Fun with Electronics and Code

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Jobs at Arrayent

Want a job developing software for Internet of Things? In 2 Days I will be at the Febreze Hackathon in Santa Clara ( Arrayent has multiple open Software Development positions. If you are interested in either of those positions look me up while I am there or click here to apply online.

Original code for Apollo 11 was put on Github

You can see that the programmers for the Apollo 11 Guidance Computer had a sense of Humor:

Also evidence that no matter how much languages and times change, some things don’t:

Breakfast will never be the same

Have you ever woken up on a sleepy Saturday morning and though to yourself “I don’t want to make plane old round pancakes, I want to make my kids rocket ships, or Elsa pancakes”. Then you remember your not an artist and the only thing you can draw is those stick figured on the back of the family cars. Well not any more with the Pancake Bot. It uses special software to turn your designs into custom pancakes. So now you can cook up all kinds of great designs and turn them into pancakes.

Circuit Board Printer

Kickstarter is a great platform for launching a product without having to have huge infrastructure in place. However it is getting filled more and more with cliché and over-hyped products that are not all that special or have been done multiple time (like the dozen or so 3D PLA / ABS printers from the last year). Still every so often a product will pop up on their that is really interesting / well-built, looks like it will be successful, and is innovative. The Voltara looks to be one of them.

This is a Circuit Board printer you set on your desk. It uses Conductive ink, and insulation printable layer(so you can cross traces) and even a solder past dispenser. Everything you need for prototyping your own Circuit board or doing small runs.

Now the biggest “hole” in my opinion is that it does not have a drill so you cannot add any parts that need through hole otherwise you will have to whip out the drill press and do it manually. Not really and issue but for the cost ($1,499) it would be good to have that at lease be an add-on.

Best of luck to the Voltera team.

Great job for a rookie team – FTC Cyber Ents 8737

This past weekend, a First FTC team I helped mentor made it to the semifinals in their first Competition. Thier name is the Cyber Ents 8737 and although they did not will they had a lot of fun and had that highest scoring match of the day.

Use your Phone as part of your computers UI?

MIT Media lab is always coming out with cool stuff and this is no exception: THAW

This phone – computer UI integration has many real world applications.

Check it out.

Also here is the MIT page for the project:

Students at San Jose State University look to Kick starter for help with thier Final Project

Students at San Jose State University look to Kick starter for help with thier Final Project

This is one of the things about crowd funding. It allows people to directly get involved with projects they find interesting or want to support. This Kickstarter Project is for a group of people at San Jose State who need help with their final class project. They are looking to build a Heavy Light Capable Quadcopter they are calling the Incredible HLQ (Hulk :-). This thing will be able to autonomously deliver and retrieve payload up to 50 lbs. 

What I love about this school project is that it is not a pie in the sky school project. If successful this could launch their careers and many even allow them to start a company that builds devices like this as it has countless uses (military, fire fighting, search and rescue, etc). 

Even if you dont want to sponsor them head over to their Kickstarter project page and see what their up to. Best of luck Guys!!

Arduino vs Netduino

So I have had a few questions about if the Grand Prix / Pinewood derby track timer design or code would work on a Arduino. Well the short answer is no. Now that does not mean you can’t build a track timer with an arduino (I looked at them when initially consider the design) but there are a few reasons why (in my opinion) the Netduino is better in this situation. The most important is how the interrupt triggering works vs polling that you do on arduino.

If you want to know the “exact” time a car took to travel down a lane the resolution of that time is dependent on how small you can make the loop and that resolution can change if something else occurs on the arduino.

With the Netduino however you can set up hardware level interrupts on each of the input pins and those events have a timestamp from the hardware layer. Now it take considerable longer to process the events in the netduino but since you have that timestamp it is very easy to calculate the time elapsed. This allowed me to get to x.xxxx seconds vs to x.xx seconds with the arduino.

Now some may ask if that is necessary and in response I will just give this example. In our first race after building the timer the final race was so close that on video you could not see a difference between the cars. Thier times were 3.1415 vs 3.1417.

If the time resolution was less than x.xxxx then this would have been recorded as a tie. Since using this system we have not had a single tie. This time resolution seems to fit the track we have which is 43′ long and only the first 10 to 12 feet has slope… if your track is shorter than that then you might need a higher time resolution.

Well I hope that helps. let me know if you have any other questions.

Bulb to light the world

The biggest issue I have had with “efficient lighting” was that the color was bad, it never produced as much light as the indecent equivalent, or it visibly flashed. This light bulb will address all those issues and be cheaper then the current LED alternatives out there. check it out:

Parts and Supplies

Well it has been ages since I posted last but wanted to let any of you that might actually read this that I have found a couple of great places to get parts and supplies. For the last few months I have been running a Robotics club (based on the 3Pi Robot some other fathers with kids around my sons age. We have done the line following, maze solving and are now moving on to much more advanced stuff like using an Ultrasonic Sensor and IR receiver. lots of fun.

Well one of the other father pointed me to a seller on Ebay called Chip_Partner and it is some Chinese group that sells electrical components dirt cheep and includes free shipping. So we needed 5 ultrasonic sensors and decided to give this place a try. Well for less than 12 dollars we had 5 of them shipped. It was supposed to take 2+weeks to arrive but 4 days later they showed up. Not sure how that works as this shipping would seem to cost more than that parts but it works. We have been using the ultrasonic sensors for a couple of months now with no issues.

The second place is Deals Extreme At first it just looks like another fake inline store that will just steal your money and if you ever do get it, it will not be what you wanted. However I realized that they have an entire section devoted to Arduinos and their stuff is super cheap (I mean cheap and not inexpensive). Some of it is clones of designs out there available for free on the web. what got my attention was this board: this Arduino has built-in Servo headers and is $16.60 US shipped. If you want to separate out the power for your motors the you can add this board: it is only $8.80 US shipped so for about 25 dollars you can get 3 of the major components you would need to convert a old Remote controlled car into one controlled by an Arduino.

So  I am going to order those 2 board and see if we have the same luck that we had with that Ebay group.

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