A Pragmatic Guide To Motors With Jonathan Beri

[Jonathan Beri] is a Maker of all sorts, with an affinity for robots, APIs, and Open Source. By day he works on making Android & iOS SDKs easier to use and by night he can found begging a PID controller to “just work already.” Recently he contributed to, “Make: JavaScript Robotics,” printed by Maker Media (2015).

[Jonathan] covers a lot of ground during his motors talk at the 2015 Hackaday SuperConference. He discusses brushed DC, stepper, servo, and brushless motors. Although just scraping the surface of each type of motor [Jonathan] touches the important details you can use to determine which type of motor is best for your project. The slide show he has put together has quite a bit of information and tips for beginners that might go overlooked when choosing a motor. For instance a list of 30 attributes that should be considered when selecting a motor. Included in that list are the 7 attributes [Jonathan] places priority on when he chooses a motor for one of his projects. We’ll delve deeper into that after the break.

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Vinduino: Full Irrigation With 25% Less Water

Irrigation is a fairly crude practice. Sure, there are timers, and rain sensors, but all in all we’re basically dumping water on the ground and guessing at the right amount. [Reinier van der Lee] wanted a better way to ensure the plants in his vineyard are getting the right amount of water. And this is Goldilocks’ version of “right”, not too little but also not too much. Southern California is in an extreme/exceptional drought. Water costs a lot of money, but it is also scarce and conservation has a wider impact than merely the bottom line.

His solution is the Vinduino project. It’s a set of moisture sensors that work in conjunction with a handheld device to measure the effect of irrigation. Multiple moisture sensors are buried at different depths: near the surface, at root level, and below root level. This lets you know when the water is getting to the root system, and when it has penetrated further than needed. The project was recognized as the Best Product in the 2015 Hackaday Prize, and [Reinier] presented the project during his talk at the Hackaday SuperConference. Check out the video of that talk below, and join us after the break for a look at the development of this impressive product.

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Go From Prototype to Pilot Production with Zach Fredin

What’s it like to build a run of 100 prototypes in your basement? Get a first-hand account as [Zach Fredin] discusses his development and production of NeuroBytes. The system is a set of electronic models that represent neurons. Connecting them together into different networks helps to teach about how the human nervous system works. It’s a wonderful concept, and was recognized as a finalist for Best Product in the 2015 Hackaday Prize. More recently, [Zach] tells us it has been granted Recommended Status for a Phase I SBIR National Science Foundation grant. Looks like [Zach’s] new job is all NeuroBytes and is well funded. Congratulations!

Check out [Zach Fredin’s] talk from the 2015 Hackaday SuperConference, then join us after the break to dig further into the details of the project.

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Globally Distributed Sensor Net Monitors Air Quality and Radiation

Radu Motisan has been building a global environmental surveillance network which first monitored radiation levels, and since has added the ability to measure air quality. He believes that people need to be more aware of the environment around them in a similar way that society has awakened to issues about personal fitness and health. We can’t do this without a simple and reliable way to measure the environment.

He discussed the project at length during his presentation at the 2015 Hackaday SuperConference. Watch that talk in the video below, then join us after the break for more details on the hardware and infrastructure that collects and presents the data publicly.

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OpenBionics Fabs Prosthetics as Unique as Those Who Wear Them

Humans may all have the same overall form, but when we need to find a suitable replacement for a missing limb, it’s clear that between the variety of finger-lengths and hand-breadths, a one-size-fits-all prosthetic just wont cut it. OpenBionics puts a spin on today’s approach to prosthetics, putting forth a framework of tools that’s flexible enough to fit the spectrum of hand shapes and enables us to create our own prosthetic at home that can meet the challenge of most everyday tasks.

Minas Liarokapis of the OpenBionics team gave a talk at this year’s Hackaday SuperConference which covered the design considerations and unique features of the project. This incredible work was recognized with 2nd Prize in the 2015 Hackaday Prize. Watch Minas’ talk below, then join us after the break as we cover more details that went into developing this prosthesis.

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The Story of the 2015 Hackaday Prize

This week we’ve covered the Grand Prize and Best Product winners of the 2015 Hackaday prize: Eyedrivomatic and Vinduino. These are both amazing and worthy projects, but the real story of the Hackaday Prize isn’t about the prizes: it’s about nine months during which talented people worked toward a common good.

If you didn’t have a chance to attend the Hackaday SuperConference, here is the video of the ceremony. Take a look at the presentation which was made in front of a packed house of about 300 attendees. Then join us after the break for a look back on the last nine amazing months.

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Water-Saving Agricultural System Wins Best Product

The 2015 Hackaday Prize included something new: a prize for the Best Product. The winner took home $100k in funding, a six-month residency at the Supplyframe Design Lab in Pasadena, and help turning a budding product into a full-grown success. And the winner is…


vinduino-shot0007 Water is a crucial element for farming: the plants need enough, but not too much. Water is also an increasingly precious resource all over the world. In California, five times as much water is used in agriculture as is used by residential consumers. A 25% reduction in agricultural use, for instance, would entirely offset all urban water use. With this in mind, a number of California farmers are trying to voluntarily reduce their water consumption. But how?

One important development is targeted irrigation. Getting precisely the right amount of water to each plant can reduce the fraction lost to evaporation or runoff. It’s a small thing, but it’s a very big deal.

Cue Vinduino, a long-running project of “gentleman farmer” and hacker [Reinier van der Lee]. As a system, Vinduino aims to make it easy and relatively inexpensive to measure the amount of water in the soil at different depths, to log this information, and to eventually tailor the farm’s water usage to the plants and their environment. We were able to catch up with [Reinier] at the Hackaday SuperConference the day after results were announced. He shared his story of developing Vinduino and recounts how he felt when it was named Best Product:

The product that won Best Product is simple, but very well executed. It’s a hand-held soil moisture sensor reader that couples with a DIY soil probe design to create a versatile and inexpensive system. All of the 2015 Best Product Finalists were exceptional. Vinduino’s attention to detail, room for expansion, and the potential to help the world pushed this project over the top.

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