Free Stuff, May–December 2015

The Great Scott Gadgets team has been hard at work sorting through all the Free Stuff requests for 2015, and now we are finally ready to announce the winners for May through December. We've had many interesting submissions, and we've enjoyed learning about all the ideas you have had for open source projects and education. After much discussion and some tough decisions, we've chosen the following seven individuals and groups to receive free hardware from Great Scott Gadgets.

Open Source Project: Universal Drone API Generator

Richard Doell wrote to us requesting a HackRF One for a project idea he is working on. We were intrigued by the project, and very excited to hear that it is going to be open source. Richard has a background in robotics and computer vision, and he wants to create a universal automatic drone API generator for hobbyists and robotics junkies that will allow remote control vehicles to be controlled from a computer using GNU Radio. His HackRF One will enable him to collect data from the RC vehicles' transmitters. Keep us updated about the progress of your project, Richard!

Information Security Workshops

Stefan Hessel (of the blog Causa Finita) is a security expert who works at the Department of Law and Informatics at Saarland University in Germany. After work, he gets involved in his community through an IT working group, offering free classes at a local clubhouse that help beginners develop skills and knowledge in the areas of Internet safety and security. Stefan asked us to donate a HackRF One to help him teach the basics of SDR to the people who attend his classes and to demonstrate ways that attackers could gain access to private data through hardware hacking. Thanks Stefan, for sharing your expertise and using your workshops to bring awareness to these issues.

Liquid Fueled Rocket Building

Let's Build Rockets is a talented group of young amateur engineers who are designing and building a flyable, liquid-fueled rocket. This has proved challenging because currently most of the commercially available model rocket engine systems and electronics components are designed for solid-fueled rockets. Therefore they have had to design, manufacture, and test all of the system's components themselves. They are planning to use their free HackRF One as a receiver in the downlink portion of the rocket's control system, the design of which is based on the Copenhagen Suborbitals Sapphire Telemetry System. The downlink transfers mission data from the accelerometer, gyroscope, altimeter, compass, GPS, pressure and temperature sensors of the engine and fuel tanks, and atmospheric temperature sensors to a ground control station. Eric Simms wrote to us on behalf of Let's Build Rockets, saying:

“The communication that the HackRF enables will help us recover the rocket after the launch and analyze potential failure points. After doing lots of research, the HackRF is the most accessible receiver we've found, requiring the least amount of additional hardware and providing opportunities for future expansion.”

Let's Build Rockets is publishing all of their design files, code, and test data on github so that others can benefit from their learning and experience. We're excited to support this awesome, educational, open source project. Rocket on!

Emergency Communications

The Wantagh-Levittown Volunteer Ambulance Corps is a dedicated group of paramedics and dispatchers who provide emergency services to their community by answering 911 calls. While each ambulance in their facility has its own radio, this small nonprofit organization has had a difficult time finding the funds to invest in a radio for communications training. Their free HackRF One will enable them to receive and decode multiple simultaneous transmissions on their county's radio system. Mark Tomlin, Chief of Operations, wrote to us saying,

“Communications are vital in EMS, just as important as the vital signs of the patient themselves. Missing information from an incomplete report can be devastating to a patients outcome. Presenting ones self to the doctor correctly on the other end of the radio can be the difference in getting the order for the medication or not. These are things that can only come with experience. We now have the opportunity to present our experience to those who were not physically present at the time of notification. This should greatly improve the time it takes a new provider to get up to speed on medical control notifications.”

We are happy to put a free HackRF into the hands of someone who can use it to make the world a better place. It's very satisfying knowing that somewhere in New York, a HackRF One is enabling communication that could save lives.

MIT Splash Program

Every November, high school students from around the country and even around the world come to MIT for a program called Splash. It is a weekend where they can engage in unique and valuable learning experiences that are unavailable in a normal classroom setting. Riley Drake wrote to us asking for a HackRF One for a Software Defined Radio course he is planning to teach at Splash 2016, which will cover topics such as Digital Signal Processing, Decibels, Data Types, Sample Rates, Negative Frequencies, Quantization Error and Complex Numbers in Digital Signal Processing (course structure mirrors Michael Ossmann's online lessons). Having a HackRF One available for the class will allow students to run their code on a real radio and promote a discussion of the legal and regulatory issues of SDR. Good luck with your class Riley, and please send us pictures! We'd love to know how it goes.

Soldering Workshops

Hacklab Almeria is a growing group of developers and enthusiasts in Spain that are learning and collaborating together. When they first wrote to us in October of 2015, they had 30 members, but when we contacted them last month that number had increased to 50. Jesus Marin Garcia asked for several Throwing Star LAN Tap Kits for a workshop the group are offering to their newer members on electronics fundamentals and soldering. Spread the word, and good luck with your workshop!

OpenWebRX Support

András Retzler is the developer of a remote spectrum monitoring solution called OpenWebRX that gives users access to multiple SDR receivers worldwide. We gave András a free HackRF One, which he is using to improve support for that project. If you haven't already seen OpenWebRX, you should certainly check it out—it's really cool. He also plans to use his HackRF One to serve as a test station for another of his open source projects, qtcsdr, an open source amateur radio transceiver design using a Raspberry Pi 2 as a transmitter and an RTL-SDR as a receiver. As a company that is built on open source principles, we are very enthusiastic about supporting open source projects, and we are especially happy to help András with OpenWebRX.

Thanks again to everyone who has sent us a free stuff request. We are almost all caught up now, and we will announce winners for the first few months of 2016 soon. If you have an idea for a project using Great Scott Gadgets hardware and could benefit from free stuff, don't hesitate to tell us about it. If you don't ask, we can't say yes!