Hacking cakes with LEDs, the sequel!

A few weeks back we ran a piece about the convergence of making and baking in an attempt to create a cake festooned with working LEDs. The moral was that not every creative idea ends in victory, but we applauded the spirit it takes to post one’s goofs for the whole internet to see and to learn from.

[Craig]’s LED matrix proved unreliable…and the underlying cake didn’t fare much better, resembling that charred lump in the toaster oven in Time Bandits. The cakes-with-lights meme might have died right there if not for a fluke of association…

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chipKIT Sketch: Mini Polyphonic Sampling Synth

In our hands-on review of the Digilent chipKIT Uno32, we posed the question of what the lasting appeal might be for a 32-bit Arduino work-alike. We felt it needed some novel applications exploiting its special features…not just the same old Arduino sketches with MOAR BITS. After the fractal demo, we’ve hit upon something unique and fun…

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chipKIT Uno32: first impressions and benchmarks

Following Maker Faire, we’ve had a few days to poke around with Digilent’s 32-bit Arduino-compatible chipKIT boards and compiler. We have some initial performance figures to report, along with impressions of the hardware and software.

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BAMF2011: Google’s SKPR Bot, not for arachnophobes

Google’s Maker Faire exhibit space is swarmed with robots…er, androids. Amidst some cool bipeds and Segway-balancers, our inner sci-fi nerd was most smitten with this hexapod design, which they’ve dubbed SKPR Bot. The “Skipper” is on hand to showcase the ease of various Google technologies: SketchUp, Android OS and the Android Open Accessory Development Kit. The whole project came together in less than six weeks.

18 servos are mounted to a framework designed in SketchUp and laser-cut by Ponoko. The low-level servo PWM control is handled by the Dev Kit (essentially a rebadged Arduino Mega, as we’ve seen), while an Android OS phone provides a slick GUI and handles all the inverse kinematics calculations required as the robot takes each step. The coolest bit is that it’s all up for grabs. At this moment you’ll have to scrounge around the ’net a bit to find the plans and code, but some time post-Faire they plan to bring everything together at the SKPR Bot site.

BAMF2011: Lasersaur is one BIG laser cutter!

Psst…wanna buy a laser cutter, but not ready to sell your internal organs? Nortd Labs’ Lasersaur project aims to create an open source large-format laser cutter/engraver that undercuts (har har!) the cost of commercial models by an order of magnitude.

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BAMF2011: Keyboards built from scratch

As the most direct interface between computer and programmer, keyboards can be a deeply personal, sometimes almost religious thing. Some find solace in their vintage IBM Model M, or luxurious leather keyboard, but maker [Carol Chen] took things into her own hands, quite literally. [Carol]’s Maker Faire exhibit has a half dozen specimens of interesting commercial tactile and ergonomic options…but [Chen]’s personal keyboard, where she commits to her work as a full-time coder, has been made to her own exacting specifications.

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BAMF2011: Bloxes, a building kit with a nifty pedigree

Not every cool hack needs to involve microcontrollers, LEDs or other bling. We were initially drawn to the Bloxes display simply because we love a good multipurpose construction set, whether it be Lego, 80/20 aluminum, or in this case, a system of interlocking cubes formed from six identical pieces of corrugated cardboard, cut and scored in such a manner as to form a surprisingly sturdy little building block. They can become simple furniture, groovy Logan’s Run-style room decor, or the all-important kids’ forts…then later dismantled and made into something else.

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