A salesman sent me some samples of these little LED lights. I stuck one on my keys about a month ago and it’s still kicking.
There is always virtue in a product that only does one thing well. These mini flashlights are perfect for car keys or house keys. If you are unlucky enough to own a car old enough not to have a radio fob, these lights are amazingly effective and handy. They only do one thing very, very well, and they can save you from having to dig out that $400 flashlight otherwise called a smart phone.
I have had this one riding around on my somewhat battered car key, for about a month. I was pleasantly surprised that it hasn’t fallen off in that time, so the self adhesive glue seems quite aggressive. It also hasn’t gone dead from brushing against other things in my pocket. The battery is replaceable by just removing the one screw that is visible in the photo. It also has not called any of my friends at awkward hours in the evening.
Here’s a summary of the features as I see them:
Made of metal.
Replaceable battery with easy access.
Aggressive self adhesive pad on rear sticks to keys.
Switch is hard enough to prevent accidental activation.
Preempts having to dig out expensive smart phone “flashlight”.
Great gifts for geeks and civilians alike.
I’m giving away 15 of them with orders (you have to buy something else) with discount code “ThumbLite”.
In the shop here.
Issue 36 of Make Magazine just hit the mailboxen of subscribers; it’ll hit the newsstand on October 23rd or so. The Really Bare Bones Board is featured in the Make Your Own Damn Board article, which is a tutorial on basic board design in EAGLE. We made a special EAGLE library with just the parts on the RBBB, which you can download below. Right click to save (an EAGLE library is an XML file), and place it in the lbr directory of your EAGLE installation.
Gavin Atkinson has been working in the studio on a few different projects this Summer, and our new proximity sensor is the latest fruit of his work. These panelized boards look very cool so I thought I’d share them. I described them previously as looking like Klingon shuriken and I stand by that analogy.
We have some affection for the SI1143 chip. We used it for our pulse sensor in which it performs admirably. Plus we successfully puzzled our way through its 78 page datasheet. So we figured that we would spin up some sensors based on what the chip was supposed to do (i.e. what the manufacturers of the chip thought it might be good for), namely proximity sensors.
Our summer intern Gavin Atkinson took the lead in designing these two versions or an SI1143 based proximity sensor. They are both exactly the same schematic and parts and only the form factor varies. However the geometry of the LED / sensing chip layout affects the sensor so sensing distances and sensing angles vary a bit.
Silicon Labs wrote an app with code for “swipe-sensing” that demonstrates detection of swiping your hand over the sensor from different directions. We thought it would fun to see how the sensor might work as a 3D mouse. For you math and code heads, the code that we used in the video uses vector addition to add the three vectors whose inputs are the values returned by the various LED readings and whose angles are represented by the angles between the chip and respective LEDs (0, 120, & 240 degrees). This yielded a vector and direction that was a fairly good decoding of the LEDs into a vector direction and strength as you can see in the video. Summing all three LED values yields a good idea of object distance to the chip – so it would be possible to map these coordinates into 3D space, which we did not do in an explicit way in the video.
The pictures above, and in our video are our prototypes and the assembly technique on the sensors lacks something in the neatness department. In particular we need to find the correct adhesive and technique to glue on the chip’s laser cut “shield”, which prevents LED light from “short circuiting” to the sensor. We also used some diffusers over the LEDs in the video. We believe that wider LED angles will work as well as the diffusers. We also revised the layout a bit as found that the large capacitor was blocking the LED in some situations. Yeah for prototypes working the way they are supposed to!
Some possible uses for the sensor we thought about were:
interactive controllers or scroll wheels as in the video link below
smart distance sensor for robots so that they might be able to tell heading toward a wall or other object
short distance replacements for Sharp IR distance sensors with no “close-in deadspot” that sometimes making the Sharp sensors tricky to apply.
touchless 2D or 3D mouse, perhaps hot-cold control for a sink mixing valve, meat packing factory, hospital or surgery suite where hands were either dirty or clean and touchless sensing was desirable.
We’ve just moved our web shop to the WooCommerce backend. WooCommerce is a fork of the open source Jigoshop cart and lives entirely in WordPress, which means it will be easier for us to integrate all aspects of the blog, documentation and shop. We think the new setup will improve the user experience, but if you have any troubles with the new interface, please email email@example.com and let us know! We’re also (finally!) hooked up with an Authorize.net merchant account, so you can pay by credit card directly without using Paypal. Paypal is still an option of course.
The Rhode Island Mini Maker Faire is this Saturday, featuring dozens of makers alongside the usual music and shenanigans of AS220′s annual Foo Fest. Each year we run a soldering workshop as part of the Faire; this year we’ll be making a hackable bytebeat player from Modern Device, the Byteseeker Junior.
The Byteseeker is an Arduino-variation with a headphone jack, two pots and two buttons based on the Real Bare Bones Board. The code we’ll be using at the Faire is kind of like an iPod Shuffle for Bytebeat “songs.”
What’s Bytebeat you ask? It’s a genre of 8-bit beatmaking that tweezes complex repeating patterns of sound out of one line math expressions. A more in-depth description may be found in this blog post, but here’s a quick video to give you an idea of what the thing sounds like:
Here’s how to use the Lots of Pots Board for the Raspberry Pi. The daughterboard (or shield; what are we calling Raspberry Pi add ons these days?) sits on top of the Raspberry Pi and breaks out the various GPIO pins in a useful and labeled manner. It also has an 8 channel MCP3008 analog to digital converter on board, which is hooked up to the hardware SPI pins on the GPIO header. This tutorial will describe the features of the board and cover how to read analog inputs from the ADC.
This post describes a process I like to call algorithmic ballyhoo; using a Processing program to generate many different unique poster designs. We needed a poster for the Rhode Island Mini Maker Faire this year, so I decided to use a Processing sketch to do the work for me. Modern Device will be at the Mini Maker Faire, and will have a new Bytebeat-based kit for the soldering workshop.
Algorithmic ballyhoo is nothing but sheer randomness without some sort of seed or design constraint. The Mini Maker Faire is embedded in AS220′s Foo Fest, and Xander Marro is this year’s Foo Fest artist-in-residence. Xander designed the Foo Fest posters (pictured to the right) and I decided to use the same elements in the Mini Maker Faire poster.
Read on for the Processing code. It’s pretty straightforward; the key is to use the processing.pdf library to record a printable version of everything you’re drawing on the screen. Then, just bring it to your local copy shop (or fine art large format printer). Remember that your drawing grid is at 72dpi. In the final PDF all graphics will be drawn as scalable vector art, but any included bitmap images will be drawn at screen resolution, so make sure any included PNGs are at least 4 or 5 times the final size, then shrunk down.
Constructing a wind tunnel in theory is not a hard thing to do. I first did some internet research as to how I might build a simple wind tunnel, starting on the Internet.
NASA has some links up for educators and I looked through them but didn’t really find much at the level I needed.
Next I used one of my preferred Internet search techniques – doing a Google search, viewing the “images” option, then clicking through to the pages which display promising images: https://www.google.com/search?q=wind+tunnel+construction (The preceding link may be browser specific and may not work for you.)