For the past three months, entrants to the Eurocircuits PCB Design Contest have been designing and working on projects created using Eurocircuits, a PCB fabrication plant based in Europe. Today is the day we find out who takes home the top spots - and a share in the €2750 prize pool!
The full announcement is available in the video above, read on to see links to all of the projects! Also note that the Social Media Prize voting is now open!
Third Place: Smart Valve - Electric Tap
In third place, winning €400 is efarm-kjsce with their custom Smart Valve project. The PCB incorporates a low-power MCU for taking soil moisture readings, triggering a valve to irrigate dry land. Where things get really smart is the incorporated LoRa module for communicating soil moisture levels to the cloud and allowing for remote triggering by the user.
Half the operation time is spent in a super low power deep sleep mode, allowing the whole unit to be powered by solar panels and lithium-ion batteries through the PCBs onboard power management system. The carefully considered scope of this project is impressive, from design right through to implementation. There was a clear idea of how the finished project would work, and it could easily be cased up and put into use as a smart agriculture device!
Second place, and €600, goes to Aeon, who designed a Smart DAQ that can send gathered sensor data to the cloud in real-time. The entire project is built upon the idea of live data acquisition and sharing. The onboard Tensilica LX7 dual-core is programmed to send data from the onboard 12/24-bit DAQs to open-source dataverse repositories.
Here's the board deployed on a piece of "Smart Asphalt," another of Aeon's projects:
It's impressive how focused this project was while retaining a great degree of customization. Yes, the idea here is open data acquisition, but given the high-quality DAQ and easy-to-program MCU, this PCB could be used in many scenarios.
First Place: Trundlebot - The Educational Robot
The overall winner of the Eurocircuits PCB competition, winning €1000, is alistair with Trundlebot. Designed as an educational tool, it's a Raspberry Pi Pico powered robot kit designed to be easy to assemble and very cheap. The PCB incorporates a stepper motor driver along with connectors for extra sensors and servos, and dual breakout lines for the Pi Pico making it super easy to mod.
Alongside the PCB, all of Trundlebot's parts are as cheap as possible by design. Other than the chassis, all of the parts are small and easy to print. You could even print the chassis if you had a 3dprinting bed big enough, but it's equally easy to cut from a piece of acrylic. Other than the PCB, all of the parts are cheap and easily available. The stepper motors used are frequently included in beginner microcontroller kits. Another small but nice touch is the addition of a felt pad as the front "wheel" further cutting down on costs.
On top of this, alistair has created a custom software library for controlling trundlebot, making it super simple to introduce to new programmers, exactly what you need when you want to get kids interested in coding and robotics! Congratulations to alistair, Aeon, and efarm-kjsce for the podium spots, but we aren't done quite yet! There's still the Sustainability and Social prizes to give out!
The Sustainability Prize: Easyflash 1cr Cartridge For Commodore 64
Alongside the podium spots, one of the extra prizes was for sustainability. This includes projects directly aimed towards environmental monitoring or power saving, along with projects designed to cut down on e-waste and pollution. The winner of the sustainability prize, and €500, is daniel-mantione with the Easyflash 1cr Cartridge For Commodore 64 project.
The Commodore 64 is a perfect example of old hardware still being used and loved, and the Easyflash format is the go-to way to distribute C64 software. To play Easyflash software on an original C64, you need it in cartridge form, and that is exactly what this project does. The project uses less materials than similar efforts, is compatible with already existing C64 cartridge cases, and was manufactured in Europe using as many European-made parts as possible, harking back to the days when Europe had a thriving computer production industry.
Congratulations Daniel, you win our €500 sustainability prize!
Social Media Prize - Chosen by You!
The first 4 winners have been announced, but the €250 Social Media Prize winner will be picked by you, the Electromaker Community. Please use this voting form to select your favorite project. The project with the highest amount of votes will win €250. The form will close at midnight on Tuesday 25th October.
Thank you to everyone who took part in this contest. It was by far the most complex contest we've ever run, and the variety of entries is incredible. We'll be back with more contests soon, but don't forget that we give away prizes every month to projects submitted to the site - will you be the next Electromaker of the Month?