Getting Started with BeagleBone Black

So many development boards out there. What’s this “new” one, the BeagleBone Black? Well, as David Scheltema, Assistant Technical Editor for MAKE explains, BeagleBoard has been around for about five years, though the smaller BeagleBone Black is pretty new.

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At Maker Faire NYC, David provided an nice introduction to the BeagleBone Black, and explained how it has been used to make projects like OpenROV’s underwater rover or Hoboken Makerbar’s Orbital Rendersphere.


For about $45, you get a single board 1GHz computer capable of running a Linux distribution. The BeagleBone Black has USB, Ethernet and video (HDMI) interfaces, and header pins for expansion. Expansion boards are called “capes”, and include all sorts of functionality for video, memory, sensors and controls.

(David presented this talk a few times during Maker Faire weekend. I selected the version of the video I felt best represented his content.)

Getting Started with Breadboarding

Using a solderless breadboard is an important skill for hobby electronics. Nick Raymond explained the ins and outs of breadboards and how to use them at several sessions at Maker Faire NYC.

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“What’s the point of breadboarding?” people ask. As Nick explains, even if you’ve learned to solder, it’s easy to make a mistake. Breadboarding lets you work out the bugs while you are developing your circuit.

Nick speaks from experience. Four years ago, his mechanical engineering background didn’t prepare him for working with electronics. Since joining MAKE, he’s had to learn. He assembled his own CNC machine, along with an electronics kit necessary to control the motors.

“Breadboarding is essential for me,” says Nick.

In this presentation, Nick explores common questions about breadboarding:

  • Why use a breadboard at all?
  • How does it work?
  • What types of breadboards should I use for my project?
  • Why won’t my circuit work?
  • What do I do next?

Breadboards aren’t very expensive, and they’ll save you time and avoid frustration in the long run. So check it out, and get yourself started on a basic skill that will serve you well for years to come.

(Nick presented this talk a few times during Maker Faire weekend. I selected the version of the video I felt best represented his content.)

Getting Started with Raspberry Pi

Craving some Raspberry Pi, but don’t know where to start? Let Matt Richardson, MAKE Contributing Editor, ITP Resident Research Fellow and co-author of Getting Started with Raspberry Pi help you get started.

At Maker Faire NYC, Matt explained to an interested crowd what a Raspberry Pi is and what you need to get started. He describes one of his own projects, a bicycle headlight that projects speed or other information onto the road ahead of the rider. That’s just one of many ideas people have used the Raspberry Pi for.


An inexpensive single board computer, the Raspberry Pi includes integrated USB ports, Ethernet for getting online, video outputs, and input/output pins for interacting with your project. Retailing for less than $40, the Raspberry Pi lets you tinker with a computer without risking a more expensive computer or laptop.

(This is one of four times Matt presented this talk during Maker Faire weekend, thus ‘Raspberry Pi III’ on the video title. I felt this version of the video captured his content best.)

Happy Pi Day from the Maker Shed!


Happy 3.14(1592653589793238..) from the Maker Shed! In celebration of our favorite irrational number, we bundled a limited number of the latest Raspberry Pi Model B boards with the popular Getting Started with Raspberry Pi book and are making them available for one day only (or until we run out) for $54.99. Since the bundle only includes the Raspberry Pi itself and the print version of the book, you’ll still need a power supply, SD card, USB cable, and all the usual Pi stuff to get up and running but chances are you have them lying around somewhere anyway. It’s a great opportunity to get started with the Raspberry Pi or get an additional board if you already have one.

If we do happen to run out, we’ll have plenty of our Raspberry Pi Starter Kits which include almost everything you need to get up, running, and going through the examples in the included book.


Tips for Flying the ELEV-8 Quadcopter

It may not feel like it here in Ohio (it’s snowing where I am) but spring is right around the corner. After being cooped up in my garage workshop all winter, I’m eager to do just about any project that will get me outside for the nice days ahead. Our friends Nick, Kevin, and Jess from Parallax must have read my mind because they just released this video with tips for getting started with their ELEV-8 Quadcopter. The video lays out the basic issues that beginners can face when learning to fly and how to fix them. Additionally, they give advice for getting the feel of the craft and how to avoid quad inflicted injuries.


Looks like fun, right? You can pick up your own ELEV-8 Quadcopter Kit from the Maker Shed and have it shipped to your door for FREE as part of our Deal of the Week. Just spend over $100 and use the coupon code SHIP100 to make it happen*. Make sure you pick up a Crash Pack too, because even though the video was good, crashes are bound to happen.

*Free Shipping over $100 offer does not include drop ship items or 3D Printers. Offer expires March 17th at midnight PST.

Learn a New Skill in the New Year – Getting Started with Raspberry Pi


Back in the 80s my Dad had an Intel 8088 based computer that ran DOS. It featured a whopping 20mb hard drive, a four color screen, and “turbo” mode that took it to 16 MHz. Back then it cost around $3000 new and was nearly state of the art. I spent hours on it playing games like Chuck Yeager’s Advanced Flight Trainer as well as teaching myself BASIC. I think remembering that old computer is why I’m so blown away by the Raspberry Pi. A 700MHz computer with 512MB of RAM that fits in your hand and costs $35? The 80’s version of me would never believe it!

The Raspberry Pi is a multifaceted device that can use a host of skills. While this single board computer was made with education in mind, it is not what I would call “easy to use.” You’ll have to write an image to an SD card (which can sometimes be problematic) and spend some time using the command line. From programming and wiring to building your own enclosure, Raspberry Pi projects can challenge even the most savvy maker. Fortunately, with a thriving online community and books like Matt Richardson & Shawn Wallace’s Getting Started with Raspberry Pi, help isn’t hard to find.

You’ll need several peripherals to get a Pi up and running. These include a 5V-1amp power supply, Micro USB cable, and SD card with compatible Linux distribution at a minimum. If you don’t want to SSH into your Pi you can connect it to a TV or computer monitor. In this case you’ll need a video cable (HDMI or composite) and a USB keyboard & mouse. Want to play with the GPIO pins? You’ll need more stuff for that. Thankfully the Maker Shed has a Getting Started with Raspberry Pi Kit that includes just about all the stuff you’ll need to get your Pi project off the ground. The kit also includes Matt & Shawn’s book listed above, as well as the Raspberry Pi itself which can be difficult to get due to demand.

Don’t forget, as part of our New Skill in the New Year celebration, you can save 10% on this and any other kit in our Getting Started category by using the code NEWYEAR upon checkout. Don’t miss this opportunity, the sale ends at midnight PST 1/15/2013!

Learn a New Skill in the New Year – Getting Started with Arduino


Don’t tell anyone but I secretly keep New Year’s resolutions. This year mine are to drop the weight I put on from the Holidays (both this year and last) and to focus on fewer projects (like my Ducati cafe racer) so that I actually finish them. I also plan to learn a new skill or two to go along with my project, including welding and working with carbon fiber. This year why not teach yourself a new skill too?

If you’ve spent any time on the Make: Blog you know we love Arduino. This amazingly versatile microcontroller powers everything from 3D printers to UAV control systems. It’s inexpensive, easy to learn, and can be integrated into nearly any project. If you think for a second that it’s too complicated and difficult to figure out, you’re wrong! The Getting Started with Arduino Kit (available in the Maker Shed) takes all the mystery out of Arduino and lays the groundwork to take your projects to the next level. The kit contains the Arduino, USB cable, and all the components you need to complete the examples in the Getting Started with Arduino book.  You’ll be blinking LEDs and reading sensors minutes after you install the software.

To celebrate the New Year, this week only (ends 1/13/13) we’re including the PDF of Getting Started with Arduino (a $9.99 value) free with every Getting Started with Arduino Kit purchase. All you have to do is add the kit to the cart, check out, and you’ll be e-mailed a link to download. Additionally, enter coupon code NEWYEAR to save 10% on this and any other kit in our Getting Started category.

Maker Shed Now Shipping 512MB Raspberry Pis!

512MB Raspberry Pi Model B Version 2.0s have just arrived in the Maker Shed!  This is the latest and greatest model that was released by the Raspberry Pi Foundation on October 15h and we’ll be shipping it from here on out. The new 512MB RPi gives you more overhead for memory intensive tasks and the best part is that it’s the same price as the old version! The board remains mostly unchanged except for the RAM upgrade so any Raspberry Pi cases, accessories, or kits you’ve purchased for previous models will still work on this one. The 512MB Raspberry Pi is available by itself or in our comprehensive Getting Started with Raspberry Pi Kit which makes it fast and easy to get up and running.

Have you heard about the Raspberry Pi? No, it isn’t a type of dessert, it’s a credit-card sized computer that plugs right into your TV. It has many of the capabilities of a traditional PC and can be used for word-processing, spreadsheet, and games. It can even play high-definition video! The board was developed by the Raspberry Pi Foundation with the intention of bringing low-cost, easy to program computers to developing countries and children. The system is based on the Broadcom BCM2835 system on a chip which features an ARM1176JZF-S 700MHZ processor. It has an onboard VideoCore IV GPU capable of High-Definition video playback and has 512 megabytes of RAM. An SD card (4GB SDHC recommended, not included) is used for booting and long term storage as the design does not include any built-in storage. The system is intended to run Linux based operating systems. The model B boards feature 512MB of RAM and a 10/100 Ethernet controller. We are selling the Revision 2 version. You’ll need to supply your own USB keyboard, mouse, display, HDMI cable, USB A to Micro cable, 1.0A 5V USB power supply, SD card (4GB recommended), and RPi compatible Linux distribution. Alternatively, you can also purchase our Getting Started with Raspberry Pi Kit and only have to supply your own USB keyboard and mouse. *Raspberry Pi is a trademark of the Raspberry Pi Foundation.


Raspberry Pi Doubles RAM to 512MB, Price Unchanged

In the Maker Shed: Getting Started with Arduino Kit

Are you interested in learning more about Arduino but don’t know where to begin? Check out the Getting Started with Arduino Kit available in the Maker Shed! This popular kit includes everything you need to form a solid foundation with the Arduino microcontroller. The components in the kit match perfectly with Massimo Banzi’s latest Getting Started with Arduino, 2nd Edition book (not included, but discounted when purchased with the kit) or with the tutorials available online. So what are you waiting for? Get started today.

  • (1) Arduino UNO Revision 3
  • (1) USB Cable
  • (1) 9V Battery Pack w/DC Plug (requires soldering)
  • (1) 9V Battery
  • (1) Clear Breadboard
  • (1) Deluxe Jumper Wire Kit
  • (2) Red LEDs
  • (2) Green LEDs
  • (2) Blue LEDs
  • (1) RGB LED
  • (10) 10K Ohm Resistors
  • (10) 220 Ohm Resistors
  • (10) 270 Ohm Resistors
  • (2) Photo Resistors
  • (1) Momentary Button

Would you rather purchase this kit from a physical store? Check out your local RadioShack for this and more of our kits.

In the Maker Shed: Getting Started with Netduino Kit

One of the most frequent questions I’m asked at Maker Faire is what the difference between Arduino and Netduino is. If you think it’s that the Netduino is just an Arduino that has something to do with the internet, you’d be incorrect! While the Netduino is an open source microcontroller that looks like a black and blue Arduino, the key difference is that it’s programmed using the Visual C# .NET programming language developed by Microsoft. This makes it perfect for people that are already familiar with .NET and don’t want the hassle of learning another variation of code.

Thanks to the Maker Shed’s Getting Started with Netduino Kit, learning to use this ARM based microcontroller is easy! This full featured package includes the Getting Started with Netduino book by Chris Walker, the creator of the Netduino platform. By following along in the book and using the included components you’ll learn how to:

  • Install the free Visual C# Express .NET Micro Framework and Netduino SDK.
  • Turn an LED on and off.
  • Increase the capabilities of the Netduino using shields.
  • Interact with digital and analog signals using the MakerShield.
  • Dim and brighten LEDs using pulse width modulation and control RGB LEDs.
  • Use electrical pulses to play a song and control servos.
  • Create an app to control your Netduino over the internet.

So if you have ever been curious about the Netduino but don’t know where to begin, this is the kit for you!

More: A Gentle Introduction to Netduino