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Seeed Studio shows off their wares

Everyone’s favorite Open Hardware store – Seeed Studio – was at Maker Faire this last weekend. They showed off a bunch of cool toys, oscilloscopes, Arduino shields and other hardware goodness, but one of the more interesting products was from their B Squares line.

As [Colin] from Seeed showed us, each B Square is a small plastic enclosure about the size of a drink coaster. The corners of these squares are clad in metal, and each one has magnets inside. The idea behind the B Squares system is to provide power to other B Square boards via magnetic connections.

So far, Seeed has released an Arduino square, battery, solar, and LED squares, as well as iPod docks and prototyping boards. These boards can also be orthogonally, meaning it’s entirely possible to turn six B Squares into a B Cube.

These magnetic connections only provide power connections; there is currently no way to transfer data between different B Squares. We suspect, though, that anyone wanting to replicate the Apple MagSafe power adapter and invent a magnetic I2C bus would find these boards perfectly suited to the task.

Video after the break.

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Zen rock garden table uses magnets and sand

[Nick] is working on a prototype of a coffee table sand plotter that draws patterns in sand a lot like a zen rock garden.

[Nick]‘s zen rock garden uses a magnet to draw a ball bearing across the sand in interesting patterns. The build uses 3D printed gears and laser cut parts to rotate the table around and move the magnet along a radius of the circle. During the first test of the prototype, the ball bearing jerked around but this problem was solved by adding a piece of foam under the sand. Power is supplied through a slip ring in the base, and the table is controlled through Bluetooth.

Speaking of magnet-and-ball-bearing zen coffee tables, we ran across this video of a more professional-looking prototype that was the basis for a successful Kickstarter campaign. Like [Nick]‘s prototype, the entire build relies on magnets and a ball bearing to move sand around in patterns. Because this zen table uses an XY axis instead of [Nick]‘s polar setup, drawing logos is a lot easier math-wise, lthough it doesn’t look quite as cool as a circular rock garden.

After the break you can see these zen rock garden coffee tables in action.

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Beginner Project: Super Cheap Magnetic Mixer

[wesdoestuff]‘s mother needed a clean way to mix together fragrance oils. Being the stand up kinda guy he is, [Wes] threw together a few spare parts to make this Magnetic Stir Plate.

The whole setup is amazingly simple. Pry the fins off of an old computer fan, glue a couple magnets to the fan’s hub. Drill a hole for a DC connector, find some sort of cover and.. Bob’s your uncle! [Wes] advises that you test the spacing of the magnets on the hub before gluing them permanently, as they can be a bit tricky to align.

The stir bar for non food items is  a magnet bar from one of those crazy magnet and ball bearing toys, it is basically just a solid magnet covered in plastic.  Food safe bars can be acquired, though they are not as cheap.  With all that room under the hood we would love to see him throw in some kind of a PWM speed control but that could be a bit complicated. Most of us could throw this together from spare parts.  Video after the jump!

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Rodent-based power generation

Your hamster lives to good life, with food delivery and a maid service that cleans up after him. [DanF] helped to brighten up this hamster’s life even more by improving its exercise equipment and giving it a small night-light as well. This project adds a low RPM alternator to the hamster wheel.

The first part of the process was to reduce energy lost to friction by fitting the wheel with a bearing. From there a ring of permanent magnets was added which will pass by a stationary coil and induce a current. It works, but unfortunately there’s not enough power generated to charge a battery. That means the light is only on when the hamster is running. But maybe you can figure out a way to use a super-capacitor like we saw in that exercise bike hack.

One nice finishing touch to the setup is a bicycle computer to track how much time was sent on the wheel, and the distance traveled.

[Thanks Dizzy]

Engineering with magnetic spheres

We would imagine these experiments were spawned by a devastatingly boring day at the office. [Sparr] found himself the proud owner of one thousand rare-earth magnets and decided to see what geometric shapes he could build with the spheres. These are gold-plated N35 Neodymium magnets that measure just 6mm across. He discovered that every structure is built from rings of magnets with shapes dependent upon what sequence of increasing or decreasing members are used. What he’s done is visually pleasing but we’d like to try it ourselves to see how resilient each structure ends up being.

[Sparr's] post is from the Freeside Atlanta blog, a hacker space collective. [Curbob], a regular with the group, tipped us off that a few hacker conventions are coming up in their area and they’re looking for speakers for one-hour talks about projects. If you’re near Raleigh or Atlanta this is your chance to show off that ridiculously complicated project you’ve been risking your marriage to complete.

A Stirring Hack

Stirring Flask

[Oleg] of Circuits@Home and maker of the USB Isolation Board and the USB Host Shield has a new, two-part hack for his chemistry set. In Part 1 of  this hack, [Oleg] discusses the method he uses to make a stir bar spin and what types of stir bars work the best. Part 2 discusses the motor control code and circuit. Given the ample amount of capability leftover in the Arduino he used, we would like to see this stirrer paired with a heating element to have a complete hotplate/stirrer. What do you think you could do with or to improve this device?

Uses for magnets

magnets

Sometimes we forget just how useful magnets can be. Sure, we use them in some projects, but usually we just pull them apart for our amusement. Evil mad scientist laboratories reminds us that they can be useful tools. They’ve made a list of 17 uses of magnets. We’re also reminded that magnets can be dangerous. What else can you think of?

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