Open source hardware, open source firmware and open source industrial design has seeped into our reality. Open development of products, art projects, and all physical things occur on a blindingly rapid and ever forking path. From circuits to software to housings, learn about engineering on a different plane of transparency.
In this talk you’ll hear about how the almost accidental open sourcing of one small chip, the Realtek RTL2832U, is causing huge ripples through entire disciplines. Join the ride with the blindingly fast hardware iterations of an open source hardware company, and the often hidden implications for the hardware. Be pulled into the story of strange fringe knitting machine hardware, the Brother KH930, brought back from obsolescence. Learn about weird art projects like the Orchidarium and Massage Couch that might not be so artsy and actually useful after all. Watch strange ideas become actual items in our world, and how all of this is possible primarily with open hardware.
As the United States military marches further into the age of networked warfare, data networks and the mobile platforms to distribute and access them will become even more important.
This fall, the (retired) eighth Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff described a potential future of the military that’s founded not only in open source thinking, but in next-generation user interfaces and biohacking straight out of science fiction. If even some of the strategic thinking he described at this year’s Military Open Source Conference in D.C. is applied to how the technology that supports the next generation of war fighters is built, dramatic evolutionary changes could cascade down the entire supply chain of one of the world’s biggest organizations.
Ladyada was awarded Entrepreneur of the Year by Entrepreneur Magazine today! Thank you everyone in the maker, open-source, hacker, artist, engineer and designer community who nominated and voted for Ladyada Entrepreneur of the Year, from the beginning of the process, the nomination and the finals, it all took us by surprise. The fantastic folks nominated all have amazing companies, causes and efforts, we’re trilled to be included with them. Thank you!
The magazine’s Entrepreneur of 2012, Limor Fried, founded Adafruit Industries in 2005 and through it, is educating and inspiring the next generation of engineers and scientists. The open-source hardware and electronics company not only designs a catalog full of cool tech products that clients can order–it gives away the step-by-step instructions and tutorials for them to learn how to do so themselves. Fried’s new badging system also makes learning exciting for kids, by rewarding them for mastering new tech-savvy skills, and furthers the educational mission of Adafruit Industries.
ENTREPRENEURIAL IDOL: Tim O’Reilly, founder of O’Reilly Media, publisher of countless maker-friendly magazines and books
BIGGEST MOTIVATOR: Feedback that Adafruit is inspiring the next generation of engineers
DESIGN INSPIRATION: New York City
Previous profile here, and here’s a preview of the article January 2013: Feature: Entrepreneur of the Yearhere. And an interview “Magazine names hacker Limor Fried ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’” on CNET here.
With this award comes great expectations and responsibilities for all of us at Adafruit to keep doing a good for our community, customers and for our team. Thank you everyone for all the support.
Check out this fascinating open source and state-of-the-DIY conference in Berlin, the EHSM:
Some electronics books from the 50s claimed making triode tubes would be an impossible endeavour for amateurs. Today, there are at least two DIY laboratories making not only triodes but also all sorts of vacuum electron devices.
Three years after the first GPS satellite was launched, few people used the technology, which was perceived as very complicated and expensive. Yet, someone successfully operated his homebrew receiver made from hundreds of that time’s electronic parts.
These days, microchips are often thought to be impenetrable and impossible to manufacture without large-scale facilities. But many individuals are reverse engineering microelectronics designs, often breaking security systems based on the obscurity of the silicon layout. Some are even devising DIY methods to replicate parts of the microchip manufacturing process, with impressive results.
What are the frontiers of DIY technology? The first Exceptionally Hard & Soft Meeting (EHSM) will feature presentations of the brightest DIY achievements. But we do not want to stop at DIY. In fact, we should not, because teamwork is the only way to get the big things done.
The open source ethos is about keeping the freedom and openness of DIY when many people are involved. At a time when thousands of developers from hundreds of companies contribute to Linux and the world’s largest physics laboratories share openly licensed hardware designs on OHWR, we will explore the cutting-edge open source hardware and software practices.
This premiere of the EHSM will be held in Berlin on December 28-30 2012. Everyone is welcome to attend it. Curiosity is enough to qualify, and we have kept the minimal entrance fee affordable.
We are building an open laptop, with some wacky features in it for hackers like me.
This is a lengthy project. Fortunately, ARM CPUs are getting fast enough, and Moore’s Law is slowing down, so that even if it took a year or so to complete, I won’t be left with a woefully useless design. Today’s state of the art ARM CPUs — quad-core with GHz+ performance levels — is good enough for most day-to-day code development, email checking, browsing etc.
We started the design in June, and last week I got my first prototype motherboards, hot off the SMT line. It’s booting linux, and I’m currently grinding through the validation of all the sub-components. I thought I’d share the design progress with my readers.
Of course, a feature of a build-it-yourself laptop is that all the design documentation is open, so others of sufficient skill and resources can also build it. The hardware and its sub-components are picked so as to make this the most practically open hardware laptop I could create using state of the art technology. You can download, without NDA, the datasheets for all the components, and key peripheral options are available so it’s possible to build a complete firmware from source with no opaque blobs.
The Pianocade is a synthesizer designed to sound, look, and feel like vintage arcade games. It’s easy for people who want to dive right in, powerful and feature-rich for people who want to tinker, and fun to play for everyone.
With synthesis hardware based off of classic gaming systems and a 128-note range, the Pianocade lets you perform the retro sounds you want, live!
With traditional 5-pin MIDI and USB MIDI, you can use the Pianocade to control other instruments, or use external sequencers and controllers to play the Pianocade.
No cables, no cords. Pinoccio talks over wi-fi and runs on a long-lasting rechargeable LiPo battery. It’s also Arduino-compatible.
The Atmel 802.15.4 radio in the 128rfa1 chip we’re using has a ridiculously low power draw for the range you get. We can blast the radio non-stop at full power, and a 550mAh battery will power that (and the MCU) for something like 27 hours. It draws 17mA at full power radio, and the MCU in the highest power state. We wanted this sort of endurance while still remaining networkable. Thus this was the right package.
You can use the board non-stop at full power for around 27 hours. However, it’s more likely that you’ll put the board to sleep, and have it wake up when certain conditions are met. Using it this way, you could have a board run on one charge for months. This can vary a lot depending on how you’re using Pinoccio.
Earlier this year I started to investigate how I might go about implementing the circuitry and communications between a computer and a micro controller for my long term split-flap display project which seems to have taken over my blog of late!
The setup I finally settled on was to use a simplex (single direction) serial protocol called RS-485, the ‘bigger brother’ of RS-232 used in almost every computer, commonly known as ‘the serial port‘. Using RS-485 would require some special circuitry which could convert to a signal that an Arduino could understand so I went about building a converter circuit which I had built up as a small PCB, my first proper PCB, designed by me alone, and it worked first time!
Next I worked on some software which is designed to receive six byte commands from a master control board allowing full control of all modules together or each module individually.
This is a LED pocket watch. It has 12 LEDs to show the hour, 60 LEDs to show the minute, and 60 LEDs to show the second. The LEDs are arranged in three rings. There is a button on the top to activate the pocket watch, and a button on the back to change modes and settings.
The battery is a rechargable lithium ion coin cell battery and it is charged from a micro USB connector. The battery life depends on how heavily the pocket watch is used, but if you leave it alone, it is estimated to last several months. There is a low battery indication feature. This pocket watch also feature a buzzer and a vibration motor, which are used for the alarm feature, and the motor causes a short “tick” as each second passes by. The pocket watch is constructed of a PCB, two pieces of laser cut clear acrylic plastic, and a 3D printed casing.
I’ve always been fascinated by radio. I clearly remember discovering numbers stations at the age of 9 using my grandparent’s old shortwave radio, and I was fascinated by the concept of stuff being broadcast over the air – discounting FM radio which was ordinary.
Actually, I’ve always wanted to buy a frequency scanner and learn more about radio, but never got around to actually doing so, something didn’t feel right. Last week, the right thing I was waiting for was found – an open-source software stack and a $15 USB dongle turn my desktop computer into a software defined radio. Essentially, this means that anyone can, very cheaply, pull data out of thin air (literally), and analyze it using code.
Up until now, SDR could only be achieved using expensive equipment, and using proprietary drivers and software. The $15 SDR option is a serious breakthrough in making the SDR world more accessible. As with most new technologies, the open-source SDR world is still not very user-friendly, and in this post I’ll try to outline the basic stuff a beginner should know when entering this world.
“Never pass up a teachable moment.” As a Boy Scout leader of many years, this has become one of my many mottos. Any time you have the opportunity to grab a child’s attention and focus that attention on something more educational than the latest video game then grab it and have fun. My son’s 6th birthday party recently became one of those moments.
Linear Book Scanner is a prototype automatic book scanning device. The device moves a book face-down over linear sensors to capture page images, and uses vacuum pressure to turn pages automatically as the book moves.