Field Trips: Atmel Headquarters

Sylvia

Super Awesome Sylvia and I were invited to attend Bring Your Kids to Work Day at Atmel recently. (Atmel, of course, is the company that makes the microcontrollers found inside Arduino products and in many of our own projects and kits.) We were there to help provide tangible, interesting, and playful examples of how Atmel chips can be used. And of course, we weren’t going to miss an opportunity to visit Atmel headquarters!

Photo courtesy of Atmel

The biggest hit with the kids were the Octolively interactive LED modules (sporting the Atmel ATmega164P). When the kids waved their hands over them, the LEDs would light up and ripple. Some of the kids would start out by poking and grabbing at the LEDs until they lit up, but as soon as I told them it would work “even without touching it” their eyes would get big, and they’d wave their hands over the top, enthralled.

Some of the other things we brought were our handheld game, the Meggy Jr RGB (with the ATmega328P); a Bulbdial Clock (Atmega328P again), which points rings of LEDs at different heights down at a central point to create shadow hands of different lengths; our giant Alpha Clock Five (ATMega644A); and the Larson Scanner (ATtiny2313A), which lights up nine red LEDs to make a scanning robot eye.

Photo courtesy of Atmel

Another project that captured the kids’ attention was a Keepon by BeatBots. Other demonstrations included a quadcopter and a hacked hexabot.

Photo courtesy of Atmel

We got to have lunch in the bright sun in the courtyard with Avary Kent, who was demonstrating the PuzzleBox, a brain-controlled helicopter.

Photo courtesy of Atmel

Sylvia got to give the PuzzleBox a try, triggering it to fly as soon as she concentrated hard enough.

Workbench

After lunch, we got to tour of a couple of labs. This workbench was well stocked with a Metcal soldering iron (our favorite) and lots of tools and supplies.

Workbench

Apparently the poor Pleo on this bench needed some repair.

Chip testing machine

This machine is for inspecting and testing chips after they have been removed from their housing.

We got to go into the RF anechoic chamber, and watch as our cell phones stopped receiving any signals.

Horsing around

We also had some time to hang out and horse around with friends new and old. Our friend Paul Rako seemed to be having as much fun as the kids.

Photo courtesy of Atmel

Thanks to Paul and Atmel for inviting us to visit!

The 2013 Open Hardware Summit: Call for Papers Extended

OHS 2012

Good news if you’re still working on— or haven’t yet started —your proposal for this year’s Open Hardware Summit: The call for papers has been extended, so you’ve got another week to fine tune your talk, poster, or demo proposal.

Submissions are now due by JUNE 28, 2013.

The Open Hardware Summit is the world’s first comprehensive conference on open hardware; a venue to discuss and draw attention to the rapidly growing Open Source Hardware movement.  This year’s summit takes place on September 6 at MIT.

 

Previously: The 2013 Open Hardware Summit: Call for Papers,
The 2013 Open Hardware Summit: Tickets Now Available

Photo credit: Open Hardware Summit on Flickr.

Field Trips: Tide Pools at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve

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Fitzgerald Marine Reserve
 is a protected marine and intertidal park located at Moss Beach, California, about 40 minutes south of San Francisco, just north of Half Moon bay.  It’s a spectacular place to visit at low tide, for some of the finest, most accessible tide pools in the region.

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And as you’ll see, there’s definitely a lot to look at.

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Field Trips: Fern Canyon

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Fern Canyon is a lush little feature of Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park— a tiny winding canyon whose dripping walls are lined with soft ferns and vibrant mosses.

The park is located very northwest corner of California, nestled against Redwood National Park.  The two parks are managed together, as part of the “Redwood National and State Parks.”  It’s a substantial six hour drive north from San Francisco or Silicon Valley, but as you will see, it’s unique, and arguably worth the trip.

 

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The 2013 Open Hardware Summit: Call for Papers

OHS 2012

As the review chair for this year’s Open Hardware Summit, I’m very pleased to announce that the call for papers is now open:

The Open Source Hardware Association invites submissions for the fourth annual Open Hardware Summit, to be held September 6, 2013 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The Open Hardware Summit is the world’s first comprehensive conference on open hardware; a venue to discuss and draw attention to the rapidly growing Open Source Hardware movement. The Open Hardware Summit is a venue to present, discuss, and learn about open hardware of all kinds. The summit examines open hardware and its relation to other issues, such as software, design, business, law, and education.

We are seeking proposals for talks, posters, and demos from individuals and groups working with open hardware and related areas.

Submissions are due by JUNE 21, 2013.  Please see the complete call for papers for additional details.

The 2013 Open Hardware Summit has also opened its call for sponsors; please click here if you are interested in helping to sponsor the summit.

Photo credit: Open Hardware Summit on Flickr.

The 2013 Bay Area Maker Faire in Pictures

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The 2013 Bay Area Maker Faire is a wrap— and it was amazing.  And we took pictures. We’ve uploaded 362 photos from maker faire right here for your browsing pleasure.   But first, a little preview.

 

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Kids play with giant cardboard robot arms at the Giant Cardboard Robots booth. As they say, “The revolution will be corrugated.”

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Glo-Puter Zero, by Alan Yates, with its phosphor-based memory. Truly a highlight of the show.

 

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Lenore shares a nerdy moment with Akiba from Freaklabs.

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An unusual LED badge, from the Bay Lights project.

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The Western Pyrotechnics Association is a club for people that make their own fireworks.  It’s incredible to see the complexity and artistry of the fireworks and the tooling that makes them.

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A beautiful hovercraft, designed to look like a flying DeLorean; you can see video of it on the project site.

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Back at our booth, the WaterColorBot was a constant hit.  Above, Sylvia shows visitors how to sketch with it in real time.

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An unexpected application: Our friend Bilal Ghalib stopped by and enlisted the WaterColorBot to help him make a birthday card for another friend.

 

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And one of our favorite moments of Maker Faire: a young visitor, tickled pink as she tries out the WaterColorBot, watching it paint a drawing that she had just sketched.

 

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A bicycle-powered cardboard walking rhino, by Kinetic Creatures, makers of walking cardboard robot kits, with Theo Jansen inspired walking mechanisms.

 

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Some of the creations are simpler, like this sidewalk-chalk wielding vibrobot, spinning on a tabletop chalkboard at the Exploratorium booth.

 

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Some of the creations are more technical, like the OpenPNP project to create open source pick and place machines for electronics assembly.  We’re excited by where this is headed, along with a few related projects.

 

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And of course, there’s no shortage of LED goodness.

Please click right here for the rest of our 2013 Bay Area Maker Faire photo album.

 

Bay Area Maker Events this Week

This is a fantastically busy week in the bay area for makers and hardware folk.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the Hardware Innovation Workshop will be held at San Mateo College. Windell will be speaking on Wednesday afternoon; check out the agenda to see the full lineup of presenters.

On Thursday, we’ll be participating in Maker Faire Education Day with Super Awesome Sylvia and the WaterColorBot. If you’re a bay area teacher, you and your class should be there! If you’re a bay area student, make sure your teacher knows about this!

See us at Maker Faire!

On Saturday and Sunday, the Bay Area Maker Faire is in full swing at the San Mateo County Event Center. We’ll be there with Super Awesome Sylvia and the WaterColorBot. Windell and I also mentor FIRST Robotics team 3501 from Fremont High School in Sunnyvale, and they will be there with their robot, Oddjob. I will be participating in the Parenting Young Makers panel on the Make: Education Stage at 2:00 pm on Sunday as well. The full Maker Faire schedule has been posted, and advance tickets are still available. If you’re planning on driving, check out the list of free parking lots with shuttles or in walking distance. 110,000 attendees were there last year— not a small party!

To spread the celebration a little further, we’re holding a DIY Fever sale in our shop now through Monday.

White House Science Fair Roundup

President Obama tries out the WaterColorBot. Photo credit: State Observer

 We’ve gotten to see Super-Awesome Sylvia and her WaterColorBot in a variety of news sources following her journey to the White House Science Fair on Monday:

Congratulations to Sylvia on her participation in this fantastic event! We’ll add to this list as we find more articles and links.