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  • Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 18:00
    LEGO Science: How Construction Toys Can Help Build STEM Education #makereducation


    curiolego

    Though Legos have always been a staple in American playtime, they are now being recognized as having a serious and fundamental educational value, via IBTimes.

    Brightly colored blocks were the toast of the box office last weekend, thanks to “LEGO: The Movie.” But our fond memories of the plastic blocks are from the playroom, not the cinema. LEGOs are also a fun way to help kids — and adults — get excited about science.

    In Brooklyn’s Coney Island neighborhood, the elementary school students at Public School 188 are learning about science and technology with the help of LEGO blocks. The children use the blocks to build robots that can be controlled with commands through a laptop. Dinosaur-shaped robots can open and close their mouths; LEGO blocks are also used to simulate a landscape after a volcanic eruption. It’s a valuable hands-on lesson for kids at P.S. 188, where nine out of 10 live below the poverty line, and two-thirds of students don’t have computers or Internet in their homes.

    “The children are learning about different opportunities that they haven’t been privy to or even known about before,” principal Fred Tudda told the New York Daily News earlier this February. “To hear a 10-year-old young lady say she has the opportunity to become an engineer and now she’s thinking along those lines, to me that’s changing the world.”

    Wired also has a good roundup of some awesome LEGO science models, including another Curiosity rover, by chemist and prolific LEGO artist Tim Goddard (whose Flickr feed is chock full of amazing LEGO robots, spaceships and monsters).

    Studies do suggest that LEGOs and other block toys seem to have lasting benefits for children who that start playing with them early. In one study, published in 2001 in the Journal of Research in Childhood Education, a trio of researchers started following a small group of children from preschool all the way through high school. The kids that played with blocks “in a highly insightful manner” scored higher on standardized math tests starting in the seventh grade.

    You might think that the correlation between playing with block toys and higher math scores comes from something like natural smarts — the kids that are going to have some innate math ability will probably be more likely to play with blocks, right? Maybe, but the the researchers found that the benefits of blocks still held up when they controlled for the children’s IQ.

    Building with LEGOs in groups may also help build social skills in autistic children. One 2006 study found that kids who attended a group play session with LEGOs improved much more socially than kids who were coached on socializing.

    LEGO has the market pretty cornered on snap-on blocks, accounting for about 70 percent of construction toy sales. But whatever your choice of construction toys might be– LEGO, MegaBloks or Lincoln Logs — go nuts and learn!

    lego-james-webb

    Read more.


    Adafruit_Learning_SystemEach Tuesday is EducationTuesday here at Adafruit! Be sure to check out our posts about educators and all things STEM. Adafruit supports our educators and loves to spread the good word about educational STEM innovations!

  • Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 17:43
    Custom G-code Generation with Mecode

    If you've ever wanted to hard-code gcode but still retain some scripting flexibility (for art, science, or engineering), Jack Minardi just posted a custom g-code generation package he's been working on... it looks great.

    Checkout the RepRap wiki entryand
    also the github repo with instructions

    This could be a big win for 3d printing sacrificial inks like sugars and pluronics where each extruded filament position needs to be placed with precise (x,y,z) coordinates. And for arcs and meanders, there are built-in functions too! Very exciting. From the Github README:

    To use, simply instantiate the G object and use its methods to trace your desired tool path.

    from mecode import G
    g = G()
    g.move(10, 10) # move 10mm in x and 10mm in y
    g.arc(x=10, y=5, radius=20, direction='CCW') # counterclockwise arc with a radius of 5
    g.meander(5, 10, spacing=1) # trace a rectangle meander with 1mm spacing between passes
    g.abs_move(x=1, y=1) # move the tool head to position (1, 1)
    g.home() # move the tool head to the origin (0, 0)

    We got a chance to meet Jack at MRRF and everyone had a great time. Jack Minardi is currently a Research Fellow at Lewis Lab at Harvard.

  • Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 17:17
    Disk II styled USB SD Card Reader


    Il Fullxfull.584969651 Siyv
    Disk II styled USB SD Card Reader by RetroConnector on Etsy. Super cute!

    A typical USB SD card reader is boring. Why not show your retro affiliation with a Disk II styled reader? Modeled after the iconic Apple II floppy drive from 1978, the shell is 3D printed SLA, painted beige to match the original. Also available unpainted in white and black (the Bell & Howell “Darth Vader” edition).

  • Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 17:01
    Ask your Wearables Questions! LIVE Wearable Electronics with Becky Stern 4/9 2pm ET


    Screen Shot 2013 08 12 at 12 22 52 PM

    What questions do you have about wearable electronics? Ask them now, and you could win our live giveaway!

    Screen Shot 2013 08 12 at 12 22 17 PM

    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!

  • Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 17:00
    Using a Watterott display with the BeagleBone Black #BeagleBoneBlack @TXInstruments @BeagleBoardOrg



    NewImage

    picoflamingo shows us how to setup a Watterott display on the BeagleBone Black.

    For a long time I had been aiming to connect some small display to any of my small computers, specially the BeagleBone. Well, some weeks ago I finally succeeded to get one up an running. The display is the Watterott MI0283QT-9A (https://github.com/watterott/MI0283QT-Adapter). It is well-known by the Raspberry Pi and the Beaglebone communities. It has a reasonable quality-price ratio and is very easy to use.

    Read more.


    BeagleBone Adafruit Industries Unique fun DIY electronics and kitsEach Tuesday is BeagleBone Black Day here Adafruit! What is the BeagleBone? The BeagleBones are a line of affordable single-board Linux computers (SBCs) created by Texas Instruments. New to the Bone? Grab one of our Adafruit BeagleBone Black Starter Packs and check out our extensive resources available on the Adafruit Learning System including a guide to setting up the Adafruit BeagleBone IO Python Library. We have a number of Bone accessories including add-on shields (called “capes”) and USB devices to help you do even more with your SBC. Need a nice display to go along with your Bone? Check out our fine selection of HDMI displays, we’ve tested all of them with the Beagle Bone Black!

  • Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 17:00
    Groasis Waterboxx: Greening the World

    Spain slate mine restoration with biodegradable Groasis Waterboxx.Inspired by nature, AquaPro used biomimicry to design the Groasis technology using the Waterboxx to allow plantings in difficult areas. Founder and inventor Pieter Hoff mimicked how animal droppings give plants a head start. His company has used the Groasis technology in more than 30 countries, restoring damaged areas and providing people the chance to grow trees and vegetables in dry, rocky soils.

    Read more on MAKE


  • Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 16:59
    Circuit board layout timelapse (video)
  • Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 16:13
    This Is Your Brain on Engineering (video)





    This Is Your Brain on Engineering (video).

  • Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 16:01
    Heroes of Hardware Revolution: Bob Widlar

    Bob Widlar (1937-1991) is without a doubt one of the most famous hardware engineers of all time.  In fact, it would not be an exaggeration to say that he is the person who single-handedly started the whole Analog IC Industry. Sure, it’s Robert Noyce and Jack Kilby who invented the concept of Integrated Circuits, but it’s Widlar’s genius and pragmatism that brought it to life. Though he was not first to realize the limitations of planar process and designing ICs like discrete circuits, he was the first one to provide an actual solution - µA702, the first linear IC Operational Amplifier. Combining his engineering genius, understanding of economic aspects of circuit design and awareness of medium and process limitations, he and Dave Talbert ruled the world of Analog ICs throughout the 60s and 70s. For a significant period of time, they were responsible more than 80 percent of all linear circuits made and sold in the entire world.

    Bob Widlar

     

    The list of his designs includes gems such as µA709, improvement over original µA702 and a Fairchild’s flagship product for years, µA723 – first integrated voltage regulator and LM10 — the first ultra-low-voltage opamp, which is still in production today. Students usually learn about Widlar via the textbook-classic: Widlar Current Source, a key piece in many of his designs, and the Bandgap Voltage Reference - both of which provide an infinite supply of mind-boggling exam problems. If there is one theme that’s common across all of Widlar’s designs, it’s that he has never designed an obvious circuit in his life. Every Widlar design comes with a twist, a unique idea and very often, a prank. A classic example of this is the story of LM109, the industry’s first three-terminal adjustable voltage regulator. In 1969, Widlar wrote a paper in which he argued against feasibility of monolithic voltage regulators due to temperature swings and packaging limitations. Since he was already an engineering legend by that time, the industry took it seriously and people gave up trying to pursue such devices. Then in 1970, he presented a circuit – LM109 – which used his bandgap voltage reference to achieve exactly such “impossible” functionality. It is most likely that he submitted both works within days from one another.

    500004851-03-01

    In addition to being a brilliant designer, Widlar was a personification of an age to come in Sillicon Valley, combining counter-cultural and in-your-face attitude with entrepreneurial passion and desire to build products that people love. He worked directly with customers and wrote his own app notes and data sheets. In fact, Widlar’s µA702 laid out the blueprint for how all analog IC data sheets are to be written in the future. His principle was “designing for minimum phone calls” and “if you make a million ICs; you get half a million phone calls if they don’t work right”. He was both destroyer of the worlds and creator of new markets; he came into Fairchild claiming that “what they do in analog is BS”, but left the company as a dominant player in linear IC for years to come, mostly on the wings of his designs. He then moved to Molectro (owned by National) but quickly ended up turning the parent company upside down and making into an Analog powerhouse. At the age of 33 he cashed out and retired in Mexico. But his hands couldn’t stay idle for too long. He soon came back as a contractor for National and, in 1980, ended up founding Linear Technology with Robert Swanson and Bob Dobkin,

    National Semiconductor (Widlar's Idea)

    Still, he always remained a troublemaker, free thinker, and an HR nightmare… closer in spirit to someone like Hemingway than a fellow “professional” engineer. Such attitude was contagious and it inspired a whole new wave of “prankster” analog geniuses like Bob Pease and Jim Williams. Widlar’s pranks are too many to count and it’s really hard to pick one that captures the spirit of the times the best. Maybe it’s when Widlar brought sheep to the front of National as a reaction to the firm not mowing the lawns due to cost-cutting (he really just needed an excuse to annoy the upper management). Or when he cherry-bombed the intercom speaker, again, just to upset one of National’s Vice Presidents. Some of the pranks were actual hardware, like a “hassler” circuit he built to detect audio, convert it to a very high audio frequency and play back the converted sound. The net effect of such a design was that the louder someone talked in the office, the more annoying the “ringing” effect caused by the feedback was. As a person would stop shouting to hear what’s causing the ringing, the effect would disappear as well. This way, he managed to get everyone in the office into speaking quietly, Pavlov-style.

    Widlar and the Sheep : A Performance Piece

    Widlar passed away in 1991 but his legacy lives on. He truly was the original hardware hacker and more than just an engineer – he was an Artist. It’s because of guys like him that Analog still has that special feel and is more about “invention” than just following the straightforward path between A and B. And that is why Analog guys still greet everyone else with a “Widlar Salute”.

    Widlar Salute

    Now, when I have finished my inspection, and I am still mad as hell because I have wasted a lot of time being fooled by a bad component – what do I do? I usually WIDLARIZE it, and it makes me feel a lot better. How do you WIDLARIZE something? You take it over to the anvil part of the vice, and you beat on it with a hammer, until it is all crunched down to tiny little pieces, so small that you don’t even have to sweep it off the floor. It makes you feel better. And you know that that component will never vex you again. That’s not a joke, because sometimes if you have a bad pot or a bad capacitor, and you just set it aside, a few months later you find it slipped back into your new circuit and is wasting your time again. When you WIDLARIZE something, that is not going to happen. And the late Bob Widlar is the guy who showed me how to do it.

    Bob Pease – Troubleshooting Analog Circuits

     References

    [1] Bo Lojek – History of Semiconductor Engineering, Springer, 2007

    [2] Bob Pease – Troubleshooting Analog Circuits, 1987

    [3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Widlar

    [4] http://readingjimwilliams.blogspot.com/2012/04/my-favorite-widlar-story.html

    [5] http://analogfootsteps.blogspot.com/search/label/Bob%20Widlar

    [6] http://electronicdesign.com/analog/what-s-all-widlar-stuff-anyhow

    [7] http://silicongenesis.stanford.edu/transcripts/dobkinwilliams.htm

    [8] http://edn.com/electronics-blogs/anablog/4311277/Bob-Widlar-cherry-bombs-the-intercom-speaker-item-2

     

    Filed under: Featured, rants

  • Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 16:00
    kids were here #ArtTuesday


    NewImage

    kids were here is a photo blog put together by a group of photographers that captures the mess, creativity and imagination left behind in a child’s wake. Read more.

    NewImage


    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 - 15:30
    Learn how to use Git #makereducation


    Screen-Shot-2014-04-04-at-12.22.54-PM

    Code School and GitHub have collaborated on this introductory course on how to learn Git!

    Got 15 minutes and want to learn Git?

    Git allows groups of people to work on the same documents (often code) at the same time, and without stepping on each other’s toes. It’s a distributed version control system.

    Our terminal prompt below is currently in an octobox directory.

    Screen Shot 2014-04-06 at 1.28.50 PM

    Read more.


    Adafruit_Learning_SystemEach Tuesday is EducationTuesday here at Adafruit! Be sure to check out our posts about educators and all things STEM. Adafruit supports our educators and loves to spread the good word about educational STEM innovations!

  • Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 15:00
    i2 Camp: a Summer Day-Camp to Invent and Inspire #makereducation


    campstem

    i2 Camp holds week long STEM-themed camps for middle schoolers in locations across the country during the summer months! Check out there schedules and courses, which range from engineering design to DNA barcoding!

    The program at i2 Camp has been developed with the goal of engaging middle school children in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Partnering with some of the world’s leading STEM organizations, the camp broadens a child’s exposure to STEM with a wide variety of new, innovative courses not seen in traditional middle school education. The fun and intimate, hands-on activities of the courses strive to excite and inspire campers about STEM, creating enthusiasm that will hopefully spill over to their schoolwork and school choices in future years.

    OUR PROGRAM

    The program at i2 Camp has been developed with the goal of engaging middle school children in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Partnering with some of the world’s leading STEM organizations, the camp broadens a child’s exposure to STEM with a wide variety of new, innovative courses not seen in traditional middle school education. The fun and intimate, hands-on activities of the courses strive to excite and inspire campers about STEM, creating enthusiasm that will hopefully spill over to their schoolwork and school choices in future years.

    610x276_Rotator_BoyRobot

    Read more.


    Adafruit_Learning_SystemEach Tuesday is EducationTuesday here at Adafruit! Be sure to check out our posts about educators and all things STEM. Adafruit supports our educators and loves to spread the good word about educational STEM innovations!

  • Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 15:00
    How to monitor a domestic photovoltaic plant with Arduino

    Ardusol

     

    ArdaSol is the name of a project for a solar energy monitoring system based on Arduino Mega and UNO, made by Heinz Pieren. It’s a system built to monitor energy production and consumption of a domestic photovoltaic plant:

    The ArdaSol Energy Monitoring System has 3 devices:

    - ArdaSol Display based on a Arduino Mega Board
    The master of the system, it collects the data from the two other ArdaSol devices, shows the data on the display, stores it on a SD card and sends it to a server in the internet.

    - ArdaSol Energy Monitor based on a Arduino Uno
    Measures the consumption of the energy, shows energy values on local display and delivers it on request to the ArdaSol Display.

    - ArdaSol Remote PVI Interface based on a Arduino Uno
    The photovoltaic inverter (PVI) has a RS485 interface, this is connected to ArdaSol Remote, which interacts as a gateway to ArdaSol Display. It converts the requests, coming with a radio signal to the PVI and vice versa.

     

  • Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 15:00
    Check Out This Cool Viola Costume from Soul Calibur


    viola_iii_by_dessi_desu-d5yx8in

    Soul Calibur is full of characters with interesting costume designs, and fortune teller Viola’s ensemble caught cosplayer Dessi-Desu’s eye. She knew she had to make the costume as soon as she saw it. Dessi-Desu said it was tricky to get the colors precisely right, but the end result looks gorgeous. She dyed fabric, stitched satin, strung pearls, and made the claws. The latter was her favorite part and here’s what she had to say about it:

    The claws were very fun for me to make. This was my first time using wonderflex! I followed the concept art for Viola’s claws, so I had mobility with my fingers and they wouldn’t be locked in place. They’re a system of two rings on each finger (one at the top and one just under the middle knuckle). The paint job was done with silver and black acrylic. I built up washes of watered down black to create shadow and highlight.

    Read more at DeviantArt.

    Via Cosplay Blog, Photo by Joseph Chi Lin

  • Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 14:00
    New Project: Freeze-Dry Your Own Astronaut Ice Cream

    Astronaut-ice-cream-freeze-dried-ice-creamRe-create this gift shop novelty food by making a freeze-dryer with parts already lying around your workshop.

    Read more on MAKE


  • Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 14:00
    SpaceGAMBIT: Open Call for Proposals

    Screen Shot 2014-04-06 at 10.26.57 PMHelp NASA find all asteroid threats to human populations and know what to do about them.

    Read more on MAKE


  • Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 14:00
    BBB Controls The P.Brain For Hexapod Robot #BeagleBoneBlack @TXInstruments @beagleboardorg


    Hexapodrobot com View topic Beaglebone Black controlling p Brain

    BBB Controls The P.Brain For Hexapod Robot via hexapodrobot

    This setup adds a wifi connected Beaglebone Black to the MSR-H01. The BBB communicates with the p.Brain through the 3.3V TTL located on the Bluetooth mount (CN22) on the p.Brain SMB. On the BBB runs a Java program, which sends PIP-commands to the p.Brain and receives sensor information obtained through I2C from the SRF10 back. A SRF10 sonar is constantly measuring the distance to the nearest object in front of the hex. When within 15 cm of an object, forward movement is prohibited.

    Through the wifi connection (simple socket) of the BBB, it receives information from a Sony Sixaxis controller, which is interpreted by the BBB and converted to PIP directional commands.

    Power for the BBB is provided by the LiPo battery pack on the Hex, routed through a DE-SW050 http://www.dimensionengineering.com/products/de-sw050 voltage regulator.

    Read more

  • Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 13:00
    The Art of QR Codes #ArtTuesday


    NewImage

    Elena Belmann’s QR Code Sculpture

    German artist Elena Belmann mixes sculptured art with information technology in this intricate QR code sculpture.

    Read more


    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 - 13:00
    Dirt Cheap Dirty Boards Offers Dirt Cheap PCB Fab

    Dirt Cheap PCB

     

    When your project is ready to build, it’s time to find a PCB manufacturer. There are tons of them out there, but for prototype purposes cheaper is usually better. [Ian] at Dangerous Prototypes has just announced Dirt Cheap Dirty Boards, a PCB fabrication service for times where quality doesn’t matter too much. [Ian] also discussed the service on the Dangerous Prototypes forum.

    The boards are definitely cheap. $12 USD gets you ten 5 cm by 5 cm boards with 100% e-test and free worldwide shipping. You can even choose from a number of solder mask colors for no additional cost. [Ian] does warn the boards aren’t of the best quality, as you can tell in the Bus Pirate picture above. The silkscreen alignment has some issues, but for $1.2 a board, it’s hard to complain. After all, the site’s motto is “No bull, just crappy PCBs.”

    The main downside of this service will be shipping time. While the Chinese fab house cranks out boards in two to four days, Hong Kong Post can take up to 30 days to deliver your boards. This isn’t ideal, but the price is right.

    Filed under: hardware

  • Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - 11:00
    USC Is Offering a Google Glass Course for Journalism Students #makereducation


    google-glass-dude-5

    USC will be offering a new journalism class centered around Google Glass. Professor Robert Hernandez, who will be teaching the course, hopes to encourage future journalists to take an interactive approach in shaping technology’s impact on the media landscape, via mashable.

    It’s a first-of-its-kind class for USC, and web-journalism professor Robert Hernandez believes the class offers a rare opportunity for journalism to get ahead of a budding technology trend. Hernandez said journalists have been followers — not trailblazers — when using other technology like mobile and social media, but that the industry has a chance for a head start with Glass.

    “As someone who hijacks technology for journalism, I want to be proactive about shaping what journalism will look like on this,” said Hernandez, who worked most recently as director of development for The Seattle Times before joining USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism in 2009. “This platform is so new, no one has defined what journalism looks like on there. It’s such an opportunity for the journalism industry to jump on there.”

    Hernandez is opening the class to all students at the university, although he will approve each signup. He expects roughly 12 students will join the class, including students from a variety of different backgrounds and majors, such as design, computer engineering, public relations, and of course, journalism. The class is intended for the advancement of journalism, but is not limited to its disciples.

    According to the syllabus, students will create apps for Google Glass that help enhance both storytelling and story consumption on the platform. Hernandez hopes to answer questions such as, what does long-form content look like on Glass? Or, how can readers create and watch stories using Glass?

    Read more.


    Adafruit_Learning_SystemEach Tuesday is EducationTuesday here at Adafruit! Be sure to check out our posts about educators and all things STEM. Adafruit supports our educators and loves to spread the good word about educational STEM innovations!

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