Meet my Pixel Pals from Soldering Sunday

via Raspberry Pi

I’m always on the lookout for fun physical computing gadgets to teach young people basic electronics, soldering skills, and of course how to code. If they work with a Raspberry Pi then I get even more excited. Some time last year I happened across a Kickstarter campaign that ticked all my STEAM boxes from a small company called Soldering Sunday established by a group of adventurous makers from Monroe, New Jersey, USA. Their campaign was called CHIP – an electronics kit with character and immediately grabbed my attention. Thankfully I was not alone and the campaign was successfully kickstarted.

Thanks to @solderingsunday for my #chip kit. I upgraded his leds to multi colour!

A video posted by Miss Philbin (@missphilbin) on

Chip is part of a group of ‘Pixel Pals’ designed to grab the attention of young makers, encouraging them to explore new skills and to play with technology in a new way. He consists of a circuit board, two LEDs, two resistors and some connecting pins. I had to build him myself before connecting him to the Raspberry Pi GPIO pins and programming his eyes with Python. I enjoyed the activity so much that Chip now accompanies me everywhere.

File_002 File_001 Carrie Annd with Pixel Pal Chip

In fact, he has made many a long trip. He appeared in Australia for PyCon as part of my Physical Computing talk to teachers and has even featured in the background of a BBC Technobabble episode back home in Cambridge! I’ve been worrying that during my travels, Chip might be getting a little lonely. Lucky for me then that Soldering Sunday have launched their latest Pixel Pal, called Buzz!

Buzz – A New Pixel Pal

Soldering Sunday is raising funds for Buzz – A New Pixel Pal on Kickstarter! Buzz is an easy and fun educational kit that builds STEAM / STEM skills and grows from a project to a friend you can program.

The latest Pixel Pal kit includes a Buzz kit (like Chip but with a buzzer), a Pixel Power Kit, and a Pixel Pal Pi adapter kit. Its creators say:

When you plug Buzz into a Raspberry Pi or an Arduino, you can control his eyes and his sounds with programming. Buzz is an excellent way to get kids involved in Computer Science and take part in the Hour of Code initiative. We already have Arduino and Raspberry Pi tutorials online for Chip and with your support we will have the Buzz tutorials available shortly.

Please help to support the Buzz Kickstarter campaign so that I have more toys to play with. You won’t be disappointed!

The post Meet my Pixel Pals from Soldering Sunday appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

DIY 110v temperature controlled soldering station

via Dangerous Prototypes


Mike Doughty over at PCBSmoke shared his DIY 110v temperature controlled soldering station in the project log forum:

This post shows how to build a do it yourself 110 volt soldering station. It is a step by step guide that shows how to convert a regular plug-in soldering iron into a temperature controlled unit.
It is an easy project that is inexpensive to make and requires only basic skills to build. It is made from off the shelf parts that can be obtained from online suppliers plus a few parts from a local hardware store. It is inexpensive to build plus it makes a shop tool that is on par with some commercially available units.
A thermocouple was inserted into the soldering iron at the rear of the heating element and the power cord and AC plug were replaced with a flexible multi-conductor cord and 4-pin DIN connector.

Project info at PCB Smoke site.  Via the forum.

Check out the video after the break.

NoCo Mini Maker Faire is coming!

via SparkFun Electronics Blog Posts

One of our favorite things to do is load up a bunch of SparkFunions and electronics to play with and hang out with as many of you as possible. This weekend (Oct. 10-11) is the NoCo Mini Maker Faire in Loveland, CO, and we’ll be there, with safety glasses on. If you’re in the Colorado area, be sure to come by and say hello!

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The Faire goes from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday at the Rocky Mountain Center for Innovation and Technology, and both days will be full of more fun, interactive activites than you can shake a soldering iron at - over 150,000 square feet with hands-on indoor & outdoor exhibits and interactive activities including robotics, drones, electronics, music, great speakers, games, food, and over 130 makers hosting demos, including a full-scale SparkFun soldering booth where you can assemble one of our BadgerHack boards to take with you!

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This year’s Maker Faire also has a special kick-off event on Friday, October 9: Makers After Dark. The event will host at least 20 craft distilleries offering drinks and cocktails, as well as a bevy of makers to showcase their skills, so you can enjoy your adult beverage with a side of fire, robots, and lasers. Grab tickets today before they sell out!

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And speaking of tickets, you can get a discount on yours with the promo code SparkFun. See you this weekend!

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World Maker Faire New York 2015

via Raspberry Pi

If you can believe it, it’s been four years since Raspberry Pi’s first appearance at World Maker Faire New York in Queens. These days, when we go to Maker Faire, we aren’t only introducing people to Raspberry Pi for the first time. We also want to show something new to those of you who know us well. And at this year’s event, we had a lot of shiny new gear to show off.

The Maker Faire booth crew (L-R) Roger, Matt, Eben, Philip, Russell, Rachel, and Ben.

The Maker Faire booth crew (L-R) Roger, Matt, Eben, Philip, Russell, Rachel, and Ben.

Since the new touch display and Sense HAT just started shipping, it was only fitting that we brought along some demos. We had a Kivy-based multitouch demo to show off the new touch display. There was also a quick demo of the functions of the Sense HAT. For those that wanted to get more hands on with Raspberry Pi and the Sense HAT, we had workstations setup for creating animations with Sense HAT’s 8×8 RGB LED Matrix. We owe a huge thanks to Raspberry Pi Certified Educator Richard Hayler for his work on RPi_8x8GridDraw, which we forked for Maker Faire.

Maker Faire attendees using Raspberry Pis to program animations onto the new Sense HAT.

Maker Faire attendees using Raspberry Pis to program animations onto the new Sense HAT.

Mounted to some swanky new mounting hardware we picked up from B&H, we also had the Astro Pi flight hardware on display. It was neat to show attendees how you have to pack up a Pi to ship to to space. We were absolutely chuffed (did I use that word correctly?) that Astro Pi won Best In Class from the editors of Make:

Philip Colligan on Twitter

We won best in class at #makerfaire – go @Raspberry_Pi

Maker Faire was also an excellent opportunity to share The MagPi in print with our fans. We have a great new subscription offer for the US, but we also wanted attendees to know that they can now find the official Raspberry Pi community magazine on the shelves at Barnes & Noble and Micro Center across the United States.

As with other Maker Faires, Raspberry Pis were spread far-and-wide throughout the event. In fact, one of the main showpieces used Raspberry Pi… 256 of them to be precise:

Watch the @Raspberry_Pi kinetic art in action, Zone 1 #WMF15 @makerfaire

Watch MAKE’s Vine “Watch the @Raspberry_Pi kinetic art in action, Zone 1 #WMF15 @makerfaire” taken on 26 September 2015. It has 12 likes. Vine is the best way to see and share life in motion. Create short, beautiful, looping videos in a simple and fun way for your friends and family to see.

Read more about Sam Blanchard and team’s SeeMore here.

Thanks to everyone who came by to see us! See you next year, New York!

The post World Maker Faire New York 2015 appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Listening to the sound of a 300-million-year-old disc

via Arduino Blog


There’s a mineral called pyrite with a interesting nickname, fool’s gold, because it has a superficial resemblance to gold and it’s by far the most frequently mineral mistaken for gold. Even if it’s pretty abundant, there’s a rare form of pyrite which is crystallised in radial shape (as unusual disc spherulites), taking the shape of a disc. The amazing fact is that the only deposit where pyrites of such morphology are found is in Illinois (USA) and the discs are dated around 300 million years ago!

Dmitry Morozov (aka ::vtol::), a media artist living in Moscow, had the chance to use a pyrite disc and created Ra,  a sound object / synthesizer running on Arduino Nano. Ra uses laser for scanning the irregularities of the surface of the disc and further transforms this data to produce sound:

This project originated as a result of an interesting set of circumstances – a pyrite disc was given to me as a gift by a mineral seller in Boulder city (USA). Upon hearing about my works, she asked to do something with such crystal, and refused to take payment for getting it. In the same period, I was reading articles on various ways of archiving and preservation of sounds from the first, historical sources of the recorded sound – wax discs and other fragile carriers. All technologies were based on the usage of lasers. Inspired by these projects, I set out to create a self-made laser sound reader which would be able to produce sound from various uneven surfaces, using minimal resources to achive it. Thus emerged the idea to construct an instrument using the pyrite disc and a self-made laser sound reader.

The production of the object was possible thanks to the commission of the Sound Museum in St.-Petersburg which now has Ra in its collection.

Check the bill of materials and other details on Dmitry’s website. Explore other projects by Dmitry featured on Arduino Blog.


App note: Ultrasonic sensing for water flow meters and heat meters

via Dangerous Prototypes


TI’s application note on Ultrasonic sensing for water flow meters and heat meters (PDF!)

Ultrasonic flow meters are gaining wide usage in commercial, industrial and medical applications. Major benefits of utilizing this type of flowmeter are higher accuracy, low maintenance (no moving parts), noninvasive flow measurement, and the ability to regularly diagnose health of the meter. This application note is intended as an introduction to ultrasonic time-of-flight (TOF) flow sensing using the TDC1000 ultrasonic analog-front-end (AFE) and the TDC7200 picosecond accurate stopwatch. Information regarding a typical off-the-shelf ultrasonic flow sensor is provided, along with related equations for calculation of flow velocity and flow rate. Included in the appendix is a summary of standards for water meters and a list of low cost sensors suitable for this application space.