First Limerick Hackathon – Sat 21 November, Fab Lab, Limerick

limerick-hackathonThe first Limerick Hackathon will take place on Saturday 21st November.  Thanks to the Fab Lab on Patrick St for donating their space. The theme of the hackathon will be Arduino-based hardware projects.

You can register for the hackathon, read about who should attend, or check below for latest updates.

Thanks to everyone who attended the first Limerick Hackathon

Despite the cold outside we had a fun day today at the first Limerick Hackathon. Projects included:

  • A ‘panic button’ to send SMS messages, powered by a NodeMCU
  • A light-based clock based on the Fibonacci sequence
  • Repurposing an old rotary telephone
  • A servo-based rotary plotter
  • Music effects driven by an ultrasonic sensor and other inputs

The consensus was that we will try and run another hackathon some time in early 2016. Thanks to Ger Walsh at the Fab Lab for facilitating us on the day.

You can like our Facebook page where we will be discussing what to do for the next Hackathon.


Timetable for first Limerick hackathon

The hackathon will form a basic hackathon format with introductions and descriptions of project ideas, forming into groups based on those project ideas, hacking and then a show and tell at the end.

10am – Introductions

Everyone will introduce themselves and optionally describe a project idea that they would like to invite others to join.  Some people attending the hackathon will be bringing their own ideas for projects that they want people to join, and others will be looking to join a group.

10:20am forming into groups

People will join the group with the project idea that interests them most.

10:30am-5:30pm – Hacking!

Lunch will not be provided so teams are free to grab lunch locally, or get pizza delivered…

5:30pm Presentations

Each group will informally present their work to the rest of the hackathon.

6pm (optional) Pints!

The Arduino starter kit to beat all starter kits

fullkitThanks everyone for registering for the hackathon! The good news is that our orders from China have started coming in.  We ordered from a number of different suppliers to keep us under customs limits and also to avoid being dependent on one supplier delivering in time.  We previously posted a complete list of what we ordered.

First to arrive was an Arduino starter kit.  And what a starter kit – over 70 components.  The kit was unbelievable value – the only problem is there is no documentation at all with it, and even the website doesn’t give much of an indication what each component is.

We’ve sorted through each component and listed them below.  We have given links to the individual component on the seller’s site – sometimes this gives useful information and sometimes it doesn’t.

Two components (RFID module and the LCD display) need header pins soldered to the boards, we will have to wait until our soldering iron arrives to play with them.

Small components


  • Breadboard with 63 rows, 10 columns and 2 power lanes on each side

Top row:

  • Temperature sensor LM35DZ link
  • IR receiver VS1838 link
  • IR LED Forward current 100mA, wavelength 940nm link
  • 3 x photoresistors 5528 link
  • 2 x tilt/ball switches (possibly SW-520D – link)
  • 4x push button switches
  • 1 x B5K rotary potentiometer (possible link)

Bottom row:

  • Buzzer 5v link
  • Another buzzer? (2 terminals, marked + and -)
  • 5 x red LED
  • 5 x blue LED
  • 5 x yellow LED
  • NXP 74HC595N Shift Register (to up to 8 outputs from 3 pins on your Arduino – see example)
  • 5 x 1k resistor
  • 5 x 10k resistor
  • 8 x 220k resistor



  • 4 digit 7 segment display marked KYX-5461AS link
  • single 7 segment display marked 5161A5 link
  • 8×8 RGB LED array marked 1588BS link
  • 3-colour LED module



  • Temperature/humidity sensor link
  • Sound detection sensor with analogue and digital modes link
  • Water/rain sensor link
  • RFID sensor RC522 + card + keyring (needs header pins soldering) link



  • 4 x 4 switch keypad link
  • IR remote (needs CR232 battery) link
  • XY joystick (analogue) link



  • Stepper motor + driver board ULN2003 link
  • Servo motor  link



  • 16×2 character LCD with I2C adapter (adapter needs soldering) link
  • 5v relay module link
  • Real-time clock DS1302 (needs CR2032 battery) link
  • 9v battery adapter
  • Jumper wires male-female and male-male
  • Header connector pins

And finally…


  • An Arduino Uno board

Now to have some fun playing around with this stuff!

Slow boats from China – our list of equipment

We pooled some cash together to order some boards, sensors, shields and other bits so that we would have some things to work on.  We ordered from – shipping takes a very long time from China but the items are unbelievably cheap.  Bear in mind that if you order from a supplier outside the EU there are potentially import duties to be paid over certain thresholds – this post on summarises the rules well.

If you do have any bits lying around the house please bring them – we added a field to the registration form so you could let us know what you’re bringing, we will post a list of gear closer to the date so you’ll know what will be available.

Here’s what we ordered:


  • 4 x Arduino Uno R3 boards
  • Arduino Uno R3 starter kit
  • Linkit ONE Development Board (this was a bit expensive but is quite nifty – it is an Arduino board with built-in Wifi, Bluetooth, GSM/GPRS, SD card and GPS)
  • Blueduino mini Arduino board with built in Bluetooth 4.0


  • 2 x WiFi shields
  • 3 x Bluetooth shields


  • 2 x ultrasonic
  • A sensor multipack with 37 different sensors: Small passive buzzer, 2-color LED module,  Hit sensor, Vibration switch, Photo resistor, Key switch, Tilt switch, 3-color full-color LED SMD module, Infrared emission sensor, 3-color LED module, Mercury open optical module, 2-color LED module, Active buzzer module, Automatic flashing colorful LED module, Mini magnetic reed module, Hall magnetic sensor, Infrared sensor receiver, Bihor magnetic sensor, Magic light cup module,  Rotary encoder module, Optical sensor, Heartbeat detector, Reed module, Obstacle avoidance sensor, Hunt sensor, Microphone sound sensor, Laser sensor, 5V relay module, 3x Temperature sensors, Linear magnetic Hall sensor, Flame sensor, Sensitive microphone sensor, Temperature and humidity sensor, XY-axis joystick, Metal touch sensor
  • RFID sensor


  • Stepper motor + driver board
  • 3 x LCD screens for text output
  • numeric LCDs

Other bits

  • Soldering iron
  • Multimeter
  • 9v Battery adapters
  • 3 x RS-232 adapters (for connecting to anything with a serial port)
  • Breadboard jumpers

Getting started with Arduino

If you’ve never messed around with an Arduino board, but would like to attend the hackathon, it’s fairly straightforward to get started over a few evenings. All you need to buy is:

  1. An Arduino starter kit
  2. (optionally) a decent book or two

The language is vanilla C – so if you’ve ever programmed with a C-style language such as Java, PHP, Perl, Objective-C etc. you should feel right at home.

We suggest buying a book primarily because the easiest way to get an Arduino starter kit is to go down to Maplin on Childers Road.  Here’s the link to their starter kit.  Unfortunately we didn’t think much of the book that was included in the kit, it is (badly) translated from German and there are some mistakes in the sample projects.

A good book to get started is the Make: Getting Started with Arduino: The Open Source Electronics Prototyping Platform (Amazon UK link) which is written by one of the Arduino founders. If you’d like to browse for ideas or look at more advanced projects we liked the Arduino Cookbook from O’Reilly.  We will have electronic copies of both books at the Hackathon.

Who should attend the hackathon?

The hackathon is aimed at programmers who want to get together with other programmers to hack for fun.

You don’t need to be an expert in Arduino, but we do ask that people have some familiarity by at least downloading the IDE and running a few small projects on their Arduino board.  We have added a post suggesting some resources for getting started with Arduino.