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  • Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - 16:00
    Autodesk Updates 123D Design for Desktop #3DPrinting


    Autodesk 123D Design Update 1.4 for Desktop

    Just when we weren’t sure if Autodesk was ever going to update 123D Design for Desktop, a brand new 1.4 update comes out and surprises us. The details from their history update from their website looks very promising.

    Get Autodesk 123D Design 1.4 Update[for Desktop]

    • A new UI introduces similar look and feel with other products from the 123D family, like Tinkercad.
    • Easier access to all of your models and projects, regardless of the app you made them in. MyProjects provides access to models created in 123D Catch, 123D Make and 123D Creature.
    • Support for opening, inserting, and saving meshes in STL and OBJ formats.
    • Perform Combine, Subtract and Intersect operations between meshes and solids.
    • New option for combining objects on STL export in order to support printers that read first body only.
    • Import SVG files and use them as sketches or as simple extrusions.
    • Drop selected objects to the grid with a simple key (F10).
    • Added option for hiding grid.
    • New toggle for enabling or disabling implicit grouping when snapping between parts.
    • New option for defining snapping increments for different operations.
    • 3D Print now sends model to Meshmixer for processing before 3D printing.
    • Premium members can now download unlimited models from 123D Content Library.
    • Free members can now download up to 10 models a month.
    • A brand new car! (Just kidding)
    • Stability fixes on Copy-Paste.
    • Performance and stability bug fixes.
    • Support for 3dconnexion devices.
    • Shortcut Keys on F1.
    • Feedback Survey directly in app under Help.
    • Also includes updates for 123D Premium members, and bug fixes.

    123D Design 1.4 Tools

    Autodesk 123D 1.4 New UI

    We think this is a really big update. Our first impressions with the UI redesign are really good. Things did not move around, it’s mostly a graphical refresh, which looks very sharp and clean.

    123D Snapping Units

    Objects have a nice lime green outline when its selected, making it more distinct. Features that might get overlooked that seem minor are actually handy in use. Hover over the bottom right to quickly change snapping increments and measuring units. Toggling on/off groups when snapping is a time saver and turning the grid off allows you to project sketches from irregular surfaces.

    123D Adafruit Logo SVG Import

    123D SVG Import Adafruit Font

    The biggest feature update is SVG import. This is great for making solids from outline sketches made from a vector drawling app like Adobe Illustrator or Inkscape. In our tests, the feature worked best on simple paths. It did an OK job at importing our Adafruit font, but crapped out on our icon. Importing SVG option is available in either a Sketch or Solid. Doesn’t seem like there’s an option (yet) to set the height of an extruded object when importing as an object. You can’t apply construct operations to extruded SVGs which is a bummer but expected from a new feature.

    123D Autodesk 1.4 STL Import

    Importing STL is also very welcomed feature that we feel was probably the most requested feature. Tinkercad did this really well and now 123D Design can too. It also gives you a ability to apply basic combine operations like merge, subtract and intersect to solids and other meshes. The best uses of this feature could be for anyone who is looking to make remixes/fixes/customizations/upgrades to STL models like scanned data. You also can’t apply construct operations to imported meshes.

    Overall it’s a great update and we really recommend upgrading if you’re already a user. If you’re thinking about learning some CAD for 3D Printing, now is a great time! Special thanks goes out to 123D Design team from Autodesk for making kick ass free CAD software!

  • Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - 16:00
    [Balint]‘s GNU Radio Tutorials

    Waterfall

    [Balint] has a bit of history in dealing with software defined radios and cheap USB TV tuners turned into what would have been very expensive hardware a few years ago. Now [Balint] is finally posting a few really great GNU Radio tutorials, aimed at getting software defined radio beginners up and running with some of the coolest hardware around today.

    [Balint] is well-known around these parts for being the first person to create a GNU Radio source block for the implausibly inexpensive USB TV tuners, allowing anyone with $20 and enough patience to wait for a package from China to listen in on everything from 22 to 2200 MHz. There’s a lot of interesting stuff happening in that band, including the ACARS messages between airliners and traffic control, something that allowed [Balint] to play air traffic controller with a minimal amount of hardware.

    Right now the tutorials are geared towards the absolute beginner, starting at the beginning with getting GNU Radio up and running. From there the tutorials continue to receiving FM radio, and with a small hardware investment, even transmitting over multiple frequencies.

    It’s not much of an understatement to say software defined radio is one of the most versatile and fun projects out there. [Balint] even demonstrated triggering restaurant pagers with a simple SDR project, a fun project that is sure to annoy his coworkers.

    Filed under: radio hacks

  • Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - 16:00
    New Film Shows Hunter Thompson and Ralph Steadman on Wild and Crazy Ride #ArtTuesday


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    (1995 caricature of Hunter S. Thompson by Steadman, Sony Pictures Classics)

    For No Good Reason, which will hit theaters on April 25, is a film that documents the wild collaboration between writer Hunter S. Thompson and illustrator Ralph Steadman. via ARTnews:

    Over the course of several decades, writer Hunter S. Thompson and illustrator Ralph Steadman, partners in work (and sometimes in mischief), traveled together to report from Kentucky to Zaire to Honolulu. Why? “For no good reason,” the famed gonzo journalist often sardonically told Steadman, who recounts their adventures in a new documentary of the same title.

    While the pair’s antics launched Steadman to international success, For No Good Reason centers on the art-making practices of this rather reclusive British artist. Unlike his late collaborator, Steadman has led a disciplined and drug-fee life in Kent, England. “We were like chalk and cheese,” the artist says in the film.

    His caricatures, cartoons, and drawings depict human suffering and dread, always punctuated with sickly ink splatters. Such images provided the perfect complement to Thompson’s maniacal, self-sabotaging stories for Rolling Stone, Scanlan’s, and Running, and illuminated the novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Of his partnership with Thompson, Steadman notes, “I met up with the one man I needed to meet.”

    The two were introduced on assignment in 1970—Steadman’s first trip to the United States—when Thompson was reporting from Louisville to write “The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved” for Scanlan’s. Steadman provided grotesque illustrations of racers and audience members alike, and the story garnered widespread attention for both men.

    For No Good Reason, hitting theaters April 25, features interviews with friends and associates, including Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner and actor Johnny Depp, as they unpack how Steadman’s anarchic pictures gave a visual record of this celebrated collaboration.

    Read more.

  • Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - 15:36
    Pimoroni stats #makerbusiness


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    Pimoroni Shop stats.

    The past twenty months have been an absolute whirlwind for Paul, Jon, and our growing team of stellar individuals Here’s a run-down by the numbers of how that time has passed…

    Read more and congrats Pimoroni, nicely done. Check out all the Pimoroni products here and here.

  • Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - 15:00
    This is Why Kids Need to Learn to Code #makereducation


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    Doug Belshaw emphasizes some of the key reasons why coding is an important skill for kids to learn, from DMLcentral.

    Why Is Coding Important?

    Now that we’ve defined coding as the ability to read and write a machine language and think computationally, it’s worth turning to the ‘so what?’ question. Why do we need the general population to be able to do this? Why not leave it to a subset of very highly-specialised individuals and teams who can do this on our behalf? After all, we need roads and buildings but we don’t require kids to learn civil engineering and architecture.

    Leaving to one side the top-down argument that it’s ‘good for the economy’, I’d argue that there’s at least three important reasons why kids should learn to code: They are: problem-solving, (digital) confidence, and understanding the world around them. I should re-emphasise that by ‘learning to code’ we’re talking about skills and competencies that people can be better or worse. The important thing here is the attitude and approach of the individual, not necessarily how polished their outputs are.

    1. Problem-solving

    Writing, debugging and remixing your own and other people’s code are fundamentally problem-solving activities. Whether it’s code that won’t run because of syntax errors, something working differently than you expected, or figuring out how to do something cool, these are all things that involve lateral thinking. And often this problem-solving involves working with other people – either in real-time or following tutorials, blog posts and howtos (and then sharing back).

    2. (Digital) confidence

    Literacy often leads to an increased sense of confidence. Not only confidence in terms of social interaction but also a sense of agency in shaping the environments in which people find themselves. In digital (or blended) environments, this means people not only being able to decode what they see, but encode it too: reading, writing and thinking computationally instead of merely elegantly consuming what others have produced.

    3. Understanding the world

    There’s a wonderful segment from a video interview with Steve Jobs in which he talks about the importance of realising that everything around you has “been made up by someone who was no smarter than you.” Realising that you can not only change and influence things, but build things that other people can use is, he says, “perhaps the most important thing.” In a world where almost everything has either a digital component or is somehow digitally mediated, being able to both read and write our environment is more important than ever.

    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 22, 2014 - 15:00
    Adorable Pixar Lamp Costume


    Pixar Lamp costume

    The Pixar lamp is iconic. Most of us have seen the little guy hopping into place before several of their films. Instructables user darcy3529 made the lamp outfit for her granddaughter from a coverall and mat board with dowels. The build looks rather affordable and straightforward. Here’s how she completed the frame:

    The frame/cage for the costume is made from mat board that I covered with fabric. There are fabric covered dowels that go between the 2 matching side frames. The pieces were all glued together using a strong silicone glue. Then furniture slides were added to look like nuts. The frame slides over the head and rests on the shoulders.

    The base is a dollar store platter that has a hole cut in the bottom. I flipped the platter bottom side up and covered with fabric. There is a fabric collar glued ro the opening of the platter.

    Read more at Instructables.

  • Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - 14:52
    George & Jonathan III – Stunning web album @georgeNjonathan


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    George & Jonathan III – WebGL visualization of all the songs. Baken helps lead our manufacturing in addition to being a very talented artist.

    We’re a band that makes electronic music and you’re listening to our new album, George & Jonathan III. We’ve developed highly advanced music videos that let you see all the notes we used in our songs. Some songs may be special.

    Listen.

  • Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - 14:03
    Distributor spotlight – Chicago Electronic Distributors makes a Baby Monome! @chicagoedist and @CNSmakerfaire


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    Baby Monome! @ Chicago Electronic Distributors. Craig writes -

    We really like the Adafruit Trellis keypad, and realized that it would be a great Monome.  Then it occurred to me…my daughter loves blinking lights and music, how cool would it be to make her a Baby DJ Monome for playing her favorite songs!

    So we started with the Trellis keypad, then added an Adafruit Wave Shield.  We stacked it all on top of an Arduino Uno R3,  We won’t bore you with how to build these, just follow Adafruit’s excellent tutorials for the Wave Shield and Trellis.  Here is a quick video showing the innards:

    Next we 3D printed a case using Pumping Station One’s Makerbot.  Adafruit has provided a nice guide on how to print a case for these.  Ours did not turn out perfectly, but the result worked well for our initial prototype.  Note we made our case a little taller than the Adafruit example since we had to also fit a Wave Shield.

    Finally, we had to test our prototype on our favorite toddler.  Turns out she loves it!

    For the next iteration, we would like to incorporate a speaker and rechargeable batteries.  It will make it a little bigger, but anyone with kids knows that wires hanging off will only cause problems down the road!

    Adafruit 2951

    Next up, Craig will be showing off their products at the Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire in a few weeks, lots of Adafruit will be there!

  • Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - 14:00
    How to make a BeagleBone and an Arduino communicate #BeagleBoneBlack @TXInstruments #BeagleBoardOrg


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    How to make a Beaglebne and Arduino communicate. by chwei

    Say you’ve got this nice Ardunio project that provides serial data, but it needs a FTDI and you don’t want to tie up your BeagleBone’s (or BB) USB port or use a hub. Well, it’s not as hard as you think, and you don’t need a FTDI!

    The BB has 4 TTL serial ports available, and this how-to will show you how to use one to talk to an Arduino. I’m going to show this by using a minimal Arduino on a breadboard, but you can do this with a normal Arduino as well, just use an external power adapter and don’t plug in the USB. The “gotcha” to this is that the BB’s ports run at 3.3VDC and the Arduino runs at 5VDC. We’ll solve that using a logic level shifter.

    Things you’ll need:

    - Breadboard and some jumper wires

    - a BeagleBone (any revision including black should work the same)

    - an Ardunio

    - a Logic level shifter that supports 5v-3.3v and bi-directional on the TX line.

    See Full Tutorial


    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 22, 2014 - 13:54
    World’s Fair: Isaac Asimov’s predictions 50 years on


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    BBC News – World’s Fair: Isaac Asimov’s predictions 50 years on.

    …while some of those futuristic technologies on display never quite went mainstream – underwater housing and levitating cars, anyone? – a closer look at Asimov’s World’s Fair of 2014 reveals that his crystal ball was shockingly clear. Here’s a look at 2014, through the eyes of 1964.

    Read more.

  • Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - 13:42
    Fragmented Memory



    Fragmented Memory by Phillip Stearns.

    Fragmented Memory is a triptych of large woven tapestries completed in May 2013 in Tilburg, NL at the Audax Textielmuseum’s Textiellab. The project uses digital practices and processes to blur the lines between photography, data visualization, textile design, and computer science. The result are works of visual art that serve not only to render visible the invisible processes mediating everyday experience, but also to operate as distinctly tactile and lo-fi digital storage media—the process becomes a means to capture, record, and transmit data.

    Read more.

  • Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - 13:00
    3D Printed Borromean Rings #ArtTuesday


    NewImage

    Bathsheba creates 3D sculptures using metal as her medium. Here she creates the shape of the Borromean Ring.

    This is one of a delightful class of objects known as Seifert surfaces. Every knot and link (in mathematics knots are closed loops, links are assemblages of knots) has a continuous surface which it is the edge of. An introduction to these surfaces, along with free software to generate them, are at the SeifertView site.

    These surfaces are often beautiful, especially for symmetrical knots and links, and here I’ve produced one of the sweeter ones. This surface has three edges, each a simple closed loop, which are locked together in an ancient form called the Borromean Rings. Named after its use in an Italian coat of arms, these three rings are locked together inextricably although no two of them are linked. Their Seifert surface twists through the loops smoothly and gracefully, and I’m very happy with the organic mesh. It’s wide enough to let light through, while responding sensitively to the curvature and giving a tactile texture.

    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 22, 2014 - 13:00
    Self-Learning Helicopter Uses Neural Network

    model helicopter attached to boom

    Though this project uses an RC helicopter, it’s merely a vessel to demonstrate a fascinating machine learning algorithm developed by two Cornell students – [Akshay] and [Sergio]. The learning environment is set up with the helicopter at its center, attached to a boom. The boom restricts the helicopter’s movement down to one degree of motion, so that it can only move up from the ground (not side to side or front to back).

    The goal is for the helicopter to teach itself how to get to a specific height in the quickest amount of time. A handful of IR sensors are used to tell the Atmega644 how high the helicopter is. The genius of this though, is in the firmware. [Akshay] and [Sergio] are using an evolutionary algorithm adopted from Floreano et al, a noted author on biological inspired artificial intelligences. The idea is for the helicopter to create random “runs” and then check the data. The runs that are closer to the goal get refined while the others are eliminated, thus mimicking evolutions’ natural selection.

    We’ve seen neural networks before, but nothing like this. Stay with us after the break, as we take this awesome project and narrow it down so that you too can implement this type of algorithm in your next project.

     


    chart showing different points
    Consider the image above. The goal is for the helicopter to start at Point A, go to Point C and hover. Allotted time is 10 seconds per run. It has to teach itself how to do this and do it as quickly as possible. Remember, it knows where these points are via IR sensors.  [Akshay] and [Sergio] developed an equation using a piecewise function to determine which runs were closest to Point C for the longest amount of time.

     

    fitness equation for helicopter

     

    Each of the points in the above equation is known via a voltage from the IR sensors, with Point A being 0.1 volts and Point D being 3.7 volts.  The equation is designed to give the greatest value for the longest time spent at Point C. This value is known as a Fitness Value.

    A neural network is used to determine at what level the throttle should be at to achieve the highest Fitness Value. This network is apart the Evolutionary Algorithm that runs in the firmware. Basically, it starts off with random values that generate random levels of throttle. The values that achieve the highest Fitness Value get ‘mutated’, while the others are discarded.

    The mutations in the values are done at random, and the process repeats. In the end, the firmware learns the best throttle levels to achieve the goal of being at Point C for the longest time in the allotted 10 seconds.

    Be sure to check out this linked project for full details on these mutations are carried out in the source.

    Filed under: Microcontrollers, misc hacks

  • Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - 12:10
    MakerFaire Rome: the european call for makers is online! Join us

    Maker Faire 2014

     

    It’s time to start tinkering on new projects or pimp-up some old ones because MakerFaire Rome is calling!

    Last year it was an overwhelming experience for all of us: more than 35.000 people from all over the world gathered for the first edition of the European edition of MakerFaire. Around 24o makers presented their projects ( 60% from Italy and 40% from the rest of the continent) and showed to a crowd of enthusiasts and newbies  the impact of open source community and DIY on our lives.

    If you want to join us with your project in Rome from the 3rd to the 5th of October, take a look at the Call for Makers and fill it before the 25th of May:

    The first step to participate in Maker Faire Rome as Maker is to submit an entry that tells us about yourself and your project. Entries can be submitted from individuals as well as from groups.
    Please provide a description of what you make and what you would like to bring to Maker Faire, including links to photographs and/or videos of your project. We particularly encourage exhibits that are interactive and that highlight the process of making things. Continue >>

    Here’s Arduino’s video from last year experience:

     

  • Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - 12:00
    Go to Maker Faire UK, but don’t let them crush your car

    RobohandWe're now less than a week away from the premier maker event in the UK, the Maker Faire UK which will be held at the Life Science Centre in Newcastle-upon-Tyne this weekend.

    Read more on MAKE


  • Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - 12:00
    Time travel Tuesday #timetravel a look back at the Adafruit, maker, science, technology and engineering world


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    Time is like the wind, it lifts the light and leaves the heavy. ~Doménico Cieri Estrada


    1724 – Immanuel Kant, German philosopher, is born.

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    Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher who is widely considered to be a central figure of modern philosophy. He argued that human concepts and categories structure our view of the world and its laws, and that reason is the source of morality. His thought continues to have a major influence in contemporary thought, especially in fields such as metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, political philosophy, and aesthetics.

    Read more.


    1889 – At high noon, thousands rush to claim land in the Land Run of 1889. Within hours the cities of Oklahoma City and Guthrie are formed with populations of at least 10,000.

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    The Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889 was the first land run into the Unassigned Lands and included all or part of the 2013 modern day Canadian, Cleveland, Kingfisher, Logan, Oklahoma, and Payne counties of the U.S. state of Oklahoma. The land run started at high noon on April 22, 1889, with an estimated 50,000 people lined up for their piece of the available two million acres (8,000 km²).

    The Unassigned Lands were considered some of the best unoccupied public land in the United States. The Indian Appropriations Bill of 1889 was passed and signed into law with an amendment by Illinois Representative William McKendree Springer, that authorized President Benjamin Harrison to open the two million acres (8,000 km²) for settlement. Due to the Homestead Act of 1862, signed by President Abraham Lincoln, legal settlers could claim lots up to 160 acres (0.65 km2) in size. Provided a settler lived on the land and improved it, the settler could then receive the title to the land.

    Read more.


    1904 – J. Robert Oppenheimer, American physicist, is born.

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    Julius Robert Oppenheimer was an American theoretical physicist and professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley. He is among the persons who are often called the “father of the atomic bomb” for their role in the Manhattan Project, the World War II project that developed the first nuclear weapons. The first atomic bomb was detonated on July 16, 1945, in the Trinity test in New Mexico; Oppenheimer remarked later that it brought to mind words from the Bhagavad Gita: “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

    After the war he became a chief advisor to the newly created United States Atomic Energy Commission and used that position to lobby for international control of nuclear power to avert nuclear proliferation and an arms race with the Soviet Union. After provoking the ire of many politicians with his outspoken opinions during the Second Red Scare, he had his security clearance revoked in a much-publicized hearing in 1954, and was effectively stripped of his direct political influence; he continued to lecture, write and work in physics. Nine years later President John F. Kennedy awarded (and Lyndon B. Johnson presented) him with the Enrico Fermi Award as a gesture of political rehabilitation.

    Oppenheimer’s notable achievements in physics include the Born–Oppenheimer approximation for molecular wavefunctions, work on the theory of electrons and positrons, the Oppenheimer–Phillips process in nuclear fusion, and the first prediction of quantum tunneling. With his students he also made important contributions to the modern theory of neutron stars and black holes, as well as to quantum mechanics, quantum field theory, and the interactions of cosmic rays. As a teacher and promoter of science, he is remembered as a founding father of the American school of theoretical physics that gained world prominence in the 1930s. After World War II, he became director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.

    Read more.


    1909 – Rita Levi-Montalcini, Italian neurologist and Nobel Prize laureate, is born.

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    Rita Levi-Montalcini was an Italian neurologist who, together with colleague Stanley Cohen, received the 1986 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discovery of nerve growth factor (NGF). Also, from 2001, until her death, she served in the Italian Senate as a Senator for Life.

    Rita Levi-Montalcini had been the oldest living Nobel laureate and the first ever to reach a 100th birthday. On 22 April 2009, she was feted with a 100th birthday party at Rome’s city hall…

    Levi-Montalcini lost her assistant position in the anatomy department after a 1938 law was passed, barring Jews from university positions. During World War II, Levi-Montalcini would conduct experiments from a home laboratory, studying the growth of nerve fibers in chicken embryos, which laid the groundwork for much of her later research. She described this experience decades later in the science documentary film Death by Design/The Life and Times of Life and Times (1997), which also features her identical twin sister Paola, who had entered a decades-long career in the arts. Her first genetics laboratory was in her bedroom at her home. In 1943, to escape the German occupation of Italy, her family fled south to Florence, and she set up a laboratory there also, using the corner of a shared living space. During this time she also volunteered her medical expertise for the Allied health service. Her family returned to Turin in 1945.

    Read more.


    1926 – James Stirling, Scottish architect who designed the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart and Seeley Historical Library is born.

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    Sir James Frazer Stirling was a British architect. Among critics and architects alike he is generally acknowledged to be one of the most important and influential architects of the second half of the 20th century. His career began as one of a number of young architects who, from the 1950s onwards, questioned and subverted the compositional and theoretical precepts of the first Modern Movement. Stirling’s development of an agitated, mannered reinterpretation of those precepts – much influenced by his friend and teacher, the important architectural theorist and urbanist Colin Rowe – introduced an eclectic spirit that allowed him to plunder the whole sweep of architectural history as a source of compositional inspiration, from ancient Rome and the Baroque, to the many manifestations of the modern period, from Frank Lloyd Wright to Alvar Aalto. His success lay in his ability to incorporate these encyclopaedic references subtly, within a decisive architecture of strong, confident gestures that aimed to remake urban form. For these reasons, it can be said that in his time, Stirling’s architecture was a rebellion against conformity. He caused annoyance in conventional circles, who lost no opportunity to attack his work and led him to seek opportunities outside the UK.

    Read more.


    1964 – The 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair opens for its first season.

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    The 1964/1965 New York World’s Fair was the third major world’s fair to be held in New York City. Hailing itself as a “universal and international” exposition, the fair’s theme was “Peace Through Understanding”, dedicated to “Man’s Achievement on a Shrinking Globe in an Expanding Universe”; American companies dominated the exposition as exhibitors. The theme was symbolized by a 12-story high, stainless-steel model of the earth called the Unisphere. The fair ran for two six-month seasons, April 22 – October 18, 1964 and April 21 – October 17, 1965. Admission price for adults (13 and older) was $2 in 1964 (about $15 in 2013 dollars) but $2.50 in 1965, and $1 for children (2–12) both years (about $7 in 2013 dollars).

    The fair is best remembered as a showcase of mid-20th-century American culture and technology. The nascent Space Age, with its vista of promise, was well represented. More than 51 million people attended the fair, though less than the hoped-for 70 million. It remains a touchstone for New York–area Baby Boomers, who visited the optimistic fair as children before the turbulent years of the Vietnam War, cultural changes, and increasing struggles for civil rights.

    In many ways the fair symbolized a grand consumer show covering many products produced in America at the time for transportation, living, and consumer electronic needs in a way that would never be repeated at future world’s fairs in North America. Most American companies from pen manufacturers to auto companies had a major presence. While this fair did not receive official sanctioning from the Bureau of International Expositions (BIE), it did give many attendees their first interaction with computer equipment. Many corporations demonstrated the use of mainframe computers, computer terminals with keyboards and CRT displays, Teletype machines, punch cards, and telephone modems in an era when computer equipment was kept in back offices away from the public, decades before the Internet and home computers were at everyone’s disposal.

    Read more.


    1969 – British yachtsman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston wins the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race and completes the first solo non-stop circumnavigation of the world.

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    The Sunday Times Golden Globe Race was a non-stop, single-handed, round-the-world yacht race, held in 1968–1969, and was the first round-the-world yacht race. The race was controversial due to the failure by most competitors to finish the race and because of the suicide of one entrant; however, it ultimately led to the founding of the BOC Challenge and Vendée Globe round-the-world races, both of which continue to be successful and popular.

    The race was sponsored by the British Sunday Times newspaper and was designed to capitalise on a number of individual round-the-world voyages which were already being planned by various sailors; for this reason, there were no qualification requirements, and competitors were offered the opportunity to join and permitted to start at any time between 1 June and 31 October 1968. The Golden Globe trophy was offered to the first person to complete an unassisted, non-stop single-handed circumnavigation of the world via the great capes, and a separate £5,000 prize was offered for the fastest single-handed circumnavigation.

    Nine sailors started the race; four retired before leaving the Atlantic Ocean. Of the five remaining, Chay Blyth, who had set off with absolutely no sailing experience, sailed past the Cape of Good Hope before retiring; Nigel Tetley sank with 1,100 nautical miles (2,000 km) to go while leading; Donald Crowhurst, who attempted to fake a round-the-world voyage, began to show signs of mental illness, and then committed suicide; and Bernard Moitessier, who rejected the philosophy behind a commercialised competition, abandoned the race while in a strong position to win and kept sailing non-stop until he reached Tahiti after circling the globe one and a half times. Robin Knox-Johnston was the only entrant to complete the race, becoming the first person to sail single-handed and non-stop around the world. He was awarded both prizes, and later donated the £5,000 to a fund supporting Crowhurst’s family.

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    1970 – The first Earth Day is celebrated.

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    Earth Day is an annual event, celebrated on April 22, on which events are held worldwide to demonstrate support for environmental protection. It was first celebrated in 1970, and is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network, and celebrated in more than 192 countries each year.

    In 1969 at a UNESCO Conference in San Francisco, peace activist John McConnell proposed a day to honor the Earth and the concept of peace, to first be celebrated on March 21, 1970, the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere. This day of nature’s equipoise was later sanctioned in a Proclamation written by McConnell and signed by Secretary General U Thant at the United Nations. A month later a separate Earth Day was founded by United States Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in first held on April 22, 1970. Nelson was later awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award in recognition of his work. While this April 22 Earth Day was focused on the United States, an organization launched by Denis Hayes, who was the original national coordinator in 1970, took it international in 1990 and organized events in 141 nations. Numerous communities celebrate Earth Week, an entire week of activities focused on environmental issues.

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    1977 – Optical fiber is first used to carry live telephone traffic.

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    An optical fiber (or optical fibre) is a flexible, transparent fiber made of high quality extruded glass (silica) or plastic, slightly thicker than a human hair. It can function as a waveguide, or “light pipe”, to transmit light between the two ends of the fiber. Power over Fiber (PoF) optic cables can also work to deliver an electric current for low-power electric devices. The field of applied science and engineering concerned with the design and application of optical fibers is known as fiber optics.

    Optical fibers are widely used in fiber-optic communications, where they permit transmission over longer distances and at higher bandwidths (data rates) than wire cables. Fibers are used instead of metal wires because signals travel along them with less loss and are also immune to electromagnetic interference. Fibers are also used for illumination, and are wrapped in bundles so that they may be used to carry images, thus allowing viewing in confined spaces. Specially designed fibers are used for a variety of other applications, including sensors and fiber lasers.

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    1993 – Version 1.0 of the Mosaic web browser is released.

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    NCSA Mosaic, or simply Mosaic, is the web browser credited with popularizing the World Wide Web. It was also a client for earlier protocols such as FTP, NNTP, and gopher. The browser was named for its support of multiple internet protocols. Its intuitive interface, reliability, Windows port and simple installation all contributed to its popularity within the web, as well as on Microsoft operating systems. Mosaic was also the first browser to display images inline with text instead of displaying images in a separate window. While often described as the first graphical web browser, Mosaic was preceded by WorldWideWeb, the lesser-known Erwise and ViolaWWW.

    Mosaic was developed at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign beginning in late 1992. NCSA released the browser in 1993, and officially discontinued development and support on January 7, 1997. However, it can still be downloaded from NCSA.

    Netscape Navigator was later developed by Netscape, which employed many of the original Mosaic authors; however, it intentionally shared no code with Mosaic. Netscape Navigator’s code descendant is Mozilla Firefox.

    Twenty years after Mosaic’s introduction, the most popular contemporary browsers, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari, and Mozilla Firefox retain many of the characteristics of the original Mosaic graphical user interface (GUI), such as the URL bar and forward/back/reload buttons, and interactive experience.

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    2012 – Version of 1.1Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is released – We are now on version 1.7!

    Circuit Playground on the App Store on iTunes

    Software updates that deliver new “performance optimizations”, “stability enhancements”, etc … they’re nice and all, but you know what I like – new features! Version 1.1 of Adafruit’s Circuit Playground packs in quite a few of those nice new things. Let’s have look, shall we?

    Designed to assist in the construction of 555-based oscillators and one-shot delay circuits, the 555 Timer Calc allows you to specify component values and find the resulting frequency/delay, or vise-versa. Those component values are also plugged right into the relevant schematic displayed for your referencing enjoyment.

    Similar to the 555 Calc (though a bit simpler), the RC Filter Calc expedites the design of basic cutoff filters. Did you know that both high & low pass RC filters are calculated using the same equation? You did … ah, very good then. In case you’d like to reference said equation, you can find it shown at the bottom of this calc’s display.

    Need a pinout for the ATTiny2313? Then the Microcontroller Reference module is your friend, providing zoomable vector diagrams for popular Atmel chips – courtesy of our friends at Akafugu. More pinouts to come – any in particular you’d care to see added?

    Read more and get the latest version here!


    2013 – Adafruit announces its 6 second electronics film festival!

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    The easiest way to make a 6 second video for The Adafruit 6 second electronics film festival is to use Vine. If you don’t have an iOS device, no big deal – most everything can take 6 second videos and upload. With Vine and looping a 6 second video you can make cool videos that repeat what you’ve made that’s blinking, moving or making noise – get creative, and enter as often as you’d like. Make sure you do not use any copyrighted music, video, etc. This should be your cool project you are sharing, in 6 seconds.

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    2013 – Adafruit adds two new tutorials to the Adafruit Learning System: Internet of Things Printer for Raspberry Pi and Adafruit Data Logger Shield

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    In the future, everything will be connected to the internet. And all restaurants will be Taco Bell! The “Internet of Things” is the idea of pervasive connections between physical objects and the online world. These connected devices don’t just idly sit around waiting for commands or files…they’re active agents that anticipate your needs and can push or pull data from the internet.

    Our Internet of Things Printer is a small, internet-connected thermal printer that can have a daily weather forecast ready before you head out in the morning, a puzzle to work on while riding the subway, provide a list of “tweets” relating to your interests…or any other task you can program!

    Read more.

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    Our latest version of this popular shield has all the features of the popular original, but comes pre-assembled. You can be up and running with it in less than 15 minutes – saving data to files on any FAT16 or FAT32 formatted SD card, to be read by any plotting, spreadsheet or analysis program. This tutorial will also show you how to use two free software programs to plot your data. The included Real Time Clock timestamps all your data with the current time, so that you know precisely what happened when!

    The data logger is a reliable, well-rounded and versatile design. It is easily expanded or modified and come well supported with online documentation and libraries.

    Read more.

  • Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - 11:00
    Moving while gaming improves learning #makereducation


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    Research from The Embodied Game for Learning Lab shows that educational gaming is most effective when movement is involved! via Wired.co.uk

    The Embodied Games for Learning (EGL) lab group transforms education through vibrant and collaborative “get out of your seat” games that empower learners to comprehend content through gesture-based learning.

    We specialize in creating and assessing the efficacy of STEM and Health Science games in formal and informal learning environments

    Games like Alien Health (see the video below) are aimed at teaching kids about nutrition and health while also engaging them in physical activity!

    A groundbreaking exer-game created to both instruct in nutrition and encourage youth to exercise. The game instructs 2nd through 10th graders about nutrition and the UDSA MyPlate icon. It gets them out of their seats and performing short exercises in order to help a foundling Alien save our planet from an asteroid. Players received practice on rapid decision making that will serve them well when they must make quick choices about which food item to grab in a cafeteria line or at a convenience store.

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    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 22, 2014 - 10:00
    Aluminum LED Matrix Looks Professionally Made

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    [David Donley] has wanted to make a LED matrix for a while now, and has decided to finally pull the trigger — after all, that many LEDs certainly aren’t cheap!

    He’s using a set of 16 Adafruit 8×8 NeoPixel LED Matrices (almost $600 worth of LEDs) and a BeagleBone Black to control them. To mount the LED matrices he bought a sheet of 6061-T6 aluminum for two purposes — one to act as a giant heatsink, and two, to look cool. All he had to do was drill some holes in the sheet for the connectors, and then use 3M 300LSE double-sided adhesive to stick the NeoPixels to the surface. The result is a border-less display that looks clean and professional.

    To power the array he’s using a 5V 90A power supply — at full brightness these LEDs can consume around 325W, or 65A at 5V!  Taking notes from the opensource LEDscape code on GitHub he’s made his own software to control the display — stick around after the break to see it in action.

    A cheaper version (albeit, not full color) can be had using Chinese LED arrays for a fraction of the price – 96 x 48 resolution!

    Filed under: led hacks

  • Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - 10:00
    SDR on BBB: Software Single Side Band transmitter #beagleboneblack @TXInstruments @beagleboardorg


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    Trammell Hudson shared his SDR on BBB: Software Single Side Band transmitter project. Thanks to Drew for the tip.

    I’m working on an embedded software-defined radio for sending PSK31 telemetry data that can run in the BeagleBone Black PRU (or perhaps repurposing the LCD interface) as well as smaller devices like the Teensy 3.1 with an embedded Digital-to-analog converter. Preliminary source is available from github….

    BeagleBone Black PRU

    Using a BeagleBone Black instead of the teensy opens up more useful spectrum. The DAC on the Teensy is limited to mostly audio frequency ranges, but the PRU can easily generate a smooth 2.5 MHz carrier. A simple R2R DAC isn’t the cleanest , but generates acceptable signal that was capable of being received a few meters from the IC-7000 without any amplifier.

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  • Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - 09:16
    Final Transmission

    View from inside a space ship

    Filed under: major tom

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