“Ask an Engineer” TONIGHT – Saturday 10pm EDT 7/31/2010. What is “Ask an engineer”? From the electronics enthusiast to the professional community – “Ask an Engineer” has a little bit of everything for everyone. If you’re a beginner, or a seasoned engineer – stop in and see what we’re up to! We have demos of projects and products we’re working on, we answer you engineering and electronics questions and we have a trivia question + give away each week. Mosfet the cat stops by too. Previous chats can be viewed at http://www.adafruit.com/ask
Mobile phones have become one of the most universal pieces of advanced technology in the world, and they are about to become even more vital. Aydogan Ozcan of UCLA has developed a microscope attachment for a cell phone – turning the device into a sort of mobile medical lab. It’s both lightweight (~38g or 1.5 oz) and cheap (parts cost around $10). As described in the journal Lab on a Chip, the cellphone microscope can analyze blood and saliva samples for microparticles, red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and water borne parasites.
This photo via SingularityHub. Click photo for link.
The Open Science Summit began yesterday in Berkeley, CA, and will run through tomorrow. From the website:
In the last 500 years we’ve witnessed paradigm shattering conceptual shifts associated with names such as Copernicus, Newton, Darwin, and, Einstein. Simultaneously, the evolution of technology drives progress in unpredictable ways—Galileo borrowed principles from the technology of eye-glasses to pioneer the use of the telescope in astronomy, while Watson and Crick relied on Rosalind Franklin’s skill with X-ray diffraction (a tool from physics) to probe the structure of life. (Undoubtedly, Franklin’s contribution would have been more fully recognized under a true Open Science Paradigm.)
To this classification of scientific revolutions, we can now add a third kind, an Organizational Revolution, the advent of a truly “Open Science,” which will profoundly affect the pace and character of subsequent theory and tool-driven paradigm shifts.
If you can’t get to Berkeley to attend, you can watch the streaming video on FORA.tv (clicky).
I have read a of a few people having trouble finding the altoids gum container that fits the project so well. I did too. Looked in a bunch of shops all over Ventura and San Diego California as well as a bunch in the Philadelphia area with no luck.
I started looking around for alternatives but only found one possibly suitable and that was after I had finished making a container. The Wii gum container looks like it is the appropriate width though it has a significant amount of length that may need filling.
What I decided to go with was leather. I had a bunch laying about and decided to see what I could do. It turned out pretty good for a first rough run. I think I will make another with a good stain and better stitching but this has worked like a charm thus far.
Tired of paying exorbitant amounts for a simple analog pressure sensor? Well here is an easy smeasy way to make an incredibly cheap analog pressure sensor. This pressure sensor won’t be terribly accurate in terms of measuring precise weight or things of this nature, though it can be calibrated somewhat and if you choose to coat it in something like Plasti Dip some of the variables such as humidity and the like can be minimized. However, what this analog pressure sensor is best for is for creating things like bumper sensors that can read variable levels of pressure and various other touch / pressure sensor applications.
From the MAKE blog – O’Reilly Media (the publisher of MAKE), in partnership with creativeLIVE, has just announced a new online course, Processing and Arduino in Tandem: Creating Your Own Digital Art Tools:
Create your own drawing and animation software-and learn basic programming and electronics skills at the same time. This engaging 5-week online course introduces you to two simple tools: Processing, a programming language for visual thinkers, and Arduino, a hardware platform for working with electronics. You’ll learn how to use these tools together to build something useful right away.
You don’t need programming or electronics experience to get started. Processing is easy to learn, and you’ll get to know Arduino with a starter kit. You’ll also have direct access to the instructor via online Q&A during the workshop. And here’s the best part: the courses are free. It’s a fun and inspiring way for designers, artists, and beginning programmers to learn basic graphics programming.
The course is free if you watch it live, and the video of the course is available for purchase ($89 for all five sessions, but the price is reduced to $49 until September 28, 2010). There is a project kit available for sale as well.
Schedule: Tuesdays @ 3 p.m. Pacific Time
August 31 – September 28, 2010
Each session is 90-120 minutes
If you could have one proprietary package/software released as Free Software, which would it be and why?
RMS: I have not made an effort to study the possible candidates, since unless a genie offers me a wish of that kind, the results wouldn’t enable me do anything constructive. Thus, I can only respond based on the few proprietary programs I happen by chance to know about.
Of the programs I know of, I think freeing Autocad would give the biggest boost to the free software community. It is used in a wide range of activities, and our CAD software lags quite a bit,
Detroit will re-invent itself and prosper through the help of makers, thinkers, and entrepreneurs who thrive while operating on a lean budget, without the bloat that has caused the demise of many of our once-venerated large corporations. True, lasting change cannot happen overnight, but with a little patience, room to operate, and a lot of sweat, we can entice both our young people to stay in the area and help in this reinvention while enticing other artists and makers — who may be claustrophobic operating in other cities — to stretch out and make Detroit their home.
One of the folks who works at EPILOG told us… “We had a record-setting number of laser sales in the month of June, 2010 – the highest we’ve had in our company history. Part of our success is due to the tremendous amount of support we get from the industry and that certainly includes both MAKE and Adafruit”.
Epilog Laser, the leading designer and manufacturer of CO2 and fiber laser engraving and cutting systems, today announced record-setting laser sales in the month of June, 2010. In addition to being the highest-selling month in the company’s history, June also capped off a record-setting first half year for Epilog.
“We’re very excited to see such growth in system sales”, said Mike Dean, director of sales and marketing at Epilog Laser. “A few years ago, we recognized that to maintain our dominant position in the lower-power, small-format laser industry, we would need to broaden our product line and diversify our markets. That decision has been paramount to our strategic growth.”
One of the reasons we continue to point folks to EPILOG is their involvement & investment in the DIY community – from Maker Faire to working directly with many small businesses, they’ve been a great company to watch grow as the maker movement has grown along side them. Congrats EPILOG!
The missing parts to the TECHNOROBOT kit that I got at the explOratorium during the Stanford EPGY AI Program in 2008 have been found! This robot has been transformed many times, the first as an idea/prototype for an emotional line following robot, then a snowplow, and now it will be an XBee messenger robot!
Fun hack for the Ice Tube clock! Who doesn’t want satellite-precise timing? This firmware mod allows you to add any 4800 TTL NMEA GPS module. Check that the module can run from 5V power, and has a wire that outputs NMEA 4800 baud at TTL levels. Do NOT use any RS-232 level outputs, they can easily damage your clock!
Our favorite Soviet-Era display that found its way into a present-day kit now displays time from orbiting satellites. A GPS module patched into an Ice Tube Clock with modified firmware will be able to provide a satellite-synced time. The firmware, modified by yours truly, parses the GPS module’s NMEA RMC sentences for the time and date information and then updates the clock’s time and date. Fun was had making sure the alarm went off at the correct times when the time was updated by the GPS. Overall, it was a fun project and we look forward to seeing additional Ice Tube Clock hacks.
We picked up a few of these now-discontinued GPS modules specifically for those that want to use them for time-keeping purposes. They use an older chipset and our testing determined that while they function perfectly fine as a GPS, they are not as accurate as the EM-406 modules we carry for location applications. For that reason, we don’t suggest them for location logging.