Wednesday, June 18, 2014

This And That: June 18 Grab Bag

Way too late at night for this tired person to start writing a blog post, so tonight will just be a smattering of random microcontroller related topics. Might follow up in depth on one or two of them after I have a chance to research  them a bit.

#1 This:  Today, June 18, was officially declared a National Day of Making, and the White House hosted a Maker Faire. I'm not much for political speeches, but as a maker and technology advocate, I thought President Obama's talk (see the video on the White House blog) was worth listening to. The White House blog post mentioned that:
"At the first-ever White House Maker Faire, the President also announced a host of new steps to spur manufacturing, innovation, and entrepreneurship by increasing the ability of more Americans, young and old, to have
3D Printed Pancake President At White House Maker Faire
access to tools and techniques that can bring their ideas to life."
We'll have to take some time to look at the 'host of new steps' announced by the President to see if any of them can help build the Humboldt Microcontrollers community, as well as the larger Humboldt Makers community. Maybe we should consider a group project to build a 3D pancake printer. Apparently they printed a pancake portrait of President Obama today at the White House Maker Faire. (See previous blog post about building a 3D pancake printer with Arduinos.)

Raspberry Pi with Wolfson audio
#1 That:  A Raspberry Pi is a single-board computer (SBC), not a microcontroller, but I found out tonight that there are use cases where distributed systems of multiple Arduinos are connected up to a Raspberry Pi. Ed Smith was discussing that after the Humboldt Makers Group monthly meeting tonight. John Hauser did an excellent overview and demonstration of Raspberry Pies (more than one Raspberry Pi :) at the Humboldt Maker meeting. We had a dozen people at the meeting who learned lots about the Pi and music, as well as a bunch of tips, tricks and watch-outs when working with the Pi.

#2 This: A interesting article on TweakTown reviewed the AdaFruit Neopixel. I wrote a blog post about LEDs earlier in June, and the Neopixel looks like something work researching more deeply. The
TweakTown article's conclusion was:
"Overall, when you compare the Neopixel strips with the cheap Chinese LED strips I have purchased on eBay in the past, the Neopixel blows them out of the water. This is the first strip of individually addressable RGB LEDs that I have actually gotten up and running within five minutes of opening the package...At the end of the day, I cannot recommend Neopixels from Adafruit enough. They are simple enough for even the most novice maker to get up and running, and for the advanced maker, the sky is the limit on what you can do with Neopixels."
#2 That:  Last item for tonight is the recent article about OpenSprinkler Bee Arduino Shield. Because of the high interest in the Humboldt region about organic gardening, local foods and similar topics, the OpenSprinkler Bee might be useful for one or several project this summer. It could even be part of a workshop on 'enhanced gardening.' The article points out that the OpenSprinkler Bee is:
"an open-source Arduino shield for battery-operated (latching solenoid) sprinkler valves. Ideal for projects that are designed to be used in the garden, lawn watering, flower and plant irrigation, together with other water based applications...“The main difference is that OSBee is designed to work with battery-operated sprinkler valves. These valves internally use a latching solenoid, which only draws power when you open or close the valve, and does not draw power if it remains in the same state. So it’s very efficient and suitable for battery-operated controllers."
The Neopixel and OpenSprinkler Bee are likely to be discussed in future posts that look at them in more detail.


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