Hackaday Links: April 5, 2015

[Dino] found something pretty cool at Walmart. It’s a USB Lighter; basically a car cigarette lighter that’s powered by a battery and charged via USB. A few bucks will buy you a battery, charge controller, and USB plug that will deliver over 2 amps at 3.7 Volts.

Speaking of battery chargers, here’s something from [Thomas]. He works in a hospital, and the IV pumps have a terrible charging circuit. After a few dozen chargers, they’ll give a battery error on the screen. They’re not bad, only unbalanced. [Thomas] made a simple rig with a Tenergy battery charger to rebalance the packs. No link, but here’s a pic. It beats paying $34 for a new battery pack.

Those Silhouette Cameo blade cutters don’t get enough respect. You can make vinyl stickers or an Arduino-themed pop up card.

Retroreflective spraypaint. Volvo has developed something called Lifepaint. It’s for bicycles and bicycle riders. Apparently, it’s clear when you spray it on, but if you shine a light on it – from a car’s headlight – it will reflect back. Any cool ideas here?

The Art of Electronics, 3rd edition, is finally out. Didn’t we hear about this a few months ago? Yes, we did. It’s shipping now, though, and there’s a sample. It’s chapter nine, voltage regulation and power conversion.

Ah, April Fool’s. I’m still proud of the Prince post, but there were some great ones this year. RS Components had Henry the Hover Drone, but we really like the protoboard with ground planes.

The market wasn’t always flooded with ARM dev boards. For a while the LeafLabs Maple was the big kid on the block. Now it’s reached end of life. If only there were a tree whose name ended in ~ino…

Theremin takes the touch out of multitouch

Multitouch builds are all the rage now, so it’s not surprising someone would come up with a multi-touchless interface sooner or later. [Hanspeter] did just that; his Multi-touchless ribbon controller, a.k.a. Polymagnetophonic Theremin is multi-touch without the touch.

[Hanspeter]’s touchless ribbon controller uses an array of 24 Hall effect sensors that activate whenever a magnet mounted on a thimble is placed near a build. These sensors go to an ARM-equipped Maple Mini to record multitouch events and send them out over Ethernet.

Even though [Hanspeter] is only using his “multi-touchless ribbon sensor” as a theremin, there’s no reason why it couldn’t be put to other uses. It’s entirely possible to place several of these magnetic sensors in an array and build a real Minority Report interface where the user interacts with a computer without touching anything.

After the break is a video demo showing off how much control [Hanspeter] can get with the thimble/magnet setup. There’s also a few demo songs made with SuperCollider showing off a trio of sitar/Moog/harpsichord synths.

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Python on a microcontroller

The team at LeafLabs was looking for something cool to do with their new ARM development board. [AJ] asked if anyone had ever played around with Python, so [Dave] cooked up an implementation of PyMite and put it on a Maple board. While the writeup is only about blinking a LED with a microcontroller, they’re doing it with Python, interactively, and at runtime.

The build uses the Maple Native board the team is developing. The board has a 32-bit ARM chip with 1 Meg of RAM – more than enough horsepower to run PyMite. The tutorial for putting PyMite on a Maple is up on the LeafLabs wiki.

PyMite is theoretically able to control every pin on the Maple Native and do just about everything a regular Python distro can do. The LeafLabs team is still working on the necessary libraries for their board (although we don’t see anything on the Google code page), so right now only blinking the LED is supported. Still, it’s pretty cool to have Python in your pocket.

VGA out on a Maple board

The team at Leaf Labs just released a new library to demonstrate the VGA capabilities of their Maple dev board. Although it’s only a 16 by 18 pixel image, it shows a lot of development over past video implementations on the Maple.

The Maple is a great little Ardunio-compatible board with a strangely familiar IDE. We’ve covered the Maple before. Instead of the somewhat limited AVR, the Maple uses an ARM running at 72MHz, making applications requiring some horsepower or strict timing a lot easier.

We’ve seen a few projects use the increased power, like a guitar effects shield. It’s possible the Maple could be made into a game console that would blow the Uzebox out of the water, but we’re wondering what hackaday readers would use this dev board for.

Watch the video after the jump to see how far the Maple’s VGA capability has come after only a few months, or check out Leaf Lab’s Maple libraries.

Continue reading “VGA out on a Maple board”

What Development Board to Use? (Part Two)

We asked for responses to our last Development Board post, and you all followed through. We got comments, forum posts, and emails filled with your opinions. Like last time, there is no way we could cover every board, so here are a few more that seemed to be popular crowd choices. Feel free to keep sending us your favorite boards, we may end up featuring them at a later date!

Continue reading “What Development Board to Use? (Part Two)”

Guitar effect shield for Maple

[Okie] designed this audio effect shield for Maple. You’ll remember that Maple is a prototyping system built around an ARM processor, so there’s plenty of power and speed under the hood. First and foremost, the shield provides input and output filters to keep noise out of the system. From there a set of potentiometers let you change the effect, with the manipulation like echo, distortion, and ring modulation happening in the firmware.

Maple R3 now shipping

Leaf Labs is now shipping the Maple R3 boards. [Phil Burgess] gave the platform a look just before launch last fall and the high-powered prototyping board is now even better. New features come in both hardware and software varieties. The bootloader can now be upgraded without additional programming hardware, there’s hardware SPI and I2C interfaces, and a newly-polished IDE for Linux and Windows. At $50 it’s a good way to get access to the power of the ARM Cortex M3 processor at the center of the board. We’ve seen several projects that use the mbed, which is in the same class as the Maple, but we’re waiting to see what you’ve accomplished with this little devil.