Microduino mCookie Brings LEGO to Life @ CES 2016

CES 2016: Microduino’s booth at CES this year, instantly caught my attention due to the colourful models and intriguing concept. The company produces tiny, stackable Arduino modules which are held together by strong magnets. The circuit boards contain raised plastic studs to connect to LEGO pieces and add a whole new dimension to your existing build projects. On another note, each module adopts open source technology and colour coded to distinguish between the functionality of each unit.

It’s remarkably easy to add Bluetooth, WiFi, various sensor hubs, GPS, audio functionality, battery management and even USB. This makes it a fantastic platform for developers or modders looking to create something unique. The devices have the ability to be programmed using Arduino IDE software which greatly enhances the unit’s flexibility.

In terms of pricing, you can purchase a basic tutorial kit for $25 all the way up to a 301-piece expert kit costing $299.99. The company has also started to sell individual modules to help finish a complex project or acquire the parts to create a production line. The hardware on show here helps make people’s creativity flourish and should encourage youngsters to learn more about programming.


Engineer Builds Working Thor’s Hammer

You can’t beat a good practical joke, and this one is certainly one of my favourites. An engineer has built a working thor’s hammer, but of course, it’s not really as magical (sorry) as the one from the comics/movies. The legendary hammer Mjolnir is known to only be wielded by the worthy and if it does not deem you worthy, then you simply cannot pick it up.

Allen Pan from the Sufficienly Advanced YouTube channel decided to create his own working replica and take it on the streets to troll the unsuspecting public. The hammer uses a very powerful electromagnet taken from a microwave oven and some batteries. When placed on a metal surface, it would take the force of The Hulk to remove the thing, or of course, it’s creator. The handle of the device is fitted with a thumbprint scanner, an Arduino Pro Mini and a solid state relay, which allows Allen to turn the magnet off, allowing him to reign supreme and lift the mighty Mjolnir into the air.

It’s a simple trick, but a fun one none the less, because who wouldn’t want to have their own Thor’s Hammer to make them look super strong! It’s just a shame he can’t use it to fly or summon lightning.

Guy Makes Device Which Can Open Combination Locks in a Matter of Seconds

Not really what you were looking to hear if you have a locker at work or school that relies on combination locks to keep people from snooping through your personal belongings, huh? Well, someone was bound to do something like this sooner or later and it’s not like combination locks were the best security option on the planet anyway.

This new high-tech process looks to follow the manual process used by experienced crackers, but drastically reducing the process with the help of computerized algorithms. The device is made out of a stepper motor, a servo motor, a 3D printed harness and an Adruino to help with the AI/computerized side of things.

But now to the real question… how useful is the process? Well, not that useful. Experienced crackers can open these type of locks in a matter of seconds too (not as fast as a robot, but pretty fast nonetheless). So that’s why combination locks are made to keep out nosy people from snooping through your personal stuff and not keep your family values safe.

Still, this can be useful when you really have no experience and desire to learn how to crack these things and want to prank your friends. You can watch the video below to see how it is made and tested.

Thank you TechCrunch for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of Amazon

Intel Edison Platform Has Started Shipping

The Internet of Things is expected to be the next big technology revolution, with more than 50 billion connected devices by 2020, and Intel wants to be part of this. In their keynote speech during IDF 2014, they announced that the new Intel Edison developer platform has finally started shipping. We first heard about Edison during CES in January and many people have been waiting to get their hands on this tiny device ever since, hobby builder and Internet of Things developers alike.

The Intel Edison is what you could call small form-factor with its 35.5 x 25 x 3.9 mm size; about the size of a stamp or SD card. That didn’t hold Intel back from packing it full of power, featuring a Dual-Core Silvermont Atom processor running at 500 MHz with support from a Quark processor running at 100 MHz. It has 1 GB DDR3 memory in a 2 x 32 bit configuration and 4 GB eMMC storage. The WiFi capabilities don’t lack either with 2.4/5 GHz dual-band 802.11 a/b/g/n W-Lan and Bluetooth 4.0 powered by the Broadcom 43340 controller.

It is a somewhat odd pairing of the two CPU’s, but it should work well. The Atom takes care of all the main tasks of the SoC while the Quark serves as an embedded micro-controller responsible for running other side-tasks. The entire Edison board can be used as it is or attached to additional developer boards and is compatible to the current Arduino ecosystem.

As for pricing, it doesn’t come in as cheap as the Raspberry Pi and you’ll have to shell out $50 for the Edison module. If you’d like the breakout board kit it will be another $10, making it $60 total. The Arduino kit will costs $85, which is probably the most interesting combination for aspiring developers.

Thank you endgadget for providing us with this information

Images courtesy of Intel

Dad Builds Gloves to Teach His Kids Proper Typing Skills

David Schneider was a bit bothered by his kids typing skills and decided to do something against it. Not that they couldn’t type fast, but it was hectic and inefficient. He decided to fix this himself and did so by building haptic gloves to teach them.

David got the inspiration for his gloves from Thad Starner’s gloves that could teach the wearer to play Beethoven. These might not be as fascinating as his model, but the results still speak for themselves. The gloves were created by sewing miniature vibrating motors into a pair of cycling gloves, one for each finger and then controlling them with an Arduino nano.

[youtube width=”800″ height=”500″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZKo2RqXKr4[/youtube]

The Arduino nano (ATmega168) controls the eight vibrating motors and each one has the corresponding letters assigned. For example if an A was required, the motor for the left pinky would be activated. The software part is combination of Tkinter to make the interface and python fr the rest of the code. So far his software is fairly simple and just uses the 100 most common words form the English language.

He also got his wife to record the words as audio and that is played along with a show of the word to type in 64 point red typeface, one letter at a time. At the same time the Arduino board activates the corresponding motor and the user learns what finger to use for what key. The application has the option for variable speed, can skip words and also gives feedback on the entered letters in 64 point red typeface.

David reveals that the tool works very well to help teach his children, but will look to install a game of sorts in the future. “I’ve not yet figured out the particulars, but somehow I’ll have to add motivational timers, badges, health points, and bright, flashing ‘game over’ blinkers if I want my 11-year-old to benefit from my high-tech typing tutor.”

It doesn’t take much besides some ingenuity any more, and of curse an Arduino board, to create some relative simple and useful toys as well as learning tools. The more of these simple things I see, the more I need to get myself a couple of these to play around with.

Thank you ieee.org for providing us with this information

Images courtesy of ieee.org.

NES in a Cartridge

I’ve seen many console mods, specially those by Ben Hecks, but this one hits a special awesome factor. A full NES system in a NES Cartridge, it’s almost cannibalism. However that is just what Daniel Hankewycz has done, he even posted a complete build guide on-line so you can do it yourself.


The key to this system is the NES On A Chip (NOAC) that basically gives you an entire NES on just a single chip. The NOAC includes a 60pin famicom game port that can easily be converted to a 72 pin NES game port. It’s almost obvious to create this mod.

There were quite a few components involved in building this mod, but not as many as you might think. The major components are a Power Player Unit for the chip, some NES spare parts, an ATmega168 Arduino chip as well as some basic wires and chips. Daniel originally got the idea from Kotomi’s build, but wanted to make it a full NES including original controllers.

The project was rushed a little bit due to a deadline on a contest, but the results are still amazing and it is one cool mod. Daniel is quiet the young builder, but the talent is clear. The description in his twitter profile reads “I like making stuff…” and I think we will see many more amazing things from him in the future.

Thank you Instructables for providing us with this information

Images and video courtesy of Instructables

Awesome Dad Builds Advanced NASA Simulator For His Kids

I thought I was doing quite well this year by building my son his first gaming PC… and I am, but this guy is making other dads look bad with his incredibly NASA simulator which he built for his children.

As you can see in the video below the project includes a shuttle, mission control and even a satellite deployment system with authentic controls, sounds, the thing even shakes when more intensive systems are running. The whole thing is operated by over a hundred switches through multiple control panels, hundreds of LED lights, an Arduino controller and a Raspberry Pi computer. There is even a space to mount a smartphone to play back real NASA footage and expand the rig with extra features, a payload deployment arm and a whole lot more.

The whole thing is impressive and I don’t doubt for a minute that he’s not had a lot of fun playing with this setup himself when the kids aren’t around… actually wouldn’t mind a go myself. A great idea with flawless execution.

[youtube width=”800″ height=”450″]http://youtu.be/hfY-SlC2XHc[/youtube]

Thank you Slate for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Slate.

Microsoft and Intel Release ‘Sharks Cove’, a Windows-based Microcomputer

Arduino and Raspberry Pi have apparently inspired everyone, including big name companies such as Microsoft. The corporate giant along with Intel and CircuitCo are said to have been working on their own little development board.

The outcome of their work is said to be a $300 / £176 board dubbed “Sharks Cove”, which is now available for pre-order. It is said to boast Intel’s Quad-Core Atom Z3735G clocked at 1.33 GHz and having a turbo speed of 1.83 GHz, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of storage space and a MicroSD card slot.

The board is said to be dedicated towards development of software and drivers for mobile devices that run on the Windows operating system. Devices such as smartphones, tablets and similar SoC might now have a small microcomputer building their new apps.

“At $299, this is a board that we believe will find a home with Independent Hardware Vendors (IHVs) and hardware enthusiasts alike. That price not only covers the cost of the hardware but also includes a Windows 8.1 image and the utilities necessary to apply it to the Sharks Cove. When you additionally consider that the Windows Driver Kit 8.1 can pair with Visual Studio Express and are both free with a valid MSDN account, the initial outlay for Windows driver developers is a lot less cost prohibitive than it once was.”

With all the excitement, did Microsoft and Intel ever consider the price? Coming in at $300, it is significantly more expensive than Raspberry Pi’s $35 / £20 board or BeagleBone Black’s $55 / £32 board. Even Intel-based MinnowBoard, compatible with both Linux and Android, is available on the market for just $99 / £58.

“The primary target usage of the Sharks Cove board is for development of subsystems for Intel Atom based Tablets and Mobile devices, but this development board can be used for any Windows or Android based system which uses the Atom processor,” cited on the Sharks Cove website.

While Microsoft, Intel and CircuitCo await for that audience, Raspberry Pi and Arduino will still be the primary choice for developers. The microcomputer might be a nice addition for Windows Phone developers, however a $300 price tag does tend to change your mind sometimes.

Thank you Wired for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Wired

3D Printed Moving and Tracking Portal Turret is Full of Win

Got a 3D printer and a few basic electronic components at your disposal? Then good news, you too can build your own motion tracking Portal gun turret, and lets be honest, why wouldn’t you want to do this!

Using 3D printed body panels, an Arduino for the movement and light, and a PC to process video from the built in webcam which decides not only where the turret needs to aim, but also the sound effects.

Without a PC connected, the turret because remote controlled, allowing you to use a joy stick and aim it manually. I wish I had the skills to do something similar, perhaps even equip it with a Nerf gun for maximum effect.

[youtube width=”800″ height=”450″]http://youtu.be/5j91KnYdpp8[/youtube]

Thank you Instructables for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Instructables.

Raspberry Pi Sim Card Add-On Provides Mobile Connectivity

The Raspberry Pi has been one of the most versatile and popular little mini computers of recent times. The Raspberry Pi has spawned a whole generator of small form factor ARM System boards, many of which are actually better than the Raspberry Pi itself. That said the reputation of Raspberry Pi is so strong that people continue to develop new innovations for it, the latest is a Sim Card add-on module.

The draft KickStarter project is aiming to create the “SparqEE CELLL v1.0” add on which allows for Cellular connectivity. The goal is to develop a Cellular add-on board for the Rasperry Pi and Arduino system boards. The kit will provide a cellular module, USB power cable and all the cables needed to get going. It will allow you to connect to a mobile network providing you have a valid SIM with data access.

The project aims to raise $70,000 to get going. The price for a development kit will be $69 for the first 100 plus $10 shipping outside the USA. After those have sold the price will then become $79 plus the same $10 shipping outside the USA. Considering the Raspberry Pi is cheaper than that it could have a tough time swaying some people. Would you spend $70 to get your Raspberry Pi mobile internet connectivity?

Image courtesy of SparqEE (Kickstarter)T