As smartphones become more ubiquitous in society, they are being used in plenty of ways not imaginable even ten or fifteen years ago. Using its sensors to gather LIDAR information, its GPS to get directions, its microphone to instantly translate languages, or even use its WiFi and cellular radios to establish a wireless hotspot are all things which would have taken specialized hardware not more than two decades ago. The latest disruption may be in microscopy, as this build demonstrates a microscope that would otherwise be hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The microscope is a specialized device known as a fluorescence microscope, which uses a light source to excite fluorescent molecules in a sample which can illuminate structures that would otherwise be invisible under a regular microscope. For this build, the light is provided by readily-available LED lighting as well as optical filters typically used in stage lighting, as well as a garden-variety smartphone. With these techniques a microscope can be produced for around $50 USD that has 10 µm resolution.
While these fluorescence microscopes do have some limitations compared to units in the hundred-thousand-dollar range, perhaps unsurprisingly, they are fairly impressive for such a low-cost alternative. More details about these builds can also be found in their research paper published in Nature. Even without the need for fluorescence microscopy, a smartphone has been shown to be a fairly decent optical microscope, provided you have the right hardware to supplement the phone’s camera.
Imagine you had a rich uncle who wanted to fund some of your projects. Like, seriously rich — thanks to shrewd investments, he’s sitting on a pile of cash and is now legally obligated to give away $5,000,000 a year to deserving recipients. That would be pretty cool indeed, but like anything else, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is, right?
Well, maybe not. It turns out that we in the amateur radio community — and even amateur radio adjacent fields — have a rich uncle named Amateur Radio Digital Communications (ARDC), a foundation with a large endowment and a broad mission to “support amateur radio, funds scholarships and worthy educational programs, and financially support technically innovative amateur radio and digital communications projects.” As the foundation’s Outreach Manager John Hayes (K7EV) explained at Supercon 2022, ARDC is a California-based 501(c)3 non-profit organization that has been in the business of giving away money to worthy projects in the amateur radio space since 2021.
Continue reading “Supercon 2022: Tap Your Rich Uncle To Fund Your Amateur Radio Dreams” →
IBM — no stranger to anyone who works in the computing field — has launched a series of training modules on a site called skillsbuild.org. The site targets high school students, college students, and adult learners and offers tracks for jobs like cybersecurity analyst, IT support technician, Web developer, and data science. Several other companies are participating, such as Red Hat and Fortinet. The cost? The courses are free and you can earn digital credentials to show you’ve completed certain classes.
Even more interesting is that they have resources for schools and other organizations that want to leverage the material for students. There is even software that educators can download at no charge for classroom use. The material is available in a variety of languages, too. For more advanced topics, there’s also Cognitive class from IBM, also free and which also provides the same sort of credentials.
Apparently, the digital credentials are far more than just an electronic diploma. Employers you select can examine the credentials and see things like exams and results along with other information to help them understand your skill level.
Even though you’re reading Hackaday and probably already have a good roster of tech skills, this could be a nice way to get some documentation of what you know. If you work with kids or even adults that need tech skills, or you just want to add some to your resume, you can’t beat the cost. If you aren’t sure, there are some sample guest classes you can try without even registering.
We live in an amazing time when you can build your own college-level education. You can even “study” at MIT and other big institutions inexpensively or for free.
Mattel holds a fond place in most people’s hearts as they made many of the toys we played with as kids. You might remember the Thingmaker, which was essentially an Easy Bake Oven with some goop and molds that let you make rubbery creatures. But back in 2016, Mattel had an aborted attempt to bring 3D printing to kids under the Thingmaker label. You can see a promo video of the device below. You might not have seen one in real life, though. The product was delayed and eventually canceled. Even so, we frequently see press releases for “kids printers” and we’ve been wondering, should this be a thing? Continue reading “Ask Hackaday: Do Kids Need 3D Printers?” →
[Danielle Boyer] is Ojibwe: Sault Ste Marie Tribe and passionate about preserving vanishing indigenous languages. She’s invented a shoulder-worn talking companion, called a SkoBot, to teach STEAM to children through building robots programmed with indigenous language lessons and founded the STEAM Connection to give them away.
Through her Every Kid Gets a Robot program, more than 8,000 ESP32-based kits have been distributed to students. With a total cost of less than $20 USD, the 3D printed bots help democratize access to robotics. As many rural areas lack access to high-speed internet, they are designed to be controlled locally by the student’s phone.
During an interview on WBUR in Boston, [Danielle] recalled that one of her students once said that she was the first Native person they’d seen in robotics, and she inspired them to get into it. “That really made me emotional and inspired to see the power that us being ourselves has and being authentic to ourselves, to our community, I just think that’s such a beautiful thing.”
Learn more about the impactful and fun work [Danielle] is doing at the STEAM Connection that scored her an invite to the White House, see a preview in the GMA video after the break, and watch for her plant-based BioBotz coming later this year.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen robots invade the classroom: from student-built “Battle Bots” to the modular 3D printed SimpleSumo project, these educational initiatives can help teach the basics of electronics and software development in a more engaging way than simply reading theory from a textbook.
Continue reading “Wearable SkoBots Full Of STEAM And Vanishing Indigenous Languages” →
I don’t think there was ever a correspondence school called the “Close Cover Before Striking School” but since book matches — which used to be a thing when most people smoked — always had that text on them anyway perhaps there should have been. There was a time when electronic magazines, billboards, and even book matches were constantly bombarding us with ads to have a career in electronics. Or computers. Or TV repair. So while we think of distance learning as a new idea, really it is just the evolution of these old correspondence schools which date back quite some time.
How far exactly? Hard to say. There’s evidence of some distance learning going back as far as 1728. In 1837, there was a correspondence course to learn shorthand. By 1858, the University of London started its external program for correspondence work and the University of Chicago had a home study division in 1892. Radio was an early choice of topic, too. In the United States, the United Wireless Telegraph company started a training school — later the Marconi Institute — in 1909. However, it is doubtful that there was any correspondence training going on there until much later.
Continue reading “TV Repair By Mail” →
Typically, when we talk about wind tunnels, we think of the big facilities in use by the aerospace and motorsports industries. However, there’s nothing stopping you building a wind tunnel of your very own, and it may even be easier than you think! [Jude Pullen] has whipped up just such a design with DIY in mind.
Intended for high school Design & Technology (D&T) classes, it uses relatively simple materials construction techniques. The airflow straightener is built out of PVC pipes, and the end boxes built out of cardboard. The transparent walls for observation are created out of acrylic, while a simple fan provides the necessary flow. The desk-sized wind tunnel can then be instrumented with a manometer, tachometer, and anemometer to measure pressure, fan speed, and wind speed. [Jude] also explores experiments that can be run in the wind tunnel, such as working with a small balsa wood glider and measuring the lift it generates with a scale.
[Jude] has a very pragmatic and real-world understanding of such projects, too. He notes the difference between making things to measure, and making them to fit, and highlights the values of both approaches. It’s a much more holistic approach than simply berating students to “do it right” or “do it better” when making things in a D&T class.
Use of a basic wind tunnel is often not taught to engineering students until at least the second or third year of an engineering degree, after all the boring math and static analysis has been dealt with. However, there’s no reason high school physics students can’t understand the physics involved, and they’re more than capable of undertaking such a build. Starting such education early often nets huge benefits for individuals and their eventual careers.
Once you’ve got yourself a wind tunnel, you might want to start thinking about some flow visualization, which gets really exciting.
Continue reading “DIY Wind Tunnel Aims To Educate The Youth” →