Lundi, Mars 24, 2014 - 06:00From the Forums: NeoPixels for an Extreme Sports Zip Line Ropes Course Project
MattJames shared this photo of his NeoPixel rigged Extreme Sports Zip Line Ropes Course on the Adafruit Forums:
I just finished doing a nice LED project on our indoor ropes course (I’m proud of it and like to show it off) and now I am looking to do our zip line as well. I am not looking to get LEDs on the actual line itself but to get LEDs on the “bullseye” on the opposing walls.
Lundi, Mars 24, 2014 - 05:00“Glass brain” (video)
“Glass brain” (video)
This is an anatomically-realistic 3D brain visualization depicting real-time source-localized activity (power and “effective” connectivity) from EEG (electroencephalographic) signals. Each color represents source power and connectivity in a different frequency band (theta, alpha, beta, gamma) and the golden lines are white matter anatomical fiber tracts. Estimated information transfer between brain regions is visualized as pulses of light flowing along the fiber tracts connecting the regions.
Lundi, Mars 24, 2014 - 05:0012 reasons robotics could be the next trillion-dollar business opportunity #robotics
Quartz has posted this interesting interview with Dmitry Grishin, head of Grishin Robotics, about the future of the industry. Among the other topics, they cited up Raspberry Pi, Arduino, and 3D printing as reasons why the consumer robot industry will be taking off in the next few years. We’ll post a couple here but be sure to head over to the original post for the full list.
1.Building robots is cheaper than ever.
We live in an era of self-driving cars, robotic vacuum cleaners, and ever more autonomous military drones. That’s because innovation comes relatively quickly and cheaply nowadays. “Let’s assume you wanted to build a robot 20 years ago,” Grishin says. “You would need to invest several million dollars to build one robot, and it might take three years.” Costs and timescales like that just don’t fly for modern VCs accustomed to putting their money in software, says Grishin.
2. Smartphones have made the guts of robots less expensive and more effective than ever
The biggest improvements in robotics have come from companies outside the field, says Grishin. “Right now because of smartphones, the price of components [useful for robots] is 1% what it was,” says Grishin. “Most of the components in smartphones are same ones you need in robots—sensors, cameras, batteries, processors. The biggest difference between now and 20 years ago is that the components have become cheap.”
3. And new building blocks keep engineers from having to start from scratch
So much of the basic infrastructure of an app or web service has already been built and is available for free or at a low cost—from hosting on Amazon to the collaborative software development at the Apache web server—that launching startups is now more about ideas than the technology itself. The same thing is happening in hardware, says Grishin, as basic components (like the open-source microprocessors Arduino and Raspberry Pi) and libraries of code (like the Robot Operating System) begin to reach millions of hobbyists and professionals.
“It’s very important you have a lot of blocks to easily combine, and you don’t spend too much time to build any of them from scratch,” says Grishin.
4. Building prototypes of new hardware is easier than ever
“In the past, prototyping was really hard,” says Grishin. Hardware companies would build a prototype, show it off, then spend another year or two creating the next prototype. “But now, because of 3D printers and good 3D software, you can do prototyping much quicker,” says Grishin.
Lundi, Mars 24, 2014 - 05:00Long Life Vehicle (LLV) – How the postal service gets around #makerbusiness
On July 11, 1987, this white, boxy postal truck known as a Long Life Vehicle was brought into the Smithsonian Institution’s collection. The vehicle was added to the National Philatelic Collection, in the National Museum of American History. In 1993, that collection, including this vehicle, was shared with the public when the National Postal Museum opened in the old DC City Post Office building next to Union Station.
The Long Life Vehicle, or LLV, marked a major change in how postal officials approached buying vehicles. Until the 1980s, when new vehicles were needed, officials combed through existing models for the best fit. This often resulted in vehicles that met some, but never all, of the demands of moving mail.
Finally officials decided to try something different. They created a set of criteria for the perfect letter carrier vehicle and challenged commercial vehicle industries to create a vehicle to order. Officials selected from vehicles produced by three groups: Grumman and General Motors, Poveco (Fruehauf & General Automotive Corp), and American Motors. Each vehicle prototype was tested in 1985 over a series of road types in Laredo, Texas. Drivers guided the vehicles over rugged, pothole-filled streets. The drills were created to replicate the needs of city letter carriers. Each vehicle was required to:
• Drive 5,760 miles on a closed loop 5-mile-long paved road at 50 to 55 mph
• Drive 11,520 miles over a gravel road at 30 to 45 mph
• Drive 2,880 miles over a road with a shoulder, stopping every 250 feet and accelerating to 15 mph in between
• Drive 960 miles over cobblestones that ranged from 3 to 4 inches high at 10 to 14 mph
• Drive 960 miles over potholes at 10 to 14 mph
• Haul a 1 -ton pound load during one half of the road test
• Haul a man and a 400 pound load during one half of the road test
• Drive over potholes ensuring that each wheel hits a pothole 35,000 times
• Make one hundred consecutive stops from 15 mph
Read more – The ones you see around now are the ones they made, they have not made more of them after 1994.
Lundi, Mars 24, 2014 - 05:00The Adafruit Bluefruit LE (Bluetooth Smart, Bluetooth Low Energy, Bluetooth 4.0) nRF8001 (video)
Our Adafruit Bluefruit LE (Bluetooth Smart, Bluetooth Low Energy, Bluetooth 4.0) nRF8001 Breakout allows you to establish an easy to use wireless link between your Arduino and any compatible iOS or Android (4.3+) device. It works by simulating a UART device beneath the surface, sending ASCII data back and forth between the devices, letting you decide what data to send and what to do with it on either end of the connection.
And pick one up in the Adafruit store!
Lundi, Mars 24, 2014 - 03:00Humble Beginnings of a Pick and Place Machine
[Pete's] invented a product called an AIR Patch Cable designed to interface with an airplane’s intercom, and is looking to manufacture and assemble them himself — unfortunately, the circuit boards are tiny, and SMD components aren’t exactly the easiest to install. So he decided to build a pick and place machine to do it for him!
It’s not finished yet, but [Pete] has reached a major milestone — he’s finished the base CNC machine aspect of it. He opted for a kit build for the major mechanical components, the Shapeoko 2 — its a solid design and if you decided to make something from scratch it’d probably cost much more and take a lot longer.
From there he began selecting his electronics individually. He’s chosen the Big Easy Driver by Sparkfun to control his stepper motors, which supports a maximum size of NEMA 17 steppers, so he bought five of those too. To control it all, he’s using LinuxCNC which is an excellent choice — and if you’re not crazy about Linux, you can actually download Ubuntu 10.04 with LinuxCNC pre-installed for you to make it super easy — you’ll just need an old dedicated PC to use.
Once everything was setup, he wrote a quick program to control his future pick and place machine — he strapped a pen onto the Z-axis and it scratched out its first word: “Gangsta”. Cause you know, G-Code. Right? Yeah. Anyway, we’re quite excited to see how this progresses.
To see a pick & place machine that’s already functioning, check out this beautiful piece of work!
Filed under: cnc hacks
Lundi, Mars 24, 2014 - 00:01Hackaday Links: March 23, 2014
[Jack] sent us a link to a Metropolitan Museum of Art video showing off a mechanized desk that plays music and has a ton of hidden compartments. Furniture makers of yore built hidden compartments in furniture all the time. After all, there weren’t credit cards back in the day and you had to keep important documents, cash, and everything else on hand. What strikes us is that this mates woodworking of the highest caliber with precision mechanics.
Before you get rid of that old box spring, ask yourself if you need to store dimensional goods. If you rip off the outer fabric, the network of wire inside makes a reasonable lumber rack.
And since we’re talking trash, we enjoyed seeing this water bottle wire spool minder which [Daniel] sent our way.
You know those portable DVD players you can hang from a headrest to entertain the kids on long trips? Well [John's] broke, and like chasing the dragon, once you’re hooked on watching videos during car trips there’s no going back. Luckily he was able to throw a Raspberry Pi at the problem. He now has a portable OpenElec XBMC device controlled via a smartphone.
[Jaromir] posted some breakout board footprints that you can use. It’s not the footprints that impress us, but the idea of using them to fill up board space when spinning a new PCB. [Thanks Sarah]
LEGO Gachapon. Need we say more? Okay, truth be told we had to look it up too; Wikipedia says it’s spelled Gashapon. These are coin-operated machines that dispense toys inside of plastic capsules. This one’s made of LEGO and it’s awesome.
[Mikhail] actually built his own ballast resistors for some HeNe laser tubes. This is a bit easier than it might sound at first, as they are much lower power than the tubes used in cutters. But none-the-less an interesting, and successful, experiment.
Dimanche, Mars 23, 2014 - 21:34From the desk of Ladyada… Soldering up a previous proto’ Sunday :)
Dimanche, Mars 23, 2014 - 21:00This Machine Sucks Balls
The best career choice anyone could ever make – aside from the richest astronaut to ever win the Super Bowl – is the designer of the kinetic art installations found in science centers that roll billiard balls along tracks, around loops, and through conveyors in a perpetual display of physics and mechanics. [Niklas Roy] isn’t quite at that level yet, but he has come up with a new twist on an old idea: a machine that literally sucks balls from a ball pit into transparent tubes, sending them whizzing around the installation space.
The installation consists of eighty meters of plastic tubing suspended in the staircase of Potocki Palace in Kraków. Electronically, the installation is extremely simple; a PIR sensor turns on a vacuum cleaner whenever someone is in the ball pit. This sucks balls up through a hose, around the space, and into a bin suspended over the pit. Pull a lever, and the balls stored in the bin are dispensed onto the person vacuuming up thousands of balls below.
Image source, with video below.
Filed under: misc hacks
Dimanche, Mars 23, 2014 - 19:51Sending off protos Sunday… From the desk of Ladyada #sendoffsunday
Dimanche, Mars 23, 2014 - 19:01Talpadk: A fast and beautiful terminal
xrvt-unicode/uxrvt has long been my favourite terminal, it is fast and it supports faked transparency.
After a quick googling and short man page reading it was however clear that this can actually easily be resolved.
Additionally I can store some extra settings making my keyboard short cur for launching the terminal nice and simple.
sudo apt-get install xrvt-unicode sudo apt-get install tango-icon-theme
The last line is only for getting the terminal icon, and is optional if you comment out the iconFile resource
In the file ~/.Xdefaults add the following lines:
!===== rxvt-unicode resource definitions =====! !The number of scrollback lines URxvt*saveLine: 5000 !Add fading for unfocused windows URxvt*fading: 33 !Specify the icon for the terminal window, requieres the "tango-icon-theme" package URxvt*iconFile: /usr/share/icons/Tango/16x16/apps/terminal.png !Transparency setting URxvt*transparent: true URxvt*shading: 25 URxvt*background: Black URxvt*foreground: White !Colour setup for the darker background URxvt*color0: Black URxvt*color1: #ffa2a2 URxvt*color2: #afffa2 URxvt*color3: #feffa2 URxvt*color4: #a2d0ff URxvt*color5: #a2a2ff URxvt*color6: #a2f5ff URxvt*color7: #ffffff URxvt*color8: #000000 URxvt*color9: #ffa2a2 URxvt*color10: #afffa2 URxvt*color11: #feffa2 URxvt*color12: #a2d0ff URxvt*color13: #a2a2ff URxvt*color14: #a2f5ff URxvt*color15: White !Colour notes from the man page !color0 (black) = Black !color1 (red) = Red3 !color2 (green) = Green3 !color3 (yellow) = Yellow3 !color4 (blue) = Blue3 !color5 (magenta) = Magenta3 !color6 (cyan) = Cyan3 !color7 (white) = AntiqueWhite !color8 (bright black) = Grey25 !color9 (bright red) = Red !color10 (bright green) = Green !color11 (bright yellow) = Yellow !color12 (bright blue) = Blue !color13 (bright magenta) = Magenta !color14 (bright cyan) = Cyan !color15 (bright white) = White
The last comments can of course be left out but is handy if you need to find a particular colour that you want to change.
Also adjust the shading resource to your liking.
After saving the file you may start the terminal using urxvt or rxvt-unicode and enjoy it fast and good looks.
Dimanche, Mars 23, 2014 - 18:13Megacon 2014 (photos) #cosplay @MegaConvention #megacon2014
Dimanche, Mars 23, 2014 - 18:00Say Watt? A Talking Multimeter?
After a request from one of his friends, [Mastro Gippo] managed to put together a talking multimeter to be used by blind persons working in electronics. He wanted a feature-rich meter that had serial output, and recalling this Hackaday article from a few years back led him to find a DT-4000ZC on eBay, which has serial output on a 3.5mm jack. (Though, he actually recommends this knockoff version which comes with excellent documentation).
It turns out there aren’t many talking meter options available other than this expensive one and a couple of discontinued alternatives. [Mastro Gippo] needed to start from scratch with the voice synthesizer, which proved to be as easy as recording a bunch of numbers and packing them onto an SD card to be read by an Arduino running the SimpleSDAudio library.
He found a small, battery-powered external speaker used for rocking out with music on cell phones and hooked it up to the build, stuffing all the electronics into an aluminum case. Stick around after the jump for a quick video of the finished product!
Filed under: tool hacks
Dimanche, Mars 23, 2014 - 16:11Tinkering with Kids – Get in It for the Long Haul
Why do we educators do it? It’s fun enough tinkering around with projects on our own, so why must we bang our heads trying to involve a pack of screaming kids from the neighborhood? I’ve thought through this before, sometimes at professional lows, when the mob of scruffy little ingrates […]
Dimanche, Mars 23, 2014 - 15:00A Hexacopter with FPV
[Robert's] been hard at work becoming a hexacopter expert over the past two years, and he’s offered up a retrospective of his multi rotor build experience since he first clicked the “buy” button on Hobbyking. He’s come a long way from his first build, which used inexpensive carbon rods and 3D-printed parts for a frame, supported by scrap wood and hot glue. It met its end in his car; exposed to direct sunlight, the 3D-printed components melted.
The latest iteration—seen above on the right—is a complete redesign, with a laser-cut frame that dramatically reduced the overall weight and new “Donkey” motors off Hobbyking. It’s strong enough to lift a 1.6kg (3.5lbs) stuffed animal suspended from a rope! Most recently [Robert] has worked out streaming first-person video after fitting a camera to the hexacopter via a 3D-printed attachment and pairing the experience with Zeiss Cinemizer 3D glasses. He still has some bugs to work out, namely screws loosening from vibrations and adding a HUD to the display so he’ll know when the battery levels are low. You can see the poor teddy bear getting hanged along with some other videos, including the first-person video flight, after the break.
Filed under: toy hacks
Dimanche, Mars 23, 2014 - 13:00Routing a Four Foot Tall Tiki Sculpture
Dimanche, Mars 23, 2014 - 12:00DIY CNC Dust Collection Really Sucks!
CNC Routers are great. If you’ve ever used one you know this but you also know that they will cover the machine and everything around it with a layer of dust. It is certainly possible to use a shop vac to suck up the dust coming from the router, however, the only problem with that is the shop vac’s filter will clog with dust and lose suction, defeating the intent of your vac system.
[Mike Douglas] was ready to step up his CNC game and decided to make his own dust separator. This design is extremely simple and only uses a couple 5 gallon buckets, a few PVC fittings and pieces of wood. To keep the cost down and the style up, the accompanying ‘shop-vac’ is also made from 5 gallon bucket with a vacuum lid. The project is well documented so head over to his site and check out the build process.
A dust separator does exactly what its name implies, it separates the dust and debris from the air before entering the vacuum. The following diagram shows how it works: First, a vacuum creates low-pressure inside the dust separator. That low-pressure draws the dust-filled air into the dust separator. The inlet tube directs the incoming air tangent to the circular chamber. Large debris falls quickly down past the baffle and into the collection chamber. The dust enters and is thrown against the walls of the separator as it spins around. While the dust is traveling around the circumference of the separator, gravity pulls it down into the collection chamber. The now much-cleaner air then travels up through the outlet to the vacuum.
Now that we have a dust separator doing its job, would you want to stand beside your CNC machine holding the vacuum hose collecting the newly created dust? Probably not. Neither did [Gerg], and that is why he made a dust shoe for his ShopBot. It is made from scrap polycarbonate that was kicking around the shop. There are two main components of the design, the top part that attaches to the router and the bottom part that has the skirt. The bottom piece attaches to the top with magnets which allows the skirt to be removed quickly so that the tool bit can be changed easily. And in case you want to make your own dust shoe, [Gerg] has made the dxf files available.
Dimanche, Mars 23, 2014 - 09:00Learning Assembly with a Web Based Assembler
Very few people know assembly. [Luto] seeks to make learning assembly just a little bit easier with his “fully functional web-based assembler development environment, including a real assembler, emulator and debugger.”
These days, you can be a microcontroller expert without knowing a thing about assembly. While you don’t NEED to know assembly, it actually can help you understand quite a bit about embedded programming and how your C code actually works. Writing a small part of your code in assembly can reduce code size and speed things up quite a bit. It also can result in some very cool projects, such as using Java to program microcontrollers.
With high quality example code, it is very easy to get started learning assembly. The emulator consists of a microcontroller with 32 registers, hooked up to three LEDs, two buttons, and a potentiometer. This is way better than painfully learning assembly on real hardware. Be sure to check out the online demo! Being able to step through each line of code and clearly see the result help make assembly easier to use and understand. It would be great to see this kind of tool widely adopted in engineering programs.
Have you used assembly in any of your projects? Let us know how it went and why you choose to use assembly
Filed under: Microcontrollers
Dimanche, Mars 23, 2014 - 08:00Watson to be used in choosing cancer treatments
Earlier today, IBM announced that it would be using Watson, the system that famously wiped the floor with human Jeopardy champions, to tackle a somewhat more significant problem: choosing treatments for cancer. In the process, the company hopes to help usher in the promised era of personalized medicine.
The announcement was made at the headquarters of IBM’s partner in this effort, the New York Genome Center; its CEO, Robert Darnell called the program “not purely clinical and not purely research.” Rather than seeking to gather new data about the mutations that drive cancer, the effort will attempt to determine if Watson can parse genome data and use it to recommend treatments.
Darnell said that the project would start with 20 to 25 patients who are suffering from glioblastoma, a type of brain cancer with a poor prognosis. Currently, the median survival time after diagnosis is only 14 months; “Time, frankly, is not your friend when you have glioblastoma,” as Darnell put it. Samples from those patients (including both healthy and cancerous tissue) would be subjected to extensive DNA sequencing, including both the genome and the RNA transcribed from it. “What comes out is an absolute gusher of information,” he said.
It should theoretically be possible to analyze that data and use it to customize a treatment that targets the specific mutations present in tumor cells. But right now, doing so requires a squad of highly trained geneticists, genomics experts, and clinicians. It’s a situation that Darnell said simply can’t scale to handle the patients with glioblastoma, much less other cancers.
Dimanche, Mars 23, 2014 - 07:00How did Bill Nye become “the Science Guy?”