All posts by Lenore Edman

About Lenore Edman

Co-founder of Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories.

Book review: What’s It Like in Space?

What's It Like in Space?

I’ve had What’s It Like in Space? sitting on my desk for a few weeks now. It’s a compact book that fits nicely in your hands, with a glittery starfield on the cover. Every so often I pick it up and flip it open to one of the vignettes of astronaut experiences Ariel Waldman has gathered together.

Mysterious Headaches

My favorite is titled “Mysterious Headaches” which tells the story of how NASA accidentally sent astronauts into caffeine withdrawal by providing them with insufficiently caffeinated (freeze-dried) coffee.

The brightly illustrated tidbits can be jumping off points for further exploration— inspiring the reader to learn more about a particular bit of science or history. They’re also just plain fun to read, ranging from silly to profound. This makes it great both as a coffee table conversation starter and for anyone with an interest in science and space.

Father-Daughter Makers

Our friend Brian Schmalz (creator of the EBB) and his daughter Deanna are featured on the Minneapolis St. Paul Mini Maker Faire site.

Deanna was our youngest presenter at the 2015 faire – she discussed the learn-to-solder board that she designed and uses to teach her elementary school classmates. At this year’s faire, she will show you how to solder with her specially-designed board.

Deanna will be teaching soldering and Brian will be talking about chipKIT at the mini Maker Faire, which is May 14 at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.

Circuit Classics

We’re very excited about the Circuit Classics PCBs and kits that Star Simpson is making based on Forrest Mims designs.

Each circuit depicts an original, traced and hand-drawn schematic created by Forrest Mims for his iconic books “Getting Started in Electronics”, and the “Engineers’ Notebook” series. Every board includes a description of how it works, in Mims’ handwriting, on the reverse side.

They look like a fantastic way to learn electronics. You can order them through her Crowd Supply campaign now.

2016 Hackaday Prize

We are once again excited to be helping judge the Hackaday Prize.

Now in its third year, the Hackaday Prize challenges the international community of designers and makers to address issues facing humanity through technology.

This year the prize is divided into five separate 5-week design challenges. The first one, Design Your Concept is ending on April 25th. It will be followed by Anything Goes, Citizen Scientist, Automation, and finally Assistive technologies, which ends on October 3rd.

20 projects will be chosen from each of the 5 rounds, and awarded $1000 per project. At the end of all 5 rounds, 100 projects in total will advance to the finals where 5 top prizes will be awarded: $150k, $25k, $10k, $10k and $5k. In addition the 1st place project will win a residency in the Supplyframe Design lab to develop their project further.

You can see the entries so far on hackaday.io. You can also head to a hackaday meetup in your community. We’ll be at the San Jose meetup on April 23rd, and hope to see you there!

From the mailbag: XL741 in the classroom

S.W. wrote in:

I just wanted to let you know that I am using your XL741 kit in my Electronics 2 class lab. It is a high quality kit and I thank you for putting it together. We build the 741 in stages, make measurements, adjust offsets, etc. It is a great vehicle to teach the analog building blocks. A student of mine (now graduated) and I wrote four lab exercises for it and they are being used now for the second time. We also just got to share them with several EE teachers who were also very enthusiastic about the idea.

We love to hear about how our kits get used!

Dr. Nim Prototypes

Dr. Nim was made by John Godfrey, the same person who designed the original Digi-Comp II. His grandson, Andrew Beck, has the Dr. Nim prototypes and recently shared pictures and video of them via twitter.

Andrew says,

Here’s a video showing the first two Dr. Nim prototypes, made by hand in the 1960s

The second prototype still works, and he shows off how the mechanism works in the video, along with pointing out some of the differences between the two prototypes.

The earlier prototype has switches that look very similar to the ones in the Digi-Comp II.

The second prototype is very close to the production version, which we blogged about some time ago, and can be seen below.

Thank you, Andrew, for sharing this bit of history!

Linkdump: March 2016

Instructables Egg Contest

We’re excited to be partnering with Instructables for the Egg Contest 2016.

It’s springtime, the season when eggs traditionally get their moment of glory. In the Egg Contest we want to see what happens when you scramble up your creativity with this theme. Any and all entries highlighting or featuring eggs (or egg-like creations) are eligible.

Prizes include the EggBot Pro and Deluxe EggBots. We’re looking forward to seeing your entries!

Stroboscopic patterns for Easter eggs

Jiri Zemanek from Prague sent in this fabulous video of eggs decorated using the EggBot, some with markers, and some with the Electro-Kistka.

Various patterns are generated in Matlab using mathematical equations similar to ones describing Spirograph (or harmonograph) and Phyllotaxis. The patterns are calculated in such a way that when rotated under a stroboscopic light of suitable frequency or when recorded by a camera, they start to animate. It is kind of zoetrope— early device for animation. … Eggs are rotated at a constant speed, special for each pattern, by a brushless motor. No computer graphics tricks are used in the video.

Additional information is available at their site.