A thermal imaging camera for your phone

When last we heard of a cheap thermal imaging camera accessory for any smart phone, we were blown away at how easily a very expensive electronic device could be replicated with an Arduino and enough know how. Now, that thermal imaging camera is a kickstarter project and provides a cheap way to put a thermal imaging camera in the tool chest of makers the world over.

It’s called the IR-Blue, and simply by connecting your phone to the IR-Blue with Bluetooth, you can overlay the output of a thermal imaging camera on the output of your camera’s phone.

The thermal imaging sensor is basically a low-resolution camera (16 x 4 pixels) for infrared radiation. This sensor is factory calibrated to detect heat in a range between -20 and 300 ˚C. This range allows anyone to easily see where drafts in a house are coming from, where heat in a computer is being generated, or figuring out how to cook a steak.

It’s an awesome and well designed product, so we’ve got to hand it to [Andy] and the IR-Blue team for putting very expensive tools in everyone’s hands.

Kickstarter incurs the wrath of Arduino creator

[Massimo], one of the creators of the Arduino, is a little perturbed over what passes for the truth over on Kickstarter.

While [Massimo] does recognize that Kickstarter can be a force of good launching garage-designed projects into the hands of willing consumers, he noticed something was a little fishy with the recent smARtDUINO kickstarter (notice the capital letters, by the way). Right near the top of the smARtDUINO’s kickstarter page is the phrase, “For years we manufactured the ARDUINO in Italy. Now we created a new Open System: modular, scalable, the world’s cheapest and smallest!”

Being at the top of the Arduino organization, you’d think [Massimo] would have heard of these former Arduino manufacturers. The name didn’t ring a bell to him, so he called up the factory. No one at the factory had heard of them, and after a long search it was finally revealed the head of the smARtDUINO project hired two factory workers who worked for a supplier the official Arduino manufacturer uses.

[Massimo] makes the comparison of, “if he hires two factory workers from Ford he can claim he used to manufacture Ford cars.” We’re thinking that’s a little generous. It’s more like hiring two people who used to restock the vending machines in a Foxconn plant and claiming you used to build Apple computers.

With a simple trademark infringement on his hands, [Massimo] contacted Kickstarter to see what could be done. Kickstarter replied:

Thanks for writing in and bringing this to our attention. This is a matter that must be taken up directly with the project creator. You can contact them by clicking “Contact me” on the project page.
Best,
Kickstarter

For [Massimo], and us, that’s just not a sufficient answer. We’re thinking Kickstarter has an obligation to vet their projects and make sure the creators of these projects are who they say they are.

But enough about what we think. What do you, the Hackaday reader, think about this situation?

Hackaday’s official Kickstarter policy

we don’t have one… yet.

We’re getting inundated with campaigns on crowdfunding sites like kickstarter and indiegogo. Sometimes they’re really cool projects, sometimes they’re not. Unfortunately, they are all basically appeals for coverage on hackaday so they can get money. That immediately puts a negative taste in our mouths. Then again, if a hacker legitimately makes something really awesome, why wouldn’t we want to help spread the word?

We don’t want to stop a really cool project from being shared with you just because it is on kickstarter, but we also don’t want to serve as a crowdfunding advertising platform. It ends up being complicated, especially if the idea is really cool, but the details are sparse.

So, what do you think? Share your thoughts on how hackaday should handle crowdfunding in projects.

p.s. This started as a rant about how sick of the constant pleas for kickstarter coverage we’re getting. We’re trying to stay positive and constructive here, please do the same in the comments.

 

Bora board teaches binary hardware

If you’re just starting out in your quest to build really cool electronic devices, you’ll find a ton of options ready for the beginner. The Arduino makes toggling pins dead simple, and the Raspi brings the wonders of blinking a LED from the command line down from the gods and into the hands of the common man. These are all software platforms, though, and if you want to learn digital logic with hardware the best option is still a drawer full of 7400-series logic chips.

[Colin O'Flynn] hopes to change this with a beginners board for digital logic hardware design. It’s called the BORA, or Binary explORer boArd, and brings digital logic to a convenient package that is far less frustrating than a breadboard full of logic chips.

The BORA is based around a CPLD – a cousin of the FPGA-powered devices we see from time to time – that allows any student of digital logic to program the device and fill macrocells with NANDs, NORs, and ANDs.

The Xilinx device used in the BORA has about 1600 gates that can be programmed; more than enough to complete all the projects in the online lectures [Colin] has put together. You can check out the documentation for the BORA over on the official site, and the demo video after the break.

[Read more...]

Massively parallel computer costs $99

Even though dual, quad, and octo-core CPUs have been around for a while, it’s a far cry from truly massive parallel computing platforms. The chip manufacturer Adapteva is looking to put dozens of CPUs in a small package with their Parallella project. As a bonus, they’re looking for funding on Kickstarter, and plan to open source their 16 and 64-core CPUs after funding is complete.

The Parallella computer is based on the ARM architecture, and will be able to run Ubuntu with 1 Gig of RAM, a dual-core ARM A9 CPU, Ethernet, USB, and HDMI output. What makes the Parallella special is it’s Epiphany Multicore Accelerator – a coprocessor containing up to 64 parallel cores.

Adapteva is turning to Kickstarter for their Parallella computer to get the funding to take their Epiphany multicore daughterboard and shrink it down into a single chip. Once that’s complete, Adapteva will start shipping an ARM-powered Linux supercomputer that’s about the size of a credit card, or a Raspberry Pi under the new system of dev board measurements.

With any luck, the Parallella multicore computer will be available for $99, much less than a comparable x86 multicore computer. It’ll certainly be interesting to see what the Parallella can do in the future.

Kickstarter isn’t a store anymore

Over the past few months, we’ve seen an increasing amount of Kickstarter projects making it into the Hackaday tip line. We don’t mind all these emails from people trying to get their Kickstarter project off the ground, but reading through all the emails of people wanting us to pitch their stuff does get a little bothersome.

It looks like our problem of having to go through dozens of Kickstarter hardware projects a week is about to change. Kickstarter is implementing a few new rules for hardware and product design projects. The new rules prohibit product simulations. This means project creators can’t suggest what the product might do in the future. Only what the prototype can currently do is allowed in the Kickstarter project. Also, product renders aren’t allowed. The only pictures allowed on your Kickstarter project are photos as the prototype currently exists.

There’s also another catch for hardware and product design projects: offering multiple quantities of a reward are prohibited. Of course there’s a provision for things that only make sense as a set (building blocks, for instance), but it looks like funding an Arduino-compatible ATtiny85 board and getting multiple boards is out of the question now.

Of course Kickstarter is looking at the long-term, trying to dissuade project creators from taking the money and running off to South America. We’re wondering what the effect will be in the coming months, though; under these rules Ouya wouldn’t have passed Kickstarter’s litmus test, and smaller projects depending on Kickstarter funding for tooling and molds probably wouldn’t either.

The new changes are probably for the best, and will certainly speed up how long it takes us to go through our email. We’re wondering what HaD readers think of the change, so post your thoughts in the comments after the break.

There’s trouble brewin’ on the ‘ol Kickstarter site

This Kickstarter campaign, the AmbioLight, brings RGB LED strips to the masses. The only problem is that some of the backers discovered this RGB LED strip is already on the market. Internet denizens are now frothing at the mouth, complaining the designers of the AmbioLight, “haven’t designed anything,” and are, “just reselling parts which [AmbioLight] put together at a higher cost than other products on the market.”

A few backers of the AmbioLight have found what they think to be the original product, an RGB LED strip produced by ELCO Lighting. Comparing the picture of the ‘ballast’ on the AmbioLight Kickstarter to the ELCO controller raises even more suspicions about how involved the AmbioLight team was involved in the design of their product.

Even if the AmbioLight is simply a repackaging of an already existing product, that doesn’t make it against the rules of Kickstarter. I’ve even contributed to Kickstarter campaigns just to get a difficult-to-source component. Still, given the vitriol of the AmbioLight’s comments page, Kickstarter contributors don’t seem to appreciate taking an already available product and reselling it as your own.

What say you, Hackaday reader? Is it right for the AmbioLight team to do this?

EDIT: Kickstarter suspended the funding of AmbioLight a few hours after this was posted.