Tuesday, April 15, 2014 - 01:00Smart Microwave Shows You How It’s Done
Do you still have technical difficulties with your microwave? Never know how long to put that half eaten hot-pocket in for? With the nextWAVE (trademark pending) you don’t need to know! Simply scan the bar code and let the nextWave do its thing — wirelessly!
[Kashev Dalmia], [Dario Aranguiz], [Brady Salz] and [Ahmed Suhyl] just competed in the HackIllinois Hackathon 2014, and their project was this awesome smart microwave. It uses a Spark Core Microcontroller to control the microwave and communicate wirelessly over Wi-Fi. They’ve developed an Android app to allow you to scan bar codes, which are then looked up in a Firebase Database to determine the optimum (crowd sourced) cook time. To make it easy for anyone to use, an app link NFC tag is placed on the microwave for easy installation.
It even automatically opens the door when it’s done — and plays Funky Town! Oh and it also has a Pebble app to show you the time remaining on your food. We think this Raspberry Pi microwave might give it a run for its money though…
Filed under: cooking hacks
Tuesday, April 15, 2014 - 00:00This knitwear designer/cardiac radiographer is turning brain scans into fashion
The Libertine has the story on Brooke Roberts, a knitwear designer/cardiac radiographer who’s doing some very cool things with fashion design.
Knitwear designer Brooke Roberts is a busy woman. By day, she works as a cardiac radiographer at King’s College Hospital in South London. By night she designs knitwear based on her patients’ CT and MRI scans. Her innovative approach to design has seen her awarded 2011 Creative in Residence at London’s Hospital Club, owned by Microsoft Co-Founder Paul G Allen, and she has consulted luxury brands on their approach to knits. The link to the Hospital Club has provided additional source material; Brooke has used brain mapping images from the Allen Brain Institute in Seattle in several fabrics.
“Being a radiographer means analysing images. It’s heavily aesthetic-based, so when I’m working as a radiographer, I’m looking at fluoroscopic x-ray images all day and I even create images through fluoroscopy and live x-rays’, she explains.
“A fluoroscopic image is different from single shot diagnostic imagery, which produces a single image,’ she continues, ‘Fluoroscopic imagery acquires a certain number of frames-per-second, so it provides real-time moving images on the screen. The images help me with ideas about shape and form and about how to construct art works that can mould and map the body. I’m always taking ideas from what I’m seeing, whether it’s medical or non-medical and I focus on what interests me as a person.
“My research has extended way beyond the images I create. It started at radiography and has grown as a concept which involves looking at the body broken down into images and how that can be made into fabric.’
Four years ago, after working with other designers, Brooke felt confident enough to go it alone. She set up Brooke Roberts Knitwear and already supplies luxury knitwear products to Browns in South Molton Street in London’s Mayfair. Her label is also stocked online at Avenue 32.
Since her university days at Sydney, Brooke says she’s always harboured a love of science and an interest in fashion, but never thought the two careers could co-exist so harmoniously. It wasn’t until she began collaborating with another designer that she gained the relevant experience. Together they developed a tailored way of cutting knit that was like cutting cloth. It’s complex, as the level of detail in a medical image is so enormous that it makes it impossible to condense it into a knitting machine. But Brooke relishes a challenge; this turned out to be pioneering research.
“MRI and CT scans lend themselves well to knit, she says. ‘They are digital files and at their most basic level, they are pixels and in a knitting machine a pixel is a stitch, so they’re programmable, and they do translate. But you’d need a machine that was hundreds of metres wide to cope with that level of detail!’, she laughs.
‘So I had to go through a process of translation. I can simplify medical images and I can enhance or reduce their definition and make the image just black or white. It’s called the ‘grey scale’ in medical terms. When I play with the image, it loses its texture and becomes flat and then I can make that translate’.
Brooke is able to work with existing computer programmes using a mixture of sketching, Photoshop and Illustrator to develop what she imagines her garment should look like. At this point it becomes a file that will work with a digital knitting machine.
Monday, April 14, 2014 - 23:35How to Remake the World by Making with Kids
Monday, April 14, 2014 - 23:14NEW PRODUCT – Adafruit LED Sequins – Rose Pink – Pack of 5
NEW PRODUCT – Adafruit LED Sequins – Rose Pink – Pack of 5: Sew a little sparkle into your wearable project with an Adafruit LED Sequin. These are the kid-sister to our popular Flora NeoPixel, they only show a single color and they don’t have digital control, but that makes them smaller easier to use for many projects.
Simply connect 3 to 6VDC to the + pin and ground to the – pin, and the LED on the board will light up. You can make the LEDs fade and twinkle by using the PWM (a.k.a. analogWrite) functionality of your Gemma or Flora, or just connect directly to a digital I/O pin of a microcontroller to turn on and off. Or even skip the micro altogether, and power directly from a LiPoly or coin battery.
This order comes with 5 Rose Pink “1206 size” LEDs, matched with a 100 ohm resistor. When powered from 3.3V they draw about 5mA so you can put up to 4 or 5 in parallel on a single microcontroller pin. We also have these sequins in ruby red, emerald green, royal blue, and warm white.
Monday, April 14, 2014 - 23:11Rev C and BeagleBoard Compliant Element14 BeagleBone Black
Addressing the enormous demand for BeagleBone Blacks, BeagleBoard.org is introducing a Rev C BeagleBone Black and enabling a BeagleBoard Compliant Element14 BeagleBone Black.
Rev C increases the on-board eMMC size from 2GB of eMMC to 4GB and switches the included image from Angstrom Distribution to Debian. A slight price increase helps cover the cost for the larger eMMC and to pay to expedite production at CircuitCo.
Element14 is also coming on as a producer of BeagleBoard Compliant boards. While they are not the official BeagleBoard.org boards being quality controlled directly by Gerald, they are identical in function and built from the same design materials, confirmed to run the same software.
Both of these moves are meant to help address the large demand for boards and get them into your hands faster. Expectation is to clear existing backlog orders by mid-May. Keep tuned to Adafruit’s stock, however, as Rev B boards will continue to show up as Rev C production is ramped.
Monday, April 14, 2014 - 23:00How To Make Horns With Just Cardboard and Hot Glue
Horns are a handy cosplay accessory to have in your toolkit. They’re great for fantasy costumes you put together at the last minute and are a fit for a variety of costume situations such as the renaissance faire. If you don’t want to make horns from clay, which can be heavy, you can fashion them from cardboard and hot glue. DeviantArt user MonkeyNumber5 cut cardboard into strips, rolled them, and glued them together. Once they’re dry, you can paint them and attach them to a headband or ribbon.
See the entire tutorial at DeviantArt.
Monday, April 14, 2014 - 23:00This Font Made From CGI Skin Will Make You Feel Gross #ArtTuesday
CGI software a brand new and totally absurb sculpted font. by Liz Stinton
Computer-generated imagery software has given us some truly wonderful gifts: Avatar, Jurassic Park, and that creepy dancing man, to name just a few. Also? These totally absurd, photorealistic letters.
Created by German design studio FOREAL, the typography project began as an extracurricular activity to the company’s advertising work. Founders Benjamin Simon and Dirk Shuster were looking to sharpen their 4-D animation chops beyond the strict briefs and parameters they usually worked within. Working with clients offered little room for experimentation, even less for a typographic free for all. “That’s when we decided to do a sculpted alphabet,” Simon and Schuster explain. “And we found out it was great fun.”
The letters range from gorgeous to shudder-inducing. Take the letter “K,” for example, which appears to be make from a knobby slab of pasty skin sprouting moles and hair. Then there’s “Y,” a stretch of translucent blue goo dripping from a pair of broken eggs. A lowercase “I” looks like a Snickers broken at the tip to create dot, and “D” appears carved out of moon rock. “Our inspirations came from specific objects we’ve seen,” they explain. “And some of the letters were born in a random experimenting phase.”
Each letter was constructed in CGI as a sculpted model. The team says the most common way to build a virtual 3-D shape is the box modeling method, which uses geometric mesh or shapes as a base. “These are very efficient and fast ways to build up something artificial,” the duo says. “But if you want to create organic stuff, a naturally looking irregular form, these modeling tools come to their limits.”
Sculpting, on the other hand, begins with a 3-D model that’s already roughly the object’s final form. In the case of the letters, “it has already the basic shape of the final letter but looks more like a edgy low resolution version without any details,” they explain. The software allows the artist to smooth the mesh, essentially turning a rough virtual model into digital clay that can be finessed into a photorealistic object.
The attention to detail makes it clear the designers considered how an object exists in real life. For instance, how does a candle build up its hardened drizzles of wax? “While burning down a candle the liquid wax drips down step by step, it dries get hard and the next layer of liquid wax follows and so on,” they say. “So we did exactly the same thing in Cinema 4D to achieve the same. Drip by drip – layer by layer.”
Though the images look real, FOREAL’s typography isn’t hyper-realistic. Rather, it occupies a strange place between photorealism and surrealism. “It’s important for us to have realistic parts but it never was just to create a hyper-realistic reproduction of existing objects,” the founders say. “Our biggest aim is to create bold and graphic illustration with a surreal twist.”
Every Tuesday is Art Tuesday here at Adafruit! Today we celebrate artists and makers from around the world who are designing innovative and creative works using technology, science, electronics and more. You can start your own career as an artist today with Adafruit’s conductive paints, art-related electronics kits, LEDs, wearables, 3D printers and more! Make your most imaginative designs come to life with our helpful tutorials from the Adafruit Learning System. And don’t forget to check in every Art Tuesday for more artistic inspiration here on the Adafruit Blog!
Monday, April 14, 2014 - 23:003D Printed Emotive Quadruped Robot
3D Printed Emotive Quadruped by antpgomes
This week my students from Computing in the Creative Arts had a public exhibit of their term projects. This project is close to my heart as I worked closely with this particular group of students who despite having very little technical background were deeply passionate about creating an interactive robot capable of expressing emotions and interacting with people.
The students involved were
I have submitted this project to the robots and arduino contests.
I present you “Goon Quad”. In this version, Goon Quad has 4 prerecorded states (“angry”,”party”,”confused”,”breathe”), triggered by the touch of a person in areas specified by the eyebrows and a tattoo that read “Mom”, painted with bare conductive and used as capacitive sensors.
To enable the robot to record new motions, 8 analog feedback servos were used. As of now, we are only using one leg to record and translating it into the remaining 3. v2 will feature a fully programmable robot. Here’s an example of the recording motion in action (1st video just arms, 2nd video arms and base) In the step by step I will provide all the .stl files and early iterations of the robot.
Monday, April 14, 2014 - 22:523D Printing Custom Technic-Compatible Beams and Gears
Monday, April 14, 2014 - 22:00Scientists discover efficient way to turn carbon monoxide into ethanol
IEEE Spectrum has a post about a new discovery out of Stanford University.
Biofuels, once hailed as a planetary savior and alternative to oil and gas, have not quite fulfilled that destiny. Traditional, mass-produced biofuels from crops such as corn carry a litany of problems, including land use issues and questions of life cycle emissions. If we could generate usable fuels from more benign sources, it could go a long way toward solving a host of energy and environmental problems. A team at Stanford University reports today in Nature that they have a novel way to produce ethanol from carbon monoxide (CO) gas using a metal catalyst made of copper nanocrystals.
“We have discovered the first metal catalyst that can produce appreciable amounts of ethanol from carbon monoxide at room temperature and pressure—a notoriously difficult electrochemical reaction,” said senior study author and Stanford chemistry professor Matthew Kanan in a press release.
Copper is the only material known to electroreduce CO down to generate fuels, but it does so at extremely low efficiencies. Kanan’s group improved this with a nanocrystalline form of copper produced from copper oxide; this new material improves the efficiency of the reactions dramatically.
The researchers built a fuel cell, including a cathode made of the new copper nanocrystals, and suspended it in CO-saturated water; a small voltage applied across the fuel cell generates the resulting ethanol products. The Faraday efficiency using the oxide-derived material was 57 percent, meaning more than half of the current used went toward producing ethanol and acetate. Standard copper particles, meanwhile, produced hydrogen almost exclusively (Faraday efficiency of 96 percent) and very little ethanol.
Monday, April 14, 2014 - 22:00Electric Imp Locks and Unlocks your Door Automatically
When the folks over at PinMeTo moved into a new office, they were dismayed to find out an extra key would run them a whopping 500 sek (~$75 USD). Instead, they decided to build their own automatic door lock using the Electric Imp system.
If you’re not familiar, the Electric Imp is a small SD card designed to provide internet (Wi-Fi) functionality to consumer devices. While it looks like an SD card, you cannot just plug it into any SD card slot and expect it to work — it still needs a prototyping board. We’ve seen it used to make a wireless thermal printer, or even make a tweeting cat door to let you know of any feline intruders!
Anyway — back to the hack. To move the lock cylinder they’re using a basic RC servo connected directly to the Imp. A flex sensor is installed on the side of the door over-top the lock — this provides feedback to the Imp whether or not the door is in fact locked. The Imp then communicates to Everymote to allow for keypad access from your mobile phone.
It probably ended up costing more in time and money than a new key, but hey, it looks like it was a fun project to do!
Monday, April 14, 2014 - 21:55Make: Books Author Takes Honorable Mention in SPARK Competition
Monday, April 14, 2014 - 21:53NASA to provide live coverage and commentary of April 15 Lunar Eclipse
Will you be staying up all night to see the lunar eclipse? NASA will be providing live coverage so you can find out all the information about what is going on from some very informed sources!
The public will have the opportunity to view and learn more about the Tuesday, April 15 total lunar eclipse on NASA television, the agency’s website, and social media. Coverage begins at 2 a.m. EDT and will last about three hours. The eclipse’s peak, when the moon will enter the Earth’s full shadow or umbra, will occur at 3:45 a.m.
The United States will be in a prime orbital position and time of day to view the eclipse. Depending on local weather conditions, the public will get a spectacular view looking into the sky as the moon’s appearance will change from bright orange to blood red to dark brown and perhaps gray. The eclipse is a phenomenon that occurs when the Earth, moon and sun are in perfect alignment, blanketing the moon in the Earth’s shadow. The United States will not be able to witness a full lunar eclipse in its entirety again until 2019.
Leading up to the eclipse, NASA will host a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Monday, April 14 at 2 p.m. with astronomers from the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center. Various NASA researchers also will be available for media interviews. NASA Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Instagram followers will be able to join the conversation and ask questions using the hashtag #eclipse.
The public will be able to tag and share their images of the eclipsed moon on Instagram and on the agency’s Flickr group at:
Lunar eclipse video resources are available at:
Live NASA TV coverage and commentary will begin at 1 a.m. To view the coverage and access eclipse streaming video, visit:
Read more and share your eclipse experiences in the comments!
Monday, April 14, 2014 - 21:40New Project: Lego Bookreader: Digitize Books With Mindstorms and Raspberry Pi
Monday, April 14, 2014 - 21:06Google Buys Drone Maker Titan Aerospace
Google Inc. said Monday it agreed to buy Titan Aerospace, a startup maker of high-altitude drones, as the Internet search giant adds more aerial technology to collect images and get more of the world’s population online. Google didn’t disclose a purchase price for Titan, of Moriarty, N.M., whose solar-powered drones are intended to fly for years.
Monday, April 14, 2014 - 20:00Six women who paved the way for female engineers and architects #WomenInSTEM
Gizmodo has a great post on 2 inspirational women who paved the way for female engineers and architects. Above is Margaret Ingels, the first woman to receive a graduate degree in mechanical engineering in the US.
Because there was no architecture school at the University of Kentucky, Margaret Ingels studied engineering at the suggestion of professor, and became the first woman to receive a graduate degree in mechanical engineering in the country. She worked across a wide range of emerging technologies at the time, including at the Chicago Telephone Company and the United States Bureau of Mines.
But an early fascination with air conditioning—not a prevalent technology in the early 1900s!—led her to Carrier Lyle Heating and Ventilation Corporation, where she helped develop the Anderson-Armspach dust determinator, which became the industry standard for air filtration, as well as the sling psychrometer, which measures air humidity and is still used today. She was well-known for her lectures and traveled across the country to deliver them, including one entitled “Petticoats and Slide Rules.”
This is Emily Warren Roebling, a chief engineer on the project to use caissons on the Brooklyn Bridge.
Marrying into a family of engineers was fortuitous for Emily Warren: Her husband was Washington Roebling, a civil engineer, and father-in-law was John A. Roebling, who developed the revolutionary design for the Brooklyn Bridge. Emily and Washington traveled together to Paris to study the possibility of using caissons on the Brooklyn Bridge, a new technology that used pressurized chambers to allow workers to install bridge pilings underwater. John contracted tetanus after he crushed his foot during construction, and Washington took over as chief engineer—but Washington, sadly, succumbed to the very technology he championed, getting decompression sickness and staying bedridden during the final phase of construction.
For 14 years, Emily acted as chief engineer on the project while fighting to ensure that Washington did not lose credit for his work. In 1883, she was the first person to cross the finished Brooklyn Bridge in a carriage.
Above is Aine Brazil.
As vice chairman of the engineering firm Thornton Tomasetti, Aine Brazil has been responsible for overseeing groundbreaking methods that have allowed some of the world’s tallest and most unique buildings and infrastructure projects to be constructed.
The Irish native worked at engineering firm Arup before starting at Thornton Tomasetti, where she was the lead structural engineer for 11 Times Square, a game-changing skyscraper for the Midtown neighborhood. Brazil is currently working on the Hudson Yards development, which will use a concrete “apron” to float six city blocks over a train yard.
Monday, April 14, 2014 - 19:16SLO Makerspace Opens in San Luis Obispo, Calif.
Monday, April 14, 2014 - 19:13Adafruit Reaches 8 Million YouTube Views!
Monday, April 14, 2014 - 19:01MountainBeest – A Theo Jansen Creature Comes Alive in My Garage
About a year ago, a member of my family sent me a video featuring [Theo Jansen's] StrandBeest, knowing that I was interested in all kinds of wacky and hackish inventions. My initial reaction was something to the effect of “wow that’s a neat device, but that guy is a little crazy.” For better or worse, the idea that this was an incredible invention turned over in my head for some time. Eventually, I decided that I needed to build one myself. Apparently I’m a little crazy as well.
Theo’s original beest runs on a complicated linkage system powered by wind. He was nice enough to publish the linkage lengths or “eleven holy numbers,” as he calls him at the bottom of this page. He doesn’t, however, really explain how the connections on his PVC power transmission system work, so I was left to try to figure it out from his videos. As you’ll see from build details and video to follow, this isn’t trivial. Keep reading past the jump to learn the adversity that I encountered, and how it was overcome in the end.
The Build Begins
For reasons that I’m not entirely sure of, I started building the leg linkages out of wood instead of PVC pipe. Perhaps it was this four-legged miniature Jansen-style walker that inspired it. Some of the linkages were scaled directly from this design. That’s also likely how I decided that it might be possible to walk my StrandBeest version around with four legs. That or possibly this awesome simulation. Given how much effort it took to make each leg, the fewer the better from the perspective of getting it finished.
To begin with, I was never sure I’d finish more than one leg, but after trying out the process on the first linkage set, as seen on [HAD], soon I was testing two legs. Finally it was on to four legs linked together with a central PVC shaft — also seen on [HAD] and in the video below.
I thought that was pretty cool, so the build seemed to be done for the time being. I literally hung it up in my garage to see if I could think of anything better to do with it.
Inspiration to Finish the Project
Months later, I was contacted by [Jay], who recruits for the Columbia, SC Maker Faire, about doing something for the show. My dormant ‘Beest, now dubbed the [MountainBeest], seemed like a great candidate. [Jay] volunteered that they had a winch available (why not?) to hoist the [MountainBeest] up and down spider. This was great, as I had serious doubts about its ability to walk on its own.
Although I could have probably hooked up a series of cables to actuate the legs remotely, this didn’t seem quite good enough. Electronic remote control seemed like a better idea, and fortunately I had a windshield wiper motor and controls left over from a failed “giant hexapod” project that [HAD] featured in 2012.
Some Issues with the Build
The mechanical build was simple enough, but power transmission with PVC pipe is getting into somewhat uncharted waters for me. My first idea was to use sprocket gears off of a bike that I converted to single speed, and windshield wiper motors to power the legs. This idea had some potential, but I was supporting the driving gear quite poorly. Additionally, the wiper motors tended to go faster and start more violently than the [MountainBeest] liked. As seen here, even after upgrading to a larger single speed chain, things didn’t stay together.
My “custom” single speed bike, however, looks awesome with its new chain. It’s good to have a backup plan.
The [MountainBeest] backup plan was to use one slower motor on each set of two legs. This would get rid of any pesky chain issues, and theoretically allow the ‘beest to turn when walking. It took some work, including modifying the frame and coming up with an interesting motor mounting solution seen in the picture below. It did work, however, and that counts a success in HaD land.
One continuing issue I’ve had with the extremely low geared motors I was using, is that at certain points in the mechanism’s travel, it tends to put a huge amount of torque on the shaft. In order to fight this, I came up with a PVC coupler that absorbs some shock and allows it to flex as seen on [HAD] here. These are known in their more traditional settings as a “beam” or “helical” coupling. My PVC version is seen in the video below.
After solving (or at least mitigating) most of the mechanical issues with my “walker,” the electronics were fairly simple. I used a four-channel radio transmitter with a PWM relay switch from Servocity. This was able to handle the DC motors nicely, despite possibly being overkill. After wondering what I could do with the other two channels, I remembered that I had a Pan/Tilt mechanism already built.
After attaching the camera mount to the polycarbonate shell, it was simply a matter of plugging the servos in. In a few easy steps I had a ready-made GoPro mount to add sight to my creation!
Below is a video of it completed in the garage, and there’s more information on the final build here. Unfortunately, the torque required to actually make the legs walk was too much for the little motors I was using. It’ll make a great display though, and actually walking will be a good goal if I ever decide to make revision 1!
So sometimes one just needs a little push to actually finish a project! Hopefully my [MountainBeest] can make a good showing at the Columbia, South Carolina Maker Faire this year. I’m certainly looking forward to it. If you happen to be in the area on June 14th this year, or want to make the trip, be sure to stop by and say hello!
Full disclosure: I’ve received promotional consideration on some parts used in this project not in connection with this article.
Jeremy Cook is a manufacturing engineer with 10 years experience as his full-time profession, and has a BSME from Clemson University. Outside of work he’s an avid maker and experimenter, working on everything from hobby CNC machinery, to light graffiti, and even the occasional DIY musical instrument. When he’s not busy creating (or destroying) something, he writes for his blogs JcoPro.net and DIYTripods.com.
Monday, April 14, 2014 - 19:00nastya nudnik adds emotion to paintings with social media symbols
Check out this amusing intersection of art and technology by Nastya Nudnik, from designboom.
kiev-based artist nastya nudnik inserts symbols of the internet age into classic fine art, paring popular emoticons with recognizable painted works. ‘emoji-nation’ comprises series’ of familiar images that have been appropriated from renowned artists, from edward hopper to michelangelo. these works are brought into the 21st century with the addition of smiling icons reminiscent of iMessage, pop-up alerts from the windows interface and emblems from instagram found ubiquitously throughout the app. each motif cleverly and humorously represents the sentiment of the scene, bringing life and real human moments to the static setting.