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Make Food Not War Hackathon Recap

I’d like to thank everyone who came out to the LVL1 Make Food Not War Hackathon this past weekend.  Without a doubt, this was the most dangerous group activity ever attempted by LVL1!

We had 6 teams participate, with 6 very innovative ways to launch food very long distances.  Team Aaron built a device to remotely launch shot glasses into half-filled pint glasses, resulting in the most entertaining Irish Car Bomb you’re ever likely to consume.  The device worked amazingly well, and was incredibly easy to use.  Props to Aaron for one of the most polished projects!  Tuesday night, we used it to lob burning alcohol through the air, for kicks.

Team Sprinkles, consisting of three people from the local science center (and our own Ben Hibben) was probably the most well-prepared team.  They had plans to build an advanced device capable of mixing flavored ice cream on-the-fly, and freezing it with liquid nitrogen.  The ice cream would then be launched from an automatic ballista.  Unfortunately, the ice cream mixing robot didn’t quite get finished, and the automated portion of the ballista broke during the demonstration, but they still hurled ice cream over 100 feet, and tossed the shaft for their projectile on the neighbor’s roof (4 stories!)  And the ice cream was delicious!

Team Muff Cannon (the only all-woman team) built a fantastic muffin cannon.  Powered by exploding ether, their pink hello-kitty adorned cannon managed to launch a muffin over 150 feet, and it remained intact!  They also experimented with a very entertaining waffle flinger, which threw waffled onto parked cars, and the roof of a nearby building.

The Bomb Squad started the evening with a bang, burning up teflon wire and bulging a fully-charged lithium-ion battery in an attempt to bake a cupcake. Their plans changed from flying a helicopter ez-bake-oven, to integrating the cupcake into a miniature Up! house.  Unfortunately, at launch time they weren’t able to achieve neutral buoyancy without cutting off some critical components.  As soon as they did, the wind carried their (tethered!) house straight into the power lines!  A few well-placed tugs, and the cupcake came back down, but not without some worry among the crowd.

Team Pat created a powerful martini shooter.  Although it only took him 2 hours to put it together, it managed to fling food the furthest, reaching over 300 feet, at high velocity.  In fact, the aluminum bottle he used to store his libation was destroyed on impact, and very little martini was left!  He also created a smaller olive shooter, which served to atomize the olives, more than shoot them.  Still, very impressive, from both a danger and a distance perspective!

Finally, the idea that spawned the hackathon so many months ago: The taco cannon.  Long a dream of many LVL1ers, it became a reality this weekend.  A taco shell is loaded into a carrier at the muzzle, pulled back by a powerful magnet, and a screw-driven hopper dumps taco ingredients into the shell.  The ingredient-door is sealed, and the weapon is fired, propelled by the same mechanism (but bigger!) as the Muff Cannon.  Unfortunately, the blast door wasn’t as secure as it should have been, so upon ignition, vaporized taco ingredients showered the crowd!  Still, a very tasty weapon, with a lot of future potential.  Next year, guys?

We had two teams tie for first place: Team Sprinkles and Team Aaron.  Well done to both of you! They split the first and second place trophies, cutting them in half and gluing them back together!

Trailing them (but only barely!) was Team Muff Cannon, taking home the third place plaque.

Once again, thanks to everyone that participated in this second 24 hour hackathon.  We’ve seen great success with the past two hackathons, and we hope to continue the tradition.  Start thinking about next years hacks, along with ideas for future hackathons!  What could be better than combing sleep deprivation with power tools and explosives?

There are many dozens of pictures on our flickr feed, so please browse through to see more of the hard work these guys put in! http://www.flickr.com/photos/lvl1/

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