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  • Monday, March 31, 2014 - 22:00
    Modern art from Hubble’s Fine Guidance System?!?

    NewImage

    Sometimes art can be accidental… via European Space Agency.

    A piece of art? A time-lapse photo? A flickering light show?

    At first glance, this image looks nothing like the images that we are used to seeing from Hubble.

    The distinctive splashes of colour must surely be a piece of modern art, or an example of the photographic technique of “light painting”. Or, could they be the trademark tracks of electrically charged particles in a bubble chamber? On a space theme, how about a time-lapse of the paths of orbiting satellites?

    The answer? None of the above. In fact, this is a genuine frame that Hubble relayed back from an observing session.

    Hubble uses a Fine Guidance System (FGS) in order to maintain stability whilst performing observations. A set of gyroscopes measures the attitude of the telescope, which is then corrected by a set of reaction wheels. In order to compensate for gyroscopic drift, the FGS locks onto a fixed point in space, which is referred to as a guide star.

    It is suspected that in this case, Hubble had locked onto a bad guide star, potentially a double star or binary. This caused an error in the tracking system, resulting in this remarkable picture of brightly coloured stellar streaks. The prominent red streaks are from stars in the globular cluster NGC 288. It seems that even when Hubble makes a mistake, it can still kick-start our imagination.

    Read more.

  • Monday, March 31, 2014 - 21:34
    DEADLINE REMINDER: NEW INC: New Museum’s Art Incubator – Applications Now Open with April 1st Deadline

    NEW INC: New Museum’s Art Incubator Applications Now Open: First Round Due April 1st, 2014. First Round Deadline tomorrow!

    NEW INC, the first museum-led incubator, is a shared workspace and professional development program designed to support creative practitioners working in areas of art, technology, and design. Conceived by the New Museum in 2013, the incubator is a not-for-profit platform that furthers the Museum’s ongoing commitment to new art and new ideas. Launching in summer 2014, NEW INC will provide a collaborative space for a highly selective, interdisciplinary community of one hundred members to investigate new ideas and develop a sustainable practice.

    Creatives today are working in unique ways that are cross-disciplinary, collaborative, leveraging technology, and increasingly straddling the line between culture and commerce. Because they are exploring new modes of cultural production, the professional landscape in which they work is still undefined, and few resources and systems exist to support these enterprises, or to address the unique challenges they are encountering. NEW INC provides a lab-like environment and framework for the development of new ideas, practices, and models in the pursuit of innovation.

    Over the course of a twelve-month residency, members will have access to full-time and part-time coworking desk space, shared resources, events, and professional development programming, as well as a robust network of mentors and advisors that includes members of the New Museum’s staff and affiliates. NEW INC members will also benefit from developing their ideas under the umbrella of the Museum, working in close proximity to Museum artists-in-residence, programs, and affiliates like IDEAS CITY and Rhizome, as well as our anchor tenant, Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP) Studio-X….

    Apply
    We are currently accepting applications for full-time and part-time memberships for the inaugural year of NEW INC, scheduled to kick off in August 2014.

    Deadline: April 1, 2014. Applicants will be reviewed and accepted on a ROLLING BASIS.

    Criteria

    • Membership is only open to emerging professionals not currently enrolled in an academic program who are US citizens or already have a valid visa for conducting business in the US.
    • Individuals and small teams of up to four people are eligible for membership.
    • Full-time memberships require a twelve-month commitment and participation in the professional development program. Part-time memberships are available for shorter terms but are subject to limited access to the space, resources, and programs.
    • Applicants must have a body of work, project, product, or creative enterprise positioned at the intersection of technology, art, and design.
    • A limited number of subsidized desk fellowships will be available for applicants who demonstrate exceptional talent but lack financial means.

    Read more.

  • Monday, March 31, 2014 - 21:33
    In Which We Are Not Having Fun

    Hey everyone.

    As you might know, we had a pretty good sale on a bunch Arduino products on Saturday.

    Well, it turns out it may have been too good. We smashed our previous record for orders in a day, set on last year’s Cyber Monday. Back then the high water mark was around 4,000 orders, and on Saturday we saw almost 8,000 orders flood into the system.

    What the previous record for orders in a day looked like

    What the previous record for orders in a day looked like

    It’s also worth noting that we’ve made some pretty big changes to our database in the past few months - most notably moving from MySQL to PostgreSQL.

    The issue we’re seeing today has to do with how we know how much of a given product is available. Availability of a product is a loose term and has to take into account how many physical units of that product we have but also how much of those units are spoken for on active orders. Active is also a pretty loose term for an order that hasn’t shipped. All of these terms are necessarily loose to accommodate all of the edge cases common to volumes we regularly see.

    We were pumped about the move to PostgreSQL for many features afforded, but primarily materialized views. Building such things to keep track of available stock values really sped things up!

    Until this weekend. Apparently having an order of magnitude more active orders in the system makes refreshes on our materialized view for stock take a long time, and this has led to timeouts with heavily diversified orders. So far today it’s been a long haul of optimization attempts to make things hum along normally again. We’re still hammering away. It’s a technical problem in a big system, so there’s no such thing as a quick fix.

    As we continue to work on this sparkfun.com will continue to have spotty down-time. We’re trying our best to minimize this while fixing the problem at hand, so thanks for being patient.

    Update: 3:10PM

    A missing index and some other optimizations have sped things up some. We’re back to everything functioning again, but we’re watching things very closely.

    Also, to be more precise about the issue that plagued us: Like most of our back-end systems our warehouse system (called The Flow) was where the problem started. With so many new orders in the system the most important thing was to be able to ship them, and it’s a complex thing to have thousands of orders with intersecting items that can be meted out to pickers and packers roughly in the order they were placed but only if they are paid (unless they’re paying on credit terms) and only if their items are in stock enough that other orders aren’t claiming that same stock. It’s a fun problem that begets a lot of run-on sentences. There’s a massive query in that system to get orders based on even more special picking criteria and that query was locking up, causing refreshes on the materialized view to stall, causing further timeouts down the chain.

    Were we just the users and not the builders of this system the problem might have never happened. Or it might have happened and been impossible to fix without a paid support contract. Impossible to say. Either way, spending the day fighting this has not earned ire from the rest of the SparkFun crew that was left waiting for the breakage to subside. Patience was what we received, along with coffee, liquor, and Easter Candy (in that order). For that we are grateful. =)

    Update 4:10PM

    And now Tim brought us a keg of Easy Street for our efforts. Maybe we should unintentionally break things more often…

    comments | comment feed

  • Monday, March 31, 2014 - 21:24
    NEW PRODUCT – Adafruit Assembled Pi T-Cobbler Breakout for Raspberry Pi

    1754 LRG

    NEW PRODUCT – Adafruit Assembled Pi T-Cobbler Breakout for Raspberry Pi: Now that you’ve finally got your hands on a Raspberry Pi®, you’re probably itching to make some fun embedded computer projects with it. What you need is an assembled add on prototyping Pi T-Cobbler from Adafruit, which can break out all those tasty power, GPIO, I2C and SPI pins from the 26 pin header onto a solderless breadboard. This mini kit will make “cobbling together” prototypes with the Pi super easy. Designed for Raspberry Pi Model B Revision 1 or Revision 2.

    This assembled Cobbler is in a fancy T-shape, which is not as compact, but is a little easier to read the labels. We also have the more compact original Cobbler.

    The assembled Pi T-Cobbler mini kit comes with a 26 pin ribbon cable, and an already soldered T-Cobbler as shown. No soldering required! This mini kit comes fully assembled!

    NewImage

    The PCB and header come soldered together so you can plug the cable between the Pi computer and the T-Cobbler breakout. The T-Cobbler can plug into any solderless breadboard (or even a prototyping board like the PermaProto). The T-Cobbler PCB has all the pins labeled nicely so you can go forth and build circuits without keeping a pin-out printout at your desk. We think this will make it more fun to expand the Pi and build custom circuitry with it.

    The Adafruit Pi T-Cobbler is compatible with both versions 1 and 2 of the Raspberry Pi Computer – for version 2 computers, note that the GPIO #21 has been replaced with GPIO #27 and that the I2C pins are now I2C port #1 instead of #0. All other pins are the same.

    NewImage

    Please note, this product only contains a 26 pin ribbon cable, a custom PCB with ribbon cable socket and header pins soldered to it. The Raspberry Pi, breadboard, breadboarding wires, cables, components, case, power supply, etc is not included! We do stock many of those items in the shop, so check those out as well!

    What is the Raspberry Pi® ? A low-cost ARM GNU/Linux box.
    The Raspberry Pi® is a single-board computer developed in the UK by the Raspberry Pi Foundation with the intention of stimulating the teaching of basic computer science in schools. The design is based on a Broadcom BCM2835 system on a chip (SoC), which includes an ARM1176JZF-S 700 MHz processor, VideoCore IV GPU, and 256 megabytes of RAM. The design does not include a built-in hard disk or solid-state drive, instead relying on an SD card for booting and long-term storage. The Foundation plans to support Fedora Linux as the initial system software package/distribution, with support for Debian and Arch Linux as well – Wikipedia.

    Raspberry Pi® is a trademark of the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

    In stock and shipping now!

  • Monday, March 31, 2014 - 21:13
    Robotfest at the National Electronics Museum

    Screen Shot 2014 03 31 at 3 08 46 PM

    Robotfest at the National Electronics Museum will take place on Saturday, April 12th!

    Robotfest

    Saturday, April 12, 2014

    10:00am-4:00pm

    1745 West Nursery Road

    Linthicum, Maryland, 21090

    Robot Fest is an annual event for anyone interested in the creative use of technology. We welcome all roboticists, hackers, artists, hobbyists and makers of any age who have the unquenchable urge to develop and create new, previously unseen forms from lifeless electronics, fabrics and mechanical parts. Join the fun and excitement with hands-on exhibits, and workshops!

    This year, we will also be part of the USA Science & Engineering Festival

    GENERAL INFORMATION

    Robot Fest & DIY Expo, Saturday, April 12th has a suggested admission donation of $8 for adults, $4 for middle and high-school students.
    Elementary school children and younger are still FREE!

    And for a little fun, have you noticed our Robot Fest Robot logo is wearing cool sunglasses? Bring your sunglasses and save $1 per person!

    Accommodations for visitors with disabilities are available upon request with a minimum of two weeks notice. Please call 410-765-0230 or email nemuseum@gmail.com.

    Read more.

  • Monday, March 31, 2014 - 21:00
    An engineering company is creating a robot army inspired by nature #robotics

    PolicyMic has the story on Festo’s incredible nature inspired robots. You can see more animated gifs over at their site.

    German engineering firm Festo is creating a robot army. Sounds scary, right? But there’s no need to fear a “Skynet”-type apocalypse quite yet, because these robots want to do good by making laborious tasks easier in the factories of the future. And they’re using nature as their inspiration.

    Festo summarizes the motivation behind their research on their website: “Gripping, moving, controlling and measuring – nature performs all of these tasks instinctively, easily and efficiently. What could be more logical than to examine these natural phenomena and learn from them?”

    It makes a lot of sense. Why reinvent the wheel when nature has already spent epochs perfecting the mechanics needed for survival on the Earth? This practice of bio-mimicry is widespread in other fields such as molecular biology, where many drugs are designed by optimizing already existing natural products from microorganisms.

    What’s really brilliant about this body of research is that while many of the designs have obvious practical applications, many others have been made in the creative spirit of learning, with some wild results.

    Read more.



  • Monday, March 31, 2014 - 20:30
    Lycopodium powder “dances” on subwoofer in this incredibly cool video #MusicMonday

    Geek.com posted about this awesome video featuring lycopodium powder on top of a subwoofer.

    Sometimes the simplest of elements can be combined to create the most interesting of results. And I’m not talking about the old baking soda-plus-vinegar volcano, this is the combination of nothing more than an active subwoofer cone and a dust-like powder. The two were all it took to create this incredibly cool video, though the addition of a Red Epic camera certainly helped.

    The video, entitled The Essence of Sound, features lycopodium powder dancing around on top of a subwoofer. Lycopodium is better known as flash powder, as in the stuff that was used in the pyrotechnic explosions that lit old-timey photographs. It’s still used to in laboratory settings, for instance when it’s necessary to make sound waves visible (as we see here). Basically, lycopodium is the best way possible to make a fireball on a budget, but it’s also quite handy for other things as well.

    Below the powder is a subwoofer doing exactly what subwoofers do. As the subwoofer bounces the powder hypnotically moves creating the incredible forms we see. The patterns aren’t quite as regular as one would expect, so it’s likely that there is more too the situation than just a speaker with some dust on it, but that’s essentially what we’re looking at.

    Read more.

    NewImage

  • Monday, March 31, 2014 - 20:04
    Elphel, inc. on trip to Geneva, Switzerland.

    University of Geneva

    Monday, April 14, 2014 – 18:15 at Uni-Mail, room MR070, University of Geneva.

    Elphel, Inc. is giving a conference entitled “High Performance Open Hardware for Scientific Applications”. Following the conference, you will be invited to attend a round-table discussion to debate the subject with people from Elphel and Javier Serrano from CERN.

    Javier studied Physics and Electronics Engineering. He is the head of the Hardware and Timing section in CERN’s Beams Control group, and the founder of the Open Hardware Repository. Javier has co-authored the CERN Open Hardware Licence. He and his colleagues have also recently started contributing improvements to KiCad, a free software tool for the design of Printed Circuit Boards

    Elphel Inc. is invited by their partner specialized in stereophotogrammetry applications – the Swiss company Foxel SA, from April 14-21 in Geneva, Switzerland.

    You can enjoy a virtual tour of the Geneva University by clicking on the links herein below:
    (make sure to use the latest version of Firefox or Chromium to view the demos)

    Foxel’s team would be delighted to have all of Elphel’s clients and followers to participate in the conference.
    A chat can also be organized in the next few days. Please contact us at Foxel SA.

    If you do not have the opportunity to visit us in Geneva, the conference will be streamed live and the recording will be available.

  • Monday, March 31, 2014 - 20:00
    The Cybathlon is the worlds first Olympics for augmented humans and it’s coming in 2016

    Cyborgs to vie in Olympics for robot assisted athletes CNET

    CNET has the story on the latest iteration of the Olympics- The Cybathlon which is the first Olympics for augmented humans.

    In October 2016, a few months after the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, cyborgs will descend upon Zurich for an Olympics of their own.

    They’ll be competing in the Cybathlon, the first championship games for robot-assisted parathletes. The games will feature some of the most advanced prosthetics, exoskeletons, wheelchairs, and brain computer interfaces around to test athletes’ speed, dexterity, and concentration and showcase the potential of today’s — and tomorrow’s — assistive devices.

    In one event, for example, athletes who have lost function in their legs will navigate a race course wearing a powered robotic exoskeleton along the lines of a ReWalk or Rex. They will walk up and down a ramp, step on pillars of varying heights, and walk a narrow beam. At certain points along the course, they will carry a weight…

    Similarly, in the arms prosthetics race, athletes with forearm or upper-arm amputations will be fitted with actuated prosthetic devices and charged with speedily completing tasks on hand-arm courses, including one that requires following a metal wire with a conductive wire loop — without touching the wire.

    Those paralyzed from the neck down will also have events to choose from. One, the FES bike race, will feature cycles that allow riders to pedal around a circular course with help from Functional Electrical Stimulation devices, which apply small electrical pulses to paralyzed muscles to restore or improve their function…

    The main objectives of the novel Olympics, according to the organizers, are to promote the development of advanced assistive systems; improve public awareness of human-focused robotic technologies; and give robot-assisted parathletes a new forum for showing off some superhuman feats.

    Read more.

  • Monday, March 31, 2014 - 19:53
    Hacking a Vintage Belt Sander

    Vintage_Sanger_Top_ViewSwapping out the motor of an old belt sander to create a precision finish sander.

    Read more on MAKE


  • Monday, March 31, 2014 - 19:49
    3D Robotics on Primetime #makerbusiness

    3D Robotics on Primetime

  • Monday, March 31, 2014 - 19:45
    16 x 16 Zelda

    Adafruit 2827
    16 x 16 Zelda via Waxy.

    Hastily cobbled together by Ben Purdy for the Mini-Ludem Dare 50, a 48-hour game jam. The theme was “de-makes” so I have de-made Zelda. Minor updates after the jam ended (couldn’t resist..).

  • Monday, March 31, 2014 - 19:06
    Tutorial – Wireless Security Camera with the Arduino Yun @arduino #arduino #IoT

    Customer Projects 8007 03 07

    Tutorial – Wireless Security Camera with the Arduino Yun @ The Adafruit Learning System.

    Ever saw these wireless security cameras that you can buy off the shelf? These are devices that you can setup somewhere in your home or outside, connect to your WiFi network, and then access the video stream from anywhere. However, they are usually using the interface given by the manufacturer, which means you are quite limited with what you can do with your camera.

    In this project, we are going to build our own DIY version of such devices. The project is based on the Arduino Yun, to which we are going to connect a standard USB webcam and a PIR motion detector to create some cool applications.

    The first application will be a modern version of standard tasks that you want for a security camera: taking pictures when some motion is detected. The project will store pictures taken by the USB camera on an SD card inserted into the Yun, but that’s not all. Because we are in the age of the Internet of Things, we also want these pictures to be automatically uploaded on a secure location. And that’s exactly what we are going to do by uploading the pictures to Dropbox at the same time.

    Then, we are going to stream video coming from the camera directly on Youtube. At the end, you will have your own video stream accessible from anywhere in the world so you can check what is going on in your home. This way, you can also just share the link with your family or friends, so they can monitor your home when you are not there. Excited? Let’s dive in!

    Learn more!


    1498 Lrg-3

    Arduino YUN (YÚN). Arduino Yún is the first member of a new groundbreaking line of wifi products combining the power Linux with ease of use of Arduino. 
Yún means “cloud” in Chinese language as the purpose of this board is to make it simple to connect to complex web services directly from Arduino. 
The first Arduino Yún is the combination of a classic Arduino Leonardo (based on the Atmega32U4 processor) with a Wifi system-on-a-chip running Linino (a MIPS GNU/Linux based on OpenWRT).
    Designed in collaboration with Dog Hunter, a company with extensive experience with Linux, the board adopts the linino distribution which provides signed packages to ensure the authenticity of the software installed on the device.

    We embedded the Linux machine directly on the PCB of the Arduino Leonardo and we connected the two so that from Arduino it’s very easy to run commands on the Linux side and use it as an Ethernet and Wifi interface.

    Historically, interfacing Arduino with complex web services has been quite a challenge due to the limited memory available. Web services tend to use verbose text based formats like XML that require quite a lot or ram to parse. On the Arduino Yún we have created the Bridge library which delegates all network connections and processing of HTTP transactions to the Linux machine. 
To make it even simpler to create complex applications, the Arduino Yún comes loaded with the power of Temboo, an innovative startup which provides normalized access to 100+ APIs, databases, and code utilities from a single point of contact allowing developers to mix and match data coming from multiple platforms (for example, Facebook, Foursquare, Dropbox and even FedEx and PayPal).

    The board can be programmed with an USB cable in the classic Arduino way or through the Wifi connection without the need to physically access the board. The new Arduino 1.5.4 IDE has the ability to detect any Arduino Yún connected to the local network. Clicking on the name of board and inputting a password is all it’s needed to program a board.

    This is the first official Arduino made in Asia, in Taiwan, because dealing with a tiny embedded Linux machine and Wifi all on a small board like this requires special equipment and expertise that are easier to find there.

    In the Adafruit store.

  • Monday, March 31, 2014 - 19:01
    Droning On: Resources and First Steps

    droning-on-logo

    It’s been quiet these last few weeks in drone news. Some members of the commercial community are performing missions, while others are waiting on the results of the FAA’s appeal to the NTSB. There is no denying that drones are getting larger as an industry though. Even Facebook has jumped into the fray, not for drones to deliver real world pokes, but to provide internet access in remote areas.

    gotaerial-octo

    One of the high points in the news was an octocopter operator’s discovery of 2500 year old rock drawings, or petroglyphs in the Utah desert. While exploring a known archeological site, Bill Clary of GotAerial LLC flew his octocopter up to a cliff face. The rock formation would have made rappelling down the face difficult at best. He found an amazing collection of petroglyphs which he documented in this video. While the authenticity of the petroglyphs hasn’t been proven yet, they appear to date back to the Basketmaker people who lived in the area from approximately 500 BC through 860AD.

    Maybe you’re asking yourself how you can get in on some of these sweet drone adventures? Whether you’re considering your very first flight, or already own multiple aircraft, you’ll want to read our discussion of getting started (specifically: acquiring your first drone) and discovering drone-related communities. Hit that “read more” link to stay with us.

    Drone, Drone of my own: Getting started

    Getting started with drones SHOULD be easier than it is. As with any complex endeavor, there are some common pitfalls which often snag enthusiasts.  The biggest one I see is a new pilot buying and building an expensive model – be it for sport, aerial photography, FPV, or fully autonomous – without learning how to fly first. This is a sure-fire recipe for disaster. Just about every autonomous model falls back to radio control when problems arise. FPV models can and do have video failures, so knowing how to fly line of sight is essential. Think of it as learning how to drive. You wouldn’t want to learn on Corvette or a Rolls-Royce. The same applies to drones. Don’t learn with an octocopter, or with $2000 USD of camera equipment hanging off your aerial photography rig.

    Just choosing a first quad to learn with can be a daunting task. Back in the early 1990’s, I worked in a hobby shop. There were only a handful of large R/C manufacturers back then. Most of them were based in the US, Europe, and Japan. With the rise of China and the global economy, there are now hundreds of manufacturers and distributors of drones and RC models. This leads to the often seen “clone of a clone of a clone” situation we’ve come to recognize with the Arduino and any popular electronic device.  But which models are of decent quality, and which are junk? The easiest way to get a good answer is to seek the advice of others.

    syma-x1From my own experience, I’ve found a specific quad to be pretty good for learning to fly. It doesn’t hurt that it’s also one of the cheapest out there. The Syma X1 is a pretty darn good quad to learn with. The Syma appears to be a copy of the Blade MQX quadcopter – however Syma fixed a few flight issues the MQX suffered from. You can find the Syma at Amazon and other online retailers for around $30 USD.  The X1 is a brushed quad, which means the motors use carbon brushes to transfer power to the coils. Most larger quads are brushless. Don’t let the older technology fool you. Brushed motors are just fine in this application. However, the one part of the X1 I don’t really like is the transmitter. While it does sport an LCD display, the sticks and overall action feel cheap. They had to save money somewhere. Even with that shortcoming, the Syma transmitter is fine to learn with. A real nicety is that the X1 can be paired with the very hackable  Turnigy 9x series transmitters.

    4ChannelAirplaneDon’t forget to check the mode of the transmitter when ordering. Mode 1/Mode 2 refers to the layout of the controls on the sticks. Asia and Europe tend to use Mode 1, with the throttle and aileron on the right stick. North America uses Mode 2, where throttle and rudder are on the left stick. Since throttle control doesn’t use a centering spring, this is a mechanical change, not just a software remap of functions. One mode isn’t any easier than the other to fly, but flying with friends is more fun when your radio has the same functions as theirs.

    While I don’t plan to make Droning On a tutorial on learning to fly – there are plenty of great quality tutorials out there - I do want to help out with a few tips.

    •  If you you’re about to crash, chop the throttle. The X1 is so light that impacts usually result in no damage. Ensuring the motors are off when that impact happens will save your propellers, gears and motors.
    • Try to fly over grass or dirt, not concrete. Some tutorials will tell you to skid the quad around on the ground while learning. The skidding is a throwback to R/C helicopter training. With small quads like the X1, it’s better to get a couple of feet off the ground and out of ground effect turbulence.
    • If you feel like you’re losing control, let the sticks go – the gyroscopes and accelerometers on the X1 will often bring it back to a level hover.
    • Keep the back of the drone facing you. In that orientation the drone will follow the movements of the stick. When you’re comfortable with that try out other orientations.
    • “Nose in” is the hardest orientation to master, as your left is the quadcopter’s right. The quadcopter will mirror your stick movements.
    • Have fun! Seriously – it’s easy to get frustrated and stressed out when learning . If that happens take a breather, and try to remember that even if it were to fly away, the X1 is only $30 to replace.

    Drone Resources

    One of my favorite aspects of the internet has always been the collaboration. Like ham radio operators, R/C and drone enthusiasts were early adopters of the internet. Where news and information would only come once a month through magazines, it’s now available instantly online. Usenet provided early access through the rec.models.rc newsgroup tree. As the web came of age, much of the conversation moved to forum based websites. Some of the oldest and richest resources are the R/C forums. The best example of this would be RC Groups. Created as part of the Ezone, an electric RC magazine dating back to 1995, RC Groups has sections for just about every aspect of the hobby. The Multirotor, FPV, Aerial Photography, UAV, and DIY Electronics sections will be of interest to Hackaday readers.

    Here are a few other RC and drone oriented forums:

    • RC Universe, general RC forum similar to RC Groups.
    • FPV Labs covers first person video enthusiasts.
    • multirotorforums covers all things multirotor – from tricopters to octos and beyond.
    • AP Landing covers the aerial photography folks.

    Note that this isn’t an exhaustive list. I tried to cover a few of the big sites. If you know of any that I’ve missed, please throw them into the comments.

    The problem with most forums is finding information. Sure they have searches, but they usually leave quite a bit to be desired. As an example the main Syma X1 thread on RC groups is currently over 5200 posts spanning 348 pages. Topics meander, flame wars are waged, and post sizes get out of hand. If statistics are to be believed, RC Groups averages around 20,000 active users at any given time. It’s understandable how even an army of mods would have a hard time keeping up.

    There are plenty of non-forum based drone information sites. 3D Robotics maintains a community site at DiyDrones which is chock full of forum and blog information. Instructables has a number of drone entries. The Drone section at Hackaday.io is still looking pretty lean – though we’re hoping you’ll help change that in the near future.

    That about wraps it up for this edition of Droning On!

    Filed under: Hackaday Columns

  • Monday, March 31, 2014 - 19:00
    These Sand Castle Etchings are Each done on a Single Grain of Sand

    Vik muniz + marcelo coelho etch sandcastles on grains of sand designboom 02

    Using a scanning electron microscope and a focused ion beam, Brazilian artists Marcelo Coelho and Vik Muniz turn the concept of a conventional sand castle on its head, from design boom.

    brazilians artists vik muniz and marcelo coelho have visualized a monumental project on a microscopic scale: the two have etched grandiose castles onto the surface of individual, miniscule grains of sand. reversing the traditional notions of these fortresses being built in three dimensions from the sand itself, muniz and coelho instead reinterpret the term ‘sandcastle’ by intricately carving the form directly onto a single grain. with a canvas of just a half a millimeter in length, the precise portrayals are naked to the human eye, created with the use of a focused ion beam and scanning electron microscope, and are later blown up as four-feet-wide macro photos, which describe the elaborate detail in high quality.

    muniz tells the creator’s project ‘when someone tells you it’s a grain of sand, there’s a moment where your reality falls apart and you have to reconstruct it. you have to step back and ask what the image is and what it means’. the works are currently exhibiting at the tel aviv museum of art until august 2nd, 2014 as part of a comprehensive retrospective on the work of vik muniz.

    Vik muniz + marcelo coelho etch sandcastles on grains of sand designboom 03

    Read more.

  • Monday, March 31, 2014 - 18:56
    NEW PRODUCT – The Raspberry Leaf (Three Pack)

    NewImage

    NEW PRODUCT – The Raspberry Leaf (Three Pack): Have you ever tried making a connection from your Raspberry Pi to a breadboard and had trouble finding the pin you need because nothing is labelled? Have you made mistakes matching a diagram of the pinout to the actual pins? Are you not making enough connections to use our amazing Pi Cobbler? Try the Raspberry Leaf!

    NewImage

    The Raspberry Leaf is a piece of high quality glossy paper that’s cut and drilled to to pop over the GPIO pins of your Raspberry Pi and label them for easy connection. It greatly simplifies using the Raspberry Pi with a breadboard. All you do is push the leaf all the way down over the GPIO pins and then you’re ready to go!

    All the numbers refer to the BCM GPIO Number so if you’re using the RPi.GPIO library then be sure to set the BCM mode using the function setmode.

    The Raspberry Leaf is sold in packs of three

    NewImage

    In stock and shipping now!

  • Monday, March 31, 2014 - 18:25
    Adafruit goes to the APEX EXPO (photo gallery) #makerbusiness

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    Here are all our APEX photos in one place over on Google+ enjoy! You can also see each blog post from the event here.

  • Monday, March 31, 2014 - 18:20
    The Lady’s a Beast

    femme beast cosplay

    The X-Men doesn’t have a shortage of blue characters, and cosplayer Reign transformed herself in the Beast. Hank McCoy is smart, witty, and also furry. Reign did a fantastic job bringing the mutant to life with her spot on costume and blue paint. I like her femme approach and that she translated it without making it overly skimpy. It’s more like straightforward crossplay. She shared some in progress pics on her Facebook page, and you can pick up some tips by going through them. For example, she created the buttons on her yellow belt simply by applying stickers. No special riveting tool necessary! See the pics below for some insight:

    beast costume in progress 2

    beast costume in progress

    via Unreality Mag, top photo by JJ Wenzel Images.

  • Monday, March 31, 2014 - 18:09
    Ask your Wearables Questions! LIVE Wearable Electronics with Becky Stern 4/2 2pm ET

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

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    All inquisitive askers whose questions are featured on this week’s LIVE Wearable Electronics with Becky Stern will be eligible for a special giveaway. Post your Qs in the comments here, on Google+, Twitter, or YouTube, and then tune in at 2pm ET on Wednesday for the answers and to see if you’ve won!

  • Monday, March 31, 2014 - 18:00
    From the Forums: Sharp Infrared Range Sensor

    From the Forums: Sharp Infrared Range Sensor:

    We built an autonomous RC vehicle using 4 of the Sharp IR sensors and they work great! Thanks Adafruit for such great customer support and quick delivery. Here is the result.

    The objective was to create a robot that can recognize, track, and follow a specified color object as well as have the ability to avoid obstacles in its way.

    The Nexus S device connects to the IOIO board via Bluetooth, and uses the smartphone’s camera in conjunction with OpenCV and the external IR sensors to control the vehicle.

    The robot consists of the following components:

    • An android Nexus S smartphone
    • An IOIO-OTG board
    • An Arduino proto shield
    • An 1/18 RC Mastadon truck with brushless motor
    • An USB Micro Bluetooth Adapter
    • A 25C 2S 1500mAh 7.4V LiPO
    • Four(4) IR sensors
    • A Lynx B – Pan and Tilt Kit (with 2 Hitec 422 servos)
    • A Xbee shield for Arduino with an RN42-XV Bluetooth Module to communicate with laptop (optional). Mostly used to tune up the ESC PWMs and the pan/tilt PID.

    Total purchase cost was just under $400 and that includes the phone; which was purchased used on eBay.

    More information and details here.

    Read more.

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