Monthly Archives: April 2020

Recreating Sega’s Columns with Arduino!

via Arduino Blog

In the early ’90s, Sega shipped its Game Gear console with a falling-block puzzle game called Columns. This Tetris-like game invited users to match colored “jewels” on the ground with lines of three new colors that drop from above. Michael A. Maynard envisioned building his own portable version of Columns at the time, but without electronics like Arduino boards and addressable RGB LEDs, the project just wasn’t in the cards.

Nonetheless, after years of consideration, he’s finally been able to create such a handheld. He used an Uno for development, which was replaced by a Nano in the current iteration. 

His system manipulates the falling jewels through a 6×13 LED matrix, with a three-LED preview display, seeven-segment LEDs for game stats, and dual-motor haptic feedback. The game even features stereo sound, with effects, and music produced via dual MP3 player modules.

Emergency ventilators: from ideation to manufacturing

via Arduino Blog

This article was written by César Garcia, researcher at La Hora Maker.

Welcome to the second article in this series on ventilators! As we’ve seen last week, ventilators are critical pieces of infrastructure. They must work reliably for long periods of time without missing a beat. Today we will uncover what are the different phases involved in developing one of these devices. Please, note that this process is a simplified one, based on current circumstances. It usually takes much more time to get one ventilator ready to market.

First stage is the ideation phase. In this initial stage, teams need to decide what technology they will use for their design. One of the most common these days is repurposing an AMBU, by operating it mechanically. There are other alternatives although like pneumatical, based on electro valves, etc, and some of the models approved in Spain involve techniques like High Frequency Jet Ventilation — that is a complete departure from the AMBU models! 

Andalucía Respira Ventilator photo (Source: Junta de Andalucía press release)

Given that the device is going to be used by medical personnel, it’s really important to look at the clinically relevant parameters for these devices. The MIT E-Vent team has done a wonderful job documenting these clinical aspects. You can find the key ventilator specifications to consider on their site.

It’s also worth noting that not all ventilators are meant to work the same. Some of them are better tailored for emergencies, while others are designed to support the patient for longer periods. Mechanical ventilators are covered by several ISO norms like 80601-2-12:2020. Several agencies have made the specifications available for free, to help new initiatives to develop ventilators against COVID-19.

Once you know which approach you would like to take, it’s time to start working on your first functional prototype.  Most of the designs will require you to get sensors and valves, as well as basic medical supplies. As per the control unit, we would recommend you to take a look at the Arduino boards better suited to the task in this presentation by Dario Pennisi.

Getting your prototype to pump air is the first step. But you need to control the amount of air in a precise way. Too much-pressurized gas could damage the patient lungs while falling short could suffocate them too. There are two approaches to this issue — some ventilators keep track of the volume of air, while others focus on pressure. To test this, you will need a lung simulator — there are plain simple models to really complex ones. UK’s MHRA offers an extensive test suite for Rapid Manufactured Ventilator Systems (RMVS) for this crisis. You can explore the test at Appendix B. 

Photo credits: MHRA’s diagram for the test circuit from the Rapidly Manufactured Ventilator System specification.

If you are producing ventilators in the UK, this is the main mandatory step right now. In other countries, like Spain, the regulation is a bit more complex — we will focus on those additional steps in the rest of this article.

Once you pass all tests with the simulator, you are required to run clinical tests with animals. As you can imagine, this is not something you can do at your local hackerspace or Fablab. Veterinarians and doctors need to supervise the test, and validate if your device works as expected. Even if you pass some initial tests, you may still need to do more extensive trials. If you plan to produce a non-emergency ventilator, you might be required to repeat tests on pathological animals.

Let’s say you pass all these tests, what is next step? You need to supply your prototype and manuals to an external lab. The goal is to make a third party verify the device specs in a controlled environment. They will test for Electromagnetic compliance, so that the device doesn’t interfere with external ICU equipment, neither is affected by third party emissions.

Once you have your documentation ready, you can submit it for review for the local regulatory agency (AEMPS in Spain, FDA in the USA), to receive final approval! Does this mean that the device is certified? Not really!

Regular certification doesn’t just focus on the device, but also on the manufacturing methods, facilities, quality control, etc. To produce certain equipment, you need to ensure the environmental conditions at the factory, proper hygienic procedures, etc are maintained.

How do you make sure that none of the people assembling or printing is not affected by coronavirus? Most prototypes that have passed all tests have been produced by companies with manufacturing experience. Some projects like Oxygen, offer a maker version and an industrial version, that was manufactured by a car company. In their repository, you can find all documents required to move from prototype to an industrial device!

OxYGEN-IP Ventilator exploded view (available at OxYGEN repo)

So, how are these devices going to be deployed? In Spain, they are being used as devices in a clinical trial. Ethical committees in the hospitals would need to approve the trials and set the rules for actual usage. These devices will be used by trained doctors as compassive devices: if no other ventilator is available, they could decide to use them, after getting permission by patients or relatives. These clinical trials would start with a few patients and then scale to larger numbers if required.

In the next episodes, we will explore the stories behind some of these prototypes!

Makers are Making a Difference

via SparkFun: Commerce Blog

The maker community has never ceased to amaze and impress. The community is a large reason why many of us have been drawn toward making things ourselves in the first place. In these unusual times, the maker community has started work to meet the challenges!

3D printing

3D printed Brim
Image from Prusa

3D printing has emerged as one of the main ways people have been able to use their skills to help others. There are a wide variety of prints people have designed and shared to help stay healthy, such as hands-free door openers or valves for medical devices.

Recently, a mask print has received FDA approval. There has been a tremendous amount of care and effort put into these designs, and it is heartening to know that they are being properly reviewed. NIH has even started their own page of "Reviewed for Clinical Use Designs," including a guide on what you can do to help.

Locally, many groups here in Colorado have come together to do what they can to help out. I want to highlight the Make4Covid organization - they have streamlined resources for makers, donors and equipment. Make4Covid helped us find a group of students and engineers at the University of Colorado who needed extra 3D printers to make face shield parts.

If you have a 3D printer that you are able to loan out, I highly recommend finding an organization like Make4Covid if you're looking for ways to help. If you have skills or equipment to share, consider adding your information to this 3D printing crowdsource document.

Sparkfun With Printers
Some of our 3D printers on their way to be utilized

Textiles

Non Medical Grade Masks

The textile community has also been hard at work across the world. In many places, N95 masks are being reserved for those who need them most, and makers have been filling the need for masks that are effective but do not need to be medical grade. For example, Standard Issue has designed an open source mask that can be cut by a CNC machine.

Make has also compiled a good list of resources, which you can find here.

While pride fills my chest on any given day when thinking about the DIY/Maker community, it has been awe-inspiring to see the amazing things that have been done during this pandemic. Community means more than who you talk to about ideas, or where you get a nice snippet of code - it is who we take care of and who takes care of us in times of need.

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A GUIDE FOR PARENTS: HOW TO LEARN ELECTRONICS & CODING WITH THE ARDUINO STUDENT KIT

via Arduino Blog

Schools have recently had to make a sudden and seismic shift in the way they teach. As both educators and students get used to remote learning, the onus is now more on parents to support their children through homeschool, and that means parents themselves need support. At Arduino Education, we want to help you and your children by making remote learning experiences as smooth (and fun!) as possible.

LEARNING ELECTRONICS & CODING AT HOME

As parents to children aged 11-plus, learning electronics and coding with them at home may not be something you’d ever think you’d be doing. But don’t worry, it really isn’t as daunting as it sounds, and electronics and coding skills are crucial in the world your children are growing up in.

ABOUT ELECTRONICS & CODING

Learn coding and the basic concepts of electricity together with your child at home with the Arduino Student Kit. It comes with all of the electronic components you need, as well as step-by-step instructions for how to start coding. But what is coding, exactly? Well, it’s simply the language that computers understand. It’s how we tell a computer what to do. In the Student Kit, you get pre-programmed code to help you understand how it works. You could also explore drag-and-drop visual coding such as Scratch to help you get a better understanding of what coding is.

LEARN ELECTRONICS & CODING AT HOME WITH THE ARDUINO STUDENT KIT

The Student Kit is a hands-on, step-by-step homeschool starter kit for children aged 11-plus that will help them get started with the basics of electronics and coding at home. You’ll get all the hardware and software you need for one person, as well as complete guidance, step-by-step lessons, exercises, and a logbook where you can answer the lesson questions and find solutions. 

HOW THE KIT HELPS YOU HOMESCHOOL YOUR CHILDREN

This is your hands-on, step-by-step remote learning learning tool that will help your child learn the basics of programming, coding, and electronics at home. As a parent, you don’t need any prior knowledge or experience as you are guided through step-by-step. The kit is linked directly into the curriculum so you can be confident that your children are learning what they should be, and it provides the opportunity for them to become confident in programming and electronics. You’ll also be helping them learn vital skills such as critical thinking and problem-solving.

WHAT’S IN THE KIT?

  • All the basic electronic components you need to complete each lesson
  • Access to an online platform which helps children take their first steps into the world of electronics and inventions
  • Nine step-by-step lessons with up to 25 hours of learning time
  • Two open-ended projects. These projects don’t have a right or wrong answer – the solution to the project question is unique to each individual
  • A digital logbook that students can use to annotate their exercises, observations, and experiments. Parents can also use the logbook to find solutions

WHAT DOES THE KIT HELP TO TEACH?

By using the kit at home, you’ll be mirroring what your children would learn in their classroom. As well as how to code, the kit teaches:

  • Basic concepts of electricity
  • Safety 
  • Schematics
  • Writing code
  • Controlling a circuit
  • Coding concepts
  • Controlling a servo motor
  • Producing sounds, tones, and music
  • Measuring the intensity of light 

WHAT YOU NEED

You’ll need to purchase one Student Kit per child – you can either find your country’s distributor or buy the kit online. To use the kit, you’ll need a desktop computer, laptop or tablet device which has a compatible operating system and meets minimum requirements for downloading the Arduino software. Find out more about this here.

New product: Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera on sale now at $50

via Raspberry Pi

We’re pleased to announce a new member of the Raspberry Pi camera family: the 12.3-megapixel High Quality Camera, available today for just $50, alongside a range of interchangeable lenses starting at $15.

NEW Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera

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It’s really rather good, as you can see from this shot of Cambridge’s finest bit of perpendicular architecture.

At 69 years, King’s College Chapel took only slightly longer to finish than the High Quality Camera.

And this similarly pleasing bit of chip architecture.

Ready for your closeup.

Raspberry Pi and the camera community

There has always been a big overlap between Raspberry Pi hackers and camera hackers. Even back in 2012, people (okay, substantially Dave Hunt) were finding interesting ways to squeeze more functionality out of DSLR cameras using their Raspberry Pi computers.

Dave’s water droplet photography. Still, beautiful.

The OG Raspberry Pi camera module

In 2013, we launched our first camera board, built around the OmniVision OV5647 5‑megapixel sensor, followed rapidly by the original Pi NoIR board, with infrared sensitivity and a little magic square of blue plastic. Before long, people were attaching them to telescopes and using them to monitor plant health from drones (using the aforementioned little square of plastic).

TJ EMSLEY Moon Photography

We like the Moon.

Sadly, OV5647 went end-of-life in 2015, and the 5-megapixel camera has the distinction of being one of only three products (along with the original Raspberry Pi 1 and the official WiFi dongle) that we’ve ever discontinued. Its replacement, built around the 8-megapixel Sony IMX219 sensor, launched in April 2016; it has found a home in all sorts of cool projects, from line-followers to cucumber sorters, ever since. Going through our sales figures while writing this post, we were amazed to discover we’ve sold over 1.7 million of these to date.

The limitations of fixed-focus

Versatile though they are, there are limitations to mobile phone-type fixed-focus modules. The sensors themselves are relatively small, which translates into a lower signal-to-noise ratio and poorer low-light performance; and of course there is no option to replace the lens assembly with a more expensive one, or one with different optical properties. These are the shortcomings that the High Quality Camera is designed to address.

Photograph of a Raspberry Pi 4 captured by the Raspberry Pi Camera Module v2 Photograph of a Raspberry Pi 4 captured by the Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera

Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera

Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera, without a lens attached

Features include:

  • 12.3 megapixel Sony IMX477 sensor
  • 1.55μm × 1.55μm pixel size – double the pixel area of IMX219
  • Back-illuminated sensor architecture for improved sensitivity
  • Support for off-the-shelf C- and CS-mount lenses
  • Integrated back-focus adjustment ring and tripod mount

We expect that over time people will use quite a wide variety of lenses, but for starters our Approved Resellers will be offering a couple of options: a 6 mm CS‑mount lens at $15, and a very shiny 16 mm C-mount lens priced at $50.

Our launch-day lens selection.

Read all about it

Also out today is our new Official Raspberry Pi Camera Guide, covering both the familiar Raspberry Pi Camera Module and the new Raspberry Pi High Quality Camera.

We’ll never not be in love with Jack’s amazing design work.

Our new guide, published by Raspberry Pi Press, walks you through setting up and using your camera with your Raspberry Pi computer. You’ll also learn how to use filters and effects to enhance your photos and videos, and how to set up creative projects such as stop-motion animation stations, wildlife cameras, smart doorbells, and much more.

Aardman ain’t got nothing on you.

You can purchase the book in print today from the Raspberry Pi Press store for £10, or download the PDF for free from The MagPi magazine website.

Credits

As with every product we build, the High Quality Camera has taught us interesting new things, in this case about producing precision-machined aluminium components at scale (and to think we thought injection moulding was hard!). Getting this right has been something of a labour of love for me over the past three years, designing the hardware and getting it to production. Naush Patuck tuned the VideoCore IV ISP for this sensor; David Plowman helped with lens evaluation; Phil King produced the book; Austin Su provided manufacturing support.

We’d like to acknowledge Phil Holden at Sony in San Jose, the manufacturing team at Sony UK Tec in Pencoed for their camera test and assembly expertise, and Shenzhen O-HN Optoelectronic for solving our precision engineering challenges.

FAQS

Which Raspberry Pi models support the High Quality Camera?

The High Quality Camera is compatible with almost all Raspberry Pi models, from the original Raspberry Pi 1 Model B onward. Some very early Raspberry Pi Zero boards from the start of 2016 lack a camera connector, and other Zero users will need the same adapter FPC that is used with Camera Module v2.

What about Camera Module v2?

The regular and infrared versions of Camera Module v2 will still be available. The High Quality Camera does not supersede it. Instead, it provides a different tradeoff between price, performance, and size.

What lenses can I use with the High Quality Camera?

You can use C- and CS-mount lenses out of the box (C-mount lenses use the included C-CS adapter). Third-party adapters are available from a wide variety of lens standards to CS-mount, so it is possible to connect any lens that meets the back‑focus requirements.

We’re looking forward to seeing the oldest and/or weirdest lenses anyone can get working, but here’s one for starters, courtesy of Fiacre.

Do not try this at home. Or do: fine either way.

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