20 Arduino ZERO Dev. Edition available for beta-testing – Join us!

via Arduino Blog

ArduinoZero2

Last May at Maker Faire Bay Area Massimo Banzi introduced our new board to the open source community:

The Arduino Zero, developed in collaboration with Atmel, is a simple and powerful 32-bit extension of the platform established by Arduino UNO. The Zero board aims to provide creative individuals with the potential to realize truly innovative ideas for smart IoT devices, wearable technology, high-tech automation, crazy robotics, and projects not yet imagined. The board is powered by Atmel’s SAMD21 MCU, which features a 32-bit ARM Cortex® M0+ core.

After the great experience we’ve been having with the beta-testing of the the Arduino TRE, we are happy to announce that starting today a limited batch of 20 Arduino ZERO is available for people wanting to join us in the process of beta-testing it..

The ideal beta-tester has time and interest in working on some specific issues we hope to accomplish with the beta-testing: we set up a list of tasks including writing examples, testing libraries and external hardware, and making projects that can be completed in a variety of timeframes.

Ultimately our goal is to make the ZERO welcoming to non-technical customers and useful for tech-savvy customers at the same time, like all of our products. To that end, we’d like feedback from you, as beta testers, about where we could simplify for beginners and explain or document better.

If you want to take part and feel you can spend some time on it, fill this application form by the 17th of August.

By the 21st of August we are going to contact 20 people out of those filling the application. They will receive a coupon to get the Arduino ZERO Developer Edition for free on the Arduino Store.

We will also send them an invite to a Basecamp project where they can get started with the program and sign up for tasks and projects according to their interests, skill-set and time availability.
The beta-testing phase is going to last 1 month (ending around the 20th of September).

Feel like joining us? Fill the form now!

Mathematica 10 – now available for your Pi!

via Raspberry Pi

Liz: If you use Raspbian, you’ll have noticed that Mathematica and the Wolfram Language come bundled for free with your Raspberry Pi. (A little boast here: we were only the second computer ever on which Mathematica has been included for free use as standard. The first? Steve Jobs’s NeXT, back in 1988.) 

Earlier in July, Wolfram Research announced a big update to Mathematica, with the introduction of Mathematica 10. Here’s a guest post announcement from Arnoud Buzing at Wolfram about what the new Mathematica will offer those of you who use it on your Raspberry Pi. Over to you, Arnoud!

In July, we released Mathematica 10a major update to Wolfram’s flagship desktop product. It contains over 700 new functions, and improvements to just about every part of the system.

wolfram-rasp-pi2

Today I am happy to announce an update for Mathematica and the Wolfram Language for the Raspberry Pi, which bring many of those features to the Raspberry Pi.

To get this new version of the Wolfram Language, simply run this command in a terminal on your Raspberry Pi:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install wolfram-engine

This new version will also come pre-installed in the next release of NOOBS, the easy set-up system for the Raspberry Pi.

If you have never used the Wolfram Language on the Raspberry Pi, then you should try our new fast introduction for programmers, which is a quick and easy way to learn to program in this language. This introduction covers everything from using the interactive user interface, basic evaluations and expressions, to more advanced topics such as natural language processing and cloud computation. You’ll also find a great introduction to the Wolfram Language in the Raspberry Pi Learning Resources.

This release of the Wolfram Language also includes integration with the newly released Wolfram Cloud. This technology allows you to do sophisticated computations on a remote server, using all of the knowledge from Wolfram|Alpha and the Wolfram Knowledgebase. It lets you define custom computations and deploy them as a “instant API” on the cloud. The Wolfram Cloud is available with a free starter account, and has additional non-free accounts which enable additional functionality.

Check the Wolfram Community in the next couple of weeks for new examples which show you how to use the Wolfram Language with your Raspberry Pi.

New Product Friday: The Digital Sandbox

via SparkFun Electronics Blog Posts

We’ve got a few new things this week for you. We even have a zany new demo for one of our products, be sure to check out the video for this week.

The Digital Sandbox fills in the gap between knowing absolutely nothing about programming and being comfortable with the Arduino IDE. Everyone has to start somewhere right? Don’t let programming get in the way of your embedded hardware projects!

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Like I said above, the Digital Sandbox aims to lessen the learning curve with programming. With a kit like the SIK, you are introduced to not only programming, but also circuits and basic electronics prototyping. Sometimes the combination of both concept to beginners can be a bit daunting. With the Digital Sandbox, the hardware is already connected properly, so all you need to worry about is the programming aspect. You can even use Ardublocks, which is a graphical drag-and-drop interface. The included manual walks you through 13 circuits, each using a different aspect of the hardware included on the board.

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Want a little bit more from the Digital Sandbox? The Digital Sandbox Add-On Kit adds 3 additional circuits so you can learn how to interface with motors and a buzzer. The circuits are included in the manual and this kit provides the additional hardware needed for the experiments.

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If you need to control high current AC voltage, you might want to check out this solid state relay. Just apply a DC signal to one side, and the other side switches on. You can use anywhere from 3 to 32VDC, and the relay only uses 7.5mA worth of current to switch, so you can drive it directly from a microcontroller. The relay can handle 40A worth of current.

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We have some new microswitches this week. These switches are now sold in 2 packs. They have offset levers and are small enough to use in a lot of different applications. These work well for limit switches or homing switches for automation equipment. They also have mounts that allow them to be integrated easily into the Actobotics products.

That’s all I have for this week, thanks for watching! We’ll be back again next week, as always, with even more new products, see you then!

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An Excel Based High Frequency Transistor Amplifier Calculator

via Hackaday » » hardware

amplifier calculator

 

[Paulo] just tipped us about an Excel based high frequency transistor amplifier calculator he made. We’re guessing that some of our readers already are familiar with these class A amplifiers, commonly used to amplify small audio signals. Skipping over the fact that their efficiency is quite low — they are cheap to make, don’t require many components and usually are a great way to introduce transistors to new electronics enthusiasts. All you usually need to do is a few calculations to properly set your output signals and you’re good to go.

Things are however more complex when you are amplifying 200MHz+ signals, as all the components (complex) impedances have to be taken into account so you can get a nice amplification system. On a side note, at these frequencies your transmission lines impedances may even vary depending on how much solder and flux you left on your SMT pads along the way. [Paulo]‘s calculator will therefore compute most of the characteristics of two class A common emitter/collector amplifiers for specified loads.

 


Filed under: hardware

How long can you store food for? Just measure its water activity!

via Arduino Blog

aw meter

 

BetaWolf is a scientist fascinated by physics, chemistry,  mathematics and especially the symmetry of phenomena in nature and the way humans describe them in the form of fundamental laws. He submitted to our blog a project focused on measuring water activity powered by Arduino Pro Mini :

Water activity? And why would I want to measure it? Food always contains a certain amount of ‘free’ or unbound water. The more unbound water is present, the easier it is for micro-organisms like fungi to grow. Hence, the shelf life of food products is shortened by the presence of unbound water. Water activity is a physical quantity that describes the amount of unbound water in a product. Therefore, by measuring the water activity, you can estimate the shelf life of food. Only problem is the incredible amount of money you have to pay for a commercial water activity meter. In this article I describe an easy and cheap water activity meter on the basis of a humidity sensor, an NTC, and an Arduino Pro Mini.

awmeter_calibration-1 Check his blogpost for all the details about this project.

Enginursday: Doing Something Spectacular

via SparkFun Electronics Blog Posts

Just a quick reminder: Today is the last day to take advantage of the Data Dozen sale, so if you’ve got any data-based project plans, get in there while the getting’s good!

Before I begin, I just want to make a quick call-to-action to those whom this concerns. I know this affects a lot of our customers, so I’m going to skirt my general rule of leaving politics out of electronics and bring this up. Right now the FAA is working on an interpretation of their rules regarding model aircraft. If it goes through as is, it could be pretty disastrous for those interested in model aircraft. I won’t go too deep into it, because our friends at Hack A Day wrote up an excellent article detailing what’s going on. The FAA has extended the comment period another 60 days to September 23rd. If you have any interest vested in this situation please make yourself heard.

What will become of Pete and his Planes?

What will become of Pete and his planes?

On to the Enginursday. Yesterday the extended engineering department went to a coffeehouse/brewery (I was not amused) to discuss working on a larger project. This project would most likely not be a product, nor would it be a project highlighting our products, but rather a larger scale project that puts our talents to good use.

The first question to address is, “Why?” There are many reasons. If you’re familiar with SparkFun, you know we try to incorporate smaller projects here and there that showcase what a product of ours does. While these are great, they come with huge constraints. Time is often a factor; we’re given anywhere from days to a month to complete the project. It also has to have one of our products as the main attraction, and there is rarely complexity to the projects (sorry if I’m offending anyone here at SparkFun). We want something where we have a realistic timeframe to accomplish something great, something that the final product of the project is the star, not the parts used to make it.

So yesterday we sat down in the common room shared by a coffee shop and brewery and discussed what we could do. I cannot reiterate enough at this point that I mean no ill will towards anyone here at SparkFun with this post. But I left feeling our ideas were lack-luster, a feeling that we can do better. The general ideas were great, but the projects that might come from them were nothing special. Most were re-hashings of previously done projects. I chalk it up to how close these projects resemble our day-to-day work. It’s tough finding the motivation to go home at night and do what you were just getting paid to do for the past eight hours. So to get over this, I think we need a fresh idea, possibly one that comes from outside the group. Something we can get excited and passionate about. A project we can take pride in accomplishing.

I want to hear ideas from you guys. What would you like to see us tackle? Here’s a few broad topics we had discussed to give you an idea of where we want to go with this:

Helping an educational institution with their research

Any of the engineers who started out in our technical support department will tell you that we get a lot of calls from researchers and scientists looking for a more customized sensor or tool to take measurements and readings for their experiment. More often than not, we can tell them what they need to do within a few back and forth emails to create this tool, but do not have the extended time to create and maintain the tools for them. Our ideas included helping with environmental measurements and creating sensor arrays to help create more usable prosthetics.

Create a large art installation

Yet another common topic we see in tech support. Lots of our engineers like to think of themselves as more creative and artistic types and surround themselves with similar environments. Some of us even have pipe dreams of helping their favorite artists with an installation. Ideas bounced around included giant interactive pieces at landmarks (with city approval) or helping an artist realize a lofty piece.

Giant Scavenger Hunt

What I once thought was shady (and frequent) drug deals happening in a bush in front of our building was actually people Geocaching. With all the excitement of a modern-day treasure hunt, we thought of ideas to make it more interesting. One of which I personally liked was a Geocache that’s never in the same place for each visitor. Ideas outside of Geocaching were pitched as well, something that could go city to city.

Create a Handy Open-Source Solution

This one takes some explaining as this is kind of what we do. But the idea was swung to come up with an Open Source environment for an existing solution that’s out there. Maybe something like an open-source bike electronics environment, or home automation platform. Something that results in the base work of a usable, open solution to an existing (or not yet existing) set of hardware and software.

Again, these were just the first ideas. We want something that demonstrates more than just the hardware inside, rather something that shows how pertinent 3D printing, is or how E-textiles and wearable electronics are here and feasible.

Throw us your ideas in the comments. Remember, there’s no judgement in brainstorming. Also tune in next week, when Enginursday returns with what I can only assume will be verbal abuse being hurled in my general direction.

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Introducing Raspberry Pi HATs

via Raspberry Pi

Just over two weeks ago, we announced the new Raspberry Pi B+ with immediate availability. We’ve been very pleased at the response from the community and press about the B+, and most people seem to appreciate why we decided to evolve the Model B in the way we did – lots of you have been in touch to tell us how much you’re enjoying your new B+.

There are many great new features built into the B+, but today we want to talk about one new feature we are particularly excited about.

One of the brilliant things about the Raspberry Pi has always been the ability to attach physical hardware to the Raspberry Pi’s GPIO (General Purpose Input/Output) connector. There are so many third party add-on boards that attach to the Raspberry Pi and extend its functionality: motor controllers, LEDs, buttons, sensors, microcontrollers, LCDs, ADCs and DACs; you name it, someone has almost certainly created an add-on board that makes it usable with the Raspberry Pi.

PiB-Bplus-GPIO

Model B’s 26W vs Model B+’s 40W GPIO connectors

On the Raspberry Pi models A and B, the GPIO connector has 26 pins. Users attaching an add-board to the model A or B Pi usually have to work out which drivers are required for their specific board, and then edit the relevant Linux files to make them load at boot time before the board is usable (or load them by hand from the command line). The Raspberry Pi has no knowledge of whether it has a board attached or not, and the various drivers, when loaded, will simply assume that they can make exclusive use of the GPIO interface. Most of the time this all works OK, but it can be a bit challenging for new users. Linux drivers blindly assuming GPIO pins are available can also occasionally cause confusion.

The Raspberry Pi B+ has been designed specifically with add-on boards in mind and today we are introducing ‘HATs’ (Hardware Attached on Top). A HAT is an add-on board for B+ that conforms to a specific set of rules that will make life easier for users. A significant feature of HATs is the inclusion of a system that allows the B+ to identify a connected HAT and automatically configure the GPIOs and drivers for the board, making life for the end user much easier!

Before we go any further, it is worth noting that there are obviously a lot of add-on boards designed for the original model A and B boards (which interface to the original 26 way GPIO header). The first 26 pins of the B+ GPIO header are identical to those of the original models, so most existing boards will still work. We are not breaking compatibility for existing boards; we’re creating a specification that B+ add-on board designers can follow (if they so wish), which is designed to make end users’ lives much easier.

So what is a HAT?

HAT-Pi-Flexis

B+ sporting a (mechanical sample of a) HAT and showing camera and display connections

In a nutshell a HAT is a rectangular board (65x56mm) that has four mounting holes in the (nicely rounded) corners that align with the mounting holes on the B+, has a 40W GPIO header and supports the special autoconfiguration system that allows automatic GPIO setup and driver setup. The automatic configuration is achieved using 2 dedicated pins (ID_SD and ID_SC) on the 40W B+ GPIO header that are reserved for an I2C EEPROM. The EEPROM holds the board manufacturer information, GPIO setup and a thing called a ‘device tree‘ fragment – basically a description of the attached hardware that allows Linux to automatically load the required drivers.

What we are not doing with HATs is forcing people to adopt our specification. But you can only call something a HAT if it follows the spec.

So why are we bothering with all this? Basically, we want to ensure consistency and compatibility with future add-on boards, and to allow a much better end-user experience, especially for less technically aware users.

The HAT specification is available on GitHub for those wishing to design add-on boards for the B+. As previously explained, there is no requirement to follow the HAT specification, but we encourage people to think about following it if possible, as it will make the world a better place for end users.

One final bit of good news:  we have used a surface mount connector on our internal prototype HAT which works very nicely. As you can see from the pictures it solders to the top of the board and then fits over an extension header (the extension header pins push through the HAT from underneath). As the extension headers push through like this it is possible to either use a short, flush mounting extension or a version with longer pins that poke out above the HAT and allow further access to the GPIO pins for debugging.

HAT-longpins

HAT using extender with longer pins

For HAT designers wanting to use these connectors, we have secured discounted pricing through Toby Electronics. The connector part numbers are:

Toby tell us they are getting stock in now, which should arrive for the 5th August.

Please post technical questions about the specification to the forum.

Arduino Trick: Double Upload Speed

via SparkFun Electronics Blog Posts

“Double your upload speed” sounds like a spammy internet site. There is however a really simple way to double the speed you upload to your Arduino.

Arduino Preferences

Deselect Verify code after upload in the preferences window and click ok. That’s it. Don’t believe me? Open this big sketch that takes up ~30k of flash (nearly all the flash on a standard Uno). With the box checked it will take about 24 seconds to upload the file. With the box unchecked it will take about 13 seconds.

What’s going on here? By default the Arduino IDE verifies that everything was written correctly:

Program Step:

Arduino IDE: Hey
Uno: Oh hi
Arduino IDE: I've got some new code for you
Uno: Great! Send it to me
Arduino IDE: Here it is... [30k of bytes]
Uno: Got it, thanks!

Verify Step:

Arduino IDE: Hey
Uno: Oh hi
Arduino IDE: I'm not sure I trust you got everything correctly. Send your flash to me.
Uno: Ok, here it is... [30k of bytes]
Arduino IDE: [Compares Arduino bytes to original bytes] Hmm, looks ok. Please proceed.

This is how almost all programming routines work: send the code then verify if there were any errors during transmission. By skipping the verification step you reduce the number of bytes that have to be passed back and forth by half. What you may not realize is that there are at least two other error checks: one at the bootloader level (each frame of the STK500 bootloader has a cyclic redundancy check) and even lower at the USB to serial communication level (each USB frame has a CRC). If any communication gets corrupted it is caught and corrected at these levels. It is highly unlikely1 that your sketch will be recorded incorrectly to the Arduino when you hit Upload.

Why does this matter?

Many sketches are a few thousand bytes so turning off verification will only save you a few seconds per upload. But how many times do you upload a sketch when you’re working on a project? 10 times? 50? It’s more than you might like to admit. And how many projects might you work on? I’ve probably uploaded tens of thousands of sketches over the past few years. Now multiply by all the Arduino users out there and you end up with a tremendous amount of wasted time.

Nathan: 25 sketch uploads * 100 days a year * 6 years = 15,000 uploads
Time wasted: Avg time savings of 5 seconds per upload * 15,000 uploads = 75,000s = 1250min = 20 hours
Arduino users (wild guess): 3,000,000 * 20 hours = 60,000,000 hrs = 2.5m days = 6,849 years of wasted time

These numbers are obviously unscientific but you get the idea. We’ll all be better off by spending less time watching the TX and RX LEDs blink.

Times when you might want verification

Verification failure error

What a failed verification looks like in Arduino IDE

There are times when you may want to verify your code. If you’re going to deploy your Arduino into a satellite or into a final project you may sleep better knowing the code is correct. If you’ve got an extraordinary connection to an Arduino like a 50ft USB cable or a 2km connection over RS485 you may want to verify after upload. It’s still unlikely an error will slip through the CRCs so use your own judgement.

What boards does this trick work on?

This works with any Arduino that uses a serial to USB IC (Uno, Pro Mini, LilyPad Simple, Fio, etc). These boards all use the same avrdude bootloader that use the verification flag by default.

Any board using the Catarina booloader (Leonardo, Micro, etc) or the Halfkay bootloader (Teensy boards) have much faster bootloaders that don’t see much, if any speed advantage.

[1] It’s perhaps better than 1 in a million but I’m not sure how to calculate the odds so please let me know if it has been. In 11 years of hammering on microcontrollers with serial bootloaders I’ve never seen an incorrect record to flash. Any firmware errors were always because of my own fault or faulty bootloader design.

Save time, trust your toolchain, and uncheck the box!

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Sonic Pi Competition

via Raspberry Pi

Coding music on a Raspberry Pi with Sonic Pi has quickly become a great way to learn programming concepts and to pump out some thumping beats. Last year I worked with Dr Sam Aaron, live coder and academic at the University of Cambridge, to teach KS3 pupils text-based programming on Raspberry Pis as part of their ICT & Computing lessons. Since then Sonic Pi has proved incredibly popular in classrooms worldwide. The scheme of work we used is available for free in the ‘Teach’ section of our resources for any educator wanting to teach computer programming in a fun way.

sonicpi2

Since our classroom collaboration, Sam has been busy working on Sonic Pi version 2.0 and together we have been wowing attendees of Picademy with the potential of Sonic Pi for the classroom. We have also been working on Sonic Pi: Live & Coding, a digital research project to turn a Raspberry Pi into a musical instrument with Sonic Pi, working with schools, artists, academics and the Cambridge Junction, which will culminate in a Sonic Pi: Live & Coding Summit this November. In fact, this week at the Cambridge Junction, 60 children have been participating in the project, having coding music battles, and jamming with musicians.

Sonic Pi

Push Sam’s buttons and watch his eyes pop at Sonic Pi Live and Coding!

To coincide with the summit, we will be launching a Sonic Pi: Live & Coding competition in September to find the best original sonic pi composition created by a child or young person in three age categories. We will have a significant number of Raspberry Pis to give away at random for those who take part, and the semi-finalists of the competition will be invited to perform their original work live at the summit in November in front of an audience and panel of judges to potentially be crowned the first ever Sonic Pi Competition winner!

So what are you waiting for? Download Sonic Pi version 2 for your Raspberry Pi by following these instructions, and then take a look at the Sonic Pi 2 article by Sam in the MagPi magazine, and our new Sonic Pi Version 2 Getting Started resource. Take this opportunity to practice and get a head start on the competition!

Get your pratice in for the Sonic Pi version 2 competition with our new resource.

Get your practice in for the Sonic Pi version 2 competition with our new resource.

Why the NSA Can’t Listen to His Mixtape – Interview with David Huerta

via Arduino Blog

mixtape1

David Huerta is a technologist who recently published a provocative work to make everyone think a little bit more about privacy and what governments should be allowed to do or not:

I work outside the Pokemon business model of catching every user’s data or abusing it for state surveillance. I work instead surrounded by priceless art and in giving it a voice inside and outside the thick, Faraday cage walls of the museum it lives in.

He created an encrypted mixtape and sent it to NSA. The device runs on Arduino and other open hardware and for David is a:

machinery that can be trusted not to spy on you because of the disclosure of its design, schematics and bill of materials to anyone who wishes to inspect, build, or build upon the device. The device contains a soundtrack for the modern surveillance state. It’s designed to be enjoyed only by people I have consented it to be listened to. A second copy of this device will also be sent to the NSA’s headquarters in Maryland, but without the private key needed to decrypt it; a reminder that the rules of mathematics are more powerful than the rules of even the most powerful states.

We got in touch with him and was happy to answer a couple of questions for the blog:

Z: What makes you more uncomfortable about NSA actions which made you react and build this device?

D: The NSA’s mass surveillance encompasses a lot of programs which run counter to what I feel is a fundamental right to privacy. In the US Constitution there’s an expression of that in its fourth amendment.
What the NSA is doing goes against the spirit of that much like petting a cat backwards; It’s the wrong direction to go towards and a cat/society will swipe its paw at the offender.

mixtape3

Z: Arduino community is always interested in understanding how things are made. Where we can find source code and technical specs to build one? It would be great if we all could share more practical knowledge on these topics.

D: The mixtape device is basically just an Arduino and Adafruit wave shield. The code to play each wave file on the SD card on a loop (when unencrypted) is right off their list of examples.
I made one slight modification, which is to turn on a purple LED to indicate when it’s working. Purple is not an easy LED color to source, but it’s the global Pirate Party color and I wanted to give them subtle props for working towards a free and secure internet on the policy side of things.

I will at some point publish a way to do the encryption part of this using a Beaglebone Black and CryptoCape to make it a fully open hardware proof-of-concept, but in this case the SD card encryption was done off-device. I also plan on going through a full tutorial based on that at this year’s Open Hardware Summit in Rome.

Z: You said: “The NSA can read my stupid Facebook updates but without my consent it will never be able to listen to my kick-ass mix tape, even if it’s sitting right in front of them.” – What makes you believe that your encryption is strong enough?

D: The truth is that everyone sucks at information security, including myself, so no one can really make the claim something they’ve built is “NSA-proof.” Generally though, the less hardware and software you have, the less complexity and thus, opportunity for attack vectors or human errors there are. The playlist was kept offline, is not on the Arduino sketch, or anywhere in the hardware except encrypted in the SD card. The only place the audio existed aside from in the various sources I collected it from was on the hard drive of the PC I used to compose the mix tape, which has since been removed and stored offsite and offline. The encryption was also ran by a different machine, and one that I generally keep on my person. This goes beyond mass surveillance capabilities and into TAO/FBI “partyvan” surveillance; I can’t imagine an intelligence analyst is going to go to their very serious boss to explain that they need to expense a vehicle to go after some guy’s mix tape in a city where they won’t even be able to find a parking spot close enough to run a tempest attack from.

ZDo you have the pictures of the inside showing the components and the circuits?

D: They’re not too exciting since its just the Arduino + Wave Shield, but I attached a photo of the unencrypted version (clear acrylic instead of red clear acrylic), which I’ll also be bringing with me to the Open Hardware Summit.

mixtape2

 

Looking forward to meet him at Open Hadware Summit!

We Love Libraries!

via SparkFun Electronics Blog Posts

Last week, the Longmont Public Library invited my co-worker, Angela and me to teach one of our favorite, fun workshops called the e-Textile Art Pin at their Stay Curious This Summer event series.

poster

The workshop was open to the public, and about 35 people showed up to participate. The attendees were from all different walks of life - some with a knack for technology and others not as much, but it didn’t matter. The greatest part about the evening was that every person successfully created a pin. It was our main mission for teaching that night. It didn’t matter where the person came from or what his or her background was. Everyone there had the motivation to try something new and succeeded at it. What’s great about this activity is that it shows you the basics of circuitry and how to sew, but it also offers up a tangible project that can be taken home at the end of the day. It’s a great way to get people interested in electronics and is an easy to grasp, quick, hands-on activity that delivers eye catching results.

Amanda's dragon pin

Within the last year or so the education department at SparkFun has been working more diligently with many libraries all over the country. We’ve been implementing professional development workshops for librarians and integrating SparkFun kits into library systems for patrons to check out and tinker with. We’ve worked with libraries near and far ranging from Los Angeles Public Libraries to The High Plains Library District in Colorado, Arlington Heights Memorial Library in Illinois, Varnum Memorial Library in Vermont, Chattanooga Public Library in Tennessee and many more. Our goal is to infiltrate our communities with easy access to emerging technology.

Let us know if you’re interested in becoming involved with these kinds of opportunities - we’d love to help!

While I’m at it here’s a picture of my dog. She really likes to exploit her cuteness on the internet.

Freckle

Cheers!

Amanda

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July Caption Contest

via SparkFun Electronics Blog Posts

July is drawing to a close, so let’s sneak a quick caption contest in before it’s too late.

  • Leave your funniest clean caption to the photo in the comments section below. We reserve the right to delete captions that we deem inappropriate. We’re not too stingy, but try to keep it moderately PG-13.
  • Captions submitted any other way besides in the comment section will not be accepted! That means do not use the feedback form!
  • Captions will be accepted from the moment this post goes live until Friday, August 2nd at 10 a.m. Mountain Time.
  • A crack team of humor experts will pick the winner and we will announce it next week.

Here’s the photo:

alt text

The winner will receive $100 in SparkFun credit to buy anything on the site! Good luck and may the best caption win!

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Submit your application to the Raspberry Pi Education Fund

via Raspberry Pi

Got a great idea or project to teach kids about computing?

Need some help raising the finance to make it a reality?

We have some good news: the Raspberry Pi Education Fund is finally open for applications. As a reminder, thanks to all the Raspberry Pis bought by the community over the past 2 years, we have been able to put together a £1 million education fund to help fulfil our charitable mission.

Applications are invited from organisations looking to fund projects that encourage young people to learn about computing or illustrate how computing can be used enhance education in STEM or the creative arts.  You can find more details on the eligibility criteria and submit your application here.

IMG_8988

Coding Marathon at the Cambridge Centre of Computing History sponsored by Raspberry Pi Foundation

Go on, what are you waiting for? This is your chance to make a difference.

Changing Unipolar Steppers To Bipolar

via Hackaday » » hardware

steppers

If you’ve been a good little hacker and have been tearing apart old printers like you’re supposed to, you’ve probably run across more than a few stepper motors. These motors come in a variety of flavors, from the four-wire deals you find in 3D printer builds, to motors with five or six wires. Unipolar motors – the ones with more than four wires – are easier to control, but are severely limited in generating torque. Luckily, you can use any unipolar motor as a more efficient bipolar motor with a simple xacto knife modification.

The extra wires in a unipolar motor are taps for each of the coils. Simply ignoring these wires and using the two coils independently makes the motor more efficient at generating torque.

[Jangeox] did a little experiment in taking a unipolar motor, cutting the trace to the coil taps, and measuring the before and after torque. The results are impressive: as a unipolar motor, the motor has about 380 gcm of torque. In bipolar mode, the same motor has 800 gcm of torque. You can check that video out below.


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