Video Links: Hunting for Hacks at Maker Faire

 

Why not round out our two-week Bay Area Maker Faire coverage with a Links post? This time around it’s video links. We mixed together a bunch of interesting clips that didn’t get their own video, as well as a dose of what it feels like to walk around the Faire all weekend. Join us after the break for the links.

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The Catweazle Mini: A Super Small ARM Based Embedded Platform

Catweazle

There has been a recent trend in miniaturizing embedded platforms. [Jan] wrote in to tell us about his very tiny ARM based embedded platform, the Catweazle Mini. Who knew that an ARM based system could be so simple and so small?!?

With the success of the Trinket and Femtoduino (miniature Arduino compatible boards) and many other KickStarter campaigns, it is only natural for there to be a mini platform based on the ARM architecture. Built around the NXP LPC810 ARM Cortex M0+ MCU at 30MHz (which only costs slightly more than $1, by the way), this small embedded platform packs some pretty impressive processing power. The board contains a simple linear regulator, and can be programmed via UART. [Jan's] development environment of choice is the mbed compiler, which is free and requires no installation. If you need some help getting started Adafruit has a nice guide for the LPC810.

Do you need some more processing power for your next wearable project? Be sure to use the Catweazle Mini.

An absurdly small tri-copter

tricop

The team behind the Femtoduino – an extraordinarily small repackaging of the Arduino – sent in a few videos from YouTuber [phineasIV], a.k.a. [Eric] that shows one of the smallest multicopters we’ve ever seen.

Because this isn’t a traditional quad or hexcopter, the control system is a little weird. Two of the motors and props are fixed along the vertical axis, while the rear prop is connected to a small servo to rotate from side to side. Still, the electronics are fairly standard for any multi rotor vehicle – a triple-axis gyro provides the stability of the vehicle coupled with MultiWii, while an amazingly small servo receiver, Bluetooth module,, Femtoduino, and a trio of brushless ESCs tie everything together.

The end result is a tri-copter that weighs about the same as the Crazyflie Nano Quadcopter, but is just a bit smaller. As impressive as it is on video (seen below), we’d love to see this tiny robotic hummingbird in person.

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Custom driver board for paintball gun

custom-driver-circuit-for-paintball

[Gabe's] been wanting to do some embedded development for years, and his other hobby of playing paintball recently provided him with a test project. He’s been working on a custom driver board for his paintball gun.  Don’t be confused by the name, GCode is a mash-up of his name and the fact that he wrote the code for the project. It has nothing to do with the G Code CNC language.

At first this might seem like a trivial hack, but this Viking paintball gun has some serious velocity and throughput so he needs a reliable control that won’t just start shooting randomly. Another thing that [Gabe] took into consideration was monitoring the loading process to make sure the paintball is full seated before firing. All of this is handled by that tiny little Femtoduino board. it interfaces with the guns hardware using the connector board mounted above it.

There are several videos sprinkled throughout the build log. But we found the officially sanctioned 12.5 balls per second mode and the ridiculously fast auto-fire clips the most interesting. It should come in handy when on the run from paintball shotgun wielding opponents.

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Hands on with the super tiny arudino: FemtoDuino

photo(30)

We originally heard about the FemtoDuino last year. It looked good enough and tiny enough, but we didn’t really have a need for it. Recently though, we started on a new project (which you can follow on the forums!) which required an easy modification to an existing circuit. Space and weight were quite important so we decided to pick up a couple femtoduinos at $25 each, and give them a try.

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This has not been a good week for the hacker community

RIP

The Internet lost a few great minds this week. [Aaron Swartz], confronted with an upcoming federal trial for his actions in downloading and releasing public domain academic articles from JSTOR, hanged himself this week. As one of the co-developers for RSS, the Creative Commons license, and slew of other works, [Aaron]‘s legacy expanded the freedoms and possibilities of the most important human invention since the book.

Perhaps overshadowed in the news by [Aaron] is [Fabio Varesano], the man behind FreeIMU and Femtoduino. He died of a sudden heart attack at the much too young age of 28. The RC helicopter/plane/drone and HCI/physical computing communities lose a great mind with [Fabio]‘s passing.

There is talk on the Dangerous Prototypes forum of continuing the development of FreeIMU, a project it seems [Fabio] worked on alone. We’d love to see someone pick up the reigns of the FreeIMU project, hopefully after doing a run of the current hardware and donating the proceeds to [Fabio]‘s family.

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