Category Archives: Electronics

Presidents Day @ The Tech

On Monday, February 19, we’ll be celebrating Presidents Day at The Tech Museum in San Jose.

Spend your Presidents Day with us! We’re bringing you even more hands-on science fun than usual. You’ll build straw rockets and design colorful climbing robots. We’re also teaming up with Kickstarter to give you a sneak peek at some new tech.

The hours are 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and we’ll be bringing the MOnSter 6502 and demonstrating how microprocessors work with our giant version of the classic MOS 6502.

Callie’s Crown

Callie's Crown

Last year while attending FIRST robotics competitions with the Firebots, I had the privilege of serving as a judge at both the Central Valley Regional and the Sacramento Regional. Judging gives an opportunity to get to know the folks involved in the competition, whether they’re students, mentors, or other volunteers like you. I’ve judged and volunteered at a few events now, and one of the great things to see is the way that the community builds and nurtures itself.

Neopixel Tiara by Callie

One of the students I met in past years, Callie, had graduated from her team, but keeps coming back as a volunteer. Callie was refereeing at both events, and shines brightly as a role model. Literally. She built an LED tiara and programmed it to light in the event colors of red, white, and blue.

Neopixel Tiara by Callie

She let me take a few pictures of it. It is made with Adafruit Flora Neopixels, a Gemma controller and a small LiPo battery.

Callie and her crown

She’s a student at UC Davis, and is a truly wonderful role model for the high school students at the events. While you don’t necessarily need an LED tiara to shine as a role model, Adafruit does have a tutorial so that you can make one, too.

Using the WaterColorBot to teach programming

Water color painting titled Ocean Woman
JR has been volunteering in a high school programming class and wrote up a thoughtful post about his experiences using the WaterColorBot in the classroom. He wrote a Python library that allows users to directly control a WaterColorBot by writing Python code.

To be honest, this library is a pretty insane way to control the bot. It’s needlessly low-level: you’re manually controlling the brush’s position, you’ve got to remember to wash and re-ink the brush every so often, etc. If your main goal is to just get the bot to paint a pretty picture, there are lots of better ways to go about it.

As a teaching aid, though, it’s been a total success, because it lets students flex their burgeoning Python skills and actually make a real thing in the process! We’ve been blown away by the stuff our students have created.

He has also documented and shared his code on github.

Happy Halloween!

Paintings of skulls made by WaterColorBot

I also thought you might enjoy seeing the design we were running today in the classroom…

Spencer Yonker sent in these skull paintings made by WaterColorBot in the classroom.

Halloween!

And we had a customer stop in the shop to show off his red velvet skull, with added flickering LED eyes.

Thanks to both of you for sharing your Halloween spirit with us! And Happy Halloween!

AYAB v0.90 is here!

AYAB (all yarns are beautiful) Logo

The All Yarns Are Beautiful project has just released a new version of the AYAB software, v0.90!

It’s a bugfix-release, that means it fixes mostly known issues and no additional features are introduced. This is necessary to get more stability in the software and to have solid foundation for future developments.

If you’re using our AYAB Interface, we’d encourage you to upgrade. If you want to contribute to this project that brings new life to old Brother knitting machines, head over to the announcement to read more.

Electronic Kintsugi

Vanessa Julia Carpenter from FabLabRUC did a workshop at FabCafe Tokyo with Kintsugi Artist Kurosawa using mended dishes as conductors in circuits.

The precious metals used to repair the dishes are used to trigger sound or light, encouraging the participants to connect with the dishes in interesting ways. There’s much more detail on this intersection of craft and electronics over in Vanessa’s post about the workshop.

Signal Generator Musical Instrument

Our friend Arjan van der Meij made this charming musical instrument from a signal generator, a servo motor, an Arduino and a processing program. He wrote an instructable for it so you can build one, too.

Signal Generator Instrument

He also wrote about his experience with the project in Dutch on makered.nl. Projects like this one, that started with a question (“Why don’t you build a machine to do it?”) are great for learning new skills. I often get asked what things someone should get for learning electronics, and my answer is usually that the first thing you need is a project that you want to make so that you’ll have motivation to research what you’ll need.

3d printed knob adapter connected to servo motor and signal generator

Arjan wanted to learn tinkercad, and used this project toward that goal by modeling the knob adapter he’d need for connecting his servo to his signal generator knob. Even if you don’t want to make a musical instrument from a signal generator, this project may provide inspiration for trying out new techniques.