AVC 2014 Course Preview

via SparkFun Electronics News Posts

Have you ever wanted to spend six months toiling over a workbench creating a robotic masterpiece only to see it explode in a ball of flames five seconds after you turn it on the day of the race? We’ve got the perfect competition for you: the SparkFun AVC! The Autonomous Vehicle Competition lets you put your autonomous vehicle through the paces with a separate ground and aerial course. The competition happens June 21st at the Boulder Reservoir. Check out the AVC site to learn more. We returned to the battlefield this week to shoot a short video detailing the course changes for this year.

As we’ve mentioned in previous AVC posts, the course will remain pretty much the same as it did last year, with a few minor tweaks. For ground, we’re adding a line (for line followers) to make it easier to enter the Micro/PBR class, which has size and cost restrictions. For the aerial entrants, we’re adding three red balloons of death that can be either obstacles or an opportunity for more points. For the full rundown of the rules, click here. Also, it might be a good idea to re-watch the course preview video from last year.

alt text

We’ve also added a bit more information regarding the obstacles you’ll encounter. We now have the paint colors for all the obstacles, as well as a link so you can purchase your very own balloons for practicing. Be sure to check out all the information provided, including GPS waypoints.

You have until May 21st to register, so head on over to the AVC site to register, read up on the rules, or check out videos or pictures from previous competitions. For anyone already registered, you have until May 21st to send us a “proof of concept.” At the end of this month, we will send out a reminder with more details. Also, the AVC is free to come and watch. So bring the friends - we’re covering the entrance fee for the reservoir for that day. See you then!

comments | comment feed

Miniature Track Link and Pin – Blue (10-Pack)

via Pololu - New Products

These ABS tracks work with a variety of injection-molded sprocket sets, making it easy to build a tracked drive system based on a number of different actuators. The miniature blue track links connect together using the included dowel pins to create custom length tracks. These tracks are sold in packs of ten loose links and pins.

Miniature Track Link and Pin – Yellow (10-Pack)

via Pololu - New Products

These ABS tracks work with a variety of injection-molded sprocket sets, making it easy to build a tracked drive system based on a number of different actuators. The miniature yellow track links connect together using the included dowel pins to create custom length tracks. These tracks are sold in packs of ten loose links and pins.

Miniature Track Link and Pin – Red (10-Pack)

via Pololu - New Products

These ABS tracks work with a variety of injection-molded sprocket sets, making it easy to build a tracked drive system based on a number of different actuators. The miniature red track links connect together using the included dowel pins to create custom length tracks. These tracks are sold in packs of ten loose links and pins.

Miniature Track Link and Pin – Black (10-Pack)

via Pololu - New Products

These ABS tracks work with a variety of injection-molded sprocket sets, making it easy to build a tracked drive system based on a number of different actuators. The miniature black track links connect together using the included dowel pins to create custom length tracks. These tracks are sold in packs of ten loose links and pins.

How to make your own Primo prototype using digital fabrication and Arduino boards

via Arduino Blog

primo doc

Primo‘s team sent us exciting news from their HQ about their contribution to the open source community. After the successful Kickstarter campaign to launch the wooden play-set that uses shapes, colours and spacial awareness to teach programming logic through a tactile, warm and magical learning experience, they took a step further. They released all the documentation and the instructions to produce a Primo prototype,  different from the product that they make and sell.

We just finished the first edition of the Primo play-set open documentation, that includes the design files that we used to make our first prototype and a step-by-step guide to make your own version of the Primo play set. This “maker” version of our product can be assembled using rapid prototyping techniques and common tools like Arduino boards.

We recently published a preview of this documentation just for our Kickstarter backers, who already started to build their projects and to translate the document in their language. The FabLab in São Paulo for example already translated it in Brasilian Portuguese, while other languages like Dutch, Italian and Japanese are now in progress.

The whole documentation is completely transparent: it’s written in Markdown using Jekyll and GitHub pages. In this way it is very easy for creators to modify, translate and use it as a starting point for their projects.

In parallel we are developing an industrial version of our product, using manufacture-quality materials and custom Arduino-compatible electronic boards.

 

Primo

And if you want to read about the experience of a dad making a DIY version in 1 month and a half of work, follow this link.

Primo is an Arduino At Heart partner. If you have a great project based on Arduino and want to join the program, read the details and then get in touch with us.

New Tutorials To Get Your Learn On!

via SparkFun Electronics News Posts

If you haven’t been over to our education site in a while - well, you’re missing out! Our Department of Education has been hard at work on new workshops, resources and more. We’ve also revamped our entire tutorial system to make it more user friendly and easier to find the topic you are interested in. Today, we want to draw your attention to a few new tutorials that are worth checking out!

alt text

The first is for all you weather nerds out there (and we have more than a few in the building here at SFE). In this tutorial written by our fearless leader/CEO Nate, you’ll learn how to create a weather station that connects wirelessly to Wunderground.

alt text

Next we have a teardown of the Misfit Shine. The Misfit Shine is one of those new-fangled activity trackers. In this tutorial from Creative Technologist Nick Poole, we get into the guts of the Shine to see what makes it tick!

alt text

Lastly, we have the MYST Linking Book. In this hack, Nick takes a book and incorporates a screen into it to create a custom linking book for the popular adventure game MYST.

There are only three examples of the dozens of new tutorials we’ve added in the recent months. Check out the tutorial page to find something that piques your interest!

comments | comment feed

Mudra: a Braille dicta-teacher

via Raspberry Pi

Sanskriti Dawle and Aman Srivastav are second-year students at the Birla Institute of Technology and Science in Goa. After a Raspberry Pi workshop they decided they wanted to do something more meaningful than just flash LEDs on and off, and set this month’s PyCon in Montreal as their deadline.

team-mudra1

Aman Srivastav and Sanskriti Dawle

They ended up producing something really special. Mudra means “sign” in Sanskrit: the Raspberry Pi-based device is a learning tool for visually impaired people, which teaches Braille by translating speech to Braille symbols. Braille literacy among blind people is poor even in the developed world: in India, it’s extremely low, and braille teachers are very, very few. So automating the teaching process – especially in an open and inexpensive way like this – is invaluable.

In its learning mode, Mudra uses Google’s speech API to translate single letters and numbers into Braille, so learners can go at their own speed. Exam modes and auto modes are also available. This whole video is well worth your time, but if you’re anxious to see the device in action, fast-forward to 1:30.

Sanskriti and Aman say:

Mudra is an excellent example of what even programming newbies can achieve using Python. It is built on a Raspi to make it as out-of-the-box as possible. We have close to zero coding experience, yet Python has empowered us enough to make a social impact with Mudra, the braille dicta-teacher, which just might be the future of Braille instruction and learning.

We think Mudra’s a real achievement, and a great example of clean and simple ideas which can have exceptional impact. You can see the Mudra repository on GitHub if you’d like a nose around how things work; we’re hoping that Sanskriti and Aman are able to productise their idea and make it widely available to people all over the world.

Building a Mesh Networked Conference Badge

via Hackaday» hardware

[Andrew] just finished his write-up describing electronic conference badges that he built for a free South African security conference (part1, part2). The end platform shown above is based on an ATMega328, a Nokia 5110 LCD, a 433MHz AM/OOK TX/RX module, a few LEDs and buttons.

The badges form a mesh network to send messages. This allows conversations between different attendees to be tracked. Final cost was the main constraint during this adventure, which is why these particular components were chosen and bought from eBay & Alibaba.

The first PCB prototypes were CNC milled. Once the PCB milling was complete there was a whole lot of soldering to be done. Luckily enough [Andrew]‘s friends joined in to solder the 77 final boards. He also did a great job at documenting the protocol he setup, which was verified using the open source tool Maltego. Click past the break to see two videos of the system in action.


Filed under: hardware, wireless hacks

Developed on Hackaday: Olivier’s Design Rundown

via Hackaday» hardware

The Hackaday writers and readers are currently working hand-in-hand on an offline password keeper, the Mooltipass. A few days ago we presented Olivier’s design front PCB without even showing the rest of his creation (which was quite rude of us…). We also asked our readers for input on how we should design the front panel. In this new article we will therefore show you how the different pieces fit together in this very first (non-final) prototype… follow us after the break!

This is the bottom PCB, containing the main micro-controller, the Arduino headers and the FPC connector for the OLED screen. Finding low profile standard .1″ female connectors was one of our longest Google searches. The ones you can see above are pass-through connectors, which means that the pins can go through the PCB.

This is the CNC-milled prototype case. On the bottom you may notice two slots having a smaller depth to the other end, positioned right on top of the Arduino connectors. As previously mentioned in our Developed on Hackaday articles, we want to give the final users the ability to convert their secure password keeper into an Arduino platform. As you may have guessed, converting the Mooltipass will be as simple as cutting this thin plastic layer (see top of the picture) to access the Arduino headers and unlock the platform.

This is how the bottom PCB fits into the case. 4 screws can be used to keep everything in place. The large elevated plastic area serves as a flat surface for the smartcard:

The OLED screen then rests on the case’s sides:

Enough space is left behind the screen for the flex PCB to comfortably bend. Finally, the top board fits in the remaining space and the acrylic panel is put on top of the assembly:

As our last article stated, we obviously still have some things to perfect. In the meantime, we are going to hand solder a few prototypes and ship them out to our current developers.

Want to stay informed? You can join the official Mooltipass Google Group or follow us on Hackaday Projects.


Filed under: Featured, hardware

The most advanced Lamp/Speaker is open source and also Arduino at heart

via Arduino Blog

cromatica digital habits

Interacting with objects in a new way has always been the main focus of Digital Habits, a design studio based in Milan.  Today we are proud to announce they’ve become a partner  of the Arduino At Heart program with their new project called Cromatica (it was exhibited at the coveted Fuorisalone Milan Design Week in the Superstudio Temporary Museum for New Design and started the crowdfunding campaign just some days ago!).

Cromatica is half speaker and half desk lamp: it can be controlled through a natural gestural interface, touch sensors or remotely via the Cromatica Android and iOS app. Designed to deliver both light and sound functions, Cromatica features wireless 4.0 Bluetooth connection for streaming music and a RGB lamp for multiple ambient effects.

Cromatica is embedded with an Arduino allowing for a highly digital, multi-sensory music and desktop working experience.  It blends  light and sound functionalities in unexpected ways, taking IoT products to a new level of quality.  For example you can download the app for natural awakening: light will rise and music streaming will start allowing you to wake up to your favourite playlist, perfect for early mornings.

Take a look at the video for the Natural Interaction:

In the video below you can see how you can create your favorite ambient  to match with your mood:

Innocenzo Rifino, Director of Digital Habits, told us:

“The Cromatica is a multi-purpose light-speaker but it is also our vision of the evolution of electronics, a vision that is moving in a more human and open direction. Crowdrooster have helped tremendously by opening our product up to a wider community whilst giving us the chance to generate enough funding to share our concepts more widely.”

The Cromatica is also true to its maker roots being Open Source and hackable, opening the doors for endless innovation from the maker community as it can be adapted to integrate with other tech and the Internet of Things. To enable this there will be a special ‘Maker Edition’ campaign reward complete with digital file to 3D print the shell.

Take a look at their campaign Crowdrooster and make your pledge!
Crowdrooster, the new ‘all tech’ crowdfunding site, introduced Cromatica as the first maker project available for funding on the site.

Engineering Roundtable – Interactive Hanging LED Array

via SparkFun Electronics News Posts

In today’s episode of “Engineering Roundtable,” SparkFun Creative Technologist Nick Poole is here with his Interactive Hanging Lightbulb Array. This project started as the brainchild of Nick and our videographer Gregg and grew into an impressive art installation that is housed in our main conference room. Check out the video:

Nick also wrote a tutorial about his project so you can build one in your workshop, garage, dormroom or wherever an extra-heavy dose of geeky flair is just what the doctor ordered.

As always, feel free to leave any questions you might have in the comments section below. Thanks for watching!

comments | comment feed

Books, the digitising and text-to-speechifying thereof

via Raspberry Pi

A couple of books projects for you today. One is simple, practical and of great use to the visually-impaired. The other is over-complicated, and a little bit nuts; nonetheless, we think it’s rather wonderful; and actually kind of useful if you’ve got a lot of patience.

We’ll start with the simple and practical one first: Kolibre is a Finnish non-profit making open-source audiobook software so you can build a reader with very simple controls. This is Vadelma, an internet-enabled audio e-reader. It’s very easy to put together at home with a Raspberry Pi: you can find full instructions and discussion of the project at Kolibre’s website.

The overriding problem with automated audio e-readers is always the quality of the text-to-speech voice, and it’s the reason that books recorded with real, live actors reading them are currently so much more popular; but those are expensive, and it’s likely we’ll see innovations in text-to-speech as natural language processing research progresses (its challenging: people have been hammering away at this problem for half a century), and as this stuff becomes easier to automate and more widespread.

How easy is automation? Well, the good people at Dexter Industries decided that what the Pi community (which, you’ll have noticed, has a distinct crossover with the LEGO community) really needed was a  robot that could use optical character recognition (OCR) to digitise the text of a book, Google Books style. They got that up and running with a Pi and a camera module, using the text on a Kindle as proof of concept pretty quickly.

But if you’re that far along, why stop there? The Dexter team went on to add Lego features, until they ended up with a robot capable of wrangling real paper books, down to turning pages with one of those rubber wheels when the device has finished scanning the current text.

So there you have it: a Google Books project you can make at home, and a machine you can make to read the books to you when you’re done. If you want to read more about what Dexter Industries did, they’ve made a comprehensive writeup available at Makezine. Let us know how you get on if you decide to reduce your own library to bits.

Free Elektor magazine April 2014

via Pololu - New Products

Get a FREE copy of Elektor 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 ELEKTOR0414 into your shopping cart. The magazine will add 7 ounces to the package weight when calculating your shipping options.