LEGO runs Linux

GyroBoyOldest CES news of the year, but I’m just very happy to hear that the next generation of Lego MindStorm will run Linux!

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Capacative Touch

Adafruit is a great resource for may electronic projects. One of my favorite parts is their focus on wearable electronics. Gizmos with LEDs and speakers have been around for a while. You can even get them from Thinkgeek. However, capacitive touch with conductive fabric opens possibilities.

I’m not sure if this ever will become mainstream. But imagine having sensors for vitals integrated in your t-shirt. Monitoring pulse, breathing, etc without any clumsy sensors. This, coupled with movement-based power generation, I’m sure we will see more and more in the future.

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NES in an FPGA

megaman_fpgaFPGAs are a fascinating piece of technology. Gaming can also fascinate. Merging the two in a retro recreation of a the classical NES means that I have to write about it.

Ludde (from Gothenburg, just as myself) built a NES inside a Xilinx Spartan-6 FPGA as a project over Christmas. The system drives a VGA output and emulates the CPU, PPU and APU, i.e. processing, graphics and audio units. Conveniently enough, the controllers are hooked up via USB, so you do not have to dig out the originals.

Via hackaday.

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Flattr Experiment Ended

flattr-logoOver the last year, or there about, we’ve had Flattr links at the bottom of all posts on Digital Fanatics. The total yield of these is EUR0.52, or which one payment came from Thingiverse and the other from my account on Flattr.

The conclusion of this is that this site either targets the wrong audience, or that Flattr does not work. I kind of liked their idea, but for now, the link goes away.

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ZX81 using AVR

3dmazeJörg Wolfram has re-created the ZX81 system using an ATMega AVR MCU. The system uses a PS2 keyboard, NTCS (or VGA/LCD) for graphics and an SD-card instead of a tape. Looks like a great recreation of the past. The curious can read more about it here (Google translated, original German here)


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Business Scanner using a Pie

raspberry_pi_network_scannerWe have a large scanner / copier / printer at the office. Large and rather expensive, it carries out some basic tasks. One of my favorite features of this oversized beast is that it can scan documents and sending them to me over email. Great for expense reports!

Now you can do this using your Raspberry Pi and an old scanner instead. Eduardo Luís has come up with a solution with a single button for scan-and-email and a pair of LEDs for the status. Seems like a very convenient solution to me. All that is missing to replace the big scanner here would be a printer and a way to select where the scan would go (to who or to the printer). Still, it is 35$ and an old scanner – and it takes up less space than the office style scanner / copier / printer.

Via Hackaday.

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All the Way to the Metal

layers-cropKen Shirriff has been working hard lately. In two great reads, he presented details from the classic CPUs 6502 and 8085. Basically, what he does is that he picks apart the overflow flag of the 6502 and the ALU of the 8085 in very, very, very great detail. For the 6502, he actually shows the wires and junctions on the silicon.

All the information comes from the Visual 6502 project, but the interpretation and explanation is all Ken’s. Great read, and nice to see that a full CPU really only consists of the basic components everyone can grasp.

via Adafruit and Hackaday.

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Final Out-Sourcing Posts

Andrew “bunnie” Huang has posted his final posts in his The Factory Floor series on out-sourcing production to China. Read the first two parts here and here. The final two parts, Industrial Design for Startups and Picking (and Maintaining) a Partner, bring up the topics of designing an actual product that can be produced reliably and how to find the right factory for you – what signs to look for.

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Hardware SPI on the Pi

raspi_blue_whiteAs fun as bitbanging might be, hardware implementation of wire-level protocols can be really handy. Hackaday writes about Louis Thiery‘s and Brian Hensley‘s work towards enabling SPI on the Raspberry Pi.

They both show how to get SPI working on the RPi, and then Louis continues to show how to interact with it from Python. This opens up a whole world of cheap peripherals that can be connected to the RPi. Before you go shopping though, a word of caution. The RPi is not very fond of 5V on the GPIO pins. It is recommended that you get a level shifter before you play.

Via hackaday.

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Turn Scrap into Filament

One of the problems when 3D printing is the cost of filament. Especially since you tend to improve designs incrementally and end up with lots of intermediate step test prints that you need to scrap.

The Filabot team wants to change this. They want to enable you to take your scrap plastic and turn it into filament again. They also want to let you take your plastic items in your home and turn them into filament. Basically, they want to let you make your own filament from whatever you have laying around.

Via boingboing.

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