Here’s an interesting kit put together just to help you work on your SMD soldering skills. It’s got 49 SMD LEDs on the front with a programming header and switch jumper. The back has an ATtiny26L and a coin cell. At only 3V, power management is essential; all of the example programs are only addressing one LED at a time (imperceptible to the human eye). If you turn on too many LEDs at the same time, the voltage drop could cause the AVR to reset. Included example programs are a scrolling marque, bouncing balls, and Conway’s game of life. SparkFun has tutorials for regular SMD soldering and using a reflow skillet. The video below shows the kit builder attaching just one LED using the heat and slide method.
Whether you consider yourself a bona fide mad scientist or you simply think your horrifying mutant creations are misunderstood, you’ll want to enter io9’s Build a Lifeform contest.
The contest doesn’t require any actual primordial soup, just a concept of a synthetic lifeform you think would be useful or interesting. There are two categories with different prizes for each one. The first category asks contestants to use the BioBricks registry of standard biological parts to design a lifeform that could be created in a lab. Descriptions of how it would be made, what it would do, and potential hazards in creating it must all be included with the entry. The winner of this category will recieve an all-expenses-paid trip to the Synthetic Biology Conference in Hong Kong in October.
The second category is more focused on creativity, asking for the same descriptions as the first category without any BioBricks data. While this is the more speculative category, proposed lifeforms must still be plausible to create using current technology. The prize is $1000 and a signed drawing of your lifeform rendered by “a cool comic book artist.”
Both categories offer pretty good loot for your concepts, just be sure they’re more original than an esquilax if you intend to win.
For the background on BioBricks, check out [Drew Endy]’s Hacking DNA talk from last year. He’s one of the judges for the contest.
With fuel prices rising, EVs are becoming more an more stylish. This bit of floor tile wrapped hardware is actually a 12 channel battery management system designed to handle Lithium Iron battery packs. It’s designed to take power from a standard lead acid charger and supply the batteries with their maximum charge current. The cost and complexity of the BMS has been a major stumbling block in the past, so it’s interesting to see these come around. If you need more than 12 cells, multiple boards can be used.