CalGames 2013

in the pit

This weekend, Oct. 4-5, is CalGames 2013, an off-season FRC competition. It’s being hosted by the team we mentor, Firebird Robotics, at Fremont High School here in Sunnyvale, California. The event is open to the public and free of charge for spectators. Matches are scheduled for 6:15-7:15 Friday night, start again at 8:15 on Saturday morning and everything wraps up with awards at 5:15 on Saturday afternoon.

670 and 4135

If you’re in the area, come watch the robots shoot frisbees and climb the pyramids!

Maker Faire NY 2013, Day One, in Pictures

Day one of the 2013 Maker Faire New York was incredible. We’ve nearly lost our voices after speaking with folks about our projects, all day long in the Atmel area of the Make:Electronics tent.  However, we tag-teamed a bit and managed to take photos of many of the sights to see– costumes, robots, oodles of 3D printers, handmade furniture, mars rovers, UAVs, underwater ROVs, electronics, and so many other incredible projects. You can see the full photo set here.

We’ll be back for more; Maker Faire continues tomorrow (Sunday) at the New York Hall of Science.

OHS 2013 Highlights: NeoLucida

NeoLucida was the subject of one of the best presentations and demos at the 2013 Open Hardware Summit.

The NeoLucida is a drawing aid that allows you to trace what you see.  It’s the first portable, authentic camera lucida to be manufactured in nearly a century. We love camera lucidas, and we think they can help people understand art history in provocative new ways.

The NeoLucida is was launched in a wildly successful kickstarter campaign to make a modern version of a camera lucida available to a new generation of artists. It’s not a complicated device, but it is an extremely specialized one, and niche products like it are a place where open source hardware and crowdfunding can come together incredibly successfully. They were able to bring the cost of owning a camera lucida into the realm of possibility for artists who can’t afford antiques. By publishing how the device works and how they make it, they have increased understanding both of the device itself and of historical works of art made using it.

It was exciting to try out a NeoLucida during the demo session at the summit, especially after hearing about its history.

Atmel Maker Community Panel

This week is Maker Week in New York, and on Friday, September 20, Windell will be moderating the Atmel Analyst Panel: The Maker Community and Education. Panelists will include Massimo Banzi of Arduino, Quinn of QTechKnow, Reza Kazerounian, Bob Martin and Sylvie Barak of Atmel, Brian Jepson of Make Books and AnnMarie Thomas of the University of St. Thomas. The event will be at the Hilton Manhattan East at 11:00 am, and walk-ins are welcome. You can contact pr@atmel.com for more information about attending.

Evil Mad Scientist Open House, August 12

If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area next Monday, we hope you’ll join us for an open house:

When: Monday, August 12, 5 pm − 9 pm
Where: Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories
175 San Lazaro Ave, Suite 150
Sunnyvale, CA, 94086

Come see the WaterColorBot in action (just a few days before the end of our Kickstarter campaign!), meet minor internet celebrity Zener the cat, and share in food and conversation.

Oddities at the Electronics Flea Market

eFlea July 2013

Today was the monthly Electronics Flea Market in Cupertino, and we came across some gems this month.

Above, an AN-OIL-IZER. The seller said her geologist father used it for testing oil purity.

It’s described in patent number 3182255, a device for capacitively testing lubricating oil (e.g., engine oil) for contaminants, by looking for changes in its dielectric constant. To use it, you place a drop of the oil in the holder, and the ball bearing into that drop of oil.  The bearing is held down by a leaf spring, keeping it indexed against the holder.  This forms an oil-filled capacitor between the ball bearing and a lower curved plate that is insulated from the bearing. The capacitance will vary as the dielectric constant of the oil changes due to contamination.  It comes with two ball bearings, as well as oil samples for calibration.

eFlea July 2013

The E-Z-Code Jr. is a tool for learning morse code: when you draw the “electric pencil” through the slots, it crosses contacts in the correct spacing to make the characters. It also has a hinged telegraph key which can be tucked away below the device.

eFlea July 2013

The seller of the E-Z-Code Jr. told me that the thing I really should be photographing was this magnetron. It is a beautiful old piece of hardware, with its wave guide and high-power tube.

eFlea July 2013

We found a book on Magnetic-Bubble Memory Technology. We also saw a book on tube delay memory.  We’re not sure if these are a step up from the single-bit flip-flop memory in our Digi-Comp II.

eFlea July 2013

I’d love to see the circuit diagram for the Cosmic Energy System by Psy Herabel [sic] Health Town, Inc.!  (Sadly, their domain no longer seems to be active.)