555 Teardown

Ken Shirriff has posted a teardown of the beloved 555 timer IC. He sawed the top of a metal can packaged 555 to expose the die underneath.

On top of the silicon, a thin layer of metal connects different parts of the chip. … Under the metal, a thin, glassy silicon dioxide layer provides insulation between the metal and the silicon, except where contact holes in the silicon dioxide allow the metal to connect to the silicon. At the edge of the chip, thin wires connect the metal pads to the chip’s external pins.

He goes on to explain how it works and its cultural significance. He even mentions our discrete 555 and 555 footstool in the footnotes.

The Adafruit Dronies

I’m pleased to announce that I’m on the judging panel for the new Adafruit Drone Film Fest, the Adafruit Dronies 2016.

The Adafruit Dronies celebrates videos taken from drones. The contest is open to everyone in the United States to show and share their amazing drone videos. You’ll be judged on creative use of technology, storytelling, and cinematography.

Entries are limited to five minutes and winners receive trophies as well as gift certificates to the Adafruit store. The lineup of judges is amazing, and  we’re looking forward to seeing your entries!

GeekDad reviews The Annotated Build-It-Yourself Science Laboratory

DIY rain gauge
Rain gauge by Derrick Schneider

GeekDad has posted a very thoughtful review of the Annotated Build-It-Yourself Science Laboratory.

A workbench with breadboards, 3D printer, and sewing supplies is nothing compared to building a full science lab from basement junk.

They went hands-on and built the rain gauge shown above.

Linkdump: February 2016

dictation machine

Evil Mad Scientist Valentines: 2016 Edition

2016 valentines

Today we are releasing our newest set of “Download and Print” cards for Valentine’s day. This is our fourth year, and fourth set of cards: The 2013 set had six equation-heavy cards, the 2014 set was a set of six symbol-heavy cards, and the 2015 set included love, hearts, and arrows.

This year’s set of six new cards features a note about warming Pluto’s cold heart, at least one embarrassingly bad pun, and the perfect card for your robotic expression of love.

Solve for x
“I was supposed to solve for x. So glad I found u instead.”

Pluto heart

And, from the distant reaches of our solar system:
“Just knowing you’re out there warms my heart.”


“ROSES ARE RED
VIOLETS ARE BLUE
THIS VALENTINE AUTOMATICALLY
GENERATED FOR YOU”

2016 valentines

You can download the full set here, which includes all 24 designs from all four years (a 1 MB PDF document).

As usual, print them out on (or otherwise affix to) card stock, personalize, and [some steps omitted] enjoy the resulting lifelong romance.

International RobotArt Competition

RobotArt logo with subtitle

We recently found out about the 2016 International RobotArt Competition for students to create art with paintbrush wielding robots and win prizes of up to $30,000 for their school.

For 2016, we focus on the technical side of creating art – the physical transition from raw color to applied color on a canvas. We challenge the participants to create artwork to showcase their robot’s abilities.

Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology Entry

The team registration deadline is March 1st, and the competition is open to high school and college student teams. Artwork must be uploaded by April 15. (This sounds like a perfect challenge for schools that have a WaterColorBot.)

Public participation in the first round of judging is encouraged, and then the works will be judged by professional art critics on originality, aesthetics, painting capability, and technical contribution (e.g. sharing source code.)

We love art robots, so we’ll look forward to seeing the results of this competition.

Linkdump: January 2016

Image: Chipworks, via iFixit

EggBots in Library Makerspaces

The New Sarepta Library in Alberta, Canada posted this video on twitter saying:

Our new EggBot is up and running! Come check it out!

We’re super happy to see libraries including our tools in their makerspaces.