Hackaday Reddit AMA (ask me anything) Happening Right Now

hackaday-szczys-reddit-proof_1Today we’re interacting on an “Ask Me Anything” over at Reddit.

Now’s the time to ask your question about all-things-Hackaday. No topic is off limits. Wonder how the Blog operates? What’s the deal with Hackaday Projects? Need an answer to questions about The Hackaday Prize? Just ask!

[Mike Szczys] started the thread and I’ve provided proof as seen here, but most of the writing staff are Reddit regulars so questions for specific writers are welcome as well. What’s on your mind?

Congress Destroys A Hobby, FAA Gets The Blame

As ordered by the US Congress, the FAA is gearing up to set forth a standard for commercial UAVs, Unmanned Aerial Systems, and commercial drones operating in America’s airspace. While they’ve been dragging their feet, and the laws and rules for these commercial drones probably won’t be ready by 2015, that doesn’t mean the FAA can’t figure out what the rules are for model aircraft in the meantime.

This week, the FAA released its interpretation (PDF) of what model aircraft operators can and can’t do, and the news isn’t good: FPV flights with quadcopters and model airplanes are now effectively banned, an entire industry centered around manufacturing and selling FPV equipment and autopilots will be highly regulated, and a great YouTube channel could soon be breaking the law.

The FAA’s interpretation of what model aircraft can and cannot do, and to a larger extent, what model aircraft are comes from the FAA Modernization And Reform Act Of 2012 (PDF). While this law states the, “…Federal Aviation Administration may
not promulgate any rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft…” it defines model aircraft as, “an unmanned aircraft that is capable of sustained flight in the atmosphere; flown within visual line of sight of the person operating the aircraft; and flown for hobby or recreational purposes.” The FAA has concluded that anything not meeting this definition, for example, a remote controlled airplane with an FPV setup, or a camera, video Tx and Rx, and video goggles, is therefore not a model aircraft, and falls under the regulatory authority of the FAA.

In addition, the FAA spent a great deal of verbiage defining what, “hobby or recreational purposes” in regards to model aircraft are. A cited example of a realtor using a model aircraft to take videos of a property they are selling is listed as not a hobby or recreation, as is a farmer using a model aircraft to see if crops need water. Interestingly, receiving money for demonstrating aerobatics with a model aircraft is also not allowed under the proposed FAA guidelines, a rule that when broadly interpreted could mean uploading a video of yourself flying a model plane, uploading that to YouTube, and clicking the ‘monetize’ button could soon be against the law. This means the awesome folks at Flite Test could soon be out of a job.

The AMA, the Academy Of Model Aeronautics, and traditionally the organization that sets the ‘community-based set of safety guidelines’ referred to in every law dealing with model aircraft, are not happy with the FAA’s proposed rules (PDF). However, their objection is a breathless emotional appeal calls the proposed rules a, “a strict regulatory approach to the operation of model aircraft in the hands of our youth and elderly members.” Other than offering comments per the FAA rulemaking process there are, unfortunately, no possible legal objections to the proposed FAA rules, simply because the FAA is doing exactly what congress told them to do.

The FAA is simply interpreting the Modernization And Reform Act Of 2012 as any person would: FPV goggles interfere with the line of sight of an aircraft, thus anyone flying something via FPV goggles falls under the regulatory authority of the FAA. Flying over the horizon is obviously not line of sight, and therefore not a model aircraft. Flying a model aircraft for money is not a hobby or recreation, and if you’re surprised about this, you simply aren’t familiar with FAA rules about money, work, and person-sized aircraft.

While the proposed FAA rules are not yet in effect, and the FAA is seeking public comment on these rules, if passed there will, unfortunately, exactly two ways to fix this. The first is with a change in federal law to redefine what a model aircraft is. Here’s how to find your congresscritter, with the usual rules applying: campaign donations are better than in-person visits which are better than letters which are better than phone calls which are better than emails. They’ll also look up if you have voted in the last few elections.

If passed, the only other way these rules will align with the privileges model aircraft enthusiasts have enjoyed for decades is through a court ruling. The lawsuit objecting to these rules will most likely be filed by the AMA, and if these rules pass, a donation or membership wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Hackaday AMA: Thursday Morning at 10am Eastern Time

hackaday-szczys-reddit-proof_1Come one, come all, to an epic Reddit AMA.

It’s been almost two years since our last “Ask Me Anything” and it’s an understatement that ‘sort of a lot has happened’ since then. We changed parent companies, expanded our writing staff, hosted our first live event (and a few smaller ones since), launched Hackaday Projects, and now we’re in the middle of The Hackaday Prize.

Any question is fair game (that’s why they call it an AMA) so now’s the time to get that query that’s been bugging you answered.

You will need a Reddit account to ask questions or to vote them up and down. But anyone can read the thread without logging in. Speaking of threads, we can’t give you a link yet because it won’t be available until we start at 10am Eastern Time on Thursday, June 26th. But watch the top of the blog, we’ll publish another post as soon as the link is ready!

UPDATE 6/26/14 9:25am Eastern: The Reddit thread is now live. Please feel free to start adding questions. Answers will start in 35 minutes.

Meet the WIDGEDUINO

diagram of the widgets for the widgeduino

Arduino has made a name for itself by being easy to use and has become an excellent tool for rapid prototyping of an idea. If one wakes up in the middle of the night in a eureka moment and hammers out a contraption – using an Arduino as the brains is about as fast and easy as it gets.

With that said, the WIDGEDUINO aims at making this process even faster and easier. Bristling with an array of meters, graphs and data entry widgets, the WIDGEDUINO is sure to be a hit with hackers, makers and engineers alike.

It’s based on the .NET framework and was designed with Visual Studio Windows Presentation Foundation. The user simply writes a sketch using the WIDGEDUINO library, and connects to a PC via serial or Ethernet to gain access to the assortment of awesome widgets.

You can find a few examples here. We hope the creators will keep us updated on the progress of this impressive project. Be sure to stick around after the break for a video demonstrating what the WIDGEUINO can do.

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NYC Resistor Heats up the Big Apple with The 2014 Interactive Show

 

TitleNYCRBehind a nondescript loading dock in Brooklyn stands a normal looking brick building. Go up 3 narrow flights of stairs – you’ll find yourself at the door to the awesome known as NYC Resistor. Last Saturday, NYC Resistor held their 5th Interactive Show, and Hackaday was there! Much like the city it calls home, the Interactive Show is a melting pot. This particular pot is filled with NYC Resistor members (and the public) showing off their projects, NYU’s Tish School ITP students displaying their interactive art, and a good heaping portion of old fashioned hacker partying.

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A closer look at New Matter’s MOD-t 3d printer

So last week the SupplyFrame office Prusa i3 finally gave up the ghost — the z-axis threaded rods unwound themselves from their couplers and the whole thing fell apart. So we needed to get some better couplers as our tubing wasn’t going to cut the mustard anymore. Thankfully Pasadena is full of 3d printer people! Within a few blocks of our office we have New Matter, DeezMaker, and a soon to be announced 3d printer from ToyBuilderLabs.

The one everyone is talking about right now is New Matter who recently announced an already successful fundraising campaign for the first run of their $250 3d printer, the MOD-t. This has been making the rounds recently due to its low price and stated aim of bringing 3d printing into the home of the masses (a tale as old as time, right?). It’s a lovely goal for sure, but they will definitely have their work cut out for them, but perhaps this is the team to make it happen? We decided to head over to their lab since it’s just around the corner from our office and see if we could get them to print some new couplers and maybe take a look at their printer while we were at it, videos and pictures after the break!

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Meet Jimmy: An Open Source Biped Robot From Intel

Jimmy_Arm_Up

Intel’s CEO [Brian Krzanich] stopped by the Re/Code conference to announce Jimmy, the first robot from the 21st Century Robot project. The project is the brainchild of [Brian David Johnson], Intel’s resident futurist. We love the project’s manifesto:

 Robot Is: Imagined first. Easy to build. Completely open source. Fiercely social. Intentionally iterative. Filled with humanity and dreams. Thinking for her/him/itself.

Jimmy may not be all those things yet, but he definitely is exciting. For starters, he wasn’t built in some secret lab at Intel HQ. Much of Jimmy’s construction took place at Trossen Robotics, a name well known to Hackaday. [Matt] and [Andrew] at Trossen describe all the details in their video down past the break.

This version of Jimmy is a research robot, which mean’s he’s not going to come cheap. Jimmy sports an Intel i5 NUC motherboard, 20 Dynamixel servos, a 5052 aluminum frame and a host of sensors. A  4S 14.8v 4000mAh LiPo battery will power Jimmy for 30 to 60 minutes between charges, so be sure to budget for a few spare packs. The most striking aspect of Jimmy is his 3D printed shell. The 21st Century Robot Project gave him large, friendly eyes and features, which will definitely help with the social aspect of their goals.

Jimmy is all about open source. He can run two flavors of Linux: Ubuntu 14.04 LTS or a custom version of Yocto Pokey. There is a lot to be said for running and developing on the same hardware. No specialized toolchains for cross compiling, no NFS shares to move binaries around. If you need to make a change, you can plug a monitor (or launch an VNC session) and do everything with Jimmy’s on-board computer. Jimmy’s software stack is based upon the DARwIn OP platform, and a ROS port is in the works.

We’re excited about Jimmy, but at $16,000 USD, he’s a bit outside our budget. Thankfully a smaller consumer version of Jimmy will soon be available for around 1/10th the cost.

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