An Arduino-Based Computer

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While most of us think of Arduino boards as something to be programmed by a computer, there’s really nothing that says you can’t use an Arduino-style microcontroller as one. It could be argued that the Arduino is already a computer, but in the case of the DemUino, a small display is embedded into an old PS/2 keyboard. It might not be what a person is used to, but someone not familiar with what a “microcontroller” is would more readily, on some level, recognize this as a computer.

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The software configuration is quite involved, including the author, “DemeterArt,” writing his own BASIC language. This “only” took around 2200 lines of code. The wiring also looks quite involved from the diagram provided.

Wow, a lot of work. Check out the demonstration below.

As noted by the original source, “The project had to be a minimum-cost-endeavor given the abundance of junk lying around in my home lab and my financial situation.” This sounds like the introduction to many interesting projects. If one had enough money, he or she might just boringly buy another toy to play with.

Personally, if I had an extremely abundant amount of money, I’d be tempted to hire my own staff of engineers and technicians to build more of the ideas that I come up with than I’m able to make myself!


"Dottie" the Flip Dot Clock

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Most of us have probably seen clocks or numerical displays that flip sequential boards to display the next number in a sequence. If you wanted to take that a step further, you could make a replica of “Dottie,” which flips small dots as pixels. As the great video below says, it makes a “pleasant mechanical flipping sound all day.” It also tells the date, chimes every 15 minutes, and gives an animation show once an hour.

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If you wanted to make one of these devices, the technical details are on David Henshaw’s site. He includes an incredible number of pictures in the description, and includes the Arduino code here. If you have any illusions about this being an easy project, the wiring seen above should help you get a grasp on the scope of this project. There was also the mechanical challenge of fitting everything together nicely, programming, and getting the chimes to work. It took David months to get this assembly working.

It’s a very cool project, and despite the scope, makes me tempted to try something similar. Of course, like many “makers,” sometimes my eyes are bigger than my garage, so I’ve got a few other projects to complete before something like this should even be considered!


Gizmo Gets an Update

gizmo The folks at Gizmosphere have launched the latest version of their open source, x86-based single board computer, the Gizmo 2. Priced at $199, the Gizmo 2 is aimed at professional embedded developers and advanced makers who need more compute power for their projects. The new board improves on the first Gizmo with 60% more processing power, less power consumption, and more interfaces for input and output. It runs a 1 GHz dual-core AMD G-Series system-on-chip and 1 gigabyte of RAM, which is a lot of power for a 4-inch by 4-inch computer. Its list of I/O interfaces and features is impressive: HDMI, Ethernet, HD audio, USB 3.0, microSD, PCIe, SATA, GPIO, SPI, I2C, UART, a digital-to-analog converter, an analog-to-digital converter and a real-time clock.

“The second-generation development board brings open source embedded development back to superior x86 processing,” said Scott Hoot, president and CEO of Sage Electronic Engineering, LLC and president of GizmoSphere. “Creative embedded developers everywhere will enjoy the simplicity of communications in this SoC, while exploring Gizmo 2’s sophisticated capabilities and support for multiple operating systems.”

Every Gizmo 2 includes a microSD card preloaded with TimeSys Embedded Linux, but it also supports other Linux distributions and a variety of other operating systems including Minoca, RTOS, Windows Embedded, and Qt.

The Gizmo 2 is available for pre-order now and they expect to start shipping by the end of the year. In the meantime, you can take a closer look at this powerful board below:

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Engadget Expand: The Hemingwrite

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_oXBZFK4wWg

The Hemingwrite is a distraction free writing tool. Our computers, the primary tool for many, have constant distractions. There’s facebook, twitter, manufacturer updates, and many other things that can pull you away from your writing. The Hemingwrite may not have the distractions of a laptop, but it has some of the benefits, such as cloud backups.


Sign Plus Plus at the Atlanta Maker Faire

IMG_1795-fxAt the Atlanta Maker Faire on October fourth, I was happy to meet Payam Ghobadpour and Madeleyne Vaca who were showing off a prototype sign language translation glove called the Sign plus plus. They, along with Kelley Sheffield abd Andrew Thieck came up with this device at a HackGT hackathon event.

The glove is powered by an Intel Edison general purpose computing platform. Interestingly, the Edison can be programmed in C++, which would seem to have something to do with the name of the device!

 

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I didn’t see it in action, translating signs into speech or text, but the basic idea is that there is a sensor attached to each finger and thumb, which would allow the processor to translate these finger motions into letters or words. As their website points out, although those that can’t speak can communicate with a teletype device, they lack the ability to express some of the nuances that signing allows for. It’s exciting to think what something like this could be capable of once developed further.

Interestingly, this type of glove, also listed at the “SignFlx,” is envisioned to possibly have more uses than signing to generate speech or text. Air guitar is mentioned as an application, as well as video games. Perhaps the latter use isn’t entirely new, but in their defense, typical college students are, I suppose, too young to remember the Power Glove!


How To: The Ultimate Gaming PC

With $1500 and a plan, Imgur user ZacksJerryRig built a water-cooled gaming PC that is wall-mounted, and complete with LED lights. After using a laptop for video editing that took two hours to render a ten minute video, he decided it was time for an upgrade. This custom built PC renders a ten minute in 5 minutes. (Here’s the specs.)

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The top is made with ¼ hardboard, and the frame is 1 inch thick. Plexiglass is cut and applied where the components would sit, and 1 inch standoffs were applied where the motherboard sits to allow for airflow. Carbon fiber sticker is placed over the hardboard and the components where attached. He states that the power supply was the heaviest piece, so to insure it’s sturdiness, he used 3 inch bolts to secure it and industrial Velcro underneath. To keep the water-cooling reservoir at 39 degrees celsius, he used longer bolts to increase the distance off the plexiglass to 2 inches. Then the hard drive was mounted and the LED lights run throughout. The PC runs two monitors as well as a 50 inch 4k TV.


A Microsoft Paint Figure Drawing Class

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Artist, prankster, and F.A.T. Lab member Aram Bartholl will hold a very unique figure drawing class this Saturday at the new Eyebeam location in Brooklyn. Rather than using paper and charcoal, attendees to this unorthodox drawing class will attempt to depict a nude model using only a classic version of Microsoft Paint and a mouse.

No antialiasing! No layers! Limited undos! Come and show off your mouse drawing skills in good old desktop drawing style.

Aside from being an all-around good time, this class may also be a clever critique of the value of learning antiquated art techniques. After all, if photographic processes replaced the necessity of having drawing skills in order to depict an image, then we must still be teaching drawing techniques simply for the merits of learning to think visually in terms of lines and mark making. Now that iPhones and photoshop have replaced the necessity of traditional photographic processes in order to produce an accurate image, why not teach a Microsoft Paint drawing class simply for the merits of learning to think visually in terms of pixels and digital file formats?

Update: Bartholl posted a set of SFW pictures of the very first MS paint figure drawing class on flickr, if you’d like to see the results for yourself!


Interactive Sculpture Dispenses Paint According to the Mood of Local Social Media

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Be careful what you tweet, because your feelings could be immortalized in a piece of public art. At least that’s what happened in Oslo when Syver Lauritzsen and Eirik Haugen Murvold publicly displayed a sculpture called MONOLITT.

MONOLITT is an interactive installation that quite literally paints the mood of the city, using social media feeds as an input. The installation takes electronic signals and lets them manifest themselves in the physical world. Using sentiment analytics, the installation links tweets to corresponding colored paints in realtime, feeding them out through the top of the sculpture, letting them flow into a procedurally generated three-dimensional painting.

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I don’t know how they decided to assign color values to different emotions, and different emotions to words, but I’d love to see this project done over a longer period of time. I think it would be fascinating to have a visual representation of the mood of a place and see how it changes over time!

[via Prothetic Knowledge]


Wyliodrin Cloud Programming Supports Pi and Galileo

Wyliodrin is an online service that allows you to visually create applications for Linux development boards and control them from your browser. You can use their service to program a Raspberry Pi and they’ve recently partnered with Intel to allow you to program second generation Galileo boards. Users can start with Visual Programming, a language that’s similar to Scratch. Visual Programming translates into Python or JavaScript, so users can see the code that’s generated.

“The special feature of Wyliodrin is debugging,” said Alexandru Radovici, CEO. “Instead of using consoles or watches windows, Wyliodrin allows users to plot their variables in graphs. This allows a better understanding of what is going on in the program. Instead of listing a lot of numbers, people see graphs.”

As part of their partnership with Intel, if you own a Galileo can get a one year subscription that allows you to use 3 boards and create 15 applications. After that, a free account allows you to use one board and create 3 applications. There are paid tiers beyond that if you need more capacity.

“Wyliodrin does for electronics what LEGO did for mechanics,” said Alexandru. “By using Wyliodrin, anyone can start tinkering with devices, not matter what background they have.”


Unboxing Intel Edison

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CPXQ65QRV3k

Intel Developer Forum is underway right now at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. At yesterday’s kickoff, it was clear that Intel sees a lot of potential in Edison, its brand new Linux-based system-on-module, which was originally announced at CES earlier this year. The board itself is small, a little larger than a postage stamp and has some nice specs: dual core, dual threaded 500 MHz Atom processor and a 32-bit Quark processor running at 100 MHz. It has 1 gigabyte of RAM, 4 gigabytes of on-board flash memory (eMMC), wifi, bluetooth, and 40 GPIO.

Accessing those teeny tiny GPIO pins would be a challenge without the help breakout boards. Intel is providing one that has Arduino pin compatibility and another that’s much smaller for more advanced hardware developers. Our friends at Sparkfun Electronics also introduced a line of breakouts, one of which has pin compatibility with the Raspberry Pi:

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We were lucky enough to get our hands on a few of the boards, and until we can do a thorough review of them, check out the unboxing video above. You can see the Edison, its Arduino breakout, and compare it in size to Raspberry Pi’s equivalent product, the Compute Module.

If you would like to give one a try yourself, you can get them in the Makershed!