Hacktastic Days (and Nights) at Betaspring

What do you get when you cross a hot wired pint glass with a very hungry hippo? A sweet Saturday night with people who, in the good name of creation, aren't afraid to bust a dremel or (temporarily) wear out a MakerBot. Such was the scene at this weekend's Digital Meets Physical Hackathon.

About 50 people joined over the two days, with hackers, sponsors, technical advisors, and cheerleaders, keeping our office buzzing until the wee hours on Saturday and into the afternoon on Sunday. Our partners--Netduino, GreenGoose, Kipp Kits, Taylor Box and the AS220 Labs did not disappoint, providing us with tools, toys and resources that made it easy to build and experiment.  

DJ Lively Experiment deserves a special tip of the hat for keeping the tunes spinning for a solid 24 hours. Big props to Betaspring mentor and O'Reilly editor Brian Jepson who stayed into the night to provide clutch technical assistance and to AS220's James Rutter, who manned the machines...and used the Lab's 3D printer to fabricate the winner's trophy.

Delivering another proof point for the general awesomeness of geeks, Joe Flaherty was kind enough to bring his MakerBot down from Nashua, New Hampshire, offering demos and project help to anyone who wanted to make a 3D print.

Several cool projects were on display when the solder smoke settled and the sun rose on Sunday.  It was a tough decision, but judges Allan Tear, Netduino creator Chris Walker and Kipp Kits' Kipp Bradford picked a few projects that shone. 

Local engineer Topher Brown won the Hardcore Prize after staying all night (and in his green plaid PJs) to craft a systems-monitoring device out of an old tail light.  

Damian Ewens, Patrick DeSantis and Ramsey Abouzahra won Most Ambitious Project for contemplating and making strides toward bringing Providence's "Superman" building to life through music-activated lights.

Who was crowded "Hackathon Champion?"  Sneaking up from behind for the big win was Swipely engineer Matt Gillooly, who hacked a Hungry Hungry Hippos game board to enable 'competitors' to play remotely with each other by button mashing a space bar. Proving that you can do anything with a paper clip, a solenoid and a few lines of code, Matt turned "Sweetie" (the pink hippo on the board) into an internet-driven chomping machine, complete with blinking LED lights that let the user gloat when Sweetie wins the game. 

The Betaspring team also completed a hack, creating a silent doorbell that uses a Netduino and a GreenGoose sensor-activated door knocker to send a tweet to staff when someone is at the door.

Thanks to everyone who came for the weekend and to the local media outlets that helped share the news--that's you Providence Journal, WRNI, GoLocal Prov, CW28, boston.com, Providence Phoenix and WJAR 10.  

We're looking forward to having another hack in a few months!