The Raspberry Pi is a credit card sized Linux computer that costs about $30 (some versions are only $10). Because they are cheap, tiny, and versatile, they are an excellent basis for lots of different projects. Creative Projects with Raspberry Pi (out today!) by Kirsten Kearney and Will Freeman is loaded with build instructions, resources, and pointers to a bunch of cool projects: coffee roasters, weather stations, mobile phones, handheld gaming consoles -- 35 in all. The photos are big and clear, and the introduction at the beginning will get Raspberry newbies up to speed.
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Arduino is on open-source electronics prototyping platform that lets you make interactive stuff without having a degree in electrical engineering.
For about $(removed) you can buy a credit card sized circuit board that has input connections (for buttons, knobs, light sensors, microphones, humidity sensors, fart detectors, Internet signals, etc) and output connections (for servo motors, LEDs, buzzers, speakers, stepper motors, vibrators, etc). You write programs on your computer to tell the Arduino how to process the input signals and how to activate the output components. This program is uploaded to the Arduino's microprocessor, making it self-contained. Read the rest
The 555 timer integrated circuit was invented in 1971. Over a billion are made every year, because they are so versatile. Charles Platt wrote of the chip:
It has turned out to be the most successful chip in history, both in the number of units sold (tens of billions, and still counting) and the longevity of its design (fundamentally unchanged for almost forty years). Even now, about a billion 555s are manufactured each year.
In Make: Electronics, I decided to include the 555, because it remains so fundamental. It’s also a wonderful teaching tool, since it can be used in so many ways. If you want to build, say, a reaction timer, using a counter and a couple of logic chips, you’re going to run it with a 555 timer, and you may end up adding a couple more 555s to take care of functions such as delaying the start of the count and locking the display until a reset button is pressed. You can also run a 555 fast enough to generate audible tones, which can be incorporated into a burglar alarm, or you can use it in a combination lock. All three of these projects are included in the book.
Make magazine celebrated the 555 timer and its creator, Hans Camenzind, a few years ago when it featuring a 555 Week on its website.
555s are dirt cheap, too. Ebay sells 100 for $(removed).
Because the 555 is so fundamental electronics, people honor it by making giant size versions of it. Read the rest
Electronic Football is the only sportsball I've ever liked! This remake is pretty great!
The sounds, controls and rinky-dink electronic screen are back! I am sure I remember there being some kind of passing game in the original, but this running game kept me busy for an hour or so.
Relive the virtual excitement!
Classic Football Electronic Game via Amazon Read the rest
Nick from Adafruit writes, "The latest installment of Circuit Playground is here: the letter L.
Learn about how an LED works with Adabot and the Circuit Playground components." Read the rest
I'd not heard of Elektor magazine until today, when I came across this photo of the cover from a 1974 edition. I assumed it was fake. Everything about it seemed like it was created this year - the typeface, the names of the projects, the tagline ("up-to-date electronics for lab and leisure"). Someone has uploaded the issue in PDF format.
Such a groovy magazine!
Joint smoking transistors:
Elektor is still around, but the design is vastly different:
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Elektor is a monthly magazine about all aspects of electronics, first published as Elektuur in the Netherlands in 1960, and now published worldwide in many languages including English, German, Dutch, French, Greek, Spanish, Swedish, Portuguese (European and Brazilian) and Italian with distribution in over 50 countries. The English language edition of Elektor was launched in 1975 and is read worldwide.
Elektor publishes a vast range of electronic projects, background articles and designs aimed at engineers, enthusiasts, students and professionals. To help readers build featured projects, Elektor also offer PCBs (printed circuit boards) of many of their designs, as well as kits and modules. If the project employs a microcontroller and/or PC software, as is now often the case, Elektor normally supply the source code and files free of charge via their website. Most PCB artwork is also available from their website.
Poking a golden tortoise beetle ("goldbug") triggers the insect's color to change from gold to a red-orange. Inspired by the natural system underlying that insectoid superpower, MIT researchers have developed flexible sensors circuits that can be 3-D printed. Eventually, the technology could lead to sensor-laden skin for robots. From MIT News:
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“In nature, networks of sensors and interconnects are called sensorimotor pathways,” says Subramanian Sundaram, an MIT graduate student in electrical engineering and computer science (EECS), who led the project. “We were trying to see whether we could replicate sensorimotor pathways inside a 3-D-printed object. So we considered the simplest organism we could find...."
The MIT researchers’ new device is approximately T-shaped, but with a wide, squat base and an elongated crossbar. The crossbar is made from an elastic plastic, with a strip of silver running its length; in the researchers’ experiments, electrodes were connected to the crossbar’s ends. The base of the T is made from a more rigid plastic. It includes two printed transistors and what the researchers call a “pixel,” a circle of semiconducting polymer whose color changes when the crossbars stretch, modifying the electrical resistance of the silver strip.
In fact, the transistors and the pixel are made from the same material; the transistors also change color slightly when the crossbars stretch. The effect is more dramatic in the pixel, however, because the transistors amplify the electrical signal from the crossbar. Demonstrating working transistors was essential, Sundaram says, because large, dense sensor arrays require some capacity for onboard signal processing.
Anker makes good stuff. Their 60-Watt 10-port USB charger can charge up to 2.4 amps per port (12 amps maximum). If you live with more than a few people, this can come in handy. It's on sale at Amazon for $33.59. Read the rest
Peegar is an Arduinio-style electronics kit that you design programs for by dragging and dropping Scratch-style objects around in a browser; when you're done, the program is converted to a brief snatch of sound that you transmit through the board by plugging a standard audio cable into your device's headphone jack. Read the rest
Produced by Bell Labs in 1973, The Far Sound looks at the latest developments it telephony, electronics, and computers. The intro has Peter Max-ish graphics and a song that sounds like a Partridge Family instrumental.
1973, the year this film was made, was a very exciting time to be at Bell Labs. Telstar was under development. BellComm was about to be spun off, to work with NASA on the moon project. Technologies involving the transistor, laser, and the solar cell were underway. Scientists were just starting to explore what a computer was and what it might accomplish. In the middle of this wave of innovation was the Bell System’s core business—providing telephone service to almost the entire country.
At 9:43, we get a great description of how transistors work, complete with anthropomorphic electrons. Read the rest
The Raspberry Pi Zero W is is a tiny Linux computer that costs $10. It has built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Mini-HDMI, a USB On-The-Go port, and 512MB RAM. Here's the announcement on the Raspberry Pi Foundation website. Read the rest
Romanian artisan Andreea Strete creates these delightful TinyRobots, charming anthropomorphic creatures made of recycled electronic components. Read the rest
Anker generally makes high quality electronic gear, and judging by the reviews on Amazon, the tiny SoundCore Nano Bluetooth speaker is no exception. It's got a battery life of 4 hours, and can be recharged with the included Micro USB charging cable (which also can be used as a way to connect the speaker to a computer instead of Bluetooth). Read the rest
The fakers at ADDYOLOGY posted a scam video purporting to create a homemade wireless smartphone charger that is both dangerous and useless. The always-entertaining ElectroBOOM did this epic takedown and electronics tutorial. Read the rest
Bright Sun Films' Abandoned series looks at Circuit City's steady rise and dizzying fall in the world of retail consumer electronics. Read the rest
LoveProps has indeed crafted a “Perfect Daft Punk Helmet,” and I dare say it's better than the original worn by the band.
“The designing, building and programming of the GM01 unit took more than one year of daily work,” says the maker, who is a fan. “Finishing it with the desired quality was a huge odyssey.”
Damn. This thing is no joke. Read the rest
I have a copy of Electronics for Kids: Play with Simple Circuits and Experiment with Electricity, by Oyvind Nydal Dahl. It's a full-color introduction to electronics, and is useful for kids and adults who want to get started in hobbyist electronics. Right now, this 328 page book is on sale for just $11 on Amazon.
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Why do the lights in a house turn on when you flip a switch? How does a remote-controlled car move? And what makes lights on TVs and microwaves blink? The technology around you may seem like magic, but most of it wouldn't run without electricity.
Electronics for Kids demystifies electricity with a collection of awesome hands-on projects. In Part 1, you'll learn how current, voltage, and circuits work by making a battery out of a lemon, turning a metal bolt into an electromagnet, and transforming a paper cup and some magnets into a spinning motor. In Part 2, you'll make even more cool stuff as you:
Solder a blinking LED circuit with resistors, capacitors, and relays
Turn a circuit into a touch sensor using your finger as a resistor
Build an alarm clock triggered by the sunrise
Create a musical instrument that makes sci-fi sounds
Then, in Part 3, you'll learn about digital electronics--things like logic gates and memory circuits--as you make a secret code checker and an electronic coin flipper. Finally, you'll use everything you've learned to make the LED Reaction Game--test your reaction time as you try to catch a blinking light!
With its clear explanations and assortment of hands-on projects, Electronics for Kids will have you building your own circuits in no time.