Since last August I’ve been following different high school robotics teams in South Florida for the documentary Bots High. These are high school students who build combat robots to compete in the high school division of BotsIQ (the non-profit version of BattleBots, the former TV show) among other robot competitions.
The film follows a few different teams as they design and build their robot, leading up to the National BotsIQ Championship, where the teams’ will battle with their robot to see if they built the best in the nation. Kind of like a science sports movie.
Beneath the surface of all the fun and excitement is major science and engineering learning at play. These are high school students building sophisticated robots and machining the parts themselves. Even more awesome is almost half of the teams in South Florida are all-girls teams.
geigercrowd is an approach to fill in an information gap. radiation measurements should be open data and provided by the government in an easy to access and uncensored manner. the current situation in japan shows a different picture. websites providing up-to-date meassurements are either down or don’t show valid values. this is where we want to fill in. we crowdsource the meassuring to people in japan who operate and own automated or handheld geiger counters or other equipment that delivers data on radiation levels. this way we all together can try to fill the currently white map on this page with up-to-date radiation measurements that help people all over japan to assess the current risk situation. geigercrowd.net is backed by a capable content delivery network to hopefully handle more load than the other available resources that currently provide this data on the web.
“You’re using the default hashing algorithm in mysql instead of bcrypt? You should probably give up and see if they’re hiring down at the local concrete crushing factory because you, sir, have absolutely no business whatsoever touching, much less programming, a computer.”
“God I hate the arduino. It’s not real hacking. Using the arduino is no different than going down to target and just buying whatever it is that you’re trying to build. Arduino is for idiots that can’t actually program because they’re too stupid to figure out how to hook a parallel cable into a bread board. God, kids these days are fcking IDIOTS.”
These are all embellished caricatures of comments I’ve actually seen.
What the hell, guys? Why is this attitude so common? And it extends beyond just criticizing other designers/hackers/makers. Why does every single nerd I meet just hate “hipsters”? Or “bros”?
NEW PRODUCT – Heat Shrink Pack. Heat shrink is the duct tape of electronics, it keeps your stuff all safe and kept together. Especially when wiring and soldering, use heat shrink to add mechanical strength to cables. We use this stuff all the time and having a zip-lock bag of all the possible sizes is super handy.
Pack contains four 6″ pieces of the following sizes: 3/32″, 1/8″, 3/16″, 1/4″, 3/8″, 1/2″
“I hate to tell you this but; you have set back the progress of women 100 years” this is a quote from “peterbartek” on Jeri Ellsworth’s video in which she shows Trimet (Portland buses) how to save $4590 with their new bus audible turn warning system.
Jeri created a video showing an alternative way to make a noise making device and strategy for TriMet’s new audible warning system for pedestrians. Jeri has also has made low cost body scanner, transistors, how-to videos, many engineering projects and she’s one of the best engineers I know. Jeri lives in Portland, OR and the bus system there is trying out a warning system, like any good engineer Jeri thought about other ways to do it, and shared it.
Yeah, this video is a little weird, but it does discuss a valid idea. If we’re going to have robots in hospitals and the service industry, they are going to have to make contact with humans at some point. How’s that gonna work out?
Also note the “head” of the robot at the end of the video. In the span of less than 6 months, the Kinect has gone from a video game peripheral to a regular tool in robotics labs around the world. Nice!
We had decapsulated the A5 a couple of days ago, but as you could see in those early pictures, you can’t tell much of a chip’s layout from the top metal – it’s all power and ground buses. So we have to de-layer the chip down to a level where we can see the block layout of the chip; not an easy thing when there’s nine layers of metal! In fact, these days it’s easier to go in from the back and remove the substrate silicon, and look at the gate level from below. Then we can identify the circuit blocks that make up the full device.
Everyday in the United States along, over 100,000 pounds of electronic waste are discarded, some of which are recycled, others may end up in landfills and a small portion of that ends up in the hands of Gabriel Dishaw. After being intrigued by a 9th grade art project called “junk art”, Mr. Dishaw has over years developed that one project into his signature sculptural form of the same name. And specifically 19 Junk Art sneaker sculptures made up of heat sinks, ram chips, mother boards, typewriter keys and any discarded electronic part he can get his hands on.
This device plays programmed songs by delivering and controlling airflow through two standard “C” harmonicas. Two harmonicas are used to produce draw and blow notes while only using compressed air, no vacuum. This is achieved by flipping the reeds in one of the harmonicas. The Electronic Smart Harp or E-Sharp can play a myriad of simple harmonica tunes to entertain guests. A hobbyist could be further entertained by creating an actuated diffuser to play more than one note at a time, or by developing a diaphragm to adjust the air volume per note.
When the device is switched on, start up tune plays, and the LCD will display the name of the project, as well as the developer’s names, followed by a prompt to select a song. Movement of the joystick will toggle between the available songs, and depressing the joystick will select that particular song. A master PIC receives this user input, and communicates with the LCD PIC to find the song. The master PIC will also send a signal to the position and airflow controlling PIC (slave PIC) to play the selected song. This PIC also controls two electronic solenoids, which when activated, open the valve and supply enough air to vibrate the harmonica’s reeds. These valves are connected to tubes that lead to each harmonica. The slave PIC can either send a “blow” command (forward air movement through a standard harmonica) or a “draw” command (forward airflow through a harmonica with reversed reeds.) The air is supplied via a compressor that is externally attached to the device. It was found that the tank should be around 25 psi to provide optimal airflow.
Previous BOFs have ranged from presentations followed by Q and A to facilitated brainstorming sessions about a topic of shared interest. In the past, BOFs have brought together women interested in mobile computing, networking, student-led mentoring programs, and academic hiring issues. We particularly encourage students to submit BOF topics!
A BOF proposal should include a title, a brief description of the topic, a description of the expected audience, a description of the format of the BOF, and a summary of the qualifications of the session leader(s). Submissions can be no more than two (2) pages in length (using no less than 10pt type) and they must be submitted electronically. References do not count as part of the 2 page maximum. Your file upload must be in one of the following formats: pdf, postscript, ascii text, or MS Word.
Our dream BOF would be the following:
Ayah Bdeir – littlebits / Open source hardware conference
Leah Buechley – MIT / Lilypad Arduino
Christy Canida – Instructables
Lenore Edman – Evil Mad Science
Jeri Ellsworth – Engineer
Limor Fried – Adafruit Industries
Alicia Gibb – Buglabs / Open source hardware conference
MJ – iFixit
Jillian Northrup – Because we can
Erin RobotGrrl – RobotGrrl
Becky Stern – MAKE Magazine / CRAFT Magazine
Jessica Uelmen – Parallax
All about open source hardware, making things and sharing…
Things have been crazy here in Tokyo for the past few days. After the Tohoku earthquake, there’s been constant streaming of horrible visual images of the disaster on Japanese news. Along with that, there have been warnings of aftershocks up to a magnitude of 8.0, potential nuclear disasters, rolling blackouts, lack of transportation, and dwindling supplies in local supermarkets and grocery stores. It’s a stressful situation in Tokyo which has over 25M people and life is anything but normal. It’s a chore just to get to work and many feel powerless to do anything but watch the unfolding nuclear situation and hope that it can get contained before a disaster happens. In writing this post, it gives me an excuse to tear myself away from the fear mongering news streams which I’m constantly glued to.
In the hackerspace, we’ll be holding our meeting tonight and will probably start hammering out plans to figure out how and where we can help. There are many things that are needed right now in the quake stricken area. There is no power, internet access is extremely limited, food and clean water are dwindling, and transportation to the area is limited. What we decide on will probably depend on what’s needed and available at the time.
In any case, one immediate thing that can be done is to provide a source of light to people. With no electricity and limited supplies, flashlights and batteries are a luxury. In the hackerspace, we designed the Kimono Lantern as a solar rechargeable lantern to decorate gardens and patios with. However it has a much bigger use right now as the quake victims have no power and many are spending their nights in the dark. Also, parts of Tokyo will be suffering from blackouts until the power grid can get back to normal levels. With a major nuclear generating plant offline, this could take from weeks to months.
So although it’s outside the original sphere of intended use, it looks like the simple Kimono lanterns we designed can play a small role in providing comfort and at least give a small feeling of safety to people that are going through this horrific experience. I’m currently kitting up as many lanterns as I have parts for to bring to the hackerspace tonight. I’m also donating the complete design to the open source hardware community. I’ve updated the files to v1.1 and the package includes the BOM and full gerbers. Its a turnkey package that can be taken and sent directly to the PCB fab. The design has already been proven working. I’m also going to email PCB Cart to see if its possible to share my mask files for the lantern with other accounts. That way, people can just reference the mask files and order PCBs directly without having to pay for the PCB mask charge.
I want to donate this design to the community because I think that it would be more effective than just donating money. It’s a simple design, but its available now and it’s ready to go. Some ways that this design can be used to help the quake survivors are:
Kit up the design and sell them in your shop. Some or all of the proceeds can go to the relief effort of your choice. We also need donations at Tokyo Hackerspace for volunteer work and classes.
Build a bunch of lanterns and donate them to the quake victims. You can send them to Tokyo Hackerspace and we can make sure they go to relief workers that can distribute them.
Donate PCBs or parts to Tokyo Hackerspace. We can have volunteers assemble the designs and have them distributed. The most important parts are the solar cells, NiMH batteries, and the PCBs which are the most expensive.
Improve on the design. Saving power, making it more efficient, lowering the cost, tailoring it to specific needs unique to a situation, etc are all welcome.
That is by no means an exhaustive list and there are probably many other ways the design can be used to help out. I’m also hoping that by releasing this design, it can be used for other humanitarian purposes, as well as for people to personally enjoy.