RS Components has announced the winners of its DesignSpark chipKIT Challenge, an online competition launched to encourage energy-efficient electronics design for embedded system applications. Engineers, students and hobbyists from around the world were invited to produce an open source energy-efficient and eco-friendly solution based on the Arduino-compatible chipKIT Max32 development platform from Digilent, which features Microchip Technology’s 32-bit PIC32 microcontroller. All entries were required to include an extension card developed using RS’ DesignSpark PCB software tool with code compiled using Microchip’s MPLAB IDE software.

Cash prizes worth a total of $10,000 have been awarded to eight projects, with the top three designs receiving $5000, $3000 and $1000 respectively, and a further five honourable mentions awarded $200 each. All applications were judged on the level of energy efficiency and the quality of the extension card’s PCB design.

First prize went to Dean Boman of the USA for the ‘Energy Monitoring System’, which produces real-time electrical energy usage data to enable homeowners to make informed energy usage decisions. The system hosts a web server that provides a web page with the current energy usage on a circuit-by-circuit basis and interfaces with the overall home automation system so that long term monitoring and logging can be accomplished.

Second prize was awarded to Raul Alvarez Torrico of Bolivia for the ‘Home Energy Gateway’, which monitors energy consumption by communicating with smart devices in a home area network using low cost RF transceivers and/or Zigbee. The server collects the data and provides information, statistics and use profiles of every smart device in the home.

Third prize winner was Graig Pearen of Canada for the ‘PV Array Tracker”, a deluxe 2-axis solar array tracking controller that will move a PV array to track the sun’s apparent path across the sky. Features include automatic snow dump, collecting daily/monthly/annual statistics such as sunny, hazy, and cloudy intervals, ambient and PV, and minimum/maximum temperatures.

Honourable mentions went to Jaromir Sukuba in Slovakia for the Handheld PIC18 IDE, John Schuch in the USA for the Wireless Mesh Network Time Server, Ian Johnson of the UK for the MPPT Boost Converter, Manuel Iglesias Abbatemarco in the USA and Venezuela for the Eco Friendly Home Automation and Monitoring Harvesting Controller, and Curtis Brooks in the USA for the Internet Enabled Multizone Thermostat.