The PICnDuino Review

picnduino

For those of you that can’t make a decision between buying an Arduino and a PIC processor, [Brad] has come up with a novel solution, the PICnDuino. We’ve featured him before with his [Retroball] project, but this time Brad has been full funded on Kickstarter, and is pre-selling boards for delivery in March.

[HAD], specifically I, was fortunate enough to be sent one of the boards to try out early. I’ve worked with an Arduino before, but never a PIC processor, so read on to see if it was actually as easy as the tutorial video (at the end of the article) would have you believe it is to get started. [Read more...]

Book Review: The Dangers of Computer Hacking

Years and years ago, someone gave me this book as a gift. [John Knittel], a co-author thought I might find it amusing. The book, titled The Dangers of Computer Hacking, is a grade school level breakdown of, well, computer hacking and the dangers thereof. At the time, I thought it was rather fun and amusing. Since then, it has sat on my shelf without much action.

Last weekend, however, my 8 year old son was building perfectly spaced shapes for his slinky (new plastic slinkies suck) and found this book. I snatched it up and read through it real quick. The realization came to me that though this is somewhat tongue-in-cheek(check the topics on the back cover), this book is actually a fantastic reference for the un-initiated.

[Read more...]

Book Review: Eight Amazing Engineering Stories

We’re big fans of [Bill Hammack], aka the Engineer Guy. His series of engineering videos dredge up pleasant memories of watching Mr. Wizard but spin to the adult science enthusiast. The most resent season (he calls it series #4) scratches the surface of the topics covered in his book Eight Amazing Engineering Stories, which was written with fellow authors [Patrick Ryan] and [Nick Ziech]. They provided us with a complimentary digital copy of the book to use for this review.

The conversational style found in the videos translates perfectly to the book, but as with comparing a novel to a movie, the written word allows for much more depth. For instance, we loved learning about how Apple uses anodization to dye the aluminum used for iPod cases. The same presentation style makes the topic easily understandable for anyone who took some chemistry and math in High School. But primers a sidebars offer an optional trip through the looking-glass, explaining the history behind the process, how it compares to natural materials, and what trade-offs are made in choosing this process.

Some of the other topics included are how CCD camera sensors, lead-acid batteries, mems accelerometers, and atomic clocks work. As the book progresses through all eight topics general concepts the complexity of the items being explained advances quickly. By the seventh story — which covers the magentron in a microwave oven — we’d bet the concepts challenge most readers’ cognition. But we still enjoyed every page. The book would make a great pool-side read. It would make a great graduation gift (too bad we missed that time of year) but keep it in mind for any science minded friends or relatives. You can see [Bill's] own description of the book and all its formats in the clip after the break.

TLDR: Buy it or give it as a gift

[Read more...]

Review and a build: Makey Makey, a banana piano, and Mario

We’ve been getting a lot of emails on the Hackaday tip line about the Makey Makey. This business-card sized circuit board turns everything – bananas, Play-Doh, water, and people – into a touch interface.

There have been a ton of blogs that have written about the Makey Makey Kickstarter and debut at the Bay Area Maker Faire, but Hackaday has been mum on the pending release of the Makey Makey. There’s a reason for that: [Jay] and [Eric], the MIT Media Lab rats who came up with the Makey Makey, offered to send a demo board out to somebody at Hackaday. Well, here’s the review of all the cool stuff you can make with the Makey Makey.

[Read more...]

The Gauntlet: A 1 Watt Laser Module

This is the gauntlet; a place where things are tortured in ways that only an engineer could appreciate.

Today’s victim is a 1.0W green laser module, manufactured by Suzhou Daheng under the brand name “DHOM”.

As far as Chinese laser manufacturers go, Suzhou Daheng is about one rung lower than CNI in terms of quality. Although US companies like Coherent blow these guys out of the water, both are still reputable nonetheless.  As far as Chinese lasers themselves go, this one seems a bit conservatively rated; a nice change from the “1000MW 532nm laser cat toy burning module” that’s not too uncommon on dealextreme and the like.

More after the break…
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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.

[Read more...]

Hands-on with eZ430-F2013

At the beginning of the Month we came across a coupon code for a free eZ430-F2013 development stick. TI has given these things now and again so we took the opportunity to acquire one. It arrived yesterday and we’ve spent just a bit of time looking it over. Above you can see the first project completed; Hello World on a salvaged Nokia cell phone screen. Join us after the break for our thoughts on the device, as well as more pictures and details.

[Read more...]

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