Steve sent in his latest project, the RoboStool. It uses a Parallax Propeller chip, and motor mount kit, to navigate in 3 different ways. It can use a “beacon” mode to navigate or be controlled via a universal remote. It can even be put in “follow” mode, which uses thermal sensing to follow the user around the house. [Thanks Steve!]
In a continuing effort to create unique and unusual robots I just completed RoboStool – a robotic foot stool. Where would such an idea as a robot foot stool come from? I’m not really sure but one day while waiting for my wife to finish shopping in a Bed Bath and Beyond (and totally bored of course) I spied the ultimate in tacky furniture – a cubed shaped foot stool covered in the finest of brown vinyl. At that moment it occurred to me that this foot stool was just begging to be automated. And thus began the RoboStool project.
Home Automation hacks (Wiki). A couple cool hacks here – X10RfConfiguration – essentially converts the fairly unreliable powerline X10 to a more reliable (under many circumstances) RF X10 at virtually no cost and homebrew X10 signal analyzer – rather than measure signal strength, this homebrew signal analyzer (built with a lego mindstorms RCX) actually counts the transmissions that arrive at the destination X10 sensor, for comparison to the source sensor. Missing transmissions indicate reliability problems.
The Open Source Gift Guide: Open source hardware … Here’s some great opensource DIY Home automation software, written in Perl with a Web interface. For windows or Linux/unix. It also works with the One Wire Weather station posted a few days ago.” MisterHouse is an open source home automation program. It’s fun, it’s free, and it’s entirely geeky. Written in Perl, it fires events based on time, web, socket, voice, and serial data. It currently runs on Windows 95/98/NT/2k/XP and on most Unix based platforms, including Linux and Mac OSX. $ Just need to buy/eBay the home automation hardware, like x10 (easily found for cheap).
I was looking for a good and easy way to put up a torrent of a video. When you want to move a 500mb video file around it seems that eventually someone is going to need to pay a lot in bandwidth, some video services like Vimeo use Amazon’s S3 but at some point if a video is popular (and high quality) it could end up costing someone thousands of dollars. This is where BitTorrent could come in, if something gets popular the burden of the download is shifted to the collection of downloaders. The problem torrents at the moment is that a lot of torrent sites are associated with copyright infringement, so LegalTorrents is a nice alternative that allows you to put your content up. It will be interesting to see what happens with video services in the next couple years.
The Proto Shield from LadyAda makes creating project for the Arduino a breeze. The Arduino Diecimila comes a lot of female headers for connecting simple sensors, but that’s about it. If you really want to expand your capabilities, the Proto Shield is the answer.
DIP prototyping area makes it easy to add more chips
SOIC prototyping area above USB jack for up to 14-pin SOIC chip, narrow medium or wide package.
Use ‘mini’ or ‘medium’ breadboard
Two 3mm LED’s with matching resistors
Extra 6mm button
Note: My configuration
I chose to make the shield with a 1/4 size breadboard. If you want to use it with a 1/2 size breadboard, you need to omit the extra female headers and the (2) ceramic capacitors (steps 4 & 5), since this will obstruct the location of a larger board. You can see several variations of the final shield on the LadyAda website.
All the parts to build the shield are in the kit. However, the kit does not come with the mini breadboard that I will be using. You can build the shield several different ways depending on your needs. I like the mini breadboard option, so I picked one up in the Maker SHED. You can omit the breadboard and solder directly on the board, or you can use a 1/2 size breadboard.
Snap in the (2) buttons and ICSP 6-pin header and solder them in place.
Step 2: Add the (2) LED’s and resistors
The shield has (2) LED’s that you can use for your projects. Make sure you insert them with the correct polarity. The longer lead is the “+” one! The resistors can be inserted either way.
You have to solder the resistors in a slightly “standing” position. This allows for more room in the center of the shield for the breadboard.
Step 3: Adding the female headers
Next solder in the (4) female headers to the shield. You may have to hold them in while soldering. Just tack in one pin, let it cool, then let go and solder the rest of the pins.
Step 4: Adding the male header pins
Cut and place the (2) 6-pin and (2) 8-pin male headers into the female sockets of the Arduino. Next, place the Proto Shield onto the Arduino, lining up all the pins. Finally, solder all the pins to the Proto Shield. This way all the pins will line up exactly with your board, making it easy to plug it in.
If you have an NG Arduino, you may want to solder in the 3-pin female header pin in the ICSP area of your board. Place the female socket on your board and solder it to the Proto Shield, similar to the male header pins.
Step 5: Adding the capacitors
The (2) ceramic capacitors don’t have polarity so don’t worry about orientation. Just add them to the board and solder.
Note: If you plan on using a 1/2 size bread board, omit this step.
Step 6: Adding more female headers
There are (3) more female headers to add to the board. (1) for extra ground pins, (1) for more 5V connections, and the last one is floating. This allows it to be what ever you want!
Step 7: Adding the mini breadboard
All you have to do is peel off the tape on your 1/4 size breadboard and stick it onto the board. That’s it, you’re all done! Prototyping on your Arduino has never been so easy.
The first Ignite NYC is going to happen 7/29 at M1-5. We are going to feature 16 speakers. Each speaker will get 20 slides that auto-advance after 15 seconds for a total of five-minutes. Ignite is free and open to the public — you’re on your own for drinks. We’re also going to be joined by Ignite co-creator, Bre Pettis. Bre is going to lead us in a creative soldering contest. RSVP at Upcoming or Facebook to let us know you are coming. The night will begin with:
7:00PM – Doors Open
7:30PM – NYC Soldering Championship:
With solder irons blazing, and the power of molten metal at their finger tips, New York City’s electricity enthusiasts and hardware hackers will connect components to complete circuits for the glory of being the fastest soldering gun in NYC.
On stage and under hot lights, contestants will complete an electronics kit in the shortest time possible while still maintaining the integrity of the circuit. Who will be New York City’s soldering champion? You’ll need to be there to find out!
To solder you’ll have to pre-register, but anyone can come enjoy the opening contest. After the contest, there will be:
With the exception of Brad Litwin’s piece entitled Extra-Universal Movement, I don’t know if I’ve seen such an elaborate hand-cranked wooden machine. This gentleman has constructed an amazing device using only wood and glue — no nails, no screws or ball bearings. It is quite an achievement. It is my sincere hope I’m doing things like this at 70 years old. Bravo!
BARCODE PLANTAGE transforms a simple product bar code into a unique tree in the garden of globalisation. One can find it on almost all products: the bar code. Everyone knows that the bar code is used to facilitate the cashing and recording of goods in stores. But which information is actually encoded within the bar code? A simple answer to this question can be found at one of the product databases on the Internet, which are basically huge networks of national code databases. Keying in the 8, 12 or 13 digit figures of a bar code into an international code database, returns information on the manufacturer and the country of origin of the product. Moreover, each bar code is assigned to only one product worldwide; but these individual details are hardly visible to the naked eye.
The problem, though, is the price. A standard 60-watt incandescent usually costs less than $1. An equivalent compact fluorescent is about $2. But in Europe this September, Philips, the Dutch company dealing in consumer electronics, health care machines and lighting, is to introduce the Ledino, its first L.E.D. replacement for a standard incandescent. Priced at $107 a bulb, it are unlikely to have more than a few takers…
â€œL.E.D. performance is there, but the price is not,â€ said Kevin Dowling, a Philips Lighting vice president and past chairman of the Next Generation Lighting Industry Alliance, an industry group that works with the Department of Energy. â€œEven at $10 to $15, consumers wonâ€™t buy L.E.D. bulbs,â€ Mr. Dowling said.
While compact fluorescents are beginning to replace standard light bulbs in many homes, lighting executives see those as an interim technology. They say the large size of the bulbs, the inability to dim many of them, the unpleasant color of the light and the five milligrams of mercury in each bulb will limit their appeal.
Philips is working to decrease the penetration of compact fluorescent bulbs. â€œWe are not spending one dollar on research and development for compact fluorescents,â€ said Kaj den Daas, chairman and chief executive of Philips Lighting. Instead, the bulk of its R.& D. budget, which is 5.2 percent of the companyâ€™s global lighting revenue, is for L.E.D. research. Philips is betting the store on the L.E.D. bulbs, which it expects to represent 20 percent of its professional lighting revenue in two years.
Pictured here, “The full spectrum of color, design and programming available for the Times Square ball. Photo: Ian Hardy”. Wow, this should be the blinkiest New Years yet!
I thought this was a cool story that didn’t get wide pickup. I like #9 especially: IBM SELECTRIC TYPEWRITER… Because the Selectric coupled a motor to a mechanical assembly, pressing different keys caused the motor to draw different amounts of current specific to each key. By closely measuring the current used by the typewriter, it was possible to determine what was being typed on the machine. To prevent such measurements, State Department Selectric typewriters were equipped with parts that masked the messages being typed.