Hack Upstate XIV: The Results Are In

Hack Upstate
Oct 8 · 7 min read

Hack Upstate’s mission is to advance Upstate NY’s technology community.

Check out pictures from Hack Upstate XIV here — images courtesy of Annaliese Perry of Artemis Photography. Contact her at: info@artemis.photography.

Huge thanks to everyone who joined us for the 14th installment of Hack Upstate! It was amazing to see so many talented folks get together and build such creative and intelligent projects.

Our mission with Hack Upstate is to unite and facilitate collaboration among the greater Upstate New York technology community in order to grow the local sector and create a robust network of technologists. This weekend’s hackathon was another step forward in that mission!

TCGplayer is proud to be the presenting sponsor for #HackUpstateXIV. As a company founded in Downtown Syracuse, they’re thrilled for the opportunity to support the local tech community and help developers expand their knowledge.

Thank you to our presenting sponsor, TCGplayer, for helping Hack Upstate XIV be one of our best events to date.

Here’s what our amazing community built:

Photos courtesy of Annaliese at Artemis Photography

Grand Prize

Fat Foot Feetball was our $1000 Grand Prize winning team! Trevor Martin, Jingfu Chen, Jason and Jaiden Scharf, Josh Kraines, and Anthony DiCarlo created a 2D soccer game inspired by a flash game from their younger years. It allows two friends to go head to head in a best-of-seven soccer match, built on Unity using a 2D game template.

“We learned how to divide the work up and make sure everyone had a large part in the project. As we had people from Computer Science, Industrial Engineering, and Industrial Design backgrounds, a Foster Care Case Worker, and an 8th grade student, it was a challenge and learning experience for everyone. This was the first time any of us have ever made a 2D Unity game from scratch. We all learned so much about Unity itself as well as game development.”

If you want to download and play the game yourself, you can grab the .zip file here.

Photos courtesy of Annaliese at Artemis Photography

First Runner Up

Our First Runner Up for the $500 prize was the team behind Drone Visualization Environment, visualization software for threaded drones managed by a database. It allows for later implementation of different pathing and swarming algorithms by supporting a server of threaded drones to simulate drones flying together and visualize them using Unity.

Elijah Cooper, Kyle Ferguson, and Y-onis Kutrolli built it using Python for networking, MySQL for data management, and Unity (for the first time) for visualization.

“You basically get a list back of drones that are in your area, you can see who’s around you, you can see which direction they’re going. They get that data and do all of the processing themselves.”

Audience members were impressed with what they could do in the 24-hour hackathon span and encouraged the team to continue working within the drone space, which is an increasingly popular field.

Photos courtesy of Annaliese at Artemis Photography

TCGPlayer API Prize

Bill Taylor was the winner of TCGPlayer’s API Prize of a $200 Amazon gift card, using the API in a simple storefront user interface.

As our presenting sponsor, TCGplayer took participants on a tour of their new workspace during the event. Bill was inspired by their API demo and decided to build a project using their open data.

His storefront pulls categories, category items, and category cards and displays them for the user to browse through.

You can see the project close up here.

Photos courtesy of Annaliese at Artemis Photography

Best Use of Open Data

The $100 winner of our open data award went to the DriverPal team — Liam Wong, Nafin Rahman, and Ali Hamze—who used open data on car mileage (both city and highway averages) to determine who has the most cost-friendly car among your group of friends to get to your destination.

“Every time you want to go somewhere with your friends, you have to figure out who’s driving. This app will decide, based on certain people’s cars, which car will be the most fuel-efficient.”

Users can add the make, model, and year of their cars to the app, input their destination, and click submit. The app will return with the most eco- and cost-friendly option, taking into account the wear and tear of the car as well if one is chosen more often than not.

Check out a demo here.

Photos courtesy of Annaliese at Artemis Photography

Best Hardware Hack

This $100 prize went to the team behind WhaccAttacc, an inexpensive automatic drum trigger you can use to jam with your friends when resources are limited.

The idea was born out of a desire for college roommates Payton Burak and Garnet Grimm to play music together (they play drums and guitar, respectively), along with Michael Scalzetti. But a drum set is expensive and doesn’t quite fit in a dorm room, and drum triggers they researched went for $600–900. So they got resourceful and made WhaccAttacc for under $20.

How does it work? They use Peizo Transducers as pads to play on. The Arduino picks that up and sends Serial to a computer that has a Python script listening. Python then connects to a virtual MIDI cable to play and send MIDI notes to a DAW-like reaper.

Watch them demo their project in our livestream at the 22:30 mark.

Photos courtesy of Annaliese at Artemis Photography

Best Effort Hack

The judges awarded the $100 Best Effort Hack award to Gavin Isgar and his team for the web app, Glance. Gavin has several friends who use the live-streaming video service Twitch and report difficulty in configuring bots for moderating their Discord server.

Using JavaScript, Express.JS, and Node.JS, he created an app that allows Twitch streamers to log in and configure a bot on their Discord server entirely through a GUI-based web-application.

Gavin wanted to make it easy for people who don’t know how to code. Upon sharing it with his friend, Chris, who streams on Twitch, Chris said, “For a person like myself who knows nothing about coding, this will be a game changer for trying to grow a community.”

Lessons Learned

At the end of each hackathon, we ask participants to share feedback on what worked and what didn’t so we can make improvements for the next event.

We heard loud and clear from everyone that the community was an important and exciting aspect of the experience, and we’re so glad we could facilitate everyone coming together to build awesome projects and learn from each other. So many of you said you appreciated the community, education, and opportunities to make new friends and network with local companies.

We also hear you on the food choices and will make sure next year we’ll offer more vegetarian and gluten-free options (and better communicate to everyone when it’s available), and keep the coffee and water flowing.


Sincerest thank you to all who came, hacked, and helped make Hack Upstate XIV one of our best hackathons yet. We couldn’t do this without you!

We encourage you to check out all 17 projects on Devpost and take a look at the gallery on Facebook (sincerest thanks to Annaliese at Artemis Photography for providing her photography services).

We’d be remiss if we didn’t take one last opportunity to thank all of our incredibly generous and supportive sponsors. We also must again thank our awesome panel of judges. We’re extremely fortunate to have their backing as we collectively work together and continue to advance Upstate NY’s technology community.

You can also leave a testimonial if you’d like that we’ll add to our website.

Happy hacking :)

Anxious for next spring’s event? Fight the withdrawal by joining the Hack Upstate community on Slack.

Enjoy this? You may enjoy reading about projects from Hack Upstate XIII, Hack Upstate XII, Hack Upstate XI, Hack Upstate X, HackUpstate IX, Hack Upstate VIII and Hack Upstate VII.

Hack Upstate’s mission is to unite and facilitate collaboration among the greater Upstate New York technology community. In pursuit, we organize hackathons, offer web and mobile development classes, facilitate talks and lectures, and ultimately help align Upstate tech talent with promising employment opportunities. To date, we’ve built a growing network comprised of thousands of Upstate New York engineers and nearly a hundred technology employers.

Interested in receiving monthly updates about Hack Upstate, Careers in Code, events in the community, and job opportunities? Sign up here!

Hack Upstate

Written by

Advancing Upstate New York's tech community through events and education. http://hackupstate.com/ && https://careersincode.org/

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade