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Planet

  • Mardi, Avril 8, 2014 - 00:00
    How to turn a pencil into a diamond


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

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

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

    Read more.

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



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

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

    Read more.

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  • Lundi, Avril 7, 2014 - 23:07
    littleBits Projects: Wireless Light Switch



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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Lundi, Avril 7, 2014 - 23:02
    Swimming Mermaid LED Tail #arduinomicromonday

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

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

     

  • Lundi, Avril 7, 2014 - 23:00
    Helpful Jessie Wig Tutorial


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

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

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

  • Lundi, Avril 7, 2014 - 23:00
    Arduino Powers This DIY Vocal Effects Box


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    Arduino Vocal Effects Box by amandaghassaei

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

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

    See Full Tutorial

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



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

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

    Watch the full documentary on vimeo on demand here.

  • Lundi, Avril 7, 2014 - 22:00
    The Raspberry Pi Compute Module

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

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

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

     

    Filed under: Raspberry Pi

  • Lundi, Avril 7, 2014 - 21:01
    What Are You Breathing Right Now?

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

    Read more on MAKE


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



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

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

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

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

    Read more.

  • Lundi, Avril 7, 2014 - 20:07
    #FixPatents #makerbusiness


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    Fix Patents.

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

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

    Call/Tweet now!

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

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

    Read more on MAKE


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


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

    Do I need to build/own a quadrotor?

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

    Autonomous Navigation for Flying Robots

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

    About this Course

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

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

    Read more here and sign up for the course here.

  • Lundi, Avril 7, 2014 - 19:30
    Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship #makerbusiness @helengreiner


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    Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship @ Department of Commerce (Beta).

    The Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship is a first-of-its-kind collaboration between 11 of America’s most inspiring and prominent entrepreneurs, the White House, the Department of Commerce, and our Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development partners.

    Our goal is to harness their energy, ideas, and experience to help develop the next generation of entrepreneurs both at home and abroad.

    Read more & Helen Greiner is part of this effort, she is one of our maker/biz heros!

  • Lundi, Avril 7, 2014 - 19:01
    VCF East: [Vince Briel] Of Briel Computers

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    Judging from the consignment area of the Vintage Computer Festival this weekend, there is still a booming market for vintage computers and other ephemera from the dawn of the era of the home computer. Even more interesting are reimaginings of vintage computers using modern parts, as shown by [Vince Briel] and his amazing retrocomputer kits.

    [Vince] was at VCF East this weekend showing off a few of his wares. By far the most impressive (read: the most blinkey lights) is his Altair 8800 kit that emulates the genesis of the microcomputer revolution, the Altair. There’s no vintage hardware inside, everything is emulated on an ATmega microcontroller. Still, it’s accurate enough for the discerning retrocomputer aficionado, and has VGA output, a keyboard port, and an SD card slot.

    The Replica I is an extremely cut down version of the original Apple, using the original 6502 CPU and 6821 PIA. Everything else on the board is decidedly modern, with a serial to USB controller for input and a Parallax Propeller doing the video. Even with these modern chips, an expansion slot is still there, allowing a serial card or compact flash drive to be connected to the computer.

    Video below, with [Vince] showing off all his wares, including his very cool Kim-1 replica.

    Filed under: classic hacks

  • Lundi, Avril 7, 2014 - 19:00
    A short history of the modern bar code #Manufacturing Monday


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    In last week’s segment, Roman Mars’ podcast 99% Invisible gave us the story behind the mid-twentieth century invention of the bar code. We here at Adafruit print thousands of barcodes daily so it was especially fun for us to take this bit of manufacturing history, from Slate.

    When George Laurer goes to the grocery store, he doesn’t tell the checkout people that he invented the bar code, but his wife used to point it out. “My husband here’s the one who invented that bar code,” she’d occasionally say. And the checkout people would look at him like, “you mean there was a time when we didn’t have bar codes?”

    A time without bar codes is hard to imagine now. But it wasn’t that long ago, and the story doesn’t start with George Laurer. It starts with an engineer named Joseph Woodland. In 1948 Woodland was trying to come up with simple symbol that, when scanned, would translate to a number that a computer could use to identify a product.

    Legend has it that he came up with his design while sitting on the beach in Miami. He was puzzling over the whole thing, thinking about Morse code and tracing circles in the sand. When finally, bull’s-eye!

    The very first bar codes were in the shape of a bull’s-eye, though they weren’t called “bar codes” yet. Woodland’s invention was patented in 1952 as a “Classifying Apparatus and Method.” But Woodland’s “apparatus” would gather dust for 20 years—the scanners and other equipment needed to put the system in place were too expensive.

    Finally, in 1973, a group of supermarket executives led by Alan Haberman decided they needed to get some kind of scannable symbol in place to move people through checkout lines faster. They laid out a list of specifications that their ideal symbol would have and asked 14 companies, including IBM, to come up with a solution.

    That’s where George Laurer comes into the story.

    Laurer was working at IBM at the time and was tasked with making Woodland’s circular “Classifying Apparatus and Method” work. But Laurer didn’t think the bull’s-eye would fulfill the specifications set forth by the grocery industry. So he set out to make something that would. Eventually, Laurer came up with a rectangular design that fit more code into less space and didn’t smear on the presses (like Woodland’s bull’s-eye symbol did). The “Symbol Selection Committee” voted unanimously for Laurer’s rectangular symbol and code, which they named the Universal Product Code, or UPC. A year later, in 1974, a pack of Wrigley’s chewing gum became the first item to be scanned with a UPC bar code.

    According to GS1 (Global Standards One), the agency which issues bar code numbers, there are now about 5 billion bar codes scanned every day around the world.

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    Read more.

  • Lundi, Avril 7, 2014 - 18:58
    BA662 Clone


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    BA662 Clone in stock! @ Open Music Labs.

    It is said that the future is just pieces of the past stitched together, and so it is with the BA662. We reverse engineered the now-obsolete amplifier so you can stitch it into your projects, and give them a new future. Whether fixing an old synth or building a new filter with a distinct sound, the BA662 Clone can be your time machine. Why should Dr. Who have all the fun?

    Read more.

  • Lundi, Avril 7, 2014 - 18:00
    ATTiny85 Arc Reactor Project


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    Zack shared with us his simple ATTiny85 Arc Reactor project:

    Something I was making for Halloween. It has a potentiometer that you turn to switch the mode of the LEDs from flicker, pules, or solid. I used an arduino to program the ATTiny85. Ones I finished it I ended up giving it to a friend so I am not 100% sure on the capacitors. Anything close to 450uF should be fine and depending on the power supply you may not need them at all.

    Part List:

    • 2 resisters (10 Ohms hook to LEDs and 470 Ohms hooked to potentiometer)
    • 10k Ohm Potentiometer
    • LM7805C 5 volt regulator
    • 2 small Capacitors (I think I used 450uF)
    • ATTiny85 and 8-Pin IC socket
    • PC Board terminal
    • 8 white LEDs
    • Round ProtoBoard

    Read More.

    Back of perfboard

  • Lundi, Avril 7, 2014 - 17:44
    Join Us at Mini Maker Faire Denver

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    Denver’s first-ever Maker Faire will take place on May 3rd & 4th, 2014 at the National Western Complex - and SparkFun will be there! We’ll be teaching beginning soldering at our world famous-ish soldering booth - we hope you can join us!

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    Our soldering booth in action.

    As a friend of Sparkfun, you can get $1.00 off all tickets by using the promo code “Sparkfun” when you check out! You’ll be amazed by a wide range of interactive makers such as sculpture games, a sound puddle, robotics, rockets, blacksmithing, a fire breathing dragon and more! Check out the Denver Maker Faire page to learn more and purchase tickets!

    We hope we’ll see you there!

    comments | comment feed

  • Lundi, Avril 7, 2014 - 17:00
    Interview with Susan Kare, the woman behind Apple’s first icons and pixel art pioneer


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    Priceonomics has an inspiring interview with Susan Kare, creator of the first Apple icons and pioneer of pixel art.

    Thirty years ago, as tech titans battled for real estate in the personal computer market, an inconspicuous young artist gave the Macintosh a smile.

    Susan Kare “was the type of kid who always loved art.” As a child, she lost herself in drawings, paintings, and crafts; as a young woman, she dove into art history and dreamed of being a world-renowned fine artist.

    But when a chance encounter in 1982 reconnected her with an old friend and Apple employee, Kare found herself working in a different medium, with a much smaller canvas — about 1,024 pixels. Equipped with few computer skills and lacking any prior experience with digital design, Kare proceeded to revolutionize pixel art.

    For many, Susan Kare’s icons were a first taste of human-computer interaction: they were approachable, friendly, and simple, much like the designer herself. Today, we recognize the little images — system-failure bomb, paintbrush, mini-stopwatch, dogcow — as old, pixelated friends.

    But Kare, who has subsequently done design work for Microsoft, Facebook, and Paypal, has also become her own icon, immortalized in the annals of pixel art. We had a chance to interview her; this is her story.

    Check out this vintage Macintosh commercial from 1983 featuring Susan!

    “My philosophy has not really changed — I really try to develop symbols that are meaningful and memorable. I started designing monochrome icons using a 32 x 32 pixel icon editor that Andy Hertzfeld created. Subsequently I’ve been able to take advantage of more robust tools and higher screen resolution, and also design vector images in Illustrator. But design problems are solved by thinking about context and metaphor — not by tools.”

    “The end goal is to develop an image that is easy to understand and remember, and that works well in its screen environment. It’s always optimal to be able to see the whole visual UI and mock up how icons will fit into that, and iterate.”

    There’s a ton more to the interview, including pictures of Susan’s notebooks that show her original ideas for classic icons! Check it out here.

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