What you see above is the biggest feature the service brings to the table, the ability to create “snippets” from datasheets by clicking and dragging the area you’d like to save (you can even get a public link to the snippet). Once you have selected a snippet there are a few tools that allow you to make annotations on it. We’ve used the rectangle tool to highlight the clock speed and divider settings in this snippet for an ATmega328 uC. The interface also offers the ability to draw arrows, freehand, or to add text to the snippet. At the bottom of this example we used the description area to notate the fuse settings (in hex) which we most often use with this chip. These snippets and annotations can then be shared with other users of the service, and there’s also a comments section below the snippet for your team to use. See examples of this in the video below.
This solves one of our biggest beefs with PDF datasheets — the ability to jump back and forth and to easily find commonly used sections. This datasheet is 567 pages long and not fun to paw through looking for the same info repeatedly. It also offers rudimentary “favorite” flagging to keep a list of your oft-used sheets — but we’d like to see more options for categorizing our collection. We also find it hard to get by without the Table of Contents functionality we’re used to in our normal document view (evince). We’ve already pestered the lead developer, [Ben Delarre], to add this feature. He’s the same guy who came up with the schematic sharing site CircuitBee. Now would be a great time to mention that this service is owned by Hackaday’s parent company SupplyFrame.
Datasheet.net has a mammoth source of datasheets available through the search, but the list of planned feature additions includes datasheet upload. Also on the list is a “Discussion” feature which sounds interesting to us. What if, through the discussion engine, searching for datasheets also turned up a list of open hardware projects that use this part? We are also drooling over the ability to embed these snippets directly in webpages. [Ben] tells us that’s already built but they didn’t have time to add it to the UI before launch. Gone will be the days of taking screenshots of PDFs for your blog writeup!
PDF delivery of datasheets revolutionized access to information about electronic components. We’re hoping that this marks the next evolution. In addition to better working features, wouldn’t it be nice if you could actually get notifications when new datasheet revisions or errata were published?
If you need a sparring partner, and do not want to be dependent on finding a willing partner at any random time, then maybe this Interactive Punching Bag will be some interest to you. [Lior], having studied Karate for a while now, originally envisioned a robotic arm that would punch at you using the Texas Instruments Chronos or the Microsoft Kinect as input, though after some initial messing around he decided to scrap that plan and thought “how hard is it to place some LEDs inside a punching bag and sense some force using an Arduino?”
After about a day and a half, using parts from around the shop and a trip to radio shack, he was able to complete his goal, and left some room to expand in the future. The bag currently features 3 resistive sensors, 3 LED’s, and is using a laptop for feedback, though an LCD is on its way. The expansion room allows for 3 more sensors and LED’s for twice the action and more complex games.
Speaking of games, the punching bag currently has 3 different exercise programs, as many punches as you can in 30 seconds mode, a programmable sequence mode, and random which occasionally punches back. Join us after the break for a quick video, and check out the page for details and a pile of pictures.
[Alpay Kasal] of Lit Studios and [Sam Ewen] created this patent-pending interactive mirror after being inspired by dielectric glass mirrors with built-in LCD panels, and wanting to add a human touch. The end results look like a lot of fun. You can draw on the mirror and play games. According to [Kasal], mouse emulation is essential. The installation features proximity sensors and gesturing. Any game can be set up on it, which makes the possibilities endless… except these are the same people that built LaserGames so expect no further documentation about how it works.
[ERASME] built this interactive globe interface for an exhibit on Inuit people and their land. The goal was to have a tactile input device to Google Earth data. The unit is composed of a half globe for location selection, a touch pad for layer selection, and a Wiimote for view changes.They had to develop their own driving application for Google Earth as none exists for Linux. The software, called KeyEvents takes inputs from all the devices and mimics keyboard and mouse control in Google Earth.
There is much more information on how they got the pieces to work together, as well as some videos in french showing the device working. One thing that stands out though is that they decided to use direct association on their Wiimote, thus stopping rogue Wiimotes from gaining control. Who would carry a Wiimote around just to hijack public displays? We would.
Opto-Isolator is an interesting art installation that was on display at the Bitforms Gallery in NYC. This single movement-tracking eye creates a statement about how we view art and is a response to the question “what if art could view us?”. The somewhat creepy display not only follows the person viewing it, but mimics blinks a second later and averts its gaze if eye contact is kept up for too long. Its creators [Golan Levin] and [Greg Baltus] have done a great job mimicking human behavior with such a simple element and the social implications of it are truly fascinating.
If they wanted to, [Levin] and [Baltus] could possibly crank up the spook factor by adding facial recognition and programming it to remember how certain people interact with it, then tailor its behavior to wink at different rates or become more shy or bold, depending on the personality of the person watching it. Of course, that would require that someone goes back to it more than once…
Bubbloo is an interactive display at the Denver Art Museum. They appear to be embracing a more interactive approach to displaying some of their art and information. One of their displays, shown above, features a pair of projection systems working together to make a game. As you pop the bubbles, the artwork is displayed. You can see it definitely helps keep the kids amused.
While the technology used isn’texactlynew, its a good example of how effective interactive displays can be. Even if they are just there to distract the kids so the parents can look at art.
The floor projection systems don’t seem as though they would be that difficult to make. We’ve seen interactive projection displays using Wiimotes made in peoples homes, but what about one of these? How would you handle the input without an accessory like a light pen or reflective tape? The Wisdom Well uses Frustrated Total Internal Reflection and rear projection. Reactrix, a manufacturer of these systems uses infrared sensors as well as some kind of floor sensor. [Lawrence Lau] has made one, but didn’t post any information. If you make one and let us know.
When you need something quietly bending or moving, don’t underestimate SMA’s (or Shape Memory Alloys). The Living Glass project by architects [David Benjamin] and [Soo-in Yang] catalogs an experiment in building interactive, flexible, “breathing”, walls out of SMA wire and microcontrollers. Although they use Basic Stamps, the project could easily be extended to more cost-effective microcontrollers for large surfaces. The project is well documented with videos (AVI) of each prototyping step and even includes the ideas that were ultimately scrapped. Even if you don’t build a wall of interactive gills, this project should give you plenty of ideas for uses of SMA wire embedded in semi-flexible materials.