[Zapta] tipped us about his latest project: a LIN bus signal injector. For our unfamiliar readers, the LIN bus is a popular automotive bus that is used to interface with buttons, lights, etc. As [Zapta] was tired of having to press the Sport Mode button of his car each time he turned the ignition on, he thought it’d build the platform shown above to automatically simulate the button press.
The project is based around an ATMega328 and is therefore Arduino IDE compatible (recognized as an Arduino Mini Pro), making firmware customization easy. In the car, it is physically setup as a proxy between the LIN master and the slave (which explains the two 3-wires groups shown in the picture). It is interesting to note that the injection feature can be toggled by using a particular car buttons press sequence. The project is fully open source and a video of the system in action is embedded after the break.
We’re back with another round of products for your Friday. This week was have an assortment of different products as well as some demos.
We also did a demo for our new FadeCandy.
That concludes the video portion of our program; let’s take a closer look at our new products.
We have a bunch of new enclosures for all your goodies this week. Chances are, if you have a board that needs a case, we’ve got what you need. All of these cases are made by the same company that makes the Pi Tin for the Raspberry Pi. They are simple economical cases that give you access to all the inputs and outputs, and don’t require tools to put them together. We have them for the Raspberry Pi Camera Module (in both clear and black), the PiFace (in just clear), the Beaglebone Black (clear and black), the Arduino Yun (clear and black), and the Arduino Uno (clear and black). They are very well thought-out cases with a lot of little features. The price is great too.
We have a few more new products from Adafruit this week as well. The FadeCandy is an easy way to control NeoPixel LEDs or any of the WS2811/12 variants. Eight outputs line the bottom of the FadeCandy to provide you with a way to support up to 512 LEDs total, assigned to each output in eight strips of 64 LEDs each.
This is the half-sized Raspberry Pi Perma-Proto Breadboard from Adafruit, a simple solder-able-type bare PCB kit that affords you with the luxury of soldering in your own custom prototype with GPIO connection capabilities to a Raspberry Pi. It comes with a shrouded GPIO header and has power rails and two separate prototyping areas.
Also for your Pi, this card adapter plugs into the SD socket on a Raspberry Pi and lets you use microSD cards without them sticking out. The adapter is only about 5.5mm thick and can easily fit into most cases that could surround a RPi without needing to remove the case.
We now have the BMP180 in retail packaging. This was the replacement to the popular BMP085 pressure sensor. The BMP180 offers a pressure measuring range of 300 to 1100 hPa with an accuracy down to 0.02 hPa in advanced resolution mode.
In addition to the products listed above, we also have some new products in our sale category. Be sure to check the category periodically for new additions. You can find some good deals in there from time to time.
As always, thanks for reading, watching, and giving us suggestions of new products to carry. We’ll be back again next week with more new products. See you then!
Get a FREE copy of Circuit Cellar magazine’s April issue with your order while supplies last. This offer is only available for orders shipped to USA or Canada. To get your free issue, enter the coupon code CIRCUIT0414 into your shopping cart. The magazine will add 6 ounces to the package weight when calculating your shipping options.
From Early Adopter to 3D Printing Master
John Eberhart, a lecturer at the Yale School of Architecture, remembers a time when the only tools available to an architecture student were two hands and a lathe. Times have changed.
Join us at the MakerBot Retail Store in Greenwich, CT this Thursday, April 24th and discover how Eberhart is using MakerBot Desktop 3D Printers to change the way students think about architecture. Eberhart will discuss his 15-year career as a professional architect and instructor at the Yale School of Architecture. Click here to register.
Eberhart was always an early adopter. He began his career at Yale as a student of architecture and was the first in his class to use a 3D computer rendering to present his final project. Yale hired Eberhart right out of college, and he got to work making the architecture program one of the most technologically advanced in the country. He even purchased a high-end 3D printer in 1999. However, there was one big obstacle: cost.
“Yale architecture students have to pay for their own building materials, and our earlier 3D printers ran students $200-400 per print,” Eberhart explains. Those prohibitive costs are a thing of the past and Eberhart’s students have made thousands of successful prints since he purchased his first MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printers last year.
MakerBot Replicator 3D Printers Unleash Student Creativity
The ability to 3D print early iterations of a design gives students the opportunity to incorporate greater personality, risk, and creativity into their conceptual drafts. Eberhart says that many students are taking advantage of the broader range of possibilities by letting their imaginations run wild. In the past few years, he’s seen more elaborate lattices, curvy Frank Gehry-esque designs, and far-out concepts than ever before.
Don’t miss John Eberhart’s lecture and Q&A this Thursday at the MakerBot Retail Store located at 72 Greenwich Avenue, Greenwich, CT.
Some of you will be aware that we’ve been working on a new, more responsive and more modern desktop experience for the Raspberry Pi. We thought you might like an update on where we are with the project.
The chip at the heart of the Raspberry Pi, BCM2835, contains an extremely powerful and flexible hardware video scaler (HVS), which can be used to assemble a stack of windows on the fly for output to the screen. In many ways the HVS resembles the sprite engines you may remember from 8- and 16-bit computers and games consoles from the Commodore 64 onward, with each window treated as a separate translated and scaled “sprite” on top of a fixed background.
The Wayland compositor API gives us a way to present the HVS to applications in a standards-based way. Over the last year we’ve been working with Collabora to implement a custom backend for the Weston reference compositor which uses the HVS to assemble the display. Last year we shipped a technology demonstration of this, and we’ve been working hard since then to improve its stability and performance.
The “missing piece” required before we can consider shipping a Wayland desktop as standard on the Pi is a graphical shell. This is the component that adds task launching and task switching on top of the raw compositor service provided by Wayland/Weston. The LXDE shell we ship with X on the Pi doesn’t support Wayland, while those shells that do (such as GNOME) are too heavyweight to run well on the Pi. We’ve therefore been working with Collabora since the start of the year to develop a lightweight Wayland shell, which we’ve christened Maynard (maintaining the tradition of New England placenames). While it’s some distance from being ready for the prime time, we though we’d share a preview so you can see where we’re going.
[Hans] wanted to see the frequency response of a bandpass filter but didn’t have a lot of test equipment. Using an RTL-SDR dongle, some software and a quickly made noise generator, he still managed to get a rough idea of the filter’s characteristics.
How did he do it? He ‘simply’ measured his noise generator frequency characteristics with and without the bandpass filter connected to its output and then subtracted one curve with the other. As you can see in the diagram above, the noise generator is based around a zener diode operating at the reverse breakdown voltage. DC blocking is then done with a simple capacitor.
Given that a standard RTL-SDR dongle can only sample a 2-3MHz wide spectrum gap at a time, [Hans] used rtlsdr-scanner to sweep his region of interest. In his write-up, he also did a great job at describing the limitations of such an approach: for example, the dynamic range of the ADC is only 48dB.
Organized by Science, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Network, a non for profit organization founded in 2011, The First Day of Tomorrow is a conference bringing together the world’s top leaders in technology, research, startup investment, and entrepreneurship to highlight the hottest technologies and startups that are building our TOMORROW.
It’s taking place in Paris on the 18th of April and Massimo Banzi, CEO of Arduino, is giving a keynote together with other 40 cool speakers:
Have you ever wanted to spend six months toiling over a workbench creating a robotic masterpiece only to see it explode in a ball of flames five seconds after you turn it on the day of the race? We’ve got the perfect competition for you: the SparkFun AVC! The Autonomous Vehicle Competition lets you put your autonomous vehicle through the paces with a separate ground and aerial course. The competition happens June 21st at the Boulder Reservoir. Check out the AVC site to learn more. We returned to the battlefield this week to shoot a short video detailing the course changes for this year.
As we’ve mentioned in previous AVC posts, the course will remain pretty much the same as it did last year, with a few minor tweaks. For ground, we’re adding a line (for line followers) to make it easier to enter the Micro/PBR class, which has size and cost restrictions. For the aerial entrants, we’re adding three red balloons of death that can be either obstacles or an opportunity for more points. For the full rundown of the rules, click here. Also, it might be a good idea to re-watch the course preview video from last year.
We’ve also added a bit more information regarding the obstacles you’ll encounter. We now have the paint colors for all the obstacles, as well as a link so you can purchase your very own balloons for practicing. Be sure to check out all the information provided, including GPS waypoints.
You have until May 21st to register, so head on over to the AVC site to register, read up on the rules, or check out videos or pictures from previous competitions. For anyone already registered, you have until May 21st to send us a “proof of concept.” At the end of this month, we will send out a reminder with more details. Also, the AVC is free to come and watch. So bring the friends - we’re covering the entrance fee for the reservoir for that day. See you then!
These ABS tracks work with a variety of injection-molded sprocket sets, making it easy to build a tracked drive system based on a number of different actuators. The miniature blue track links connect together using the included dowel pins to create custom length tracks. These tracks are sold in packs of ten loose links and pins.
These ABS tracks work with a variety of injection-molded sprocket sets, making it easy to build a tracked drive system based on a number of different actuators. The miniature yellow track links connect together using the included dowel pins to create custom length tracks. These tracks are sold in packs of ten loose links and pins.
These ABS tracks work with a variety of injection-molded sprocket sets, making it easy to build a tracked drive system based on a number of different actuators. The miniature red track links connect together using the included dowel pins to create custom length tracks. These tracks are sold in packs of ten loose links and pins.
These ABS tracks work with a variety of injection-molded sprocket sets, making it easy to build a tracked drive system based on a number of different actuators. The miniature black track links connect together using the included dowel pins to create custom length tracks. These tracks are sold in packs of ten loose links and pins.
Primo‘s team sent us exciting news from their HQ about their contribution to the open source community. After the successful Kickstarter campaign to launch the wooden play-set that uses shapes, colours and spacial awareness to teach programming logic through a tactile, warm and magical learning experience, they took a step further. They released all the documentation and the instructions to produce a Primo prototype, different from the product that they make and sell.
We just finished the first edition of the Primo play-set open documentation, that includes the design files that we used to make our first prototype and a step-by-step guide to make your own version of the Primo play set. This “maker” version of our product can be assembled using rapid prototyping techniques and common tools like Arduino boards.
We recently published a preview of this documentation just for our Kickstarter backers, who already started to build their projects and to translate the document in their language. The FabLab in São Paulo for example already translated it in Brasilian Portuguese, while other languages like Dutch, Italian and Japanese are now in progress.
The whole documentation is completely transparent: it’s written in Markdown using Jekyll and GitHub pages. In this way it is very easy for creators to modify, translate and use it as a starting point for their projects.
In parallel we are developing an industrial version of our product, using manufacture-quality materials and custom Arduino-compatible electronic boards.
And if you want to read about the experience of a dad making a DIY version in 1 month and a half of work, follow this link.
If you haven’t been over to our education site in a while - well, you’re missing out! Our Department of Education has been hard at work on new workshops, resources and more. We’ve also revamped our entire tutorial system to make it more user friendly and easier to find the topic you are interested in. Today, we want to draw your attention to a few new tutorials that are worth checking out!
The first is for all you weather nerds out there (and we have more than a few in the building here at SFE). In this tutorial written by our fearless leader/CEO Nate, you’ll learn how to create a weather station that connects wirelessly to Wunderground.
Next we have a teardown of the Misfit Shine. The Misfit Shine is one of those new-fangled activity trackers. In this tutorial from Creative Technologist Nick Poole, we get into the guts of the Shine to see what makes it tick!
Lastly, we have the MYST Linking Book. In this hack, Nick takes a book and incorporates a screen into it to create a custom linking book for the popular adventure game MYST.
There are only three examples of the dozens of new tutorials we’ve added in the recent months. Check out the tutorial page to find something that piques your interest!
Sanskriti Dawle and Aman Srivastav are second-year students at the Birla Institute of Technology and Science in Goa. After a Raspberry Pi workshop they decided they wanted to do something more meaningful than just flash LEDs on and off, and set this month’s PyCon in Montreal as their deadline.
Aman Srivastav and Sanskriti Dawle
They ended up producing something really special. Mudra means “sign” in Sanskrit: the Raspberry Pi-based device is a learning tool for visually impaired people, which teaches Braille by translating speech to Braille symbols. Braille literacy among blind people is poor even in the developed world: in India, it’s extremely low, and braille teachers are very, very few. So automating the teaching process – especially in an open and inexpensive way like this – is invaluable.
In its learning mode, Mudra uses Google’s speech API to translate single letters and numbers into Braille, so learners can go at their own speed. Exam modes and auto modes are also available. This whole video is well worth your time, but if you’re anxious to see the device in action, fast-forward to 1:30.
Sanskriti and Aman say:
Mudra is an excellent example of what even programming newbies can achieve using Python. It is built on a Raspi to make it as out-of-the-box as possible. We have close to zero coding experience, yet Python has empowered us enough to make a social impact with Mudra, the braille dicta-teacher, which just might be the future of Braille instruction and learning.
We think Mudra’s a real achievement, and a great example of clean and simple ideas which can have exceptional impact. You can see the Mudra repository on GitHub if you’d like a nose around how things work; we’re hoping that Sanskriti and Aman are able to productise their idea and make it widely available to people all over the world.