Thursday, August 27, 2009, 03:18 AM - Misc TechnoToysRCFoamCutter has a number of kits of CNC machines for cutting foam costing $400 for a basic kit to about $1300 for a complete kit (including electronics, hot wire power supply and such).
Thursday, August 27, 2009, 03:04 AM - ElectronicsThe mbed microcontroller uses such a cool new concept that one wonders why we haven't seen this before: an online C++ toolchain/development suite. The mbed microcontroller board uses an open design built around a 60MHz NXP LPC2368 ARM7 CPU (datasheet) with 512KB flash, 32KB RAM, USB 2.0, 10/100 ethernet, SD/MMC interface, 2xSPI, 2xI2C, 3xUART, 1xCAN, GPIO, 6xPWM, 6xADCs, and 1xDAC. The library apparently contains simple Arduino-like functions for I/O and such.
It's still in beta at the moment, and the board is supposed to cost about
There is a number of articles on the mbed at Elektor, and at Circuit Cellar (PDF).
Saturday, August 22, 2009, 12:46 PM - ElectronicsThe Leaflabs blog has a post about the prototype of a rather appetizing Arduino-like micro-controller board built around an STM32 ARM Cortex-M3 from ST Micro.
The folks at Leaflabs apparently intend to make the board work with the Arduino software suite, and implement an Arduino compatible library. Many of us are drooling at the prospect of an ARM-based, $40 Arduino-quasi-compatible board. It would enable projects that are out of reach of the current Atmega-based Arduino, such as real-time audio processing. It would certainly help that the STM32 has three super-fast 12-bit ADC, as well as two 12-bit DACs! Hello Arduino-based synthesizer modules!
It's not clear which the 3 zillion versions of the STM32 the board uses.
Thursday, August 20, 2009, 12:24 PM - MusicEnrico Costanza from EPFL sent us a heads-up about the release of his tangible interface system for musical applications called Audio D-Touch. The site includes instructions for building your own d-touch system, as well as downloadable code for Windoze, Mac, and Linux (registration required).
Applications include a drum machine and a sequencer.
More videos are available here.
Thursday, July 16, 2009, 10:08 PM - Flying ContraptionsAeroVironment has developed a flapping wing micro-UAV under a DARPA-funded project. The prototype made a 20 second radio-controlled flight. There is a video on YouTube, and a short description of the recent milestone.
This is probably the work of micro-RC pioneer Matt Keenon, who works at AeroVironment.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009, 12:10 AM - ElectronicsThe new Stickduino Arduino clone as been upgraded with the new Atmega328, so as to match the latest version of the "official" Arduino. The price is still below $20.
Strangely enough, the stickduino website makes no mention of the change!
How do I learned about it then?
Well, I just received a new batch of Stickduinos and tried to program one, but the program wouldn't upload (I kept getting "stk500_recv() programmer is not responding" from avrdude). I started looking on the web for answers, but couldn't find anything. After fiddling for a while, I looked closely at the board, and realized it had an Atmega328. I configured the Arduino IDE for the new Duemilanove Arduino, and everything worked perfectly.
Still, I'm surprised the stickduino people don't mention this anywhere.
Thursday, June 11, 2009, 05:32 PM - JazzTenor sax virtuoso Joel Frahm was playing his regular Tuesday-night gig at La Lanterna in NYC this week, accompanied by Bill Campbell at the drums (as usual), and Johannes Weidenmuller at the bass (replacing Joe Martin). Joel is something of a "quotemaster": his solos are often peppered with snippets from all kinds of things from other jazz pieces, classical music, pop music, and just about anything under the sun.
This Tuesday, Joel was in a particularly playful mood, and his high-flying solos brought an unusally rich harvest of detectable/delectable quotes including such things as Peter and the Wolf, Michel Legrand's "Les moulins de mon cœur" (Windmills of my mind), and (that's got to be a first) a theme from Star Wars!
Over the last 3 months, photographer Jimmy Katz has come to 8 or 10 of Joel's trio sessions at La Lanterna, equipped with a compact digital multi-track recorder. Each session he recorded has about 3 hours of music. Hopefully, these will soom be distilled and made available.
By ze way, the complete collection of Joel's sessions at Small's are available for on-line listening here.
Saturday, June 6, 2009, 04:09 PM - Flying ContraptionsBertrand pointed me to this positively gigantic collection of airplane 3 views at rcgroups.
They even have one of my favorites: the obscure the coleoptere.
Thursday, May 14, 2009, 07:06 PM - Flying ContraptionsThere seems to be a renewal of interest in the heretofore abandoned concept of the cyclogyro
The cyclogyro has two rotating sets of "paddles" whose angle of attack is cyclically modified to create lift in the desired direction. The principle is well described by the animation in this Wikipedia article.
There is a YouTube video of a thethered micro-size cyclogyro, which was designed at the National University of Singapore. A detailed description of the design is available here.
A team of Japanese roboticists has apparently revived the concept, using a "pantograph" mechanism to vary the angle of attack (link to IEEE Tans. Mechatronics article),
and a short description with pictures on PhysOrg.
I'm somewhat doubtful of the efficiency of the design, but it looks like a fun thing to build.
There is a number of article on the web that describe 1930's designs for cyclogyros. I am somewhat surprised that none of these designs seem to include an anti-torque system. These paddles are bound to generate a high torque that would make the vehicle pitch up (which is why the cyclogyro on the YouTube video has a propeller in the back).
Thursday, May 7, 2009, 11:39 PM - RoboticsThis past semester, I have been teaching an undergraduate course Introduction to Robotics. The first series of assignments included programming Arduinos to read sensors and actuate servos and DC motors. The second series included programming a Pololu 3Pi robot to follow a line (using a PID controller), and perform dead reckoning (coming home after following a line to its end).
The last series of homework consisted in getting Rovio robots to play soccer. I feel I should mention this here because the class page showing videos and pictures of the students' soccer-playing Rovios had been mentioned by a number of blogs, including Slashgear and RoboCommunity.
The Rovio robots can be seen as "Wifi webcams on wheels". The goal of the project was to push a tennis ball into a goal. The tennis ball is bright yellow, and the goal posts are red. The rovios are controlled by software running on a laptop which performs the vision and control algorithms. The software is written in our very own Lush language, which is a dialect of Lisp.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009, 12:57 AM - JazzTonight at La Lanterna in NYC tenor sax Bill McHenry was sitting in for Joel Frahm, with bassist Joe Martin and drummer Bill Campbell. They played two of Bill McHenry's new compositions "Violetta" and "Lines" which I thought were particularly interesting.
Thursday, March 26, 2009, 03:00 AM - Misc TechnoToysLumenlab proposes the micRo CNC kit for $500 for a partial kit and $1000 for a complete kit. You can also get a low-end Dell PC to control the CNC machine for $330, pre-configured with Ubuntu.
The total travel dimensions are 34cm x 25cm x 8.9 cm.
[via Makezine blog]
Thursday, March 26, 2009, 02:50 AM - ElectronicsThe Makershed has a new XBee adapter for $10 with 10 pins, some which directly fit in an FTDI serial USB adapter cable. It includes level shifters and a 3.3v regulator and can be plugged into a proto board.
Newmicros also has an XBee USB dongle, for $40.
Saturday, March 14, 2009, 09:09 PM - ElectronicsIntelspy sells a surveillance system with two wireless cameras and a 2-channel receiver for $130. The interesting thing is that the claimed range is over 500m.
Saturday, March 14, 2009, 09:00 PM - ElectronicsA cool little hack in which an Arduino is used to levitate a magnetic object and regulate its distance from the levitating electromagnet.
Monday, March 9, 2009, 10:04 PM - ElectronicsThis page has a bunch of interesting prototyping shields for the Arduino, including relays, power FETs, motor drivers and such (via Makezine blog).