At our daughter’s school, all the 2nd graders put together a “state board” project.  They are randomly assigned a state (in our daughter’s case, Vermont) and the students work to put together a poster on a tri-fold piece of cardboard.  From what I’ve heard, the projects often have 3D aspects like animals and products attached and several over the years have had buttons to play things like the state song.  We brainstormed possible elements we [...]


I was inspired by Phil Burgess’ great electronic mask project and knew I had to build one of my own.  The project is detailed in a combination of Adafruit tutorials on Animating Multiple LED Backpacks and the Wave Shield Voice Changer.  I thought I’d relate my experiences in building and using the mask.  Overall, it was a lot of fun.  I accompanied my daughter to a few houses on Halloween night — visibility wasn’t so good at [...]


In my last post, I explored alarm monitoring using the Raspberry Pi and Arduino.  I thought I’d give the Electric Imp a try as well.  The Electric Imp is a WiFi module and Cortex-M3 processor built into an SD card form factor and available on Sparkfun for $30.  It needs a few extra bits like an ID chip to function but I picked up an Electric Imp Shield on Sparkfun to make it easy.  To configure [...]


I spotted a post by Lior Hass on Hackaday a little while back where he described his Alarmino project where his alarm system now connects with an Arduino and a custom board to simulate the phone line and interpret Contact-ID protocol.  He could then get the system to SMS him in the case of an alarm.  In his case, he did this in lieu of using a central monitoring service and it only reported events that would [...]


I wanted to control my Romo (the cellbot from Romotive) from my PC.  But I like Romotive’s control app and didn’t really want to write my own at this point using their SDK.  Instead, I just wanted to control their app from a script on my PC which hopefully would let it access all the functionality.  Of course, this meant using the protocol they use between their controller app and the app which is actually [...]


I was reading the April 2012 issue of Elektor and spotted an article by Ludovic Mézière on building a Thermometer using Giant Gottlieb® Displays.  I was really intrigued by his use of large mechanical scoring reels from a 1960s pinball machine.  So I set out to investigate how costly it might be to obtain such reels.  Once I learned that the technical term for these were “score reels” it became somewhat easier to search eBay [...]


A couple weeks back I got Romotive’s Romo cell bot from a project I sponsored on Kickstarter. Cell bots use an onboard cellphone as their controller. As with other cell bots I’ve built, audio out is used to communicate with the robot platform. Some of the earlier cell bots actually directly controlled servo motors using the audio out. Romotive executed this far better with their robot base and it’s the best such small cell bot [...]


I was playing a game of Connect4 with my daughter one day and it occurred to me there might be a nice way of sensing the moves in the physical game in order to introduce a computer player. Looking at the top of the game board, I thought there just might be enough room to place photo interrupters in each position to watch as the pieces are dropped. It turns out the GP1A57HRJ00F sold at [...]


I happen to have some old 12 inch optical disks made of glass. So when I saw Terry and Adam Clarkson’s ClockOS project on Kickstarter, I recognized the potential for an awesome clock! The ClockOS board is Arduino compatible and hosts a ring of 180 surface mount RGB LEDs (in 3 concentric rings of 60).  Modes can be set through 3 buttons on the back side of the board.  The onboard Atmel168 can be programmed [...]


A few months back, I enjoyed assembling the Gakken Karakuri Somersault Doll (I got mine online from the Maker Shed).  What’s amazing about the doll is that it slowly completes a series of backward somersaults due to its internal mechanics and the potential energy it has from starting on the top of several steps.  The mechanism was designed long ago during the Japanese Edo period.  The hardest part of the build is probably threading the [...]

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