National Maker Week (June 16 – June 22)

June 21, 2017

 

This week is being celebrated as the National Week of Making by Nation of Makers – a nonprofit dedicated towards supporting the maker movement in the United States.

When the new administration took charge of the White House in January 2017, they took down all pages related to the maker movement in the United States. It is not known whether these pages would be restored in the near future. I learned this from watching Adafruit’s Show and Tell and I also learned that Nation of Makers decided to take lead on driving the maker movement.

They are encouraging makerspaces to conduct maker townhall events by offering grants to them. I promised myself to celebrate this week by building something useful (another blog post coming soon!).

I also wanted to share some interesting news to celebrate this week. Digi-Key and Adafruit announced that they will be donating a Circuit Playground to Girls Who Code for every Circuit Playground sold on their website. Check it out!

I also recommend checking out this week’s Ask an Engineer episode from Adafruit (shared below). Happy Making!


You can now use Google’s AI to add voice commands to your Raspberry Pi – The Verge

May 4, 2017

Google has released hardware that enables to interact with your Raspberry Pi 3 using Google’s Cloud Speech API. Check it out!

Source: You can now use Google’s AI to add voice commands to your Raspberry Pi – The Verge


Webinar on IPv6 over BLE

April 24, 2017

Design News is conducting a webinar on Implementing an IPv6 network using Bluetooth Low Energy devices (BLE) and a Raspberry Pi. The webinar runs for 5 days for 30 minutes. The webinar demonstrates the implementation using a Raspberry Pi 3.

It appears that this following development kit is necessary to follow along with the webinar. I will share my experience after watching all the webinars. The webinars are recorded for posterity.


Raspberry Pi Gets a Wireless Add-On for Mobile IoT Apps

April 21, 2017

Source: Raspberry Pi Gets a Wireless Add-On for Mobile IoT Apps


Jaguarboard – Yet another (not so impressive) SBC

December 29, 2015

I usually back Kickstarter projects(in the DIY electronics domain) that peek my interest. I recently backed the Pine A64, UP and the Latte Panda boards but the Jaguarboard is not one of them.

I usually look for a cool feature that would enable me to build a cool project using the backer reward. For e.g. The Latte Panda comes with onboard Wi-Fi/Bluetooth. It has an ATmega32U4 microcontroller that enables easier interface of sensors.

The Jaguarboard failed to impress me for a couple of reasons:

  1. Lack of sufficient GPIO count – They provide access to only 4 GPIO pins. I usually make use of more than 4 GPIO pins in my projects. However, it does come with an I²C port which could be used to expand the GPIO capabilities.
  2. Incompatible with the Raspberry Pi/Arduino add-on boards – It is not possible to port Raspberry Pi/Arduino projects that makes use of an add-on board to the JaguarBoard platform. It also doesn’t make sense developing expansion modules for the JaguarBoard as the lack of a broad user base is a distinct possibility.
  3. Comparison of specs on the campaign page – The campaign creators have compared the specifications of the board to the Raspberry Pi Model 1 rather than Model 2. The Raspberry Pi Model 2 comes with 1 GB RAM while Model 1 comes with 512 MB RAM. I think that is not a fair comparison.
  4. Unrealistic campaign schedule – In my opinion, the promised delivery date of the board is a tad unrealistic. They promised to deliver the boards by January 2016. The Kickstarter campaign itself ends only on January 22, 2016. As far as I know, Kickstarter takes at least 10 days to transfer the campaign money to your pocket. This puts the campaign roughly in the first week of February. Unless the campaign creators, plan to ship the boards using money out of their pocket, this is not possible.

They also have not released any planned timeline of the project. This is possible only if they already have a stash of boards manufactured, packed and stored in a warehouse.

In summary, I am not impressed by the JaguarBoard Kickstarter campaign.

 


Digikey is selling a red Adafruit Metro!

December 28, 2015

I came across this tweet from DigiKey announcing a red colored Adafruit Metro.

What is the Adafruit Metro?

The Adafruit Metro is a variant of the Arduino Uno. It is enabled by an Atmega328 microcontroller. The main distinction between the Metro and the Uno is the chipset used for the virtual COM port. While the UNO makes use of an Atmega16 family microcontroller for the USB interface, the Metro makes use of the FT231X chipset.

I liked the red color and ordered a unit for myself. The rear side of the PCB contains the Adafruit Metro’s BOM from DigiKey.

At the time of writing this post, the special edition Metro was still in stock @ DigiKey. The packaging gave me the impression that the board could have been possibly manufactured by Adafruit on behalf of DigiKey.


Home Depot is simplifying shopping using connected devices!

December 23, 2015

I have been frantically printing ornaments for the Christmas tree using my new M3D printer (my review of the M3D coming soon). The incessant printing clogged my printer yesterday and I needed a steel wire to unclog the extruder.

I checked the availability of a steel wire at the nearest Home Depot using their website. Apart from providing the availability information at a particular store, Home Depot also provides information related to the aisle where the steel wire is located. I was surprised to find additional information including the ‘bay’ where I could find this steel wire. The site also has provisions to text this info to someone.

 

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Location of the item inside the store

I was not sure about locating the item at that particular aisle using the bay information. It turns out Home Depot has started labeling different sections/bays of an aisle using numbers.

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Bay Numbers at Home Depot

Home Depot is probably maintaining its inventory at all stores using RFID readers, bar code scanners etc for a while now.

I am glad that they have started helping their customers by providing more resolution to the location of an item in a store than merely stating that “Item X is available at your local store”.

At this year’s ARM TechCon keynote sessions, one of the speakers noted that we are past the era of designing variations of connected sensors. He pointed out that companies have started directing their focus towards enforcing behavior change using connected devices.

It is interesting to learn that stores like Home Depot have already started helping their customers save time by sharing more information about their products using their existing infrastructure of connected sensors.

I am certain that Home Depot has invested in some user experience research to improve their web store shopping experience (for e.g. Paypal integration, text messaging option on the item’s web page) as well as enhance the shopping experience using their current infrastructure of inventory scanners.

Way to go Home Depot!