW-AY5).  I was pleased with the high-contrast display.  It was readable even outdoors in the sunny weather.

The Newhaven LED worked with the standard LCD electrical interface on the AVR-3U board.  However the LCD software needed some tweaking.  With the original character LCD software, the display showed the requested characters along with some garbage.  I found a description of the special initialisation sequence for the Newhaven display on Elco Jacob’s site (http://www.elcojacobs.com/controlling-an-oled-character-display-with-arduino/).  I was writing to the display slow enough that that the OLED/LCD timing differences weren’t an issue.  However I needed to add the “Magic undocumented make the display work instruction” 0x03 before the rest of the 4-bit mode init sequence.  I think it works because it is the top half of the Function Set command selecting 8-bit mode.  That command put the display in a known state by switching from 4-bit to 8-bit mode before the init sequence switches back to 4-bit.  Thanks Elco!

Dave & Cheryl Hrynkiw Gave Arduino Tutorials 
and Robot Demos at the Solarbotics Booth