Video profile of co-creator of Arduino, Massimo Banzi

The Braun Lectron was an electronics kit designed in the 1970s by Dieter Rams, whose minimalist aesthetic was hugely influential to Steve Jobs and Jonny Ives. The Lectron was also Arduino co-creator Massimo Banzi’s “Rosebud.” It not only got him interested in electronics, it also shaped his ideas about design. This fascinating 20-minute documentary about Arduino was produced by Wired Italy. It’s in Italian but is subtitled in English.

Open source, sonar-controlled vibrator you play like a theremin, with your whole body

Scanlime's Beth modded a remote control vibrator, replacing the interface with an Arduino-based sonar controller that she can activate with any part of her body, playing it like a theremin. The result is pretty cool -- it "closes the feedback loop" between the vibrator's intensity and the user's physical response. The post includes a detailed technical breakdown of the reverse-engineering steps that she used to work out how to hijack the control mechanism, and the steps that went into building the remote, including a 3D printed chassis. The plans are open source hardware (CC-BY-SA), and posted to Github.

This toy serves as a kind of analog bridge between two remote spaces: the column of ultrasonically-oscillating air in front of the remote, and whatever body part happens to be in contact with the vibrator. Touch that invisible space above the remote, and the vibrator touches you.

In fact, it does start to feel like there’s a palpable object in space above the remote’s sensors. Move your body close to it, and it reacts. Press into it lightly, or tease the edges. Flick your hand through it, or make graceful waves back and forth. You can use your whole body to touch it, almost like a big fuzzy vibrating cone floating in air.

If the sensor can see your body’s rhythms, it responds in kind, effortlessly synchronizing to its frequency. This is exactly the sort of closed-loop control I was after.

Hacking My Vagina (via Reddit)

Keyboard made from beer-cans

Here's a cute way to gimmick a keyboard out of a grid of beercans, using Raspberry Pis and Arduinos:

We did this at Webstock, event which took place in Bucharest in September. Staropramen, one of the sponsors of the event asked us for an innovative way to offer a trip to Prague to one of the event's guests.

So, we came up with a keyboard made out of 44 Staropramen beer cans. Each beer can was a key, and whenever someone touched it, the corresponding letter appeared on a large plasma screen (just like any regular computer keyboard).

And the surprise was fantastic! The user experience and engagement overcame any expectation. Every single person who attended Webstock tried the keyboard and participated to the contest.

Behind the scene, the system is built around an Arduino board and a few capacitive controllers (just like the ones which are inside smartphones' touch screens), connected to a Raspberry PI board which controls the plasma screen display.

The Beer Cans Keyboard Movie (via Hacker News)

Electromagnetic Field: a UK geek/maker/hacker weekend campout

Jonty sez,

Electromagnetic Field is a three day camping festival for hackers, geeks, scientists, engineers, artists, and crafters. From the 31st August to the 2nd September we'll be taking over a field in Milton Keynes and turning it into a place for makers and breakers to meet, build and learn from each other.

Throughout the event there will be talks and workshops on a huge variety of things, from gene therapy to welding, lock picking to electronics, DNSSEC to drones, and crocheting to carpentry. The camp is fully equipped with power and internet to every tent, and each attendee receives an Arduino-compatible wireless camp badge to hack on. We are encouraging people to set up campsites with friends, and we'd like to offer a limited number of discount tickets to Boing Boing readers!

Electromagnetic Field (Thanks, Jonty!)

Makie doll with expressive animal ears

Katsideswide has modded her alpha-version Makie doll with a pair of expressive animal ears. She drilled holes in the head of her custom, 3D printed dolls, used the head-cavity to house a controller, and went to town.

Ok, i've just started tinkering around with some tiny servos to get Suekat expressing herself. I'm yet to get the drill out to perform amateur surgery on her skullcap but I'm hoping the results will be exciting! I don't want to promise anything yet but I've hooked up an arduino pro mini, and the conveniently sized head cavity means I think i can get a fair amount in there. It looks like there's a handy hole in the neck leading to what looks suspiciously like a space for a battery in Suekat's back. Unfortunately I can't get a standard 9V battery into the space! It's a fraction too small. I was wondering what battery it was designed for? And if there's any chance I can get 9V out of it?


(Disclosure: I'm proud to say that my wife co-founded MakieLab, manufacturers of the Makie dolls)

HOWTO open an electronic hotel-room lock without a key

Cody Brocious -- a Mozilla dev and security researcher -- presented a paper on a vulnerability in hotel-door locks last month at Black Hat. Many electronic hotel door-locks made by Onity have a small DC power-port that also supplies data beneath them. Brocious showed that if he plugs an Arduino into these locks, reads out the 24-bit number sitting there, and re-transmits it to them, some appreciable fraction of them (but not all of them) spring open.

Testing a standard Onity lock he ordered online, he’s able to easily bypass the card reader and trigger the opening mechanism every time. But on three Onity locks installed on real hotel doors he and I tested at well-known independent and franchise hotels in New York, results were much more mixed: Only one of the three opened, and even that one only worked on the second try, with Brocious taking a break to tweak his software between tests.

Even with an unreliable method, however, Brocious’s work–and his ability to open one out of the three doors we tested without a key–suggests real flaws in Onity’s security architecture. And Brocious says he plans to release all his research in a paper as well as source code through his website following his talk, potentially enabling others to perfect his methods.

Brocious’s exploit works by spoofing a portable programming device that hotel staff use to control a facility’s locks and set which master keys open which doors. The portable programmer, which plugs into the DC port under the locks, can also open any door, even providing power through that port to trigger the mechanism of a door lock in which the battery has run out.

Hacker Will Expose Potential Security Flaw In Four Million Hotel Room Keycard Locks

Massimo Banzi: How Arduino is open-sourcing imagination at TEDGlobal 2012

Massimo Banzi is the co-creator of the popular electronics prototyping system called Arduino. He spoke at TEDGlobal 2012 about the cool things people are making with Arduino.

Massimo Banzi helped invent the Arduino, a tiny, easy-to-use open-source microcontroller that's inspired thousands of people around the world to make the coolest things they can imagine -- from toys to satellite gear. Because, as he says, "You don't need anyone's permission to make something great."

Massimo Banzi co-founded Arduino, which makes affordable open-source microcontrollers for interactive projects, from art installations to an automatic plant waterer.

Massimo Banzi: How Arduino is open-sourcing imagination at TEDGlobal 2012

Modkit: a simple graphical programming system for Arduinos and other microcontrollers

Alexandra sez, "I'm writing to tell you about Modkit, a new interface for microcontrollers like Arduino. Modkit uses a graphical programming language based on the kids' programming language, Scratch. To write an Arduino program, you simply snap little blocks of code together. Basically, I think Modkit will make microcontrollers accessible to a much wider audience (younger, less tech-savvy, etc.). Modkit also has a lot of other cool features, like automatic hardware detection, both an in-browser and desktop version, and lots of supported hardware. They're running a Kickstarter campaign right now, so I thought I would pass along their website!"

(Thanks, Alexandra!)

The stunning packaging design for Arduino products


MassimoOne the highlights of Maker Faire for me was meeting Massimo Banzi, the co-founder of the Arduino project. He's very friendly and we had a nice time talking about design. I also enjoyed meeting Luisa Castiglioni, his girlfriend. She's a writer for a number of design magazines, including Domus. (Here's an article she wrote for Domus about makers in the Italian design world.)

Massimo brought with him to Maker Faire samples of the new packaging for Arduino's line of products, and they are beautiful. There were designed by Todo studio, which is run by Giorgio Olivero. Massimo was Giorgio's professor at the Interaction Design Institute in Ivrea, Italy.

Take a look at Todo's photo gallery of Arduino packaging.

The cool new thing with tweens? Sewing.

Fourteen-year-old Luna Ito-Fisher started making her own clothes and accessories when she was nine, after attending a friend’s birthday party at a sewing studio in LA.

Read the rest

HOWTO sneak an accelerometer-triggered Tardis sfx box into an elevator

The Sparkfun folks have a sweet recipe for building an Arduino-based, accelerometer-triggered Tardis sound-effects box into the ceiling of an elevator, noting that care must be taken not to freak out riders and precipitate a bomb-squad visit.

As it stands, the contraption works well enough (much like the TARDIS itself). But for those looking for perfection, there could be a few improvements. These are left as exercises for the reader:

Improve battery life using sleep mode. Right now the Arduino is on all the time, using about 20mA of current continuously. We’re got a pretty big battery attached to it (6000mAh), which gives it a lifetime of about a week, but the battery could last for months if the project went to sleep between playings. The Arduino can indeed be programmed to go to sleep, waiting for an interrupt signal (a pin changing state) to wake it up. And the ADXL345 accelerometer can be configured so that it sends an interrupt when an acceleration threshold is reached, so this shouldn't be difficult to do. In practice you can’t get down to microamps with a full Arduino board, since it will always be burning some current in the voltage regulator, power LED, etc. But with a bit of software and hardware hacking, sleep mode would definitely improve the lifetime situation.

Stop playing when the elevator stops. Currently, the TARDIS MP3 was edited so that it is approximately the length of an elevator ride, and the code plays the MP3 to the end before listening for further accelerometer bumps. But you could also end a longer MP3 when you detect that the elevator stops (or, since the MP3 chip has a volume control command, you could even fade it out!)

Bigger and better! Bigger speakers, disco lights and music, black lights... you can really go in any direction. Make us proud. But remember...

Elevator TARDIS (Thanks, Bruce!)

HOWTO make a fur-lined barbarian forearm bracer with a digital D&D dice-roller built in

The wizards at Sparkfun, an open source hardware company, show us how to make one of these spiffy furry barbarian leather arm-bracers with a charmingly anachronistic D&D dice-roller built into, built around a Lilypad soft Arduino controller.

I’ve got nothing but respect for the DIY/open source community who take conductive thread, LEDs, and Arduino boxes and make them into marvelous little working crafts. I find it all a bit above my metaphorical pay grade. However, if there was anything that was going to convince me to learn how to rig a circuit, it would be the project that Dia forwarded to us yesterday. ,p> It’s a fur-lined leather gauntlet that can roll 100, 20, 12, 10, 8, 6, and 4-sided dice with the flip of a switch and the shake of a forearm. It combines my love of tabletop with my desire to live in the future where we all poke our wrists to get things done.

Theoretically, there's a complete tutorial for this beauty, but it's 404 at the moment. The link below goes to The Mary Sue's writeup.

New Life Goal: Make a Leather Bracer that Rolls Dice

Arduino device mutes uninteresting celebrities on TV

Matt Richardson of MAKE built this wonderful Arduino device that scans a TV show's closed caption track and mutes the TV when anyone on of his celebrity-blacklist is mentioned.

The Enough Already: The Arduino Solution to Overexposed Celebs