Imagine for a moment that you are back in 2015. Radio Shack are going to the wall, Heathkit returning from the dead, and Arduino spliting into two warring Arduinos. And someone has announced a tiny Linux-capable microprocessor board called the C.H.I.P. that will cost only $9. We all thought that last one was pretty cool at the time, didn’t we. Then Heathkit’s new products turned out to be pretty lacklustre, the warring Arduinos merged, and the C.H.I.P? The consensus was that $9 was a tall order for that BoM at the time, and then the Raspberry Pi people gave away a free Pi Zero on the front of a magazine before selling it for £5 ($6.30). It didn’t matter that the C.H.I.P. had a nifty all-in-one screen and keyboard combo called the Pocket C.H.I.P. which was a significant object of desire, the venture lasted for three years before finally hitting the rocks last year.
Now the C.H.I.P. is back, in a crowdfunding campaign fronted by one of its original engineers. It’s been renamed the Popcorn, and it comes in three variants. The Original Popcorn is a compatible C.H.I.P. by any other name, while the Super Popcorn is a much higher-spec machine that comes in quad and octacore variants with AmiLogic SoCs. All three have 32 GB eMMC on board, and the specs are suitably impressive but not out of the ordinary for a 2019 single board computer. Prices are $49, $69, and $89, which takes away that optimistic $9 price tag that made the original so attractive. There is no Pocket C.H.I.P. which is a shame because for us that was the only reason to buy a C.H.I.P, but there is a companion board called the Stovetop that provides Raspberry Pi-style desktop and display interfaces.
We wish them well, but it’s difficult to escape the conclusion that the hardware world has moved on and the window of opportunity has closed. It’s not that these boards are not good ones, more that they now join a plethora of others which come a lot closer to the low price of the original. Still, there remains a C.H.I.P. community still out there, so perhaps that will save the day for them.
We interviewed the C.H.I.P.’s creators back in 2015, and marked its passing last year.
Thanks [Rose] for the tip.
Popcorn! Light and fluffy, it is a fantastically flexible snack. We can have them plain, create a savory snack with some salt and butter, or cover with caramel if you have a sweet tooth. Now Cornell University showed us one more way to enjoy popcorn: use their popping action as the mechanical force in a robot actuator.
It may be unorthodox at first glance, but it makes a lot of sense. We pop corn by heating its water until it turns into steam triggering a rapid expansion of volume. It is not terribly different from our engines burning an air-fuel mixture to create a rapid expansion of volume. Or using heat energy to boil water and trigger its expansion to steam. So a kernel of popcorn can be used as a small, simple, self-contained engine for turning heat energy into mechanical power.
Obviously it would be a single-use mechanism, but that’s perfectly palatable for the right niche. Single-use is a lot easier to swallow when popcorn is so cheap, and also biodegradable resulting in minimal residue. The research paper demonstrated three recipes to harness popping corn’s mechanical energy, but that is hardly an exhaustive list. There’s an open invitation to brainstorm other creations to add to the menu.
Of course, if you prefer candy over popcorn, you could build a robot actuator out of licorice instead.
Either way, the robot uprising will be delicious.
[via IEEE Spectrum]
Continue reading “Hold The Salt And Butter, This Popcorn Is For A Robot”
[James] sent us a video of his latest creation: a robotic glockenspiel that’s currently set up to play “Popcorn”. It uses eight servos to drive mallets that strike the tone bars with fast, crisp movements. The servos are driven with a 16-channel I²C servo driver and MIDI shield, which are in turn controlled with an Arduino Uno. The previous incarnation of his autoglockenspiel employed solenoids, dowels, and elastic bands.
[Gershon Kingsley]’s 1969 composition for synthesizer “Popcorn” has been covered by many artists over the years, though perhaps the most popular cut was [Hot Butter]’s 1972 release. Check it out after the break, and dig that lovely cable management. We’d love to see [James]’s autoglockenspiel play “Flight of the Bumblebee” next.
If you’re hungry for more electro-acoustic creations, have a gander at [Aaron Sherwood]’s Magnetophone.
Continue reading “Robotic Glockenspiel Crunches “Popcorn””
Popcorn Indiana, the same company that manufactures the bags of kettle corn you might find in a convenience store, posted a project on their website called The Popinator. It’s a device you fill with popcorn, turn on, and responds to the word, ‘pop’ by firing a piece of popcorn into your mouth. Details on this build are scant, most likely because The Popinator doesn’t operate exactly as described in the video demo for the Popinator project.
We’re going to call this build a figment of the imagination of one of Popcorn Indiana marketing drones, but the idea behind the project is actually fairly interesting. The idea of using voice recognition to determine when the word ‘pop’ is said to turn on the machine is very cool. Using time of flight to calculate where someone’s head is puts this build into a category of awesome we’ve rarely seen before.
Despite all that coolness, we can’t help but think this project is simply an attempt to “go viral” and get a ton of publicity from random tech blogs using only a video camera and a few hours in Final Cut Pro. You’re welcome, Popcorn Indiana.
Surely there will be a ton of comments for this post arguing the merits of this build. You can check out those comments after the break, along with the official Popinator video.
Continue reading “Popinator Fires Popcorn Into Your Mouth, Is Probably A PR Stunt”
This video demonstrates square gears and other oddly shaped cogs. We can’t think of a use but it’s interesting none-the-less. [via Tinkernology]
Cooking with Lasers
It’s late and you’ve been at the workbench for quite some time. But why go to the kitchen for a snack? Grab a couple of 1 watt lasers, hot glue a kernel of corn to a DC motor, and you’ll have popcorn in no time.
Calling this a simulator just doesn’t do it justice
Okay, so this link is a Lexus commercial. But it’s worth watching to see the footage of this driving simulator. Inside that pod is an actual automobile surrounded by a 360 degree screen. The room has a full x and y axis to move the pod (and the car) as you drive through the simulated world. It’s like someone gave a bunch of geeks an unlimited budget and say “go nuts”. [Thanks Luke]
What takes the most time in your hacking adventures?
Everyone whose spent some time in web design has run across the peculiar rendering bugs and workarounds associated with Internet Explorer. Internet Explorer Stole My Life aims to tabulate the collective time wasted from the lives of developers. We think it’s hilarious because spending the same amount of time meeting W3C standards and this problem would go away. But [Caleb] mentioned something interesting when he saw this site: What part of your hacking adventures wastes the most time? We’d love to hear about it in the comments.