Although I trained as a designer, my work is always based on cultural anthropology. Any disruptive business model innovation has to be based on enduring, seismic changes in how people behave. You can find patterns in everything from economic statistics to seemingly benign sentiments on greeting cards. Don’t laugh–Hallmark captures the zeitgeist pretty darn fast.
The BIG BIG change I am watching now could be called many things, and contemporary thinkers I respect are coining various handles:
Indie capitalism (Bruce Nussbaum)
The Democratization of the Garage (Chris Anderson)
The Triumph of the Commons is an illustrated essay about the nature of the commons model for cultural exchange. While I can’t say I fully agree with the stark dichotomy it presents, the work is very well done, and worth checking out. My single favorite image is the single-player Pong game — a great illustration of the absurdity of an artificial monopoly.
As with its data center and server creations, Facebook intends to “open source” its storage designs, sharing them with anyone who wants them. The effort is part of the company’s Open Compute Project, which seeks to further reduce the cost and power consumption of data center hardware by facilitating collaboration across the industry. As more companies contribute to the project, the thinking goes, the designs will improve, and as more outfits actually use the designs, prices will drop even more….
…But some big-name outfits — including some outside the web game — are already buying Open Compute servers. No less a name than Apple has taken interest in Facebook’s energy-conscious data-center design. And according to Frankovsky, fifty percent of the contributions to the project’s open source designs now come from outside Facebook.
Facebook will release its new storage designs in early May at the next Open Compute Summit, a mini-conference where project members congregate to discuss this experiment in open source hardware. Such names as Intel, Dell, Netflix, Rackspace, Japanese tech giant NTT Data, and motherboard maker Asus are members, and this past fall, at the last summit, Facebook announced the creation of a not-for-profit foundation around the project, vowing to cede control to the community at large.
…it is very easy to use and light-years ahead of using a normal hand-held soldering iron. If you are finding yourself doing more soldering than the occasional hobbyist or are looking to work with a wide variety or components and soldering joints then you could do a lot worse than considering the FX-888. At this juncture it was not the cheapest, however I feel it was a solid investment and will last me a long time. And here it is, ready for work
Dave got fed up not knowing if his Hakko FX-888 iron was left on or not. So hacked the LED to toggle RED/GREEN, so it’s always on.
Genuine Hakko FX-888 (936 upgrade) [FX-888]! Known by engineers for making excellent quality tools & soldering irons! This is a genuine Hakko FX-888. We worked hard to get the best and a great price, these are not knock-offs. This iron is an upgrade to the venerable Hakko 936 – smaller footprint but more powerful for a faster heat up time.
The Hakkos have quality construction, this iron is the last one you’ll need for decades. Heats up in 30 seconds, with a calibrated temperature control knob gives precision heat to minimize cold solder joints. Once you know you’re on the path of electronics, this is the iron you’ll want beside you on your desk.
We got the medium tip on this iron, the most popular size, great for through-hole and some SMT. You can purchase replacement Hakko tips anywhere (we’ll carry some soon)
200-480 degrees C (392°F – 896°F) with +-1 degree C stability
We’re looking for an experienced Mechanical Engineer to join the Orbotix engineering team. In this role you will work with our team to help build state-of-the-art mobile, and most importantly fun, gaming robots like our first product, Sphero.
What makes wearable electronics different from ordinary electronics? Do they use special circuit boards, or components? Maybe special solder? Can you use any small circuitry for wearable hacking?
Interesting question! The short answer…NOTHING!
The long answer:
The idea of embedding electronics into clothing or merely attaching them to our bodies has been around for ages…..well ages for some of us.
The main difference with wearable electronics is in the fact that clothing gets washed, and if the electronics are attached to the clothing, then they need to be able to survive the cleaning process. On most electronics that are meant to be worn, there is a large amount of engineering that goes into preventing water from coming in direct contact with the circuit. Water in turn will cause corrosion of the metal components and the minerals found in the water can cause electrical shorts. This does not mean that an electronic device cannot come into contact with water and survive! It just so happens last week I saved my friends DROID Incredible that ended up in a lake by soaking it in water! After removing the battery and support electronics, I soaked the main PCB in distilled water for ~10min. The soaking, in addition to some scrubbing with an old paintbrush, cleaned up any corrosion. Finally after rinsing with some isopropyl and a good drying, it fired right up!
With regards to the electronics themselves:
In our world of Arduinos and hackerspace tech, there are really two main contributors in wearable electronics, Leah’s LilyPad and Limor’s FLORA. These two devices are really just standard PCBs (with standard components and solder) that have been designed to accommodate stainless steel thread and be sewn into clothing. This idea in addition to small “daughter” PCBs can be linked together to produce some really neat results.
Leah has also discovered a technique for producing a circuit using conductive cloth and an heat activated adhesive. This is a much more intensive process then just sewing on a LilyPad or FLORA, but the results are stunning.
So, the long story short, wearable electronics are really no different then the standard, just that they have to be able to withstand the environment. They are made of the same material, use the same solder and controlled by the same electronics. Honestly, you could use just about anything electronic, weight and danger permitting, as a wearable device.
I hope this answers your question and I look forward to seeing the next awesome TRON costume!
Next up is Vincere with a question about STEM…or rather “Whats STEM?”!
Don’t forget, everyone is invited to ask a question!
We came to the conclusion a while ago that for the sake of keeping people, especially kids, enthusiastic, they should get their feet wet with code first. Once they are comfortable with that, then tackle the hardware. To provide the shortest possible route to the first moment of glory, we developed a new arduino shield built specifically for the process of teaching arduino code. By initially bypassing the electronics theory and postponing the breadboarding stage, it takes much of the frustration out of the learning process. Those things can come later, once they’ve already got a pocket full of victories.
The Diyode Code Shield has: Inputs: switch, button, potentiometer, rotary encoder, thermistor, photocell, and hall effect sensor. Outputs: Piezo buzzer, servo motor, RGB LED, Yellow LED, and a relay with screw terminals.
Using seed funding from the National Geographic Society, The Orangutan Conservancy, and the Denver Zoo, Lian Pin Koh, an ecologist at the ETH Zürich, and Serge Wich, a biologist at the University of Zürich and PanEco, have developed a conservation drone equipped with cameras, sensors and GPS. So far they have used the remote-controlled aircraft to map deforestation, count orangutans and other endangered species, and get a bird’s eye view of hard-to-access forest areas in North Sumatra, Indonesia.
“The main goal of this project is to develop low-cost Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) that every conservation biologist in the tropics can use for surveying forests and biodiversity,” said Koh via email. “Drones are already being used for many purposes including the military, agriculture, and even in Hollywood for filming. But they are still not commonly used for conservation purposes.”
Most inventors and engineers I’ve met are like me — they’re shy and they live in their heads. They’re almost like artists. In fact, the very best of them are artists. And artists work best alone — best outside of corporate environments, best where they can control an invention’s design without a lot of other people designing it for marketing or some other committee. I don’t believe anything really revolutionary has ever been invented by committee… I’m going to give you some advice that might be hard to take. That advice is: Work alone… Not on a committee. Not on a team.”
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
And don’t forget, 30 minutes before the show we’re doing our weekly show-and-tell. If you are on Google+ and want to join, just add/follow +Limor Fried’s (Ladyada) page and post a comment so you can be added to the show and tell circle. At 9:30pm ET you will see a link to the hang out. Just keep your mics muted until we call on you and have your project ready.
For those who just want to watch, you’ll be able to watch it live on Ustream here and we usually have a recorded version posted later.
The weekly show-and-tell is SATURDAY NIGHT 2/25/12 at 9:30pm ET!
NEW INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO BE ON THE SHOW AND TELL. If you are on Google+ and want to join, post a message/comment on Limor’s post on Google+ and say you want to show off a project and she will add you the “Show and Tell” circle. Then just look for the hangout announcement on the very same page later for your invite. There’s an 8 to 10 (at the same time) people limit per hangout, so if it’s full try later or just pop by next week same time. Some weeks are packed!
At 9:30pm ET you will see a link to the hang out. Just keep your mics muted until we call on you and have your project ready.
Moving a wheel chair just by thinking about it? Students at Thomas Jefferson High School in are doing some amazing research in neuroscience and they have figured out how to do exactly that!
Senior Connor Hann puts on a high tech shower cap like device that can read brain waves. Electrical leads on the cap send the signals to a computer, then the computer instructs the motor on the wheel chair! Simply put: think it and it moves!
Seniors in Dr. Paul Cammer’s class have been working on this project since 2005. Each year his new seniors try to advance the research. This year the progress was so impressive, President Obama congratulated seniors Connor Hann and Bina Kukusa.
After taking Dr. Cammer’s class, both young men are excited about pursuing careers in Neuroscience.
IN STOCK – Beagle Bone + Extras [Rev. A5]. 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 4 GB 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.
I’ve been recently poking around an old stereo receiver, and have determined that the phono preamp is completely dysfunctional. now, this is ’70s era tech, and fairly high-end for the time. I need help identifying the construction and possible replacements for the capacitors on the preamp module.