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Page history last edited by Bardus Aude 13 years, 7 months ago

What is it


SpeedMake is an event in which teams of people compete to be the first to put together an electronics kit or project. It’s actually kind of fun.


What the big deal, in fact, is


For people with intermediate and advanced skills, SpeedMake could be a good chance to play with lots of different kinds of hardware and kits that would be fun to build, but that you wouldn’t necessarily want to buy to own yourself. It might also be an easy way to pick up some hacking tricks from people with skill sets that are very different from yours.

The cost of participating in multiple SpeedMake events could be less than the cost of building a single project by yourself. Many hands also makes light work: having teammates to collaborate and bounce ideas off of could eliminate some of those “why won’t you just WORK, damn you” moments that we all know and love from projects we’ve done in the past.


For people just getting started with electronics, SpeedMake could be a relatively painless way to start out with breadboarding, soldering, multimeter usage, Arduino programming, figuring out IC specs, etc. It could also be a good way for knowledge to get transferred from more skilled hackers to beginners, for people interested in that sort of thing.


How it actually works


Below I’ve posted the rule set from the very first SpeedMake demo event, which a few brave volunteers participated in on March 2nd, 2010.



1. Each competing team will be provided with a pre-tested kit and a components list with brief descriptions of the functions of components, where necessary. In case a team gets stuck, a more comprehensive set of build notes is also provided. These build notes are, of course, encrypted.


2. Sabotaging or attempting to sabotage your opponent will result in immediate disqualification, if you’re clumsy enough to get caught.


3. The winner is the first team to attain the stated victory conditions for the kit, as determined by the judges. Completed kits will be donated to Crash Space.



A few comments on this:


Donating all kits to the space seems like the simplest solution, unless teams can arrange among themselves who among them gets the kit at the end. Also, certain kits could end up contributing significantly to Crash Space’s infrastructure (or at least components stores), and be a helpful resource to everybody, whenever anybody could make use of them.


The cryptography thing looks gimmicky, but if handled right, it could add an interesting extra dimension of strategy to a competition. If a team gets stuck, do they spend more time puzzling it out, or do they allocate more resources to cracking the build notes cipher? (The “cryptography” I was thinking of would be simple substitution codes that can be broken with nothing more than simple pen-and-paper frequency analysis.) Also, crypto stuff seems like a natural topic for Crash Space, and it kind of fits here.


It's All About the Pentiums


I’d like to sponsor another two-team demo or two, but if people end up liking this idea and want to participate in larger numbers, it will have to move to a fee model, ~ cost for members, and cost + a few bucks for the public, for any SpeedMake events that are run open to the public. As I mentioned at the first demo, I’d love to see a sort of escrow system (it might be good for classes with material requirements, too): people who want to participate in a SpeedMake event would be more likely to sign up if they could pay in advance to Crash Space, not some random guy off the street; monies would then be guaranteed refundable if the person running the competition [that’s me… – ed.] flaked out and didn’t show up with working kits on the agreed upon night. Escrow would also ensure that if people don’t show up on the night of the event, the person running the event [me again! – ed.] wouldn’t be left holding the bag for the price of the kits. At any rate, there’s lots of fun, simple kits that could be done for $5-$10 in entry fees.




From the 1st demo, it seems that competitions based on smaller kits can be run in ~ 30 min. That’s really too small for a standalone event; for these I’d like to piggyback on Tuesdays, at the end of Show and Tell, if it can be done without messing things up for Take Apart. If the idea takes off and people would like to try bigger projects, perhaps with microcontroller programming components, it could definitely be done standalone at its own time.





If you have any questions or suggestions, for those logged into the wiki, my email is under the “Bardus Aude” link at the top of this page, and of course comments are below. For everyone else, you can reach me at bee ay six one five nine at yahoo dot com. Thanks!





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