Deployable by Design With Bunnie Huang, Nadya Peek, and Joi Ito

We follow [bunnie]’s blog as he posts interesting and usable information quite regularly. [bunnie] posted about a video of a recent talk he did at MIT Media Lab with Nadya Peek and Joi Ito. This was in lieu of his monthly “name that ware” competition, which is worth looking into as well.

The talk is focused on small volume manufacturing and the experiences that the speakers have under their collective belt is large enough that the conversation takes a turn from how to do things in practice, to the theory and technique of manufacturing on a philosophical level.

[bunnie] prefaces the conversation with an explanation of some of the design and manufacturing processes involved when working on the circuit stickers project. He talks about the importance of testing the product and the complex test jig that is required to quality check a simple (in comparison to the test jig) product. [bunnie] shares an overview of the project timeline and where some extended design stages might be found in unexpected places.

The design and manufacturing process is discussed on many levels throughout the talk. Among the points that are insightful, we certainly found ourselves a little jelly of all the time [bunnie] gets to spend in Shenzhen.

If you’re not familiar with [bunnie]’s blog you can check it out at www.bunniestudios.com. Pro Tip: you can spend the better part of your workday browsing topics in the sidebar on the right.

We have covered the MIT Media Lab before, including a trip to Shenzhen that is discussed in the Media Lab talk by [Joi] and [bunnie]. Another interesting interview at SXSW earlier this year by [Sophi Kravitz] who spoke with [Sunanda Sharma] about mediated matter.

DIY Lamps Brighten Winter Blues

As you know, winter is coming. For a lot of people this means that Seasonal Affective Disorder is beginning to set in. [Luke]’s mom already has a light therapy box. It’s one of those commercially available ones that uses fluorescent bulbs and leaves a lot to be desired in the full-spectrum light simulation department. [Luke] jumped on the opportunity to design a better one.

The standard of quality for light therapy units is a rating of 10,000 lux. While lux definitely matters, the rating is a misleading selling point when given on its own. One of the other important factors in mimicking the sun is the Color Rendering Index (CRI). CRI is basically a rating of the bulb’s ability to imitate the color reproduction of natural daylight. The ratings run from 0 to 100 but in reality, the highest-rated bulbs of any kind top out around 98.

For all the fluorescent bulb-bearing light therapy units out there, those bulbs have pretty low CRI ratings. [Luke]’s project page provides emission spectra graphs for a number of bulb types, and we can see how his choice of ceramic metal halide bulbs stacks up against fluorescent, incandescent, and LED bulbs. One of the few downsides to this type of bulb is that they have long startup times.

He ended up making two light therapy lamps, one of them directional and the other omni-directional. They both use ballast-controlled ceramic metal halide bulbs. The ballasts are necessary to provide the high starting voltage that these bulbs require. The omni-directional light is built into a large hurricane candle holder. A lamp holder is fixed into the base and wired to an external ballast box. The directional lamp is a self-contained unit, and [Luke] is happiest with this one. It’s flat and rugged so it can be placed on top of a bookcase and the light bounced off of the ceiling for pleasant, indirect coverage.

We’ve seen a couple of alarm-clock wakeup light builds here, and we’re thinking this would make an awesome mashup.

Shoving a Raspberry Pi Zero Into an Xbox Controller

With the release of the Raspberry Pi Zero last month, we’ve been waiting in excitement to see the first creative hacks to come out, making use of its tiny size; which if you didn’t know, is smaller than a business card. [Terence Eden] hopped to it and made what might be the first Raspberry Pi Zero emulator: inside an Xbox controller.

10-Pi-Cardboard-insulatorThanks to its small size it’s actually a fairly straight forward hack with minimal modification to the controller in order to make it fit. In fact, you only need to remove the memory card holder from the controller and snip one bit of plastic in order to make it fit right in the middle — awesome.

Now it does stick out a bit as you can see in the pictures, but we’re sure it won’t take someone long to make a 3D printed part that snaps into the controller giving it a more stock appearance. Unfortunately since HDMI can’t carry a power source to the Pi, [Terence] is using a micro-USB to power it — but there is enough space inside the controller for a battery pack if you wanted to make it truly portable.

Continue reading “Shoving a Raspberry Pi Zero Into an Xbox Controller”

Pi Zero HackChat with Lady Ada

This Thursday, December 3rd, join us for a Live HackChat about the Raspberry Pi Zero with special guest [Limor Fried]. You may know [Limor] as [Lady Ada], the founder of Adafruit Industries. Adafruit has been on the forefront of the Pi Zero release. The $5 single board computer was announced one week ago by the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

Join in the chat to discuss the Raspberry Pi Zero. Limor has done a lot of work with the board already, including hacking analog audio back into the form factor. This is a great opportunity to ask questions, talk about your own plans for the hardware, and to find collaborators for future projects.

Pi Zero HackChat starts Thursday at 5pm PST (here’s a timezone cheat sheet if you need it). Participating in this live chat is very simple. Those who are already part of the Hacker Channel can simply click on the Team Messaging button. If you’re not part of the channel, just go to the hacker Channel page, scroll to the bottom of the “TEAM” list in the left sidebar and click “Request to join this project”.

HackChat takes place in the Hacker Channel every few weeks and is a friendly place to talk about engineering and the projects you’re working on.

The LED Roundsystem

Gavin Morris has been working on his awesome sound responsive LED sculptures for a while. Technically the sculpture is an interesting application of WS2812 RGB LEDs, Raspberry Pis and a load of styrofoam cups and flower pots. However the artistic development, and inspiration for this project is equally interesting. Gavin shares his thoughts and a brief technical description of the project below.

Continue reading “The LED Roundsystem”

OpenBionics Fabs Prosthetics as Unique as Those Who Wear Them

Humans may all have the same overall form, but when we need to find a suitable replacement for a missing limb, it’s clear that between the variety of finger-lengths and hand-breadths, a one-size-fits-all prosthetic just wont cut it. OpenBionics puts a spin on today’s approach to prosthetics, putting forth a framework of tools that’s flexible enough to fit the spectrum of hand shapes and enables us to create our own prosthetic at home that can meet the challenge of most everyday tasks.

Minas Liarokapis of the OpenBionics team gave a talk at this year’s Hackaday SuperConference which covered the design considerations and unique features of the project. This incredible work was recognized with 2nd Prize in the 2015 Hackaday Prize. Watch Minas’ talk below, then join us after the break as we cover more details that went into developing this prosthesis.

Continue reading “OpenBionics Fabs Prosthetics as Unique as Those Who Wear Them”

Beyond Control: The Basics of Control Systems

Control systems are exactly what you think they are: systems designed to control something. Perhaps a better way to put it is systems design control the behavior of something. The term “control systems” does an excellent job of being vague and most of us (originally) don’t think too much about it until its brought to our attention or we crash a robotic armature into itself and investigate how that horrifying event was allowed to happened. Usually during this investigation our internal dialog has a loop running that goes something like: “why the hell will the system allow me to manipulate it in a self-destructive way!?!”

What I found was my own ignorance, I hadn’t implemented a proper control system. One could make a case claiming that I hadn’t taken ANY control system into account whatsoever. I jumped in too deep, too fast (sound familiar?) and paid the price of crashing a rotating arm into another part of the system. Luckily, a friend stepped in and repaired the arm for me and metaphorically pointed to a large neon sign on the wall and said “you can’t ignore this”. He walked over to pull the chain dangling beneath the sign, the high voltage energized the gas in the tubes blinding me with the now unavoidably obvious words: Control Systems.

Continue reading “Beyond Control: The Basics of Control Systems”