Looking through the cupola windows on Space Station, it’s only natural to reflect upon who we are and where we fit into the world below. Like something out of Alice in Wonderland, this orbital looking glass can be both a window through which to observe the jeweled sphere of Earth and a mirror that (sometimes, depending on your viewing angle) shows you a translucent reflection of yourself superimposed on the planet.
From orbit, the more you know about our planet, the more you can see. You see all the geological features described in textbooks. You see fault zones, moraines, basins, ranges, impact craters, dikes, sills, braided channels, the strike and dip of layered rocks, folding, meanders, oxbow lakes, slumps, slides, mud flows, deltas, alluvial fans, glaciers, karst topography, cirques, tectonic plates, rifts zones, cinder cones, crater lakes, fossil sea shores, lava flows, volcanic plumes, fissures, eruptions, dry lakes, inverted topography, latteric soils, and many more.
There have been quite a few questions in the forums and on the comments about what libraries will be available, what codecs, what is open source etc. This short post will try and give people some idea of what will be available at or around launch time. It won’t be comprehensive – I am sure that for some it will generate more questions than answers, but I hope it will be of help.
Firstly, libraries. Any distribution will need to supply a set of closed source libraries that give access to the GPU acceleration features…
The Open/Closed source debate can become quite heated, as those perusing the comments and forums may have noticed. As stated above, the host side libraries for the graphics acceleration are closed source and are provided by the SoC supplier. The Foundation has no control over the closed nature of these libraries. Since the vast majority of people simply use libraries such as these, it was deeded a trade off worth making to get the high graphics performance. It’s worth noting there are no other SoC devices with a similar graphics performance that are open source. There is no GPL issue here, these are user side libraries not linked in any way to the kernel.
There are a few drivers for the SoC which are linked in to the kernel, these are GPLed and hence OSS. One of these drivers is the interface from the user space libraries to the GPU. The user side libraries use this ‘driver’ to communicate with the GPU and tell it what to do.
Here’s a handy diagram that may help visualise what’s what.
ScratchML, like GML, is an XML-based format for storing information about the position of the record and crossfader during a scratch performance.
This is a “beta” release of the .SML file format, with sample data for 1 turntable and 1 crossfader. The format is designed to accomodate multiple turntables and crossfaders and a wide variety of data capture techniques, but we’ve only field-tested it against the basic 1 deck + 1 mixer scratch setup, which is what we were working with this weekend.
The two most important fields are:
<turntable> — stores data about the playback position on the record as a consistently sampled stream of floats, with <samplerate> samples per second.
<fader> — stores data for crossfader movements, ranging from 0 (full-left) to 1 (full-right). This data is stored only when the fader actually moves, and is stored as <p> (position) and <t> (time) tuplets in the field.
I work in a kind of “”joint venture”" between a technical school and a design school, we make projects in collaboration between engineers and designers. I myself am an engineer. We are currently in the process of setting up a pilot Arduino course for designers, as they really lack skills in what could be a very useful tool for their projects.
Now, we’ll be teaching these to Media and Interaction desginers, which does not scare me, since they know the basics of coding, and also tinkering with electronics, for some of them. However, we’ll also be teaching this course to industrial designers, who will come with almost no previous knowledge applicable to the Arduino.
I was thinking about starting the course with some hands-on tutorials, making and improving upon some of the example circuits that you can make with the Adafruit experimentation kit for arduino, and then moving towards accompanying the students on a couple of simple projects of their own. My goal would be for them not to become electrical engineers, but at least to have a better grasp of what is possible to do.
Do you have any advice about teaching arduino to people with no previous experience with similar platforms? Did you encounter problems you weren’t expecting, doing that?
Thanks in advance for any advice, it would be great!
I honestly think that you are right on target with designing the course around the Adafruit experimentation kit. It provides enough electronics and prototyping capability to really get you started in the right direction. Once you have had a chance to familiarize yourself with the included “Experimenter’s Guide,” it shouldn’t be very difficult to tailor the included labs to meet your curricular needs.
Another good resource, and one I happen to keep on my nightstand, is the “Arduino Cookbook” by Michael Margolis. Inside are some very good labs, with detailed explaniations that would also make for a good basis for your course.
To answer your question about teaching people with no previous experience with Arduino and similar platforms:
I taught a robotics class for two semesters that was geared toward the introduction and utilization of the Arduino. The students taking the class really had a wide range of skill sets, although often without any programming background. What I discovered was that starting the students off with the simplest task possible, say flashing an LED, was so captivating and engaging that they had no hesitation moving to higher level tasks. This really highlights one of the awesome things about the Arduino platform, in just how friendly it is to both novices and seasoned programmers. What it lacks in some areas, it certainly makes up in its ability to inspire and facilitate project development.
When we did encounter problems, it was mainly on the hardware side. You would be surprised at how difficult it can be to explain to someone how a breadboard works! But with a kit like Adafruit’s, you are starting off with a good base of components and lab possibilities that I don’t think you will have a problem with your designers!
Cheers and good luck with your course!
Next up is B. Smith with a question about teaching which books to use to supplement a programming class based around Arduino.
Don’t forget, everyone is invited to ask a question!
We are combining high technology and high art to create something very special – the Rygo. Standing 2 meters tall, it will be the largest such 3D print of any type in North America (quite possibly the Western hemisphere) and will be installed for all the world to see at Gropp’s Gallery of Vancouver, Canada. Crowdfunding the Rygo reflects the best qualities of Vancouver – organic design supported by a grassroots movement. This is also an international effort! The Rygo will be printed in Italy by Enrico Dini’s DShape, itself the largest 3D printer of its kind, measuring 6 x 6 x 8 meters (20 x 20 x 27 ft). The Rygo was designed by famous 3D designer and sculptor Bathsheba Grossman of California, utilizing esoteric math and an artistic touch to craft a piece that would have been un-makeable by any other means.
Everyone in this campaign truly believes that 3D printing will shake up everything you thought you knew about design, construction, manufacturing, architecture, sculpture….you name it. We hope you feel the same. Every contribution is going towards a leap in technology that happens only once a decade.
For a while now, I’ve wanted Banu to do interviews of makers of things with free and open designs. Being a fan of PingMag MAKE, it was apparent that there was a lot of hard work, learning, fun and satisfaction to be had in making. It’s too bad that PingMag shutdown, but they still inspire. So when the ColorHug comes along—an open hardware product related to graphics—there’s no better time to start interviewing. Solder when the iron’s hot!
The ColorHug is a colorimeter that can be used to calibrate computer displays. It was created by Richard Hughes (hughsie). It is a fully open hardware project, and the design, drivers and firmware are available on the Gitorious code hosting website. From the branches and commit logs it appears that others have taken an interest in its development too, and have begun to contribute to it.
Recently I became the proud owner of a BeagleBone. In case you’ve never heard of it, a BeagleBone is a 700mHz ARM Cortex computer that can fit in an Altoids tin. It has gobs and gobs of ways to talk to the outside world including USB, Ethernet, and over 60 GPIO pins! It comes complete with a micro SD card loaded with Angstrom Linux and lots of nice software goodies including Node.js and python.
Beagle Bone! New from the fine people who have brought us the Beagle Board, we now have a smaller, lighter, but powerful single board linux computer, Beagle Bone! We like this move to a more compact and integrated SBC. For example, there is onboard Ethernet and USB host, as well as a USB client interface (a FTDI chip for shell access). It even comes preloaded with Angstrom Linux on the 4GB microSD card!
At over 1.5 billion Dhrystone operations per second and vector floating point arithmetic operations, the BeagleBone is capable of not just interfacing to all of your robotics motor drivers, location or pressure sensors and 2D or 3D cameras, but also running OpenCV, OpenNI and other image collection and analysis software to recognize the objects around your robot and the gestures you might make to control it. Through HDMI, VGA or LCD expansion boards, it is capable of decoding and displaying multiple video formats utilizing a completely open source software stack and synchronizing playback over Ethernet or USB with other BeagleBoards to create massive video walls. If what you are into is building 3D printers, then the BeagleBone has the extensive PWM capabilities, the on-chip Ethernet and the 3D rendering and manipulation capabilities all help you eliminate both your underpowered microcontroller-based controller board as well as that PC from your basement.
Board size: 3.4″ x 2.1″
Shipped with 4GB microSD card with the Angstrom Distribution with node.js and Cloud9 IDE
Single cable development environment with built-in FTDI-based serial/JTAG and on-board hub to give the same cable simultaneous access to a USB device port on the target processor
Industry standard 3.3V I/Os on the expansion headers with easy-to-use 0.1″ spacing
On-chip Ethernet, not off of USB
256MB of DDR2
700-MHz super-scalar ARM Cortex™-A8
Easier to clone thanks to larger pitch on BGA devices (0.8mm vs. 0.4mm), no package-on-package memories, standard DDR2 vs. LPDDR, integrated USB PHYs and more.
Laying out the circuit board is one of the last steps in the design process and quite often doesn’t get the attention it deserves, and high speed applications can significantly affect circuit performance if not done correctly. This webcast will cover the ins and outs of PCB design and layout, in a practical and straight forward approach. The presentation is packed with useful information accumulated with tips, tricks and techniques that can easily be implemented into your next design to help improve overall circuit and system performance.
Who should attend?
This webcast is a “must see” for students and those new to PCB design, especially for those concerned with high-speed circuitry. It will also be a good refresher to those experienced in layout.
PONG is an old-school arcade video game released by Atari in 1972 and was one of the first video games to reach mainstream popularity. The BIX Entertainment System brings this classic of computer entertainment to the media-facade of the Kunsthaus Graz and invites pedestrians to probe their PONG-skills right in front of the building under the open sky. While the successful original game concept is left untouched, the BIX Entertainment System drastically changes the dimensions of the original Atari-PONG with this large-scale realization on a huge media-facade and allows for sharing PONG-experiences with the open public.
The latest technology that seems to be working its way along this trajectory is 3D printing. For those not in the MAKE crowd, 3D Printers are machines that produce three-dimensional objects from digital data by printing in thin layers of physical material, similar to the way an inkjet prints in two dimensions. A 3D printer outputs not words on paper, but a thing. After a couple decades of research, development, and industrial deployment, the technology appears to be on the threshold of developing a mass market. Still, it’s hard to imagine what to do with such a general purpose machine sitting in one’s house.
And that’s what makes Brendan Dawes such an interesting early adopter. For one, he’s kept meticulous records of his productions since he bought his MakerBot Thing-O-Matic from Makerbot Industries, a company that sells stripped down do-it-yourself 3D printers directly to consumers, in December 2010. Over the past year he has posted his “printings” on a tumblr called everythingimakewithmymakerbot. The site reads like a diary or sketchbook; an intimate account of a creative person interacting with a new technology.