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Welcome to the #MessageChallenge

We want you to invent a new mode of communication.

  1. Invent a device or system that can send or carry a message from one place to another.
  2. Share your communication contraption with the hashtag #MessageChallenge.
  3. Check back here through the end of November to see everyone's submissions.
Street Light Communication

Rick from Fort Collins, CO shares his idea for a street lamp communication system:

"LED streetlights not only can speak to each other but are individually addressable and can be controlled, for example, to provide runway-style sequential lighting to direct people out of town during a disaster or, perhaps, blink en masse to communicate with another town or another body, like a satellite.

Image by SP Gupta

The #MessageChallenge Monoracer

Fred Olson writes: "My new mode of communications is simply a couple items used together... A "Monoracer" toy that glides very nicely and quickly along a nylon cord between two points with a flash drive as cargo held on with a "Live Strong" type rubber bracelet. I don't have enough cord to reach my neighbors house so we just ran it across the house. If I had enough cord I estimate I could get it to my neighbor across the street in less than 4 seconds. With the 8 GByte flash drive that is at least 2 GByte/second. "

Pumpkin-based catapult system!

Scott Soderholm sends word of a #messagechallenge device engineered by his kids 'snow queen' (6) and 'the muscleman' (8). "They helped to build a torsion spring catapult that launches messages folded inside plastic eggs. They helped engineer changes like putting a block under the front to give it more height and distance and using a pumpkin to keep the front down when they pull back on the arm."

Fan Balloon Vacuum Message System!

From Mike T:

"In a room with no ceiling fans, a message is placed in an empty balloon which is then filled with helium.

Across the room is a vacuum hose attached to the ceiling with a straight pin attached - pointing out - from the center of the hose.

Release the balloon, turn on the vacuum, sit underneath the hose + pin and wait for balloon to arrive. As a means of announcement, the balloon will pop as the message drops into the recipients lap."

Photo by Hans Olav Lien


Charles Bergquist, SciFri director and founding member of the SciFri Science Club, demonstrates the communication device he invented for the #MessageChallenge

Digital Smoke Signals?

Ok -- we said in the rules that you needed to actually *build* and *test* your device, but this idea from David Hartkop is too fun not to share. "In an area deprived of internet access, you can create an ad-hoc network by firing a flare-gun and then bouncing laser light off the smoke. Working much like the first passive satellites put into space, a single puff of smoke provides a shared reflective target for everyone on the ground to use. For the duration that the smoke is in view, any number of people can send and receiving data at Gigabit speeds. The system is essentially a smart phone connected to a handheld laser modem. My mockup DIY laser modem consists of a soup can containing a Raspberry Pi microcomputer, a modulated laser transmitter, and a photodiode monocular telescope for a receiver. There would be a shared smartphone app that would coordinate the signal traffic and negotiate new connections in realtime. "

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