Our Three Fives Kit was featured in this month’s IEEE Spectrum. From the article:
Just as DNA models, star maps, and periodic tables serve as reminders of fundamentals that can get obscured by day-to-day minutiae, so too the Three Fives kit is a reminder that even the most complex digital processor is still at its heart just a collection of very simple components.
You can read the full article and see pictures of it in use in a sample circuit over at IEEE Spectrum.
Over at RasterWeb, Pete writes:
I love the Evil Mad Scientist STEAM T-shirt but I thought there was something missing, so I changed it to STREAM because… Robots.
Remember to stream big, my friends!
Mascot costumes are often hot and sweaty, and mascots are expected to enthusiastically energize their teams. At FIRST robotics competitions, there are also traditions of dance parties during delays caused by technical difficulties, leading to even more activity in a warm, heavy costume than would normally be expected.
Cardinalbotics, an FRC team from San Francisco, made a mascot costume using an application of wearable electronics I had not considered before: cooling fans. The cardinal head was made of fabric sewn over shaped foam, with fans on the sides to keep everything cool inside.
The fans were wired up to an on/off switch and adjustment pot which were hidden in a velcro compartment in the back of the head.
Trevor wrote in:
I’ve probably said it a million times, but I don’t think I’ve told you guys. You’re amazing. When it’s time for a new project I jump over to EMSL first. I use your projects to demonstrate a lot of STEAM principles at my Makerspace, and proudly wear my EMSL STEAM shirt every Saturday morning when I’m teaching our Makerspace Cadets class. (It’s a fun sciencey/makey/artsy class for kids). Keep up the great work. :)
Thank you for the kind words, and for your dedication to your students!
Friday was a busy day in the pits at the Central Valley Regional FIRST Robotics Competition. The teams got their robots unpacked, inspected, and ran practice rounds prior to matches this weekend. We’re here with Fremont Robotics, and we’ll be taking pictures throughout the weekend and posting them (tagged by team number where identifiable) in this flickr set.
The challenge this year is fun to watch: the robots score goals with large exercise balls and earn extra points for passing to team members and throwing the ball over a beam. The event is free to attend and open to the public, so if you’re near Madera, California this weekend, we’d love to see you here!
Ian sent in this great Egg-Bot plot of a kiwi from…
…New Zealand (of course). Thanks for sharing your photos, Ian!
Anton wrote in to ask:
I want to purchase your Larson Scanner kit but need to be able to run it from household current … is there a converter that you would recommend?
Since the Larson Scanner normally runs from 3 V DC, a regulated 3 V power supply can be hooked up in place of the 2xAA battery box. However, 5 V power supplies (like this one) are much more common, and the circuit can be run from 5 V with only minor changes. if you replace the nine 16 ohm resistors in the Larson Scanner kit with 120 – 150 ohm resistors, you can power it from 5 V directly.
Another related question we occasionally get is how to run the Larson Scanner with green LEDs. (Note: by green, we mean “pure” green LEDs which have a forward voltage of about 3 V. Older style yellow-green LEDs with a forward voltage of ~2 V can be used as drop-in replacements for the red ones.)
If running off of battery will work for you, this is an even simpler change: merely replace the 3 V battery holder with a 4.5 V one, such as a 3xAA. It is a happy coincidence that the circuit can run with red LEDs at 3 V or green LEDs at 4.5 V using the same 16 ohm resistor value. So how about running a green Larson Scanner from a 5 V power supply? Replace the nine 16 ohm resistors with 39 ohm resistors and you should be good to go.
You can find the documentation for the Larson Scanner and more stories about modding it on our wiki. We’d love to hear about any mods you do to the Larson Scanner in the comments or see pictures in the flickr pool.
I had a wonderful conversation with Elecia White of embedded.fm which you can hear in her 40th episode, titled Mwahaha Session.
I brought along a Snap-O-Lantern kit for her to give away one of her listeners, and you can find details of the give-away on the podcast page.
Ben wrote in with a great question:
I had a quick question regarding the Three Fives Kit. First of all I just wanted to say that great job on the kit! I LOVE mine and it was a blast to put together. I just had a quick question about one of the packing items used when the kit is shipped. I loved the resistor organizer/holder you shipped the resistors and have been trying to figure out where to get them. The best I could guess was that they are sewing needle holders, but I have been unable to find them as such.
Many of our soldering kits have multiple resistor values, but the Three Fives kit is unusual among our projects in having nine individual resistors of different values. This presented an interesting problem: how to make user friendly packaging to make it easy to find the right resistor. Sure, you can read the color code stripes, but that can be a pain for folks with color blindness or just plain old poor vision.
Our solution was to design a custom wallet, modeled after needle packets, to hold and label the resistors with their locations & values. The resistors are dropped into slots, secured with a label, the cover flap is closed over them and then tucked under a tab. During use, each resistor is simply pulled out from under the adhesive label.
The wallets are laser cut out of sheets of 60 lb manila cardstock. It bends easily along the perforations, but is very sturdy and can withstand many repeated bends. (Aside: this weight is very similar to punch cards, which—to go full circle—is what I use for storing sewing needles.)
We reused the wallet with a different label when we released our multi-colored Menorah and breadboard Menorah kits, which also happen to use nine resistors in a variety of values.
Today we’re releasing this resistor wallet design in two versions: one for nine resistors, and one with slightly narrower spacing to hold ten.
If you use our resistor wallet, we’d love to hear about it or see pictures in our flickr pool!
Gregg posted on twitter:
WaterColorBot experiments: moss+yogurt and algae+iron paint. With William Jennings.
We’ll be looking forward to seeing followups on these experiments!