Arduino Zero Hardware is Not Just for Beginners

 

We stopped by the Atmel booth at Maker Faire to gawk at the pre-production Arduino Zero boards they were showing off. [Bob] gave us a rundown of everything the new board offers, and it’s better than we imagined when we heard about it last week.

I may be an odd egg in that I don’t like to use an IDE when developing uC firmware. Generally I rock the text editor and a makefile for 8-bit, adding OpenOCD and GDB when working with ARM. I probably shouldn’t be surprised that there is already OpenOCD support (and by extension GDB support) for the Arduino Zero. In fact, that’s how the Arduino IDE flashes the board. This should have been obvious since the board is really just a breakout for the SAM D21 chip which is already supported.

Riffing on the thought of this being a breakout board, we think they did a pretty good job. There are two USB connectors; one let you access the board as a device or a host while the other connects the debugging hardware. If you’ve never used an On Chip Debugger before it’ll change your life so do give it a try. When you do move past the initial prototyping phase of your project you can still use the Zero as a debugging tool. There’s an unpopulated 10-pin header (not sure if the small pitch header comes with it or not) which can be used to interface with a target board. [Bob] also spent some time talking about the configurable 6-pin header which allows you to choose from a range of hardware protocols (SPI, TWI, etc.).

Unfortunately we still don’t have info on the availability timeframe or pricing information. There was one hiccup with this pre-production run (two signals were swapped on the PCB) and they need to spin another board, populate, and QA before they can green-light the final product.

Editorial Note: Atmel advertises on Hackaday but this video and post are not a product of that relationship. Hackaday doesn’t post paid content.

Sealed-System Bucket Loader Cleans Messes in Dangerous Places

 

Cleaning up after a disaster is hard and dangerous. But the ROEBL project is trying to make it substantially safer by removing the human operator from harm’s way. The Remote Operated Electric Bucket Loader had a big double-fenced, cement barrier play area set up at Maker Faire and [Justin Gray] walked us through the project which concluded with a demonstration of the hardware.

For now the operator does need to be on site to see what the loader is doing, but a first-person video setup is planned for the future. Still, removing the operator from the jarring experience of riding inside is an improvement. And the sealed nature of the electric and hydraulic systems mean that it can operate in areas inundated with liquids like water or oil.

The video above has a 90 second demonstration at the end (while we all laugh like children at what really was a giddy display of power being thrown about by a handheld controller). The ROEBL website has a gallery where you can see the conversion process that started with a standard diesel machine.

Oh, the People You’ll Meet! (at Maker Faire)

 

I might argue that the best thing about Maker Faire isn’t the booths at all, but the people you’ll run into. To that end, I spliced together a series of these impromptu run-ins that I thoroughly enjoyed. What’s remarkable to me is that these people of not weren’t themselves attracting a crowd. If you want to meet the hackers who you respect in the hacking world, you can still have a casual and friendly conversation with them!

First up is [Jeremy Blum] who is a long-time friend of Hackaday, author Exploring Arduino, and one-year member of the Google[x] team. We ran into him along with [Marcus Schappi], CEO of Little Bird Electronics in Australia. [Marcus'] crew recently saw a successful crowd-funding run with the Micro-view.

Next up is [Ben Heck] of The Ben Heck Show. He talks a bit about his recent hack of a pair of texting radios using the eRIC radio modules and he riffed on his past robotic luggage project as well.

The rest of the video is devoted to Hackaday alum. I ran into [Caleb Kraft] who recently started as Community Editor over at MAKE, and [Phil Burgess] who now builds gnarly projects for Adafruit. The clip wraps up with [Ian] from Dangerous Prototypes. He’s fresh off of his Hacker Camp in Shenzhen which covered everything from reballing BGA components by hand, to finding good deals on custom wardrobe, and making sound gastronomic choices while in China.

We talked to a horde of people over two days. Perhaps it was the foam Jolly Wrencher that I wore around? But the point is that everyone at an event like this is interesting to talk to, approachable, and well worth the cost of entry. If you haven’t been to a hacking convention it’s time to start looking around for the one nearest you!

Arc Attack Shows Off Tesla Backpack which is Certainly Not a Weapon

 

[Steve Ward] showed us his Tesla coil project which looks very much like a video game weapon. The hand-crafted masterpiece really packs a punch, able to throw off fat white arcs or a bit less threatening bolts of purple plasma. The video above is noisy and dark, but the look at the electronics in the backpack (holy huge capacitors batman!) and the quick functional demo are both more than worth posting. Unfortunately we didn’t get audio of the gun in action so you’ll have to image those sound effects.

The rig is powered by a 5Ah lithium battery which provides the 60V that gets boosted to 400V. The giant caps already mentioned store about 2k Joules (we love it how [Steve] can’t say that 2,000 Joule figure without beaming with joy). This project is the most advanced version of the prototype we saw a few years ago in Kansas. If you want to see more of what these guys are up to head over to their homepage.

Youthful Destruction at Maker Faire

 

Who didn’t get in trouble for taking things apart as a kid? The TakeItApart booth at the 2014 Maker Faire was among my favorite. It let anyone (especially the kids) grab a piece of electronics headed for recycling and crack it open just to see what is inside. The good news being that you didn’t need to be able to put it back together again since it’s just going to be ground up for its constituent materials anyway.

There’s something cathartic about watching a 7-year-old stabbing at a Walkman radio with a slotted screwdriver (those plastic cases are more robust than you might think). I asked if anyone had managed to slice open their hand back-to-the-future style in the process and thankfully the answer was no. But there was at least one instance of “free daycare” where the parents wandered off — there are plenty of distractions at MF — much to the chagrin of their progeny.

Seeing this made me think of this recent interview with [Bunnie Huang] in which he mentions taking chips out of their sockets on an Apple II when he was a kid. He would pull them and replace them backwards to see what effect it would have. Ha! If you have a similar childhood experience to share we’d love to hear about it in the comments. If you just want to see the guts of a bunch of stuff head of to TakeItApart.

World’s Smallest Comic Etched Onto a Human Hair

world's smallest comic

[Sébastien Bourdeauducq] had the idea to create the world’s smallest comic — so he assembled a team and was able to produce a comic strip where each panel is <20um across, etched on a human hair.

They used focused ion beam (FIB) etching, where a high-speed jet of matter is generated and blasted at a hair to etch the comic. Think of it kind of like a super focused laser beam. Check out the original microscopic imagery of it over on their GitHub.

The cool thing is they really just did this for fun — it’s purpose is to advertise the EHSM conference in Hamburg. The Exceptionally Hard(ware) & Soft(ware) Meeting is a massive gathering of the opensource and DIY hacking world. If you happen to live in Europe we’d recommend checking it out — just take a look at their conference talks they have lined up! The Maker Movement Meets Patent Law, Optics & Photonics with Lego Bricks, the Basics of Quantum Cryptograhy, the Principles of Mass Spectrometry… the list goes on!

[Read more...]

Find the Giant Jolly Wrencher at Maker Faire this Weekend

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Check it out, I made something really geeky for Maker Faire. If you’re going to be in San Mateo this weekend for Maker Faire Bay Area, watch for the floating Skull and Wrenches. I won’t be alone, and my compatriots and I will be loaded down with stuff to give away to those who ask for it. If you are hell-bent on finding us, just check this Twitter list as we’ll frequently be tweeting our locations and exploits.

Want to grab a beer with some other Hackaday folk? Even if you’re not attending the Faire, you can take part in the festivities. We’re descending on O’Neil’s Irish Pub on Saturday night. You might want to let us know you’re coming. You can show up unannounced, but we can’t guarantee that you’ll be able to squeeze into the 80-person-pub. If we have way too many hackers overflowing into the street we’ll probably split the party up and go bar hopping. The place is apparently right next to a train stop for your traveling convenience. We just hope to keep things tame enough to make it to Maker Faire again on Sunday morning, but we can’t guarantee that either ;-)

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