Monday, March 3, 2014 - 18:07From the desk of Ladyada #manufacturing
Monday, March 3, 2014 - 18:01Ask your Wearables Questions! LIVE Wearable Electronics with Becky Stern 3/5 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 3, 2014 - 18:00A Way to Laser Cut LED Pipe in PMMA #lasercut
Here are handy details for how to use a laser cut disk to help solve light routing in your projects! Thanks to Inouk Bourgon for the tip.
…There’re two things to take into consideration when you want to use LEDs as an output in a product:
First light can only shine at a right angle of the PCB; or alongside with the electronic board if you use 90° type of SMT LEDs. In case you want to reach a location of your product which isn’t directly aligned with the board you will have to buy, or have made, a LED pipe that will conduct the light to the right place.
The second role of a led pipe is to act as a diffuser; i.e.: the light is guided with minimum loss and, at the end, spread equally on the surface of the casing. This is accomplished by polishing the end of the pipe.
…In our case we wanted the light to be visible from all angles and spread out equally over 360° horizontally. To achieve a light ring usually you design a circular PCB with many LEDs and you have a diffuser right in contact with them.
We couldn’t afford to have a special LED board so we had to have the LEDs on our vertical PCB. Also we couldn’t afford to have a ring piece that we would need to polish by hand.
So we had to conduct the light as equally as possible to the edges and then to diffuse it. For both functions we used light reflection by having a kind of gear teeth pattern laser cut in our transparent pmma. We tested several design and found out that it was by having one gear pattern close to the LEDs and one at the edge that it work out the best to have a relatively equal spread of lighting….
Monday, March 3, 2014 - 17:59Creating a Custom Tilt Sensor
For this project we worked with a local company in Longmont, Mountain Molding. Their technicians, Todd and Warren, were kind enough to let us hang out and ask a few questions. Here’s a video we shot during our visits to their facility.
The inspiration for this project came from one of my first memories at SparkFun. It was my second day, and I was testing some accelerometers. I was quite awestruck as I waved the circuit board up and down and the numbers changed. “Wow,” I thought, “this is cool!” I was amazed that movement could be so easily transformed into streaming data on a computer screen. And all because of a tiny black box on a little red board. Many years and projects later I remembered that moment, and it inspired me to create a game celebrating the fun connection between motion and electronics. The end result: our new Simon Tilts Through Hole Soldering Kit.
Early on, I knew the game was going to involve patterns of movement and play similar to how Simon Says works, but I wasn’t entirely sure how the position sensing was going to work. This challenge proved to be more difficult than one might expect.
Having such a fond memory of the ADXL335 Accelerometer, it’s kind of sad that we ultimately didn’t use it in the design. The desire to keep the kit 100% PTH was too important, and so another solution was necessary. We tried metal ball tilt sensors, hall effect sensors and magnets, and even two tilt-a-whirls, but none of the prototypes worked as well as we wanted. We eventually came up with a solution that involved a similar mechanical movement to the metal ball tilt sensor, but didn’t rely on the physical weight of the ball to make the connection on the switch. We decided to use an infrared emitter and detector to detect the position of the ball inside the cylinder. If you position them in a certain way with 45 degree angles, then the balls will fall in a unique pattern for all 6 positions.
This would prove to be much more reliable, easy to assemble and would have the added benefit of exposing the mechanics to the player - hopefully encouraging more understanding of how movement could be translated into data. The difficult part of this solution was the fact that such a cylinder did not exist, and so our project expanded into the wonderful world of injection molding!
After hashing out some drawings on my dry erase board and in Google SketchUp, I talked to our in-house mechanical engineer at the time, Paul Smith. He generously offered to give me a quick rundown of Creo Parametric to create a more polished design. After a few hours of monkeying around with sketches, extrudes, revolves, and mirrors we had the following version 1:
At the time, we did not have a 3D printer with high enough resolution to prototype our design, so lucky for us we had some friends that did. Thanks to Modular Robotics we were able to fine tune the design before committing to a tool with Mountain Molding.
The most challenging feature of the design was the snap-in legs. They were intended to mate with a square cut-out of a standard thickness PCB. The idea was that the assembler could push the part down into the cut-out and the legs would bend in temporarily. When the part was pushed in all the way, the legs would then release back into their natural position and the slight ledge on the end of the leg would hold the part in place. The really tricky part of this process is that the leg must be thin enough to flex, but strong enough to not break off. Also, the size of the slight ledge on the end of the leg had to extend far enough to hold position, but not too far as to require a large amount of displacement during insertion.
During prototyping with Modular Robotics, we simply tried a few different leg thicknesses and eventually found a good combination. When we started working with the tool maker at Mountain Molding, Todd, he wanted to refine the snap in legs even more and directed us to a very informative technical document on snap fit designs. After just some very slight tweaking, we finally found a balance of flex and strength that worked for the application and worked for the tool. Here’s is a screen shot of the final design in Creo Parametric. Notice how the snap fit legs are slightly thinner than our first version and now have a taper.
And here they are in all their glory!
We don’t have too many projects around here that involve injection molding, but we sure find it interesting and exciting. Please let us know if you have any fun projects on the rise or share about any custom parts you’ve made in the past. Also, we hope you enjoy the new Simon Tilts!
Monday, March 3, 2014 - 17:53The Future of Farming is Open Source
The Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI) and Farm Hack aim to promote farmers as innovators and makers through a new project called Growing Innovation. The two organizations have launched a collaborative Kickstarter campaign to fund the creation of an open source online library of agricultural innovations and a new book documenting sustainable models developed by farmers.
Monday, March 3, 2014 - 17:00Haptic Sound Distortion #MusicMonday #arduino
Rachel Ciavarella made this interesting project using, among other things, an arduino.
This experimental piece was designed to facilitate experimentation with music. The user is allowed to manipulate sounds through an interface that responds to changes with haptic feedback.
This is meant to make sound manipulation more familiar and less intimidating to “nonmusical” people. By pairing visual and tactile cues to sound qualities I hope to bring a new understanding to sound experience and experimentation.
To interact, a user first selects a sound using one of the buttons. As the sound plays, it can be distorted by turning any of the three haptic feedback distortion knobs.
Each knob produces a different type of distortion. The unique texture on each knobs looks and feels like the distortion sounds. Vibration motors nested inside the knobs are programed to provide a specific vibration pattern that maps a texture onto the knobs that also feels like the distortion sounds.
I was able to make this all happen using a midi controller, computer sound mixing program, an Arduino, processing, and some simple circuitry.
Monday, March 3, 2014 - 16:20MakerBot Academy | Dissect a Frog, Piece By 3D Printed Piece
MakerBot Academy is on a mission to bring 3D printing to schools across the nation, but it’s about more than putting a MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer in every classroom. We’re also dedicated to providing teachers and students with the resources they need to achieve a world-class STEM education.
This 3D printed frog dissection kit is the perfect tool for teaching elementary school students about basic anatomy—without having to deal with messy frog guts or formaldehyde.
The kit includes a lesson plan, a 3D printed frog body, and six 3D printed organs that fit together like puzzle pieces. Download the kit from Thingiverse, and stay tuned for more enriching educational experiences from MakerBot Academy.
Monday, March 3, 2014 - 16:16Y Combinator Female Founders (videos)
Monday, March 3, 2014 - 16:003D Printed Zipper Saves the Day!
[Amr] recently built a 3D printer and came across his first practical application for it – his jacket’s zipper broke!
What we like about this project is [Amr] goes through the entire design process to finished product in his video. He starts by showing us the failed zipper, explaining where and why it failed, and then identifies the design features he needs to keep in order to make a functional replacement. To help accomplish this he checks out the Wikipedia article on zippers which shows an excellent animation of what happens inside of the zipper.
Now confident in his knowledge of all things zipper, he begins to model his replacement using SolidWorks, which is an industry standard among 3D CAD packages — for more information on how to use SolidWorks, we’ve been covering it in our 3D Printering articles!
Once satisfied with his 3D model, he tries to print it, but since it’s so small it pops off the bed mid-print. He adds a brim feature to the part and then it prints perfectly, in just over 30 minutes. We’re not sure if it was his first design iteration, but the zipper works on his jacket first try!
Of course we know he could have gone into town and bought a replacement zipper — but where’s the fun in that? Have you ever repaired something trivial just because? Let us know in the comments!
Monday, March 3, 2014 - 16:00BeagleBone Black case contest – Last round of winners, week 4 #beagleboneblackcase @TXInstruments @beagleboardorg
Say hello to last round of BeagleBone Black case winners! We picked 10 of the entries we saw or were emailed. Congratulations to all the winners, we’ll be contacting you to send your BeagleBone Black case. You can also email us (firstname.lastname@example.org) to claim your prize! Thanks to everyone who participated- we featured BeagleBone projects every Tuesday and will be posting many of the projects that entered!
Marcelo G made a BeagleBone Black ISDB-T receiver-
BBB as an ISDB-T receiver, this allows to get digital television reception on a LCD monitor using the HDMI port.
The Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting – Terrestrial (ISDB-T) system was developed to provide flexibility, expandability, and commonality for multimedia broadcasting services using terrestrial networks.
On August 28, 2009, Argentina officially adopted the ISDB-T system calling it internally SATVD-T (Sistema Argentino de Televisión Digital – Terrestre)
Cory Johannsen writes-
I have now implemented the rotary encoder with pushbutton, integrated pianobar process control inside my application, and built a simple menu to allow the selection of a station. The rotary controls the scroll selection in station list mode, and the volume in play mode. I am now using a $9 USB audio adapter, it works flawlessly. Next is WiFi, then I can plan the final build.
HudsonHardware entered their GrannyCam.
The project grew from observing my mother and my 2-year-old son, Hudson, who struggle with the typical tools – smartphones, computers, tablets – available for communicating with one another. For my mom, now in her 70s, the tools currently available are an enormous challenge: too feature-laden, too complex. For my son, who just turned two years old, the tools are also challenging, though for slightly different reasons: too easily broken or disconnected, too expensive to handle unsupervised, too fraught with concerns over privacy.
Benjamin Cabé writes-
Benjamin Cabe gives an excellent demonstration of his M2M/IOT setup on the Eclipse foundation Stand at the 2014 FOSDEM stand. Check out his use of the Google Glass he’s wearing to control the toy Greenhouse and the Augmented reality information display presented on the tablet
Instagram user samuraicode shows some LED love!
Chuck Swiger used his BeagleBone Black to light up an LED strip!
Ronald Estacio writes-
Test driving my new BeagleBone Black. Having all the programming utilities built into the board is making for a great start. Time to hook up the GPS receiver and 128×64 LCD and start learning more about the Linux OS.
Stephen Frank sent in his project with a bonus cat!
The trick is to keep the Beagle and Cat separated…they don’t get along very well.
Colin Vallance tweeted-
So many uses for the beaglebone, I keep changing it. Now it’s a print server.
Twitter user wm6h entered this bright option!
Thanks to everyone who entered! Contact us at email@example.com for your prize.
Monday, March 3, 2014 - 15:40Make Marceline’s Guitar From Adventure Time
Props are often just as important as the costume, and that’s definitely the case if you’re cosplaying Marceline from Adventure Time. The vampire girl needs her axe bass! Cosplayer Lisa Lou wrote a detailed tutorial explaining how you can make the instrument from insulation foam. Though it’s specifically for the guitar, you can apply the techniques to other props. She used two inch foam and started by creating a diagram and cutting the pieces from the foam. Steps two and three involve smoothing and gluing:
Step 2 – Sand until smooth. The Mod Podge that you’ll be putting on the pieces won’t cover up large dents, dings, and scratches, so make sure to make the pieces as smooth as possible. Make the front of your guitar the part that doesn’t have the words on it, making painting easier later.
Step 3 – Glue the pieces together. Hot glue, super glue, or any corrosive glues will just melt the insulation foam, so be sure to use Gorilla Glue. This is the longest step, since the glue takes a long time to dry – seriously, though, once it’s dry, it holds like crazy! I glued it together before Mod Podging the pieces so that the glue could soak into the insulation foam a little bit, making it even stronger.
Read the rest of the tutorial at Nerd Caliber.
Monday, March 3, 2014 - 15:00Robot Foosball
This robot foosball set from a recent UC Berkeley grad can be a Rookie or an Expert, depending on how you play against it. via hackaday.
Sometimes we find a project that is so far outside of our realm of experience, it just makes us sit back and think “wow”. This is definitely one of those projects. [Saba] has created a Robotic Foosball set that learns.
[Saba Khalilnaji] is a recent engineering graduate from UC Berkeley, and his passion is robotics. After taking an Artificial Intelligence class during his degree (you can take it online through edX!), he has decided to dabble in AI by building this awesome robot Foosball set.
His “basic” understanding of machine learning includes a few topics such as Supervised Learning, Unsupervised Learning and Reinforcement Learning. For this project he’s testing out a real-world application of Reinforcement Learning using the Markov Decision Process or MDP for short. At an extremely top level description it works by programming an agent to learn from the consequences of its actions in a given environment. There are a set of states, actions, probabilities for given state and action, and rewards for specific state and action sets.
Monday, March 3, 2014 - 14:00NEW INC: New Museum’s Art Incubator – Applications Now Open with April 1st Deadline
NEW INC: New Museum’s Art Incubator Applications Now Open: First Round Due April 1st, 2014. Check out the video from the Verge about the incubator above as well! (Note, applications are accepted on a rolling basis, don’t wait!)
NEW INC, the first museum-led incubator, is a shared workspace and professional development program designed to support creative practitioners working in areas of art, technology, and design. Conceived by the New Museum in 2013, the incubator is a not-for-profit platform that furthers the Museum’s ongoing commitment to new art and new ideas. Launching in summer 2014, NEW INC will provide a collaborative space for a highly selective, interdisciplinary community of one hundred members to investigate new ideas and develop a sustainable practice.
Creatives today are working in unique ways that are cross-disciplinary, collaborative, leveraging technology, and increasingly straddling the line between culture and commerce. Because they are exploring new modes of cultural production, the professional landscape in which they work is still undefined, and few resources and systems exist to support these enterprises, or to address the unique challenges they are encountering. NEW INC provides a lab-like environment and framework for the development of new ideas, practices, and models in the pursuit of innovation.
Over the course of a twelve-month residency, members will have access to full-time and part-time coworking desk space, shared resources, events, and professional development programming, as well as a robust network of mentors and advisors that includes members of the New Museum’s staff and affiliates. NEW INC members will also benefit from developing their ideas under the umbrella of the Museum, working in close proximity to Museum artists-in-residence, programs, and affiliates like IDEAS CITY and Rhizome, as well as our anchor tenant, Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP) Studio-X….
We are currently accepting applications for full-time and part-time memberships for the inaugural year of NEW INC, scheduled to kick off in August 2014.
April 1, 2014. Applicants will be reviewed and accepted on a ROLLING BASIS.
- Membership is only open to emerging professionals not currently enrolled in an academic program who are US citizens or already have a valid visa for conducting business in the US.
- Individuals and small teams of up to four people are eligible for membership.
- Full-time memberships require a twelve-month commitment and participation in the professional development program. Part-time memberships are available for shorter terms but are subject to limited access to the space, resources, and programs.
- Applicants must have a body of work, project, product, or creative enterprise positioned at the intersection of technology, art, and design.
- A limited number of subsidized desk fellowships will be available for applicants who demonstrate exceptional talent but lack financial means.
Monday, March 3, 2014 - 13:01Gritz: An Open Source Speed Reading Tool
Here’s a hack to help you increase your reading speed. Gritz is an open source text file reader, which reduces the need to look around the screen. Words pop up one at a time, but at a configurable pace.
[Peter Feuerer] got the idea for Gritz from Spritz, a commercial product for speed reading. The creators of Spritz took three years to develop their software, and recently released a demo. They claim people can read at 1000 WPM using this technology. Spritz is taking applications for access to their APIs, which will allow developers to integrate the software into their own applications. However, a fully open source version with no restrictions would be even better.
Using Gritz, [Peter] claims to have read a book with a 75% improvement in his reading speed. He admits it’s not perfect, and there’s still much development to do. Gritz is written in Perl, uses Gtk2 for its GUI, and comes with instructions for running on Linux, OS X, and Windows. It’s released under the GPL, so you can clone the Github repo and start playing around with accelerated reading.
Filed under: lifehacks
Monday, March 3, 2014 - 13:00New Project: How To Make A Picket Fence Gate in about 30 Minutes
Monday, March 3, 2014 - 13:00Nanotubes Make Logic Circuits that Use Both Light and Current
IEEE Spectrum has the latest information on speeding up communication between computer chips.
Engineers trying to speed up communication between computer chips have been working on using beams of light to replace the copper traces that shuttle data between microprocessors. Now a pair of researchers at Northeastern University in Boston think they can turn up the speed even more by doing some of the computing with light as well.
Physicist Swastik Kar and mechanical engineer Yung Joon Jung lay belts of carbon nanotubes on top of a silicon wafer. The junction created by the intersection of the two materials proved to be highly sensitive to light; shining a laser spot on it caused a sharp rise in the light-induced current. That allowed the pair to build logic circuits that could be manipulated both electrically and optically.
“What we’ve done is built a tiny device where one input can be a voltage and the other input can be light,” Kar says.
The researchers built an optoelectronic AND gate and a two-bit optoelectronic ADDER/OR gate. They also built a four-bit digital-to-analog converter. Shining spots of light onto an array of these junctions converts the digital signal of the laser into an analog current, with the strength of the current depending on the on/off pattern of the laser.
Jung creates the nanotubes in solution, and they can then be placed on a patterned silicon/silicon oxide substrate, so the technology should be compatible with existing CMOS processes, he says. The process should also be reproducible and scalable to large numbers of junctions.
Monday, March 3, 2014 - 12:00Project Tango: A Mobile Phone That Maps Your World
Project Tango brings a whole new dimension (the third one) to what we could potentially do with our phones: imagine creating a 30 second model to take away from a site visit, for example, or using augmented reality to show a design or an installation in situ, navigable in real time. Currently, Google is in the process of distributing 200 prototypes to app developers, who will hopefully help it realize this tremendous potential.
What could I do with it?
What if you could capture the dimensions of your home simply by walking around with your phone before you went furniture shopping? What if directions to a new location didn’t stop at the street address? What if you never again found yourself lost in a new building? What if the visually-impaired could navigate unassisted in unfamiliar indoor places? What if you could search for a product and see where the exact shelf is located in a super-store?
Imagine playing hide-and-seek in your house with your favorite game character, or transforming the hallways into a tree-lined path. Imagine competing against a friend for control over territories in your home with your own miniature army, or hiding secret virtual treasures in physical places around the world?
Monday, March 3, 2014 - 12:00Searching For Makers In Washington DC
Despite there being an inordinate amount of techies and tech companies in the Washington, DC/Northern Virginia area, there aren’t really that many hacker/makerspaces, or really anywhere else for tinkering, building, and generally futzing around with a soldering iron. [Zach] thought it was time for a change and is now organizing the second Make DC an informal get together to show off your latest projects and builds. Here’s the best part: Hackaday is coming, and we’re bringing some sweet swag.
Right now [Matt] has two talks lined up focused on bringing APIs into the physical world. There’s space for plenty more speakers, so if you have something to show off be sure to sign up.
The event is scheduled for Wednesday, March 19, 6:30 PM, half a block away from the Dupont Circle Metro station. Be there. You’ll get a sticker at least.
Filed under: news
Monday, March 3, 2014 - 11:00Arduboy: The Interactive Digital Business Card #arduino
Kevin Bates shared with us his interactive digital business card project: “It is completely flush with the circuit board. I love your site I have learned virtually everything I know about micro controllers from you! Thanks!”
The primary trick of this design is having milled cutouts made for surface mount components to be press fit into, using the circuit board as a kind of frame. Components selected have a thickness near that of the circuit board (1.6mm). Furthermore, to minimize the board thickness, the Atmega328P is inverted so that the bulk of its height below the surface. The result of equal thickness and recessed installation provides a flush appearance. The primary benefit beyond the aesthetic quality is the device is easily slid from a wallet. The high quality boards and the excellent service from oshpark also makes this build possible.
…Inspiration struck when I was working with the OLED module. For some time I had been pondering the best method for protecting and otherwise accounting for the flex ribbon on the screen within the design of the circuit board. When prototyping, the screen laid flat against the breakout board and this felt like the most natural orientation for the display to be installed. Placing a circuit board next to the OLED screen revealed near identical height and in that moment I knew it was time to get to work….
Monday, March 3, 2014 - 10:01Hacking Dell Laptop Charger Identification
If you’ve ever had a laptop charger die, you know that they can be expensive to replace. Many laptops require you to use a ‘genuine’ charger, and refuse to boot when a knock off model is used. Genuine chargers communicate with the laptop and give information such as the power, current, and voltage ratings of the device. While this is a good safety measure, ensuring that a compatible charger is used, it also allows the manufacturers to increase the price of their chargers.
[Xuan] built a device that spoofs this identification information for Dell chargers. In the four-part series (1, 2, 3, 4), the details of reverse engineering the communications and building the spoofer are covered.
Dell uses the 1-Wire protocol to communicate with the charger, and [Xuan] sniffed the communication using a MSP430. After reading the data and verifying the CRC, it could be examined to find the fields that specify power, voltage, and current.
Next, a custom PCB was made with two Dell DC jacks and an MSP430. This passes power through the board, but uses the MSP430 to send fake data to the computer. The demo shows off a 90 W adapter pretending to run at 65 W. With this working, you could power the laptop from any supply that can meet the requirements for current and voltage.