NEW PRODUCTS! Flowing USB Cables. Spice up your Lighting (iPhone 5, iPad 4 & Mini, etc) USB charging/data transfers with this elegant flowing-effect EL cable. The cable has a thin cord of EL in the center, and a micro-inverter in the USB plug. The cable works perfectly fine as a classic 2.5-foot long USB cable, and can be used for data transfer and/or charging. As the current draw through the cable increases, the speed of the flowing effect speeds up. This makes it surprisingly handy as a way to roughly gauge the current draw of the USB client. The EL inverter draws 70mA at all times, so keep this in mind – it will drain a battery-powered USB pack pretty fast!
NEW PRODUCTS – EL Flowing Effect Wire with Inverter – Blue, Green or Pink – 2.0 meter (6.5 ft). If you want to make your EL project a little more dynamic, you can swap in this nifty ‘flowing effect’ EL wire for the every-day stuff. Instead of a single core, this wire is actually a bundle of three thin EL wires. Inside the inverter is a little timer that will cycle through the strands to make it look like its moving. There’s a wheel to adjust the speed and a button to select the mode. The three modes are ‘all on’, ‘all off’ and ‘flow effect’.
This pack comes with 2 meters of EL flow wire attached to a 2xAA inverter, use any AA batteries (alkalines are better and brighter but it works fine with NiMH rechargeables). There’s a belt clip on the inverter so you can attach it to something.
This EL type isn’t meant to be cut and re-soldered because of the triple-core so keep in mind that you can cut it short but we don’t suggest trying to splice or re-solder to the wire. Runs for about 5 hours off of two AA batteries.
Please note! EL tape, EL wire and EL panel are made with different processes – the color and brightness will not be consistent between the different types of EL products. The EL flow wire will not match the regular EL wire, EL tap or EL panel exactly, they all will be slightly different colors.
This modular mini planter system allows for the creation of a wide range of unique configurations. Water is shared through the system, flowing from the top planters into the bottom, saturating the soil of each plant along the way. These planters are perfect for air plants, succulents, or any small plant that requires little soil. Includes 10 planters, 3 double channel planters and 7 single channel planters. Individual planters are also available.
Meet BBot, an open source remote-contolled drink serving robot with Beagle Bone Black brain. via Tara Stratton
What’s your perfect vacation? Mine involves sitting out by the pool under the sun as people deliver me ice-cold drinks. Andy Gikling seems to have a similar dream, and he figured out a way to live the good life every weekend—by developing the BBot robot!
The BBot is an open source, remote-controlled drink serving robot. This “cooler camel” puts a cooler on a mini trailer and delivers drinks to people at the pool. As Andy put it, “Why not have a robot go get the drinks? It’s 2013 people!” And with the ability to haul 30-40 lbs, BBot keeps the drinks flowing. This robot does more than just deliver drinks. It can talk to you, see the world around it and even display drink prices and beer advertisements on the screen. One very unique feature is that when people try to steal drinks, the robot kicks on its absurdly loud alarm system.
Andy used 900 MHz XBee radios to transport remote control data from the Microsoft .NET GUI to BeagleBone Black. XBee connectivity enables very long range control, making it possible to “order” drinks from miles away. “The XBee radios were a treat to finally work with,” said Andy. “They are so cool and simple to use.”
The BeagleBone Black computer is the brain of the device. It parses the data and routes it to the various control systems on the robot. “There’s nothing like it with as much computing power, flexibility, and size of active community at the $45 price point,” said Andy. “I needed the vast number if I/O found on BeagleBone Black for my robot. I love how small it is too!” It also provided Andy with a great way to learn more about Linux and C++. “Although BeagleBone Black is rather new, there are an amazing number of sources on the Internet that show you how to do common things,” said Andy. He specifically credited Derek Molloy’s videos for helping him go from “zero to hero” with some of the software development challenges he faced.
Andy stacked a ValentFX FPGA cape on top of BeagleBone Black to provide a robust means of low-level hardware interfacing.
Andy coded the names of the classes and variables to be anthropomorphic. For example, rather than calling the code that runs the robot’s wheels “Motors.cpp” or “Drives.cpp,” he named them things like “Voice.cpp” and “Legs.cpp.” Functions might be “Walk int speed );” instead of “Drive ( int speed );.” The GUI follows the same trend, with the main window user controls named things like “eye ball,” “legs,” and “voice.” Each control communicates with one of BBot’s systems. Another cool feature of the GUI is that the user can connect it to a Leap Motion controller so that the robot can be driven by a simple wave of the hand above the sensor!
Andy says that the robot has a fairly simple mechanical design. The main chasse consists of some simple Plexiglas disks stacked on top of each other with threaded steel rods, nuts and washers. Everything for the mechanical assembly can be purchased at a hardware store.
It seems like BBot already has it all, but Andy has plans to keep adding features to the platform. He would like to add a precision pan/tilt camera system and incorporate a tracking algorithm called TLD so that the robot can follow its user around. He is also contemplating having the main data, video and audio link run through the cell network so he can approach people on the street and offer them a free soda from a friendly and seemingly autonomous robot!
Want your own BBot? (We do too!) Working source code, photos, video and documentation can be found at https://github.com/andygikling/BBot.
Nathan Yau from FlowingData created beautiful maps by using publicly accessible exercise app data:
There are many exercise apps that allow you to keep track of your running, riding, and other activities. Record speed, time, elevation, and location from your phone, and millions of people do this, me included. However, when we look at activity logs, whether they be our own, from our friends, or from a public timeline, the activities only appear individually.
What about all together? Not only is it fun to see, but it can be useful to the data collectors to plan future workouts or even city planners who make sure citizens have proper bike lanes and running paths.
Curator Clarrie Wallis provides some how-to insight on sculpture installation, drawing from her recent experience assembling the Richard Deacon show at the Tate:
Installing sculpture is great fun. Tate has a fantastic team of technicians and conservators. To install the show at Tate Britain we have also enlisted the help of two of Richard Deacon’s long-term collaborators – Matthew Perry, who has worked with him for 30 years, and Niels Dietrich, at whose ceramics studio in Cologne Richard makes his clay pieces. There are about 30 works in the show. Among the monumental sculptures are the flowing contours of wood-laminated works, such as Blind Deaf and Dumb A made in 1985, galvanised steel sculptures and some improbably large ceramics…
While formulating ideas as to how to approach the selection I really enjoyed making models of the sculptures from pipe cleaners, cornflake packets and plasticine. They have been incredibly useful as a three-dimensional working tool. It’s always exciting to watch a work come out of its crate and see how, piece by piece, the show gradually takes shape. Each day is different when putting a show together and there is always a huge variety of jobs to do. These range from making decisions about the specific placement of works, to working with colleagues in Tate’s Learning and Press departments on last-minute details…
Earlier this week, Google bought Nest, a connected devices company, for $3.2 billion. This might seem like an ungodly sum for a company that makes thermostats and smoke detectors, but it makes absolute sense. Nest’s products are beautifully designed, their team is overflowing with talent, and they were the first company to figure out what the “Internet of Things” means to consumers and deliver products that people actually want.
But in order to do this, Nest had to spend millions of dollars on R&D to build the basic infrastructure behind the product. The high cost made it impossible for anyone but the extremely well-capitalized to enter the market and create connected things.
Well, we want to change that. At Spark, we’re making it easier to bring connected devices to market with the Spark Core, our Wi-Fi development kit, and the Spark Cloud, our cloud service for connected devices. And to prove it, we built our own approximation of the Nest Learning Thermostat in one day — and we’ve open sourced everything. In this process, we’ve come to respect the incredible technical challenges that Nest has solved while also coming to understand how much the game has changed since they first started.
What’s better than a single LED? Lots of LEDs! A fun way to make a small display is to use an 8×8 matrix or a 4-digit 7-segment display. Matrices like these are ‘multiplexed’ – so to control 64 LEDs you need 16 pins. That’s a lot of pins, and there aredriver chips like the MAX7219 that can control a matrix for you but there’s a lot of wiring to set up and they take up a ton of space. Here at Adafruit we feel your pain! After all, wouldn’t it be awesome if you could control a matrix without tons of wiring? That’s where these adorable LED matrix backpacks come in. We have them in two flavors - a mini 8×8 and a 4-digit 0.56″ 7-segment. They work perfectly with the matrices we stock in the Adafruit shop and make adding a bright little display trivial.
dezeen magazine has an awesome post about a giant art piece that is going up for the Sochi Winter Olympics.
Over 170,000 visitors to this year’s Sochi Winter Olympics will be able to have their faces scanned and recreated on the facade of a building as part of an installation by London designer Asif Khan.
Named MegaFaces and dubbed the “Mount Rushmore of the digital age”, Asif Khan’s facade is designed to function like a huge pin screen where narrow tubes move in and out, transforming a flat facade into an interactive three-dimensional surface capable of morphing into the shape of any face.
The facade will display up to three eight-metre-high faces at a time for a period of 20 seconds each, and anyone visiting the games will be able to participate by visiting a 3D photo booth and having their face digitally scanned. Five photographs will be taken of each participant’s face from different angles, before being assembled into a single 3D image.
After a scan has been made, the 3D image will be fed through to a engine and cable system attached to over 10,000 narrow cylinders, called actuators, that can extended out to lengths of up to two metres to recreate the shape of the face.
Each actuator will have an RGB-LED light at its tip, making it possible to precisely calculate the position of every pixel.
A fabric membrane is to be stretched over the facade to give a smooth surface to the changing forms, and the actuators beneath will be laid out on a triagonal grid to disguise junctions between pixels.
“In the area of a three-dimensional modelling of organic forms a trigonal structure is more suitable, because it makes three-dimensional forms appear natural and flowing even with only a small amount of pixels,” said Valentin Spiess, the chief engineer on the project.
In this project a decanting machine, which is usually used by Sommeliers to handle quite heavy and valuable bottles of wine, was automated by adding sensors to monitor the pouring process, a stepper motor to move the machine and a Raspberry Pi as the central controlling unit.
Basically the user has to fasten a bottle onto the machine and put a glass into the glass holder. Afterwards the machine turns into a ready-state and waits for the command to start process. During the pouring process the machine tilts the bottle down, until a sensor registers that the wine is flowing into the glass or the minimal position is reached. Then the machine stops and remains in position until a sensor signals the Raspberry Pi that the desired liquid level is almost reached. This is the cue for the machine to lift the bottle until either the wine stopped flowing, or the initial position is reached.
When it comes to portraying Harvey Dent, a.k.a. Two-Face, the real trick is in getting the makeup and hair just right. They seem to be underrated cosplay skills, but they can be just as important as making perfect armor and sewing fabric. Cosplayer Meagan Marie transformed herself to show both sides of the character, and the makeup and hair portion took six and a half hours to apply. That’s a commitment. It was applied by the talented Hydred. Here’s how it came together:
Hydred began by painting my left side (face, neck, and even bust) with blue latex. For delicate areas around the eyes we instead used a saturated blue eye shadow. From there, Hydred built up the mouth with wax, using Spirit Gum to adhere it to my face. We filed and painted acrylic nails yellow to use as the teeth, which were carefully placed and secured within the wax structure. Next, gums were layered on and attached above the teeth, before being painted various shades of black, red, and blue.
We decided to exaggerate my features with animation-esq lines, drawn on with black eyeliner and shaded by a careful hand. Even my eyebrow on the right side was made to be a bit more angular, hinting at the inborn deviance of Two-Face. For hair we opted for flowing curls on one side, contrasted by a wild, white up-do on the other.
Different ways to infinity is a science fiction artwork using a variety of media. The installation proposes a collection of archives from an imaginary scientific laboratory. It is composed of 3 parts: parts 1 and 2 are inspired by chaos theory and approach infinity through complexity; part 3 is an “infinite space filling” generative sculpture.
1. A synthesizer with oscilloscopes and audio system
The synthesizer is based on Chua’s circuit, one of the first physical demonstrations of the existence of chaos. Its output signals are visualized through oscilloscopes and heard through loudspeakers. The synthesizer is controlled by motorized potentiometers, which changes the modulation parameters in real time in order to force it to enter and exit chaos in an infinite loop. Every time chaos is reached, fractal shapes known as ‘Lorentz attractors’ appear on the oscilloscopes.
2. A set of 3d animations and large prints
These large digital prints and 3d animations are generated by software simulating strange experiments in computational fluid dynamics.
3. A modular sculpture
The sculpture is composed of rhombic dodecahedrons, geometrical objects part of the family of «Space-filling polyhedra» : shapes which can be assembled to completely fill the space, to generate a tessellation of an infinite space. These forms act as the building blocks for a sculpture generator, with a high combinatorial potential for the assembly of any geometry.
These dodecahedra express complex reactive behaviours through their luminous edges.
The artist designed for the exhibition one specific geometrical configuration, a closed shape assembly exploiting at their best the formal and dramatic qualities of this sculpture generator.
By programming complex behaviours in the dodecahedra, i.e. controlling the light flowing in their edges from random to ordered patterns and contours, the perception of this geometrical shape is first blurred: from nothing to the chaos of its potentially infinite geometrical configurations, its perfect designed geometry slowly reveals itself through the interactions of the visitors with the sculpture.” – Félix Luque Sánchez
Getting that first exposure to science and engineering early is one of the proven factors for encouraging young people to later pursue STEM fields. Adafruit has taken up this cause — and offers a number of new books selected to spark the imagination of young engineers. Special thanks to Betsy Bird, New York Public Library’s Youth Materials Specialist, who got back to me almost instantly with a list of top recommended books for young engineers making rounds in the New York Library system. (And check out her children’s literature blog called A Fuse #8 Production, one of the go-to resources for her field.)
Books Available Now at Adafruit for Young Engineers!
Coloring book – “Ladyada’s E is for electronics”: A coloring book adventure with electronic components and their inventors. Makers of all ages can learn, color, and share common parts and historical figures throughout history. Explore the world of electronics with Ladyada as your guide!
Here’s an excerpt:
“A diode lets electrons flow in only one direction. It works like a switch: when current is flowing one way, the switch is on, but when current tries to flow the other way, the switch turns off. Sir John Ambrose Fleming is best known for inventing the diode, originally called the kenotron.”
My Little Geek by Andrew & Sarah Spear: Imagine the joy of hearing your young one chatting away about holographic ninja or time-traveling joysticks. From Android to Zombie, this educational book will entertain children and parents alike. Suitable for children & l33t hackers 0-5+ (read more)
Welcome to your Awesome Robot by Viviane Schwarz: This is a early-learning activity book for Young Makers (sug. 5-7 years) with some cut-out/popsicle-stick/glue/rubber-band type projects. No electronics and soldering so its very simple and safe. We think it’s an adorable introduction to having robot friends. This is a large format, 32 page book with many big pictures and diagrams.
From the publisher:
Build your very own awesome automaton step by step from a base unit to the towering, terrifying, tremor-triggering robot of your dreams. This book provides everything you need to create a robot costume from objects you’d normally just throw out and have a fun day in! Designed to be enjoyed by children with an adult on hand – this book provides perfect material for a fun family activity day or a kids’ workshop. Viviane Schwarz has illustrated hilarious comics throughout the book to explain the blueprint instruction pages, so this is just as much a story as it is an activity book.
Goldie Blox and the Spinning Machine: Goldie Blox is a fun combination of storybook and engineering. Follow the leading lady, Goldie, in her quest to solve problems with engineering skills! In Goldie’s debut story, she decides to build a spinning machine to help her dog, Nacho, chase his tail. Soon, the whole gang wants in on the action. Help Goldie build a belt drive to spin everybody! Its a great introduction to mechanics and the joy of basic robotics for children and curious learners.
Age range: 6+ (read more)
Python for Kids – A Playful Introduction to Programming by Jason Briggs: Python is a powerful, expressive programming language that’s easy to learn and fun to use! But books about learning to program in Python can be kind of dull, gray, and boring, and that’s no fun for anyone. Featuring original artwork by Miran Lipovača. Python for Kids brings Python to life and brings you (and your parents) into the world of programming. The ever-patient Jason R. Briggs will guide you through the basics as you experiment with unique (and often hilarious) example programs that feature ravenous monsters, secret agents, thieving ravens, and more. New terms are defined; code is colored, dissected, and explained; and quirky, full-color illustrations keep things on the lighter side. (read more)
Super Scratch Programming Adventure!: Scratch is the wildly popular educational programming language used by millions of first-time learners in classrooms and homes worldwide. By dragging together colorful blocks of code, kids can learn computer programming concepts and make cool games and animations. The latest version, Scratch 2, brings the language right into your web browser, with no need to download software. In Super Scratch Programming Adventure!, kids learn programming fundamentals as they make their very own playable video games. They’ll create projects inspired by classic arcade games that can be programmed (and played!) in an afternoon. Patient, step-by-step explanations of the code and fun programming challenges will have kids creating their own games in no time. (read more)
More Great Books for Young Engineers from Beyond Adafruit!
A beautifully-illustrated tale of a girl and her dream to become a great engineer. Where some people see rubbish, Rosie Revere sees inspiration. Alone in her room at night, shy Rosie constructs great inventions from odds and ends. Hot dog dispensers, helium pants, python-repelling cheese hats. Rosie’s gizmos would astound—if she ever let anyone see them. Afraid of failure, she hides them away under her bed. Until a fateful visit from her great-great-aunt Rose, who shows her that a first flop isn’t something to fear—it’s something to celebrate.
By the time she’s two years old, Violet Van Winkle can fix nearly any appliance in the house. And by eight she’s building elaborate flying machines from scratch—mind-boggling contraptions such as the Tubbubbler, the Bicycopter, and the Wing-a-ma-jig. The kids at school tease her, but they have no idea what she’s capable of. Maybe she could earn their respect by winning the blue ribbon in the upcoming Air Show. Or maybe something even better will happen—something involving her best ever invention, a Boy Scout troop in peril, and even the mayor himself!
EVERYTHING CAN BE USED AGAIN! That’s Dawson’s motto. He collects junk that people throw away and turns it into something STUPENDOUS. But when Dawson uses his skills to create a machine to do his chores for him, he discovers he might have invented something a little too… AWESOME. Can he stop the rampaging robot before it destroys the entire town?
Chris Gall inspires kids to reuse, repurpose, and recycle in this inventive adventure about a boy superhero who turns trash into treasures–and saves the world while he’s at it!
Super-smart Julian Calendar thinks starting junior high at a new school will mean he can shed his nerdy image–but then he meets Ben and Greta, two secret scientists like himself! The three form a secret club, complete with a high-tech lair. There, they can work to their hearts content on projects like the Stink-O-Meter, the Kablovsky Copter, and the Nightsneak Goggles.
All that tinkering comes in handy when the trio discovers an evil scientist’s dastardly plan to rob a museum. Can three inventors, armed with their wacky creations, hope to defeat this criminal mastermind?
Here are your 2013 shipping deadlines for ordering from Adafruit. Please review our shipping section if you have specific questions on how and where we ship worldwide for this holiday season.
UPS ground (USA orders): Place orders by Friday 11am ET – December 13, 2013 – There is no guarantee that UPS Ground packages will arrive in time for Christmas.
UPS 3-day (USA orders): Place orders by Thursday 11am ET – December 19, 2013 – Arrive on 12/24/2013.
UPS 2-day (USA orders): Place orders by Friday 11am ET – December 20, 2013 – Arrive on 12/24/2013.
UPS overnight (USA orders): Place orders by Monday 11am ET – December 23, 2013 – Arrive on 12/24/2013.
UPS International: Place orders by Monday 11am ET – December 16, 2013. Can take up extra time due to worldwide delays and customs. Should arrive by 12/24/2013 or sooner.
Please note: We do not offer Saturday service for UPS.
Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013, Christmas, no UPS pickup or delivery service.
Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014, New Year’s Day, no UPS pickup or delivery service.
United States Postal Service, First Class and Priority (USA orders): Place orders by Friday – December 13, 2013 – Arrive by 12/24/2013 or sooner.
USPS First class mail international (International orders): Place orders by Friday – November 22, 2013. Can take up to 30 days ore more with worldwide delays and customs. Should arrive by 12/24/2013 or sooner, but not a trackable service cannot be guaranteed to arrive by 12/24/13.
USPS Express mail international(International orders): Place orders by Friday – December 13, 2013. Can take up to 15 days or more with worldwide delays and customs. Should arrive by 12/24/2013 or sooner.
This new release necklace is a general size that does not require a scanned fit. The Konzentrat necklace fits beautifully with a strapless dress, flowing over the shoulders and down the chest with a continuously varying pattern.
Every Thursday is #3dthursday here at Adafruit! The DIY 3D printing community has passion and dedication for making solid objects from digital models. Recently, we have noticed electronics projects integrated with 3D printed enclosures, brackets, and sculptures, so each Thursday we celebrate and highlight these bold pioneers!
Have you considered building a 3D project around an Arduino or other microcontroller? How about printing a bracket to mount your Raspberry Pi to the back of your HD monitor? And don’t forget the countless LED projects that are possible when you are modeling your projects in 3D!
The Adafruit Learning System has dozens of great tools to get you well on your way to creating incredible works of engineering, interactive art, and design with your 3D printer! If you’ve made a cool project that combines 3D printing and electronics, be sure to let us know, and we’ll feature it here!