Tuesday, November 14, 2017

09 Amazon Echo, Echo Plus, Echo Dot | Douglas E. Welch Holiday Gift Guide 2017

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While I was intrigued by the Amazon Echo, I couldn't really make a case for buying one. That said, when a friend offered me their Echo Dot, which they didn't want, I quickly jumped for it. I had been wanting to play around with the technology and see what it could do.

So far, for me, the Echo Dot has been used for listening to music from Pandora.com, providing weather and commute traffic info for my wife and sun each morning, game playing with Jeopardy, Lie Swatter, Sing Quiz and Screen Test Movie Quote Quiz and it also interferes with the Etekcity switches and Hook I mentioned earlier in the Gift Guide. I have been very happy with my Dot and, knowing what I know now, I probably would spend my own money to get one -- perhaps to expand Alexa into other parts of the home.

The new Echo Plus looks neat due to its added capabilities as a smart home hub for many available systems.

09 Amazon Echo, Echo Plus, Echo Dot

Echo plusEchoEcho dot

You can save a few dollars if you want to buy a couple of Echo units or by buying factory refurbished units.

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Sunday, November 12, 2017

Maker Update: Hakko FX-901 cordless soldering iron via Cool Tools

This week in Maker Update, a zoetrope and a fidget spinner make a baby, an SLS printer from Formlabs, a Raspberry Pi weather chamber, component carnage, and a tiny OLED Pi screen. Our featured Cool Tool is the Hakko FX-901 cordless soldering iron.

This is the Hakko FX-901 portable soldering iron. It runs off 4 AA batteries that you can swap out really fast with this removable cartridge design. I use rechargeables in mine and I get over an hour of use out of it before I notice the temperature drops. Alkaline batteries will run hotter, but not last as long.

Read Maker Update: Hakko FX-901 cordless soldering iron via Cool Tools


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07 Etekcity Wireless Remote Control Electrical Outlet Switch and Hook Automation Hub | Douglas E. Welch Holiday Gift Guide 2017

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07 Etekcity Wireless Remote Control Electrical Outlet Switch and Hook Automation Hubhook-hub

I added these RF remote-control switches to our house a few months ago and been very happy with my choice. They install easily, work well even between rooms with many walls separating them and helped me clean up a lot of clutter that had sort of grown organically in the family room. We had several light switches that were connected, replaced, moved, and hard to access, but these outlets provide a handy remote interface to everything now. You can even connect these outlets to your network and use your phone or Amazon Echo to control them, if you add a wifi-to-rf bridge to the network. That might just be the next step for me.

In fact, using the Hook device below, I can now control any of these outlets via my voice through my Echo Dot, via my iPhone using the Hook app, programmatically via IFTTT or programs I have written myself. Very cool and very useful — Douglas

Etekcity switchesHook hub

 

 

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Wednesday, November 08, 2017

03 Anker PowerCore 10000 | Douglas E. Welch Holiday Gift Guide 2017

Since so many people order their gifts online and ahead of time, I’ve decided to start my annual Gift Guide fairly early this year. This should allow you to find your favorite gifts — and perhaps recommend a few of your own wish list items to your friends and family — with enough lead time to assure they arrive in time for your holiday celebration, whichever holiday it might be!

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Anker PowerCore 10000

This is the external battery I have carried in my bag for almost 2 years now. I don’t think I have ever completely ran out of power unless sharing between my son and I when we are traveling together. This battery is a great peace of mind when you aren’t sure when you might see a power outlet again and can make some quick friends when their phone has gone dead at a critical moment. A tool I would not be without! — Douglas

03 Anker PowerCore 10000 - - Douglas E. Welch Holiday Gift Guide 2017 

  • The Anker Advantage: Join the 10 million+ powered by our leading technology.
  • Remarkably Compact: One of the smallest and lightest 10000mAh portable charger. Provides almost three-and-a-half iPhone 6s charges or two-and-a-half Galaxy S6 charges.
  • High-speed-Charging Technology: Anker's exclusive PowerIQ and VoltageBoost combine to deliver the fastest possible charge for any device. Qualcomm Quick Charge not supported.
  • Certified Safe: Anker's MultiProtect safety system ensures complete protection for you and your devices.
  • What You Get: Anker PowerCore 10000 portable charger, Micro USB cable, travel pouch, welcome guide, our worry-free 18-month warranty and friendly customer service. Lightning cable for iPhone / iPad sold separately — Amazon

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Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Simple Environmental Monitoring via Explore all projects

My version of a similar, first project, with an Arduino Yun used a local OLED display to show the information, but having a Blynk dashboard would be pretty cool, too. I did have something like this using Ubidots, but haven’t played around with it much. Perhaps I can modify it to work this way. — Douglas

This story began 2 years ago when I originally backed a Kickstarter project called WeatherPoint - a circuit which plugged into your android phone and displays various atmospheric variables such as temperature, pressure and humidity. After waiting far too long for the project to materialise and deciding that I still wanted this functionality on my phone, I set out to design my own.

Read Simple Environmental Monitoring via Explore all projects


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Monday, November 06, 2017

You can draw electrical wires with this cheap conductive paint via Mashable!

This paint opens up some interesting avenues of thought for new projects you can create. How would you use it? — Douglas

Bare Conductive is small studio in London that makes conductive viscous black paint. It's carbon-based, which makes it quite affordable to experiment with.

The studio has seen a growing community use its paint to make a variety of surfaces come to life. Their favorite? An artist used it to turn his paintings into musical instruments.

Read You can draw electrical wires with this cheap conductive paint via Mashable!


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Saturday, November 04, 2017

Raspberry Pi Workshop for Beginners - Tutorial via Core Electronics

If you re looking to get started with Raspberry Pi here is an excellent beginners tutorial that take you through setup all the way up to using the GPIO pins to control objects through the web. — Douglas

Welcome to the Raspberry Pi Workshop for Beginners! Here you'll be able to follow along with our series of bite-sized videos that cover everything you'll need to know to get started with your Raspberry Pi, and start making awesome projects. My name is Michael and I'm an electronics enthusiast with particular interest in embedded electronics. As we progress through the workshops, you'll find helpful material next to each video - these could be code snippets, commands to issue, circuits to build, or links to other resources.

To follow along with the workshop you'll of course need a Raspberry Pi and a few other bits and pieces. These are:

A Raspberry Pi (I'm using a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B)
A micro SD card (8GB or larger, class 10 preferred)
A power supply to safely power your Pi
A USB keyboard and mouse
A monitor with HDMI input, and an HDMI lead. (A modern television works in a pinch!)
A few components that you'll need are:

A breadboard
Some Male-Female jumper leads
Some solid-core wire suitable for breadboards.
LEDs
Momentary push-buttons
Resistors (470 Ohm can be used for all circuits in the workshop)
Most of what is required is available in our Starter Kit.

Read Raspberry Pi Workshop for Beginners - Tutorial via Core Electronics


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Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Tinkercad Adds Embedded Circuits, Lego Exports, and More via MAKE: Blog

Tinkercad is a great, free, 3D modeling tool that can be used to design 3D printable objects and more. -- Douglas



Tinkercad, the web-based CAD program, is a great gateway for new designers to learn the basics of computer-assisted design. Those basics get a little more powerful with the announcement of new features that allow users to do everything from integrating electronics to exporting to Lego. 
The announcement, which happened today at Maker Faire Bay Area, specifically gives educators and casual users the ability to save their custom designs to their toolbar, allowing for intricate creations to be recalled instantly and used repeatedly between specific builds. It also adds two embeddable electronic circuits — an LED throwie option for light-up projects, and a vibro-bot function for jittering movement. This feature will place cavities for the components into your design; when you 3D print them (Tinkercad already has a simple export function for 3D printable files), the spaces are ready for you to add batteries, LEDs, or motors to make your designs come to life.
Read Tinkercad Adds Embedded Circuits, Lego Exports, and More via MAKE: Blog

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Sunday, October 22, 2017

Cheap Amazon Alexa Home Automation Light Switch via Instructables

I purchased some inexpensive RF remote power switches myself, but I have contemplated making a few of my own, too. This is but one way to get it done. -- Douglas



I just recently got an Amazon echo and always wanted to expand its home automation possibilities but wasn't happy with the price tag of many of the ready-made IOT solutions and figured I could probably make something with reasonable functionality for much less money. 
I already had a bunch of raspberry pi's laying around so I figured that was a good place to start. The pi is definitely the most expensive part of this project but it was free to me and you could probably get away with the $10 Pi Zero Wireless instead.
Read Cheap Amazon Alexa Home Automation Light Switch via Instructables

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Saturday, October 21, 2017

Scientists built this Raspberry Pi-powered, 3D-printed robot-lab to study flies via ZDNet

A great story about scientists using off-the-shelf parts, like the Raspberry Pi, to create new experimental equipment and then sharing it to the world for everyone to use, even citizen scientists. — Douglas

Scientists built this Raspberry Pi-powered, 3D-printed robot-lab to study flies via ZDNet

Researchers have created a Raspberry Pi-powered robotic lab that detects and profiles the behaviour of thousands of fruit-flies in real-time.

The researchers, from Imperial College London, built the mini Pi-powered robotics lab to help scale up analyses of fruit flies, which have become popular proxy for scientists to study human genes and the wiring of the brain. The researchers call the lab an ethoscope, an open-source hardware and software platform for "ethomics", which uses machine vision to study animal behaviour.

And while computer-assisted analysis promises to revolutionize research techniques for Drosophila (fruit fly) neuroscientists, the researchers argue its potential is constrained by custom hardware, which adds cost and often aren't scalable.

The Raspberry Pi-based ethoscope offers scientists a modular design that can be built with 3D-printed components or even LEGO bricks at a cost of €100 per ethoscope.

Read Scientists built this Raspberry Pi-powered, 3D-printed robot-lab to study flies via ZDNet


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Monday, October 16, 2017

A Very Large VU Meter Indeed via hack a day

It used to be a must-have on any hi-fi, a pair of moving coil meters or LED bar graphs, the VU meter. Your 1980s boombox would have had them, for example. VU, for “Volume Units”, is a measure of audio level, and the fashion for its visual measure in consumer audio equipment seems now to have largely passed.

The LED bar graph VU meters were invariably driven by the LM3915, a chip that contains a resistor ladder and a stack of comparators which can drive LEDs directly. [Juvar] has taken an LM3915, and used it to drive a set of opto-isolated triacs which in turn drive a stack of appropriately coloured mains LED bulbs concealed within an Ikea Vidja lamp. The result is a huge and very bright VU meter that is as much a lighting effect as it is a measure of sound level.

Read A Very Large VU Meter Indeed via hack a day


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Monday, October 09, 2017

BreatheDot: A Portable Meditation Aid via HackaDay

I’ve been doing more meditation lately and this little project would be a great way to explore the ATTiny while creating a productive tool. — Douglas

BreatheDot: A Portable Meditation Aid via HackaDay

BreatheDot: A Portable Meditation Aid via HackaDay

This is a small battery-powered meditation aid that is powered off a CR2032 battery. It uses an ATTiny85 and a single blue LED. By matching your breathing with the LED, you should feel the effects after 3 to 5 minutes. 

The benefit of having a piece of hardware is that you can use it quickly and you don't have to strain your eyes looking at a screen. 

It uses the box-breathing method used in yoga and the Navy Seals. Hopefully this project can help in promoting better health and well being.

Read BreatheDot: A Portable Meditation Aid via HackaDay


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Sunday, October 08, 2017

Rasperry Pi Gaming System Built Without Any Soldering (video) via Geeky Gadgets



A new Instructables project has been posted this month which allows you to create a Raspberry Pi gaming system using the awesome RetroPie emulation software without soldering any components at all. 
The breadboard RetroPie Raspberry Pi gaming system is powered by a Raspberry Pi Zero together with 4 x AA batteries. Watch the video below to learn more about this great project. 
Building a game machine is a very good project to initial child studying electronics. However, most RetroPie projects built by an adult, the main reason is building it require too many advanced skills at the same time, soldering, 3D printing, or Laser cutting, metal case patching… 
This project aims to make it simple, all things built on the breadboard, the first tools you should know while studying electronics. The most beautiful thing using breadboard is most things can be reused. When you want to build the next project you can unplug and reuse the components and also reuse the breadboard itself!
Read Rasperry Pi Gaming System Built Without Any Soldering (video) via Geeky Gadgets

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Thursday, October 05, 2017

How to use a high current solenoid with Arduino via Adafruit Industries

How to use a high-current solenoid with Arduino So you have a solenoid that you want to use as an electric door lock, or some other kind of actuator with your Arduino. But, here's the problem: too high a current for the Arduino to source, and too high of a voltage to drive. Well fear not, using a simple transistor we can set up the solenoid to work hand in hard with your Arduino. 

Read How to use a high current solenoid with Arduino #Arduino via Adafruit Industries – Makers, hackers, artists, designers and engineers!


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Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Making it Miniature: Integrating the ATtiny85 in your Arduino Project via Hackster’s Blog

I love the ATtiny85. I use it in practically every project of mine — components of CastMinder are powered by the ATtiny85, and HaptoTech is completely powered by the ATtiny85. The ATtiny is also the brains of my game console/business card with a screen.

Regular Arduino boards are awesome for prototyping and extended development, but sometimes it’s necessary to turn to something a little cheaper and smaller. The ATtiny85 satisfies both of these constraints quite handily — it costs only about a dollar, and the whole microcontroller is no bigger than the fingernail of your pinky.

Read Making it Miniature: Integrating the ATtiny85 in your Arduino Project via Hackster’s Blog - Medium


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Monday, October 02, 2017

Developing Maker Grit via Barb Makes Things [Video]

“Don’t do it for them!”

Oh, yes, have I been here over the years of raising my son. Like all parents, I have wanted to jump in and “save” him and his projects. I feel like I ground off several sets of teeth over the years keeping my mouth shut, but I think it has helped  him create his own level of “maker grit.” — Douglas

Developing Maker Grit via Barb Makes Things

Developing Maker Grit via Barb Makes Things [Video]

Some tips for grown-ups working with kids. There are a lot of valid ways of making things, but they aren't all equally effective at developing grit. Tinkering FTW.

See also: How To Fail Like a Pro:

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Sunday, October 01, 2017

Bluetooth Controlled Motorized Camera Slide via Adafruit Industries

Build your own camera slider to get those great shots while also getting a bit geeky at the same time. — Douglas

Nothing better than a Ruiz Brothers’ project! From the Adafruit Learning System:

We really love photography and camera gear here at Adafruit, so we came together and upgrade our original 3D Printed DIY camera slider.

It’s now motorized using a single NEMA-17 stepper driven by the Adafruit Motor Shield ontop of an Ardunio Uno.

The Adafruit Bluefruit SPI Friend allows us to remotely control the movement of the camera slider using the Adafruit Bluefruit LE Connect app on a mobile gadget like an Android or iOS device!

Read Bluetooth Controlled Motorized Camera Slider 


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