Category Archives: Aggregated

Introducing the NERFCS Shipping System (Beta)

via SparkFun Electronics News Posts

The New, Expedited, Really-fast Copter Shipping (or NERFCS) program is SparkFun’s latest and greatest shipping option. This special shipping program, while in its (shall we say) “Beta” form, is a disruptive technology that will change the way you shop. See for yourself:

Ok, maybe the program needs a bit of work before being made live. We’ll get on that. But for now, we think you can build a better autonomous vehicle and the upcoming SparkFun AVC is your proving grounds! We also have a pretty exciting incentive to get you signed up (read on for more details).

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The SparkFun Autonomous Vehicle Competition (or AVC) is an event where we invite robotics enthusiasts from around the globe to participate in a time-trial style race with their autonomous vehicles. Today, we want to ask - are you up to the challenge?

If you’re not familiar with AVC, the event is taking place on June 21st, 2014 at the Boulder Reservoir. There are aerial and ground classes (and subclasses within those) that compete on a SparkFun-designed course. The bot that finishes with the fastest time in each class wins!

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If you want to register as a competitor (or as a spectator - and, trust us, there is much to spectate), head over to the SparkFun AVC site.

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But WAIT! There’s more…

As an incentive to help folks new to AVC sign-up, we’ve partnered with our friends over at 3D Robotics. Right now, the next five people that sign-up will received a free 3DR Rover platform to use in the AVC. This is a pretty smoking deal! Thank you to 3DR for helping us make AVC even better!

We hope you’ll join us at what will be the best AVC yet!

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Is the toilet free?

via Raspberry Pi

Here at Pi Towers, we are lucky enough to have more toilets than we have people. Some offices don’t. And it’s embarrassing to hear your colleagues micturating (at least for some people – the rest of us chatter through it all and make fun of each other’s shy bladders), so the guys at Made by Many have come up with a Pi-based solution.

It started quite simply. Reed switches on a toilet door would send information to a Pi, which would publish the data to a website, so the folks at Made by Many could check online before going to the loo. They made a LEGO prototype to make sure everything worked.


And after applying the switches to the real toilet doors, they ended up with the real thing serving up a result like this when the website was polled.


Of course, it’s axiomatic that if you can overcomplicate something, you should.

So the Made by Many team started looking at what data they could collect without invading people’s lavatorial privacy (with a privacy document being uploaded to GitHub). No identifying information or information about exactly what was going on in the cubicle was collected at any time.  Over three weeks they ended up with sufficient data points to work some SQL magic and be able to detect:

  • if the toilets are free
  • the total number of visits
  • minimum visit duration
  • maximum visit duration
  • average visit duration
  • total visits by hour
  • total visits by day

From which they could infer:

  • the office’s favourite toilet
  • peak times
  • off-peak times
  • an estimated wait time.

And then they made a command-line-style stats page.


And because a job half-done is no job at all, they also made a little toilet notifier to live in the menu bar in Mac OS.


They’ve made LED signs. They’ve irritated their colleagues so much that one of them dismantled and abducted one of the reed switches. They’ve demonstrated elegantly that the Internet of Things is always informative, and not always as useful as we think it is. We think this is one of the most entertaining projects we’ve seen in a while. We salute you, Made by Many. And if you’ll excuse me, I drank rather too much coffee after lunch. I’ll just be a minute.

Upgrading the OpenWrt-Yun image on the Yún

via Arduino Blog


Today we released the upgraded version of the OpenWrt-Yun image on the Arduino Yún.
This version includes all the latest and greatest from stable OpenWrt, the latest (Python) Bridge (with a php contribution and fixes to the file module), we also added Mailbox support to REST api and other fixes to some open issues.

The new image contains also the fix to the well known Heartbleed bug, a big security issue that impacted on almost all websites of the world.

If you own an Arduino Yún we suggest you to follow the link and read the procedure to update the board.
You’ll need to download the zip file from the download page. Remember that updating the OpenWrt-Yun image will cause the loss of all files and configurations you previously saved on the flash memory of the Yún.

I2S Audio And SPI Display With An Ethernet Module

via Hackaday» hardware

LCD[kgsws] is working on a small project that requires some audio and a display of some sort. While this project can be easily completed with a bigish microcontroller or ARM board, he’s taking a much simpler route: the entire project is built around a cheap router module, giving this project amazing expandability for a very meager price.

The router module in question is the HLK-RM04 from Hi-Link, commonly found via the usual Chinese resellers for about $25. On board this module is a UART, Ethernet, and a WiFi adapter along with a few GPIO pins for interfacing with the outside world.

[kgsws] is using the native SPI pins on this module to control the clock and data lines for the tiny LCD, with a GPIO pin toggling the chip select. I2S audio is also implemented, decoded with an 8-bit DAC, the MCP4801.

It’s an extremely inexpensive solution for putting audio and video in a project, and since this board has Ethernet, WiFi, and a few more GPIO pins, it’s can do much more than whatever [kgsws] is planning next.

Filed under: hardware

HummingBoard, The Vastly More Powerful Raspi

via Hackaday» hardware



The Raspberry Pi has been around for a while now, and while many boards that hope to take the Pi’s place at the top of the single board ARM Linux food chain, not one has yet succeeded. Finally, there may be a true contender to the throne. It’s called the HummingBoard, and packs a surprising amount of power and connectivity into the same size and shape as the venerable Raspberry Pi.

The HummingBoard uses a Freescale i.MX6 quad core processor running at 1GHz with a Vivante GC2000 GPU. There’s 2GB of RAM, microSD card slot, mSATA connector, Gigabit Ethernet, a BCM4329 WiFi and Bluetooth module, a real-time clock, and IR receiver. There’s also all the usual Raspberry Pi flair, with a 26 pin GPIO connector, CSI camera connector, DSI LCD connector,  stereo out, as well as the usual HDMI and analog video.

The company behind the HummingBoard, SolidRun, hasn’t put a retail price on the board, nor have they set a launch date. You can, however, enter a contest to win a HummingBoard with the deadline this Friday. Winners will be announced in early May, so maybe the HummingBoard will be officially launched sometime around then.

It’s an amazing board with more than enough power to rival the extremely powerful BeagleBone Black, with the added bonus of being compatible with so many of those Raspberry Pi accessories we all love dearly.

Filed under: hardware, Raspberry Pi

Free goodies for good causes from Pimoroni

via Raspberry Pi

Our  friends at Pimoroni have some good news for you. To celebrate making their 100,000th Pibow case, they’re giving away 512 Pibow Rainbow cases (and some accessories) to good causes. Updated to add: Cyntech have just thrown their hat into the ring too: they’ll be supplementing the prize pool with some more PiHubs and Pibrellas, alongside some seven-segment displays – all of which are very useful in the classroom. Thanks folks!

The Pibow Rainbow: Liz's Raspberry Pi case of preference.

The Pibow Rainbow – Raspberry Pi case and thing of beauty

Are you a charity, educational establishment or other worthy cause with a bunch of naked Model B Raspberry Pis? Maybe you’re such a place and you want to buy a bunch of Pis with a free case, or upgrade to something a bit more shiny?

All you need to do is comment below with a valid email address, or email with the subject “WE NEED FREE PIBOWS”.

Say briefly who you are (School, Charity, Good Cause), what you do, and why a classroom kit would be really useful to you. Each kit contains 10 lovely Pibow Rainbow cases (or more!) plus a PiHub, Pibrella and PiGlow to play with. Here’s a video of a PiGlow doing its thing to whet your appetite – you’ll find a tutorial in our Resources section to get you programming yours using Python in easy steps.

Paul, who is half of Pimoroni and who also designed the very fruity Raspberry Pi logo, says:

“We love the things people do with the Pi and Pibow already, and now seems like a perfect time for us to spread a bit of colour and joy to the places where the Pi makes the most difference. Learning about computers, electronics and other geekery should be fun and friendly and for everyone.”

MakerFaire Rome: the european call for makers is online! Join us

via Arduino Blog

Maker Faire 2014


It’s time to start tinkering on new projects or pimp-up some old ones because MakerFaire Rome is calling!

Last year it was an overwhelming experience for all of us: more than 35.000 people from all over the world gathered for the first edition of the European edition of MakerFaire. Around 24o makers presented their projects ( 60% from Italy and 40% from the rest of the continent) and showed to a crowd of enthusiasts and newbies  the impact of open source community and DIY on our lives.

If you want to join us with your project in Rome from the 3rd to the 5th of October, take a look at the Call for Makers and fill it before the 25th of May:

The first step to participate in Maker Faire Rome as Maker is to submit an entry that tells us about yourself and your project. Entries can be submitted from individuals as well as from groups.
Please provide a description of what you make and what you would like to bring to Maker Faire, including links to photographs and/or videos of your project. We particularly encourage exhibits that are interactive and that highlight the process of making things. Continue >>

Here’s Arduino’s video from last year experience:


Bring on the Robots at USASEF Friday Sneak Peek

via SparkFun Electronics News Posts

SparkFun Education will be at the United States of America Science and Engineering Festival for four days of soldering, programming, video games, programmable hats, robots and e-textiles.

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We do workshops. Sometimes we do really big workshops.

Friday, April 25th is Sneak Peek Friday, when people are allowed to check out the exhibit floor before everything goes crazy with Science! SparkFun won’t be on the exhibitor floor Friday, but we’ll be in conference room 150B in the Walter E. Washington Conference Center. While you do need tickets to go to Sneak Peek Friday, our event is free! Our robots would like to meet your robots (provided they are not mean robots, of course). You may encounter some weird looks on your way to our event, but once you’re in room 150B no one will bat an eye, IR emitter/detector pair or other sensory circuit/organ. The only stipulation is that we ask that all robots be terrestrial robots, so no aerial robots and no marine robots. I doesn’t matter if your robot is smart or not, we’re equal opportunity robot enthusiasts. So bring on the friendly earthbound bots, check out our robots, play some video games, light up some LEDs and maybe jump on our trampoline! Ten80 Education will be there with us, we’ll also have some Cubelets and an area where you can check out some of our Open educational materials. Don’t limit the idea of robot to something with wheels or legs, either. We’d love to see your e-textile costume, video game controller or robotically-enabled George Foreman.

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Sometimes robots look, well, not exactly like robots.

Some come by! Bring your robots, costumes, video games and anything else you might feel comfortable walking with around the Walter E. Washington Center.

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Developed on Hackaday: Vote for your Favorite Card Art

via Hackaday» hardware

A few weeks ago we asked our dear readers if they were interested in coming up with some card art for the Mooltipass project. We received more than a dozen of them and a few days ago the HaD project Mooltipass followers/Mooltipas Google group recipients voted for their favorite ones.

Today we’ll present you the three popular ones and ask you to pick your favorite, so please follow us after the break…

[Bjorn]'s design

[Bjorn] is a very active and pragmatic Google group participant, so this is the design he sent us. Given that exactly 1.2cm of the card is sticking out of the Mooltipass case, you’d only be seeing the “Mooltipass key card” text once the smart card is inserted.

Luke Brown's design[Luke] is someone that does things. The design shown above was quite popular in our previous poll.

[Robert]'s designOur German contributor [Robert] sent us a more sober black and white design which does look quite nice in our opinion.


So what do you guys think? You may vote for your favorite design and/or submit your comments below.


[Article picture attribute: angelitomercenario]

Filed under: Hackaday Columns, hardware

The Birth of castAR: Q&A with Jeri Ellsworth and Rick Johnson

via SparkFun Electronics News Posts

At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, SparkFun’s Technical Researcher Pearce and Director of Marketing Jess were fortunate enough to nail down electronics superstars Jeri Ellsworth and Rick Johnson to talk to them about their company Technical Illusions, the castAR glasses project and taking Kickstarter by storm. A lot of us at SparkFun look up to Jeri and Rick as personal tech heroes, and we were grateful that they took the time to sit down and chat with us about their triumphs and challenges. Let’s check out what they had to say!

Pearce: What is castAR?

Rick: CastAR is a pair of glasses you put on that projects out a holographic, stereoscopic-like image that you can interact with and move around, and visualize games, data and collaborations. It has a clip on that allows you to have a full VR experience, as well as an AR experience. We have two input devices: a magic wand, which allows you to interact in a 3D environmental way to the scene, as well as an RFID grid which tracks any object that has an RFID tag. So you can imagine board games scenarios - D&D figures, Magic the Gathering cards, anything like that - can be tracked across the surface, augmented with data or have the computer respond to it. You could put down a Magic card and a dragon could spawn from it; a D&D figure could have stats; you could put down a physical miniature and then somebody playing remotely could see a virtual miniature, and you can share board game environments now remotely. In addition, we have an advanced version that uses a microprocessor, and this allows two-way communication between the grid and the microprocessor, so you can have switches, control motors, smoke generators, lights – the idea I like to use is a virtual race car, or a physical race car controlled by the computer, driving around a virtual racetrack.

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CastAR prototype diagram (photo courtesy of castAR Kickstarter page)

Pearce: You did a Kickstarter – how did you feel about it? In the past we’ve seen Pebble and others that make an overwhelming amount of money; do you think what you raised was overwhelming?

Jeri: I was very happy with it. We hit the dollar figure that we wanted to hit. It was pretty exciting; there were only 11 Kickstarter campaigns that got over a million dollars this year. We had a lot of anxiety going into it, because it’s such a complicated thing to express in video or text, or describe in words to folks until you actually try it, and we weren’t sure how people would receive it. So starting at Maker Faire in spring 2013 (that was our first release), we started showing it in public every couple weeks or monthly clear up until Kickstarter. We showed thousands of people, so there were many people out there that would be there to say, “It’s for real; it does what they say it’s going to do.” And we tried in the Kickstarter video to shoot through the glasses even though it doesn’t look as good. We could have rendered it and maybe made it look snazzier, but we just wanted to be very honest.

Rick: Jeri and I were engineers at heart, and everybody will tell you when you run a Kickstarter campaign that it’s completely disruptive to your life, and that’s 100% true. Pretty much from a month before Kickstarter and through the campaign, we never did any engineering to speak of. You have to come up with a script for the film, content for the film, you have to make the film, edit the film, create text for the Kickstarter page, set the financials for the rewards, write the reward text, make sure Kickstarter’s happy with all of it, hit the launch button, and then you’re doing interviews and additional content, and stress and stress and stress, and then you’re done, and then you can think about doing engineering work again.

Jeri: We were going to do a couple videos a week, but it actually turned out to be maybe one-ish – we could barely get enough time to do another update video.

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Jeri and Rick (photo courtesy of castAR Kickstarter page)

Pearce: I’m in technical research; I have to go out and find the parts for us. Our CEO Nate comes back with some wild idea and I have to go find the parts for it. How difficult did you find it sourcing the components for the castAR?

Jeri: Extremely difficult. And that’s always the case in every startup, so it’s not unique to what we did at all. All the sales folks want to deal with the Sonys and the Microsofts and people who are going to want to buy 10 million units, and they look at anyone who’s a startup as a drain on their resources, so they’ll either never give you the parts, or won’t give you the data sheet. It took a lot of persuading to get the micro-displays and the image sensors and the various parts that we needed.

Pearce: Would you say that’s been the most difficult step of the process so far?

Rick: I think probably overall it’s the sheer volume of work that Jeri and I put in for the majority of last year. It was her and I putting in five to six days a week of 14- or 16-hour days, and prior to that point in my life I always worked in an environment where I had a ton of colleagues, and if a problem came up, I had people I could talk to. In this environment, I’m on the software side, Jeri’s on the hardware side, and there’s nobody else to help us with problems, so one way or another, one of us has to solve everything. It’s a daunting environment and it adds stress, and there were times when we were perpetually sick with colds for months at a time, but we persevered, and it was very rewarding.

Jeri: It was constant micro-adjustments throughout development, and we were always looking at three different directions we could go at any given point, so we theorized on how we could do the tracking, or how we could do the display driving, we were always ready to jump to another path when one got too difficult, so that’s how we got to the end product; there were a lot of jumps back and forth.

Pearce: I noticed you guys are doing game jams – can you explain that a little bit?

Rick: If you think about this technology – VR and all that – if I describe it to you or show you pictures of it, that’s a very different experience than when you just put it on and try it out, and we’re still at a point where the prototypes are hand-built and there’s only a few of them (and we cuddle with them at night so nobody steals them). So game jams are a way to help other developers gain an idea of the direction of gaming and what this technology is; we can invite people into our work environment and they can experience the tech firsthand and can try out their ideas.

The thing we learned early on, especially in the AR space, is that we don’t actually know anything about the AR space: how the user interacts with the space, how they see their score, how other people interact with it, et cetera. For instance, if I share the same physical space with another player, am I gonna be sharing my arm space with them? Am I gonna be pushing them around? Aspects like that you really just need to experiment with, and game jams are a way that people can naturally see that. We can provide them with information that we’ve learned, and they can come up with new ideas. It’s a way to explore this area before we actually have dev kits in the public space.

Jeri: It’s super fun, it’s a blast hanging out – it’s a good reason to get a bunch of fun people together, too.

Pearce: I know you’re working at getting the dev kits together, but what would you say your next steps are?

Rick: One of the bigger steps is that while Kickstarter has provided us with the funding to create the product for Kickstarter, we want to be a company that is sustained and has long term goals well beyond that. Initial steps are finding a businessperson to help grow the company, to find additional funds to grow the company, and hire staff so Jeri and I don’t have to sacrifice our lives in order to do this.

The secondary aspect is actually delivering on Kickstarter. There was a transition between the SD and the HD; Jerri has eliminated the control box, we’ve gotten the new projector engines up and running, and she has other technology that she’s advancing at the same time, so it’s taking all these steps to get us to delivering each of the Kickstarter goals. There’s other technology and things that we’re working on behind the scenes toward that, but it’s not stuff that we’re quite divulging at this point.

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CastAR prototype (photo courtesy of castAR Kickstarter page)

Pearce: A lot of our customers are looking to take the same path as you guys; they want to put together something to bring to market – maybe through Kickstarter or other platforms. Is there any single piece of advice you wish you had going into this?

Jeri: That’s a complicated question. It could be anything as far as international shipping and the weird psychology people have around paying more for international shipping than domestic, which was a surprise to us. We put a lot of thought into Kickstarter and I think the piece of advice to anyone going into it is: Don’t rush it. Take your time, think about the impact of big events that might be happening around that time. We strategically did our Kickstarter before Thanksgiving so the holidays wouldn’t get in the way, we didn’t do it in the summer when people were off on vacation, we made sure that we seeded the market by showing a lot of people the prototype, we talked to a lot of media ahead of time, and we had a really solid demo when we started talking to folks, so it was really plan, plan, plan. You have to also plan for post-Kickstarter too, and that’s the phase we’re in now – going through these different milestones, and miniaturizing things, and hitting these checkpoints that we plotted out ahead of time.

Rick: I would say that if you’re going to go into this endeavor and you’re going to be doing it with multiple people, find people that complement your skill set and are like-minded to you. Jeri and I are both extremely passionate about what we do, we both put long hours in, and we’re both very dedicated to it … we both own Commodore 64s. You don’t want to find out too late in the process that somebody doesn’t have the will or the same energy level as you, or you have these weird divides on how to approach things, because you’re both in it for the long haul.

Jess: Were you surprised by the huge outpouring of support that the Kickstarter got?

Rick: There was a moment during the first Maker Faire where the day opened and we had people there, and we put a lot of effort into setting up the booth, and we had no idea what to expect. And the first person trickled in, and they invited friends, and all of a sudden we had an hour-long line, and then we had an hour-long line all day. Going through the amount of hours and stress we went through to get to that point, you have no idea what your confidence level’s going to be at that point. That evening we went out to dinner, and took everybody who came down to help us – it was about 12 people – and we got up and gave a speech to thank everybody who came, and that is probably one of the proudest moments in my life. All these people who believed in you and helped you out - it’s not what we did, but what WE did as an entire group - and it’s something that will always resonate to us a lot.

And when we went into Kickstarter, we decided to launch at 8:00 a.m Eastern time Monday morning, so the people filing into work who are bored have something to spend their money on. So we’re up at 5:00 a.m Pacific time ready to hit the launch button, and we hit the button thinking, “Is there going to be a backer at all?” And a backer came in.

I had inadvertently set the Kickstarter emails to come to my email account, and any time there’s a pledge, or a comment, or a change in a pledge, or anything, I got an email. And my email exploded, and I had the Kickstarter app and you get a ding, and ding-ding-ding-ding was happening. We went out to dinner at Chipotle, and I looked at it before we started in line, and then we sat down and ate dinner and I looked at it again and said, “Oh, we just made $13,000, I should just eat burritos the whole time.”

We went into Kickstarter with the advice we were given, which was that if we hit 25% or 30% in the first few days, we would probably hit our $400,000 target, and we hit our goal in a couple days. It was exciting, but we were so drained mentally; we were driving to another interview and we got a notification that we hit our goal, and it was like, “Ohh, yaaay…”

Jeri: I remember we were driving across the Oakland Bridge and all three of us in the car were like, “Yaay…,” and at that point we’d already done three interviews each day for the first two days.

Rick: And Jeri had been sick for a month including that time. The oddest thing that happened right at the end of the Kickstarter is that about five hours before it ended I developed this weird…almost like if I’d been drinking for two days – that nausea type feeling – and it lasted about 36 hours. And I almost think it was my body saying, “You’ve abused me for hours at a time with stress for the past nine months, and I’m done with that.” And you developed the same thing like a day later.

Jeri: I’ve been through a lot of stressful projects, and this one by far – the Kickstarter process – was the most stressful. The amount of PR that goes into it is incredible.

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Jeri and Rick working on the castAR prototype (photo courtesy of castAR Kickstarter page)

Jess: Can you talk a little bit about your prototyping process?

Jeri: If we go all the way back to Valve software, where the first concept came about, it was an accident that we ran into this property of the retroflective screen. I was working on an optics bench trying to solve issues with near-to-eye displays – that’s where the image goes directly into your eyes – and so I had this projector system with lenses and beam-splitters and stuff, and I was looking into it and accidentally put a beam-splitter in backwards, and instead of projecting into my eye it was projecting into the room. I had all these lenses and I was kind of fiddling with them, thinking, “Why don’t I see anything?” And I hit the focus just right so that it focused across the room onto this piece of material that we had there for another experiment and I saw this beautiful image pop onto the surface and thought, “Well that’s very interesting.” So I went and grabbed the material and I started looking at it, so part of prototyping and developing things is always being open and curious about things and making observations, and you never know when those things will lead you down a really good path.

I suspect that this is going to be a very comfortable experience; it solves some of these near-to-eye issues because the display is actually at a comfortable distance. The way I prototyped it was to put giant projectors on a hat – it was this giant hardhat type thing, we called it the “headcrab,” which was one of the things in [Valve’s] games - and project it out that way. And we proved that we could do a stereoscopic image; I saw a 3-D image and thought, “Good, ok, this is one step closer to being able to have holograms on the table.” I just had this dream of holograms on the table, so we took a webcam and stuck it onto the headcrab, and we did a very crude head-tracking thing, but at first it was really terrible and not responsive at all. So it was these baby steps, and at that point I had a lot of pressure on me to prove that these big projectors could be miniaturized. I actually – for the company – had to go through these hoops I wouldn’t have normally had to, so I intentionally took a sidestep and miniaturized one projector down and made a pair of glasses with one miniature projector on it, just to show the viability of having a small projector. I didn’t know anything about optics - I didn’t have any optics resources, and I wasn’t allowed to get any - so I read a lot of books, I did at a lot of experiments, and I ended up building my own projector just by trial and error, and learned a lot along the way.

And then we left Valve. Up to that point we’d been working on our own hardware tracking system but it wasn’t working when we left Valve. We knew that was the key to our system, so Rick and I hyper-focused for a month on the tracking system and got our first version going. It was kind of funny, I put it together, handed it to Rick to test the software, and he said something like, “This thing’s broken –…"

Rick: The way I had it set up was that I had the camera fixed on my desk, and I had the tracking fiducial on a tripod hanging by its cable – not really a stable environment – and every now and then I would get this weird, spurious data jump, and it took me several days to figure out that Jeri, who sits about ten feet from me, would stomp or tap her foot on the table or the floor, and the vibration went through the floor to the tripod and wiggled that fiducial ever so slightly.

Jeri: At that point we thought, “Holy smokes, we’re picking up vibrations through the floor, this thing is super accurate,” and that’s when we took a step back. We hadn’t even hooked it up to our projection glasses yet, and we hooked it up to a little thumbscrew thing so we could measure the precision and realized, “Oh my god, this thing is out-performing far better than we expected.” We rushed to put it on a pair of glasses, and tried it on and said, “Oh…we’ve just done it.” Everything we tried before that point was just jumpy and no good. I think when the tracking was done, we knew - this is it. We’re going to be able to do this. And then it was just shrinking and testing, shrinking and testing. And now heading forward beyond Kickstarter, we have to focus more on production. The core electronics are there; there are a few bugs we need to work through, but not serious issues. It’s doing tests like using a piece of flex cable to send the data rate down to the displays… it’s just constant baby steps up until the last minute, and at some point (that’s the hard part of engineering that frustrates me at times) you’ve got to pull the plug and say, “I’m done. It’s done. I see that there’s improvements but this is it.”

Thank you Jeri and Rick for your time; we can’t wait to see how the castAR project evolves!

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A LIN Bus Signal Injector

via Hackaday» hardware

LIN bus signal injector

[Zapta] tipped us about his latest project: a LIN bus signal injector. For our unfamiliar readers, the LIN bus is a popular automotive bus that is used to interface with buttons, lights, etc. As [Zapta] was tired of having to press the Sport Mode button of his car each time he turned the ignition on, he thought it’d build the platform shown above to automatically simulate the button press.

The project is based around an ATMega328 and is therefore Arduino IDE compatible (recognized as an Arduino Mini Pro), making firmware customization easy. In the car, it is physically setup as a proxy between the LIN master and the slave (which explains the two 3-wires groups shown in the picture). It is interesting to note that the injection feature can be toggled by using a particular car buttons press sequence. The project is fully open source and a video of the system in action is embedded after the break.

Filed under: Arduino Hacks, hardware

New Product Friday: Just in Case…

via SparkFun Electronics News Posts

We’re back with another round of products for your Friday. This week was have an assortment of different products as well as some demos.

We also did a demo for our new FadeCandy.

That concludes the video portion of our program; let’s take a closer look at our new products.

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We have a bunch of new enclosures for all your goodies this week. Chances are, if you have a board that needs a case, we’ve got what you need. All of these cases are made by the same company that makes the Pi Tin for the Raspberry Pi. They are simple economical cases that give you access to all the inputs and outputs, and don’t require tools to put them together. We have them for the Raspberry Pi Camera Module (in both clear and black), the PiFace (in just clear), the Beaglebone Black (clear and black), the Arduino Yun (clear and black), and the Arduino Uno (clear and black). They are very well thought-out cases with a lot of little features. The price is great too.

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We have a few more new products from Adafruit this week as well. The FadeCandy is an easy way to control NeoPixel LEDs or any of the WS2811/12 variants. Eight outputs line the bottom of the FadeCandy to provide you with a way to support up to 512 LEDs total, assigned to each output in eight strips of 64 LEDs each.

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This is the half-sized Raspberry Pi Perma-Proto Breadboard from Adafruit, a simple solder-able-type bare PCB kit that affords you with the luxury of soldering in your own custom prototype with GPIO connection capabilities to a Raspberry Pi. It comes with a shrouded GPIO header and has power rails and two separate prototyping areas.

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Also for your Pi, this card adapter plugs into the SD socket on a Raspberry Pi and lets you use microSD cards without them sticking out. The adapter is only about 5.5mm thick and can easily fit into most cases that could surround a RPi without needing to remove the case.

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We now have the BMP180 in retail packaging. This was the replacement to the popular BMP085 pressure sensor. The BMP180 offers a pressure measuring range of 300 to 1100 hPa with an accuracy down to 0.02 hPa in advanced resolution mode.

In addition to the products listed above, we also have some new products in our sale category. Be sure to check the category periodically for new additions. You can find some good deals in there from time to time.

As always, thanks for reading, watching, and giving us suggestions of new products to carry. We’ll be back again next week with more new products. See you then!

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Free Circuit Cellar magazine April 2014

via Pololu - New Products

Get a FREE copy of Circuit Cellar magazine’s April issue with your order while supplies last. This offer is only available for orders shipped to USA or Canada. To get your free issue, enter the coupon code CIRCUIT0414 into your shopping cart. The magazine will add 6 ounces to the package weight when calculating your shipping options.

MakerBot Retail | Yale’s Eberhart to Speak in Greenwich

via MakerBot


From Early Adopter to 3D Printing Master
John Eberhart, a lecturer at the Yale School of Architecture, remembers a time when the only tools available to an architecture student were two hands and a lathe. Times have changed.

Join us at the MakerBot Retail Store in Greenwich, CT this Thursday, April 24th and discover how Eberhart is using MakerBot Desktop 3D Printers to change the way students think about architecture. Eberhart will discuss his 15-year career as a professional architect and instructor at the Yale School of Architecture. Click here to register.

Eberhart was always an early adopter. He began his career at Yale as a student of architecture and was the first in his class to use a 3D computer rendering to present his final project. Yale hired Eberhart right out of college, and he got to work making the architecture program one of the most technologically advanced in the country. He even purchased a high-end 3D printer in 1999. However, there was one big obstacle: cost.

“Yale architecture students have to pay for their own building materials, and our earlier 3D printers ran students $200-400 per print,” Eberhart explains. Those prohibitive costs are a thing of the past and Eberhart’s students have made thousands of successful prints since he purchased his first MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printers last year.

MakerBot Replicator 3D Printers Unleash Student Creativity
The ability to 3D print early iterations of a design gives students the opportunity to incorporate greater personality, risk, and creativity into their conceptual drafts. Eberhart says that many students are taking advantage of the broader range of possibilities by letting their imaginations run wild. In the past few years, he’s seen more elaborate lattices, curvy Frank Gehry-esque designs, and far-out concepts than ever before.

Don’t miss John Eberhart’s lecture and Q&A this Thursday at the MakerBot Retail Store located at 72 Greenwich Avenue, Greenwich, CT.

Register here.


Preview the upcoming Maynard desktop

via Raspberry Pi

Some of you will be aware that we’ve been working on a new, more responsive and more modern desktop experience for the Raspberry Pi. We thought you might like an update on where we are with the project.

The chip at the heart of the Raspberry Pi, BCM2835, contains an extremely powerful and flexible hardware video scaler (HVS), which can be used to assemble a stack of windows on the fly for output to the screen. In many ways the HVS resembles the sprite engines you may remember from 8- and 16-bit computers and games consoles from the Commodore 64 onward, with each window treated as a separate translated and scaled “sprite” on top of a fixed background.

The Wayland compositor API gives us a way to present the HVS to applications in a standards-based way. Over the last year we’ve been working with Collabora to implement a custom backend for the Weston reference compositor which uses the HVS to assemble the display. Last year we shipped a technology demonstration of this, and we’ve been working hard since then to improve its stability and performance.

The “missing piece” required before we can consider shipping a Wayland desktop as standard on the Pi is a graphical shell. This is the component that adds task launching and task switching on top of the raw compositor service provided by Wayland/Weston. The LXDE shell we ship with X on the Pi doesn’t support Wayland, while those shells that do (such as GNOME) are too heavyweight to run well on the Pi. We’ve therefore been working with Collabora since the start of the year to develop a lightweight Wayland shell, which we’ve christened Maynard (maintaining the tradition of New England placenames). While it’s some distance from being ready for the prime time, we though we’d share a preview so you can see where we’re going.

Packages for Raspbian are available (this is a work in progress, so you won’t be able to replace your regular Raspbian desktop with this for general use just yet, and you’ll find that some features are slow, and others are missing). Collabra have made a Wiki page with compilation instructions available: and there’s a Git repository you can have a poke around in too.