I don’t know what it is about the DIY electronics community that attracts these weirdos*, but I love it. Steffest hooked up an Arduino to a bunch of servos and odds and ends from around his house to create this adorable drummer bot. He then coded up a slick web interface so he can program the contraption from his smartphone.
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…)
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.
It’s easy to forget sometimes that the fundamentals behind laser cutting and 3d printing have been with us for many years now. When André Cassagnes dreamed up what was to become the Etch A Sketch in the 1950s, this wonderfully simple plotting tool became a much loved favourite toy for generations.
As André himself did (the story goes, that he developed the original L’Ecran Magique while tinkering in his basement), modern-day hardware hacker Alpinedelta32 has put his own twist on the toy that lets you draw without ever touching the surface itself.
Combining a repurposed NES controller that he wired up to an Arduino board, this adaptation uses stepper motors to mechanically drive the Etch A Sketch dials.
Arduino. It’s a catchy, funny little word… and the Arduino we have come to know and love has had a wide-ranging impact on the world of DIY electronics.
So where did it all begin?
The five handsome devils pictured above are the guys responsible for this little wonder. Hailing from the town of Ivrea in Northern Italy, Massimo Banzi (that’s him on the right) would relax after a long day teaching at Ivrea’s Interaction Design Institute by heading down to a local watering hole, the Bar di Re Arduino. You can imagine that an enthusiastic and forward-thinking electrical engineer and his buddies would have some pretty interesting conversations when they get together over a few drinks…
Since its launch in 2005, people have used Anduino to do some wonderful things. Reflecting on the past few years, Banzi says that the most important impact of Arduino is the democratization of engineering.
“Fifty years ago, to write software you needed people in white aprons who knew everything about vacuum tubes. We’ve enabled a lot of people to create products themselves.”
There is a fantastic article over at IEEE Spectrum that takes a deeper look into the story of Arduino. It’s interesting reading with many insights from Massimo and his collaborators David Cuartielles, Gianluca Martino, Tom Igoe and David Mellis.
Sous-vide cooking is all the rage right now, thanks in part to the rise of “molecular gastronomy” (science in the kitchen). Sous vide is a method that uses a precisely-maintained low temperature water bath to cook a vacuum-sealed portion of food.
He used off-the-shelf electronics and Personal Factory to laser-cut the enclosure to his specifications. His project post goes into great detail, documenting both the build and subsequent experiments with the system: it’s great reading for those of us that like a bit of maths with their hacking.
Making DIY programming more accessible to eager young minds, the latest iteration of Minibloq is now open to the public in its Beta phase.
Minibloq is a graphical programming environment specifically targeted towards helping primary students, kids and beginners learn more about DIY electronics and hardware.
With a drag-and-drop interface and gentle learning curve, the mysteries of Arduino programming unfold and the real-time error checking keeps everything on track. Much thought has gone into the extensive feature list, and it looks as though the application is shaping up well to match, and indeed exceed, expectations from the recent Kickstarter campaign.
A quick video tour through some of the features follows after the break.
A great kit for anyone, even if you have zero electronics experience.
I got my hands on a Nebulophone kit for the first time last week. The Nebulophone is a little synth that is both a powerful musical instrument and far out noise-maker.
I was interested in using this kit as a teaching aid for students with zero electronics experience. Having now built one myself and taken a few students through the process, I have to say I can barely think of a way to improve this kit, they’ve really nailed it. The hardest part for me was getting the students to leave my workshop after they had finished because they were all having such a great time playing their new keyboards!
The instructions are clear and explicit, with good quality colour photographs of every step, and videos online to help demonstrate the basic techniques such as populating and soldering a circuit board. All the parts are clearly identified and the layout has been designed to simplify assembly as much as possible. It took me about 40 minutes to assemble, and even the students who had never touched a soldering iron only took about 2 hours to finish.
My friend LEKRMOI made this video of me building the Nebulophone and talking about why I like to make stuff.
Yet another creative project enabled by Arduino and the DIY community
This week a friend of mine introduced me to a great VJ system called the Tagtool. The Tagtool allows an artist to create drawings and animations for projection in a live performance environment. It’s all open source, and plans are available online for you to build you own. (more…)
A guide for visual learners:
Getting started with open-source programming
Jody Culkin is an artist of broad and impressive talents, and she’s done something wonderful for the DIY electronics community with one of her recent projects.
It’s not an award-winning sculpture, nor an emotive photograph or whimsical animation… this time, she has turned her hand towards helping newcomers get their head around just what this Arduino thing is all about.
The comic-style introduction has been CC-licensed for all to enjoy, and can be downloaded in full right here.
More than a guide to the ins and outs of the Arduino platform, this is also a handy introduction to electronics projects in general.