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The element14 community finds innovation in the thrift store with the ‘Upcycle it’ design challenge


Winners submitted innovative designs giving new life to retro items

element14, the world’s largest electronic design community, has announced winners of it’s ‘Upcycle it’ design challenge.  Sponsored by Intel®, element14 challenged 15 community members to Upcycle an unwanted or waste product to give it a new or enhanced lease of life.

The application areas for this challenge and ability to use unlimited components to complete an original electronics-based project offered true design freedom, an opportunity that the challengers did not turn down.

The top three entries are:

  • Grand Prize Winner Carmelito Andrade from the United States, upcycled a mirrored clock into a truly functional household IoT Hub, using the Intel Edison to help users prepare for their day ahead. The clock provides an update on the weather, temperature, and traffic, as well as presenting new emails and even the latest news from social media.  The judges were impressed with the use of fabrication techniques used, such as 3D printing, to incorporate new technology whilst maintaining the retro look of the clock.
  • Runner Up, Jason Wier, also from the United States upcycled the APC AP9211, a Power Distribution Unit (PDU) produced in 1999 into a functional modern IoT Power Distribution Unit. He used the Intel Edison to host a custom, responsive web interface which controls the PDU relays from a wireless, handheld device.  The unit also communicated with his home hub to manage temperature and lights and displayed graphs of the captured data.  The judges felt that Jason designed a highly marketable project that they could see on the shelves of their local electronics store.
  • Third Place Winner, Gerrit Polder from the Netherlands upcycled Electomatic’s Impulszähler EZK impulse counter into a web scraping value display device.  Although the data displayed was relatively simple, the method for gathering and displaying information really caught the judges’ imagination.  He used the Intel Edison to find and display time, date, temperature, humidity and pressure, scrape and display blog ‘views’ and ‘likes’ and make the display speak with a connected Wireless Bluetooth speaker.

Dianne Kibbey, Global Head of Content and Community, element14 said: “The Upcycle it design challenge has been really exciting to watch.  We were delighted to see so many innovative ideas come through, upcycling retro items with electronics to serve a purpose in the 21st century – and proving that upcycling is not just about furniture and art.   I am constantly inspired by the ideas that come up, and also through the sense of community that these design challenges create as our members support each other on their journeys.”

Entries were judged on originality, innovation and technical merit by a panel of judges including experts from Intel® and element14.  The winners posted blogs and videos during the competition and you can find out more about their individual projects by visiting

Engineers and makers inspired to get involved in a design challenge should visit the element14 community to enter ‘IoT on Wheels’, sponsored by ST Microelectronics, where they can demonstrate the power of IoT-connected transport solutions by creating a prototype that shows how current technologies can make today’s vehicles safer, smarter and more efficient.Initial entries are open until 14th August.

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