November 22, 2019

The 2019 Hackaday Superconvention

Attendees at the LACM site work on personal projects and modify the firmware of their badges in this pop-up “hackerspace”

The Hackaday Superconference took plate this past weekend in Pasadena California. It was a highly successful event with attendees from as far away as Adelaide, Australia, and Shenzhen, China. Hackaday organized presentations, workshops, soldering contests, and a buffet of food that kept attendees happy, informed, and well-fed.

The Hackaday convention is unique among electrical engineering events in that it is an extremely inclusive event. The crowd is composed of various skill levels that range from expert to “noob” and you’ll see everything from robots built out of a cereal-box chassis to multi-axis robot arms capable of 10-micron repeatable positioning. Some folks are making their first printed circuit board while others are experienced engineers with several dozen designs under their belts.


The Hackaday crowd loves calling each other by their “handles” almost as much as they like creating and hacking their custom badges. If you follow badge design, you likely know Joe Grand (we have a youtube interview for you!). Attendees often modify their badges or create their own badges. Even if you don’t want to make a full badge, little add-ons are encouraged (and apparently expected.) At the entrance to the LACM site, there was a wall with tiny badge additions for attendees to show off their creativity.

Badges are a central theme at Hackaday Supercon. This image of the SAO Wall shows a variety of small add-ons that participants can use to augment their larger, official badges.

But those tiny badges do not do justice to this year’s badge. The Official Hackaday 2019 Supercon Badge is an FPGA based game-boy type design that attendees are not only encouraged to hack, but they are taught to hack the badges!

The Official 2019 Hackaday Supercon Badge has an FPGA that users are encouraged to program and hack.

Soldering Contest

A popular event among the Hackaday crowd is the surface-mount soldering contests. Contestants are given up to half an hour to hand solder a variety of SMT-mount parts on a PCB. The catch? The parts range in size from 1206 to 0201 in size and the soldering irons are…well….not the kind that most of us would choose for this task. This year’s winner completed the task in just under seven minutes.

Many participants ran out the clock at 40 minutes or so. They were welcome to keep working, but their scores were no longer recorded. Think about that the next time you decide to skip assembly and put your PCBs together at home. A machine can do in seconds, what a trained technician will take minutes or hours to accomplish — and the SMT machine has very few quality issues.

The SMT Challenge asks users to hand-solder a variety of common component sizes in a timed competition. This year’s winner, Fred Temperton, completed the task with no errors in 6:45. This is an actual image of Fred’s hand holding the winning printed circuit board.


That’s it for this update. You can find plenty of resources, videos, pictures, and articles about the superconference over at

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