Monthly Archives: October 2012

Picade – the UK’s first Kickstarter project!

via Raspberry Pi

I am driven to blog from Starbucks today, thanks to lousy public transport and awkwardly timed meetings. I am amazingly caffeinated.

A Picade prototype

So. Kickstarter finally launched its UK offering today, and the very first project to get approved (proof of this rather awesome feat is available here at the Kickstarter blog) has a Raspberry Pi at its heart (we notice that those involved with Raspberry Pi seem to be extremely skilled at hitting F5, hence the excellent positioning of this project at the head of the Kickstarter queue). If you’ve been following the news on this site, you may have noticed that it’s a project that’s being run by some familiar people very close to the Foundation’s hearts.

Prototype under development. You may recognise the beardy fella with the hat.

Paul Beech and Jon Williamson run Pimoroni, a company they set up to make the very popular Pibow case. It’s my favourite of the cases out there: I use one myself. It’s now open source and available on Thingiverse, and was acclaimed “the best-looking Raspberry Pi case ever” by Gizmodo. Paul is also the designer of the Raspberry Pi logo. We published a post here about what they’ve been up to over the last few months, in a period where they’ve become employers and business owners on the back of the Pibow, a few weeks ago. They’re both old-school gamers, and they have a plan for a new product, for which they need Kickstarter funding.

Enter the Picade.

Development Picade

Picade! (Prototype model)

The Picade is intended to be a very high-quality, hackable, desktop arcade machine. It’ll come in kit form, with a top-notch screen; a good-looking, solid cabinet; a proper arcade joystick; and handsome microswitch controls: all you need to provide is the Raspberry Pi. We love the idea, and we know that Paul and Jon’s attention to detail, finish and quality is exceptional. The Picade’s going to be quite a special piece of kit when it’s done.

At the moment Picade is in prototyping. I’ll leave the nitty gritty to Paul and Jon, who have loads more information about what the project’s all about on their Kickstarter page, and just leave you with their Kickstarter video for now (watch until the end: there are outtakes). What you see in these pictures and video are rough mockups of what the eventual product will look like, once funding has come in.

It’s a brilliant idea, and we are beyond pleased that it’s the very first UK Kickstarter project out there. I’ll be throwing a few quid their way, and I hope you’ll consider it too!

If you’re setting up your own Kickstarter using a Raspberry Pi, please mail us to let us know about it. We’d love to hear what you’re doing.

The Maker Movement Personified: Brook Drumm

via MAKE » Category: Open source hardware

Printrbot's Brook Drumm.The phenomenon we call the Maker Movement is characterized by many things, among them the ability to cheaply and quickly prototype hardware. Open hardware principles, collaborative design, and crowd funding are contributing factors, but perhaps the most empowering is access to inexpensive computer-controlled tools and software. If there's someone who embodies what's possible with this array of tools, it's Printrbot founder Brook Drumm.

Read the full article on MAKE

Discover Magic PCBs at Electronica 2012

via Elektor.uk: News

Producer of prototype printed circuit boards Beta Layout will exhibit at this year's Electronica exhibition from 13 to 16 November 2012 in Munich. During the trade fair the company’s newest innovation ‘Magic PCB’ will be unveiled. This is a technique to embed RFID chips into a printed circuit board. The chips are embedded during the initial production steps allowing for identification and traceability from the onset. The RFID chips that function within the UHF frequency bands 860 MHz to...

Register Now for the Next Open Compute Summit!

via Open Compute Project

We’re excited to announce that we’ve opened registration for the fourth Open Compute Summit, to be held January 16-17, 2013, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, Calif.

The Open Compute Project is just over one year old, and the community keeps growing, as do the summits. The 2012 summit in San Antonio, Tex., was our first two-day conference, and we are continuing that tradition in Santa Clara.

As always, we’ll have keynote addresses from industry leaders, technical workshops, and educational tracks, where you can hear important announcements and help advance the work of the Open Compute Project.

Plus, we are hosting our first-ever software and hardware hackathons, where attendees can hack their own OCP implementations.

Register today and join us in January. The summit continues to be free.

Watch a recap from the 2012 summit below. See you in Santa Clara!

Please install the Flash Plugin

Coming soon: “Switch-Mode Replacements for 78xx/79xx Regulators” webinar

via Elektor.uk: News

The 78xx product series has stood the test of time; it's cheap, incorporated in all sorts of devices, manufactured by several semiconductor design houses and readily available at nearly every distributor. It is simply ubiquitous. As is its negative variant, the 79xx series. But there is a downside. They are not that responsive to load fluctuations, they have a pretty high dropout voltage and they get hot! They simply waste too much power for applications that are either battery powered,...

PWM on the Stellaris Launchpad

via Hack a Day» hardware

[Joonas] has been following TI’s ‘getting started’ tutorials for their new Stellaris Launchpad. Everything had been going swimmingly until [Joonas] reached the fourth tutorial on interrupts. To the ire of LEDs the world over, implementing PWM on the new Stellaris Launchpad is a somewhat difficult task. After banging his head against the documentation for hours, [Joonas] finally cracked his PWM problem and decided to share his discoveries with the world.

The Stellaris has a PWM mode for its six hardware timers, but unfortunately there are no PWM units on the chip. Solving this problem required making two 16-bit timers out of a single 32-bit one. This allowed [Joonas] to specify a ‘load’ and ‘match’ value.

After coding this up, [Joonas] discovered the PWM timer only works on two of the Launchpad’s pins. Hours of Googling later, he had real PWM on his Stellaris Launchpad.

Given the amount of time [Joonas] spent on this problem, we’re glad to help all the other frustrated Stellaris tinkerers out there by sharing this.


Filed under: ARM, hardware

Create a 1-Wire Master with Xilinx PicoBlaze

via Maxim - Application Notes

Designers who must interface 1-Wire® temperature sensors with Xilinx field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) can use this reference design to drive a DS28EA00 1-Wire slave device. The downloadable software mentioned in this document can also be used as a starting point to connect other 1-Wire slave devices. The system implements a 1-Wire master connected to a UART and outputs temperature to a PC from the DS28EA00 temperature sensor. In addition, high/low alarm outputs are displayed from the DS28EA00 PIO pins using LEDs.

The Coming Civil War over General Purpose Computing

via Arduino Blog

This enlightening article (talk) by Cory Doctorow appeared on BoingBoing last August. This is not (only) a must-read in terms of  imaging our near future, but an interesting way to weight the importance of the moral meaning Open Source Hardware has in real terms. Happy reading (or listening)

Full transcription on [BoingBoing]

Myst book plays Myst, doesn’t transport you to other ages

via Hack a Day » hardware

We shouldn’t have to remind you, but back in the early 90s one of the most popular computer games was Myst. Despite having the gameplay of a PowerPoint presentation, Myst went on to become one of the best-selling video games of all time and the killer app that made a CD-ROM drive a necessity rather than a luxury. [riumplus] loves Myst, and after 6 long years he’s finally completed his homage to his favorite game. It’s a replica of the in-game Myst book that is able to play every game in the Myst-iverse.

The build started off by searching for the same book used as a model for the book object in Myst. It’s a 135-year-old edition of Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, Volume LIV, Issue 312 from 1877. In keeping with the in-game assets, [riumplus] made dies for the spine and cover, embossed the word ‘MYST’ on the book, and filled these letters with 24-carat gold paint.

Inside the newly hollowed-out book [rium] added a very small x86 motherboard running Windows XP on a 32 Gig Compact Flash card. This tiny computer is able to run every Myst game ever made on a very nice touchscreen display.

It’s a work of art in our humble opinion, and a fitting tribute to the last great hurrah of the adventure game genre. After the break you can see [rium] interacting with his book, or just check out the build pics on [rium]‘s Google+ page.


Filed under: classic hacks, hardware

Pumpkin Pi

via Raspberry Pi

We’re on the hunt for guest posts for a couple of weeks in November. See this post for more details on how to contribute.

There seem to be a lot of Raspberry Pi + pumpkin projects around at the moment. Can’t think why.

Scary bucket

Gordon@Drogon’s Pumpkin Pi (as featured in the MagPi). Gordon had to photograph this in the summer, when pumpkins were not available, so he’s used a sort of Halloween bucket instead. Click the picture for instructions and more bucket photos.

There’s non-pumpkin spooky activity out there too. I love this: it’s a Raspberry Pi, an eight-switch relay, a garage door lifter rod, and a can opener, all hacked together to make a candy dispensing machine so you don’t actually have to interact with any children or open the front door on Halloween.

I love this even more: it’s a Raspberry Pi and a Makey Makey in a box, hooked together to make a Halloween sound box that uses the conductivity of your fingers to trigger events.

And Shawn Wallace at Make has made this, with an Arduino, a Pi, some switches and a recording of the Wilhelm Scream. Visit Make for complete instructions on making your own.

Do you have any Halloween Pi plans? Let us know in the comments.

Maker Shed Now Shipping 512MB Raspberry Pis!

via MAKE » Category: Open source hardware

800px-RpiFront512MB Raspberry Pi Model B Version 2.0s have just arrived in the Maker Shed! This is the newest model that was released by the Raspberry Pi Foundation on October 15h. It's available for purchase today and ships out immediately.

Read the full article on MAKE

TinyBASIC for Raspberry Pi

via Raspberry Pi

A large number of engineering professionals are using the Raspberry Pi to explain to their kids what it is they do at work. When we’ve met these families, the enthusiasm positively dripping off everybody has been extraordinary. But we’ve also had a really surprising number of emails from parents who haven’t done any programming since school, but who still have books on BASIC from when they were kids, remember enjoying computing lessons, and want to share some of what they used to do with their kids. It’s actually a great way to get kids started, especially if you have some enthusiasm of your own to share: enthusiasm’s contagious.

The good news for those people, and for anyone else who wants to learn BASIC from scratch or revisit an old friend, is that TinyBASIC is now available for the Raspberry Pi. Andrew Lack has ported this very lightweight editor, interpreter and graphics package to the Pi, and we think it’s great.

Before I go any further, I want to pre-empt any “But BASIC is not an object oriented language and will therefore ruin the tiny, plastic minds of our children, who will be forever unable to understand structured programming. And GOTO is for clowns,” comments here by saying that learning BASIC as kids doesn’t seem to have held any of our developers back; and that if you really hate GOTO you can actually disable it in TinyBASIC. As Andrew says:

One of its unique features is the provision of flavours which allows the beginner to taste programming with vanilla which has the simple—but unsatisfactory—GOTO statement, then make the switch to sweeter raspberry and learn the joys of structured programming where GOTO is banned!

A download, sample code and documentation are all available here. There are a few very cute samples available: we thought drawing a Union Flag and calculating Pi seemed curiously apposite.

Flag, code

Flag output, and the BASIC you need to draw it. Click to visit example code page.

We’re considering bundling TinyBASIC as part of the standard Raspbian image once we’ve done some work on how popular it turns out to be (after all, it’s not as if it’s going to be taking up scads of space on your SD card; the .deb distribution file is only 66k): let us know what you think in the comments.

DIY pick and place builds boards, is awesome

via Hack a Day» hardware

In what can probably be attributed to the pains of placing a lot of SMD components, [gravelrash] built his own home-made pick and place machine.

Instead of being frustrated with tweezers, stereo microscopes, and having an inordinate amount of concentration, [gravelrash] built a pick and place machine from a Chinese CNC router. The build doesn’t use automated feeders for its reels of parts. Instead,[gravelrash] picked up five manual feeders from eBay, allowing his pick and place to hold 25 different reels of components.

There is, of course, a vacuum pump for sucking up SMD parts and a two-axis gantry capable of moving components from reel to board. The software is Mach3, a program normally used with spinning cutters to mill away wood, metal and plastic. [gravelrash] replaced this motor with a few vacuum controlled needles to pick up, move, and drop components onto the board.

While the build may not be as fast as some other pick and place machines we’ve seen, it’s almost as fast as hand-placing components with the added bonus of not tearing your hair out over very tiny parts.

Tip ‘o the hat to [Alexander] for sending this one in.


Filed under: hardware, tool hacks