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  • Monday, April 14, 2014 - 10:00
    Building a mind-boggling infinity mirror using Adafruit #Neopixels



    EETimes has posted this cool project from Designline Editor Max Maxfield.

    Hurray! It’s taken a while because I’m easily distracted, but I’ve finally finished building my infinity mirror. (See also Part 1 and Part 2 of this miniseries.)…

    As you may recall, an infinity mirror involves a relatively thin enclosure (frame) with a full mirror at the back and a partial mirror (or a half-mirror or one-way mirror) at the front. Following my previous experiments, I decided that the optimal distance between the back mirror and the front mirror for my purposes was 1 inch. With regard to the width and height of my mirror, this was easily determined by the fact that I happened to already have a one-way mirror in my possession — and this mirror was 12″ x 12″ — so everything else was derived from these measurements…

    Of course, the thing that really makes an infinity mirror so cool is the little light sources you place on the inside of the frame between the front and back mirrors. For this project, I’d already decided to use NeoPixel Strips from Adafruit; in this case, I’m using the type with 60 tri-colored LEDs per meter:

    Now, I could simply have wrapped the NeoPixel strip around the inside of the frame and left it at that. However, I intend to experiment with different lighting effects, like having individual LEDs light up in each of the corners and move around the frame in synchronization. This meant that I would need to have the same number of LEDs on each side of the frame. It turned out that I could fit 17 LEDs on each side, with a tiny extra gap in the corners, so I cut four 17-LED pieces off my NeoPixel strip.

    Any project like this is a learning experience. If I decide to create another infinity mirror in the future (and I do have some rather cool ideas in this direction) I will do some things differently. For example, I decided to attach my NeoPixel strips to the frame using superglue. When I attached the first strip, I simply stuck it on and weighed it down, as discussed below. Unfortunately, the strip slid around a little on the glue, so it ended up being a tad out of true. This wasn’t really significant, but it’s the look of the thing and my professional pride that’s at stake. If anyone ever opens this up in the future, I want them to say, “Look how perfect this is,” not “Well, that strip is a little skew-whiff, isn’t it?”

    Read more.


    Featured Adafruit Product!

    NewImage

    Adafruit NeoPixel Digital RGB LED Weatherproof Strip 60 LED -1m: You thought it couldn’t get better than our world-famous 32-LED-per-meter Digital LED strip but we will prove you wrong! You wanted twice the LEDs? We got it (well, its 1.875 times as many but that’s within a margin of error). You wanted thinner strips? Now only 12.5 mm wide, 10 mm if you remove the strip from the casing. You wanted less noticable strip color – this strip has white-colored flex PCB, which will be less visible against white-painted walls. This is the strip with white flex PCB, its identical to the black 60 LED/meter except it has a different color mask on the flex strip. Read more.


  • Monday, April 14, 2014 - 09:30
    Watch proteins do the jitterbug!



    The New York Timeshas posted this great video called “The Inner Life of the Cell”.

    If you could shrink down to the size of a molecule and fly into a cell, what would you see?

    In 2006, a team of scientists and illustrators offered a gorgeous answer in the form of a three-minute video called “The Inner Life of the Cell.” Nothing quite like it had ever been made before, and it proved to be a huge hit, broadcast by museums, universities and television programs around the world.

    The video was a collaboration between BioVisions, a scientific visualization program at Harvard’s department of molecular and cellular biology, and Xvivo, a scientific animation company in Connecticut.

    Delving into the scientific literature, the scientists and animators created a video about an immune cell. The cell rolls along the interior wall of a blood vessel until it detects signs of inflammation from a nearby infection.

    NewImage

    We dive into the cell to see what happens next. Molecules swim through the cell like dolphins, relaying the signal from the outside. Certain genes switch on, and the cell makes new proteins that are put into a blob called a vesicle. An oxlike protein called kinesin hauls the vesicle across the cell, walking along a molecular cable.

    Once the vesicle reaches its destination, it releases its cargo. The new proteins cause the immune cell to stop rolling, and it flattens out and slips between the cells that make up the blood vessel wall so that it can seek out the infection.

    “The Inner Life of the Cell” was made possible by advances on many scientific fronts.

    In recent years, scientists have learned a great deal about the shapes of biological molecules, for example. They can use powerful computers to visualize the molecules in action.

    Watch Proteins Do the Jitterbug NYTimes com

    The video was so entrancing that it was easy to forget that it was not raw footage captured by some microscopic GoPro camera. It was a piece of art. The scientists and animators made choices about what to show, and how to show it.

    For one thing, they left out just about all the proteins, giving the cell the look of a nearly empty ocean. “The interior of a cell is incredibly crowded,” said Michael Astrachan, the president and creative director of Xvivo.

    Alain Viel, the director of undergraduate research at Harvard and a member of the BioVisions team, likened the inside of a cell to a rush-hour subway platform. “If there’s a big crowd in front of you, there’s a good chance you might not even see the train,” he said.

    Dr. Viel and his colleagues also chose to show the proteins moving with a stately grace. Real proteins, by contrast, are perpetually quivering. They pick up bits of energy from water molecules that bump into them, and they crash into other proteins and bounce off cell membranes.

    Read more.

    Watch Proteins Do the Jitterbug NYTimes com

  • Monday, April 14, 2014 - 09:00
    MIT unveils the shapeshifting furniture of the future



    Fast Company posted about the latest project out of MIT’s Tangible Media Group: shape-shifting furniture.

    When it was first unveiled last year, the inFORM–a shapeshifting display that you can reach through and touch–was meant to be a sort of digital scrying pool through which MIT could imagine the user interfaces of the future. Currently on display at Milan’s Design Week, the inFORM’s successor (called, appropriately enough, the Transform) is a scrying pool too, but instead of helping us imagine the interfaces of the future, it’s here to teach us what the polymorphous furniture of tomorrow will be like instead.

    Created by Daniel Leithinger and Sean Follmer and overseen by professor Hiroshi Ishii at MIT’s Tangible Media Group, the inFORM was essentially a self-aware monitor that didn’t just display light; it could display shape, too. Additionally, it could sense when users were interacting with it. Using the inFORM, you could shake hands with someone at another computer across the world, just as easily as you might Skype from someone on your laptop.

    The inFORM was an exciting look at the possibilities of future computer UIs. But it didn’t quite capture all the ideas that the Tangible Media Lab was hoping to get across. “When most people look at inFORM, what they see is a big computer interface,” Leithinger says. “And that’s even how we thought of it. But in the future, computers aren’t going to look like computers. They’re going to be embedded in everything around us.”

    With Transform, the Tangible Media Group wanted to explore what the shapeshifting furniture of tomorrow might be like. What if the design of your furniture weren’t static, but could change according to your nature, your personality, and more? Imagine a chair that could transform from an upright rocker to a sumptuous lounge, just by detecting your mood.

    Read more.

  • Monday, April 14, 2014 - 08:00
    LED Lamp that Projects its own Shade


    YOY collection at Milan 2014 dezeen ss8

    The Japanese design studio YOY has developed an LED lamp that projects its own shade, via Dezeen.

    From YOY:

    A series of a table lamp and a floor lamp. When switched on, a shade of light will appear on the wall. There is a LED inside the head of the pole which imitates a socket..

    YOY collection at Milan 2014 dezeen 4

    Read more.

  • Monday, April 14, 2014 - 07:00
    Scratch-a-Sketch #makeymakey #makeymakeymonday



    Giles Booth shared a Scratch-a-Sketch Scratch project he created for use with the MaKey-MaKey!

    First, draw some arrows and buttons for ‘pen up/down’, ‘colour change’, ‘bigger’ and ‘smaller’ in a very soft pencil on some paper. Draw tracks and wire up the arrows to the cursor keys on the Makey Makey. Pen up/down goes to the spacebar, colour change is S, bigger is W and smaller goes to key A. If you don’t have a Makey Makey, you can still use keys on your computer’s keyboard.

    The code for Scratch-a-Sketch is here – you can play online in the Flash version if you like, you don’t even need Scratch installed.

    Unlike a traditional Etch-a-Sketch, you can lift the pen up to move around without drawing, change colour and pen size, and combine keys such as 2 arrow keys to draw decent diagonal lines.

    Read More.

    Scratch a sketch


    Makeysm

    Today is Makey Makey™ Monday here at Adafruit! The MaKey MaKey – by Jay Silver and Eric Rosenbaum, made by JoyLabz! Ever played Mario on Play-Doh or Piano on Bananas? Alligator clip the Internet to Your World. MaKey MaKey is an invention kit for the 21st century. Find out more details at makeymakey.com or watch the video at makeymakey.com. Turn everyday objects into touchpads and combine them with the internet. It’s a simple Invention Kit for Beginners and Experts doing art, engineering, and everything in between! If you have a cool project you’ve made with your Makey Makey be sure to send it in to be featured here!

  • Monday, April 14, 2014 - 06:30
    How to find the right solar panel for you


    NewImage

    Thinking about going solar? Modern Farmer has the scoop on which panel is right for you.

    Whether you live in the country, city or suburbs, solar panels — those blue rectangles that soak up the sun’s rays and generate environmentally friendly electricity — have become a common sight. And they are going to become even more common as prices fall — quickly. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the average cost of a panel sunk by 60 percent between the beginning of 2011 and mid-2013.

    At today’s low prices, investing in solar panels can pay for itself in a relatively short period, particularly in a state where electricity is expensive and/or good incentive programs exist. (A state-by-state listing can be found at dsireusa.org.) Sometimes, local governments provide incentives, and some utility companies reward customers who install panels.

    One constant anywhere in the United States is a 30 percent federal renewable energy tax credit that takes a chunk out of purchase and installation costs. Combine that with today’s lower prices and up-front costs can be recouped almost anywhere in the country within the typical 25-year life expectancy of modern solar panels, according to Andy Hershberger, president and CEO of Virginia-based Shenandoah Solar. Still, there are a few things to consider.

    “It’s good for folks to get their utility bills and look at what they use on a monthly basis and a yearly basis,” says Andy Tyson, co-founder and owner of Creative Energies, which designs and installs solar electric systems in the West.

    Such data is key to designing a system and calculating its payback period. Solar panels need sunshine, so an unshaded spot on the roof or nearby is a must. While the amount of sunshine received by a given place varies, there are very few places in the lower 48 where an unshaded panel won’t perform well, says Tyson.

    Read more.

  • Monday, April 14, 2014 - 06:00
    Schlieren flow visualization: What does sound look like?



    Laughing Squid posted this awesome video from NPR that explains what sound looks like.

    NPR’s Skunk Bear, which is the name of their science Tumblr run by Adam Cole, explains what sound looks like using Schlieren flow visualization, a technique that chiefly uses a set of parabolic mirrors, to show air distortion. Given that sound distorts the air, it can be imaged this way. The Schlieren images for this video were provided by Mike Hargather.

    Read more.

  • Sunday, April 13, 2014 - 16:29
    “Space Probe: Math” (1983)


    Space Probe Math - Back
    Space Probe Math - Front

    Disney made a Math game spin-off based on the movie “The Black Hole” for the Radio Shack TRS-80 Color Computer This and more @ the TRS-80 Color Computer Software Repository.

    In 1983, Disney put out a computer learning-game spinoff – “Space Probe: Math”. This was a cassette containing two educational games designed for use with the Radio Shack TRS-80 Color Computer.

    The concept of the first game was that the Palomino had landed on an infected planet, Delta 5 Omega. All the crew were falling under “mind diffusion”, basically a viral form of fatigue. The player (aged 7–14) had to solve multiplication or division problems to save the crew. In the second game, the player had to save a primitive world’s crops, using (rectangular) area and perimeter problems – Wikipedia.

  • Sunday, April 13, 2014 - 15:59
    Pop up repair services #makerbusiness


    Pop-Up-Repair-Collage-Copy
    Can a Pop-Up Service Fix It? Probably @ NYTimes.com.

    Give the Pop Up Repair wizards your poor, your tired, your broken possessions yearning to light up, switch on and make coffee again. This itinerant repair shop run by an ad hoc group of theater professionals and tinkerers is equal parts practical service and philosophical resistance to the “cycle of use-and-discard,” as the sandwich sign in front of its Greenmarket table proclaims.

    Read more.

  • Sunday, April 13, 2014 - 09:00
    A Mathematical Proof That The Universe Could Have Formed Spontaneously From Nothing


    NewImage

    Cosmologists now have a mathematical proof that natural quantum fluctuations allowed the Big Bang to happen. via medium:

    But that still leaves a huge puzzle. What caused the Big Bang itself? For many years, cosmologists have relied on the idea that the universe formed spontaneously, that the Big Bang was the result of quantum fluctuations in which the Universe came into existence from nothing.

    That’s plausible, given what we know about quantum mechanics. But physicists really need more — a mathematical proof to give the idea flesh.

    Today they get their wish thanks to the work of Dongshan He and buddies at the Wuhan Institute of Physics and Mathematics in China. These guys have come up with the first rigorous proof that the Big Bang could indeed have occurred spontaneously because of quantum fluctuations.

    The new proof is based on a special set of solutions to a mathematical entity known as the Wheeler-DeWitt equation. In the first half of the 20th century, cosmologists struggled to combine the two pillars of modern physics— quantum mechanics and general relativity—in a way that reasonably described the universe. As far as they could tell, these theories were entirely at odds with each other.

    Read more.

  • Sunday, April 13, 2014 - 08:00
    NASA’s flying saucer to land payloads on other planets


    NewImage

    NASA built a flying saucer, which they’ve called the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator, that will eventually land large payloads on other planets. via Extreme Tech:

    No, humble inhabitants of Hawaii, the US government hasn’t increased the level of psychoactive drugs in your water supply: That really is a flying saucer that just flew past your window at three times the speed of sound. Dubbed the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator, NASA is hoping that this flying saucer is the secret to eventually landing larger payloads on other planets — such as sending a human exploration party to Mars, along with plenty of supplies. The LDSD is on a pretty aggressive schedule, with seven major tech demos over the next 24 months, and could be used in a real mission to Mars in 2018.

    Later this year, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory will use a balloon to launch a test vehicle up to an altitude of 120,000 feet (36.5 kilometers) above Hawaii. The test vehicle will then use a rocket to reach supersonic speeds and raise its altitude yet further to 180,000 feet (54.8 kilometers)… and then it will cut its engine and begin to free fall back to earth. As the capsule passes Mach 3.5 (2,600 mph), the LDSD will kick into action, sprouting a Supersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (SIAD) from the craft and filling it with pressurized air. With the SIAD fully inflated, the spacecraft looks awfully like a flying saucer. The SIAD slows the craft down to around Mach 2, whereupon a massive 30-meter-diameter parachute will then be used to bring speeds down to subsonic landing speeds.

    Read more.

  • Sunday, April 13, 2014 - 07:00
    Yale Researchers Reconstruct Images of Faces Using fMRI Scans


    main-faces

    Led by a Yale University undergraduate, researchers have used fMRI scans to accurately reconstruct the images of faces as seen by the people being scanned. The level of sophistication in fMRI technology has previously allowed researchers to decipher the subject of what a viewer was looking at, such as whether it was scenery versus an animal. But the task of deciphering subtle differences in faces demonstrates a new level of mastery since faces exhibit many more similarities to each other than say, ponies and beach scenes. We also incorporate large areas of our brains to observe all these subtleties, which left much larger areas of the brain to be carefully monitored and greater amounts of brain activity to be decoded. From YaleNews:

    Working with funding from the Yale Provost’s office, Cowen and post doctoral researcher Brice Kuhl, now an assistant professor at New York University, showed six subjects 300 different “training” faces while undergoing fMRI scans. They used the data to create a sort of statistical library of how those brains responded to individual faces. They then showed the six subjects new sets of faces while they were undergoing scans. Taking that fMRI data alone, researchers used their statistical library to reconstruct the faces their subjects were viewing.

    Cowen said the accuracy of these facial reconstructions will increase with time and he envisions they can be used as a research tool, for instance in studying how autistic children respond to faces.

    Read more.

  • Sunday, April 13, 2014 - 06:00
    MIT Creates “Living Material” by Fusing Living Cells with Electronics


    Jean-Luc-Picard-Locutus

    Don’t worry, it’s not quite the Borg, but researchers at MIT have managed to combine biology with electronics to produce cells capable of conductivity and light emission. From Dvice:

    MIT researchers, led by doctoral candidate Allen Chen, have fused the living and non-living worlds by creating E. coli strands capable of incorporating gold nanoparticles and quantum dots into their colonies. These “living materials” will benefit from both the conductivity and light-emitting properties of their non-living parts and the responsiveness of their bacterial hearts.

    The concept is based on naturally-occurring living materials like bone, which incorporates both minerals and living cells. While glowing, conductive bacteria is pretty interesting on its own, the research team believes that its new living circuitry could someday be used in everything from solar cells and diagnostic sensors to self-healing electronics.

    Read more.

    livingmaterials

  • Sunday, April 13, 2014 - 06:00
    Circuit board art


    Room
    Toilet

    Circuit board art sent in by a reader.

  • Saturday, April 12, 2014 - 18:16
    Worlds largest multirotor makes successful maiden flight


    Atnexttocar

    Attransairborne2

    Worlds largest multirotor makes successful maiden flight @ sUAS News.

    Advanced Tactics Inc. announced that it has successfully completed the first flight test of the Black Knight Transformer, a modular and roadable vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft. Advanced Tactics is at the forefront of large scale multicopter design, production, and testing and the successful flights of the Black Knight Transformer open the door to a number of future aircraft designs that leverage Advanced Tactics’ patented and patent-pending technologies.

    The patented AT Transformer technology combines the capabilities of a helicopter, such as the ability to take off and land anywhere, with the capabilities of an off-road automobile. The AT Black Knight Transformer completed driving tests in December 2013 and completed its first flight tests in March 2014. The Black Knight Transformer is the world’s largest multicopter that is controlled and stabilized with propeller speed. The aircraft has a maximum takeoff weight of 4,400 lb.

  • Saturday, April 12, 2014 - 16:48
    Turn your RROD Xbox 360 into a Bluetooth arcade controller using Adafruit’s Bluefruit EZ-Key – 12 Input Bluetooth HID Keyboard Controller


    Img 20140411 100934859
    Img 20140411 100828449
    Turn your RROD Xbox 360 into a Bluetooth arcade controller. Uses Adafruit’s Bluefruit EZ-Key – 12 Input Bluetooth HID Keyboard Controller!

    Dustin Evansfound himself with a few Xbox 360 casings lying around. He ripped all of the remaining hardware out of these boxes and found that what remained was a decent sized box to mount just about anything in. The sturdy design of the 360, which is also just about the perfect shape and size for an arcade controller, seems like an obvious choice when you see it all disassembled like that. With a little bit of measuring to determine spacing that agreed with his hands, and the right parts, Evans was able to make his arcade controller.

    Learn more.

  • Saturday, April 12, 2014 - 08:00
    How The Heartbleed Bug Works #SaturdayMorningCartoons


    Heartbleed explanation

    How The Heartbleed Bug Works via XKCD

    See More


    Each Saturday Morning here at Adafruit is Saturday Morning Cartoons! Be sure to check our cartoon and animated posts both nostalgic and new that inspire makers of all ages! You’ll find how-tos for young makers, approaches to learning about science and engineering, and all sorts of comic strip and animated Saturday Morning fun! Be sure to check out our Adafruit products featuring comic book art while you’re at it!

  • Saturday, April 12, 2014 - 07:00
    What is a Raspberry Pi? #SaturdayMorningCartoons


    An Animated explanation of what the Raspberry Pi is via Saladhouse

    Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized computer that is capable of extraordinary things. The lovely people at the Raspberry Pi Foundation wanted to tell people more about their product, so we created this playful animated explainer. We aimed to inform new users of the incredible potential the Raspberry Pi has for education and beyond.

    Big thanks to Amy Mather, European Digital Girl Of The Year 2013, for providing the voiceover.

    Read more


    Each Saturday Morning here at Adafruit is Saturday Morning Cartoons! Be sure to check our cartoon and animated posts both nostalgic and new that inspire makers of all ages! You’ll find how-tos for young makers, approaches to learning about science and engineering, and all sorts of comic strip and animated Saturday Morning fun! Be sure to check out our Adafruit products featuring comic book art while you’re at it!

  • Saturday, April 12, 2014 - 06:00
    A Visual History Of The Bicycle #SaturdayMorningCartoons


    Evolution of the Bicycle from Visual Artwork on Vimeo.

    A Visual History Of The Bicycle via DAN NOSOWITZ

    We’re inching toward spring, so our thoughts naturally turn to all the things we haven’t been able to do for the past few months. Like: biking! Oh man, biking is so great. And so is this little animated history of the bicycle’s design, created by Danish firm Visual Artwork.

    The bicycle has changed a lot from its beginnings in Germany as a pedal-free “dandy horse,” which is basically just a plank of wood with two wheels (you move by running along like a Flintstones car). The animation shows the two-wheeled vehicle’s design from the dandy horse as it gains pedals and gears, as the wheels change sizes (with a brief stop at the penny-farthing, the ultimate in absurd modes of transport), and finally to our modern road bike.

    And who knows! Maybe we’re due for another step in the evolution of life on two wheels.

    Read more


    Each Saturday Morning here at Adafruit is Saturday Morning Cartoons! Be sure to check our cartoon and animated posts both nostalgic and new that inspire makers of all ages! You’ll find how-tos for young makers, approaches to learning about science and engineering, and all sorts of comic strip and animated Saturday Morning fun! Be sure to check out our Adafruit products featuring comic book art while you’re at it!

  • Saturday, April 12, 2014 - 00:22
    NEW PRODUCTS – On-On Alternating Power Button / Pushbutton 3-Way Toggle Switch and On-Off Power Button / Pushbutton Toggle Switch


    NewImage

    NEW PRODUCT – On-On Alternating Power Button / Pushbutton 3-Way Toggle Switch: Push once to turn one side on, push again to turn the other side on! It’s basically a push-button toggle switch that connects and disconnects the middle pin from either of the two side switches with every click. This clicky switch makes a great power switch or mode toggler. We like this switch because it’s breadboard friendly and more fun than a power switch. Can reliably handle up to 500mA and up to 50V. This is a really satisfying switch.

    The leads are not on a perfect 0.1″ grid so for use with a breadboard just bend the leads out just a tad and snap into a solderless breadboard or perfboard.

    In stock and shipping now!

    NewImage

    NEW PRODUCT – On-Off Power Button / Pushbutton Toggle Switch: Push once to turn on, push again to turn off! This clicky switch makes a great power switch or mode toggler. We like this switch because it’s breadboard friendly and more fun than a power switch. Can reliably handle up to 500mA and up to 50V. This is a really satisfying switch.

    The leads are not on a perfect 0.1″ grid so for use with a breadboard just bend the leads out just a tad and snap into a solderless breadboard or perfboard.

    In stock and shipping now!

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