Introduction: How to Enter the Instructables and Popular Science "Use It Again!" Contest

Picture of How to Enter the Instructables and Popular Science "Use It Again!" Contest
Contest results have been posted here.

Within arm's reach of me right now, there are three electric motors (two from cordless drills, one from an R/C car), 10 amps of H-bridges, 30 watts of solar panels, a probably broken wireless router, 10 silicon wafers (some with thermal oxide, some without), 25 ft of bungee cords, a bicycle brake level assembly, a four-inch diameter pneumatic cylinder, three hose-clamps, and a Stirling engine. The list gets longer and cooler if I'm permitted to include stuff out of arm's reach, especially stuff in the shop.

I know you're exactly the same way.

Why do we keep so much junk around? Because we know that someday we'll find a use for that thing, that at any minute inspiration will hit, tipping us over the edge to assemble all those leftovers into something magnificent.

Well, that tipping point was just reached. Collect up your junk, bolt it together, document the process on Instructables, and you could win a Canon EOS Digital Rebel SLR, a laser engraved Leatherman, or a subscription to Popular Science!

In addition, Instructables has teamed with Popular Science, and in honor of the launch of the PopSci group on Instructables and PopSci's own How 2.0 Blog, the winning Instructable and author will be briefly profiled in the How 2.0 section of an upcoming issue1.

Here are some great examples of "using it again!":

Pimped Out Megaphone Helmet
Kitchen PC with laptop twist
Build a Ski Helmet walkie-talkie ("ACS")
Monitorhead: re-personalising the pc
Recycled Copper Butterfly
Build a Nintendo NES PC
Geeky Circuit Board Earrings
The return of the dead flatbed scanner
Scanner Parts - Desk Lamp
Typewriter Computer Keyboard

Grand Prize
The grand prize winner will receive a Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT 8.0-Megapixel Digital SLR Camera (Model: Digital Rebel XT 18-55 Kit), be briefly profiled in the How 2.0 section of Popular Science magazine1, and receive a 1 year subscription to Popular Science magazine.

First Prize
5 first prize winners will receive laser-etched Leatherman Juice S2 multi-tools, and 1 year subscriptions to Popular Science magazine.

Honorable Mention
10 authors will win Instructables stickers and patches. Yes, we now have stickers!

How to enter:
Any Instructable where a major component is reused or re-purposed, and is added to the PopSci group between now and the end of the day Sunday April 1st, 2007 is eligible. We're going to be pretty liberal with our definition of reused or re-purposed, but with a focus on things that are awesome. You know what I mean -- inspirational reuse; stuff that makes people say, "Cool!" Bonus points for fun stories of how you got the reused component, particularly if they involve dumpsters in areas where you're not supposed to be.

In the past, we've only used the rating of an Instructable to help break ties between our awesome judges. This time around, we're explicitly using the rating of an Instructable and its total number of pageviews as a primary input into our judging. In addition to rating and pageviews, we will continue to ask previously contest winners for their rankings, which will also be a primary input into our decision. So, make sure your project is not only great, but that lots of people are coming in to check it out. A well-worded title and great pictures will help.

Judging Criteria:
All contest entries will be judged for merit. Judges will evaluate each Instructable for the following:

  • completeness (photos and text for all important steps)
  • clear, concise text description including a properly summarized introduction with the motivation for doing the project
  • clear photographs (2+ megapixel preferred), use macro mode for close up shots
  • use of photo-notes where appropriate
  • list of parts and tools required (if appropriate)
  • safety notes (if appropriate)
  • usefulness
  • originality
  • technical merit

We'll judge the project and release the results with our Cool Projects Newsletter on Friday April 6th, 2007. We hope this is the first of many contest with Popular Science, and so stay tuned for more collaborations and other neat stuff.

1. Check out "Cellphone Trick of the month" on page 78 of the March Popular Science Issue for the approximate size we have planned - essentially, a short paragraph writeup, a photo, and a link to the original Instructable. If the winning project is truly outstanding, we might be able to find some more space.


mclare50 (author)2013-03-24

Hey guys! I love these new Alex and Ani bracelets and I'd love to see yours. Please comment yours on my page. Thanks!!!

mud_dann (author)2007-03-26

alright! hopefully i can produce a good instructables for this contest.. so desperately need it for my photography assignments XP

mud_dann (author)mud_dann2007-04-04

wait....let me rephrase that again...if i ever produce it on TIME!...sorryyyyy

novielo (author)2007-04-03

i saw this contest yesterday, i would like to know when the next one will start.

guaiguaihome (author)2007-03-29

Ok! Thank you! Pity me, knowing it too late... I have exams all these days....

sam noyoun (author)2007-03-22

Is it open to people outside the US (I'm in the UK)?

ewilhelm (author)sam noyoun2007-03-22

Yes. Our last contest had quite a mix of international winners.

ewilhelm (author)2007-03-22

A prize is typically considered to be unearned income, or "other" income. Whether you need to pay taxes on it or not will depend on your personal situation. As a student, the IRS always owed me money because I was making so little. Now that I have a real job (or some semblance of a real job!), it's the other way around.

j626no (author)2007-03-20

can we enter more than one instructable?...because i have two just itching to be posted ;-)

jeffreyf (author)j626no2007-03-21

You can enter as many Instructables as you like, and more than one is encouraged. In the slightly modified words of Al Capone, post early, post often.

Brennn10 (author)2007-03-14

If we win, what if we already have a subscrition to pop sci? Do we get a free year's worth? Danke Schon -Brennn10

jeffreyf (author)Brennn102007-03-15

I don't know. That or another free year, or something else. Win first :)

CameronSS (author)2007-03-14

Yay! My Instructable is in the instructions! Does that mean I should be entering it, if for no other reason than entertainment? I'm still working on thinking up a true winner...

jeffreyf (author)CameronSS2007-03-14

You certainly can. As I mentioned below, an older Instructable is unlikely to win, so keep working on the next great idea!

j626no (author)2007-03-10

how do you register for the contest...just add an AWESOME instructable? or is there some elaborate way to sign up?

jeffreyf (author)j626no2007-03-10

"Any Instructable where a major component is reused or re-purposed, and is added to the PopSci group between now and the end of the day Sunday April 1st, 2007 is eligible."

mdhaworth (author)jeffreyf2007-03-14

Hi, Can I re-submit an instructable i did a few months ago to this contest or does it need to be a brand new instructable? I do plan to update my old one and it is definitely a re-use project.

jeffreyf (author)mdhaworth2007-03-14

You can enter an older Instructable into the contest, but as a general rule new Instructables tend to win our contests. They have more of a "wow" factor, if only due to novelty. That said, go for it; you never know.

j626no (author)jeffreyf2007-03-10

how do i add it to the pop sci group? sorry, this will be my first instructable posting; however, i have been reading basically all of the instructables (literally, like an hour a thank you though

jeffreyf (author)j626no2007-03-10

No need to apologize. It's a great question.

You need to join the PopSci Group, which you do by looking at the group, in this case go here and then on the left you'll see a button that says "Join Group."

After you've joined, when you create an Instructable, there will be an option to add that Instructable to the group in the Publish step, or you can do it after the fact when viewing your own Instructable by looking at the Groups box on the left and clicking on "Add this Instructable to a group."

cornflakes (author)jeffreyf2007-03-12

I've done that but my instructable dosn't show up above

jeffreyf (author)cornflakes2007-03-12

What do you mean by "above?" Your project is in the PopSci group, but it's at the end, so you'll have to click "view all" or "next" twice.

cornflakes (author)jeffreyf2007-03-12

oh silly me thank you

j626no (author)2007-03-13

can we post more than one instructable entry into the competition?

jeffreyf (author)j626no2007-03-13


Weissensteinburg (author)2007-03-10

Question...if its based on ranking and page views..wont people who sumit theirs today have a HUGE advantage over people who wait till towards the deadline?

Ok, don't let this question nag your brain too much. The ranking and pageviews will be one of many inputs into our judging, not the only metric. Previously we have used them to break ties, this time we're going to increase their influence a little bit. Focus on making a great Instructable.

I understand, when I read that they would be used explicitly I thought it meant they would be the only criteria. Thanks ;-)

Possibly. There is likely some time advantage, but we'll try to adjust for that. Plus if some other sites pick up one's post, that time advantage can evaporate rather quickly.

would it work if a separate count was started at the deadline, so that all projects have the same amount of time to appreciate in rating and page count? Or would that be too difficult/a hassle?

Hrm. Worth a thought. We could probably figure out how to do that.

daenris (author)jeffreyf2007-03-12

Except in that case, projects submitted early have less chance, because after they've been up for a few weeks they're most likely getting less hits than something that was just put up.

Weissensteinburg (author)daenris2007-03-12

hm, maybe they could keep a certain amount of what they already had?

I was just thinking about time-adjusting the hits, so that Number of page views would be divided by days between Instructable publication and the end of the contest, giving a daily average. Alternatively, since the majority of page views happen within the first few days after publication (unless the project is picked up on Digg, etc), perhaps we'd only count those. I can't say for certain yet how we'll do it, but I promise we'll make every effort to be fair.

thydzik (author)jeffreyf2007-03-12

won't this encourage spamming of project links to obtain more page hits.

ewilhelm (author)thydzik2007-03-13

Really good Instructables make the rounds on the internet based on their merits and don't require spamming. I seriously doubt spamming would be able to generate the genuine interest an awesome Instructable generates on its own.

jeffreyf (author)thydzik2007-03-13

While we want people to share their projects, we also want them to do so in a responsible way. Spamming would hurt our image as well as that of the spammer, and would be very frowned up.

trebuchet03 (author)jeffreyf2007-03-13

What about projects that have been in limbo for awhile... I have a re-use project that has been itching to be published, but it was first created a few months ago :P I've just been lazy :P I think Eric mentioned something about solr messing up date on those instructables, so they never get the lime light on the recently posted page :P Sorry to add a few more {least favorite vegetable}s to your plate :P

jeffreyf (author)trebuchet032007-03-13

I don't know off-hand. If it's something you never posted before, it deserves to get to the recently posted page, so if it's a technical problem on our end we can probably work around it one way or another.

All right, I trust you guys.

sheekgeek (author)2007-03-12

If i republish my instructable, will it loose all the previous page views?

ewilhelm (author)sheekgeek2007-03-13

Nope. Also, for most edits, there's no need to unpublish.

jeffreyf (author)sheekgeek2007-03-12

Why would you republish it?

sheekgeek (author)jeffreyf2007-03-13

to edit it and change a few things (I'm new here)

Brennn10 (author)2007-03-12

What is the deadline for the projects to be submitted? Thanks Brennn10

jeffreyf (author)Brennn102007-03-12

Sunday April 1st.

Brennn10 (author)jeffreyf2007-03-13

Thank you very much kind sir.

Weissensteinburg (author)2007-03-12

I see you changed the link from the PopSci contest to win a Canon Digital SLR..why? Now more people will come and give me less of a chance of winning :(

THANKS A LOT! *Storms off*


Tool Using Animal (author)2007-03-11

You linked my thread, that made me smile. Since this is going to include page view counts, I'm going over to bugs to let you know that pageview sort seems to discount pageviews over 20K.

We'll use Google Analytics to check our own system.

About This Instructable




Bio: Eric J. Wilhelm is the founder of Instructables. He has a Ph.D. from MIT in Mechanical Engineering. Eric believes in making technology accessible through ... More »
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