Opensourcing imagination and sharing knowledge in Nepal

via Arduino Blog

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David Cuartielles held a worshop at Campus Party Berlin introducing  Arduino and the cool things you can do with it. Some months later, on of the students, Sanjeet Raj Pandey, wrote him to reveal that the event was a life changing moment.

After that Sajeet decided  to share his knowledge and experience organising workshops in a rural city called Janakpur in Nepal. In that occasion a 100 participants got introduced to Arduino. They learnt how to blink LEDs, work with a temperature sensor, light sensor, ultrasound sensor and also to make a DIY Arduino:

Most of it was financed by myself and a bit of donation from Telecommunication department -Technical University of Berlin and Berlin Promotion Agency.

I like to make things which are real and can be put to work for society . Making things, one just cannot see but also touch is awesome.

Hope you will share Janakpur (Nepal) as one more place with Arduino. I would be keeping up pace and will be doing more such projects, workshops, seminars, remote sessions, etc for students in Nepal.

These are some pictures from the workshops:

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Join Us for Costume Hacking!

via SparkFun Electronics Blog Posts

Are you interested in taking part in the first series of classes offered in the brand new SparkFun building? Have you always wanted to have the best costume in the neighborhood? Then this is the workshop series for you! Introducing Costume Hacking Parts One, Two, and Three.

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The best fairy wings really twinkle.

In these workshops, you’ll explore the LilyTwinkle, the ProtoSnap LilyPad Development Simple, and learn all kinds of useful tips and tricks for taking your etextiles projects to the next level! Part one will take place on Sept. 6, 2014 with part two on the 13th and part three finishing up on the 20th.

This is certain to be an awesome time and we are expecting to see some very exciting and inspirational costumes! Hope you can join us!

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YRS Festival of Code 2014 – around the UK and at Pi Towers

via Raspberry Pi

Young Rewired State is a network of coders around the world. Every year an event is held in the UK to give young people the opportunity to collaborate while working on a project to make something interesting with open data, and to learn skills while exposed to new technologies.

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The Festival of Code is a week where volunteer-led centres around the country play host to local kids (18 and under) who work in teams, guided by mentors from industry, to create a software application, a web app, a game, a phone app or even a hardware hack that utilises an open data set to provide a solution to a real world problem. It takes place next week: 28 July – 3 August 2014.

Participants spend most of the week at their local centre where they’re introduced to each other and to the mentors, they’re shown some data sets they have available, they get in to teams and start working on their project. Throughout the week they are introduced to new technologies and given short talks from mentors and other volunteers to help them find the right tech to solve their problems. On Friday all centres travel to Plymouth for the weekend where they present their projects.

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Last year the overall winners of the Festival of Code were Tom Hartley and Louis Brent-Carpenter, whose hack was a service to provide navigational and other information to cyclists using a series of handlebar-mounted LEDs – powered by a Raspberry Pi – known as PiCycle.

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Alongside Best in show there are other categories: Best example of codeBest example of design, Code a better country, and the Should exist award. I’d just like to point out that the winners of last year’s Best example of code were mentored by me in Manchester: contag.io.

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Here’s a video showing my centre’s experience:

Come join us for the best week of your summer! Meet up at local centres, be mentored, introduced to open data, build awesome games, apps, hardware and websites, and show off your hack at the weekend in Plymouth!

from the Festival of Code poster – download from festivalofco.de

If you’re 18 or under and want to participate, sign up at festivalofco.de now. We’re running a centre at Pi Towers in Cambridge – so if you’re local to us you’ll be assigned to our centre and you’ll be lucky enough to spend a week at our offices!

If you’re over 18 (even quite a lot over 18) you can sign up as a mentor - centres can always use an extra pair of hands, and you’ll have a great time!

Oh, and Stephen Fry is a fan:

There are also YRS events in Berlin, New York CitySingapore and elsewhere!

Pololu Stamped Aluminum L-Bracket for NEMA 17 Stepper Motors

via Pololu - New Products

This black anodized aluminum bracket lets you securely mount typical NEMA 17-size stepper motors to your project. The bracket features several slots and holes for a wide variety of mounting solutions, and four M3×6mm screws are included for securing the motor to the bracket.

Art Showcase: Escape III

via Raspberry Pi

Hey all! It’s Rachel again. I have another amazing Art Showcase for you. This time Neil Mendoza explains how he and Anthony Goh brought these animated bird sculptures to life with the help of a Raspberry Pi, some Arduinos and lots of old mobile phone parts.

I really love this one XD – read right to the bottom if you want to see the birds in action. Over to Neil…

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Mobile phones are ubiquitous in today’s society, but often their use has unintended consequences, intruding into and changing social situations, distancing people in in real life by dragging them into the digital world.  They are also a massive source of electronic waste.  A few years ago this inspired Anthony Goh and me (Neil Mendoza) to create an installation that takes cast-off devices and suggests an alternate reality in which these unwanted phones and noises become something beautiful, giving them a new life by creating an experience that people can share together in person.  The Barbican recently asked commissioned us to create a new flock of birds for their awesome Digital Revolution exhibition.  Here’s a little tech breakdown of how they work.

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In previous versions, the birds were independent, but this time we decided to have a Raspberry Pi at the heart of the installation controlling them all.  This gave us the most flexibility to animate them independently or choreographed them together.

The exhibition is travelling so we wanted the installation to be as easy to set up as possible to so we decided to make each bird talk to the Raspberry Pi over ethernet.  This means that communications are reliable over long distances and each bird is self-contained and only needs a power and data cable connected to it.

The next challenge to overcome was to figure out how to call a bird.  In previous incarnations, each bird included a functioning mobile phone that you could call.  However, as there is no reception in the gallery, we decided to include a different era of phone junk and make people call the birds with a rotary phone from the 1940s.  The system looks something like this…

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To make the phone feel phoney, the receiver is connected to a serial mp3 player, controlled by an Arduino that plays the appropriate audio depending on the state of the installation, e.g. dialling tone, bird song etc.  The Arduino also reads numbers that from the rotary dial and if one of the birds’ numbers is dialled it sends it over ethernet to the Raspberry Pi.

The iBirdBrain app running on the Raspberry Pi is written in openFrameworks.  When iBirdBrain receives a number from the phone, it wakes the appropriate bird up and tells it to move randomly.  It then picks an animation created using James George’s ofxTimeline and plays it with some added randomness.  The current state of each part of the bird is sent every frame over ethernet as a three byte message:

Byte 1: Type, e.g. ‘s’ for servo

Byte 2: Data 1, e.g. servo index

Byte 3: Data 2, e.g. servo angle

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So the status of the app could be seen quickly without needing to SSH into the Pi we decided to use a PiTFT screen.  To begin with we rendered the OpenGL output of the app to the PiTFT screen, however as the screen runs at 20 FPS this created an unnecessary bottleneck.  In the end, we decided to set the screen up so that it would render the console output from the openFrameworks app.  After that, the app ran at a solid 60 FPS.  Outputting a '\r' character to the console goes back to the beginning of the line, so I used this to create a constantly updating console output that didn’t scroll, e.g.:

cout << ‘\r’ << statusMessage;

The birds themselves each contain an Arduino.  They speak ethernet using an ENC28J60 ethernet module and this library.  To start with I used TCP but running a TCP stack along with all the other stuff we were asking the bird to do, proved a little too much for its little brain so we moved to using UDP as it requires less memory and processor cycles.  An ID for each bird was programmed into the EEPROM of the Arduino.  That way, there only needed to be one firmware for all the birds, the birds themselves would then set all of their data, IP address, peripherals etc based on their ID.

Each bird has multiple parts that are controlled by the Arduino, servos for the wings and heads, piezo sounders, Neopixels and a screen for the face.

Escape III is on display at Digital Revolution until 14th September at the Barbican in London – I’m so excited, I’m going next week!

If you can’t make it, you can see the birds here:

Two steampunk espresso machines running on Arduino Mega

via Arduino Blog

vidastech on taste.kr

There’s a team of designers based in Korea who are passionate about coffee machines. Their name is Vidastech and recently shared with us two new hand-assembled machines prototyped  with Arduino Mega called Hexagon and Revolucion.

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Take a look at the gallery for more pictures:

 

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E21 Conference in Burlington

via SparkFun Electronics Blog Posts

Vermont is my adopted home state. I actually grew up about a mile into New York but I call VT “home” most of the time. I use it as a laboratory for ideas that might work in sharing the outrageous stuff that SparkFun does. My parents live in a quiet little town about an hour south of Burlington and when I visit, I try to run a workshop, library program or hang out at the Champlain Maker Faire.

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Through the years I’ve managed to make a lot friends in VT. We’ve run great programs and I seem to be constantly scheming what to do next in the Green Mountain State. You wouldn’t think that the home to Ben and Jerry’s, Phish, and a hotbed of organic and small farm culture would be a tech center but, in an interesting way, it is. Burlington has a thriving startup culture and the University of Vermont is doing a good deal of tech through its engineering school. Vermont is the home to the first patent and in the new world they are going all out for open-source.

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My friend, Mara, and I sat on the edge of Lake Champlain last Fall at Champlain Maker Faire after finishing a rousing set of workshops aimed at VT librarians and as we marveled at the beautiful fall weather and gazed at the Adirondacks the question came up of, “Well, what do we do now?” I said I’d always dreamed of putting educators and librarians in the same room to explore the crossovers in how communities deal with the changing nature of information. The E21 Conference was born on the lakeshore that day.

For the last eight months we’ve worked to put together a great event and it’s almost here. We have a great mix of people coming from all over the country. We are very pleased to have teamed up with Meg Backus and Nate Hill from Chattanooga Public Library’s Fourth Floor. A few of SparkFun’s Education people will be running workshops - Derek Runberg will be working with Processing and Arduino and Angela Sheehan will be spreading the good word on Etextiles. The talented and dynamic Beverly Ball from Denver Academy will be running her special brand of mischief as well as Jeff Goldenson from the Harvard Library Innovation Lab.

We aim to create a conference around what happens when files become read/write instead of read only. The idea is to have an open dialog with attendees while allowing them to learn/hack/create. With guiding questions like “how do we build community networks that push a new literacy (coding, building circuits and generating content from digital sources)?” we feel like the two days will be very evocative.

We are very excited to be working with Champlain College. Our opening reception will be at Generator and we’ll look forward to meeting everyone then. If you might like to attend there are a few seats left and registration closes the night of Thursday, July 24th. Hope you can join us!

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Adafruit CC3000 Wi-Fi Shield for Arduino with Onboard Ceramic Antenna

via Pololu - New Products

This Arduino shield from Adafruit features TI’s CC3000 Wi-Fi module with an onboard ceramic antenna, a microSD card socket, and a designated prototyping area. The CC3000 uses SPI for communication instead of UART, so the communication speed is not limited to a fixed baud rate. It supports 802.11b/g, open/WEP/WPA/WPA2 security, TKIP, and AES, and a built-in TCP/IP stack with a BSD socket interface supports TCP and UDP in client and server mode with up to 4 concurrent socket connections. An Arduino library and example sketches make it easy to get started.

Adafruit CC3000 Wi-Fi Breakout Board with Onboard Ceramic Antenna

via Pololu - New Products

This breakout board from Adafruit features TI’s CC3000 Wi-Fi module on a compact, breadboard-compatible PCB with an onboard ceramic antenna. The CC3000 uses SPI for communication instead of UART, so the communication speed is not limited to a fixed baud rate. It supports 802.11b/g, open/WEP/WPA/WPA2 security, TKIP, and AES, and a built-in TCP/IP stack with a BSD socket interface supports TCP and UDP in client and server mode with up to 4 concurrent socket connections. An Arduino library and example sketches make it easy to get started.

Reverse Engineering Unobtanium

via Hackaday» hardware

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If you listen to [Bil Herd] and the rest of the Commodore crew, you’ll quickly realize the folks behind Commodore were about 20 years ahead of their time, with their own chip foundries and vertical integration that would make the modern-day Apple jealous. One of the cool chips that came out of the MOS foundry was the 6500/1 – used in the keyboard controller of the Amiga and the 1520 printer/plotter. Basically a microcontroller with a 6502 core, the 6500/1 has seen a lot of talk when it comes to dumping the contents of the ROM, and thus all the code on the Amiga’s keyboard controller and the font for the 1520 plotter – there were ideas on how to get the contents of the ROM, but no one tried building a circuit.

[Jim Brain] looked over the discussions and recently gave it a try. He was completely successful, dumping the ROM of a 6500/1, and allowing for the preservation and analysis of the 1520 plotter, analysis of other devices controlled by a 6500/1, and the possibility of the creation of a drop-in replacement for the unobtanium 6500/1.

The datasheet for the 6500/1 has a few lines describing the test mode, where applying +10 VDC to the /RES line forces the machine to make memory fetches from the external pins. The only problem was, no body knew how to make this work. Ideas were thrown around, but it wasn’t until [Jim Brain] pulled an ATMega32 off the top of his parts bin did anyone create a working circuit.

The code for the AVR puts the 6500/1 into it’s test mode, loads a single memory location from ROM, stores the data in PORTA, where the AVR reads it and prints it out over a serial connection to a computer. Repeat for every location in the 6500/1 ROM, and you have a firmware dump. This is probably the first time this code has been seen in 20 years.

Now the race is on to create a drop-in replacement of what is basically a 6502-based microcontroller. That probably won’t be used for much outside of the classic and retro scene, but at least it would be a fun device to play around with.


Filed under: classic hacks, hardware

3DR Takes on the SparkFun AVC

via SparkFun Electronics Blog Posts

Today’s post is a guest blog from our friends over at 3D Robotics.


3DR’s creative team put this video together to capture the spirit of the 2014 SparkFun Autonomous Vehicle Competition, held this year at the Boulder Reservoir in Boulder, Colorado. This year was different in that, besides being bigger and better than ever, for the first time SparkFun opened the AVC to an unlimited number of entrants—“If you can build it, you can bring it” was the mantra. That incantation conjured forth a huge range of participants: 1,300 people, some as young as 12 and 13, came out to the Boulder Reservoir, where over 90 teams from around the world competed!

The record attendance offered yet more proof of the enormous cultural pivot that drone technology is making. And while the draw to AVC is ostensibly the fun of competition between the teams, there was a sense that the real goal is extrinsic: “The contestants all gathered at their wooden workbenches under this big-top tent,” said 3DR’s Lon Breedlove. “I overheard one of them, he’d busted a motor at the last minute and needed a new one. And his neighbor, who was just about to compete against him, reached into his bag and gave him one!”

Learn more about the AVC here.

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A new way of learning and transmitting knowledge with Arduino

via Arduino Blog

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The training program Creative Technologies in the Classroom (CTC) is a 3-month  educative program designed by David Cuartielles and Arduino Verkstad in collaboration with Fundación Telefónica, Fundación la Caixa and Ultra-lab.

It’s a toolbox comprised of more than 20 hands-on, easily assembled electronic experiments; an online source for course materials and documentation tools; and a collaborative space where teachers can meet with a moderator to share their findings and ask technical questions.

It aims to train teachers of Technology and students to creative technologies, which means technologies empowering young students to make devices, machines, art-works, experiments etc., enable them to learn doing things and to express themselves as creators.

Teachers are trained in programming with Processing and prototyping with Arduino, in order to become a mentor and help all along the program the students, following the different step-by-step experiments of the program.

The beneficial aspect of this program is not only about acquiring new skills and technical knowledge but mainly on experimenting a different methodology of learning and transmitting knowledge, based on sharing information,  questions,  doubts, and resolving them together by experimenting.

This project has been successfully implemented in the Region of Castilla La Mancha and Madrid involving 50 enthusiastic teachers,  around 1200 youngsters who were able to invent, create and exhibit their project made with Arduino.

See the video below for details (in spanish):

Thanks to the support of Fundación La Caixa, the same program will be held in 50 colleges of Barcelona and a new edition, with the renewed support of Fundación Telefónica, will begin again in Madrid in 2015.

Solar-powered Raspberry Pi school

via Raspberry Pi

I heard about plans for a new Indiegogo fundraiser last week. It launches today, and it really deserves your attention. (And, dare I say it, some of your money.)

Seventy-seven percent of schools in South Africa don’t have any computers – and 40% don’t even have access to electricity. United Twenty-13, a South African non-profit organisation, is looking to bootstrap a new model of solar-powered school computer lab, with the intent of scaling and reproducing the lab all over South Africa.

Taskeen Adam, one of the founders, says: “The fact that you are reading this online means that you already have more computer knowledge than the average South African public school student.” It’s a situation she and her colleagues at United Twenty-13 are making serious efforts to change, with the help of a certain small, affordable, low-power computer.

They’ve already raised sufficient funds for the lab design, for teacher training and for a prefabricated building to house it all in. But they’re looking for additional money to buy hardware (all the software they’re using is open source) – not just the Raspberry Pis and accompanying peripherals, but the expensive solar panels too.

Solar-powered learning

A secure, temperature-regulated classroom for 42 learners

Projects like this, democratising access to computing and access to information, are key in making improvements to local and national economies; and they’re key in empowering and changing the lives of the young people who are exposed to them. We wish the Solar Powered Raspberry Pi School project all the success in the world – you can donate to the project at their Indiegogo. If you’d like a full project brief before you consider donating, you can find that too at www.solarpoweredlearning.com.

A-Star 32U4 Mini SV

via Pololu - New Products

The A-Star 32U4 Mini SV is a programmable module based on the ATmega32U4 from Atmel. Unlike competing products, it has an onboard switching step-down regulator that allows it to be powered efficiently from a 5 V to 36 V supply. This compact 1.9″ × 0.7″ board breaks out all 26 of the microcontroller’s I/O pins (of which 7 can be used as PWM outputs and 12 as analog inputs), and loading programs is made easier by a Micro-USB interface and a preloaded Arduino-compatible bootloader.