Hackathon : Re-claiming Dev Kits

Hello All,

I was at a Hackathon last night at PennAppsXII and mentored students with their hacks.

(For those who don’t know, a Hackathon is an event where students from high school and colleges come together to code and implement projects with great ideas and present them to public at the end. Some of them are awarded prizes and even end up starting their own ventures, and others take home awesome experiences and something new to learn)

At PennApps, We had a hardware lab which was allowing students to checkout dev kits for using in their projects.

One of the problem many students faced was the in-ability to re-use the Spark/Particle Core or the Photon after it was returned to the checkout counter.

The problem becomes even more worse when a dev kits has been claimed by a user at a ‘previous’ hackathon event and then a new user tries to use it later after 6 months.

Here’s the use case:

  1. Student Group A checks out a dev kits
  2. Claims ownership of the dev kits after creating a new account with Particle
  3. Uses it for their hack
  4. Returns the dev kit to the Lab
  5. 6 months later, Student Group B checks out the same dev kit again
  6. Tries to claim it with a new Particle account, but fails.
  7. Student also tries to factory reset the core, but fails to claim the core.

Upon discussion with event organizer, it was learned that they had to email Particle Support for resetting the dev kit ownership and it took a couple of days typically to do that.

What really made me sad is that I had tell the student groups to try another dev kit only to realize it was a problem with many of them and no one new what which dev kit was claimed and released and which ones were not.
This not only resulted in a wastage of their precious time, but also forced the groups to switch to a different hardware platform and faced a new learning curve.

I think it’ll be a good idea if Particle can roll out a special set of accounts to be used by dev kits whose ownership can easily be reversed by event organizers. I am sure Particle engineers have many great ideas to address issues like these.

Hearty Thanks to PARTICLE for being such an awesome help to the Young minds of this world. A lot of ideas were implemented using particle’s dev kits and I can’t even tell how easy it was for students.

Any suggestions or recommendations for future are welcome.

Thanks !


Great to hear you’re so enthusiastic!
Transferring ownership with Cores is admittedly troublesome. When trying to add a device using the Web IDE, you are prompted if you wish to request a transfer of ownership. The person who has originally claimed it will receive an email to confirm releasing ownership.
With the photon, this has changed, with hackathons in mind. Using the Particle app, you should be able to transfer ownership dynamically. In this case, physical ownership equals virtual ownership, provided you claim it using the app.
Understanding that this situation still isn’t ideal, I too would be interested in possible alternatives. Perhaps a dashboard section for hackathons/learning purposes(?) @jeiden @zachary


@Moors7 Thanks for the info.

I didn’t Photon had this. I think I didn’t realize since in our particular case the students were using the Spark Core.

We are exploring the idea of a dashboard plan for teachers/hackathon runners that would be in between the Maker (free) plan and the team ($49 per mo) plan. Currently, the paid version of our dashboard is catered towards companies/startups looking to manage a fleet of devices out in the field.

What kind of features would you be looking for @hmehta? Very open to discussing it :smile:.

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@jeiden Thanks for getting back.

Now, I wasn’t the organizer, so i wouldn’t know all the requirements. Here are a few to start with

  1. As a loaner, being able to maintain a list of devices owned by me.
  2. As a loaner ,being able to see which ones are currently loaned out
  3. As a loaner, being able to “assign” a device to a loanee upon checkout
  4. As a loaner, being able to reset that assignment upon checkin
  5. As a loaner, being able to re-assign/revoke assignment from a loanee
  6. As a loaner, being able to see which devices are powered on/ connected/ publishing/ etc
  7. As a loanee, being able to add/remove the device to my newly created particle account
  8. As a loanee, being able to setup new wifi credentials using my new account
  9. As a loanee, being able to program/flash the device and code using Web-IDE, particle Dev, particle CLI and local compile.
  10. As a loanee, being able to restore the device to its original state as it was loaned out to me.
  11. As a loanee, being able to see events published, call functions, get variables (remotely via curl) etc

I’m sure there are many others and could be gathered upon interviewing an actual organizer.

Also, some of the above mentioned might seem to be “nice to haves” and not really absolutely required. I’d like to see if anybody else or you have other ideas.