Robo-Painted Thank You Cards

Robo-painted card

One of the rewards from the Kickstarter campaign for our WaterColorBot was a “Robo-Painted” thank-you card. Our collaborator Sylvia designed the cards and supervised while the robot painted them.

Robo-painted card

We (the humans) were a little tired after just signing the insides of 75 cards— we can only imagine how exhausted the WaterColorBot must have been after painting the fronts and insides!  They were actually painted in three passes: for the inside “Thank you” text, for the light-blue (extra-wet) background on the front, and for the flower subject on the front.

Robo-painted card

Of course, the real magic of robotics is that it is so reproducible, card after card. And yet, the real magic of watercolor as a medium is that it isn’t completely reproducible. Look at the subtle little variations caused by the amount of water either in the light blue background or in the flower subject. We see the same kinds of “organic” variation that we might expect from a human artist. Simply wonderful.

Two New Menorah Kits

Breadboard LED Menorah Kit

Hanukkah comes remarkably early this year, starting on Thanksgiving day, November 28.

Today, just in the nick of time, we are releasing two new LED menorah kits for 2013 that complement our consistently popular Deluxe LED Menorah Soldering Kit.

Breadboard LED Menorah Kit - Parts

The first kit, the Deluxe Electronic Breadboard Menorah Kit, is a response to two requests that we frequently receive: (1) for an LED menorah kit that doesn’t require soldering and (2) for a menorah kit with assorted multicolor LEDs— for that assorted-color candle look. (Nailed it!)

The kit includes a 6″ transparent breadboard, 10 mm LEDs in red, orange, yellow, green, blue and warm white, a control button, battery holder, and a pre-programmed microcontroller.

Breadboard LED Menorah Kit
Breadboard LED Menorah Kit

While the electronic components— the microcontroller, resistors, control switch, and LEDs —are essentially the same as in the Deluxe LED Menorah Kit, we’ve had to make quite a few changes to the layout and firmware to redesign the circuit to lay out so neatly on a breadboard. Additionally, as the perceived brightness of different LED colors can vary quite a bit, we’ve included a specific set of per-color resistors to even out the overall brightness levels.

The Deluxe Electronic Breadboard Menorah Kit is in stock now, and ready to make happy campers on some night(s) of Hanukkah this year.

Special Edition LED Menorah Kit

For the second new kit, the multicolor Special Edition Deluxe LED Menorah Kit, we’ve brought the assorted multicolor LEDs back to our original Deluxe LED Menorah Soldering Kit. Because, why should breadboarders have all the fun?

Special Edition LED Menorah Kit

And it even looks good with the lights off! The new Special Edition LED Menorah Kit is in stock and shipping now.

Lady Ada Lovelace Day 2013

Open Hardware Summit 2013 at MIT
For Lady Ada Lovelace Day, we are once again celebrating women in open source hardware. Pictured above are three key women from the 2013 Open Hardware SummitCatarina Mota, from the Open Source Business panel and OSHWA board member; Addie Wagenknecht, Open Hardware Summit co-Chair; and Alicia Gibb, conference organizer and OSHWA president.

A number of women also presented talks during the summit:

In addition, the following women presented posters or demos:

Toni Klopfenstein, Erin “RobotGrrl” Kennedy, Gabriella Levine, Analisa Russo, Amelia Marzec, Anuja Apte, Nadya Peek, Tania Morimoto, Ayah Bdeir, Linda Karina Duran Bautista, Aisen Caro ChacinPilar Zaragoza, Alexandra Shuey, Christalee Bieber.

All of these presenters build on a history of excellent content within this vibrant community.

Photo courtesy of the Open Hardware Summit (CC-BY).

LED Vertical Blinds


dinofizz posted in the forums about the LED display based on the Peggy 2 he installed on his vertical blinds:

I had custom PCBs made to help daisy chain the vertical blinds (they’re sitting on top of the horizontal beam from which the blinds hang). 300 ft spool of 16-way ribbon cable completely used up. Around ~4000 individual solder joints, and I’m still using breadboard to hold things together at the moment! Took me forever.

He linked to a few more build photos over in the forum post, and he even posted some video of it in action:

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.

OHS 2013 Highlights: DropBot

DropBot is an open source Digital Microfluidic (DMF) automation system that was presented at the 2013 Open Hardware Summit by Ryan Fobel of Wheeler Microfluidics Laboratory at the University of Toronto.

In DMF, discrete fluidic droplets are manipulated on the surface of an array of electrodes coated with a hydrophobic insulator.

It extremely exciting to see the sciences embracing open hardware in new ways.