Wednesday, 12 May 2010

The Idea

I had an idea for a competition, much like a Great Egg race but a bit more technical in nature. I through I'd see if anyone fancied taking part or if it should be restricted to idle musings over the tea table.

The basic idea involves teams, a large room and some very very long tables. Each team has a table and at each end of the table is a RS-232 serial connection. One end has a button. When the button is pressed, a number of bytes are sent out of the serial cable. All of the bytes must be received, in order, by the other serial connection, within a specified time limit.

The most trivial solution is a really long cable. This will score you no points. The more insane the mechanism by which data gets from one end to the other, the better. The winner would be selected by a judge with some notional scoring method, e.g. extra points for every trip up and down the OSI stack.

Teams prepare in advance and bring their own tech on the day. I imagine the event would take most of a day.

Ideas so far include:
  • Operating a keyboard using Lego pneumatics to select checkboxes on a HTML form, the submission of which returns a QR code image which is printed and then read and decoded using a camera and a micro.
  • Using meccano to fire tennis balls into one of two buckets, indicating 1s and 0s - some ball return mechanism obviously required.
  • Creating a custom Quake map where each enemy has some notional 'bit' value and a bot program runs around shooting people in the correct order. A program sits in on the server log and keeps track of the score to generate the bit stream. If the bot involves a camera, some image recognition and a Bluetooth mouse emulator, so much the better.
  • Using an old Commodore 64 to convert between the joystick input (more lego?) and tones over the audio output. Or perhaps you could put a 3.5mm to tape adaptor in a Datasette.
  • All of the above.

Perhaps people could drop me a comment if they'd like to take part or have any suggestions (maybe it's been done before?) and we'll go from there.