I met Tom Dubick about a year ago at Hackerspace Charlotte, NC. He teaches engineering to the girls at Charlotte Latin School, and we believe his class was the first to be using the Raspberry Pi in the United States.
He and a group of his 13-year-old pupils have just given a TEDx talk called How Girls Should Serve Raspberry Pi. The girls here are presenting the projects they’ve made with Raspberry Pi over this semester, but there’s another important message here: we know that STEM subjects are not just for boys, but we should recognise that not all girls are the same, so our teaching approach is doomed if we decide that the only way to get girls into engineering subjects is to “shrink it and pink it”.
Keep watching – the projects get better and better. (Rolling backpack indicator lights FTW!)
MEOWSER is a (M)ineral (E)lement Br(owser): a wooden display cabinet containing rocks and mineral samples with LED lighting controlled from a laptop computer. The laptop can display either the periodic table or a layout of the cabinets. When the user mouses over elements or minerals the appropriate lights in the wooden cabinet light up. An Arduino microcontroller serves as the computer – LED interface.
Here’s the video explaining how it works:
If you’re reading this website, you’re probably someone who likes to take things apart. As such, you probably also have one or more old computer hard drives just sitting around in a parts bin. Of all the projects you could have for an old drive, here’s an interesting one – A Chinese engineer who operates a hard drive repair and data recovery center decided to turn a used drive into a cotton candy machine.
Possible sanitary concerns set aside, his creation is very cheap and easy to build. Most hackers probably have all the necessary gear just sitting around already. The only parts he used were: a hard drive that still powered up, a generic plastic basin, an aluminum can, a flat round metal tin, and six bicycle spokes.
It might not be pretty, but it works. If you want to create your own, be sure to check out the above link. There’s a full DIY guide complete with step-by-step photos.
Filed under: computer hacks, cooking hacks, hardware
What were you doing for the Bank Holiday on Friday? Eben cycled 15 miles to have a meeting, then cycled home to do a Google Hangout interview with the guys from Creative Coding, all before I’d even got out of my pyjamas. Here it is: lots of interesting stuff here, including a low-bandwidth and somewhat pixellated Mooncake at around 33 minutes in, who causes Eben to scream girlishly as she extends all her claws and proceeds to climb his…leg.
The QTR-L-1RC reflectance sensor incorporates a right-angle infrared LED and a right-angle phototransistor in an inexpensive, tiny 0.35″ × 0.3″ module that can be mounted almost anywhere and is great for edge detection and line following. The output is designed to be measured by a digital I/O line. This sensor is sold in packs of two units.
The QTR-L-1A reflectance sensor incorporates a right-angle infrared LED and a right-angle phototransistor in an inexpensive, tiny 0.35″ × 0.3″ module that can be mounted almost anywhere and is great for edge detection and line following. The reflectance measurement is output as an analog voltage. This sensor is sold in packs of two units.
iKazoo is a prototype for an open source platform using Arduino and recently launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. It’s a multifunctional device assistant for entertainment with a touch and shock sensitive surface. It can easily record or alter your voice but also play many types of instrument. You can use it as a optical game controller and even as a brush on your pad. The hardware contains sensors that can monitor all body movements and become a step counter. Here’s the video presentation:
When I asked them why they chose Arduino, Nasrin Zadeh – the founder of the project - told me:
We chose Arduino and the Processing platform as we know that there are many creative minds out there who want to program and test functions outdoor and on the fly. So in fact, the iKazoo is a mobile Arduino, which interacts with your mobile device, wherever you are. See it as a mobile mini lab. Of course it’s pre-programmed for those who just want to have some fun or personal assistance in sport, fitness wellness our to entertain friends with creative tunes.
iKazoo comes with an App, which contains a look-up table to link audio and sensors to any application of your smart device. So, the user decides what and how to control smart phones, tablets, PC’s, synthesizers or robots. We like the community to support us for the sake of mutual fun experience. Arduino gives the freedom and ease to express and realize creative ideas on the fly.
As you may have noticed, we’re having a bit of trouble with the comments facility on the website at the moment. (The problem is being caused by our new load balancer.) We’re working on it – we hope to have comments available again by tomorrow!
Move along, nothing to see! We’ve fixed the problem, which was caused by some WordPress plugins not playing nice with the load balancer. Get commenting!
The name Mike Cook echoes around the corridors of Pi Towers every now and then when we make awed conversation about our hardware heroes. Mike used to write a column called Body Building for Micro User magazine back in the days of the BBC Micro, in which he’d create hardware projects that made kids like me swoon at the sheer potential of those GPIO pins at the back of the Beeb’s casing. (The Beeb’s exposed GPIO was a big influence in the design of the Raspberry Pi.) Mike was an early adopter of the Pi, and you’ll have seen several posts here featuring his otherworldly Pi hardware hacks. (The solonoid glockenspiel and the first persistence of vision project we ever saw for the Pi were both Mike’s – see this tag for all the posts on this blog featuring Mikestuff.)
I thought Mike had been quiet for a bit. We hadn’t heard much from him in the last few months: turns out that this was because he was busy with the whizz-bang hardware section of Raspberry Pi for Dummies, the rest of which was written by Sean McManus. If you are even slightly interested in learning about hardware (and having fun with it), you should run to your nearest bookshop right now. Here are some videos to give you a taster of the sort of hardware projects you’ll be able to make with the book:
This second video is only the start of the potentiometer fun – you’ll end up making something that looks an awful lot like an Etch-a-Sketch.
Sean McManus, by the way, who wrote all the non-hardware bits of the book, is also someone I’ve chatted with by email in the past about Pi – and he’s someone to whom I owe a vote of thanks for another excellent book he wrote, this time in the Older & Wiser series. His iPad for the Older & Wiser has saved me many, many hours of shouting “No! Touch the blue thing that looks like an A!” down the phone at my Dad, clearing time to have lovely fatherly/daughterly conversation instead, for which we are all grateful.
So if you’re looking for an addition to your Raspberry Pi library, Raspberry Pi for Dummies comes highly recommended. Thanks to Sean, Mike and all at Wiley for your work on the Pi – we really appreciate it!
During the three-day event we organized presentations and lab sessions: Federico Vanzati gave a great talk on the Internet of Things world and the new Arduino Gsm Shield, plus a live coding session on how to use it; then Davide Gomba introduced Processing using the Arduino Esplora as a controller to code and play Pong videogame.
In this creative context the activity that left us with more intense memories has been the 3d printing workshop involving kids an parents into experimenting for the first time the excitement of transforming bits into atoms.
As you can see from the pictures below, kids (with the help of their geek parents) after understanding the basics of the cloud-based 3d app Tinkercad, started creating their virtual objects. Later on the Kentsrappers team and mister Slic3r with their own 3d printers showed them how, layer by layer, any 3d file could be materialized into an object.
It’s a pity that a couple of days ago Tinkercad announced the closure of the platform, but we hope their new project is going to be as cool as this in involving newbies into the 3dprinting revolution!
Welcome back! It’s been another week and we have several new products to talk about. So let’s jump right in and see what we’ve got.
Vimeo version can be found here
If you need a powerful microcontroller in a small package, be sure to check out the new Teensy boards.
We’re now carrying the Teensy! The Teensy 3.0 is the newest Teensy and packs a punch. It’s based on a 32-bit ARM Cortex M4 and has a lot of power in a small package. You can even program the board in Arduino using the Teensyduino add-on.
We’re also carrying the Teensy++ 2.0. This board crams 46 digital I/O pins into a board that’s only 2" x 0.7"! Teensy indeed! Like the Teensy 3.0, you can use your favorite IDE or install the add-on and use it with the Arduino IDE.
The Si4707 Weather Band Breakout lets you receive weather information transmitted on the weather band. It even has a SAME processor which allows the breakout to listen for specific warnings.
If you have a Raspberry Pi and want to start adding some hardware to it, you might want to check out the PiFace. The PiFace plugs directly into the GPIO socket and gives you a lot of buttons, relays, and inputs and outputs for interfacing with hardware.
Need even more functionality with your Pi? The GertBoard does just about everything. It has a motor controller, 8-bit D/A converter, 10-bit A/D converter, and an onboard ATmega328 for running off-board programs. The Gertboard is the ultimate tool for exploring the Raspberry Pi’s full I/O potential!
If you’re looking to get started with Raspberry Pi, but don’t know where to start, check out the book, Getting Started with Raspberry Pi. It focuses on hardware and software and should get you up and running in no time.
If you want to learn more about electronic components, you might want to check out The Encyclopedia of Electronic Components. This first volume covers the most common components and provides a nice in-depth look at what they are and how they’re used.
We have the new version of our Danger Shield in Retail. This new version corrects some issues and adds a cap sense pad. This is the same version we’ve been selling previously, but now has retail packaging.
If you need to run a little more current through some jumper wires, you might want to check out our new thicker gauge jumper wires. They’re 20 gauge, come in packs of 10, and we have them in male/male and female/female.
That’s it for this week. I’ll see you again in about a month, but Nick will be filling in for my in my absence. Thanks for reading and check back next week!