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 your 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
Chances are that you are reading this article on a computer screen. Most would agree that a modern 32 or 64 bit machine is a pretty complicated piece of equipment.
While it is easy to buy the parts of a modern PC – motherboard, graphics card and processor – the sheer complexity would defeat any attempt to build one starting with electronic components such as resistors, capacitors and chips.
But what about earlier generations of computer? The technology that brought us the BBC Micro, Sinclair’s ZX series and the Commodore 64 and Vic 20?
Is it still possible to construct an 8-bit machine from a pile of parts?
NEW PRODUCT – Warm white LED waterproof flexi-strip 60 LED. These LED strips are fun and glowy. There are 60 warm white LEDs per meter, and you can control the entire strip at once with any microcontroller and a power transistor. The way they are wired, you will need a 9-12VDC power supply and connect directly. If you want to dim the strip, use any NPN or N-channel MOSFET (although the big powerful kind is good for a large strip) and PWM the input.
We splurged and got the waterproof kind with white background color. There’s a 3M adhesive strip on the back which should stick to most smooth surfaces. Great for architectural lighting (under-counter or under-cabinet), decorating your bicycle or car, making lamps, etc. You’ll need a lot of power to light these up, we suggest our 12V 5A supply. To connect it to a power supply, pick up a 2.1mm female jack and wire it to the strip with some heat shrink
You can cut this stuff pretty easily with wire cutters, there are cut-lines every 5cm (3 LEDs each), and trim off the waterproof cover with a hobby knife. Solder to the 0.1″ copper pads and you’re good to go.
They come in 5 meter reels and are sold by the meter! If you buy 5m at a time, you’ll get full reels. If you buy less than 5m, you’ll get a single strip, but it will be a cut piece from a reel.
PART FINDER FRIDAY – Thermistors! We were looking up some 10K thermistors and found these lug-attached bead thermistors. These seem like they’d be great for measuring surface temperatures, just thread them thru a small machine screw for semi-permanent attachment. The sensor is dunked in epoxy so its fairly weatherproof (but not meant for measuring liquid temperatures)…
I’ve got a small project for someone, and I would like to see who is up to the challenge. I’ve got a small data center, and I’ve seen our cooling costs explode with the amount of servers we have added recently. I’d like to be able to take advantage of free cooling at night (when the air is cool) but using an electronically adjustable louver door and a set of fans. I am basing this project (for the fan control) off of Alan Parekh’s idea for a PMW fan controller based on temp.
Theo Jansen talking about reproduction of his Strandbeests, 3D printing and the Animaris Geneticus Parvus, a small 3D printed Beest. the AGP is printed already assembled and works right after birth from the machine! No other production method can do this!
Ed Nauman had a bad habit of leaving his workshop at night without turning off the heater. His wife would get up in the morning and find – to her consternation – the workshop was plenty toasty. In the interest of keeping peace in his household, Ed decided to create a gadget that would save the energy spent through forgetfulness. He knew he could buy an off-the-shelf solution, but as he says, “Where’s the fun in that?” Instead, Ed turned to the world of thermostats and microcontrollers.
Researchers at Tufts University have created a robot that mimics the caterpillar behavior of ballistic rolling, in which the caterpillar curls up into a wheel and rolls away at very high speed. From Discovery.com:
A robot that mimics one of the caterpillar’s trickiest moves, escaping predators by curling into a wheel and rolling away, has been built by researchers from Tufts University. They hope this new form of locomotion will allow crawling bots to explore tricky danger zones, aid in search-and-rescue operations or even explore for hidden treasure.
“The most difficult part was getting it to actually do a roll,” said Huai-Ti Lin, author of the new paper in Bioinspiration & Biomimetics. “There were a lot of trials, and a lot of sleeping in the lab. It was worth it. Once we got it to work, we optimized it and now we are matching the performance of the caterpillar.”
Lin and colleagues at Tufts University department of biology, where he just completed his doctoral degree, spent three years designing the 10-centimeter-long “GoQBot” out of silicone rubber and alloy coils. While experts have built devices that crawl like caterpillars, it’s the first time that they’ve figured out how to make a robot roll like one.
In this unprecedented video, Cady gives a tour of the International Space Station and an exclusive performance of the song Get Yourself Paroled (Honey I Miss You), written by Brendan McKinney & Joel Racheff and played with her band Bandella (on laptop).
Another week, another company killing off a giant product after spending millions of dollars and years developing. Back in 2009 Cisco bought Pure Digital Technology’s Flip. Gadget fans and makers were puzzled by this; phones were just about good enough to start beating the Flip. Now, it’s heading for the landfill.
Some companies fail, some kill off product lines that are not profitable, but in the end, where does all the knowledge go? Nowhere, usually. In a world of disposable everything, is it time that we demand companies do what’s good for humankind in addition to the bottom line?
If companies are going to just kill something off, why not open source it? Some companies do just that, and others, like Nokia, will promise open source (Symbian, dead product) and then quickly reverse itself, locking it up. Pictured above, a Nokia coffin.
In this article I’m going to share my collection of products that no longer exist but should (or could) have been released as open source projects. Part of the goal is for you to post the ones you’d like to see “open sourced” as well. My list includes some familiar favorites, like the Sony humanoid robots, to some old timers like Ricochet wireless cards.
Adding images to invoices will make shipping easier, reduce mistakes and help customers identify what the heck it is that’s in that box. Since zen cart already has images for all items, its really easy to add… By default, it will use the thumbnails used in the shop navication. Optionally, you can make a folder in images/ called /invoice to override the images in case you’d like a different image on the invoice than shows up on the website.
The Apollo Spacesuit is one of the most intricate garments ever assembled, way harder to make than your last cos-play project and nearly too difficult for even NASA. Fashioning Apollo shows how Playtex helped to put a man on the moon.