Read the *Full* Manual

via SparkFun Electronics Blog Posts

Read the full manual. Read the fine manual. Read the flippin' manual.

Whatever explanation you like to use for the popular acronym “RTFM,” the point remains – it’s very important to read the manual. For me, this was an idea handed down by my grandfather and one that was (and continues to be) quite counter-intuitive to my personality type.

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One of the bikes my grandfather built (Skarke is his last name).

My grandfather is a computer engineer who worked for Hewlett-Packard for many years (before that spending time in the military as a radio operator). He is the very definition of meticulous. Whether he’s working on one of his hobbies like live steam locomotives, gunsmithing, photography, archery, building custom road bikes (see above), or just trying to fix something around the house, his degree of planning is truly an art form. I have always been in awe of his ability to sit down and just figure something out. It’s remarkable.

Part of this ability stems from his keen desire to just understand things – which is where reading the manual comes in to play. I will always remember as a kid, when I would get a present that had a manual, he would insist we sit down and go through the manual from cover to cover before even starting to unbox it.

Today, I still have to resist the urge to just start ripping into things as soon as I get them, but reading the manual has proved invaluable over the years.

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I had a bit of fun with the Heaterizer manual

A few days back, OpenSource.com posted an article called “RTFM? How to Write a Manual Worth Reading”. As one of SparkFun’s content producers (and an avid believe in RTFM), this struck a chord with me. It’s worth a read if you ever need to write a manual of your own, or just want to get some insight into the thought process behind writing a manual. It’ll also give you some appreciation for a really well-written manual – I know it did for me.

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Two factor authentication safe deposit box

via Raspberry Pi

github 2fa dialog

A skilled hacker attempts to crack 2FA

Securing your digital life with two-factor authentication (2FA) is pretty common nowadays. A password alone just doesn’t hack it. (Or does it?) Typically, 2FA on the web requires a one-time code, sent to your phone, as well as your password to log in. Other systems may use factors such as biometrics (e.g. fingerprints) or hardware dongles. (My own bank requires me to use a silly little (very losable) card reader every time I want to transfer a fiver.)

Safety deposit box with two-factor authentication

Safety deposit box with two-factor authentication

Thinking inside the box

Pablo Carranza Vélez decided to apply the principle of 2FA to a physical object, a Raspberry Pi controlled safe deposit box. To get into the box you need both your personal entry code and the code sent to your phone. This then triggers a solenoid to unlock the box.

Lots of cool stuff going on

The box uses resin.io and Authy API. Full details, schematics and code can be found on  Pablo’s hackster.io page. It’s a simple concept but there’s lots going on in terms of hardware and software—Authy, resin.io, MongoDB, node.js, Bootstrap, breadboard circuits, solenoids—to make a great project and an interesting proof of concept. It’s also an excellent introduction to the contemporary technologies used and there’s even some computer science with a nod to state machines.

Opening the resin safebox from Pablo Carranza Vélez on Vimeo.

A pre-emptive note thing

“Just hold on this minute!” shouts a completely imaginary concerned reader. “You could (literally) brute force it with a sledge hammer/ hack it with a giant Wile E. Coyote magnet/ steal the building it was attached to / drill a hole in it and send in a tiny monkey to feebly tug at the solenoid.” Well yes, you could. To all of them.

Our advice is: do not make one of these to store your ultra-rare U2 Panini stickers in as they might get nicked (my brother swears to this day that it wasn’t him who drew NHS specs on Bono in red biro). The 2FA safe box is a thought provoking Raspberry Pi / IoT project, not the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street, lawks! (I’ve always wanted to write that, it’s a cracking name :))

Solenoid control breadboard prototype

Solenoid control breadboard prototype

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Open Source in Business

via OSHUG

An evening of talks exploring different commercial aspects of open source — hardware and software — including crowdfunding an open hardware microenterprise, navigating licensing issues, trade associations, and building a business on free software.

Hosted in conjunction with the BCS Open Source Specialist Group.

Open Source Consortium - an introduction

OSC is a trade association which represents companies and individuals delivering solutions and advice based on Open Standards and Free & Open Source Software.

As a trade association, OSC gives its members greater influence than they could achieve alone by providing a collective voice, and by supporting initiatives such as the implementation of open standards in public sector IT, the inclusion of open standards in school curricula and levelling the gender balance in the industry. At the core of its vision, OSC campaigns for the use of Open Standards in all aspects of public and commercial life, promoting the unique advantages of Free & Open Source Software and the independent expertise offered by members.

Irenie White has been Chair of the Open Source Consortium since 2013 after working with the organisation for 3 years. This year she was appointed as MD of credativ, a free software consulting and services company, after running operations there for 6 years. As a STEMNET Ambassador and through her work with Advancing Women in IT, Irenie is committed to supporting bottom-up growth in the wider technology industry. Outside of work her family comes first, music a close second.

Notes from the first three months of an Open Source Microenterprise

—How I learned to stop worrying and love the Kickstarter

Starting an Open Source Hardware business is lot of work, even if you've spent 11 years running a different one. There are all sorts of things you've forgotten about and there are a whole host of new challenges as you try to do things the right way from the start. None of it is easy, but all of it beats having a 9-5.

Benjamin Gray is a proponent of Open Hardware, founder of MeArm, an open source robot arm manufacturer and phenoptix a recently retired maker business. Ben graduated from the University of Exeter with a chemistry degree and a fledgling phenoptix before moving to Nottingham to complete a PhD in theoretical physical chemistry. With 11 years of Maker business experience under his belt he's set out on a new adventure manufacturing the MeArm, a pocket sized robot arm.

But I didn't mean *that*

Accidents and incidents exploring relationships between corporations and the licenses they use to share, from Creative Commons to GPL.

Paul Beech used his graphic and web design skills to co-found Pimoroni, a maker company that does Raspberry Pi and Arduino stuff. Code: open source. Hardware: less so.

Giving it away: Free Software as a business strategy

Bytemark Hosting has been involved in building, fixing and publishing Free Software since its foundation in 2002. Back then, free Software was seen as an unquestionable part of a winning business strategy for big firms, but within years firms that bet too much on it were brought down to earth. Matthew Bloch, Bytemark's MD, narrates his own company's successes, profitability and changes in strategy around this important social movement.

Matthew Bloch is MD and co-founder of Bytemark Hosting, one of the UK's oldest and best-respected hosting and cloud providers, with its own data centre in York and staff of 23. Previous to Bytemark Matthew worked as a programmer on several Java virtual machines, and the PC emulator for Acorn computers.

Compered by:

Gareth Halfacree is a freelance technology journalist and the co-author of the Raspberry Pi User Guide, alongside project co-founder Eben Upton. He also writes the maker-centric Hobby Tech column for Custom PC Magazine, as well as numerous features in magazines including PC Pro, Linux User & Developer, Micro Mart, Computeractive and others.

Formerly a system administrator working in the education sector, Gareth's passion for open source projects has followed him from one career to another and he can often be seen reviewing, documenting or even contributing to projects including GNU/Linux, LibreOffice, Fritzing and Arduino. He is also the creator of the Sleepduino and Burnduino open hardware projects and numerous small software tools, all released under permissive licences.

Note: Please aim to arrive by 17:45 as the first talk will start at 18:00 prompt.

May Caption Contest!

via SparkFun Electronics Blog Posts

We’re doing our best to de-Monday the vibes around here, so let’s celebrate with a crowd favorite - the monthly caption contest! You know the rules and regulations, but here they are again:

  • Leave your funniest clean caption to the photo in the comments section below. We reserve the right to delete captions that we deem inappropriate. We’re not too stingy, but try to keep it moderately PG-13.
  • Captions submitted any other way besides in the comment section will not be accepted! That means do not use the feedback form!
  • Captions will be accepted from the moment this post goes live until Friday, May 22nd at 10 a.m. Mountain Time.
  • A crack team of humor experts will pick the winner and we will announce it next week.

And here it is:

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Get to it! This time around, the prize is two of our favorite new products - a handsome, shiny FreeSoC2 and a special Anouk edition Pink Teensy!

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Manipulate your voice with Mimic Monster and Intel Edison

via Arduino Blog

Monster_post2

It’s time to introduce you to another great tutorial made for  Intel Edison.  Mimic Monster is a project allowing you to record soundbites and playing them back manipulated.
In this step-by-step project, everyone who is interested in audio features and mods , can find useful information on how to manipulate audio files and create amazing effects from your voice.

Grawr! It’s a mimic monster! What did you say? Grawr! It’s the mimic monster!

Having landed on Earth, this little alien needs you to teach it how to speak. Speak into its audio antenna and it will repeat your words back. Press a button and change its pitch. In this tutorial, you will learn in more detail, how to work with a USB sound card, a microphone, and a speaker.


Before you begin, make sure you’ve followed through Intel® Edison Getting Started guide, and our previous tutorial, the Intel® Edison mini-breakout Getting Started Guide.

Monster_post1

 Check the other tutorials of the series.

Snapping Stills with the Red TED Letters

via Raspberry Pi

TED2015 Photo Booth

I’m a bit of a TED talk fiend, so I was delighted to find out that a few Raspberry Pis had a hand in letting TEDsters capture their photo along with the iconic red TED letters at TED2015 in Vancouver. To explain:

A funny thing happens at the end of every TED — after the show wraps, first one brave person, and then duos and groups, rush the stage to get their picture taken with the red TED letters. So at TED2015, our tech team thought, why not bring the letters out to the conference floor and let everyone play? In a nights-and-weekends project, our engineers built a self-service photobooth that encouraged all TEDsters — attendees, staff and more — to strike a pose. By the end of the conference, 1,296 photos had been taken with the booth.

“A lot of people wanted to get jump shots,” says software engineer Joshua Warchol, who helped conceptualize and build the booth. “Some groups would spend 10 minutes trying to get the perfect aerial moment. And I also had not anticipated that people would feel an unstoppable compulsion to climb the letters. We had to get them repainted mid-week because of nicks and scuffs.”

We see a lot of people implementing great photo booths with Raspberry Pi, but what I especially like about this one is that it’s activated when a group scans their NFC badges. After the photo is taken, it automatically emails it to the group that badged in. Of course, the whole operation comes together with a lot of different off-the-shelf technologies working in concert. Along with the Raspberry Pis, there’s a tablet interface, Adafruit NFC reader, a camera, and a BlinkStick LED module to indicate the camera’s position and status. Luckily for us, Joshua posted all the details about how he pulled this off, including the code. Thanks, Joshua!

Interface

Camera1

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Arduino Announces Manufacturing Partnership with Adafruit

via Arduino Blog

ArduinoAdafruit
Today, May 16th, 2015 Massimo Banzi, CEO and co-founder of Arduino, announced at Maker Faire during the “State of Arduino” keynote that Adafruit is manufacturing Arduino’s for Arduino.cc in New York, New York, USA! 

Limor “Ladyada” Fried said:

“Adafruit and Arduino.cc have been working together on open-source software and hardware for almost 10 years in a variety of ways, this is expanded partnership and manufacturing is part of our collective goal to make the world a better place through the sharing of ideas, code and hardware with our communities –

We’re currently manufacturing the Arduino  Gemma with Arduino.cc right here in New York City at the Adafruit factory, it instantly became a top seller and we’re looking forward to bringing our manufacturing expertise and processes to start shipping Arduinos right here from the USA as soon as possible!”

Take a look at this video interview of Massimo by Make directly from Maker Faire Bay Area and containing other important announcements:

Celebrate with us a decade of Making at Maker Faire Bay Area

via Arduino Blog

MF15_Flier_0215

The Maker Faire Bay Area is celebrating 10 years of making! The weekend is starting  and we’ll be there celebrating t0o. We invite makers, artists, designers, teachers, educators and passionate DIYers to visit our team at the Arduino booth (#2223) right next to Atmel! We’ll be showcasing cool demos of Arduino Create, Arduino Materia 101, Arduino at Heart Primo and you’ll be able to have a close look to some of the new boards like Arduino Gemma.

On Saturday at 12:30PM  Massimo Banzi will be on the Center Stage for his traditional keynote on the State of Arduino. You are welcome to attend and learn about the latest developments in Arduino open-source microcontroller ecosystem.

If you are coming with kids, don’t miss Teach Physical computing to kids workshop, with sessions running the whole weekend!

IMG_5821-red

 

 

New Product Friday: Free Socks!

via SparkFun Electronics Blog Posts

Welcome back everyone! Although we don’t have a lot of new products this week, the ones we have are pretty important. Also, we have a classic Friday New Product Post Video as well as a demo. It’s a good week! We were really busy last week and didn’t get a chance to do a proper demo for the MG2639 Cellular Shield. This week Shawn gave it the proper demo it deserves.

Haha, classic Shawn.

FreeSoC2 Development Board - PSoC5LP

DEV-13229
$ 49.95

The FreeSoC2 is the big talk of the town today. The PSoC (Programmable System on a Chip) brings together features of the programmable devices and microcontroller-type systems on chips into one package. By placing a programmable fabric between the peripherals and the pins, the FreeSoC2 allows any function to be routed to any pin! Moreover, the on-board PSoC includes a number of programmable blocks which allow the user to define arbitrary digital and analog circuits for their specific application.

Quite simply, YOU get to tell the pins what they are, not the microcontroller. They’re your pins, right? You tell them what they should be. In the following weeks we’ll be coming out with more tutorials and demos showing you how to use and configure all the hardware that’s onboard. For now, check out the FreeSoC2 introduction.

Pink Teensy 3.1 (Anouk Edition)

DEV-13635
$ 19.95

The Pink Teensy 3.1 (Anouk Edition) brings a 32 bit ARM Cortex microprocessor into the mix so you can do some serious number crunching. This special edition Teensy is only available for a limited time while supplies last to help promote Anouk Wipprecht’s work with the Teensy boards. This board is a one-time only product - when it’s gone, it’s gone. Get them while they last!

Photon ecosystem

Earlier this week, we had a couple cool announcements about the Photon WiFi module. The first was in regards to Spark IO (of Spark Core fame) changing their name to Particle. The second was to announce our newest product line for the new Particle Photon Module. We have a whole host of new products (currently available for pre-order) all compatible with the Particle Photon. We expect these to ship sometime in June.

Well, that’s all I have for this week. Be sure to check back next week, we’re not done with new products quite yet. Next week we have even more new stuff up our sleeves (boards are sharp and pointy) so be sure to check back and see what we’ve got. Thanks for reading and see you then.

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Modulo: a simple, modular solution for building electronic devices

via Raspberry Pi

We came across the excellent Modulo on Kickstarter recently. Modulo is a “modular solution for building powerful electronic devices” and consists of a cluster of smart modules such as sensors, motor drivers and displays that slide into a solid base unit.

modulo

It abstracts all the jumbliness of building electronics from scratch and lets you concentrate on concepts, design and programming cool stuff.

Once you’ve built your project you can program it in Python on the Pi. It also plays nice with Arduino and Spark (now Particle).

Poseidon, a robotic landscape watering system. Using Modulo and a Pi it delivers just the right amount of water based on the weather forecast.

Poseidon, a robotic landscape watering system. Using Modulo and a Pi it delivers just the right amount of water based on the weather forecast.

The Raspberry Pi crew met the Modulo team at MakerCon this week and were, of course, challenged to Modulo Pong. Eben won 26-14 (I completely made that up based on a recurring dream in which the score is always the same and Eben is dressed as a giant ping pong ball.)

Modulo controlled Pong

Modulo controlled Pong

We like Modulo a lot. It’s smart, funky and a great way to get into digital creativity. Also, it has “Knob kit” and a tea brewing robot and it would be very un-British of us on both counts if we didn’t let that influence us.

Modulo has already reached its primary Kickstarter goal but is now aiming for sufficient funding to make Modulo a sustainable concern. Take a look if, like us, you’d like to see this happen.

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