Kevin Cook and Rick Galinson at Parallax Expo 2012 (Photo Courtesy: (R) Rich Harman)
To close out National Robotics Week with a bang, Parallax opened its doors to hobbyists, engineers, Boy Scouts and its community at the first annual Parallax Robotics and Microcontrollers Expo on April 13-14, 2012. Over 2,000 attendees showed up to celebrate all things robotic by learning to solder and breadboard, touring the manufacturing facility, battling Sumo Bots and taking in some fun and technical talks, as well as the highlight of the show the flying ELEV-8 Quadcopter contests. Parallax friend Rick Galinson stopped by and attempted to shoot down the ELEV-8 with his Gatling gun (which incorporates the Parallax Propeller chip) that shoots over 3000 paintballs per minute. The ELEV-8 survived the attack but ended up a little painted in the process.
Check out the videos of the Gatling Gun vs. ELEV-8 Quadcopter:
Come visit Parallax at the USA Science and Engineering Festival at the Walter E. Convention Center in Washington, D.C. April 28-29, 2012. This event is free to the public and will have exhibits and stage shows to entertain children of all ages. Stop by our booth (#2145) in the Robot Fest area to learn how or perfect your soldering skills on your very own Scribbler 2 LED badge or come battle it out with our wireless Sumo-bots or learn about different sensor types with our Boe-Bots. Visit http://www.usasciencefestival.org for more information on the event.
For you Reebok Pump connoisseurs waiting with bated breath for the imminent release of the Solebox x Reebok Omni Zone Pump collaborative sneaker, Solebox has released a short film that’s sure to ratchet up your anticipation level. Produced under the auspices of Gehle and Telker and featuring music by Dominik Mostert, the technically impressive “Solemagic” video hovers over the planes and lines of the shoe, ultimately focusing on the glowing green lights that illuminate the uniqueness of the kicks. Check out the video following the click, and look for the shoe to release exclusively at Solebox in mid-April.
The OSHW survey ended last week, and the survey team is starting to crunch the numbers. Catarina writes:
The open hardware community survey received 2091 responses from 70 countries! A big thank you to all those who took the time to fill out the questionnaire. We’re now sorting the data and will publish the aggregate results in the coming weeks. We hope that the information and insights you shared will help us better serve this community and make the case for open source hardware.
And a special thanks also to those who provided feedback on the questionnaire itself. Your input is greatly appreciated and will help us do better next time. Initially we launched the survey with a question about race/ethnicity, but while this is a common demographics question in the USA, feedback from respondents in other countries informed us that this is not the case in several other regions. So, out of respect for different sensibilities, we pulled that question shortly after the survey launched and purged the data collected until then. You can download the feedback report here.
The graph above is very encouraging. It shows that 40% of respondents have started their own OSHW projects and 37.9% have based their own hardware on other folks’ designs! There will be more data forthcoming in the next few weeks, but I’m glad Catarina chose this as one of the first datasets to share, because I think it says a lot about the people who make up this community! It proves that open-source hardware is capable of bootstrapping itself, and that it is self-sustaining.
We recently updated our distributor, reseller and hackerspace pricing! Now, 1 quantity has UP TO a 30% discount off many items, this is allows you to get a great discount by just ordering 1 of something. Great for folks who just want to try 1 item of each of something out in their store, etc. As always, once you order 50+ or more of something the discount goes UP TO 40% off many items as well. Note! *Not ALL items have reseller pricing, reseller pricing is for items we can discount for our resellers. We are adding more all the time! Remember, the minimum order is $250 per order, not including shipping.
We have a very easy reseller program and would love to have more great people & companies as a distributors/resellers/hackerspaces. Our products are high-quality and we think they’re the best engineered & designed in the market. How can you be a distributor? Just fill our form here, keep in mind the following questions!
Are you an online store, a physical store or a hackerspace that would like to distribute our products? Please include a link.
Can you place orders $250 and over (Not including shipping) each time?
Can you pay via paypal or credit card? For international large orders, can you pay via wire transfer?
Do you have a UPS account? (This is not required, but helpful).
So what exactly is a PIP-Boy, you ask? For those unfamiliar, a PIP-Boy is a device used by the protagonist in the popular Fallout series of video games for navigation, radiation detection, data storage/playback, and inventory management. Being a major fan of the franchise, I decided I wanted to make my own version, but no mere prop, I wanted a functional device that I could really use. This version is very much just a working prototype and a platform for later development as I have many upgrades planned for future development. My ultimate goal is to build a fully functioning PIP-Boy 3000 from scratch, so this is my platform upon which I can build up to that level.
The Descriptive Camera works a lot like a regular camera—point it at subject and press the shutter button to capture the scene. However, instead of producing an image, this prototype outputs a text description of the scene. Modern digital cameras capture gobs of parsable metadata about photos such as the cameras settings, the location of the photo, the date, and time, but they dont output any information about the content of the photo. The Descriptive Camera only outputs the metadata about the content.
The technology at the core of the Descriptive Camera is Amazons Mechanical Turk API. It allows a developer to submit Human Intelligence Tasks (HITs) for workers on the internet to complete. The developer sets the guidelines for each task and designs the interface for the worker to submit their results. The developer also sets the price theyre willing to pay for the successful completion of each task. An approval and reputation system ensures that workers are incented to deliver acceptable results. For faster and cheaper results, the camera can also be put into accomplice mode, where it will send an instant message to any other person. That IM will contain a link to the picture and a form where they can input the description of the image.
The camera itself is powered by the BeagleBone, an embedded Linux platform from Texas Instruments. Attached to the BeagleBone is a USB webcam, a thermal printer from Adafruit, a trio of status LEDs and a shutter button. A series of Python scripts define the interface and bring together all the different parts from capture, processing, error handling, and the printed output. My mrBBIO module is used for GPIO control (the LEDs and the shutter button), and I used open-source command line utilities to communicate with Mechanical Turk. The device connects to the internet via ethernet and gets power from an external 5 volt source, but I would love to make a another version thats battery operated and uses wireless data. Ideally, The Descriptive Camera would look and feel like a typical digital camera.
Since looking for a “just right” board a while ago, I’ve maintained a spreadsheet of every Arduino-compatible boards I can find, currently 147: Save your own copy for easy sorting and exploring! My current backlog of boards to put up is Menta, Femtoduino, and ReaDIYmate. If you know of ones not listed (or listed ones that are not available), please let me know!)
Why are these compatibles on this list? I really like Arduino-compatibles that add value; that’s my opinion and I think that’s what most OSHW makers are doing. By “add value” I mean it’s not just a straight-up identical copy of something or using a trademark from someone else, but instead the creator has actually added something more and shared their design. Maybe it’s lower cost, maybe it’s a new feature, but there’s actual real value added
Read more and add your favorites to the post on MAKE!
As a young man, Peter Thiel competed to get into Stanford. Then he competed to get into Stanford Law School. Then he competed to become a clerk for a federal judge. Thiel won all those competitions. But then he competed to get a Supreme Court clerkship.
Thiel lost that one. So instead of being a clerk, he went out and founded PayPal. Then he became an early investor in Facebook and many other celebrated technology firms. Somebody later asked him. “So, aren’t you glad you didn’t get that Supreme Court clerkship?”
The question got Thiel thinking. His thoughts are now incorporated into a course he is teaching in the Stanford Computer Science Department. (A student named Blake Masters posted outstanding notes online, and Thiel has confirmed their accuracy.)
One of his core points is that we tend to confuse capitalism with competition. We tend to think that whoever competes best comes out ahead. In the race to be more competitive, we sometimes confuse what is hard with what is valuable. The intensity of competition becomes a proxy for value.
A newly unveiled company with some high-profile backers — including filmmaker James Cameron and Google co-founder Larry Page — is set to announce plans to mine near-Earth asteroids for resources such as precious metals and water.
Planetary Resources, Inc. intends to sell these materials, generating a healthy profit for itself. But it also aims to advance humanity’s exploration and exploitation of space, with resource extraction serving as an anchor industry that helps our species spread throughout the solar system.
“If you look at space resources, the logical next step is to go to the near-Earth asteroids,” Planetary Resources co-founder and co-chairman Eric Anderson told SPACE.com. “They’re just so valuable, and so easy to reach energetically. Near-Earth asteroids really are the low-hanging fruit of the solar system.”