Over at I Heart Engineering we have upgraded some of our product packaging. Here are some of the design concepts. These stickers are important, because this means we can make packaging for selling quantity one of prototype designs. This in line with our philosophy of lowering the cost of failure. Fail early, fail often, succeed occasionally.
Mixtape Alpha is the smallest synthesizer we could make without a prescription. It has a stylophone style input for continuous note generation, and 6 buttons for discrete notes. With 4 voices, 4 effects, and 5 note polyphony there is quite a range of expression. But, the best part is, you can record the songs you make, and trade mixtapes with your friends! Perhaps even better, it’s based on the ATmega328p, and can be hacked to make even crazier sounds than we came up with.
Whenever I want to play with a new radio I look around the basement and see what’s down there. With myrecent acquisition of the Heathkit BR-2 Broadcast Receiver I wondered what else I had in the way of Heathkit receiver kits. There is was – my Heathkit GR-54 General Coverage Communications Receiver.
The GR-54 was produced between 1966 and 1971. It is all mode (AM/LSB/USB) single conversion Superheterodyne consisting of 6 tubes (6BH6 RF Amp, 6EA8 Osc Mixer, 6BA6 IF Amp, 6BA6 IF Amp, 12AT7 BFO Product Detector, 6HF8 AF Amp and diodes). The price when this kit was produced was $85-$135.
I got a real deal on this one. I paid $25 for it in good working condition. And that included the manual.
Turns out, at the time of this writing, there is an original unbuilt Heathkit GR-54 on eBay – the bidding is now at $709. Got that? That is not a typo. An unbuilt Heathkit is bid up to $709 with 16 hours remaining in the auction. Don’t belive me? Here, look…
The best part about the post besides the photos is a comment under the post…
When I was 15 yrs old, I was offered a Summer job at my local grade school cleaning toilets, mopping/waxing floors, and weeding the gardens around the school and church for $1.50 and hour. Being obsessed with electronics, the first thing that I bought with my very hard earned money was a GR-54… It was one of the most precious items of my life for many years… all the things I learned with it, and because of it. That radio solidified my obsession with electronics, and lead me to the very lucrative profession as a very well employed electronics design engineer today.
Like so many electronic engineers of my age (mid 50′s), I owe my start to hard personal work, and Heathkit. Through the years, I collected manuals and studied the theory sections until I understood how the item worked. I specifically recall sitting in the lunchroom of Denby High school studying the IB-100 frequency counter- amazed that it indicated the measurement in “numbers” and not an analog meter. I sat there trying to understand the description of a “flip-flop” while my classmates were throwing food at each other (wonder what they are doing today?) I studied, studied, and studied until I finally understood how each stage functioned for every manual that I could afford those days (at $2.00 each).
We hope every kid now has a favorite kit they’ll look back on years from now.
“Typically the guys we’re talking to start off thinking they can toss it in a box and give it to U.P.S. or FedEx and hope it gets there,” said Michael DeSimone, chief executive of FiftyOne, a technology company that helps retailers add international shipping capabilities.
But there are problems with ordering systems, customs and postal fees, he said.
For example, many retailers do not have software in their warehouse management systems that recognizes foreign postal codes, which — unlike those in the United States — do not always have five digits.
“It sounds like a really stupid reason not to sell internationally,” Mr. DeSimone said, “but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this was the biggest roadblock.”
littleBits is a system of modular electronics that snap together with tiny magnets for prototyping and play. The littleBits starter kit is the first kit by littleBits and contains all you need to get started within seconds. Each bit has a simple, unique function (light, sound, sensors, etc), and modules snap to make larger circuits. With a growing number of available modules, littleBits aims to put the power of engineers in the hands of artists, makers and children. Included in the kit are 10 color coded modules (power, input, output, and wire) that snap together magnetically to create larger circuits, guaranteed to keep kids (or you) occupied for hours. Comes packaged in an attractive case with a magnetic closure and includes an instruction sheet, 9v battery and a custom plastic screwdriver.
littleBits starter kit contents:
A quick-start instruction set
A custom-made 9V battery
A 9V battery connector
Custom plastic screwdriver
Snap and play, magnets prevent you from putting things the wrong way.
Play with light, sound, sensing and buttons without wiring, soldering or programming.
Make your own interactive objects, or combine with other construction toys.
Explain to your children the complex notions of electricity, electronics and science in a fun way!
America has been extremely worried about the loss of manufacturing to China. Seduced by subsidies, cheap labor, lax regulations, and a rigged currency, American industry has made a beeline to China. New technologies will likely cause the same hollowing out of China’s manufacturing industry over the next two decades that the U.S experienced over the past twenty years. That’s right. America is destined to once again gain its supremacy in manufacturing, and it will soon be China’s turn to worry.
China’s largest hi-tech product manufacturer Taiwan-based Foxconn Technology Group, made waves last August when it announced plans to install one million robots within three years to do the work that its workers presently do. These robots will perform repetitive, mechanical tasks to produce the circuit boards that go in many of the world’s most popular consumer gadgets. But even these robots and circuit boards will soon be obsolete.
..What happens when you combine AI, robotics, and digital manufacturing? A manufacturing revolution, that will enable U.S. entrepreneurs to “set up shop” locally, and create a wide variety of products. As Kinko’s is for 2D digital printing on paper, we will have shared public manufacturing facilities like TechShop where you can print your 3D products. How is China going to compete with that?
Evil Mad Science LLC is looking for several part time minions to help us with a wide variety of tasks that we perform, including kitting, shipping, sanding, lasering, basic soldering, testing electrical assemblies, bookkeeping, reception, accepting orders, and basic customer service.
My friend and former college professor Yury Gitman posted up this time lapse video of him and his business partner Joel Murphy making and packing up 800 pulse sensor kits. Nice!
The Pulse Sensor Kit is a kit. It does contain an assembled PCB Pulse Sensor, but it also has a collection of other supplies that you need to get the most out of the Pulse Sensor: a Velcro strap (to wrap the sensor around your finger with), an ear clip, and vinyl dots (to make the sensor more comfortable and reliable when contacting direct skin). It doesn’t sound like a lot, but using these helps you get good long-term readings. Unless you are a seamstress or jewelry designer, these parts are not exactly effortless to source. We tested a lot of Velcro straps and ear clips before selecting the ones that finally made it in our kit.
Adafruit is one of hundreds of growing ventures in the U.S. that belong to the so-called maker movement. These companies sell kits and support online communities of DIY types who make everything from toys to robots to 3D printers, and their moment seems to have arrived: Maker Faire, the movement’s Woodstock, attracted perhaps 20,000 hard-core devotees five years ago. At last year’s events in Detroit and New York, hundreds of thousands of people flocked to presentations sponsored by the likes of PepsiCo (PEP), Ford (F), and Microsoft (MSFT). And electronics giants Microchip Technology (MCHP) and Texas Instruments (TXN), hoping to profit from the maker zeitgeist, last year began offering their own kits. The maker movement is “as significant as the shift from agriculture to the early industrial era,” says Jeremy Rifkin, a Wharton economist.
Make it yourself. Do it yourself. Kitmakers from around the world want to provide the off-the-shelf and made-to-order parts you need to make your own creations, products, and inventions. The Reinventing Edison lightbulb kit (photo to right) is one such example (link below by Harris Educational, if you want to get one).
Kitmaking and do-it-yourself is exploding as a trend and one that the landmark publication, Make magazine, is daily charting the waters. Just about everyone who considers themselves a maker, inventor, artisan has heard of Make. They have grown tremendously since their founding in 2005 not because they talk about makers, but because they ARE makers. You can’t share the passion if you don’t have it yourself. Make exudes passion and the Ultimate Kit Guide that they put out late last year is an example of that caring and in-touch-with-makers spirit that they live and breathe.
Beginning today, we are rolling out direct checkout for US-based sellers. This is a new and optional way for shop owners to accept and manage credit card payments from buyers directly on Etsy. Direct checkout is currently enabled for a limited number of shops, including the EtsyStore. Direct checkout, in addition to simplifying payment, lays the groundwork for many more payment and checkout improvements, including Etsy-wide gift cards and enhanced international payment options.
Direct checkout will allow buyers around the world to use a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover card during checkout from individual shops — online, on mobile, or on Etsy for iPhone — without being redirected from Etsy. There will be one single line of communication around a direct checkout order, sent through an Etsy email, with all shop information and contact information easily accessible.
Big news for the maker/crafter biz owners who use ETSY.