When we announced the 2012 OpenDNS SysAdmin Awards, OpenDNS CEO David Ulevitch came to me and said, “Make a trophy for this year’s winners that will blow them away. They deserve something amazing.”

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I thought an LED edge-lit trophy or a 3D fiberoptic sculptural piece depicting our SysAdmin Superhero theme could be cool, but wouldn’t quite be mind-blowing. So, as I chatted with our own SysAdmins about the many personal hardware hacking projects they were working on it hit me: I could make the edge-lit SysAdmin Superhero concept amazing by making it controllable over the network. Thus, the idea for this year’s SysAdmin Award trophy was born. The trophy will be an acrylic SysAdmin Superhero that includes an LCD on the front and an Arduino web server to control the LED’s brightness and color so the SysAdmin Superhero’s crest glows differently. It will be hackable, and I’ll post the code so the winning SysAdmins can play with it and improve upon it.

What really will make this trophy special is that our winning SysAdmins will be able to set up scripts to change the color of the glowing SysAdmin Superhero or  make it blink when there are new alerts. They can use it to notify them of code pushes, or even set up a script to remind them that it’s time to head to the kitchen because lunch has arrived. It could even be a bat-signal for when something is wrong, an ambient notification mechanism or dozens of other uses we haven’t even considered.

Of course, it still has to look amazing. So, OpenDNS engineer and uber-maker Jessica G. joined the project to craft our SysAdmin Superheros. Maker details: Jessica G. has worked out a technique of laser cutting acrylic along with a paint mask to allow her to accurately spray the four colors onto clear acrylic. The first prototype is done and next iteration will be bigger with an etched and textured center as to better refract the LED’s glow. While Jessica is taking on the monumental task of laser cutting, masking and painting our heroes, I am working on the hardware and software.

We’ll be posting a “how-to” blog article in the coming weeks so stay tuned. And don’t forget that the only way to get one of these awesome trophies is to be a SysAdmin Award winner. Get all the details and enter today. Good luck!

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