Monthly Archives: July 2016

Friday Product Post: Nine Two Five Zero

via SparkFun Electronics Blog Posts

Hello, and welcome to another Friday Product Post! We have a very short list this week thanks to the midsummer slowdown, as well as half of us out on vacations or work retreats. Never fear, though; we are currently working on quite a few new projects to help you get ready for the new school year! Without further ado, let’s jump in and find out what we have for you this week.

It has been awhile since we have come out with a new 9 Degrees of Freedom (9DoF) board, but we really think this one is special!

SparkFun IMU Breakout - MPU-9250

SEN-13762
$ 14.95

This new MPU-9250 Breakout features lower power consumption, smaller size and better value than its predecessor. This breakout has been designed to be smaller than some of our other offerings to fit in smaller projects. However, if you plan to use a breadboard, or to secure the IMU board to a project with something like epoxy, the mounting holes can be easily snapped off.

The MPU-9250 replaces the popular EOL MPU-9150 and decreases power consumption by 44 percent. According to InvenSense, “Gyro noise performance is 3x better, and compass full-scale range is over 4x better than competitive offerings.” The MPU-9250 uses 16-bit Analog-to-Digital Converters (ADCs) for digitizing all nine axes, making it a very stable 9DOF board.

Make Sure to Check Out the MPU-9250 Breakout Guide!

Alright, folks, that’s it for this week – just a tiny IMU breakout with a lot of power! Be sure to come back next Friday to see what we have been diligently working on bringing you. See you then!

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Uploading the New and Improved ClockTHREE Jr. Code

via WyoLum Blog

Hello! My last blog was about updating the ClockTHREE Jr. software, however, today I will be writing about the process of uploading the code all the way from the Arduino IDE to the master GitHub repository. Once I got the hang of it, the process was as easy as printing “Hello World” with Python.

  1. First, I downloaded Git on my Ubuntu Linux computer using the command “sudo apt get update” and then “sudo apt-get install git.” However, you can also just install it from the URL listed here: https://git-scm.com/downloads
  2. The, I logged into my own GitHub account and opened up the Wyloum repository. From there, I clicked the ClockTHREE Jr. tab.
  3. Once there, I forked the repository by pressing the (Well what do you know?) “Fork” button in the top right corner. This created a branch of the master Wyolum ClockTHREEJr repository in my own account. I did this so I can freely modify the code without affecting the master repository.

Screenshot from 2016-07-24 15-59-47

4. After clicking the Fork button, I went back to my personal account and I had the forked repository as rohanius/ClockTHREEjr. Next I cloned this repository to my hard drive. I did this by copying the git link by pressing the green button labeled “Clone or Download” (Make sure that when you push the button, the words “Clone with HTTPS” appear, not “Clone with SSH”).

Screenshot from 2016-07-24 16-37-52

5. I then opened a terminal and made sure that it was currently pointing to my “projects” folder (make sure next to the original line it says /projects). After that, type in “git clone https://github.com/rohanius/ClockTHREEjr.git”. This cloned the repository to my hard drive and created a folder in my “projects” folder and named it the same name as the repository – ClockTHREEjr

Screenshot from 2016-07-24 16-08-31

6. I was then able to edit the code as I pleased in my local repository.

7. After accordingly editing the code (which I explained in my previous blog), After compiling and testing that my code changes worked, I opened the terminal once again and changed the current directory to be /home/rohan/projects/ClockTHREEjr

8. In that directory, I typed “git commit -a -m “Updated code for Arduino 1.6.9”. This command committed all my local changes to the local git repository that I had cloned.

Screenshot from 2016-07-24 16-17-42

“-a” means “all the files in that directory that have been modified” and “-m” just allowed me to type a small message once I committed the code.

9. After committing the code, I simply pushed it to my GitHub repository using the command “git push”

Screenshot from 2016-07-24 16-19-54

10. Finally, I went back to my GitHub repository (rohanius/ClockTHREEJr.) and clicked the pull request tab. From there, I made a new pull request for the original owner of the ClockTHREE Jr. repository. Mr. Shaw was then able to pull all my changed and merge them to the master ClockTHREE Jr. repository.

Screenshot from 2016-07-24 16-23-37

Asking for a Clear Test for Copyright and OSHW

via Open Source Hardware Association

One of the things that makes open source hardware licenses hard is that – unlike software – it isn’t always easy to determine what parts of a product (if any) are covered by copyright. Since traditional open source licenses rely on copyright to make them enforceable, understanding how copyright applies to a piece of open source hardware is the first step in deciding how you might want to license it.

Finding copyright can be complicated because it protects creative and decorative works (including code), but not functional items.  Pieces of open source hardware often combine both creative and functional elements.  This makes it critical to understand how to break out the copyright-protectable parts from the non-copyright-protectable ones.

Unfortunately, today in the United States there are at least ten different and somewhat contradictory tests to guide that process.  That makes it hard for copyright experts to draw the line between copyrightable and non-copyrightable, and essentially impossible for everyone else.

That’s why OSHWA joined the International Costumbers Guild, Shapeways, Formlabs, Printrbot, the Organization for Transformative Works, the American Library Association, The Association of Research Libraries, and the Association of College and Research Libraries on a brief written by Public Knowledge in the Supreme Court case Star Athletica v. Varsity Brands.  While the case is nominally about cheerleader uniforms (really), it boils down to a simple question: which test should be used to separate out the copyrightable and non-copyrightable elements of an object that includes both?

The brief does not advocate for a specific test. Instead, it simply urges the Supreme Court to pick a simple, easy to understand test. That clarity alone would be a huge benefit to the entire open source hardware community.

Although we are filing the brief now, the Court’s decision probably won’t be until next year.  Once it comes out, we’ll do our best to explain what it means for the entire open source hardware community.

Why I’m Suing the US Government

via Hacking – bunnie's blog

Today I filed a lawsuit against the US government, challenging Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Section 1201 means that you can be sued or prosecuted for accessing, speaking about, and tinkering with digital media and technologies that you have paid for. This violates our First Amendment rights, and I am asking the court to order the federal government to stop enforcing Section 1201.

Before Section 1201, the ownership of ideas was tempered by constitutional protections. Under this law, we had the right to tinker with gadgets that we bought, we had the right to record TV shows on our VCRs, and we had the right to remix songs. Section 1201 built an extra barrier around copyrightable works, restricting our prior ability to explore and create. In order to repair a gadget, we may have to decrypt its firmware; in order to remix a video, we may have to strip HDCP. Whereas we once readily expressed feelings and new ideas through remixes and hardware modifications, now we must first pause and ask: does this violate Section 1201? Especially now that cryptography pervades every aspect of modern life, every creative spark is likewise dampened by the chill of Section 1201.

The act of creation is no longer spontaneous.

Our recent generation of Makers, hackers, and entrepreneurs have developed under the shadow of Section 1201. Like the parable of the frog in the well, their creativity has been confined to a small patch, not realizing how big and blue the sky could be if they could step outside that well. Nascent 1201-free ecosystems outside the US are leading indicators of how far behind the next generation of Americans will be if we keep with the status quo.

Our children deserve better.

I can no longer stand by as a passive witness to this situation. I was born into a 1201-free world, and our future generations deserve that same freedom of thought and expression. I am but one instrument in a large orchestra performing the symphony for freedom, but I hope my small part can remind us that once upon a time, there was a world free of such artificial barriers, and that creativity and expression go hand in hand with the ability to share without fear.

If you want to read more about the lawsuit, please check out the EFF’s press release on the matter.

Countering Lawful Abuses of Digital Surveillance

via Hacking – bunnie's blog

Completely separate from the Section 1201 lawsuit against the Department of Justice, I’m working with the FPF on a project to counter lawful abuses of digital surveillance. Here’s the abstract:

Front-line journalists are high-value targets, and their enemies will spare no expense to silence them. Unfortunately, journalists can be betrayed by their own tools. Their smartphones are also the perfect tracking device. Because of the precedent set by the US’s “third-party doctrine,” which holds that metadata on such signals enjoys no meaningful legal protection, governments and powerful political institutions are gaining access to comprehensive records of phone emissions unwittingly broadcast by device owners. This leaves journalists, activists, and rights workers in a position of vulnerability. This work aims to give journalists the tools to know when their smart phones are tracking or disclosing their location when the devices are supposed to be in airplane mode. We propose to accomplish this via direct introspection of signals controlling the phone’s radio hardware. The introspection engine will be an open source, user-inspectable and field-verifiable module attached to an existing smart phone that makes no assumptions about the trustability of the phone’s operating system.

You can find out more about the project by reading the white paper at Pubpub.

Pololu relay module used in custom ESP8266-based plant watering system

via Pololu Blog

Forum user LuisLabMO posted about his WiFi-controlled plant watering and monitoring system. The system uses SparkFun’s Blynk ESP8266 board to read various sensors that monitor sunlight, moisture content of the soil, and detect the level of water remaining in the watering reservoir. The Blynk signals our 5V relay module to activate the system’s water pump, which irrigates the plants through a drip system. You can read more about LuisLabMO’s watering system in his post, which also has a link to his Hackster.io project page and GitHub repository.