Monthly Archives: September 2015

A door-stopper becomes an amazing game with Arduino

via Arduino Blog

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Developed by Robin Baumgarten during a 48-hour game jam,  Line Wobbler is a one-dimensional dungeon crawler game running on Arduino Uno. Robin was inspired watching a cat interacting with a door stopper and having fun!

The game is played using a unique wobble controller made out of a door-stopper spring and a several meter long ultrabright LED strip display. All the movement is controlled by bending the Wobble controller left and right, while enemies are attacked by wobbling:

Using a spring, an accelerometer and a rigid surface, the Wobble controller is a tactile and surprisingly precise joystick with a unique ‘wobble’ action (pull it back and let go to make it oscillate back and forth rapidly). It is this wobble action that is core to the experience and the game we have created for it. Initially made out of a shoe-tree, I’m now using door-stopper springs, since they’re easier to use. Fun fact: the original inspiration for the controller came from this cat video.

Since it was created, it’s been exhibited during Experimental Gameplay Workshop at GDC 2015, at Burning Man 2015 and other city around the world (London, Chicago and Oslo). Line Wobbler won also two prizes at the AMAZE Awards 2015 in Berlin and has been nominated as a finalist for the IndieCade 2015 awards last October!

#FreePCB via Twitter to 2 random RTs

via Dangerous Prototypes

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Every Tuesday we give away two coupons for the free PCB drawer via Twitter. This post was announced on Twitter, and in 24 hours we’ll send coupon codes to two random retweeters. Don’t forget there’s free PCBs three times a every week:

  • Hate Twitter and Facebook? Free PCB Sunday is the classic PCB giveaway. Catch it every Sunday, right here on the blog
  • Tweet-a-PCB Tuesday. Follow us and get boards in 144 characters or less
  • Facebook PCB Friday. Free PCBs will be your friend for the weekend

Some stuff:

  • Yes, we’ll mail it anywhere in the world!
  • Check out how we mail PCBs worldwide video.
  • We’ll contact you via Twitter with a coupon code for the PCB drawer.
  • Limit one PCB per address per month please.
  • Like everything else on this site, PCBs are offered without warranty.

We try to stagger free PCB posts so every time zone has a chance to participate, but the best way to see it first is to subscribe to the RSS feed, follow us on Twitter, or like us on Facebook.

OHSWA Board Nominees

via Open Source Hardware Association

Become a member to vote on board members today! The vote will go out by email 9/29 and be open for 48 hours. Here are your nominees in no particular order.

Joel Murphy

My career and work have been supported by open-source hardware. I have benefitted greatly from the smart, creative products and tools made by open hardwarians. I would not be in the position that I am in today without the community. I am already giving back by offering two well received open hardware tools, and I would like to be more involved in helping Open Source Hardware organization build on its successes.

What qualifies you to be a board member?

I have had a close relationship with Open Source hardware for the past 10 years. I taught Physical Computing from 2006 to 2014, and saw the exponential rise in open-source hardware use and availability. I built a successful consulting company, Solutions Design, by providing design services to artists and inventors with open-source hardware products, and I am co-founder and owner of two open-source hardware startups: World Famous Electronics, LLC, maker of Pulse Sensor, and optical heart rate monitor for Arduino, and OpenBCI, Inc., a low cost, high quality EEG system. My experience as a teacher and evangelizer as well as an open hardware entrepreneur gives me multiple perspectives on the challenges and opportunities that the open source hardware community faces.
I have been to every summit, and have watched the organization grow toward a definition, and I’m excited to see and be a part of a successful implementation of the new certification.

I do not serve on any other boards at this time.

I will you be able to commit at least 10 hours a month to being on the board.

Katherine Scott

I believe Open Source Hardware can rapidly accelerate the development of art, science and technology, improve the education of engineers and lay people, and empower individuals to solve the world’s most pressing issues. We are quickly approaching the point where Open Source hardware designs are becoming much like their software counterparts; this is to say that smaller Open Source hardware projects often become the building blocks of much grander systems. I believe that the free, easy, and repeatable exchange of these designs, along with a distributed means of production, can dramatically improve the life of every person on the planet.

I believe these goals are ambitious, important, and revolutionary. I want to get into the nuts and bolts of making them happen; and I want to do it in a way that is bigger than what I can achieve on my own. In particular, I want to figure out how to make Open Source hardware projects, developers, and manufacturing easier to find and use. I also want to develop a pool of financial, legal, and practical resources that directly and actively promote the creation of great Open Source hardware. Finally, I want to work with a bunch of other awesome people who want to do the same thing.

What qualifies you to be a board member?

* I started an electronics manufacturing company / contractor manufacturer called Tempo Automation that uses both Open Source hardware and software. This means I am intimately involved with a large number of hardware projects (both open and closed). I have a pretty good view of where Open Source hardware presently fits in the world, and what strategic actions OSHWA can take to encourage wider adoption.

* In the course of my life I’ve been been a student, an autodidact, a researcher, a business woman, and an educator. I believe I can be an advocate for all of these groups and effectively articulate their needs.

* I’ve taken a few start-ups from nascent ideas on the back of a napkin to working businesses rather quickly. I want to use these same skills to increase OSHWA’s budget and further the adoption of Open Source hardware.

* I used to run a pacifist co-op while working as a research engineer for a defense contractor. I have a great deal of experience mediating between disparate views to find consensus.

* I’ve reached the point in my personal growth where I feel my time is best used helping others realize their own projects rather than working on my own.

I do not serve on any other boards at this time.

I will you be able to commit at least 10 hours a month to being on the board.

Dan Grigsby

If the messages at this year’s Open Hardware Summit from Joshua Pearce on making open hardware the new standard in science and Tom Igoe on expanding open hardware from “for us by us” to the mainstream are themes you’d worked on by the Association then I’m the board member for you.

What qualifies you to be a board member?

Making open hardware the new standard is science is largely a matter of policy. My work to influence public policy includes Federal issues such as defeating SOPA/PIPA, patent reform and net neutrality. At the state level, I was appointed to terms on the E-Government Advisory Council by the Speaker of the Minnesota House and to the Advisory Commission to the Minnesota Science and Technology Authority by the Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

Mainstreaming open hardware is an initiative for businesses. I have a twenty-year track record of building successful businesses using — and having those businesses contributing to — Open Source Software. I’m a business guy that shares your values.

What’s more, I’ve given back to my communities as a mentor and advisor; by teaching a tech-startup class that I authored at the University of Minnesota; and by co-founding what’s become a thousand member strong community of developers and entrepreneurs with Minnesota’s BarCamp and DemoCamp.

Plus, I sent a balloon with my kids picture to the edge of space and retrieved it. A selfie in space! How cool is that? Picture or it didn’t happen: https://www.dropbox.com/s/3jcdyvdn3x8h1qh/IMG_3731.jpg?dl=0

I currently serve on the Board of Directors for the Minnesota High Tech Association.

I will you be able to commit at least 10 hours a month to being on the board.

Tim Shepherd

To make sure that Open Source hardware gets the recognition that it deserves. I’m passionate about hardware development and feel lucky to be able to try and be apart of the Open Source Hardware community.

What qualifies you to be a board member?

 

Years of hardware development experience, both in industry and at home. This will be a key issue in making sure we all can access open source hardware.

I do not serve on any other boards at this time.

I will you be able to commit at least 10 hours a month to being on the board.

Alex (acme) D’Elia

To provide support for discussions, organisation, proposals and development of new Open Standards regarding Hardware.
Specially in relation to Future Internet Technologies and IoT arguments,
and in particular related to the layers of Network and Energy Infrastructures. We have started a Technical Table on IoT and we are open to suggestions and exchange of knowledge and work: http://www.cetri-tires.org/press/technical-tables/r-i-o-t-rifkins-internet-of-things/?lang=en

What qualifies you to be a board member?

The work I am doing every day, the projects I’ve started and the partners I am working with and which are involved in the projects are also really operative in the Open Hardware and Open Source Initiatives, in some cases, the groups are already actively working since decades for FLOSS. We are all actively involved in promoting an Open IoT Infrastructure to protect freedom and knowledge sharing, specially in respect to our future generation taking the burden of developing a more open society. For a short BIO consider http://root.acme.com

Regarding the commitment I believe I can devote 10+ hours from January 2016, while at the moment I don’t know how much time I have, depending on the tasks requested I can get organized, but now I select NO to the following box.

I am “Smart Grid director” for the CETRI-TIRES No-Profit Organisation and member of the IoT Council.

No, I will not be able to commit 10 hours a month to being on the board.

Michael Knowles

In my personal life I’m a “maker” and sculptor and frequently making use of open hardware to create new works, many of which simply wouldn’t be possible without some of the great open source works I’ve been able to leverage.

Professionally, I’m the IT Director of Fulcrum Technologies, an enterprise software company based in Seattle. I continue to see the IT industry being transformed by the advances of open source, both hardware and software, and find it genuinely exciting to be a part of.

Joining the board of OSHWA is an opportunity to take my twenty years of IT experience and use it to give back to an organization that is poised to advance an underutilized piece of the larger open source movement.

What qualifies you to be a board member?

I feel specifically qualified to be a successful board member of OSHWA for three main reasons:

* Having served on non-profit boards in the past, I understand the varied responsibilities that board membership requires in addition to having experience organizing, advocating and fund-raising.

* Working in the IT industry with both open and closed source products for more than 20 years, I understand the business impact that open source platforms can provide.

* I have personally benefitted from open source hardware in my art and feel I can appreciate the difference in advocating benefits between what works well for a business and what works well for non-business work. Being able to work with both of those audiences is a strength.

I served two years on the board of the Seattle Fringe Theater Festival, and participated on both their outreach and volunteer organizing committees.

Later I served two years on the board of Circus Contraption, and worked with their fund-raising committee though I am not participating on the boards of any organizations currently.

I will you be able to commit at least 10 hours a month to being on the board.

 

Jeffrey Warren

I’ve involved in many discussions at OSHWA about the open hardware community and open hardware intellectual property and legal matters — most recently in the discussions around an Open Hardware Certification model. I feel that my perspective on open source hardware strikes a balance between the functional argument that open hardware is a better way to create hardware, and the ethical position that we should have the right to examine/copy/modify/distribute designs — that open collaboration is a better model for our society. I believe deeply in community-driven processes, while also believing that for-profit organizations can — and stand to benefit greatly from — being “good open hardware citizens.”

Most of all, I believe strongly that the key to a healthy open source hardware movement is culture. We must continue and improve upon our open, discursive approach to open hardware, and to build strong norms to guide our work, so that we can continue to invent, collaborate, and benefit from one anothers’ work. This spans from good documentation to standards of design file publication, to refining the pace and practices of the actual collaboration in online forums, publication platforms, and even in-person meetings.

What qualifies you to be a board member?

I’ve served on the OSHWA board for 2 years, and have been deeply interested in open hardware both through my work at Public Lab, and as part of the broader free/libre/open source movement. Public Lab, a community of thousands of people engaged in collaboratively developing affordable and accessible environmental testing techniques and equipment, has been using the CERN Open Hardware License for several years, and I participated in the discussions and comment period which led to version 1.2 of that license. I am a producer and consumer of open source hardware and free/libre/open source software, notably as a lead developer of Public Lab’s DIY Spectrometer and associated SpectralWorkbench.org software suite (http://publiclab.org/wiki/spectrometer), as well as the Infragram multispectral camera (http://publiclab.org/wiki/infragram) and associated Infragram.org image compositing system. Since 2011, using our published designs and kits, over six thousand people have constructed their own spectrometers, and many have contributed back their refinements and additions. The size and scope of this project gives me key insight into how a diverse community of contributors can collaboratively tackle complex hardware design, and into the challenges of scaling such a model.

I’ve also served as the secretary of OSHWA, taking minutes on board meetings, and have missed almost none of the meetings over the past two years — making mine one of the best attendance records among current board members. I would be excited to continue to represent the interests of community-based open hardware contributors everywhere during an additional two years of service.

I am on the board of Parts & Crafts, a makerspace for kids in Somerville, MA, and on the advisory board of Personal Democracy Media’s WeGov project.

I will you be able to commit at least 10 hours a month to being on the board.

 

Members, please be on the lookout for the link to vote in your inbox today!

 

DIY Girls Summer Camp 2015

via SparkFun Electronics Blog Posts

Earlier this year, we partnered with DIY Girls, an LA non-profit that provides hands-on tech activities for girls. We were excited to see how the camp turned out, and Curriculum Director Sylvia Aguinaga was kind enough to share some more information about the program, as well as images and stories from this year’s event!

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do?

I’m Sylvia Aguinaga, Director of Curriculum for DIY Girls, a non-profit that provides hands-on tech experiences for girls in Los Angeles. I develop project content and facilitate the making process at workshops. I’m currently working on a Masters degree in Library and Information Science from San Jose State University.

What was the inspiration for the DIY Girls Summer Camp?

After running our first after-school program in 2012-2013, girls asked us, “What’s next?” and, “What are we doing this summer as part of DIY Girls?” We quickly realized that they wanted to continue learning and making projects. The majority of the girls we serve don’t attend summer camps and really want something to do during the summer. We designed our summer camp to allow the girls to explore more advanced projects and work on tools and machines they normally don’t have access to.

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All photos courtesy of DIY Girls

What inspired your project list?

This year, we wanted to explore two STEM topics in depth – Fashion Technology and Product Design. Fashion technology is a discipline of engineering that our girls really enjoy. Fashion is a great way for a middle schooler to express herself. So, it makes a lot of sense that when we introduce ways to integrate technology, all eyes widen. Our Product Design week was inspired by our new machines! After receiving a generous donation from Water Buffalo Club, we invested in a Bukito 3D printer by Deezmaker and a CNC router by Othermill. The Product Design week provided girls the opportunity to create their very own invention using real machinery.

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Many of the girls we serve in our after-school program eagerly await our summer camp, so we make sure to include topics that they love. We also find it critical to explore concepts and materials they have never worked with. It’s good to keep projects somewhat familiar and increasingly challenging in order to keep them engaged. For girls who are brand new to our program, we are mindful of how accessible each project is, as well as the potential each project has to adapt to every girl’s unique personality. We want girls to express themselves and learn technical skills at the same time. My job is to find projects that allow them to do just that.

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Which project seemed to engage the girls the most?

The LilyTiny Plush Monster and the EL Wire Bag were the most engaging. Girls thoughtfully designed their creatures and carefully mapped out their sewn circuit. It was great to see the girls’ use of the different LED capabilities. There was plenty of debugging that session. The EL Wire Bag was a major test of persistence. Our girls worked hard stripping the EL wire before learning to solder for the first time. It was amazing to see one girl lock down a technique and show her peers how it was done.

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Which was their favorite project to complete?

I ask this question a lot at the end of our programs. It’s extremely helpful in crafting future curriculum. This year, answers were all over the place. Many of the girls enjoyed a little bit of everything. However, most loved was the light-up tutu. We scaffolded our projects to allow for greater control toward the end of the camp. The light-up tutu was the project finale. Girls felt more comfortable with sewing, manipulating material, and creating circuits. The camp definitely ended on a high note of confidence.

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What do you hope will happen with the summer camp in the future?

We hope that girls will eventually become mentors in our summer camp as they get older. They will be great facilitators and will bring their own camp experiences to younger girls. We also plan to partner with other institutions such as universities and museums that offer advanced summer programs we can send groups of girls to. The next step after our summer camp for a girl is to experience learning at other places to help them with transition to higher education.

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What would be your advice for someone hoping to start a similar organization?

Our advice would be to learn from others (like us) that have spent lots of time planning camps for girls. We are working on making our curriculum available for free to anyone that wants to run a camp for girls. The curriculum guide will be available soon so anyone interested should start planning their 2016 DIY camp now!

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Making a PCB business card

via Dangerous Prototypes

PCB-BusinessCard

Ilia Baranov has designed a reference business card:

Back of card includes:

  • Ruler in both 1/10″ and mm.
  • AWG Hole size gauge (not super accurate due to plating, but that is unavoidable)
  • Resistor/capacitor/inductor/diode sizes
  • Common surface mount component sizes
  • Common electrical symbols and shortcuts/equations
  • Common conversions
  • Trace size comparison
  • Quote from Dune!

Project info at Mr.Robot site.  It’s also up on Tindie.

Jessie Is Here

via Raspberry Pi

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Jessie is here? Who’s Jessie? Wasn’t she the cowgirl doll in “Toy Story 2” – you know, the one who got abandoned in a park to that Sarah McLachlan song, resulting in at least one software engineer finding he had something in his eye at that point…?

Yes, it is that Jessie, but not in that context. The Raspbian operating system is based on Debian Linux, and the different versions of Debian are named after characters from the “Toy Story” films. Recent versions of Raspbian have been based on Debian Wheezy (the penguin who’s lost his squeaker in “Toy Story 2”), but Raspbian has now been updated to the new stable version of Debian, which is called Jessie.

So what’s new?

Many of the changes between Wheezy and Jessie are invisible to the end-user. There are modifications to the underlying system to improve performance and flexibility, particularly as regards the control of system processes, and as with any update, there are numerous bug fixes and tweaks. And at the same time as the upgrade to Jessie, we’ve added a bunch of changes and improvements to the desktop user interface.

Look and feel

The first thing anyone starting the new Jessie image from scratch will notice is that the default behaviour is to boot straight to the desktop GUI, not to the Linux command line. This was a decision taken because this is the expected behaviour for all modern computers; the default interface for a personal computer in 2015 is a desktop GUI, not just text on a screen. It is still possible to set the Pi to boot to the command line for people who prefer that – just toggle the relevant setting in the Raspberry Pi Configuration application described below.

When the desktop launches, you might notice some slight tweaks to the appearance of things like menus, check boxes and radio buttons. This is because the appearance of Raspbian is now based on version 3 of GTK+, the user interface toolkit used for the LXDE desktop environment. The older version 2 of GTK+ is slowly being replaced with version 3 in many applications, so this change was inevitable at some point – the new appearance isn’t a huge change, but does look slightly more modern. Many of the applications in Raspbian are still using GTK+ version 2, but the PiX theme for GTK+2 has been changed to bring it into line with that for GTK+3.

You’ll notice on the menu bar that there is now an eject icon at the top right – this is a new plug-in that allows USB drives and the like to be safely ejected without the risk of losing data. It’s slightly risky to just pull out a USB drive, particularly if you have just copied a file to it, as the system manages the write to a drive in the background, and the write takes a finite amount of time. If you pull the drive out before the write has finished, you’ll corrupt the file and lose data – clicking the eject icon and then selecting the drive to remove waits for any pending writes to complete and then prompts that it is safe to remove the drive.

Office applications

One of our main aims with regard to Raspberry Pi is not just to make it a great cheap computer for education, but also to make it a great cheap computer in its own right. To this end, we want to make it possible to use a Pi to do the sort of things you’d do on a Mac or a PC, so we’re including some more applications that we think people will find useful. In this release, we have added the LibreOffice suite and Claws Mail.

writer

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LibreOffice is a full-featured office suite which is compatible with Microsoft Office files – it includes a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation graphics, vector drawing and database programs, all of which should feel familiar to anyone used to using Office. It has had some optimisation for Pi, and runs pretty well, particularly on Pi 2.

Claws Mail is an email client for those of us who are old-fashioned enough to prefer not to do email through a browser – it supports all common email protocols, and offers all the functionality of a standalone mail client like Windows Mail or Thunderbird.

Java tools

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There are also two new applications in the Programming category – these are two new environments for writing Java applications, called BlueJ and Greenfoot (from the University of Kent and Oracle). If you’re interested in learning Java, or already a Java programmer, have a look at them. There are some sample projects for both in the /home/pi/Documents directory.

Settings and configuration

There are a couple of new settings dialogs in this release, found under the Preferences entry in the main menu. The first is Raspberry Pi Configuration – this is a GUI version of the old raspi-config command-line application, which provides all the same functionality in a nicer interface. (The old raspi-config is still on the system and can be accessed from the command line by typing “sudo raspi-config”, but it shouldn’t be necessary to do so any more.)

rcgui

The new Raspberry Pi Configuration allows you to enable and disable interfaces, tweak performance and configure internationalisation options, such as timezone and keyboard. It also allows some more control over boot options than was available in the past, with the option to automatically log in as the “pi” user available when booting to both CLI and desktop.

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There is a new keyboard setting dialog, accessed from the Localisation tab, but hopefully many people won’t need this – the system will detect some common keyboards sold for use with Pi and set up the GUI keyboard driver correctly. If that doesn’t happen, it’s now easy to choose the right country and keyboard type in this dialog.

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The other new setting dialog is the Main Menu Editor. This is a Pi version of a menu editor called Alacarte, written in Python – this should make it easier for people to add or remove items to the main menu. (And, by popular demand, the Other menu is back on the system – but it will now only appear if applications are installed that don’t appear in any other categories…)

Updated applications

There are updates to several of the applications that used to come with Raspbian. There are new versions of Scratch, Sonic Pi, and the Epiphany web browser; none of these have changed fundamentally in operation, but they all include bug fixes and performance improvements.

Support has been added for some of the new Pi peripherals that have been released recently, including the Sense HAT as used in Astro Pi – this is now supported under Scratch and Python.

Python users used to have to launch Python with sudo in order to allow access to the GPIO lines – Python can now access GPIOs as a standard user. Also for Python, the Pygame Zero game environment is installed by default – have a look at pygame-zero.readthedocs.org for information on what it can do.

One final small thing – if you want to get a screenshot of your Pi, just press the Print Screen button on your keyboard. A PNG file will be put in your home directory, thanks to the (slightly strangely named) scrot utility.

Where can I get it?

This is a major version upgrade – due to the large number of changes to the underlying operating system, we strongly recommend using Jessie from a clean image, so you’ll need to download a new Jessie image from the downloads page on our site.

Starting with a clean image is the recommended way to move to Jessie. If you really need to update a Wheezy image, we have tried an unsupported upgrade path which is documented on the forums here. This has been shown to work on a vanilla Wheezy image, but we can’t predict what effect it may have on any packages or data that you have installed, so this is very much at your own risk. Feel free to add your experiences and improvements to the upgrade process to the forum so others can benefit.

As ever, your feedback on the release is very much welcome – do add a comment below, and I’ll try to respond to as many as I can.

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