Processing 2.0 released

The open source programming language for makers and creatives gets a major update.

Processing, an open source programming language and environment, has been used extensively by millions of artists, designers, experimenters, and makers since its development in 2001. It made sophisticated programming accessible both in terms of ease of use and cost (free). Recently, Processing 2.0, the first full new version, was released to the public.

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Michael Hansmeyer’s vision for algorithmic design

The theory and goals behind his incredible columns.

We previously mentioned Michael Hansmeyer’s spectacular CNC milled columns. To recap, the columns were designed using a subdivision process in Processing before being CNC milled from 2700 layers of 1mm ABS plastic. He recently gave a TED talk about these columns and, more broadly, his vision for designing with computer algorithms. Using this method allows us to create forms so complex that they cannot be drawn or even imagined.


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Variable speed bike sprocket

Give your single speed bike a boost with some parametric goodness

If there was an award for parametric design that made riding your single speed or fixie bike usable on gradients greater than 5 degrees for people other than Olympic athletes, then Jason DeRose would surely take it out with his variable ratio mechanical gear design.

DeRose, a software developer used Python and employed mathematics and geometry to work out the position of the sprocket teeth to craft his design. As part of DeRose’s design process, he then extruded the linework into 3D in Blender. He has also released the project files as open source on launchpad to allow others to build upon it. (more…)

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Ponoko sponsored Arduino project educates kids on DIY electronics

Arduino fun for kids at Swannanoa school

Nice guy Mark Beckett (contributor to the wonderful Shed magazine) got so hooked on Arduino that he decided to pass on his contagious enthusiasm to a group of 10-12 year old school children.  Swannanoa school was all too happy to accept his time and the donated Arduino controllers, and the pupils were all too happy to play with electronics that let them create sparks of magic.

Mark approached Ponoko for the design and laser cutting of the board for mounting the controllers.  The engraved names of sponsors aren’t purely for a feel good factor; the idea is to direct students to their sites for further learning about technology related topics.

Pupils were given task sheets with instructions that had them experiment with various controllers, such as One Wire temperature sensors, photo resistors, opto-isolators, I2C communicators and others.  To encourage further learning during this school holiday project the students were even given Arduino homework – now that’s dedication not to be sneered at.

The course was a success: no one fell asleep in class, most of the students decided to buy Arduino kits for home, and there is demand to have the project repeated next year.   Judging by the smiles on the kids’ faces, they didn’t mind spending their holiday time in the classroom.  No doubt, there were some rather relieved parents who didn’t have to worry about entertaining their offspring over the break.

Ah, it’s always nice to be involved in a positive shaping of young minds.

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TED: Massimo Banzi talks Arduino

How Arduino is Open Source Imagination

Arduino has arguably done more to change the DIY electronic landscape than any other open source device. We’ve often encountered this modular hardware wonder, popping up as an integral component in many 3D printers as well as being at the core of some of our favourite DIY projects.

In the trademark affable manner that he is famous for, Arduino co-founder Massimo Banzi talks through the ever-widening scope of this versatile system.

“(Arduino is) …the equivalent of sketching on paper, done with electronics”

From the humble beginnings in an Italian cafe to an incredible diversity of projects being run by all kinds of hackers, makers, enthusiasts and professionals… whether it’s the pre-teen kids tinkering in their bedrooms, high-school students sending satellites into orbit or multi-million dollar global corporations pushing the boundaries of scientific discoveries; Arduino can be found at the heart of a new revolution.

Watch this neat 15 minute TED talk overview from Massimo Banzi, on Arduino’s role in the new paradigm of Open Source Imagination.

via TED

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Pythagoras the drawing robot

A laser-cut delta robot that can draw better than I can

Aaron Fan is a robotics student at Georgia Tech. Over the past few months he has been regularly updating his website with details of his current project: Pythagoras the drawing robot. He covers a lot of ground, from the mathematics to the coding and hardware design.

I love this project because it ticks all my boxes: the parts are laser cut, the design is open source and well-documented, and the finished machine is equal parts ingenious and pointless. Check out this post for an overview of the project, or take a look after the break for video of the bot in action and examples of what it can draw. (more…)

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Tutorial: getting started with the Personal Factory API in Python

Personal Factory is a cloud software platform for app developers to connect users directly to manufacturing devices to make custom goods on-demand.

It integrates product creation and customization apps with an established manufacturing and distribution system, so users can turn their designs into final products and have those products delivered to their door.

This is part one in a series of tutorials written by technologist Mark Schafer on working with the Personal Factory API in Python.

The full API documentation is here. All supplied examples use cURL.

The code for this tutorial can be found here:


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Ponoko + Arduino = DIY MIDI controller framework

Fantastic tutorial on how to build your own custom designs

Digital music production tools are so powerful these days that it seems you can compose and perform just about any kind of music entirely on a laptop. One of the weak points of digital production though is the physical interface: it’s hard to be expressive when you’re pushing your finger around a trackpad. You can have a lot more control if you have a few physical knobs and sliders and buttons. Enter the generic MIDI controller. (more…)

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Arduino 1.0 programming environment and language released

The wildly popular open source hardware becomes official.

Since its release in 2005, Arduino has become exponentially more popular every year. It is used all around the world, and it is the leading open source microcontroller. Yesterday, Arduino programming environment and language version 1.0 was released, which suggests that this is the first, full, non-beta release.

My first thought was “That wasn’t already released?” It worked so well already, I just assumed this mile marker had already been passed. Anyways, congratulations to the Arduino team and everyone else who has worked on it over the last six years.

You can ready more about it in the Arduino blog announcement and download it from their site.

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What happens when you turn a middle school library into a hackerspace?

guest article by Thomas Maillioux

above: David designs an animation for his LoL Shield with LoL Shield Theater

Editor’s note: Several months ago I put a call out on this blog for a DIY electronics blogger, and I couldn’t believe how many funny, friendly, fantastically qualified people from all over the world responded.

One such person was Thomas Maillioux, an unconventional librarian in France. He told me about his work to bring hackerspaces into the libraries of public schools in metro-Paris to teach kids about electronics, programming, design, and even 3D printing.

He graciously accepted my invitation in broken franglais to tell his story here on the blog. I hope you enjoy!

What happens when you turn a middle school library into a hackerspace?

by Thomas Maillioux

A hackerspace at school

I was lucky enough to work through the 2010 school year with a bunch of brilliant, curious pupils at the Evariste Galois middle-school in Epinay sur Seine in the northern suburbs of Paris.

2 hours a week, we’d meet up at the library to try and answer — through research and tinkering — all the questions they had about computers, electronics, gaming and programming.

We created a small hackerspace where the kids programmed RFID tags, designed a logging system of their own with Touchatags and Google Docs, created animations with Arduinos and LoL shields, compared automatically-generated and human-written code, and even designed their own video games. So what did I learn from this teaching-meets-tinkering experience?

“My project, my pace”

All of the projects I mentioned were chosen by the students themselves. For them, being able to decide what to work on was a huge motivator to actually doing the work — something which might also explain the amazing amount or work the pupils achieved over the few months of the hackerspace experiment. They wanted to come to school early and stay late so they could tinker together!


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