Embedded above is a short segment produced by Make about one of our most fundamental circuit components: the resistor. Although brief at just five minutes, it covers resistor basics and the historical development of Ohm’s law.
Make has assembled a buyers guide for the many different types of Arduino devices. The Arduino is an open hardware platform designed to make prototyping easily accessible. The design allows for other people to modify, expand, and improve on the base, and many people have started producing their own versions. The guide features a lot of the hardware we’ve covered in the past like the LilyPad, Arduino Pro, Sanguino, Duemilanove, Ethernet Shield, and Freeduino.
Out of the pack, the Seeeduino (pictured above) definitely caught our eye. It’s a low profile SMD design much like the Arduino Pro. They’ve taken advantage of the space saved by the SMD ATmega168 by adding more useful headers. In addition to the ICSP, you get the pins in UART order and an I2C header. Vcc is switch selectable for 3.3 or 5volts. The reset switch has been moved to the edge plus two additional ADC pins. Our favorite feature is the new spacing on the digital pins. Arduino digital pin headers have an inexplicable 160mil gap between the banks. The Seeeduino has the standard row for shield compatibility, but has an additional row spaced at standard 100mil spacing for use with protoboard. At $23.99, it’s competitively priced too.
Google just announced the release of SketchUp 7. SketchUp is a 3D modeling program with a fairly robust free version. They’ve added quite a few features and the one that caught our eye in particular was dynamic components. Dynamic components have behavior specific to the object. The example in the video above shows a staircase changing the number of steps as its height is increased instead of distorting the overall staircase shape. The new version also allows for interaction, so model properties change based on user actions.
Google has always encouraged sharing of objects created in SketchUp. Thingiverse launched today with a similar emphasis. The site is built to encourage the exchange of plans for physical objects. It supports many different file types from plain images, AutoCAD dxfs to Eagle schematics. Many of the designs already posted are made to be cut out by a laser cutter or built by a 3D printer.
[Dean Kamen]‘s company, the people behind the Segway, have created a hybrid car that uses a Stirling engine instead of a standard internal combustion engine. Stirling engines are closed cycle, meaning heat is applied to the outside of the cylinder walls. They are generally more efficient than standard car engines, but haven’t been used much outside of industrial applications. We suspect that the drivetrain arrangement is similar to the Chevy Volt where the engine is used to charge batteries which are in turn driving an electric motor. This is different from modern hybrids that can have either electric motor or gas engine driving the wheels. The article is unfortunately full of classic [Kamen] hyperbole and minimal detail. He calls the Stirling engine “an insurance policy” for the electric car since it can recharge the battery. That’s right, folks. If you run out of juice, you can put gas in the car. I doubt many Prius owners will fall out of their chair over that. Being a Stirling engine, we’d be more impressed if you could charge the thing by rubbing warm toast on it.
We spent our Halloween dressed as an irate traveler as we flew cross country, but it looks like a lot of people were having much more fun. [flaming_pele!]‘s Aliens power loader is one of the best costumes we’ve seen yet. He built it by referencing a 1/12th model kit and a lot of photos. The final costume is about 80% full size which gets it under their 8 foot ceilings. There’s a video of the suit embedded below. Our love of power suits was documented fairly well in our roundup post this summer. Make found two other related costumes: a Star Wars AT-ST and a generic mech constructed from packing foam. Did any of you dress as something truly nerdy for Halloween? [Read more...]
Maker Faire Austin is happening this weekend, October 18 & 19, 2008 at the Travis County Expo Center in Austin, TX. Maker Faire is a showcase of all things DIY. You’ll see robots, sculptures, live performances, and other wonders including many of the projects we cover here every day. We enjoyed our time in San Mateo earlier this year and the show keeps getting better and better. You can see photos from previous events on Flickr. If you’ve got a chance to go, take it.
If you weren’t looking forward to trying to find a NES Four Score just to rip connectors out of it or were reluctant to cut the ends off your NES controllers and use different connectors for your NES hack, you’re in luck. Parallax has released an NES controller connector (7-pin, male) that is compatible with the Nintendo controller. They also provide the socket pinout. It’s interesting to see a product like this come out so long after the original console, a testament to the popularity.