Hackaday Prize Entry: Flex Modules

One of [Chris Hamilton]’s entries for The Hackaday Prize deals directly with his job. He works at Fyber Labs designing wearable and flexible electronics. While anyone can go out and buy some flex sensors and every large board house can make flex PCBs, there aren’t many people building flexible products, and even fewer are creating the tools to build these wearable electronics. To solve this problem, [Chris] is building Flex Modules, circuit boards that combine the ease of use of breadboard-compatible modules with something that can be placed on a flexible PCB.

This is a toolkit for [Chris] and he already has a ton of modules that are either completed or in the works. The Flex Sensor ADC Buffer and Filter is meant to read flexible sensors, the STM32F401 module puts an incredibly powerful microcontroller in these projects, and the 12axis module gives these projects pressure, humidity, gyro, and temperature sensors. There are over two dozen modules [Chris] is working on, and each of them work with his system for flexible electronics.

If you’d like to see an example of what these modules can do, check out the Dance Kit [Chris] built. It’s a wearable LED strip with motion feedback and bioelectric monitoring. Without being flexible, this project would be a huge unwieldly mass of circuit boards. With these modules, it was easy to create a wearable solution to the problem.

 


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Portabilizing The Kinect

Way back when the Kinect was first released, there was a realization that this device would be the future of everything 3D. It was augmented reality, it was a new computer interface, it was a cool sensor for robotics applications, and it was a 3D scanner. When the first open source driver for the Kinect was released, we were assured that this is how we would get 3D data from real objects into a computer.

Since then, not much happened. We’re not using the Kinect for a UI, potato gamers were horrified they would be forced to buy the Kinect 2 with the new Xbox, and you’d be hard pressed to find a Kinect in a robot. 3D scanning is the only field where the Kinect hasn’t been over hyped, and even there it’s still a relatively complex setup.

This doesn’t mean a Kinect 3D scanner isn’t an object of desire for some people, or that it’s impossible to build a portabilzed version. [Mario]’s girlfriend works as an archaeologist, and having a tool to scan objects and places in 3D would be great for her. Because of this, [Mario] is building a handheld 3D scanner with a Raspberry Pi 2 and a Kinect.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a portablized Kinect. Way back in 2012, the Kinect was made handheld with the help of a Gumstix board. Since then, a million tiny ARM single board computers have popped up, and battery packs are readily available. It was only a matter of time until someone stepped up to the plate, and [Mario] was the guy.

The problem facing [Mario] isn’t hardware. Anyone can pick up a Kinect at Gamestop, the Raspberry Pi 2 should be more than capable of reading the depth sensor on the Kinect, and these parts can be tied together with 3D printed parts. The real problem is the software, and so far [Mario] has Libfreenect compiling without a problem on the Pi2. The project still requires a lot of additional libraries including some OpenCV stuff, but so far [Mario] has everything working.

You can check out his video of the proof of concept below.

Continue reading “Portabilizing The Kinect”

Adding A Backlight To A Cheap Multimeter

We don’t all need super high quality electronic testing gear. Sometimes second-hand or inexpensive equipment is accurate enough to get the job done. Though it can be a bit annoying to miss out on some of those “luxury” features. [Ekriirke] had this problem with his cheap multimeter. He wished the LCD screen had a backlight for easier visibility, so rather than upgrade to a more expensive unit he just added one himself.

After opening up the multimeter [Ekriirke] found that it ran on a single 12V battery. He realized that the simplest thing to do would be to wire up four white LEDs in series. The four LEDs were arranged within the case off to each side of the LCD, one in each corner. The leads were bent at 90 degree angles and soldered together “dead bug” style. Thin strips of copper foil tape were attached to the PCB in such a way that the anode and cathode from the LEDs would make contact when the case was closed back up.

The tape wraps around to the other side of the PCB where there was more room for the next piece of the circuit. A capacitor, resistor, and transistor are used in conjunction with a momentary switch. This circuit allows [Ekriirke] to turn on the light for about ten seconds by pressing the button one time. The circuit also runs through the meter’s dial switch, preventing the LEDs from being turned on while the meter itself is turned off.

[via Reddit]

Caption CERN Contest – Safe Science Is No Accident

Week 18 has faded into history, but not before you wrote some great captions! A hearty thanks to all the entrants. Astute reader [jlbrian7] has done it again! He’s uncovered the story behind this image. The woman in this photo is manually analyzing photographs of charged particles taken in a bubble chamber. He linked to an article from Fermilab, and to a 1971 film about Gargamelle, CERN’s largest bubble chamber at the time. The film is well worth a watch. It’s aimed at the layman, explaining the design, construction, and operation of bubble chambers. The photo scanning section starts at 14:40. The video has plenty of “1970’s-isms”, such as referring to the women analyzing the photographs as “scanning girls”. The filmmaker even bookend the section with an actual scanned girl – a possibly NSFW (by today’s standards) ASCII art printout of a nude pin-up model, as printed by a Control Data Corporation supercomputer.

The Funnies:

  • “Tabatha, the dungeon master, plots tonight’s dungeon and dragons game inside the exploded atom.”- [LloydTCannonIII]
  • “CERN, the only place you can watch Netflix on the same table that you eat lunch and plot global domination. Muwahahaha!” – [Joshua]
  • “They take Kerbal Space Program very serious at CERN. Here you can see the first interactive real time orbital view display.” – [haxtormoogle]

This week’s winner is [Jarrett] with “Friday night is Missile Command night in the lab. It’s a serious event”

We’re giving away two prizes this week – one to [jlbrian7] for his research on this and other CERN images, and one to [Jarrett] for his winning caption! Congrats to both of you. Enjoy your Logic Pirates From The Hackaday Store!

Week 19

cern-19-smJust about every workplace has to worry about safety. Many companies have a safety team that is trained to handle emergencies and help patients until proper medical technicians arrive. In a typical office environment this training is pretty easy, but what if you’re working on the bleeding edge of science? CERN’s safety team trains for everything, including badly burned hands and partially removed eyeballs. Don’t worry, these are just simulated injuries, which is probably why this CERN scientist is so calm, even smiling for the photo! CERN’s medical room also appears to be well stocked – with a full skeleton, and no less than four different types of fire extinguishers.

So, even though we already have a pretty good idea of what is going on in this photo (and the accompanying album), we’re sure you’ll come up with some great captions. Have at it!

This week’s prize is a Lightblue Bean from The Hackaday Store. Add your humorous caption as a comment to this project log. Make sure you’re commenting on the contest log, not on the contest itself (or on this post).

As always, if you actually have information about the image or the people in it, let CERN know on the original image discussion page.

Good Luck!

Olimex Claims the World’s First $9 Computer Costs $39

The C.H.I.P. from Next Thing Co. bills itself as the world’s first nine dollar computer. That’s not a lie; their Kickstarter took in over two million dollars for a tiny single board computer with composite Video, WiFi, Bluetooth 512MB of RAM, 4GB of storage, and a 1GHz CPU. That’s a complete computer, sans keyboard, mouse, and monitor. You won’t get that with the $35 Raspberry Pi – you’ll need to add a WiFi adapter and an SD card for the same functionality – and you won’t get that with any other single board computer.

Understandably, the C.H.I.P. is already extremely successful. The company behind it has about 50,000 pre-orders, and people lined up to wait until well into next year for this computer. Exactly how Next Thing Co. managed to build a single board computer and send it out the door for nine dollars is a question that has yet to be answered, and is leaving more than a few people puzzled.

The Olimex blog has given their opinion of the C.H.I.P, and if that’s to be believed, the news isn’t good. The guys at Olimex know their stuff when it comes to making cheap single board computers; they have more than a few for sale, and they know what the Flash and DRAM market is like. To them, it’s impossible to sell a computer like the C.H.I.P. at $9. A quote from Allwinner for a similar module is $16 at the quantity Next Thing Co. would be looking at. That’s just the module with RAM and Flash – no Wifi, no board, no connectors. How could it be possible to sell this computer for only $9?

Continue reading “Olimex Claims the World’s First $9 Computer Costs $39”

Give me a Welder and Rod Stock and I’ll Build you the World

Metal fabrication is a an art that often goes under appreciated. The ability to take common stock in the form of sheet, pipe (square or round), and in this case rod, and make it into anything is intoxicating for the artist and super villain inside of each of us. Recently [asciiArtVandaly] took on an interesting job and was thoughtful enough to make a photo album of the process. He literally created the world out of metal.

The build is a wire-frame globe. The latitude and longitude rods are rolled to the proper arc, but holding them in place is a bit of a trick. This image shows the welding jig built just for this project. It has large and small nobs to match the increasing spacing of the rods, with washers holding down ever other joint. If you want to see an example of rod-rolling check out the unrelated How It’s Made segment found after the break.

This jig is visually stunning to look at, but the math used to lay something like this out is only mildly interesting compared to the work done to add the continents to the piece. Each of these were cut out and then hand hammered to match the curve of the globe before being welded in place and outfitted with lighting for cities. That’s a skill you can’t get without a lot of practice — and get this, [asciiArtVandalay] does it as a hobby. Who knew robot engineers needed hobbies?

The finished globe is about eighty pounds of stainless steel. The build ends up being corporate art for a company sure to turn [Tyler Durden’s] eye.

Continue reading “Give me a Welder and Rod Stock and I’ll Build you the World”

Hackerspace Happeninging: A Booc For C-Base

In the annals of hackerspace history, there’s one space that stands above the rest. It’s c-base, the crashed spaceship below Berlin that’s also one of the first hackerspaces in the world. Before NYC Resistor, Noisebridge, and every other building filled with tools and cool people, there was c-base.

Although the Hackerspace movement has only been around for a little less than a decade now, c-base itself is much, much older. It was founded way back in 1995, marking this year as the second decade of c-base’s existence. A few of the members of c-base are celebrating this occasion by publishing a book on the vast and storied history of their hackerspace.

The mythology of c-base includes a space station crashing in the middle of Berlin, with the giant, famous disco ball in Berlin being the station’s antenna. Yes, it’s weird, but all good hackerspaces have some sort of irreverent mythos surrounding them. The c-booc will document the twenty year long excavation of the space station, chronicling how this hackerspace came to be.

The booc is a Kickstarter project, and if funded, will be available for pickup at the Chaos Communication Camp this August