Hackaday Prize Entry 2018

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I’ve entered RAIN Mark II in the 2018 Hackaday Prize. This isn’t the first project I’ve entered in the Hackaday Prize (I think I’ve only missed one year) but this is the first time I have a project which appears to have some traction in the competition.

At first I had very low expectations for the competition, I wasn’t sure if the project would connect with the Hackaday audience, especially the Mark II machine because it doesn’t incorporate a lot of custom electronics (especially after adopting the Clusterboard), but it’s received some positive feedback (they even wrote a featured post about Mark II and at the moment is in the running to become a finalist.

This is exciting for a number of reasons. The first is that it is confirmation that there is an audience for RAIN, even at this early stage in the project. I had intended to develop Mark II primarily as an experimental platform, something more manageable than Mark I’s stack of full-size servers. I hadn’t thought of creating a Mark II-class machine for anyone other than myself, but it seems that I may not be alone in having application for such a machine.

I’ve also received several complements on the aesthetic aspects of the project, something completely new to me.

The other reason this is exciting is that winning a prize (even simply becoming a finalist) brings prize money which could accelerate the project substantially. Minimally, reaching the semi-finals would give me everything I need to complete a prototype of the Mark II machine. Going further would underwrite work on Mark III, as well as open the possibility of producing a kit (or perhaps fully-assembled) based on the Mark II design.

I have to admit that having my own computer company is something I’ve dreamt of since childhood. It has always seemed like an impossible goal, especially to do so without the compromises associated with the typical “tech venture” process, so the idea that I could bootstrap something like this with nothing other than a compelling idea and some contest winnings is like a dream come true.

In any event it’s been worth the effort and has enforced some discipline on the project so regardless of how the contest goes, I think it was worth it.

If you’d like to help it’s not too late to like RAIN Mark II and help us reach the semifinals!

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