Tuesday, March 4, 2014 - 06:02RadioShack to close 1,100 of its 4,000 stores
“Our fourth quarter financial results were driven by a holiday season characterized by lower store traffic, intense promotional activity particularly in consumer electronics, a very soft mobility marketplace and a few operational issues. Even in this environment, we’re continuing to make progress on the five pillars of our turnaround plan: repositioning the brand, revamping the product assortment, reinvigorating the stores, operational efficiency and financial flexibility.
In NYC RadioShack has their new rebranded stores opening/relaunching, they’re more BestBuy+Apple store looking with sections devoted to things like Beats headphones vs just cables and cell phones. They’re moving the “brand” away from DIY to DIT (see video above). See previous coverage here.
Tuesday, March 4, 2014 - 06:01Duncan Shotton’s Remote-Control Pop-Up Shop
Duncan Shotton’s remote-control pop-up shop: “Goodness me isn’t that the smallest shop ever!?” “Yeh, and it’s got wheels!”
A tiny, remote control shop selling real boy push pins. The second in a series of creative pop-up shops held on Cat Street, in Harajuku, Tokyo. (the first was in a tree!)
With only 100 of the 1000 limited edition packs of two Real Boy push pins remaining, a special pop-up shop was created to celebrate reaching pack number 900. To build upon their uniqueness, and small size, I wanted to build a tiny shop that held and displayed only a single pack of pins. The shop was also mobile, and movable via remote control, further adding to the designs sense of surprise and playfulness, as well as insuring the minimal design would still be noticed.
Tuesday, March 4, 2014 - 04:01Learn Programming with Python this Saturday
Are you interested in programming and software but have never known where to begin? Some of our most popular classes have been our
introductory programming ones, and I’ll be teaching one this Saturday. The idea is to give students a gentle introduction to software concepts using Python, a very widely-used but accessible language, and practical examples.
I don’t assume any prior programming experience: I’ll teach you everything you need to know to get started. Come and join us!
Tuesday, March 4, 2014 - 04:00Forget Stopping Bullets – Vest Warms You While Stopping Taser
[Bruce Wayne][Shenzhen] wanted a garment that would protect him from a jolt, while keeping him toasty in the cold weather. Well that’s not it at all, these are merely two of his projects using the same material in different ways.
We’re going to start with the infrared image on the right. This is a vest with chest and back pieces made of carbon tape totaling two meters of the material swirled on each side. Hook it to a power source and the carbon tape warms the wearer. Portability is something of an issue as each “element” takes 36 W of power (3A at 12V). Click through for advice on how to interface the tape with the power source.
Onto the main event… avoiding electrical shock when you get all up in the grill of that mall cop you’re hated for years. [Shenzhen's] jacket is really just an ordinary long-sleeved coat. But he separated the lining at the bottom seam and used fusible material to hold the carbon tape in place. The carbon tape provides a better conductor than your skin, preventing the shock from stunning you as it was intended. This really is the thing of superheroes, or former editors who should have known better.
Filed under: wearable hacks
Tuesday, March 4, 2014 - 01:00Remote Control Anything With A PS3 Controller
When looking for a remote control for your next project, you might want to look in your living room. Wii controllers are a hacker’s favorite, but wagging an electronic wand around isn’t the greatest for remote control planes, cars, tanks, and multicopters. What you need for this is dual analog controls, something every playstation since the 90s has included.
[Marcel] created a replacement electronics board for the Sony DualShock 3 controller for just this purpose. With this board, an XBee, and an old controller, it’s easy to add dual analog control and a whole lot of buttons to any project using an XBee receiver.
The replacement board is based on the ATMega328p uC, includes a Lipo charge circuit and power supply, and inputs for the analog sticks and all the button boards inside the DualShock controller.
Yes, we have seen an earlier version of [Marcel]‘s project before, but this time he’s added a few new features – the rumble now works and thanks to multiple people unable or unwilling to spin a few boards, [Marcel] has put up an Indiegogo campaign.
Tuesday, March 4, 2014 - 00:00NASA’s latest robot is designed to bounce and roll across rough terrain #robotics
NASA is developing robots made from a tensile system of interlocking rods and cables that can transform from flat components into a ball shape then tense and flex to roll around the surface of planets
Researchers at the Intelligent Systems Division of NASA’s Ames Research Center in California designed the Super Ball Bot robots as a more flexible and robust alternative to conventional probes, which can be damaged by the impact of landing on a planet’s surface.
“Current robot designs are delicate, requiring combinations of devices such as parachutes, retrorockets and impact balloons to minimise impact forces and to place a robot in a proper orientation,” said the research team led by Vytas SunSpiral and Adrian Agogino.
“Instead, we propose to develop a radically different robot based on a ‘tensegrity’ built purely upon tensile and compression elements.”
Constructed from a network of rods and cables that surround and protect the scientific payload at its centre, the lightweight collapsible design is developed using the principles of tensegrity pioneered by American architect and engineer Buckminster Fuller in the 1960s.
Instead of employing wheels or tracks, the robots move by using a system of motors to shorten and lengthen cables connecting the rods, which changes the balance of tension in the structure and causes it to jerk and roll across the ground.
Monday, March 3, 2014 - 23:00Projector Wedding Ring
Luke Jerram worked with Jewlery designer Tamraker to create a wedding band with a mini lens and transparent slide that projects an image of the couple-to-be. via SlipperyBrick
How do you make your wedding ring stand out these days, among all of the rest? Put a projector in it. Groom-to-be Luke Jerram worked with jewelry designer Tamrakar on this bespoke projector ring design. It has a mini lens and transparent slide with a tiny image of himself and his bride that is ‘projected’ when you shine light through it.
The image can be changed to whatever you want in there, so you aren’t stuck with just one image. Sadly, this is just a one-off design, so if you want one you are on your own.
This beats all the usual tacky diamonds and gold.
Monday, March 3, 2014 - 23:00Pokémon X and Y Noivern Costume
Noivern is a big, flying Pokémon with bat-like wings, and cosplayer Megan knew she wanted to create a costume of the character as soon as it was revealed. She started with several sketches and decided to make the costume from various colors of fleece. She figured the head would be the trickiest part, so she started with a base of a balaclava and went from there:
Before I did anything else, I take some elastic around the mask to where it goes from the top/back of the head and reaches right underneath where your chin would be. This allows you to build a moving jaw later on. Now I can start to build the main form of the head using a material called high-density foam which can be found at many different craft/fabric stores, and hot gluing the foam straight onto the mask. For Noivern, I started with the sides of the head that connect to the front part of the muzzle or mouth, cutting out the place where they eyes are going to be. This allows me to see where my main visibility will be when the mask is put on. Once that is done, I cut out a rectangular piece (to later be trimmed) for the lower jaw. This will be attached right on the elastic on the chin to allow the mask’s jaw to move as yours does. After some pieces have been attached, I like to try the mask on to make sure I can see and that the jaw works.
Read more at Anime Furiku.
Monday, March 3, 2014 - 22:35The Audacity of Making
Monday, March 3, 2014 - 22:05NEW PRODUCT – Beginning NFC with Arduino, Android, and PhoneGap
NEW PRODUCT – Beginning NFC with Arduino, Android, and PhoneGap – Jump into the world of Near Field Communications (NFC), the fast-growing technology that lets devices in close proximity exchange data, using radio signals. With lots of examples, sample code, exercises, and step-by-step projects, this hands-on guide shows you how to build NFC applications for Android, the Arduino microcontroller, and embedded Linux devices.
- Dig into NFC’s architecture, and learn how it’s related to RFID
- Write sample apps for Android with PhoneGap and its NFC plugin
- Dive into NDEF: examine existing tag-writer apps and build your own
- Listen for and filter NDEF messages, using PhoneGap event listeners
- Build a full Android app to control lights and music in your home
- Create a hotel registration app with Arduino, from check-in to door lock
- Write peer-to-peer NFC messages between two Android devices
- Explore embedded Linux applications, using examples on Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone
Monday, March 3, 2014 - 22:00Atomic Powered Robots and Records Played With Optics
If you were a child of the 80′s or early 90′s you probably remember Magic Mike. He went by many names, but he always said the same thing “I am the atomic powered robot. Please give my best wishes to everybody!” [Oona's] version of Mike had been malfunctioning for a few years. He’d stopped talking! She decided he needed more input, so she disassembled Mike to reveal the flesh colored plastic box in the center of his chest. This talkbox was used as a sound module in several toys. Before the days of cheap digital playback devices, sounds were recorded in a decidedly analog fashion. [Oona] found that Mike’s voice and sound effects were recorded on a tiny phonograph record in his chest. The phonograph was spun up by an electric motor, but the playback and amplification system was all mechanical, consisting of a needle coupled to a small plastic loudspeaker. The system was very similar to the early phonograph designs.
Mike’s record contained two interwoven spiral tracks. Interwoven tracks is a technique that has been used before, albeit rarely on commercial albums. One track contained Mike’s voice, the other the sound of his laser gun. The track to be played would be chosen at random depending upon where the needle and record stopped after the previous play. The record completely sidetracked [Oona's] repair work. She decided to try to read the record optically. She started with a high resolution image (image link) of the record, and wrote some Perl code to interpolate a spiral around the grooves. The result was rather noisy, and contained quite a bit of crosstalk. [Oona] tried again with laser illumination using a Lego train set. Unfortunately the Lego train / laser system wasn’t smooth enough to get a good image. In the end she used a bit of Gimp magic and was able to pull better audio from her original image. We never did find out if she put poor Mike back together though.
Filed under: toy hacks
Monday, March 3, 2014 - 22:00Tesla’s $5 Billon Battery Factory: Spending Big to Save Big #ManufacturingMonday
Telsa is planning to build an enormous “Gigafactory” in order to make cheaper batteries for electric cars. Via IEEE Spectrum.
Tesla Motors plans to build a huge U.S. battery factory capable of supplying 500 000 electric cars annually by 2020. The $5-billion “Gigafactory” is expected to produce more lithium ion batteries in 2020 than all the lithium-ion batteries produced worldwide in 2013—a huge step on the road to driving down the cost of battery packs and mass-market electric cars.
A completed Gigafactory running at full production capacity in 2020 would allow Tesla, founded by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Elon Musk, to have an annual battery cell output of 35 gigawatt-hours. The Gigafactory’s initial launch in 2017 would coincide with Tesla’s plans to introduce a lower-cost, mass-market electric car in the same year, according to The Wall Street Journal. But lower lithium-ion battery costs could also open the door for new power storage opportunities beyond electric cars.
“By the end of the first year of volume production of our mass market vehicle, we expect the Gigafactory will have driven down the per kWh cost of our battery pack by more than 30 percent,” said a Tesla Motors press release…
Monday, March 3, 2014 - 20:49Bicolor Square Heart/Valentines Necklace #ArduinoMicroMonday
I use a micro, but just about anything will do. There’s some Sugru on there to keep the sharp bits from catching on clothing/pockets. Usb battery powers the whole thing. It’s pretty bright, definitely not subtle.
Monday, March 3, 2014 - 20:33NEW PRODUCT – Arduino for Beginners
NEW PRODUCT – Arduino for Beginners – Learn Arduino from the ground up, hands-on, in full color! Discover Arduino, join the DIY movement, and build an amazing spectrum of projects…limited only by your imagination!
This full-color guide assumes you know nothing about Arduino or programming with the Arduino IDE. John Baichtal is an expert on getting newcomers up to speed with DIY hardware. First, he guides you gently up the learning curve, teaching you all you need to know about Arduino boards, basic electronics, safety, tools, soldering, and a whole lot more. Then, you walk step-by-step through projects that reveal Arduino’s incredible potential for sensing and controlling the environment – projects that inspire you to create, invent, and build the future!
- Use breadboards to quickly create circuits without soldering
- Create a laser/infrared trip beam to protect your home from intruders
- Use Bluetooth wireless connections and XBee to build doorbells and more
- Write useful, reliable Arduino programs from scratch
- Use Arduino’s ultrasonic, temperature, flex, and light sensors
- Build projects that react to a changing environment
- Create your own plant-watering robot
- Control DC motors, servos, and stepper motors
- Create projects that keep track of time
- Safely control high-voltage circuits
- Harvest useful parts from junk electronics
- Build pro-quality enclosures that fit comfortably in your home
Loaded with full-color step-by-step illustrations!
Monday, March 3, 2014 - 20:27NEW PRODUCT – Hacking the Raspberry Pi
NEW PRODUCT – Hacking the Raspberry Pi – Raspberry Pi is taking off like a rocket! You can use this amazing, dirt-cheap, credit card-sized computers to learn powerful hardware hacking techniques as you build incredibly creative and useful projects! This complete, full-color guide requires absolutely no experience with either hardware hacking or computer programming. Colorful photos guide you through each project, and the step-by-step instructions are stunningly clear and easy.
1. Start with the absolute basics:
- Discover why millions of people are so passionate about the Pi!
- Tour the hardware, including storage, connections, and networking
- Install and run Raspbian, Raspberry Pi’s Linux-based operating system
- Manage devices and configuration files
- Network Raspberry Pi and add Wi-Fi
- Program Raspberry Pi using Python, Scratch, XHTML, PHP, and MySQL
2. Next, build all these great projects:
- Media Center
- Retro Console Video Game Station
- Minecraft Server
- Web Server
- Portable Webcam
- Security & Privacy Device
3. Then, master all these cutting-edge techniques:
- Overclock Raspberry Pi for better performance
- Link Raspberry Pi to the Arduino and Arduino clones, including the AlaMode and the Gertboard
- Use the Pi to build electronics prototypes using a breadboard
Monday, March 3, 2014 - 20:16NEW PRODUCT – Adventures in Raspberry Pi
NEW PRODUCT – Adventures in Raspberry Pi – Coding for kids is cool with Raspberry Pi and this elementary guide!
Even if your kids don’t have an ounce of computer geek in them, they can learn to code with a Raspberry Pi and this wonderful book. Written for 11 to 15-year-olds and assuming no prior computing knowledge, this book uses the wildly successful, low-cost, credit-card-sized Raspberry Pi computer to explain fundamental computing concepts. Young people will enjoy going through the book’s nine fun projects while they learn basic programming and system administration skills, starting with the very basics of how to plug in the board and turn it on.
Each project includes a lively and informative video to reinforce the lessons. It’s perfect for young, eager self-learners—your kids can jump in, set up their Raspberry Pi, and go through the lessons on their own.
- Written by Carrie Anne Philbin, a high school teacher of computing who advises the U.K. government on the revised ICT Curriculum
- Teaches 11 to 15-year-olds programming and system administration skills using Raspberry Pi
- Features 9 fun projects accompanied by lively and helpful videos
Help your children have fun and learn computing skills at the same time with Adventures in Raspberry Pi.
Monday, March 3, 2014 - 20:00Fractal wire patterns enhance stretchability of electronic devices
Phys.org has a write up detailing some interesting new research in stretchable electronics.
Fractals—patterns defined by their scale-invariance that makes them look the same on large scales as they do on small scales—are found in nature everywhere from snowflakes to broccoli to the beating of the heart. In a new study, researchers have demonstrated that metal wires patterned in various fractal motifs, when integrated into elastic materials, enable highly stretchable electronic devices. The fractal wire patterns could lead to a variety of new devices, such as biomedical sensors that can be attached to the skin and that have unique properties such as invisibility under magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)…
In general, a main challenge in designing stretchable electronics is maintaining good electronic functionality while enabling stretching of up to twice the normal device size. Some of the most successful approaches to achieving both of these goals involve combining two separate components: a hard component that provides high conductivity and a soft component that provides mechanical stretchability.
The dual-component nature of these devices raises the question of how hard and soft materials can be ideally integrated.
The results of the new study show that fractal patterns offer a promising approach to hard-soft materials integration, and suggest that fractal patterns can influence the mechanical properties of 2D materials. In the new devices, the hard metal wires are engineered into fractal designs and then bonded to soft elastomers.
“We have established an approach, with general utility, for configuring hard materials with soft ones, in ways that have immediate relevance in all areas of stretchable electronics,” coauthor John Rogers, Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, told Phys.org. “The resulting properties also provide advanced capabilities in stretchable/conformal devices and sensors, not only electronic, but photonic, optoelectronic and photovoltaic as well.”
Monday, March 3, 2014 - 19:44Concrete and gray (patching)
Après un premier week-end de travaux de rénovation du sol de la future zone Workshop (décrit dans l'article précédent) les impatients du lab ont terminé les action d'enlèvement du rose pendant les jours de semaine ! Ce qui fait que ce samedi, un dernier nettoyage et la réalisation du ragréage se sont concrétisés en une seule journée.
La bonne technique
L'Internet étant notre dieu à tous, il nous a expliqué comment réparer notre sol béton un peu cabossé.
La méthode est décrite ici, elle a simplement été appliqué à l'ensemble de la surface à rénover
Les nouveaux métiers
Comme d'usage, le travail en équipe requiert méthode et synchronisme, et les travaux de rénovation de sol en sont un bon exemple. Orchestré par un maître de cérémonie, l'ensemble des corps de métiers s'organise comme suit. Pendant que des maîtres mouilleurs humidifient le sol avec parcimonie, suivi des enduiseurs de sous-couche, deux équipes de préparateurs experts - oeuvrant alternativement - optimisent le mélange des ingrédients de l'enduit de ragréage. Dès la mixture préparée, des artisans couleurs la répandent judicieusement au sol, immédiatement suivis par les racleurs en charge d'assurer un épandage homogène de la matière. Enfin, entrent en scène les lisseurs qui, de leurs poignets agiles, aplanissent le produit fluide en exploitant avec justesse sa thixotropie naturelle. Il convient d'égaliser la surface afin qu'elle devienne la plus plate possible, sans mont ni vallée. Et ce ballet post-numérique se poursuit jusqu'à ce que l'ensemble de la surface soit recouvert de son nouveau revêtement. Nous vous livrons ici quelques images de ce spectacle saisissant.
Le lab a récupéré en début d'année une bonne quantité de dalles de moquette d'occasion. Comme toujours dans ces cas, il y a du bon et du moins bon et plusieurs personnes se sont affairés à les trier selon leur état de fraîcheur. De plus, certaines palettes ont séjourné à l'extérieur, il convient d'en étaler les dalles pour les faire sécher un peu.
Après cinq week-ends de travaux, l'Électrolab a atteint la version 1.1 du projet d'agrandissement et peut désormais mettre à disposition de ses membres une nouvelle zone provisoire d'environ 150m², d'ailleurs en grande partie agencée de moquette ignifugée de récupération, en bon état et très agréable à fouler. Cet espace, immédiatement utilisable, est employé pour mener alternativement des projets ET des workshops (formations). Pour le moment, seul l'éclairage est opérationnel mais l'ajout provisoire de réseau et de quelques prises électriques peut être réalisé à très brève échéance et ne devrait pas poser de problème particulier. L'installation définitive de ces réseaux dans les cloisons et au plafond est envisagée ultérieurement, car l'infrastructure amont doit également être réorganisée en conséquence.
Que ce soit pour la bataille du rose ou toute autre action, les organismes ont besoin de recharger les batteries. Pour cela, une équipe de deux ou trois personnes est dédiée à la préparation des repas. Ce week-end, il y avait par exemple, quiche lorraine, cake salé aux olives et lardons, tarte tatin,…
Sur le plan de masse complet de l'Électrolab 2.0, les nouvelles surfaces aujourd'hui mises à disposition serviront à terme à agrandir l'actuelle zone électronique et créer la zone workshop définitive. Mais avant d'en arriver là, des travaux lourds sont encore requis dans ce nouvel espace, notamment la mise en place de l'isolation des murs. Le fait que ces travaux auront lieu le week-end permet en principe de garder la zone utilisable pendant les soirs d'ouverture de semaine.
Les membres participant aux travaux peuvent être satisfaits du travail accompli, car le résultat est fort honorable. Et la bataille du rose requise pour en arriver à ce stade nécessita un engagement significatif. Toutefois, la mise à disposition provisoire de cette annexe n'est qu'une modeste portion du projet Électrolab 2.0. Même avec un rythme soutenu, il y a encore plus d'un an de travaux et le besoin d'investissement de l'ensemble des membres n'en est que plus évident. Les inscriptions aux prochaines actions sont, bien entendu ouvertes, notamment pour l'opération spéciale prévue le week-end prochain, les 7, 8 et 9 mars.
De même pour vous fidèle lecteur, si notre projet reçoit votre soutien, n'hésitez pas à concrétiser l'attention que vous nous portez par un don et/ou nous informer de l'opportunité de récupérer des matériaux ou matériels en bon état qui ne servent plus.
Monday, March 3, 2014 - 19:04NEW TUTORIAL – Using Melexis MLX90614 Non-Contact Sensors
NEW TUTORIAL – Using Melexis MLX90614 Non-Contact Sensors @ The Adafruit Learning System. Tell temps without touching!
This cyber-tronic looking sensor hides a secret behind it’s glimmering eye. Unlike most temperature sensors, this sensor measures infrared light bouncing off of remote objects so it can sense temperature withouthaving to touch them physically. Simply point the sensor towards what you want to measure and it will detect the temperature by absorbing IR waves emitted. Because it doesn’t have to touch the object it’s measuring, it can sense a wider range of temperatures than most digital sensors: from -70°C to +380°C! It takes the measurement over an 90-degree field of view so it can be handy for determining the average temperature of an area.
Monday, March 3, 2014 - 19:01Hot or Not? Find Out How to Calculate Component Heat and Why You Should
How hot are your key components getting? There’s a good chance you’ve built a project and thought: “Well I guess I better slap a heat sink in there to be safe”. But when working on a more refined build you really need to calculate heat dissipation to ensure reliability. This is actually not tough at all. The numbers are right there in the datasheet. Yes, that datasheet packed with number, figures, tables, graphs, slogans, marketing statements, order numbers… you know right where to look, don’t you?
Hackaday has you covered on this one. In under 10 minutes [Bil Herd] will not only show how easy these calculations are, he’ll tell you where to look in the datasheets to get the info you need quickly.
Above, [Bil] used his bench as a whiteboard to illustrate the thermal resistance equation. In this case each resistor symbol represents part of the heat dissipation. You must consider all places where heat can be transferred: (from left to right) the component die (junction) to the component case, the component case to a heat sink, and the heat sink to ambient air. He illustrates each of these dissipation points in the video.
An example of the junction-to-case is shown to the right. This is a TO-3 case which has had the lid cut off. It’s a much simpler way to look at a chip die than trying to decap a component with a plastic case.
Make with the Math Already!
Okay, okay, we’re getting there. The math is not hard… just multiplication and addition, so hang on a minute more.
Gather the following values: maximum power you plan to use with this component, maximum heat rating of the part, maximum ambient air temperature in which this component will be used, and the theta values from the datasheets. Theta, which is a measure of degrees per watt, is often listed as a symbol: Θ Multiply theta by the max wattage and you will know how much temperature to add to your equation
Datasheets: Finding Θ and Temperature
Because [Bil] does such a great job in the video we’re giving you the quick version here. Temperature generating components will include a maximum operating temperature like the one shown below (click through for full datasheet) which is for a linear regulator:
The theta for “Juntion-to-Case” is found a bit further down the same datasheet in the Electrical Characteristics table. Datasheets will also provide a “Junction-to-Ambient” value (also shown below but not used in our calculations) used to calculate how much power you can use without any type of active or passive cooling. This answers the question of: “do I need a heat sink?”.
Finally, you want to look at values from the heat sink being used. [Bil] looks at the datasheet of a heat sink which lists a thermal resistance of 25.8Θ with the chart below on the left showing how that number may be altered with moving air (a fan). The chart to the right covers the use of interface agents like thermal grease, and a mica pad (for electrical insulation) with thermal grease. Both of those values are circled but only one will be used in the calculation.
Putting It All Together
If we assume an ambient air temperature of 38 C (100 F) and a maximum power of 2 W all of the numbers we need have been collected.
Max Temp = Junction + Mica/Grease + Heat Sink + Ambient
Max Temp = (4Θ * 2W)º + (0.4Θ * 2W)º + (25Θ * 2W)º + 38º
Max Temp = 8º + 0.8º + 50º + 38º
Max Temp = 96.8º
The maximum temperature rating for this part is 125 C, which means that this part is being properly cooled. [Bil] goes one step further in the video, showing how to calculate how much more reliable the properly cooled part will be.
- Texas Instruments LM317-N Datasheet (PDF)
- Texas Instruments App Bulletin for mounting TO-3 packages (PDF)
- AAVID THERMALLOY 7173DG heat sink example