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  • Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 07:01
    PiFace Control & Display Tear Down

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    [John's] currently working on a rather fun PiNoir & Santa Catcher Challenge, and one of the main components is a PiFace Control and Display, which allows you to use a Raspberry Pi without a keyboard or mouse. Curious to see how this module worked, [John] decided to do a tear down and find out!

    Using a de-soldering tool he removed the 16×2 LCD which obstructs most of the components on the panel, which revealed a 16 bit SPI port expander from Microchip MCP23S17. He continued to examine components and checked values using a multimeter to come up with the following circuit diagram:

    PiFace+Control+and+Display

    Click to Zoom

    It’s a nice exercise in reverse engineering, and it looks like [John] did a pretty good job. We’ve seen the PiFace used to automatically decant wine bottles, control Minecraft using a physical Redstone, and even take 3D imaging with an array of 48 PiFaces, Pi’s and Cameras!

    Filed under: Raspberry Pi

  • Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 07:00
    BoothStache: Facial hair fun with BeagleBone Black #beagleboneblack @TXInstruments @beagleboardorg



    Drew Fustini posted this fun project over in the element14 community.

    BoothStache is a version of BeagleStache by Jason Kridner optimized for an expo hall booth at a conference (like DESIGN West). Instead of a LCD cape, BoothStache uses the BeagleBone Black’s HDMI port to display the webcam feed on an HDTV. An added twist is a big red USB button that the user presses to send a tweet of their stache photo (thanks to Python helper that bonnie555 wrote called BeagleButan). Here’s the setup:

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    See the full tutorial here and check out the BoothStache twitter feed here.

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  • Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 06:30
    A NASA engineer turned artist whose canvas is a huge fish tank #ArtTuesday


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    Wired has a post about NASA engineer turned artist Kim Keever whose works are strangely beautiful.

    Artist Kim Keever is like a hydroponic Jackson Pollock. Instead of a canvas, though, he drizzles paint into a 200-gallon fishtank.

    Keever is reticent to share the secrets of his process, but says that after the Sears Easy Living paints are added to the tank, he has anywhere from five to 20 minutes before the liquids diffuse, leaving 200-gallons of murky brown water in their wake. In the moments where the colors whirl and eddy, Keever shoots thousands of photos, choosing one or two before embarking on the five hour processes of emptying, cleaning, and refilling the tank so he can start anew. “They only need to hold up for that ephemeral moment, and then it doesn’t matter,” he says. “Whatever impermanence exists in the materials is irrelevant once the photo is captured.”

    Keever’s dabblings in acquatic abstract expressionism are a far cry from his rigid college days, where he studied engineering. During summers, he’d intern at NASA, where he worked on missile skin technology and jet nozzles. He had the grades and work ethic to thrive at the space agency and envisioned a career dedicated to improving booster engines, followed by a creative retirement filled with art making. Ultimately, he traded in his slide rule for a low-rent loft in the East Village of New York City.

    Read more.

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  • Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 06:00
    This giant globe is made out of thousands of hand-painted matchsticks #ArtTuesday


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    Laughing Squid has posted about this piece from NYC-based artist Andy Yoder. Incredible!

    “Early One Morning” is a giant globe made out of thousands of hand painted matchsticks. Artist Andy Yoder spent two years on the sculpture, hand painting each match stick and gluing them to a frame of foam, cardboard, and plywood. As a precaution, he treated the entire sculpture with flame retardant. “Early One Morning” will be on display at the Winkleman Gallery in New York City as part of the PULSE New York Contemporary Art Fair, May 8 to 11, 2014.

    Read more.

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    Screenshot 4 2 14 11 48 AMEvery 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!

  • Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 04:00
    Vacuum Formed Portable N64 is the Real Deal

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    This portable N64 looks good enough to be sold in stores — that’s because [Bungle] vacuum formed the case!

    He started by creating a wooden template of his controller, using bondo to add grips and features. Once satisfied with the overall look and feel of the controller, he threw it into his own vacuum former and created two shiny plastic halves.

    He’s chosen a nice little 3.5″ LCD screen for the display, with a 7.4V 4400mAh battery pack that will last just over 4 hours of constant play — he’s included a battery indicator as well! An old N64 controller takes care of electronics, but [Bungle's] gone and made custom buttons and is using a Gamecube style joystick as well. He’s included both the rumble pack and an internal memory card which can be changed with the flick of a switch. A tiny HMDX Go portable audio amp and speakers are also integrated directly into the controller.

    This isn’t [Bungle's] first rodeo either — in fact its his 4th portable N64 design, and his past ones were pretty slick as well. We’ve seen tons of portable N64 consoles over the years, and it’s awesome because everyone takes a slightly different spin at it.

    Filed under: nintendo hacks

  • Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 01:01
    Recreating the THX Deep Note

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    Few sounds are as recognizable as the THX Deep Note. [Batuhan] did some research, and set about recreating the sound. The original Deep Note (mp3 link) was created in 1982 by [Dr. James A. Moorer]. [Dr. Moorer] used the Audio Signal Processor (ASP) (AKA SoundDroid) to create the sound. The ASP was a complex machine to program. The Deep Note took about 20,000 lines of C code to program. The C code was compiled to about 250,000 discrete statements to command the ASP.

    Only one ASP was ever built, and LucasFilm owned it. Instead of recreating the hardware, [Batuhan] used SuperCollider to recreate the sound. Just like the ASP, SuperCollider is a tool for real-time audio synthesis. The difference is that SuperCollider is open source and runs on modern computers. [Batuhan] used his research and ears to perform an analysis of the Deep Note. He created two re-creations. The first is carefully constructed to replicate the sound. The second is a Twitter worthy 140 character version. Both versions are reasonable facsimiles of the original Deep Note, though they’re not quite perfect to our ears.

    [Batuhan] isn’t the only person working on recreations. Deep Note in 1KB of JavaScript can be heard at  http://thx.onekb.net/. We’d love to hear other versions created by Hackaday readers!

    [Via Reddit]

    Filed under: musical hacks

  • Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 00:35
    Kickstart a Kids’ Makerspace

    3D_Printer1-(1)Here’s how to choose (and finance) awesome high-tech tools for young makers.

    Read more on MAKE


  • Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 00:00
    How to turn a pencil into a diamond


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    The Atlantic has a neat post about an accidental discovery made at Stanford’s SUNCAT Center for Interface Science and Catalysis.

    A team of researchers at Stanford’s SUNCAT Center for Interface Science and Catalysis say they’ve found another way to control the structural transition between carbon atoms—at the nanoscale. The team started with a platinum support, and loaded it with several sheets of graphene. Then, they added hydrogen atoms to the topmost layer. Their finding? The hydrogen binding that ensued started, essentially, a domino effect among the atoms: Structural changes started at the top of the sample, but spread to the carbon layers underneath. And those changes transformed the carbon sheets into a new arrangement of carbon atoms—an arrangement that resembles, yep, a diamond.

    This was, it’s worth noting, something of an accidental discovery: The researchers were initially testing whether the addition of hydrogen would change the chemical properties of graphene in a way that would make it useable in transistors. Instead, they learned something else that could prove useful for the material sciences. The “diamonds” that result from the hydrogenation process aren’t the kind you’ll find at Zales (sorry, guys); they could be the kind, though, that could prove useful in industrial applications like cutting blades and electrochemical sensors. And they’re the kind that offer hope to the would-be Rumpelstiltskins of the world: You may not be able to turn straw into gold, but you can, it seems, turn a pencil into a diamond.

    Read more.

  • Monday, April 7, 2014 - 23:22
    Super slow motion video of slapshots examines the science of ice hockey’s most powerful shot



    Laughing Squid has posted this super cool video explaining the physics behind a slapshot.

    Smarter Every Day shot some super slow motion video on a Phantom high speed camera to get to the bottom of what makes the ice hockey slapshot so powerful. Filmed at 3,271 frames-per-second, the video highlights how the University of Alabama in Hunstville hockey player’s stick strikes the ice before coming into contact with the puck. This allows the flexible hockey stick to build up energy, which is finally released when it comes up from the ice and strikes the puck, launching the projectile at a speed faster than the player is capable of swinging the stick.

    Read more.

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  • Monday, April 7, 2014 - 23:07
    littleBits Projects: Wireless Light Switch



    This is part of an on-going series of posts about littleBits projects. littleBits is available in the Adafruit store – Starter Kit, Extended Kit, Base Kit, Deluxe Kit, and Synth Kit.

    With new wireless capabilities, littleBits projects can now be untethered! Check out this wireless light switch that you can use to control your overhead lights from across the room.

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    For this project, we made a mechanism that flips a light switch on and off using a servo module.

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    This servo mechanism is connected to a wireless receiver module and is activated by a pressure sensor on a wireless transmitter circuit.

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    Automate your lights and make a handheld remote control with littleBits, or for all you pranksters out there, place the transmitter circuit in an unsuspecting place and trick your friends, like we did. We placed the pressure sensor on the transmitting circuit under the leg of a chair. When someone sits on the chair, the overhead lights will go off. When s/he gets up to turn the lights back on, the lights turn on again on their own… and so on. Sit back and watch hilarity ensue. To see our prank, check out this video!!!

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    Place pressure sensor on the transmitting circuit under a chair leg to trick your friends by wirelessly triggering the light switch mechanism.

  • Monday, April 7, 2014 - 23:02
    Swimming Mermaid LED Tail #arduinomicromonday

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    Glimmer the Mermaid is an incredible project by Erin St. Blaine:  it uses about 180 Adafruit Neopixels, an Arduino Micro to control them and silicone. To change  animations and brightness she added a bluetooth module to connect it to an Android tablet:

    If you want to discover the details of the project or watch it in a live show, check her website!

     

  • Monday, April 7, 2014 - 23:00
    Helpful Jessie Wig Tutorial


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    Though I like using my natural hair in costumes as much as possible, sometimes it’s just not realistic. Characters from comics and games can have some wacky ‘dos. Jessie from Pokémon has an intense hairstyle that pretty much requires a wig if the cosplayer wants to match it. DeviantArt user Ryoko-demon made a wig to go with costume and created a step-by-step tutorial to explain the process. I find it really helpful to get a closer look at working with synthetic hair! She started by combining two cherry red wigs:

    Two cherry-red wigs (51’’); steel wire (better to use a lighter, for example, aluminum!). It is very important for mannequin head to be a little bit smaller than yours (it was my mistake, mine was 4 cm smaller around, it’s too small, as a result the wig pressed on my head awfully). The skeleton is made of wire and right over one of the wigs and fixed by sewing it to the wig net. It’s necessary to make a strong bearing on the back of the head, on the top and the triangle, covering half of the forehead. Also remember about the ears and temples, you should create the form you need while making the skeleton of wire. The crossing wire can be fixed with the sellotape.

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    See the entire tutorial at DeviantArt. Top photo by Kifir.

  • Monday, April 7, 2014 - 23:00
    Arduino Powers This DIY Vocal Effects Box


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    Arduino Vocal Effects Box by amandaghassaei

    This Arduino-powered vocal effects box pitch shifts and distorts incoming audio signals to produce a wide variety of vocal effects. This project is my first experiment with real-time digital signal processing using Arduino. It samples an incoming microphone signal at a rate of about 40kHz, manipulates the audio digitally, and then outputs 8 bit audio at 40kHz. To minimize the amount of computation required by the Arduino, I used a technique called granular synthesis to manipulate the incoming audio signal. Essentially, as audio comes into the Arduino it gets cut up and stored as small (millisecond or microsecond sized) samples called “grains.” These grains are then individually manipulated and played back; they may be lengthened or shortened, stretched or compressed, played back in reverse, copied several times, or mixed with other grains. You can hear a (somewhat creepy) audio sample from the effects box below:

    Granular synthesis creates a unique type of distortion caused by discontinuities between individual grains in the outgoing signal. Sometimes this distortion creates an effect I can only describe as a “ripping” sound, other times it introduces new frequencies into the audio that were not present before. Here is an example by Aphex Twin, the granular synthesis is especially prominent in the bridge at around 3min in. Another example of granular synthesis, this time applied to vocals for pitch shifting and textural effects, is from Paul Lansky. My favorite thing to do with this effects box is to use subtle pitch shifting to achieve an androgynous vocal sound, I got the idea for the project after listening to copious amounts of Fever Ray this past winter, you can hear how she pitch shifts her voice to sound somewhat masculine at times.

    See Full Tutorial

  • Monday, April 7, 2014 - 22:00
    Check out this awesome title sequence from the new chiptune documentary “Europe in 8 Bits” #MusicMonday



    We’re all big fans of chiptune here at Adafruit so this new documentary “Europe in 8 Bits” is definitely on our watch list!

    EUROPE IN 8 BITS is a documentary directed by Javier Polo that explores the world of chip music, a new musical trend that is growing exponentially throughout Europe. The stars of this musical movement reveal to us how to reuse old videogames hardware like Nintendo’s GameBoy, NES, Atari ST, Amiga and the Commodore 64 to turn them into a tool capable of creating a new sound, a modern tempo and an innovative musical style. This is a new way of interpreting music performed by a great many artists who show their skills in turning these “limited” machines designed for leisure in the 80’s into surprising musical instruments and graphical tools. It will leave nobody indifferent.

    Watch the full documentary on vimeo on demand here.

  • Monday, April 7, 2014 - 22:00
    The Raspberry Pi Compute Module

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    Raspberry Pi cluster computers are old hat by now, and much to our dismay, we’ve even seen Raspberry Pis crop up as the brains of a few ill-conceived Kickstarter projects. The Pi was never meant for these applications, with the very strange port layout and a bunch of headers most people don’t need. The Raspberry Pi foundation has a solution for the odd layout of the normal, consumer Pi:  The Raspberry Pi compute module, a Raspi and 4GB flash drive, sans connectors, on an industry standard DDR2 SODIMM module.

    This isn’t something you can plug into your laptop (yet; that’s just a BIOS hack away, right?), but the new format does allow for some very interesting projects. All the normal Raspi I/O – CSI and DSI ports, USB, HDMI, JTAG – and a whole bunch more GPIO ports – are broken out onto an I/O board for development. The idea is that anyone can develop a product for the Raspberry Pi, create a custom board with a SODIMM connector, and use the compute module as the brains of their project.

    The compute module should cost about $30/piece in quantity 100, available in June. No word yet on how much the I/O board will cost, but we expect a few open source expansion boards to crop up shortly so anyone can create a very cool cluster computer based on the compute module.

     

    Filed under: Raspberry Pi

  • Monday, April 7, 2014 - 21:01
    What Are You Breathing Right Now?

    IMG_8462Besides the oxygen, nitrogen, water, and other gasses and particles in our air, have you ever thought about what’s really in the breath you just took?

    Read more on MAKE


  • Monday, April 7, 2014 - 20:09
    This suit is designed to simulate physical limitations that come with age



    This suit is designed to simulate the physical limitations that come with age. Although it might not be completely accurate, it is an interesting concept. Via Trendhunter.

    An aging population means it’s more important than ever to be mindful of the needs of senior citizens, including their physical limitations. The South Bank University in London acquired a suit that when worn simulates the types of limitations senior citizens might have.

    The suit was designed by Wolfgang Moll and it uses a few different techniques to simulate physical limitations. Weights wrap around the body, which reduce strength and dexterity, earmuffs limit hearing and goggles simulate different visual impairments.

    To really understand how age related physical limitations feel, The Guardians Josh Halliday wore the suit and tried doing simple tasks. You can watch this young man struggle going up and down stairs, walking along the streets and getting money out to pay for coffee.

    Read more.

  • Monday, April 7, 2014 - 20:07
    #FixPatents #makerbusiness


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    Fix Patents.

    Tell policymakers that you care about protecting American innovation from poor patents and bad actors.

    The House has already passed an important bill, and the White House is ready to sign it. Tell the Senate to pass much-needed patent reform now.

    Call/Tweet now!

  • Monday, April 7, 2014 - 20:00
    Makers in Space: What Was Old Is New Again

    DIY Satellite builders have been at it since 1961Setting the record straight on the history of crowdfunded, crowdsourced Do-It-Yourself satellites

    Read more on MAKE


  • Monday, April 7, 2014 - 20:00
    Free online class on ‘Autonomous Navigation for Flying Robots’


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    DIY Drones posted about this free online class starting May 6. Sounds interesting and challenging!

    Do I need to build/own a quadrotor?

    No, we provide a web-based quadrotor simulator that will allow you to test your solutions in simulation. However, we took special care that the code you will be writing will be compatible with a real Parrot Ardrone quadrotor. So if you happen to have a Parrot Ardrone quadrotor, we encourage you to try out your solutions for real.

    Autonomous Navigation for Flying Robots

    In this course, we will introduce the basic concepts for autonomous navigation with quadrotors, including topics such as probabilistic state estimation, linear control, and path planning.

    About this Course

    In recent years, flying robots such as miniature helicopters or quadrotors have received a large gain in popularity. Potential applications range from aerial filming over remote visual inspection to automatic 3D reconstruction of buildings. Navigating a quadrotor manually requires a skilled pilot and constant concentration. Therefore, there is a strong scientific interest to develop solutions that enable quadrotors to fly autonomously and without constant human supervision. This is a challenging research problem because the payload of a quadrotor is uttermost constrained and so both the quality of the onboard sensors and the available computing power is strongly limited.

    In this course, we will introduce the basic concepts for autonomous navigation for quadrotors including topics such as probabilistic state estimation, linear control, and path planning. You will learn how to infer the position of the quadrotor from its sensor readings, how to navigate along a series of waypoints, and how to plan collision free trajectories. The course consists of a series of weekly lecture videos that we be interleaved by interactive quizzes and hands-on programming tasks. The programming exercises will require you to write small code snippets in Python to make a quadrotor fly in simulation.

    Read more here and sign up for the course here.

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