We’re At Maker Faire This Weekend

makerfaire

It’s that time of year again where the east coast division of the Hackaday crew makes the trek out to Maker Faire New York. We’ll be there the entire weekend, checking out the sights, talking to the people who make the things you make things with, and standing in an hour-long line for a hamburger.

We’ve been going to the NYC Maker Faire for a few years now, and each time we’re surprised by the sheer variety of stuff at the faire. This year, SeeMeCNC is bringing a gargantuan delta printer, [Adam] and I are going to geek out when we meet the Flite Test crew, and we’ll be filing a few interviews with the folks from Intel, Atmel, BeagleBone, and TI. If you’re wondering what the, “I can’t believe Make is allowing this at the faire” project is for this year, here you go.

If you’re heading to the faire and find some of the Hackaday crew wandering around, don’t be afraid to introduce yourself. I’ll be wearing a flagpole with the Jolly Wrencher, and [Adam] will probably be wearing something emblazoned with the Hackaday logo. We have stickers to give out, and if you’re really cool, some sweet swag.

This year is a little different from the other times we’ve made the trek to Maker Faire – this time we have a press pass, and that means access to some very important people. If you have a question you’d like to ask Atmel’s VP of MCUs, Intel’s “maker czar”, [Massimo], someone at TI, or anyone else on the schedule, leave a note in the comments.

A T-Shirt at Amalthea

Bill_grande

Personnel Transfer Vehicle HM-6YK was thirty two hours out of Ganymede station en route to Amalthea when the alarm went off. Captain Peter Cole was awake in a bunk, staring at his tablet, waiting for the alarm when Bill Friars, the rookie pilot came down. ‘Hey, cap! We got a problem here.’

‘Wha?’ Pete feigned he was just awoken. ‘What’s up?’

‘Our terminal guidance radar is out, and we’re less than three hours from approach. I reset the system, and it’s looking like a hardware problem.’

‘That’s impossible. We were just checked out on Callisto a month ago.’ Pete headed up to the flight deck and minutes later the subordinate’s assessment proved correct.

‘Coulda been a meteor.’ Bill sheepishly suggested, displaying the requisite amount of self-doubt required of his rank.

‘If it was that we’d have more problems on our hand than a broken radar. We’re gonna need this fixed quick. Suit up; I’ll go dig the spare out of the locker.’

6YK was a small ship, barely three hundred tons. Her nuclear drives propelled her around the Jovian system, usually transporting cargo between the far-flung outposts around the inner moons. This trip, she was carrying twenty three researchers to the Lyctos base, retrieving 5 tons of cargo, six pax, then heading off again to Ganymede station. The entire trip would take 52 hours. This was Bill’s first run.

‘Just get out there and replace this module.’ Pete had eight thousand hours logged in the system, and three thousand on this run alone. Bill had done his EVA training at Deimos station, but for both men the sight of the swirling ivory, reds, and subtle blues of the crescent Jupiter invoked the fear of an ancient and angry god. For Bill, knowing he was only protected from the radiation by his hard suit and the improbably thin beryllium glass visor, this god became even more frightening.

The stubby, box-like ship glistened with octathiocane picked up around Io’s orbit. The radio crackled ‘Lotta dust out here, Pete.’ Bill slowly made his way to the radar assembly, latching carabineers from handgrip to handgrip. ‘Looks like it’s just gone’ Bill looked at the familiar antenna mount. ‘Metal fatigue or something.’

‘I don’t care what happened.’ The insertion burn was just two hours away, and their target was approaching at seventy kilometers per second. ‘Just get it fixed.’

Bill removed the remaining sliver of metal from the base and tossed it aside. The new feed horn fit comfortably in its socket. If nothing else, these ships were easily repairable. ‘We have guidance.’ The radio cackled. ‘Why don’t you get back in here?’ Bill reversed his steps around the ship.

As the airlock repressurized, the engines started their long burn for capture. ‘Good work, kid.’ This was the first indication of approval the captain had given since leaving the station. Helmet and gloves off, Bill struggled to unlatch the polycarb hard suit.

Bill reached into the locker and pulled out the t shirt he’d been wearing on the bridge just an hour ago. The gold logo was nearly the same color as the octathiocane dusty dirtying the airlock.

Intel Releases Edison, a Computer Slightly Larger Than an SD Card

Edison

Announced at the beginning of this year, Intel’s Edison is the chipmakers latest foray into the world of low power, high performance computing. Originally envisioned to be an x86 computer stuffed into an SD card form factor, this tiny platform for wearables, consumer electronic designers, and the Internet of Things has apparently been redesigned a few times over the last few months. Now, Intel has finally unleashed it to the world. It’s still tiny, it’s still based on the x86 architecture, and it’s turning out to be a very interesting platform.

The key feature of the Edison is, of course, the Intel CPU. It’s a 22nm SoC with dual cores running at 500 MHz. Unlike so many other IoT and micro-sized devices out there, the chip in this device, an Atom Z34XX, has an x86 architecture. Also on board is 4GB of eMMC Flash and 1 GB of DDR3.  Also included in this tiny module is an Intel Quark microcontroller – the same as found in the Intel Galileo – running at 100 MHz. The best part? Edison will retail for about $50. That’s a dual core x86 platform in a tiny footprint for just a few bucks more than a Raspberry Pi.

When the Intel Edison was first announced, speculation ran rampant that is would take on the form factor of an SD card. This is not the case. Instead, the Edison has a footprint of 35.5mm x 25.0 mm; just barely larger than an SD card. Dumping this form factor idea is a great idea – instead of being limited to the nine pins present on SD cards and platforms such as the Electric Imp, Intel is using a 70-pin connector to break out a bunch of pins, including an SD card interface, two UARTs, two I²C busses, SPI with two chip selects, I²S, twelve GPIOs with four capable of PWM, and a USB 2.0 OTG controller. There are also a pair of radio modules on this tiny board, making it capable of 802.11 a/b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0.

Edison

The Edison will support Yocto Linux 1.6 out of the box, but because this is an x86 architecture, there is an entire universe of Linux distributions that will also run on this tiny board. It might be theoretically possible to run a version of Windows natively on this module, but this raises the question of why anyone would want to.

The first round of Edison modules will be used with either a small breakout board that provides basic functionality, solder points, a battery charger power input, and two USB ports (one OTG port), or a larger board Edison board for Arduino that includes the familiar Arduino pin header arrangement and breakouts for everything. The folks at Intel are a generous bunch, and in an effort to put these modules in the next generation of Things for Internet, have included Mouser and Digikey part numbers for the 70-pin header (about $0.70 for quantity one). If you want to create your own breakout board or include Edison in a product design, Edison makes that easy.

edisonbreakout

There is no word of where or when the Edison will be available. Someone from Intel will be presenting at Maker Faire NYC in less than two weeks, though, and we already have our media credentials. We’ll be sure to get a hands on then. I did grab a quick peek at the Edison while I was in Vegas for Defcon, but I have very little to write about that experience except for the fact that it existed in August.

Update: You can grab an Edison dev kit at Make ($107, with the Arduino breakout) and Sparkfun (link down as of this update never mind, Sparkfun has a ton of boards made for the Edison. It’s pretty cool)

1991

1991a_largeI had just finished up the PBX upgrade when the CTO sent out a memo.

‘We need to move the datacentre to New York by next weekend’

We silently groaned and started working. There were purchases to be made and eventually someone would have to fly out with the tapes.

‘No, we’re not purchasing new equipment. We’re moving the datacentre.’

Ten days. Ten days of crawling under the floor, pulling cables, unbolting, unracking, stuffing U-Hauls to the brim, driving 800 miles, and reversing the whole process. None of us had showered in a week.

When we arrived, there was power. Not much else. We had 63 hours until everything needed to be up. We started stripping RG-58. One guy was wearing this shirt. He was faster.

 

[Read more...]

Scribble and the Failings of Tech Journalism

Pen

The Scribble Pen, you may remember, is a project by bay area startup Scribble Technology that puts a color sensor and multiple ink reservoirs in a pen. We’ve talked about it before, right after they cancelled their Kickstarter campaign after netting 366% of their original goal.

Yes, they cancelled their campaign after being successfully funded. To Kickstarter’s credit, the Scribble team was asked to provide a better video of the pen demonstrating its capabilities. The team pulled the plug on the campaign, saying they’ll be back soon.

Here is the new campaign. The attentive reader will notice the new campaign is not a Kickstarter project; instead, it is a Tilt campaign. What is Tilt? It’s a platform that allows for crowdfunding, fundraising, pooling, and other ‘many wallets into one’ Internet-based projects. It’s actually not a bad idea if you’re raising funds for a charity or the Jamaican bobsled team. For crowdfunded product development, caveat emptor doesn’t quite cover it.

With more than $200,000 in the bank, you would think the questions asked in many comments on the old Kickstarter would be answered. They were. Scribble put up a new video showing the pen drawing different colors of ink on a piece of paper. This video was faked. [Ch00f] at Drop Kicker took apart the new video frame by frame and found these – ahem – scribbles were inserted in post production. The video has since been replaced on the Tilt campaign page, but evidence of Scribble deleting comments questioning this exists.

Any idea of the Scribble pen being real has been put to bed. Kickstarter threatened to remove the campaign if a better video could not be produced within 24 hours. The Scribble team cancelled their campaign to regroup and put together a better video. In two weeks, the team was only able to produce a faked video. The Scribble pen does not exist.

Case closed, you might think. Digging into videos frame by frame will tell you a lot, but it won’t give you the full picture. We know what happened with the Scribble pen, but very little about the who, why, and how this huge, glaringly obvious fraud occurred. Before we get to that, hold on to your hats – it only gets shadier from here on out.

[Read more...]

Goliath And The Rough Road To Space

goliath-full

No one said the road to The Hackaday Prize would be easy. Many of us have been following [Peter McCloud] as he vies for the Hackaday Prize with Goliath – A Gas Powered Quadcopter. [Peter] literally hit a snag on Monday: his own belts.

Peter had hoped to be performing tied down hover tests by Monday afternoon. Weather and a set of fouled spark plugs conspired against him though. After fighting with engine issues for the better part of a day, [Peter's] 30 horsepower Briggs & Stratton engine finally roared to life. Then all hell broke loose.

[Peter] only let the engine run a couple of seconds before cutting the ignition. In his own words, “Things were running good until the engine was shutoff. At this point one of the belt started losing tension.”

goliath-1While the tight new engine was quickly losing RPM, the propeller and belt system still had quite a bit of inertia. As the video after the break shows, the belts started flapping and caught on the propeller blades. The front right prop tip caught the double-sided toothed belt, pulling it up and over the propeller. The other end of that same belt lives on the right rear prop. It too caught a propeller blade, snapping the composite blade clean off its hub. The bent steel pulley axles are a testament to the forces at work when things went wrong.

[Peter] isn’t giving up though. He has a plan to add belt guides and a one way bearing to the engine’s crankshaft. The one way bearing will allow the rotor system to overspeed the engine when throttle is reduced. The same bearings are commonly used on R/C helicopters to facilitate autorotation landings.

We want to see all 50 Hackaday Prize semifinalists succeed, so if you have any ideas to help with the rebuild, head over to Goliath’s Hackaday.io page and let [Peter] know!

[Read more...]

30 Years later TED finds his voice: A Commodore Story Part I

MOS VICII Chip

MOS VICC II Video Interface Chip

MOS SID Chip

MOS SID Chip Sound Interface Device

In the before-time (I’m talking about the 1980’s here), when home computers were considered to be consumer items, there was the Commodore C64. The C64 derived its vast array of superpowers from two Integrated Circuits (IC) named VIC and SID standing for Video Interface Chip and Sound Interface Device. Chip names were part of our culture back them, from VIC up to Fat AGNES in the end.

We spoke about VIC and SID as if they were people or distant relatives, sometimes cantankerous or prone to sudden outburst, but there was always an underlying respect for the chips and the engineers who made them. VIC and SID together made one of the world’s best video and sound experiences; movement and noise, musical notes and aliens.

[Read more...]

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