Evolution is one clever fellow. Next time you’re strolling about outdoors, pick up a pine cone and take a look at the layout of the bract scales. You’ll find an unmistakable geometric structure. In fact, this same structure can be seen in the petals of a rose, the seeds of a sunflower and even the cochlea bone in your inner ear. Look closely enough, and you’ll find this spiraling structure everywhere. It’s based on a series of integers called the Fibonacci sequence. Leonardo Bonacci discovered the sequence while trying to figure out how many rabbits he could make starting with just two. It’s quite simple — add the right most integer to the previous one to get the next one in the sequence. Starting from zero, this would give you 0-1-1-2-3-5-8-13-21 and so on. If one was to look at this sequence in the form of geometric shapes, they can create square tiles whose sides are the length of the value in the sequence. If you connect the diagonal corners of these tiles with an infinite curve, you end up with the spiral that you saw in the pine cone and other natural objects.
So how did mother nature discover this geometric structure? Surely it does not know math. How then can it come up with intricate and sophisticated structures? It turns out that this Fibonacci spiral is the most efficient way of squeezing the most amount of stuff in the least amount of space. And if one takes natural selection seriously, this makes perfect sense. Eons of trial and error to make the most copies of itself has stumbled upon a mathematical principle that permeates life on earth.
The homo sapiens brain is the product of this same evolutionary process, and has been evolving for an estimated 7 million years. It would be foolish to think that this same type of efficiency natural selection has stumbled across would not be present in the current homo sapiens brain. I want to impress upon you this idea of efficiency. Natural selection discovered the Fibonacci sequence solely because it is the most efficient way to do a particular task. If the brain has a task of storing information, it is perfectly reasonable that millions of years of evolution has honed it so that it does this in the most efficient way possible as well. In this article, we shall explore this idea of efficiency in data storage, and leave you to ponder its applications in the computer sciences.
The STM32 line of microcontrollers – usually seen in the form of an ST Discovery dev board – are amazingly powerful and very popular micros seen in projects with some very hefty processing and memory requirements. Now, ST has released a great way to try out the STM32 line with the Nucleo board.
There are two really great features about these new Nucleo boards. First, they’re mbed compatable, making them a great way to get started in the ARM development world. Secondly, they have Arduino pin headers right on the board, giving you access to all your shields right out of the box.
Right now, there are four varieties of the Nucleo board based on the STM32F030, -F103, -F152, and -F401 microcontrollers. The STM32F401 is the high-powered variant, An ARM Cortex-M4 microcontroller running at 84 MHz, 512kB of Flash, and enough I/O for just about any project.
If you’d like to get your hands on one of the STM32 Nucleo boards, you can order a voucher to pick one up at Embedded World in Germany next week. Otherwise, you’re stuck ordering from Mouser or Farnell. Bonus: the high-end F401-based board is only $10 USD.
Most of you know that there are plenty of ARM powered development boards out there, so you may not be really sure what a new one can still bring to the table.
With a $5 price tag, the open hardware McHck (pronounced McHack) is meant for quickly building projects on a small budget. The board created by [Simon] is based on a Freescale Cortex M4 microcontroller, and can be plugged directly into one’s computer. As a Direct Firmware Update (DFU) bootloader is present on the microcontroller, there is no need for external programming equipment.
The board has unpopulated footprints that allow users to add other functionalities that may be required for their future projects: a Real Time Clock (RTC), a Boost regulator for single cell battery operation, Buck and linear regulators, a Lithium Polymer (LiPo) battery charger and even an External Flash storage.
The Bill of Materials can be found on the project wiki and the McHck community will soon launch a crowdfunding campaign to send the 5th version of the board to all the hobbyists that may be interested.
NXP holds a lot of market share for their ARM based solutions as it is. That’s why we were a little surprised when we found a link on their website announcing that they were giving away free LPCXpressodevelopment boards, based on their Cortex-M0 line.
Catches? Unfortunately there are a few to get the board shipped and running. In order to do so, you must…
register with a corporate email address
…the promo is targeted at engineers
use the crippled IDE supplied with the board
…due to hard to find (non-existent?) documentation for the integrated LPC-Link
upload an original video of the physical destruction of a competing board to the NXP website
While killing your Arduino may not sound like the most fun, some qualified readers may be interested in moving up to 32-bits for a price that is hard to beat.
He takes us through the signal sniffing he used to figure out the communications process. From there he harness the power of an ARM Cortex M0 processor, which he’s worked with in the past, to drive the screen. His implementation results in a driver board called the SmartLCD that takes care of the screen’s parallel protocol, power, and backlight. From there it’s just four connections and you can use a small microcontroller like the Arduino seen above with ease. See what it can do after the break.
[Rossum’s] latest project just hit and as usual, he doesn’t disappoint. Using an ARM cortex M0 he built a gaming system for less than $3 in parts. The M0 is a bit underpowered for this but at $1 it can’t be beat in price. He worked some video generation voodoo to get the signal he wanted but also mentions that upgrading to a bit more expensive chip like the Cortex M3 would solve this problem. The other part of the gaming system is an analog stick (again for about $1) that is the only input for the system.
Just when you think you’ve heard all you can about the N900 PUSH competition, we have some more news for you.
The original PUSH competition was only for UK members, but now Nokia has introduced the ‘Mod in the USA‘ N900 PUSH competition. Similar to the original, anyone (within region) can submit a cool mod, hack, useful creation that would use the N900. Winners will be selected, and thats when the differences start.
There will be a $10,000 for 1st prize, and smaller prizes for 2nd and 3rd. Plus a trip to Vegas to showcase the 3 winning hacks at CTIA 2010 as well as funding, N900s and support to build the mods.
Don’t have an idea but still want to try? They have a discussion group to get the juices flowing, or you could always discuss in our comments.
[Update: The original PUSH competition was actually world wide. Thanks Matt and Ricardo]