A complete microcontroller development kit for little more than the cost of a bare chip? That’s what STMicroelectronics is promising with their STM8S-Discovery: seven dollars gets you not only a board-mounted 8-bit microcontroller with an decent range of GPIO pins and functions, but the USB programmer/debugger as well.
The STM8S microcontroller is in a similar class as the ATmega328 chip on latest-generation Arduinos: an 8-bit 16 MHz core, 32K flash and 2K RAM, UART, SPI, I2C, 10-bit analog-to-digital inputs, timers and interrupts and all the usual goodness. The Discovery board features a small prototyping area and throws in a touch-sense button for fun as well. The ST-LINK USB programmer/debugger comes attached, but it’s easy to crack one off and use this for future STMicro-compatible projects; clearly a plan of giving away the razor and selling the blades.
The development tools are for Windows only, and novice programmers won’t get the same touchy-feely community of support that surrounds Arduino. But for cost-conscious hackers and for educators needing to equip a whole classroom (or if you’re just looking for a stocking stuffer for your geeky nephew), it’s hard to argue with seven bucks for a full plug-and-play setup.
Cable management is a headache for all, and if unmitigated it becomes a playground for cats. [kws103] posted a project a while ago that takes care of the messy wires for electronics on pull out shelving. Channel bracket is used to house the cables and has been articulated in three places to facilitate the movement of the sliding shelf. For an added touch an outlet was built into the surface to make it easy to unplug and remove the components if necessary. The hinges for articulation use aluminum base plates and rely on rivets as a pivot point, something that might need improvement if pulling the shelf in and out is a common occurence. Add this to the Ikea based solution we looked at in August and your days of electronic rats nests may be coming to an end.
The Stimmmopped is an electronic guitar tuner made to be used as a guitar pick. This uses two LEDs synchronized to blink at the exact frequency of the string you are tuning. Pluck the string with the corner of the PCB and then shine the light on the string you are tuning. As the vibrating string moves back and forth it will only pick up the spot of light when the frequency matches that of the blinking LED. Once in tune, both red lights will appear to be constantly illuminated and immobile on the string.
An Atmel ATmega8 is used to control the device, interfacing with two buttons and a seven-segment display to choose the pitch currently being tuned. Gibson has a robotic guitar that features an auto-tuning mode, but if you don’t want to shell that much this low cost and simple build is for you.
[Jonathan Ward’s] pcb mill is as impressive as it is inexpensive. Twenty-six plywood parts, labeled A-Z, are used to assemble the machine along with the customary precision rods, stepper motors, and router assembly. His bill of materials prices the unit at $458.18, a small price to pay in order to forgo a multi-step etching process.
His test board shows some fairly fine pitch that could turn out most home-project circuit boards. We’ve contacted [Jonathan] regarding the specifics of milling the plywood parts out of a 2 foot by 4 foot sheet of plywood. Watch for an update with any information he’s willing to share. We hope he’ll make the milling files for the plywood parts available so that you can build a copy of the device for your own use.
While we have our fun ethically hacking, its very easy to forget that sometimes our ideas could be used with malicious goals. Take for instance SparkFun’s BlueSMiRF – the device’s original intention is simply to act as a wireless serial cable replacement. After hackers discovered several PIN pads use a serial interface, they put one and one together to steal several hundreds of people’s personal bank accounts.
It seems SparkFun is getting a lot of heat lately, but we’re glad they stand up and address these issues. You can check out the original news clipping here.
Move over Steve and PEART… there’s yet another robotic drummer in town. [Fauzii] tipped us off to his own MIDI-controlled creation – WizardFingers. According to him, WizardFingers is already capable of 64th note rolls at over 250 beats per minute. That’s on every drum simultaneously. Each drum is hit with a lever attached to a linear pneumatic actuator. A laptop running MAX/MSP generates MIDI sequences, which are sent to Doepfer MTC64 board. All of these actuators are hooked up to the board, which sets them off in sequence.
[Fauzii] ultimately hopes to develop AI software that will allow WizardFingers to compose its own tunes on not only a drum kit, but bar chimes and an organ as well. His site documents the whole concept quite well (just watch out for wild cats).