Equipment Needed to Get “Started” in Electronics

[Kenneth] is a Mechanical Engineer who likes to dabble in electronics. Besides providing us with an excellent picture of his workbench, he has put together a list of things that you’ll need as you learn to work with electronics. A beginner electronics kit from one of a number of different sources may work for some, but others may not be interested in a kit.

[Kenneth] gives links and recommendations for categories of: books, electrical equipment, development tools, components, digital electronics, and analog chips. As he puts it, this post is a “gigantic list of everything I would buy right now to replace my entire workshop if mine were to disappear.”  This is a great list of things you may need if you’re starting out.  If you have some experience, this list may introduce you something new. Check out some of [Kenneth's] other projects like his cloud chamber or the Chumby webserver that he made.

DIY hidden bookshelf speakers

hidden_speakers

[Steve] was tired of looking at the speakers in his workshop and began searching around for something a little more aesthetically pleasing. Having recently received a set of hollowed out books used for hiding things as a gift, he thought that he might be able to solve his speaker issue in a similar fashion.

He grabbed a couple of books from a local thrift store and promptly removed the pages. They were replaced with cloth-covered plywood to make the device more sturdy while simulating the look of pages.

He mounted his speaker inside one of the books, and in a second installed a small 7W Class A amplifier. A third book houses a padded compartment to hold his iPod, completing the set.

[Steve] reports that the speakers are pretty much undetectable, and the sound quality is decent too. In fact, we’ve started looking for some old books to re-purpose in our workshop as well.

Some weekend robot goodness in link form

PBS Newshour did a piece on robots. They talked about NASA’s bot pictured above, Asimo, Big Dog, PR2, Robbie the robot and a few others. We didn’t see anything new, but we really do like the coverage getting out there. We also never need an excuse to watch that guy kick big dog around for a while. We know it’ll only be a matter of time before the tables are turned.

Willow Garage, the folks behind PR2, are conducting a survey to see what your favorite robot is. Their list is pretty short, but they did leave a spot for you to add a name. The picture above, is not from willow garage though. This is the picture I got from BotJunkie (we love this site) where I found this story. They didn’t attribute the artist, but I feel they need credit, it is an awesome shirt.

It turns out that it is a t-shirt design available at the chopshopstore. You can see that their eyes are done in glow-in-the-dark material. On a side note, the hackaday store just got glow in the dark material yesterday(as well as a re-design) and will be announcing several new designs in the near future.

I personally inherited several huge boxes full of sci-fi pulp. The robots I’ve seen in these are amazing, ranging from amazingly ridiculous to amazingly awesome. I’ve only just begun scanning in the covers, and plan to post at least one a day. You know what would be awesome though? If I had one of these.

Free day recap video and book recommendation

SparkFun’s free day came and went as entertainment for some and an infuriating event for others. They filmed some video in their office during the madness to give us a look at how it went on their end. We find it amusing that Solarbotics, one of their competitors, sent them flowers with a card reading “Rest in Peace SparkFun”.

According to [Nate's] original post, the concept of free day was inspired by reading [Chris Anderson's] book “Free: The Future of a Radical Price”. We recently finished reading this wonderful work and we’re making it our next book recommendation. [Chris] is editor-in-chief of Wired and has had a ring-side seat as the digital world rose around us. He takes a historical look at what the price of free really means, defining cost by adding more terms like Gratis and Libre to the mix. If you have a good handle on the companies that have defined the 21st Century business model so far you wont’ be able to put this book down.

Now, we should mention something that is remotely related to hacking since we try to do that sort of thing around here. The SparkFun post also reminds those folks lucky enough to get a $100 credit to chronicle and share their projects. We’d love to see them too so get your projects written up and send us the dirty details.

Are you human? Then type out this book

type_this_text

Google has acquired reCAPTCHA and plans to use the system for digitizing books. Wait… what? CAPTCHA is the method of requiring a user to type in a visually obscured word to prove they are human. How can this digitize books? The answer is a bit obscure and takes some time to discover, but you’ll have fun along the way. [Read more...]

Science fiction, help or hindrance?

[Annalee Newitz] from io9 has written a piece about how science fiction can impact the public’s perception of scientific research. She’s covered stories ranging from Frankenstein, for showing the negatives of humans “playing god”, to The Diamond Age, for showing an inspiring use of nanotechnology.

We wonder what direct impact science fiction has had on research. Depictions of a 3D metaverse have always been compelling, but is pouring effort into half measures like Second Life a waste of time compared to serious computer interaction research?

We discussed this for a little while and concluded that whether inspiring or hindering, the very act of critically thinking about technology was beneficial. What books have inspired you in the past? Was it because they showed a better world or were they a stern warning?