The two hacking organizations on the University of Michigan's campus - MHacks and Michigan Hackers - have a large amount of hardware that's accumulated over the years. The problem is that the hardware comes out for major events, and then just stays in storage for the majority of the year. We think some sort of system to manage renting out this hardware during the year to hackers at Michigan would be invaluable for our hacker community.
What it does
The list of available and taken inventory is publicly viewable for anyone to see at anytime. After registering, users can add a credit card (to ensure that users can be charged in the case where they do not return their hardware) and then check out hardware with administrator approval.
How we built it
We all had a little bit of Rails experience with different levels of the stack, so we started working on various parts in line with our strengths and weaknesses. First came a backend to handle user accounts (while design was worked on concurrently), then hardware, then routing and general page design before adding Braintree API integration to handle our customers' credit card information.
Challenges we ran into
We struggled using the Braintree API (having started it with only a little amount of time left in the hackathon), as well as general source control with three people working on the project (we stopped using branches in our GitHub repository early on, which was a poor choice).
Accomplishments that we're proud of
The design is kickass, the basics of the Braintree API implementation are there, and we think this hack has a lot of potential to help a lot of cool hacks be created at Michigan between our local hackathons and events.
What we learned
We further learned and practiced our limited Rails experience and API implementation skills, while thinking broadly about the issues and possibilities facing our hardware hackers at Michigan.
What's next for Hackathon Launchpad
There's a bit more spit and polish required - especially around supporting administrator actions like viewing loans and where hardware is at any one time, which was originally scoped but we ran out of time for. After bringing our Braintree API account to production, we'd like to investigate integrating the NFC cards from MHacks 6 as a way to identify and login users with a simple card swipe. Then, we think we can go live with this to the hacker community at Michigan.