Tindie, the Etsy and Yelp for Electronics

For one reason or another, Tindie has become known as the Etsy for DIY electronics, tinkering, and all things that are regularly featured on Hackaday. Now [Emile] over at Tindie is tackling another problem faced by homebrew electronic wizards: finding good middlemen, board houses, places that do assembly, and machinists. The answer to that is Tindie Biz, something that [Emile] is calling the ‘Yelp for electronics.’

[Emile], the owner and creator of Tindie used to work for Yelp, something that got him more than a few “boo”s at last week’s Hackaday Omnibus Launch Party. Despite the community’s inexplicable hatred of Yelp, [Emile] actually learned a lot; verification is the ultimate problem of user-submitted reviews, and his solution to that problem is to put proof of a transaction in with the review, lest Tindie Biz fall into a disarray of spam and astroturfing.

Already there are over 1,400 manufacturers on Tindie Biz, but [Emile] said right now, his new manufacturer review site needs input from DIYers; the real value is in getting people who have done business with manufacturers around the globe to submit reviews. It needs reviewers, and that’s where you come in. It’s all free, and like most good ideas, something that makes you say, ‘I should have thought of that first.’

Celebrating the Omnibus Launch

On Thursday night Hackaday hosted an event in San Francisco to commemorate the launch of the 2014 Hackaday Omnibus. Our first print edition, compiled to commemorate some of the finest original content which we published last year should begin shipping as early as today. To celebrate the occasion, we were graced by a full house of amazing guests. Is it lame to say some of the people I respect most in the world were there?

Lightning Talks

Whenever you get a lot of people together, a good rule of thumb is to seize the opportunity to have them speak about what they’re doing. It’s not a big “ask” either; 8-minutes on what you’re passionate about is pretty simple.

[Jonathan Foote] gave a talk on generating RGBY colors from Hue. The project is ongoing but explores the concept of mixing colors of light with one additional source added to traditional red, green, and blue. [Priya Kuber] recently moved to San Francisco. She recently concluded more than a year of standing up the Arduino office in India (relevant but unrelated video). Her talk covered the emerging maker/hacker hardware scene in India which is showing amazing growth. [Chris McCoy] demonstrated his Raver Rings which began a Kickstarter on the same day. [Elecia White] of embedded.fm spoke about the educational opportunities that podcasts and other delivery medium provide and the responsibility we all have to guide our continued learning. [Emile Petrone] talked about an upcoming feature for his site Tindie which will add manufacturer information and ratings to the mix. And rounding things out [Dave Grossman] gave a talk on his Virtual Carl project which used video footage of his grandfather, combined with a Raspberry Pi and peripherals to create a remembrance of the man in virtual form.

Demos

IMG_4602
[Ben Krasnow] shows off the chamber containing supercritical carbon dioxide.
During the rest of the evening there were a few spectacular demos going on. First, [Ben Krasnow] who is well known for his Applied Science series (among a million other accolades), brought at least two demos with him. The first was a pressure chamber made out of two massively thick discs of acrylic separated by a metal ring. Inside the void he had pumped and pressurized CO2. When the chamber is heated it, the contents become Supercritical Carbon Dioxide and the visual transition between liquid and gas disappears.

He also showed off a lens that can be focused electronically. This is not mechanical, there are zero moving parts. Instead a droplet of oil floating in water is the lens. A 75V, AC power supply pulls on the droplet, altering the meniscus to focus the lens. He didn’t fabricate the device from scratch, but the concept is completely new to us and quite interesting.

[Brian Benchoff] poses with Othermill hardware
[Brian Benchoff] poses with Othermill hardware
Othermill is located in the SF area. They produce a desktop milling machine which is spectacular at routing PCBs. The little wonder isn’t limited to that though. Above you can see [Brian] holding up a milled wooden plaque which has milled mother-of-pearl inlays. The table is also strewn with other examples in wax, metal, wood, and more.

Cocktail Hour

The rest of the evening was devoted to conversation on all topics. Get enough hardware geeks in one room and they’ll solve the world’s problems, right? That’s a conversation for another post.

Couldn’t make it to this one but still in the San Francisco area at least occasionally? We held this at the Supplyframe office. They host a ton of great events like the Hardware Developers Didactic Galactic.

[Thanks to Richard Hogben for the photos!]

Hackaday Links: March 25, 2013

Illegal, yet impressive

cans

Want a soda? Just grab a robot, shove it in a vending machine, and grab yourself one. This video is incredibly French, but it looks like we’ve got a custom-built robot made out of old printers and other miscellaneous motors and gears here. It’s actually pretty impressive when you consider 16 ounce cans weigh a pound.

UNOBTANIUM

chip

Okay, we got a lot of emails on our tip line for this one. It’s a group buy for a programmable oscillator over on Tindie. Why is this cool? Well, this chip (an SI570) is used in a lot of software defined radio designs. Also, it’s incredibly hard to come by if you’re not ordering thousands of these at a time. Here’s a datasheet, now show us some builds with this oscillator.

Chiptune/keygen music anywhere

keygen

[Huan] has a co-loco’d Raspi and wanted a media server that is available anywhere, on any device. What he came up with is a service that streams chiptune music from your favorite keygens. You can access it with Chrome (no, we’re not linking directly to a Raspberry Pi), and it’s extremely efficient – his RAM usage didn’t increase a bit.

Take it on an airplane. Or mail it.

bomb

[Alex]’s hackerspace just had a series of lightning talks, where people with 45-minute long presentations try to condense their talk into 10 minutes. Of course the hackerspace needed some way to keep everything on schedule. A simple countdown timer was too boring, so they went with a fake, Hollywood-style bomb. No, it doesn’t explode, but it still looks really, really fake. That’s a good thing.

Printers have speakers now?

nokia

[ddrboxman] thought his reprap needed a nice ‘print finished’ notification. After adding a piezo to his electronics board, he whipped up a firmware hack that plays those old Nokia ringtones. The ringtones play over Gcode, so it’s possible to have audible warnings and notifications. Now if it could only play Snake.

Re:load, an Open Source Dummy Load

Re:load

When testing power supplies or LEDs, a constant current dummy load is needed. These devices will draw a constant amount of current, regardless of the voltage at the input terminals.

[Nick] was looking for a load to test out a power supply, and found commercial offerings to be too large, too powerful, and most importantly, too expensive. This lead to the design of the Re:load, his open source alternative.

Like other constant current sources, the Re:load uses an opamp to control a pass element. While most constant current loads will just use a transistor, [Nick] opted for a BTS117 smart low side switch IC. This device has a built in current limiter, over-voltage protection, over-temperature protection, and short circuit protection, which makes it much safer. The project write up goes into detail on how the device works.

If you need a constant current load, [Nick] is selling kits on Tindie. All the design files are available on Github so that you can build your own.

Tindie gets Fundraisers for kickstarting and group buys

tindie

The etsy of electronics project, Tindie, has a brand new feature: It’s a Kickstarter-esque endeavor called a Fundraiser that allows you to sell your projects to other electron enthusiasts.

Of course the new Tindie Fundraisers may soon be just another Kickstarter clone for “exciting,” “new,” and “innovative” Arduino dev boards, something we’ve lamented before. We’re really interested in seeing Tindie used as a platform for group buys; a solution to a maker’s special hell where buying one component costs $100, but ten cost $200.

Already there are a few really cool projects up on the Tindie Fundraisers including a breadboardable Parallax Propeller dev board. Yes, someone finally made one that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

In addition to the new Fundraisers, [emile] also closed on $500k of seed funding for Tindie. It’s wonderful news for something that is sorely needed by the maker community. Tindie is also hiring, so if you’re a Django/Python wizard go drop everyone’s second favorite robotic dog a line.

Tindie is growing up

Tindie, the etsy for electronics and DIY projects is growing up. After growing 300% in August, the creator of Tindie,  [emile], is now working full-time as the head of Tindie, LLC.

Intended to be a place to connect makers with homebrew project connoisseurs, Tindie is seeing new projects and builds added every day. [emile] figures since some Tindie contributors are using the platform as the source of their livelihood, the least he could do would be to focus his energies into turning Tindie into a profitable and sustainable enterprise.

From the humble beginnings of an empty storefront, Tindie has grown large enough to feature some very cool projects such as a GoPro time lapse control board, a CNC router control board, a LiPo charger the size of a USB plug, a Raspi case milled out of a billet of aluminum, and a gag gift we wouldn’t want to take through airport security. Not bad for a web site that only launched a few months ago.

Hackaday Links: August 3, 2012

Oh cool we’re famous

Last weekend, the Tech Team Radio Show over in Stoke-on-Trent interviewed our boss man [Caleb]. It’s a really wonderful interview, and I’m not saying that because [Caleb] signs my check. The entire show is up on Mixcloud and you can listen to the interview beginning at about 20 minutes. By the way, the guy who interviewed [Caleb] is now writing for us. Please welcome [Richard] to our motley crew.

Group buys are an awesome idea

We’ve seen Tindie, an Etsy for your electronics projects, a few times before. [emile] put up a blog post showing the impressive stats for the first month: $646 went to makers and nearly 29,000 unique pageviews. [emile] is working on a new project called Starter. This feature allows makers to gauge interest in their project and organize group buys for rare and esoteric components. We can’t wait to see this feature go live, and of course we’ll plug it when it does.

First Tindie, now fixie

[Adam] needed a way to store his bike, so he made a swinging wall mount for his fixie. The mount is bolted to a door frame and since it swings it’s never in the way.

The latest advances in blanket technology

During the opening ceremony for the Olympics, [schobi] saw some really cool light-up blankets. From this picture it really looks like these blankets are emitting light, but we have no idea how this was done. Does anyone have an idea on how this effect was produced?

coughRaspberryPicough

[Craig] needed a way to mount PCBs that didn’t have any mounting holes. He came up with a laser cut Delrin clip and put the file up on Thingiverse.