Meet the Pinguino – a completely open PIC-based dev platform

pinguino

[Phillip Torrone] from Make recently sat down with [Jean-Pierre Mandon] and [Tsvetan Usunov], creators of the Pinguino, to hear more about their product. While the name might not sound familiar, we’re pretty sure you’ll be seeing more of this development platform as time goes on.

Essentially created by makers for makers, the Pinguino is a 32-bit PIC based Arduino-compatible prototyping platform, much like Microchip’s chipKIT. The Pinguino boasts 100% Arduino compatibility just as the chipKIT, though their tool chain has been built from scratch, meaning it is completely open source. The Pinguino even include an on-board microSD slot and a built-in Li-Po charger – two huge features that make this a solid chipKit competitor.

Phil discusses the history of the Pinguino with the pair, diving into technical differences between the two platforms, as well as where they plan on taking the platform in the future. It’s certainly an interesting read for anyone interested in open software and hardware that has been considering giving the chipKIT a try.

QR code key fob helps your lost keys find their way home

qrcode_key_finder

Don’t you hate that feeling, the one you get when you have just realized that you have no clue where you may have left your keys? If you are unlucky enough to have lost them in a public place, odds are they are as good as gone. Pumping Station One member [celtwolf] thought it would be great if your keys could help someone contact you instantly upon finding them, so he created a key fob that did just that.

SMS can use a similar URI scheme as the “mailto” protocol we are all familiar with, so [celtwolf] generated a URI that would send a text to his mobile phone with the message “I found your keys!”. He generated a QR code from the URI, then etched it on a piece of acrylic using a laser cutter. He filled in the recessed portions with a dark polymer clay, baked it, then coated it with a layer of nail polish for added durability.

Now, if anyone finds his keys and takes a picture of the QR code with their smartphone, he will immediately receive a text letting him know they are safe and sound. What a great idea!

Sustainability Hacks: Poop power

Yes. That’s a motorized tricycle with a toilet. Let that sink in for a minute. Oh, that isn’t a concept sketch of something that will never be built. The Toilet Bike Neo is most assuredly a real thing.

Biogas, or methane produced from decaying plant or animal wastes, is a legitimate form of energy. Waste gasses from landfills make up about half a percent of U.S. natural gas consumption. The state of Vermont even has a Cow Power program of renewable energy. That being said, this is a toilet on a trike.

The bike was built for Japanese bathroom fixture manufacturer TOTO’s green initiative. Biogas is produced onboard the trike, so instead of going to the local gas station to fill up, you could just get a newspaper, coffee and bran muffin. There are tanks on the back of the trike containing “fuel”. This arrangement probably makes a rear end collision in the Toilet Bike Neo more terrifying than getting rear-ended in a Ford Pinto.

The Toilet Bike Neo is setting off on a trip across Japan on October 6th (today) to promote biogas. You can follow the updates on the Toilet Bike Neo’s Twitter.

A tip ‘o the hat to [jon] for sending this one in. You may now commence the jokes.

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