Wednesday, September 21, 2011

An Intro to Hardware Hacking for CS folk. A Prelude with µWave

I'd like to start off this post with a big thanks to the PennApps team. They put together a fantastic hackathon last weekend, with 40 teams developing crazy apps in only 48 hours. I was fortunate to be a part of one of those teams, and we worked on a project called µWave. µWave is a microwave (how punny is that name) that we hacked to figure out how long you are cooking food and to transmit that data over HTTP. A server then uses that information to find a YouTube video of suitable length to play for you while you wait, and to @mention you in a tweet and text you when that food is ready. I am happy to report that this project won the competition, which is especially cool since it was the only hardware hack around. While we µWave creators are a team of electrical engineers (except for me the computer engineering student), I refuse to believe that you need a EE degree to tinker with electronics and devices. The next post will introduce microcontrollers, the bridge between hardware and software development. In a later post, we can discuss how to work with analog and digital signals to interact with different devices.

TL;DR prelude: CS people can (and should) hack hardware too. Let's talk about it.

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