Adaptive Spoon Helps Those With Parkinson’s

There are a lot of side effects of living with medical conditions, and not all of them are obvious. For Parkinson’s disease, one of the conditions is a constant hand tremor. This can obviously lead to frustration with anything that involves fine motor skills, but also includes eating, which can be even more troublesome than other day-to-day tasks. There are some products available that help with the tremors, but at such a high price [Rupin] decided to build a tremor-compensating utensil with off the shelf components instead.

The main source of inspiration for this project was the Liftware Steady, but at around $200 this can be out of reach for a lot of people. The core of this assistive spoon has a bill of material that most of us will have lying around already, in order to keep costs down. It’s built around an Arduino and an MPU6050 inertial measurement unit with two generic servo motors. It did take some 3D printing and a lot of math to get the utensil to behave properly, but the code is available on the project site for anyone who wants to take a look.

This project tackles a problem that we see all the time: a cost-effective, open-source solution to a medical issue where the only alternatives are much more expensive. Usually this comes up around prosthetics, but can also help out by making biological compounds like insulin directly for less than a medical company can provide it.

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MIT Scratch 3.0 Opens New Doors For Users And Builders Alike

We typically feature projects from people sharing what they’ve learned while building something for themselves. But our community has a healthy contingent who deploy their skills for the benefit of future generations, developing a child’s natural curiosity for play into interest in understanding the technical world they will grow up in. This field is where MIT’s release of Scratch 3.0 can open up interesting possibilities.

Scratch is a block-based programming language designed for elementary school children, letting them learn fundamental concepts while experimenting in an environment filled with visual and audible feedback. In an effort to make Scratch more widely available, version 2.0 in 2013 moved to the web. But it was built using interactive web technology of the time: Adobe Flash. As Flash has fallen out of favor and scheduled to be phased out in 2020, Scratch 3.0 used React to make the shift to HTML5.

The most immediate benefit is that Scratch can now be used on tablets, which all have modern browsers but very few of which have Flash. Another common educational hardware platform is the Raspberry Pi, which supported Scratch 2 via a convoluted software stack that was far from ideal. Now any hardware with a modern browser can run Scratch, no Flash binaries or custom wrappers are required. The Raspberry Pi foundation certainly seemed excited about this change.

But a more exciting and longer term benefit is Scratch extensions, a mechanism for Scratch programs to communicate with external hardware and online resources. This has evolved in parallel with Scratch 2.0 under the experimental ScratchX umbrella and version 3.0 brings it into core. The launch featured a few official extensions (for connecting to micro:bit, LEGO Mindstroms EV3, etc.) with the promise that custom third-party extensions will soon be possible. This will significantly streamline building a Scratch interface for kid-friendly programmable hardware. Something we’ve seen done for a drone, for exploring SDR, and even for a dollhouse. We’ll be keeping an eye out for the official release of Scratch 3.0 custom extension API, but anyone not afraid of working with fluid pre-release code are certainly welcome to dive in right now.

Smartphone App Uses AR to Visualize The RF Spectrum

Have you ever wished you could see in the RF part of the radio spectrum? While such a skill would probably make it hard to get a good night’s rest, it would at least allow you to instantly see dead spots in your WiFi coverage. Not a bad tradeoff.

Unwilling to go full [Geordi La Forge] to be able to visualize RF, [Ken Kawamoto] built the next best thing – an augmented-reality RF signal strength app for his smartphone. Built to aid in the repositioning of his router in the post-holiday cleanup, the app uses the Android ARCore framework to figure out where in the house the phone is and overlays a color-coded sphere representing sensor data onto the current camera image. The spheres persist in 3D space, leaving a trail of virtual breadcrumbs that map out the sensor data as you warwalk the house. The app also lets you map Bluetooth and LTE coverage, but RF isn’t its only input: if your phone is properly equipped, magnetic fields and barometric pressure can also be AR mapped. We found the Bluetooth demo in the video below particularly interesting; it’s amazing how much the signal is attenuated by a double layer of aluminum foil. [Ken] even came up with an Arduino with a gas sensor that talks to the phone and maps the atmosphere around the kitchen stove.

The app is called AR Sensor and is available on the Play Store, but you’ll need at least Android 8.0 to play. If your phone is behind the times like ours, you might have to settle for mapping your RF world the hard way.

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Glasses Frames Crafted Out Of Wood

Most glasses and sunglasses on the market make use of metal or plastic frames. It’s relatively easy to create all manner of interesting frame geometries, tolerances can be easily controlled for fitting optical elements, and they’re robust materials that can withstand daily use. Wood falls short on all of these measures, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use it to make a beautiful pair of glasses.

ZYLO is a company making wooden eyewear, and this video from [Paide] shows the build process in detail. Modern tools are used to make things as efficient as possible. Parts are lasercut and engraved to form the main part of the frames as well as the temples (the arms that sit over the ears to hold them on your face). A special jig is used to impart a curve on the laminated wood parts before further assembly is undertaken. Metal pre-fabricated hinges and screws are used to bolt everything together like most other modern sunglasses, but there’s significant hand finishing involved, including delicate inlays and highlighting logo features.

In contrast, Manuel Arroyave works very differently in the creation of his Cedoro glasses. Sheets are first laminated together, before the shape is roughed out by a special horizontal axis milling setup. Even small details like the hinges are delicately hand-crafted out of wood and fitted with tiny wooden dowels.

It goes to show that there’s always more than one way to get a job done. We’re tempted to break out the laser cutter and get started on some custom shades ourselves. Perhaps though, you’re too tired to put your sunglasses on by yourself? Nevermind, there’s a solution for that, too. Video after the break.

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The T-Pain Toy Is Now a Guitar Effect

T-Pain is rapper hailing from Florida, who made his name through creative use of the Autotune effect. Nobody quite does it like T-Pain to this day, but kids the world over got the chance with the release of the “I Am T-Pain” microphone, which puts effects on the user’s vocal to make them sound as fly as possible, batteries not included. In the spirit of musical exploration, [Simon] decided it would be interesting to turn the effect into a guitar pedal.

Initial plans were to wire the microphone to an input jack, and the speaker to an output jack, but things didn’t remain so simple. The toy comes with a line-in and a headphone jack already, but the wiring scheme is strange and one of the inputs can also act as an output under certain conditions. [Simon] took the kitchen sink approach, throwing a bunch of jacks at the circuit and putting it all in a pedal case with some knobs to twiddle some parameters.

The final result is a warbly, lo-fi vibrato when a guitar signal is fed in. It’s quite different from how the original toy sounds, but recalls us somewhat of the Anti-nautilus pedal when used in conjunction with a looper. Video after the break.  Continue reading “The T-Pain Toy Is Now a Guitar Effect”

Morse Code Keyboard 1939 Style!

If you want to learn Morse code and you don’t have a teacher, you’d probably just head over to a website or download a phone app. Before that, you probably bought a cassette tape or a phonograph record. But how did you learn Morse if you didn’t have any of that and didn’t know anyone who could send you practice? Sure, you could listen to the radio, but in 1939 that might be difficult, especially to find people sending slow enough for you to copy.

Wireless World for August 3rd, 1939, has the answer in an article by [A. R. Knipe] on page 109. While you probably wouldn’t use it today, it is a great example of how ingenious you can be when you don’t have an Arduino and all the other accoutrements we take for granted today.

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Delta Robot Is Sorting Golf Balls And Taking Names

It’s a common situation faced by every hard-working American – you get home after a long day at the calcium mines, and find yourself stuck with a pile of colored golf balls that simply aren’t going to sort themselves. Finally, you can put away your sorting funnels and ball-handling gloves – [Anthony] has the solution.

That’s right – it’s a delta robot, tasked with the job of sorting golf balls by color. A Pixy2 object tracking camera is used to survey the table, with the delta arms twitching around to allow the camera to get an unobstructed view. Once the position of the balls is known, a bubble sort is run and the balls rearranged into their correct color order.

[Anthony] readily admits the bubble sort is very inefficient at this task; it was an intentional choice so it could be later compared with other sorting methods. [Anthony] also goes into detail, sharing the development process of the suction gripper as well as discussing damping methods to reduce noise.

Delta machines are always fun to watch, and are a good choice for sorting machines. We’ve seen some really tiny ones, too. Video after the break.

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