PCB trophies for your Hackathon

During the past couple of years I have been involved in a couple of Hackathons, mainly as a member of the jury as well as the overall organization. One of the most fun tasks was creating the trophies for the winning team.

At first, the trophies were completely made up of 3D printed parts. Specifically, there was a circular base with the competition’s insignia along with a top piece which was often inspired by the theme of the Hackathon, e.g. autonomous vehicles.

Unfortunately this approach is rather time consuming. Α couple of days were required to print all the parts with my slow printer and some hours to assemble them. To make things worse, super glue is rather messy and my fingers would be full with it for some days following the assembly. Not cool! Additionally, the trophies were merely aesthetically pleasing, lacking any functionality or hackability. Something essential-to-have when talking about a Hackathon!

Solving these problems was ultimately easy: Create a PCB trophy or to be more precise, a trophy-shaped PCB!

A very simple circuit was implemented, i.e. an ATTiny85 microcontroller, a coin cell battery, a tactile button and a buzzer. The microcontroller plays an RTTTL tune, same as the ones found on old Nokia phones, before going into deep sleep. The button is attached to the reset pin of the ATTiny85. Once it is pressed the microcontroller restarts, thus exiting its deep sleep. Very simple logic and pretty much all required code was either found online (i.e. playing the RTTTL tune) or from older projects (i.e. going into deep sleep). Moreover, there is a “label” area on the bottom, which is intended for the Hackathon organizers to write the winning team’s name.

The tune selected for the winners was the Rocky movie theme song. Check out how it sounds in the video below.

You should be able to easily modify the PCB using Eagle CAD to customize the text on the trophy to your liking as well as the Arduino code to play a tune of your choosing. You will find all the necessary software and hardware under an open source license on the project’s GitHub page.

The PCB trophies were first used at the C&SE Hackathon of 2018, organized by the Software Engineering and Computer Engineering BSc programs of Gothenburg University in Sweden. 45 students developed their prototypes for two full days and in the end Team 404 emerged as the winners! They created a universally understood mobile application (no text!) to prepare patients for the Emergency Room in hospitals around the world.

Here it should be noted that PCBway once again proved their support to their maker scene by sponsoring the event and gifted the trophy boards.

If you are not planning to change the design of the trophies, as they are already pretty much generic, I suggest you order the boards from PCBway. Since the copper on the edge of the boards should be exposed, which apparently is not the most standard thing to do, just double check with the fabricating service that the boards will turn out as intended, before the production begins.

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