Evil Mad Scientist is Moving: Save the Date for our Shopwarming Party

Evil Mad Scientist Shop Exterior

We’re in the process of moving into a nicer, bigger space, still in Sunnyvale, California. Our new shop location is 1285 Forgewood Avenue, and we’ll be closed on Monday, August 21 as part of the move.

We will be inviting you to our shopwarming party, which will be on October 7th, so please save the date!

Electronic Kintsugi

Vanessa Julia Carpenter from FabLabRUC did a workshop at FabCafe Tokyo with Kintsugi Artist Kurosawa using mended dishes as conductors in circuits.

The precious metals used to repair the dishes are used to trigger sound or light, encouraging the participants to connect with the dishes in interesting ways. There’s much more detail on this intersection of craft and electronics over in Vanessa’s post about the workshop.

Linkdump: July 2017

Signal Generator Musical Instrument

Our friend Arjan van der Meij made this charming musical instrument from a signal generator, a servo motor, an Arduino and a processing program. He wrote an instructable for it so you can build one, too.

Signal Generator Instrument

He also wrote about his experience with the project in Dutch on makered.nl. Projects like this one, that started with a question (“Why don’t you build a machine to do it?”) are great for learning new skills. I often get asked what things someone should get for learning electronics, and my answer is usually that the first thing you need is a project that you want to make so that you’ll have motivation to research what you’ll need.

3d printed knob adapter connected to servo motor and signal generator

Arjan wanted to learn tinkercad, and used this project toward that goal by modeling the knob adapter he’d need for connecting his servo to his signal generator knob. Even if you don’t want to make a musical instrument from a signal generator, this project may provide inspiration for trying out new techniques.

Fractals with AxiDraw

Paul Butler wrote a tutorial on Fractal Generation with L-Systems and posted some example code with the output plotted by AxiDraw.

Fractal tree drawn by AxiDraw

The tutorial is also available as a Jupyter notebook with runnable code.

Linkdump: June 2017

Arduino and Open Source Hardware

It has come to our attention recently that there is reason to question the Arduino team’s commitments to its community and to open source hardware.

Dale Dougherty posted on the Make blog about Arduino’s apparent lack of progress toward their announced Arduino Foundation. Phillip Torrone posted to the OSHWA mailing list about Arduino products that fail to meet the basic criteria of open source hardware projects. These are both troubling. As members of the open source hardware community and members of the Arduino community, we would like to add our weight to the call for Arduino to return to their open source hardware roots.

(Some disclosure on our relationships to these communities: we have been building Arduino-compatible open source hardware projects for years, and have been an official Arduino reseller. We have participated in developing the Open Hardware Definition and in the formation of OSHWA. While not everything we do is open source, we have been heavily invested both personally and professionally in open source hardware and software for many years.)

We love Arduino and we, along with a large and diverse set of communities, have benefitted enormously from the breadth and depth of the Arduino family and its resources. This is an exciting era for Arduino and for open source hardware, with the debut of the first Arduino and compatible boards based on silicon level open source hardware.

However, we are deeply concerned that several recent products from Arduino are claiming to be open source but upon research, indeed do not appear to be so. Arduino, once one of the standard bearers in our community, now seems to be falling into the grey area of OSHWINO (Open Source Hardware in Name Only).

We would like to openly call for Arduino to immediately publish the missing design files and license information for these products. Even from a basic truth in advertising perspective, future products labeled as open source need to have these requirements met by their time of release. We also join in Dale’s call for bringing the Arduino Foundation into existence: it is more clear than ever that Arduino needs to renew its promise to the community.


Update, June 16, 2017: Massimo Banzi comments below: “Arduino is open source HW and SW. Full stop. Some files seems to be missing and I’ll inform my colleagues at .org that they need to update them.”

Update, July 28, 2017: Arduino appears to be under new managment, with Massimo Banzi in a larger role. We are optimistic that this represents a major turning point in the story.