07 January 2022 / Last updated: 07 Jan 2022

balenaHub Challenge 2021 - Introducing the Finalists

The balenaHub Challenge was open for entries in October and November 2021, and throughout December Hub users have been ‘voting with their Fleet’ by joining the new Fleets and trying out Projects.
Here are your balenaHub Challenge 2021 finalists
The top five most popular Projects and top five Fleets have made it through to judging. Read on to check them out.

What is the balenaHub Challenge?

Last year, we challenged developers to build an IoT Project or Fleet, add it to our growing marketplace - balenaHub, and share it with hardware hackers, edge developers, and IoT fleet managers all over the world.
Makers entered the challenge for a chance of winning a cash prize of up to £2.5k as well as having their submission featured on balenaEtcher, our easy-to-use tool for flashing OS images.

What happens next

Now that the finalists have been selected, we are going into the final stage of the challenge. A panel of judges will assess each project against the following criteria to determine our winners.
The judging criteria is as follows:
  • Relevance to the theme of ‘Improving the world around you’ - IoT is here to make the world more efficient, smarter and sustainable. Our open fleet ‘Fold for Covid’ is a great project to take inspiration from!
  • Real-world application - IoT applications should be designed as part of a fleet of multiple devices that interact with each other, such as a multi-device security system for the home or an Open Fleet citizen science initiative.
  • Creativity - We want to see a new angle! Pick any use case, create something new or improve on an existing idea.
  • Longevity - IoT projects and fleets should remain useful over time.
Extra credit will be awarded to projects or fleets that go above and beyond to optimise for sustainability:
  • Low power consumption.
  • Using materials you already own / recycled materials.
Full Terms & Conditions can be found here.

Meet the finalist Fleets

A Fleet, or Open Fleet on balenaHub, is a group of devices which all run the same code that is owned and maintained by the Fleet manager. This simplifies the setup for users who want to use an edge project but don't want to manage its code. Once they have downloaded and flashed the image to join a Fleet, they’ll have an automatically setup device which is being kept up to date with the latest software available for that Fleet.


This Fleet does what it says on the tin! Combining Home Assistant, the popular open source home automation system that is often run from low-cost devices like a Raspberry Pi, with AdGuard, a network-wide software for blocking ads and trackers.
What do you need to join the Fleet
  • Raspberry Pi 3B or greater
  • 32GB Micro-SD Card
  • Power supply and cable

Bird Watcher

With a Pi 4 and a camera, join the Bird Watcher Fleet and start classifying the birds around you. This Project runs Edge Impulse to use machine learning to recognize chirps and images to determine the bird species, and Telegram to send you alerts and live streams of your bird watcher when it's triggered.
What do you need to join the Fleet
  • Raspberry Pi 3B Model B+ or Raspberry Pi 4 Model B or balenaFin
  • Raspberry Pi camera or any USB camera

Ribbit Network

The Ribbit Network aims to be the world's largest crowdsourced network of open-source, low-cost, CO2 Gas detection sensors that will empower anyone to join in the work on monitoring and collecting climate data. Every member is part of a citizen science effort to provide informed data for climate action using the world’s most complete Greenhouse Gas dataset.
What do you need to join the Fleet
  • You can purchase a ready to go ‘frog’ sensor to join the fleet here
  • Or, you can find out the raw materials for this project here

Rickroll FM

Build your own Raspberry Pi (models 1, 2 and 3) powered FM radio station that defaults to FM 106.9 MHz and plays the infamous Rickrolling song 24/7 just using the onboard GPIO pins!
What do you need to join the Fleet
  • Raspberry Pi 1, 2 or 3
  • Optional antenna if you want to transmit further than 10cm


If you're looking for a way to quickly and easily get up and running with a Pi-hole device for your home network, this is the Fleet for you. Using Pi-hole, PADD, and Unbound, you can block ads and trackers on your entire network.
What do you need to join the Fleet
  • Raspberry Pi 2, 3 or 4
  • 16GB Micro SD Card
  • Any Raspberry Pi display
  • Power Supply
  • Case (optional)

Meet the finalist Projects

Projects are Fleets that you can fork, but not join. Users can fork a Project, which creates their own private Fleet on balenaCloud along with a copy of the application software in order to run it on their devices. Once a user forks a Project they become the owner and the maintainer of that Fleet.


This project uses a Raspberry Pi to easily connect an Ethernet only device such as a TV set-top box or older gaming console to your WiFi network. It’s a really simple way to solve a very common problem!
How it works
WiFi-to-Ethernet will automatically join the configured WiFi network, and present a DHCP server on its Ethernet port, and route traffic from any Ethernet-connected devices to the WiFi network.


Level up your home automation network using this full-stack Zigbee Edge Gateway with MQTT bridged to AWS IoT Core. This Project was created as part of a B2B Enterprise IoT Product using balena and has been shared on Hub to help others create projects on a secure network.
How it works
First, provision Zigbee end-devices and routers throughout a facility and connect them to the Zigbee coordinator software (zigbee2mqtt). Then extract / transform the raw payloads (node-red) and publish them to an AWS environment (mosquitto). The project then leverages GUI interfaces provided by node-red and zigbee2mqtt for managing the stack after deployment (nginx).


This project is a multi-container weather station with anemometer, rain gauge, windvane, humidity sensor, and temperature monitor running on balena based on the Raspberry Pi ‘Build your own weather station’ Project.
How it works
The Weather station is a bit more hardware-heavy than the others with an internal and external element. Utilizing MQTT the external weather sensors send data which is stored using InfluxDB and consumed and displayed by Telegraf on a Grafana dashboard.


With balenaPrint, you can add wireless and AirPrint capability to legacy USB-enabled printers, powered by a Raspberry Pi.
How it works
This project provides an easy way of running CUPS/Avahi on a balenaOS-provisioned Raspberry Pi 3 B/B+. CUPS is a modular printing system for Unix-like computer operating systems which allows computers to act as a print server. In this case, it enables AirPrint capability for legacy printers.


Remotely keep tabs on the temperature using minimal power and no Wifi or Ethernet with this project. It uses a PiJuice and a DS18B20 1-wire temperature sensor.
How it works
The Pi wakes up at a given interval, measures the temperature, writes it to a MQTT message queue, and afterwards, shuts down again. Internet connectivity is given via a USB dongle. Using the PiJuice and the solar panel which comes with it, this project should be able to take measurements every few hours without being connected to power.

Let the judging commence

Our panel will build each project in order to evaluate the efforts of our finalists. The panel will then discuss and share their findings. Each judge will score every project on a scale of 1-10 for each of element of the judging criteria before the results are aggregated to determine the winners.
We’ll let the community know who wins this inaugural balenaHub Challenge once judging is complete.

Thank you to our participants

We hope you enjoy checking out the finalist Projects and Fleets and feel inspired to keep on making, hacking, and building for our next balenaHub Challenge! As ever, if you need any support getting started on balenaCloud, you can find our team on our forums. If you have questions or comments about the balenaHub Challenge, let us know in the comments below.
Good luck to all the finalists!
by Lizzie EptonMarketing Manager at balena