Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Son of Sonoff: $5 WiFi Wireless Smart Switch via hack a day

We’ve covered the Sonoff a few times–a very inexpensive box with an ESP8266, a power supply, and an AC relay along with a way to tap into a power cord. Very inexpensive means $5 or $6. The supplied software will work with several systems (including, recently, Alexa). But what self-respecting hacker wants to run the stock firmware on something with an ESP8266 inside?

[Tzapu] certainly didn’t. But he also knew he didn’t want to start from scratch every time he wanted to deploy a switch. So he built SonoffBoilerplate and put the code on GitHub. The code manages taking configuration (including network settings) using a web-portal, can update itself over the air, and integrates with Blynk and MQTT. If you don’t like that code base, there are other choices including one that has a failsafe reconfiguration mode.

Read Son of Sonoff via hack a day

ESP8266 and Sonoff products at Amazon

 

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Sunday, September 03, 2017

This Arduino zen garden lets you draw in the sand remotely via htxt.africa

I love projects that bridge the gap between the digital and the physical world. I remember seeing something similar to this year’s ago when I first visited Maker Faire Bay Area. I’ve linked a video of that project below, too. — Douglas

The Japanese rock garden, or simply zen garden, has become a popular desk toy, but the folks over at Makr Toolbox have taken it to the next level with an Arduino system that lets you draw in the sand at the press of a button.

The system works with a gantry that sits below the sandbox. Powered by a pair of motors, the gantry works much like those on a 3D printer, something the creator of this project has experiance with, but without the Z axis. In the middle of the gantry there is a magnet that moves a ball bearing across the sand.

Read This Arduino zen garden lets you draw in the sand remotely via htxt.africa

My video from Maker Faire Bay Area 2008 of a similar project


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Monday, July 31, 2017

Conductive Design: 10 Objects Transformed Into Touch Pads & Circuits via WebUrbanist

Imagine being able to draw out circuits, sew them into clothing, apply to the exterior of common items in your home. Very cool technology and both methods and applications are growing quickly. — Douglas

Conductive paint, ink and thread can be drawn, woven or even tattooed into objects like denim jackets, carpeting and leather iPad cases to make them into electrical circuits, adding a new layer of functionality as well as cool-looking graphic patterns. Draw circuits in any shape, create smart objects that interact with apps, and answer your phone while biking by swiping your finger across your sleeve. These 10 projects – some of which are available commercially – show how far conductive designs have come in less than four years.

Read Conductive Design: 10 Objects Transformed Into Touch Pads & Circuits via WebUrbanist


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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

How to Make Your Sensors Smarter via Hackster’s Blog

Quite an amazing idea. This article details using a series of common sensors, like microphones, accelerometers, light sensors and more, combine their data streams and sense a wide variety of home activities instead of building sensors into each, individual device. —Douglas

To fulfill the real promise of the Internet of Things there needs to be computing and sensing in each and every object in your home. In your office. In your neighborhood.

But not only would that be impractical, and expensive, it would be intrusive, and awkward. So what if, instead of deploying thousands of sensors in a room, you could deploy just a single sensor that could indirectly monitor the whole room?

Read How to Make Your Sensors Smarter via Hackster’s Blog - Medium


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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

E-Paper IoT Door Sign PCB via Tindie Blog

I have a number of paper projects floating around in my head, but they always seemed a bit too difficult to put together. This post and video help clarify the issues in a number of ways. — Douglas





E-Paper, E Ink, or one of the several other ways to compose/capitalize this class of device is likely best-known in Amazon’s Kindle and other eBook readers. And why not? This technology is easy on the eyes, and only uses power when it changes what is displayed. 
It’s such a neat concept that one would think it would be used in more projects. It does, however, have a few drawbacks like the fact that it generally doesn’t come in color, and doesn’t refresh fast enough for any sort of acceptable animation. The other important drawback from a DIY perspective is that they are relatively difficult to control. As seen in this Hackaday.io writeup, you can’t simply tell one pixel to be a certain shade of gray and expect it to work without some serious fiddling.
Read Tindie Blog | E-Paper IoT Door Sign PCB via Tindie Blog


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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

John Park’s Remote Effects Trigger Box via Adafruit on YouTube

A complicated, but extremely powerful, project that allows you to control almost anything, almost anywhere without using Bluetooth or Wifi. -- Douglas



Build this powerful RF Feather-based controller to wirelessly trigger props, lights, effects, and more! Using 900Mhz (or 425Mhz) RF for long-range,  encrypted communications between the transmitter and the receivers, this general purpose controller will make your wireless triggering wishes come true! Plus, you get to use a rotary encoder knob to scroll menu sets, and punch in your commands on the lighted 4x4 Trellis keypad.

Build your own from the Learning Guide tutorial here

Read John Park’s Remote Effects Trigger Box @adafruit @johnedgarpark #adafruit via YouTube



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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Quick and dirty raspberry pi retro console from an old TV via Make

Great project of how to turn something old into something very, very, new — if a bit retro looking. — Douglas

Quick and dirty raspberry pi retro console from an old TV via Make

Many people see the incredible game systems built by people like Ben Heck, with custom formed plastics and complex electrical setups, and feel like they cannot build anything as awesome as that. I hope this project shows you that you can put together something cool with minimal skills and effort.

Watch Quick and dirty raspberry pi retro console from an old tv

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Siri Controls Your PC Through Python and Gmail via hack a day

Read Siri Controls Your PC Through Python and Gmail via hack a day



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Tuesday, June 06, 2017

It Can Do Anything - 3DSIMO Mini Review

An interesting handheld 3D Pen that also can function as a hot wire foam cutter and USB soldering iron. -- Douglas

David from 3DSimo reached out to me and I was immediately intrigued by the product he offered. This is the 3DSimo Mini! It looks like a 3D pen, but it does a lot more than just printing plastic!

 

In the package you will receive several adapters that's interchangeable. The including tools are foam cutting, soldering, burning and 3D printing. This is the best multi-tool I have ever used and performed really quite nice as well!


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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

ACLU says demanding US citizens unlock phones at the border is unconstitutional via The Verge

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed an administrative complaint with the federal government after a US citizen was detained at the border and forced to unlock his iPhone SE. Aaron Gach, an artist and activist who was holding an exhibition in Belgium, was subjected to interrogation by US Customs and Border Protection upon his reentry into the country at San Francisco International Airport in February. Gach was forced to unlock his phone, and in doing so the ACLU says CBP agents violated Gach’s constitutional rights, specifically his Fourth Amendment right protecting him from unlawful search and seizure.

Read ACLU says demanding US citizens unlock phones at the border is unconstitutional via The Verge


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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Maker Update #32: Heat Shrink Tubing via Cool Tools

Heat shrink tubing is such a small thing, but it can make your projects more robust as well as better organized. Learn about all its uses in this video. — Douglas

Here’s this week’s Maker Update, featuring the best DIY projects of the week. (Show notes here.) As usual, I have a Cool Tool review included. This time, it’s heat shrink! Of all the things I have in my electronics toolbox, nothing gets my kid more excited than seeing me use heat shrink on a project. The stuff is like magic, plus there’s usually fire involved — so that’s a bonus for him.

Read Maker Update #32: Heat Shrink Tubing via Cool Tools


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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Arduino Basics Intro to Stepper Motors #Arduino via Adafruit Industries

Another great tutorial on using Stepper motors in your Arduino projects. - Douglas

Read Arduino Basics Intro to Stepper Motors #Arduino via Adafruit Industries – Makers, hackers, artists, designers and engineers!

In this video we take a look at very low-priced, but still very popular stepper motor, the 28BYJ-48. This 5V stepper is very useful in low-torque and medium torque applications where precise positioning is required.

We are using the ULN2003 driver IC to control the board along with the “Cheap Stepper” library. You can download Cheap Stepper here:https://github.com/tyhenry/CheapStepper.


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Monday, May 22, 2017

Seeed EMG Detector via coolcomponents.co.uk

Interest in biohacking grows every day. What man/machine interface could you make with this component? Share your ideas! — Douglas

Seeed EMG Detector via coolcomponents.co.uk

The EMG detector is a bridge between your muscles and microcontrollers, the sensor gathers small muscle signals and then amplify and filters them to produce an output signal that can be recognized. You can add this signal into your control system. Note: The sensor cannot be used for medical purposes.In standby mode, the output voltage is 1.5V. When detect muscle active, the output signal rise up, the maximum voltage is 3.3V. You can use this sensor in 3.3V or 5V system.

Read Seeed EMG Detector via coolcomponents.co.uk


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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Arduino Trinket - Ocean-roaming data buoy | Hackaday via hackaday.com

An amazing free-roaming, ocean buy with tracking information. Is this something your STEAM group could put together — together? — Douglas

Put a message in a bottle and toss it in the ocean, and if you’re very lucky, years later you might get a response. Drop a floating Arduino-fied buoy into the ocean and if you’ve engineered it well, it may send data back to you for even longer.

At least that’s what [Wayne] has learned since his MDBuoyProject went live with the launching of a DIY drift buoy last year. The BOM for the buoy reads like a page from the Adafruit website: Arduino Trinket, an RTC, GPS module, Iridium satellite modem, sensors, and a solar panel. Everything lives in a clear plastic dry box along with a can of desiccant and a LiPo battery.

Read Arduino Trinket | Hackaday via hackaday.com


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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Google opens up Classroom so anyone can now become a teacher via The Next Web

I often find myself assisting my college professor wife with her online classrooms using Blackboard, Moodle and others. This also has me often thinking about putting together my own online courses. Google has made this much easier by providing everyone access to their new Classroom service. 

Poking around in it the other day, it seems very similar to other online classroom products I have used and could provide you with an easy method of hosting your own educational projects -- Douglas



Google is opening up its Classroom educational service to allow anyone to create and teach a class on its platform. 
The web-based tool works across devices and Google says it can be used to help manage classes for adult education, hobbies, and after school programs. 
Classroom should come in handy for people who want to do more than just post tutorials on their blogs and YouTube channels; they can add resources, post tasks and assignments and interact with students as they progress through lessons. 
This is the second major update to Classroom in 2017: last month, Google expanded the service to allow anyone to join classes, without the need for a G Suite for Education account (which is usually made available by schools and universities to their students).

Read Google opens up Classroom so anyone can now become a teacher via The Next Web

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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Live Out Your Astronaut Dreams With Lego's Meter-Tall NASA Apollo Saturn V Rocket via Gizmodo

Lego seems to be the “gateway drug” for so many makers and I couldn’t help highlighting this amazing kit. The sheer size and number of bricks included in this model are mind boggling. Even better, you can get your own version to build.

The Saturn V was the THE rocket of my child hood and I watched many of them launch on TV with all the Apollo missions. It brings back some amazing memories— Douglas

To this day, the Saturn V remains the largest and most powerful rocket NASA has ever blasted into space, which is perfectly reflected in Lego’s new Apollo Saturn V model. That model stands a full meter (over 39 inches) in height, with the Apollo lunar lander, lunar orbiter, and astronauts, hidden away inside.

The set started life as a Lego Ideas submission by builder saabfun, who quickly achieved the 10,000 votes from fans required for Lego to consider it for production. It was eventually approved, and while the final version of the Apollo Saturn V looks quite a bit different than saabfun’s submission (Lego modifies the winning models so they’re consumer-friendly) the results will still look amazing perched on your desk

Official Lego Kit Available June 1, 2017 for $120 USD direct from Lego - More Information

Read Live Out Your Astronaut Dreams With Lego's Meter-Tall NASA Apollo Saturn V Rocket via Gizmodo


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Friday, May 12, 2017

$14 LinkIt BTLE/WiFi IoT Board via CNXSoft

Another IoT (Internet of Things) board to check out. Lots of features.

What are your favorite IoT boards and projects? I'm looking to collect and share as much information as possible as I work on my own IoT projects. -- Douglas



Mediatek Labs has launched a new IoT development, which on the surface looks similar to LinkIt Smart 7688 board, but the internal design is quite different as the MIPS processor and Linux OS, have been replaced by Mediatek MT7697 ARM Cortex-M4 processor running FreeRTOS, and beside WiFi, also includes support for Bluetooth 4.2 LE.

Read $14 LinkIt 7697 Bluetooth 4.2 LE and WiFi IoT Board is Powered by Mediatek MT7697 ARM Cortex-M4 MCU via CNXSoft – Embedded Systems News

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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Onion Pi makes your web traffic anonymous via Open Electronics

Hmmm, might be an easy (and relatively cheap) way to play around with Tor and learn a bit more about this anonymizing service. -- Douglas

Adafruit’s Onion Pi is a Tor proxy that makes your web traffic anonymous, allowing you to use the internet free of snoopers and any kind of surveillance. Follow Adafruit’s tutorial on setting up Onion Pi and you’re on your way to a peaceful anonymous browsing experience.

Tor is an onion routing service – every internet packet goes through 3 layers of relays before going to your destination. This makes it much harder for the server you are accessing (or anyone snooping on your Internet use) to figure out who you are and where you are coming from.

Read Onion Pi makes your web traffic anonymous via Open Electronics


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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

ARRL :: Technical :: More Arduino Projects for Ham Radio via ARRL

Interested in combining the power of Arduino with the long running technology of HAM Radio? This book is a great place to get started. — Douglas

Arrl arduino book

Building on the success of Arduino for Ham Radio, this book — More Arduino Projects for Ham Radio — includes 15 completely new practical and functional Arduino projects for the ham shack. This time, we branch out to use some of the newer Arduino variants and devices. Each project is complete and functional as-is, but room has been left for you to add personal touches and enhancements. That’s part of the fun of the Arduino and Open Source communities — building on the work of others, and then sharing your designs and innovations for others to learn, modify, and improve.

More Arduino Projects for Ham Radio starts by building a solid foundation through descriptions of the many new Arduino boards and add-on components, followed by a collection of practical ham radio-related projects that showcase a wide variety of applications. There is something here for everyone.

Read ARRL :: Technical :: More Arduino Projects for Ham Radio via Home


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Tuesday, May 09, 2017

MintyPi 2.0 is one of the coolest 3D printed Pi mods via Open Electronics

I am amazed -- day after day — with the cool things being done with Raspberry Pi computers. This project uses an empty Altoid tin (favorite recycled item of the makerspace set), 3D Printed enclosures and a Raspberry Pi Zero to make and ersatz Gameboy (and more). A great build as well as and interesting toy to play with after you build it. — Douglas

3D printing enthusiast Sudomod has just validated the elaborate and undeniably stylish Altoids mint tin via one slick Raspberry Pi project: the mintyPi 2.0.With the help of some precisely modeled 3D printed parts, the maker has managed to turn an empty Altoids tin into a fully functioning Raspberry Pi game console.

The outcome is an absolutely cool and handsome mini game console.

Read MintyPi 2.0 is one of the coolest 3D printed Pi mods via Open Electronics


Learn more about Raspberry Pi

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Monday, May 08, 2017

The Old Computer Museum is a portal to the captivating past of vintage tech via The Next Web

It is amazing (and a bit concerning) how many of these old computer systems I remember — and actually used. I spent some time the other night browsing through this with my 19-year-old son just to show him what the “state of the art” was in computers and technology when I got started. — Douglas

Read The Old Computer Museum is a portal to the captivating past of vintage tech via The Next Web


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Friday, May 05, 2017

10 new free fonts for 2017 via Creative Bloq

I admit it. I’m a font junky. I have more fonts than I know what to do with, but here are 10 more to check out. — Douglas

Everyone loves a freebie. But there are so many new free fonts being released nowadays, it can be hard to keep track of them all. 
To help you out, we’ve rounded up 10 of our favourite new free fonts of 2017 so far. But if none of these float your boat, check out our list of free font resources and you’re sure to find what you’re looking for.

Read 10 new free fonts for 2017 via Creative Bloq


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Thursday, May 04, 2017

How to Make a Unique ISS Notification Pin via Internet of Things – Adafruit Industries

A great project that makes the unseen — seen. I love projects like this as they reveal something that can’t easily be seen in real time or real space. I would imagine you could use this project as a base for many other projects, too. — Douglas

Iss

How to Make a Unique ISS Notification Pin via Internet of Things – Adafruit Industries


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Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Google Earth Gets a Huge Redesign with Guided Tours, 3D View, and More via Lifehacker

I love poking around in Google Earth, both to re-visit places I have been and also to explore places I might never visit. — Douglas

Google Earth Gets a Huge Redesign with Guided Tours, 3D View, and More via Lifehacker

Google pushed out a big update to Google Earth for Chrome and Android today. Alongside a snazzy new look, the new version adds guided tours, 3D maps, a random button, and lots more.

Read Google Earth Gets a Huge Redesign with Guided Tours, 3D View, and More via Lifehacker


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Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Emulate the Golden Age of the Macintosh Thanks to the Internet Archive via Kotaku

I remember these days. In college I was able to use one of the first 128K Macs although I was mainly an Apple II user at the time. In 1989 I purchased my first Mac Plus and I have been mainly a Mac user since then. This brings back some memories both pleasant and not of those times. (LAUGH) — Douglas

Mac history

Along with its duties of maintaining copies of important news, literature, scientific information, and old MySpace pages, the Internet Archive also loves to create emulations for you to fiddle with inside your browser. Today, the lovable non-profit organization has made it easy for you to relive the glory years of the early Macintosh like it’s 1985 all over again.

There’s something about the black and white interface of the original Macintosh computers that’s timeless. Sure, it might remind people of the Reagan-era but it is such a pleasing design that one could easily imagine it being a minimalist OS mod for people who want to simplify their user experience. Diving into the Internet Archive’s new collection of early Mac emulators gives the user a chance to see what it would be like to use that old OS with modern hardware.

Read Emulate the Golden Age of the Macintosh Thanks to the Internet Archive via Kotaku


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Monday, May 01, 2017

How an LED Works via Today I Found Out

Learning is an amazing thing. I try to learn something new everyday on the “Today I Found Out” web site and YouTube Channel are a great way to do that. While I understood some of the basics of how LEDs work, this article provides an in-depth analysis of all the complicated things that go on inside and LED even though it seems simple on the surface. Dive into the inner workings of the LED and more on this excellent web site. — Douglas

Today I found out how an LED works.  An LED or “Light Emitting Diode” is basically as the name describes; it is a special type of diode that is specifically optimized to give off light, usually in the visual or infrared spectrum, as electricity is passed through it.

A diode is a special type of semiconductor that has many uses.  One of the principle uses though is to control the direction of the flow of electricity.  The most common type of diode does this by using something called “p-n junctions”.  This is just a fancy way of saying “magic”. 😉

Read How an LED Works via Today I Found Out


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Sunday, April 30, 2017

Filament Friday: Refil PET Helps Divert Plastic Bottles from Landfills via Make

Always looking for creative ways to reduce, reuse and recycle, this PET filament gives a little green to your prints -- in more ways than one. -- Douglas

For our first Filament Friday, I brought you Refil’s Recycled ABS filament, an alternative to buying first-use plastics and creating more plastic waste with your 3D printing adventures. This week I’m back with another filament from Refil, their recycled PET. While not 100% recycled, this is a great use for some of the millions of plastic bottles we throw away every year.

Read Filament Friday: Refil PET Helps Divert Plastic Bottles from Landfills via Make


For our first Filament Friday, I brought you Refil’s Recycled ABS filament, an alternative to buying first-use plastics and creating more plastic waste with your 3D printing adventures. This week I’m back with another filament from Refil, their recycled PET. While not 100% recycled, this is a great use for some of the millions of plastic bottles we throw away every year.


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Saturday, April 29, 2017

US government blind to workplace automation, study warns via Factor

We, as fallible human beings, are not very good at predicting the future. We get just as much wrong as we do right. For myself, I always us the phrase that “The Future (or any particular technology) will never be as good as we might wish or as bad as we might fear.” Nature tends towards balance and I believe that is true of life and technology, too.

That said, I think the impact of robotics — and coming AI — will be quite dramatic. Perhaps not as bad as we might fear, but there will be significant disruption across the board. To ignore this seem the height of folly and points out one of my on-going issues with government in general. Too many of our political representatives are simply too old to understand the technology of the day AND, even worse, they don’t seem to seek out the knowledge of others to help them understand it. Instead, they constantly try to use old tools to address new issues. This is true to privacy, true for copyright, true for freedom of speech and many other issues. In many cases, these people are legislating something that they simply to not understand, with the expected horrible results. Government, like life itself, must enter the 21st Century and understand that every new technology has the potential to change our world in dramatic ways and these technologies should be studied and addressed at all levels. — Douglas

US government blind to workplace automation, study warns via Factor

Read US government blind to workplace automation, study warns via Factor



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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Getting Started with Micro:bit, Episode 1 via SparkFun Electronics Blog Posts

The Micro:bit was given to every UK 6th grader last year and now it is available here in the US. This is an amazingly function single board computer and there are already quite a few projects, lessons and tutorials available online to get you (and your kids) started. — Douglas

One of the coolest features of the micro:bit is its ability to be programmed with a number of languages:

Microsoft MakeCode block editor — Similar to Scratch and Blockly, users can drag and drop blocks to create programs. Teachers, especially, have experienced success using block-based programming languages in schools and clubs, including elementary schools.

JavaScript — As it turns out, the block editor in MakeCode is interpreted to JavaScript on the back end. If you click “JavaScript” at the top of the page in MakeCode, you can see and edit the JavaScript version of your program.

MicroPython — MicroPython is a subset of the Python language and was developed specifically for microcontrollers. If you’re not a fan of online editors, I’ve had success with the mu editor for creating MicroPython programs.

C++ — The micro:bit is mbed-enabled, which means programs are compiled to a .hex file that you copy and paste into the root directory of the micro:bit, which enumerates as a mass storage device on your computer. It’s a pretty seamless and slick process, and if you want to get your hands dirty with C++, you can use the mbed “Compiler” editor to write code for the micro:bit.

The micro:bit was built for the classroom, and teachers have seen some success using the board in their classes. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not fun for nonstudents. It’s packed with sensors and features that make building projects engaging and straightforward.

Read Getting Started with Micro:bit, Episode 1 via SparkFun Electronics Blog Posts


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