Here’s an interesting concept. Lets make a kit to build your own super simple cell phone. Thats basically what a group at the MIT media lab is proposing with this prototype. Consisting of an SM5100b GSM module and a 1.8″ 160×128 pixel LCD screen on a very basic board holding some buttons, this thing is pretty bare bones. Barely any features aside from sending/receiving calls. It does have caller ID though. At$150, it isn’t really that competitive compared to the phones you’d get from your provider, but it is just a prototype.
We particularly like the laser cut flex areas for the buttons on the front.
Careful, this hack might foster doubts about the level of fun you’re having at you own Computer Science department. Last weekend a group of students at MIT pulled off a hack of great scale by turning a building into a Tetris game board.
The structure in question is the Green Building on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Campus. It houses the Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences Departments, but was chose based on the size and regularity of the grid formed by the windows on one side. The group hasn’t provided much in the way of details yet, but the video after the break shows the game play and start-up screen. The middle portion of the building is used as a scrolling marquee to display the word “Tetris” before the game pieces start falling. We’re only guessing (and we hope you will add your conjecture in the comments section) but we’d bet they assembled a set of wireless RGB LED lamps and set one on the sill of each window. There does seem to be a number of ‘dead’ pixels, but it doesn’t diminish the fun of the overall effect.
If you don’t have your own building to play on, you should go small-scale and implement Tetris on a character display.
Continue reading “MIT Students take Tetris to a grand scale”
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology just announced the first course offering in their new online classes program. Great news, it’s an analog design course which is right up our alley. The prototype session will be 6.002: Circuits and Electronics.
If you’re a fan of our links posts you may remember hearing about the MITx program a month ago. After seeing the popularity of the Stanford program MIT is throwing their hat into the ring too. So what is this all about? How does it work and what will you learn? There’s bits of information all over the place. We recommend reading the news link at the top of this feature first. Next you should wade through the 6.002x FAQ and if you’re still interested there’s a big maroon enrollment button at the bottom of the course summary page.
Whew, that’s a lot of links. Anyway, expect to spend 10 hours a week on the class; but it’s all free. Future offerings will be free as well, but MIT plans transition to a pay-for-certificate option: “students who complete the mastery requirement on MITx will be able to receive the credential for a modest fee.” If you still haven’t made up your mind take a gander at the promo clip after the jump.
Continue reading “MITx first course announce – 6.002x: Circuits and Electronics”
They can put a man on the moon, but they can’t put a man in LEO
Yeah, we’re enraged by that headline. Anyway, NASA put up a whole bunch of projects and made them open source. From the looks of it, there’s plenty of cool stuff: genetic algorithm libs, toolkits for astrodynamics simulations (on the Goddard site), and this cool thing.
Nyan all the disks!
[brainsmoke], a hacker over at revspace, made an assembler version of nyan cat that can be placed on the bootloader of any disk. Just a reminder that you shouldn’t mount everything out there. We learned that lesson the week we discovered a penicillin allergy.
It’ll replace the Buffy poster.
[Anthony Clay] has been working on a set of EE posters that he’s putting up as a Kickstarter. They’re Ohm’s Law, resistor calculator, capacitance, and inductance posters that would look great above any workbench. He’s looking for ideas for other posters, so drop him a line and vote for the 7400 logic poster. All of them.
Ooooohhhh MIDI sampler
A while ago, we saw this neat MIDI Arduino shield. The Kickstarter reached its funding goal (there’s still time left!), but now [Keith] writes in to tell us that the AvecSynth library is platform independent. You could use this to record and play back MIDI messages. MIDI tape delay, anyone?
Open mind, not mouth.
With the success of the Stanford AI class last year, it looks like MIT is really getting their head into the game. Think of it this way: it’s MIT opencourseware that can lead to credentials. Now the only question is, ‘how do you prank a virtual campus?’
The only problem with this self-balancing unicycle is it’s inability to balance itself. You see, it automatically balances along the axis that is parallel to the line of travel. But since there’s only one wheel the rider is responsible for balancing perpendicular to travel. This is really not too much different from a bicycle; balancing while in motion is pretty simple. Only when you slow down or stop are you in trouble.
[Stephen Boyer] built the vehicle and uses it for most of his travel around the MIT campus. It carries a pair of 12V batteries that pack enough punch to travel five miles between charges. A 5DOF board senses motion and orientation, with an ATmega328 microcontroller calculating the corrections necessary to keep the rider upright.
The demo video after the break never really gives you good look at the thing, but it’s enough to prove that it does indeed work very well. We’re also glad to see that [Stephen] is using a kill-switch while riding.
If you’re aching for more electric unicycle video check out this other project too. Continue reading “Self-balancing unicycle only for those with good balance”
Want to clean up the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in one month? Seaswarm says it can be done with 5000 floating robots.
As the name implies, the project uses swarm robotics. Each unit draws power from the sun, and drags around a conveyor belt of oil absorbent nanofabric that doesn’t get wet in water. Once the fabric is saturated with crude it can be removed using heat; not a task the swarm can do by itself. But get this: after separating oil from nanofabric both can be used again. That means you get the environmental benefit of cleaning up the Gulf, not throwing away your collection medium, and the oil is once again a usable commodity. Sounds like a lot of high promises, but take a look at the video after the break and decide for yourself.
Continue reading “Seaswarm: we can clean up the Gulf in a month”
Researchers at MIT have come up with this slick demo of, what they call, programmable matter. This flat sheet covered in tiny foil actuators can be programmed to fold into specific shapes. Shown in the video above is a boat and an airplane. Using the concepts set down by origami through the years, they can divide the sheet into triangles in specific arrangements to make certain shapes possible. This one is fairly simple, but judging by some of the insane origami we’ve seen around, this could get pretty cool.