Monthly Archives: October 2017

Product Releases

via Open Source Ecology

A critique of open source product development is that it “fails to provide positive capital feedback loops that sustain development.” Marketable products solve this apparent shortcoming.

We finished the MicroTractor build today – as a result of the Eco-Tractor Workshop:

Together with the the Seed Eco-Home, Aquaponic Greenhouse, Open Source Hydronic Stove, Open Source PV System, Biodigester, CNC Torch Table, CEB Press, Power Cube, 3D Printer – these are all worthy of widespread replication. These products are at 95-99% completion – but provide a solid basis of proof of concept that indicates 3-100x cost reduction (depending on how you do the accounting) over industry standards. Each of these prototypes are ready for the enterprise development phase, and careful attention should be given to this so we can scale the project by bootstrap funding. The Extreme Manufacturing Workshop model has huge potential, as does selling kits produced on-demand, creating information products, and providing other services. All while remaining hard core open source. So for example – an e-book or DVD may be an organized version of content that if freely available on the wiki or blog. Marketing strategy development lies in front of us – that is our weakness at this point.

We appear to be very near viral uptake by the rest of the world. As such, we intend to begin an immersion training program for movement entrepreneurs committed to solving pressing world issues by distributing production – OSE Fellows. These are indeed excitting times, with facility replication worldwide on the near horizon (within 2 years). This gives clarity to our on-boarding pathway: people start as OSE Developers, they are then selected as OSE Fellows, and after deep immersion, they may qualify to run new OSE facilities all over the world.

Free shipping, phase two: lots more free shipping

via Pololu Blog

We are now offering free US shipping for $60 or more of Pololu-branded products with active statuses.

Since my post on Thursday afternoon, we have brought free shipping to dozens of products and free add-on shipping to hundreds more. Unfortunately, that still does not get you really free shipping for most of our thousands of products because many of them are individually too low-cost to make part-by-part free shipping feasible. We just do not have a way to ship you a $6 regulator or an $8 pair of wheels for free without having to inflate the price of the products. But today, we released phase two of our free shipping initiative, which allows us to offer free shipping in the US on orders of $60 or more of Pololu-branded products that have an active status. This should bring free shipping to most of our typical orders, which might include that set of wheels, a few motors, a motor driver, and maybe the $6 regulator.

You might be wondering what I meant by that somewhat awkward phrase, “Pololu-branded products that have an active status”. That’s actually related to yet another exciting new set of features we are bringing to the Pololu site. We are proud that we design and manufacture most of our products, and we want to make it easy to tell which items are made by us. For products from other brands, especially where we are authorized distributors or otherwise working with those brands, we want to make it clear that you are getting the product from that brand, and not some counterfeit or knock off. And sometimes we all just want something generic, like the ubiquitous 0.1" headers, where the manufacturer or brand does not really matter. In some of those cases, we might not want to reveal our suppliers, or we might want to have the flexibility to change suppliers without updating product specifications; explicitly calling out a product as generic should help make it clear what kind of a product you are getting.

Because many of our customers build their own products using our products as components, or design curricula around our products, I also want to better communicate the life cycle status of our products. We therefore added a “product status” field to our product listings so that you can quickly tell if a product is one that we expect to keep making for a long time or if we expect to be discontinuing it soon. I will go over the various product status designations in a separate blog post, but for the purposes of this free shipping announcement, the point is that the products we make and which are in our good graces will be considered toward the $60 free shipping minimum.

We will be updating the product brand and status fields for our products in the coming weeks; please let us know if a product you are interested in is not updated yet.

Happy Halloween!

via Pololu Blog

Another Halloween means another batch of great costumes from the people at Pololu!

Highlights from this year include Jennifer’s impressively detailed Ghostbuster costume, complete with a “working” proton pack (well, at least the lights worked) built around some laser-cut parts…

and Jon’s elaborate representation of the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft, which included an actual magnetometer on the tip of his boom and a buzzer to audibly indicate magnetic measurements.

Did you use any Pololu products in your Halloween costume or decorations? We’d love to hear about it on our forum or in the comments below, and we might even feature it in a future blog post!

Have a Happy Halloween!

Capturing a complex TV commercial with Arduino

via Arduino Blog

Ever wonder how studios like Oslo-based Flambert get perfectly timed (and complex) shots of “disasters,” such as the destruction of a birthday party setting seen in the Coop Obs! commercial below?

While the moving camera position was handled by a robotic arm, food jumping off of the table is coordinated by a series of 18 pneumatic actuators controlled by an Arduino.

The pneumatic equipment is cleverly concealed by a tablecloth, making the food appear to fly off the table with no trigger other than the hostess of the party initially slipping. Another clever innovation was making the table with two interchangeable tops, so one could be set up while the other was being shot, saving a huge amount of time during filming.

“We decided to build a table consisting of high-pressure valves with nine individual triggers and 18 air pressure points that could shoot items into the air with extreme precision. We recommended a combination of high-speed camera movements and triggers to set off and capture the chaos. All this was controlled by an Arduino unit, that again was controlled by a motion-controlled robot.”

DIY LED Motorcycle Helmet

via SparkFun Electronics Blog Posts

It’s strange to be in front of the camera for once, since I’m typically behind it filming engineers create and present awesome projects (I was pretty thrilled to make myself an official SparkFun lower third motion graphic!). I’m an avid motorcycle rider and I ride to SparkFun every morning if the weather is nice (Colorado is known for its inconsistency). One of the most prominent dangers of riding a motorcycle is not being seen by other drivers, which is a constant concern, especially at night.

With by backup helmet collecting dust, I decided to create an LED motorcycle helmet using SparkFun parts so cars would unmistakably see me on the road. They honestly might be too bright and distracting for some, but it definitely does the job.

The best part about this project was that you can adjust it to whatever you want. Put it on a bicycle helmet, change the colors or add more hardware to make them react to specific movements or speeds. The opportunities are endless.

Here is a list of all the things you will need to build this:

Here are the steps to create the one I made:

1. Plan out your LED design with string and tape (make sure you have a good place to hide the electronics!)

2. Cut the LED roll into strips to fit the helmet (make sure they are all in the right direction to make a circuit)

3. Stick the LED strips onto the helmet - they are sticky enough to stay on at least temporarily

4. Cut open the plastic at the end of the strips to expose the leads you need to solder

5. Solder all the LED strips together (this may take some time, so get comfortable)

6. Solder the Qduino Mini to the end of the LED circuit

  • GND - GND
  • Din - D8
  • 5V - VCC

7. Count the number of LEDs and program the Qduino Mini

8. Test with a LiPo Battery

9. Insulate all solder joints with hot glue, as well as any wires that might be exposed if their plastic casing melted off while soldering

10. Optional: If the LED strips don’t stick onto your helmet as well as you’d like, you can either hot glue them or use an adhesive to make sure they won’t come off while riding

11. Use Velcro to add the Qduino Mini and LiPo battery to the inside of your helmet

12. Plug in, turn on and ride off in style!

With Feldi literally showing me how to solder and program for the first time, I created exactly what I wanted. The project turned out to be almost half the price of LED helmet kits available for purchase online and I have the opportunity to change the colors and sequence. I wore my LED helmet and Feldi’s DIY LED Sneakers out riding at night and became a bright, colorful light that drivers saw immediately.

(I’m a competitive parkour athlete and when I was in college, I had a theme that every video I submitted for a project had to somehow involve a flip. So I continued that tradition with this video after the START SOMETHING outro. Hope you enjoyed the video as much as I enjoyed creating it!)

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A Raspberry Pi Halloween projects spectacular

via Raspberry Pi

Come with us on a journey to discover the 2017 Raspberry Pi Halloween projects that caught our eye, raised our hair, or sent us screaming into the night.

A clip of someone being pulled towards a trap door by hands reaching up from it - Raspberry Pi Halloween projects

Happy Halloween

Whether you’re easily scared or practically unshakeable, you can celebrate Halloween with Pi projects of any level of creepiness.

Even makers of a delicate constitution will enjoy making this Code Club Ghostbusters game, or building an interactive board game using Halloween lights with this MagPi tutorial by Mike Cook. And how about a wearable, cheerily LED-enhanced pumpkin created with the help of this CoderDojo resource? Cute, no?

Felt pumpkin with blinking LED smiley face - Raspberry Pi Halloween projects

Speaking of wearables, Derek Woodroffe’s be-tentacled hat may writhe disconcertingly, but at least it won’t reach out for you. Although, you could make it do that, if you were a terrible person.

Slightly queasy Halloween

Your decorations don’t have to be terrifying: this carved Pumpkin Pi and the Poplawskis’ Halloween decorations are controlled remotely via the web, but they’re more likely to give you happy goosebumps than cold sweats.

A clip of blinking Halloween decorations covering a house - Raspberry Pi Halloween projects

The Snake Eyes Bonnet pumpkin and the monster-face projection controlled by Pis that we showed you in our Halloween Twitter round-up look fairly friendly. Even the 3D-printed jack-o’-lantern by wermy, creator of mintyPi, is kind of adorable, if you ignore the teeth. And who knows, that AlexaPi-powered talking skull that’s staring at you could be an affable fellow who just fancies a chat, right? Right?

Horror-struck Halloween

OK, fine. You’re after something properly frightening. How about the haunted magic mirror by Kapitein Haak, or this one, with added Philips Hue effects, by Ben Eagan. As if your face first thing in the morning wasn’t shocking enough.

Haunted magic mirror demonstration - Raspberry Pi Halloween projects

If you find those rigid-faced, bow-lipped, plastic dolls more sinister than sweet – and you’re right to do so: they’re horrible – you won’t like this evil toy. Possessed by an unquiet shade, it’s straight out of my nightmares.

Earlier this month we covered Adafruit’s haunted portrait how-to. This build by Dominick Marino takes that concept to new, terrifying, heights.

Haunted portrait project demo - Raspberry Pi Halloween projects

Why not add some motion-triggered ghost projections to your Halloween setup? They’ll go nicely with the face-tracking, self-winding, hair-raising jack-in-the-box you can make thanks to Sean Hodgins’ YouTube tutorial.

And then, last of all, there’s this.

The Saw franchise's Billy the puppet on a tricycle - Raspberry Pi Halloween projects


This recreation of Billy the Puppet from the Saw franchise is Pi-powered, it’s mobile, and it talks. You can remotely control it, and I am not even remotely OK with it. That being said, if you’re keen to have one of your own, be my guest. Just follow the guide on Instructables. It’s your funeral.

Make your Halloween

It’s been a great year for scary Raspberry Pi makes, and we hope you have a blast using your Pi to get into the Halloween spirit.

And speaking of spirits, Matt Reed of RedPepper has created a Pi-based ghost detector! It uses Google’s Speech Neural Network AI to listen for voices in the ether, and it’s live-streaming tonight. Perfect for watching while you’re waiting for the trick-or-treaters to show up.

The post A Raspberry Pi Halloween projects spectacular appeared first on Raspberry Pi.