Monday, March 31, 2014 - 21:00An engineering company is creating a robot army inspired by nature #robotics
German engineering firm Festo is creating a robot army. Sounds scary, right? But there’s no need to fear a “Skynet”-type apocalypse quite yet, because these robots want to do good by making laborious tasks easier in the factories of the future. And they’re using nature as their inspiration.
Festo summarizes the motivation behind their research on their website: “Gripping, moving, controlling and measuring – nature performs all of these tasks instinctively, easily and efficiently. What could be more logical than to examine these natural phenomena and learn from them?”
It makes a lot of sense. Why reinvent the wheel when nature has already spent epochs perfecting the mechanics needed for survival on the Earth? This practice of bio-mimicry is widespread in other fields such as molecular biology, where many drugs are designed by optimizing already existing natural products from microorganisms.
What’s really brilliant about this body of research is that while many of the designs have obvious practical applications, many others have been made in the creative spirit of learning, with some wild results.
Monday, March 31, 2014 - 20:30Lycopodium powder “dances” on subwoofer in this incredibly cool video #MusicMonday
Geek.com posted about this awesome video featuring lycopodium powder on top of a subwoofer.
Sometimes the simplest of elements can be combined to create the most interesting of results. And I’m not talking about the old baking soda-plus-vinegar volcano, this is the combination of nothing more than an active subwoofer cone and a dust-like powder. The two were all it took to create this incredibly cool video, though the addition of a Red Epic camera certainly helped.
The video, entitled The Essence of Sound, features lycopodium powder dancing around on top of a subwoofer. Lycopodium is better known as flash powder, as in the stuff that was used in the pyrotechnic explosions that lit old-timey photographs. It’s still used to in laboratory settings, for instance when it’s necessary to make sound waves visible (as we see here). Basically, lycopodium is the best way possible to make a fireball on a budget, but it’s also quite handy for other things as well.
Below the powder is a subwoofer doing exactly what subwoofers do. As the subwoofer bounces the powder hypnotically moves creating the incredible forms we see. The patterns aren’t quite as regular as one would expect, so it’s likely that there is more too the situation than just a speaker with some dust on it, but that’s essentially what we’re looking at.
Monday, March 31, 2014 - 20:00The Cybathlon is the worlds first Olympics for augmented humans and it’s coming in 2016
CNET has the story on the latest iteration of the Olympics- The Cybathlon which is the first Olympics for augmented humans.
In October 2016, a few months after the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, cyborgs will descend upon Zurich for an Olympics of their own.
They’ll be competing in the Cybathlon, the first championship games for robot-assisted parathletes. The games will feature some of the most advanced prosthetics, exoskeletons, wheelchairs, and brain computer interfaces around to test athletes’ speed, dexterity, and concentration and showcase the potential of today’s — and tomorrow’s — assistive devices.
In one event, for example, athletes who have lost function in their legs will navigate a race course wearing a powered robotic exoskeleton along the lines of a ReWalk or Rex. They will walk up and down a ramp, step on pillars of varying heights, and walk a narrow beam. At certain points along the course, they will carry a weight…
Similarly, in the arms prosthetics race, athletes with forearm or upper-arm amputations will be fitted with actuated prosthetic devices and charged with speedily completing tasks on hand-arm courses, including one that requires following a metal wire with a conductive wire loop — without touching the wire.
Those paralyzed from the neck down will also have events to choose from. One, the FES bike race, will feature cycles that allow riders to pedal around a circular course with help from Functional Electrical Stimulation devices, which apply small electrical pulses to paralyzed muscles to restore or improve their function…
The main objectives of the novel Olympics, according to the organizers, are to promote the development of advanced assistive systems; improve public awareness of human-focused robotic technologies; and give robot-assisted parathletes a new forum for showing off some superhuman feats.
Monday, March 31, 2014 - 19:493D Robotics on Primetime #makerbusiness
3D Robotics on Primetime
Monday, March 31, 2014 - 19:4516 x 16 Zelda
Monday, March 31, 2014 - 19:06Tutorial – Wireless Security Camera with the Arduino Yun @arduino #arduino #IoT
Ever saw these wireless security cameras that you can buy off the shelf? These are devices that you can setup somewhere in your home or outside, connect to your WiFi network, and then access the video stream from anywhere. However, they are usually using the interface given by the manufacturer, which means you are quite limited with what you can do with your camera.
In this project, we are going to build our own DIY version of such devices. The project is based on the Arduino Yun, to which we are going to connect a standard USB webcam and a PIR motion detector to create some cool applications.
The first application will be a modern version of standard tasks that you want for a security camera: taking pictures when some motion is detected. The project will store pictures taken by the USB camera on an SD card inserted into the Yun, but that’s not all. Because we are in the age of the Internet of Things, we also want these pictures to be automatically uploaded on a secure location. And that’s exactly what we are going to do by uploading the pictures to Dropbox at the same time.
Then, we are going to stream video coming from the camera directly on Youtube. At the end, you will have your own video stream accessible from anywhere in the world so you can check what is going on in your home. This way, you can also just share the link with your family or friends, so they can monitor your home when you are not there. Excited? Let’s dive in!
Arduino YUN (YÚN). Arduino Yún is the first member of a new groundbreaking line of wifi products combining the power Linux with ease of use of Arduino. Yún means “cloud” in Chinese language as the purpose of this board is to make it simple to connect to complex web services directly from Arduino. The first Arduino Yún is the combination of a classic Arduino Leonardo (based on the Atmega32U4 processor) with a Wifi system-on-a-chip running Linino (a MIPS GNU/Linux based on OpenWRT).
Designed in collaboration with Dog Hunter, a company with extensive experience with Linux, the board adopts the linino distribution which provides signed packages to ensure the authenticity of the software installed on the device.
We embedded the Linux machine directly on the PCB of the Arduino Leonardo and we connected the two so that from Arduino it’s very easy to run commands on the Linux side and use it as an Ethernet and Wifi interface.
Historically, interfacing Arduino with complex web services has been quite a challenge due to the limited memory available. Web services tend to use verbose text based formats like XML that require quite a lot or ram to parse. On the Arduino Yún we have created the Bridge library which delegates all network connections and processing of HTTP transactions to the Linux machine. To make it even simpler to create complex applications, the Arduino Yún comes loaded with the power of Temboo, an innovative startup which provides normalized access to 100+ APIs, databases, and code utilities from a single point of contact allowing developers to mix and match data coming from multiple platforms (for example, Facebook, Foursquare, Dropbox and even FedEx and PayPal).
The board can be programmed with an USB cable in the classic Arduino way or through the Wifi connection without the need to physically access the board. The new Arduino 1.5.4 IDE has the ability to detect any Arduino Yún connected to the local network. Clicking on the name of board and inputting a password is all it’s needed to program a board.
This is the first official Arduino made in Asia, in Taiwan, because dealing with a tiny embedded Linux machine and Wifi all on a small board like this requires special equipment and expertise that are easier to find there.
Monday, March 31, 2014 - 19:00These Sand Castle Etchings are Each done on a Single Grain of Sand
Using a scanning electron microscope and a focused ion beam, Brazilian artists Marcelo Coelho and Vik Muniz turn the concept of a conventional sand castle on its head, from design boom.
brazilians artists vik muniz and marcelo coelho have visualized a monumental project on a microscopic scale: the two have etched grandiose castles onto the surface of individual, miniscule grains of sand. reversing the traditional notions of these fortresses being built in three dimensions from the sand itself, muniz and coelho instead reinterpret the term ‘sandcastle’ by intricately carving the form directly onto a single grain. with a canvas of just a half a millimeter in length, the precise portrayals are naked to the human eye, created with the use of a focused ion beam and scanning electron microscope, and are later blown up as four-feet-wide macro photos, which describe the elaborate detail in high quality.
muniz tells the creator’s project ‘when someone tells you it’s a grain of sand, there’s a moment where your reality falls apart and you have to reconstruct it. you have to step back and ask what the image is and what it means’. the works are currently exhibiting at the tel aviv museum of art until august 2nd, 2014 as part of a comprehensive retrospective on the work of vik muniz.
Monday, March 31, 2014 - 18:56NEW PRODUCT – The Raspberry Leaf (Three Pack)
NEW PRODUCT – The Raspberry Leaf (Three Pack): Have you ever tried making a connection from your Raspberry Pi to a breadboard and had trouble finding the pin you need because nothing is labelled? Have you made mistakes matching a diagram of the pinout to the actual pins? Are you not making enough connections to use our amazing Pi Cobbler? Try the Raspberry Leaf!
The Raspberry Leaf is a piece of high quality glossy paper that’s cut and drilled to to pop over the GPIO pins of your Raspberry Pi and label them for easy connection. It greatly simplifies using the Raspberry Pi with a breadboard. All you do is push the leaf all the way down over the GPIO pins and then you’re ready to go!
All the numbers refer to the BCM GPIO Number so if you’re using the RPi.GPIO library then be sure to set the BCM mode using the function setmode.
The Raspberry Leaf is sold in packs of three
Monday, March 31, 2014 - 18:25Adafruit goes to the APEX EXPO (photo gallery) #makerbusiness
Monday, March 31, 2014 - 18:20The Lady’s a Beast
The X-Men doesn’t have a shortage of blue characters, and cosplayer Reign transformed herself in the Beast. Hank McCoy is smart, witty, and also furry. Reign did a fantastic job bringing the mutant to life with her spot on costume and blue paint. I like her femme approach and that she translated it without making it overly skimpy. It’s more like straightforward crossplay. She shared some in progress pics on her Facebook page, and you can pick up some tips by going through them. For example, she created the buttons on her yellow belt simply by applying stickers. No special riveting tool necessary! See the pics below for some insight:
Monday, March 31, 2014 - 18:09Ask your Wearables Questions! LIVE Wearable Electronics with Becky Stern 4/2 2pm ET
What questions do you have about wearable electronics? Ask them now in the comments, and you could win our live giveaway!
All inquisitive askers whose questions are featured on this week’s LIVE Wearable Electronics with Becky Stern will be eligible for a special giveaway. Post your Qs in the comments here, on Google+, Twitter, or YouTube, and then tune in at 2pm ET on Wednesday for the answers and to see if you’ve won!
Monday, March 31, 2014 - 18:00From the Forums: Sharp Infrared Range Sensor
We built an autonomous RC vehicle using 4 of the Sharp IR sensors and they work great! Thanks Adafruit for such great customer support and quick delivery. Here is the result.
The objective was to create a robot that can recognize, track, and follow a specified color object as well as have the ability to avoid obstacles in its way.
The Nexus S device connects to the IOIO board via Bluetooth, and uses the smartphone’s camera in conjunction with OpenCV and the external IR sensors to control the vehicle.
The robot consists of the following components:
- An android Nexus S smartphone
- An IOIO-OTG board
- An Arduino proto shield
- An 1/18 RC Mastadon truck with brushless motor
- An USB Micro Bluetooth Adapter
- A 25C 2S 1500mAh 7.4V LiPO
- Four(4) IR sensors
- A Lynx B – Pan and Tilt Kit (with 2 Hitec 422 servos)
- A Xbee shield for Arduino with an RN42-XV Bluetooth Module to communicate with laptop (optional). Mostly used to tune up the ESC PWMs and the pan/tilt PID.
Total purchase cost was just under $400 and that includes the phone; which was purchased used on eBay.
Monday, March 31, 2014 - 18:00Ladyada visits Pololu @Pololu – APEX EXPO #adafruitAPEX @IPCShow #IPCshow #apexexpo
While at the APEX Expo looking for manufacturing equipment for Adafruit we met up with Jan and the team from Pololu. Pololu is one of our favorite maker/robotics companies, they have some of the best engineered & designed electronics (we sell their Zumo!) – About Pololu.
Pololu is an electronics manufacturer and online retailer serving education, maker, and professional engineering industries with products ranging from sensors and motion control electronics to motors and wheels to complete robots. We strive to offer well-engineered, quality products that enable our customers to take their own projects from idea to reality.
Thank you for the tour!
NEW PRODUCT – Zumo Robot for Arduino – The Pololu Zumo robot is an Arduino-controllable tracked robot platform that is less than 10 cm × 10 cm—small enough to qualify for Mini Sumo. It includes two micro metal gearmotors coupled to a pair of silicone tracks, a stainless steel bulldozer-style blade, an array of six infrared reflectance sensors for line following or edge detection, a 3-axis accelerometer and magnetometer, and a buzzer for simple sounds and music. Just add 4 AA batteries and an Arduino (or compatible controller) and you are ready to push! No soldering or assembly is required.
The Zumo robot is a low-profile tracked robot platform intended for use with an Arduino (or compatible device) as its main controller. It measures less than 10 cm on each side and weighs approximately 300 g with an Arduino Uno and batteries (165 g without, as shipped), so it is both small enough and light enough to qualify for Mini-Sumo competitions. It uses two 75:1 HP micro metal gearmotors to drive the treads, providing plenty of torque and a top speed of approximately 2 feet per second (60 cm/s), which makes it much more agile than competing robots like the Solarbotics Sumovore and Parallax SumoBot while still offering plenty of control. The Zumo robot includes a 0.036″-thick laser-cut stainless steel sumo blade mounted to the front of the chassis for pushing around objects like other robots, and a reflectance sensor array mounted along the front edge of the Zumo (behind the sumo blade) allows the Zumo to detect features on the ground in front of it, such as lines for following or edges for avoiding.
The Zumo control board is essentially a shield for the Arduino Uno or Leonardo, both of which can be plugged directly into the shield’s male header pins, face down. (It is not compatible with the Arduino Mega or Due, but it can be used with older Arduinos that have the same form factor as the Uno, such as the Duemilanove.) The shield includes dual motor drivers, a buzzer for playing simple sounds and music, a user pushbutton, and a 3-axis accelerometer and compass. It also boosts the battery voltage to power the Arduino and breaks out the Arduino I/O lines, reset button, and user LED for convenient access and to accommodate additional sensors.
Our Zumo Arduino libraries make it easy to interface with all of the integrated hardware, and we provide a number of sample programs that show how to use the Zumo’s reflectance array, pushbutton, buzzer, and motors. We have also written a basic LSM303 Arduino library that makes it easier to interface the LSM303DLHC 3-axis accelerometer and magnetometer with an Arduino.
The robot ships as shown in the main product picture; no assembly or soldering is required. An appropriate Arduino (or compatible controller) and four AA batteries are required but not included.
Monday, March 31, 2014 - 17:00New A-Trak and Tommy Trash video features INSANE Rube Goldberg machine #MusicMonday
We were blown away when we saw this new video for A-Trak & Tommy Trash’s ‘Tuna Melt’ on Colossal. This is one of the coolest Rube Goldberg machines we’ve ever seen!
Here’s a fun new music video for A-Trak & Tommy Trash’s ‘Tuna Melt‘. The Rube Goldberg device moves through almost every room of the The Ohage House in St. Paul, MN as dominoes crash, paper airplanes fly, and submarines chug along underwater. I couldn’t say for sure if it was all shot in one take, but there are some fantastic sequences regardless. The video was directed by Ryan Staake and most of the dominoes and other kinetic devices were created by Tim Fort.
Here’s a behind the scenes video which sort of indicates that it wasn’t done in one shot. Still, incredible build- can you imagine how long it must’ve taken?
Monday, March 31, 2014 - 16:19ASK AN ENGINEER + POPULAR MECHANICS @PopMech on Wednesday night 8pm ET 4/2/2014 – Special guest Jerry Beilinson!
ASK AN ENGINEER + POPULAR MECHANICS on Wednesday night 8pm ET 4/2/2014 – Special guest Jerry Beilinson! We will be talking about the April issue on stands now – Innovation Economy – 25 Makers Who Are Reinventing the American Dream. Get the issue here!
Jerry Beilinson, the deputy editor of Popular Mechanics, helps lead the coverage of diverse topics including the maker movement, advancements in biology, climate issues, and energy policy. He launched the magazine’s annual Breakthrough Awards program and led the development of its award-winning tablet magazine, along with other mobile apps.
Now, as never before, DIYers are empowered to design, manufacture, and market their creations. Call it the maker movement, a fresh industrial revolution, or the new innovation economy. By any name, it’s a great time to be an innovator. And these visionaries are leading the way.
What is “Ask an engineer”? From the electronics enthusiast to the professional community — “Ask an Engineer” has a little bit of everything for everyone. If you’re a beginner, or a seasoned engineer — stop in and see what we’re up to! We have demos of projects and products we’re working on, we answer your engineering and electronics questions and we have a trivia question + give away each week.
READ MORE – Our Ladyada is featured along with a whole bunch of awesome makers!
While working on her master’s degree at MIT, Limor Fried used to relax at night by building synthesizers and other DIY electronics projects, then posting the instructions online. After fans started asking for help locating parts, she launched Adafruit. The company now sells electronics kits with open-source licenses, encouraging would-be inventors to experiment and have fun. The popular MintyBoost, for example, is a mobile-device charger housed in an Altoids-size tin. Fried’s site includes vibrant forums and video tutorials, and she awards badges for coding and welding. Her work is clearly making an impact: After watching the pink-haired engineer’s webcasts, one girl asked her father, “Are there any boy engineers?”
Mission statement: Fried calls Adafruit “an educational company that just happens to have a gift shop at the end.”
Monday, March 31, 2014 - 16:00Rainbow-catching waveguide could revolutionize energy technologies #Manufacturing Monday
Phys.org has posted a story on some new photonics research that could allow manufacturers to recycle waste heat and more.
By slowing and absorbing certain wavelengths of light, engineers open new possibilities in solar power, thermal energy recycling and stealth technology.
More efficient photovoltaic cells. Improved radar and stealth technology. A new way to recycle waste heat generated by machines into energy.
All may be possible due to breakthrough photonics research at the University at Buffalo.
The work, published March 28 in the journal Scientific Reports, explores the use of a nanoscale microchip component called a “multilayered waveguide taper array” that improves the chip’s ability to trap and absorb light.
Unlike current chips, the waveguide tapers (the thimble-shaped structures above) slow and ultimately absorb each frequency of light at different places vertically to catch a “rainbow” of wavelengths, or broadband light…
“We previously predicted the multilayered waveguide tapers would more efficiently absorb light, and now we’ve proved it with these experiments,” said lead researcher Qiaoqiang Gan, PhD, UB assistant professor of electrical engineering. “This advancement could prove invaluable for thin-film solar technology, as well as recycling waste thermal energy that is a byproduct of industry and everyday electronic devices such as smartphones and laptops.”
Each multilayered waveguide taper is made of ultrathin layers of metal, semiconductors and/or insulators. The tapers absorb light in metal dielectric layer pairs, the so-called hyperbolic metamaterial. By adjusting the thickness of the layers and other geometric parameters, the tapers can be tuned to different frequencies including visible, near-infrared, mid-infrared, terahertz and microwaves.
The structure could lead to advancements in an array of fields…
The multilayered waveguide taper array could help recycle waste heat generated by power plants and other industrial processes, as well as electronic devices such as televisions, smartphones and laptop computers.
“It could be useful as an ultra compact thermal-absorption, collection and liberation device in the mid-infrared spectrum,” said Dengxin Ji, a PhD student in Gan’s lab and first author of the paper.
It could even be used as a stealth, or cloaking, material for airplanes, ships and other vehicles to avoid radar, sonar, infrared and other forms of detection. “The multilayered waveguide tapers can be scaled up to tune the absorption band to a lower frequency domain and absorb microwaves efficiently,” said Haomin Song, another PhD student in Gan’s lab and the paper’s second author.
Monday, March 31, 2014 - 15:59Abstract Ideas Don’t Deserve Patents #makerbusiness
The Constitution gives Congress the power to grant inventors a temporary monopoly over their creations to “promote the progress of science and useful arts.” But in recent years, the government has too often given patent protection to inventions that do not represent real scientific advances.
On Monday, the Supreme Court will consider when the government should grant patents to processes that are based on abstract ideas. In a world where technology is rapidly changing, the Patent and Trademark Office has been flooded with applications that claim to have invented ways to solve problems. But it can be hard to discern if these creations should be patentable.
The number of patent applications has more than tripled in the last two decades, and the number of patents granted has multiplied two and a half times. But many of those patents appear to be overly broad and vague, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office. That increase has contributed to a surge in costly, and often frivolous, patent-infringement lawsuits.
…The Supreme Court should make clear that nobody should be allowed to claim a monopoly over an abstract idea simply by tying it to a computer.
Monday, March 31, 2014 - 15:57Ultimaker Announces New CEO #makerbusiness
Co-founders Martijn Elserman and Erik de Bruijn will take on supporting roles responsible for the Ultimaker Experience and Evangelizing 3D printing respectively. The change comes as a result of a newly defined growth strategy in which the founders will take on a more prominent role in defining the path forward. The three co-founders are extremely grateful for the role of interim CEO Henk van Gils who has guided the company the past two years.
Monday, March 31, 2014 - 15:53Life (video)
A commission by The Metropolitan Hotel London as part of their charity work for Noah’s Ark Children Hospice, this egg is a contemporary interpretation of the Faberge egg. Designed using parametric principles the structure itself provides power to 400 LEDs. In this object circuit boards are part of the structure and the structure is part of the circuit to create a seamless aesthetics of structure and light.
Monday, March 31, 2014 - 15:51What the IRS Bitcoin Tax Guidelines Mean For You #makerbusiness
The US Internal Revenue Service finally announced its guidance for virtual currencies yesterday, explicitly referring to bitcoin (see the announcement here PDF here). and notice . The increased clarity – provided three weeks before the end of the US tax year – will come as a relief to many who were scared to get involved in bitcoin, commercially. But what does it mean for different members of the bitcoin community?
Adafruit is pleased to offer BitCoin as a payment method for Adafruit purchases. We’re using BitPay as our payment processor. BitPay is an electronic payment processing system for the bitcoin currency. BitPay enables online merchants to accept bitcoins, as a form of payment like payments from Visa, Mastercard, Amex, Google Wallet and Paypal.
Here’s a video from BitPay that explains their service. And below is the Bitcoin.org overview of Bitcoin and video.
Bitcoin uses peer-to-peer technology to operate with no central authority or banks; managing transactions and the issuing of bitcoins is carried out collectively by the network. Bitcoin is open-source; its design is public, nobody owns or controls Bitcoin and everyone can take part. Through many of its unique properties, Bitcoin allows exciting uses that could not be covered by any previous payment system.