Two gyros under the seat keep this vehicle standing up at a stop, which is easier on the driver's legs than putting a foot down the way you do while riding most motorcycles. And no vroom-vroom sound, either. This is an electric motorcycle. The prototype you see in the video gets up to around 20 MPH, but production models are supposed to hit 100 MPH, and go as far as a Tesla S on 1/6 the juice. So little tiny batteries are all the Lit C-1 needs to drive (up to) 200 miles with the gyros spinning merrily away -- keeping the C-1 upright even in crashes, as a simulation in this Lit Motors YouTube video shows. They claim to have more than 200 pre-orders against a projected retail price of $24,000, which is not shabby for a company that hasn't made a single production vehicle so far. (Alternate Video Link)
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Steve Delaire is making a 3-D printer that uses steel instead of plastic. Specifically, he's using TIG welding to build up layers of steel, just as most 3-D printers build up layers of plastic. He says he's "still working it out," but eventually hopes to use 3-D welding to make larger than life art pieces that are strong enough to be placed safely in public areas such as parks, where children are likely to climb on them. Steve's blog is called Molten3D, and it's a diary of his work, including the problems he encounters and how he overcomes them. He's not the only one doing metal 3-D printing; a Texas company has even made a printed metal gun. So there's plenty of people working in the field of what we really should call "additive manufacturing" instead of "3-D printing." But whatever you call it, every year we see this kind of process being used to make stronger and more complicated shapes, using an ever-increased variety of materials in ways that have been developed since this seminal paper, Liquid Metal Jetting for Printing Metal Parts, was written in 1997. (Alternate Video Link)
Mike Matter was showing off his edgertronic (named after Harold Eugene "Doc" Edgerton) high speed video camera at O'Reilly's inaugural Solid conference, when Tim Lord happened by his little show booth and started interviewing Mike with his normal speed camcorder. While Tim's camcorder shoots 720p at 30 or 60 frames per second, the edgertronic video camera shoots 720P at 700 frames per second, and can shoot lesser resolutions at up to 18,000 frames per second. But the big breakthrough here isn't performance. It's price. Most high-speed video cameras cost $20,000 to $50,000 (or even more), while Mike's edgertronic starts at a mere $5,495.00. This is still a little steep for hobby photographers, but is not bad for a tool used by professionals. And Kickstarter? You bet! Last year Mike raised $170,175, which was much more than his $97,900 goal. Now he's busy making and shipping cameras, working so many hours that he doesn't have time for his own photography. But sometimes that's the way life goes, and Mike seems to be handling it well. (Alternate Video Link)
This isn't a "both peddlers are equal" bike. The person sitting in the rear seat is in the "control" position. Because of the wide handlebars, he or she can reach around the person in the front seat to steer. The person in the front seat can't really do much except enjoy the ride, or maybe lean back and whisper a sweet nothing or two if the person in the back seat is someone the front-seater loves. The bike is called the UnaTandem (turn music off in the lower left corner of the page), and Shawn Raymond tried to get Kickstarter funding for it back in 2012 but only raised $1651, which was quite a ways short of his $70,000 goal. So, with Kickstarter in the rear view mirror, Shawn is trying to do his own crowdfunding. Will this work? Can he get enough people to buy into his idea of a tandem bike that gives you the old "riding on the handlebars" feeling to get his company off the ground? Can he use his own money (assuming he has enough) to build and sell his tandem bikes without bringing in outside investors at all? And then there's the price problem. Shawn says he's looking at a retail price in the $850 range. That may not seem like a lot to some, but you can buy 10 Walmart bikes for that much. Or four or five bikes from specialty bicycle or sporting goods stores. Despite the high price, some will undoubtedly buy these short tandem bikes and like them. But will enough people buy enough of them to make this a viable business? Shawn obviously thinks so. (Alternate Video Link)
samzenpus (5) writes Billy Mitchell owns the Rickey's World Famous Restaurant chain, sells his own line of hot sauces, and was called, "probably the greatest arcade-video-game player of all time". He was the first to achieve a perfect score in Pac-Man, and held many record scores in other arcade games. He is probably most famous for the 2007 documentary,"The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters". The film follows a challenger on his quest to surpass Billy's high score in Donkey Kong, which Mitchell had set in 1982. Since the film was made, the Kong crown has been held by a number people including twice by Mitchell. Billy has agreed to put down the quarters and answer any questions you might have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
By day John Hawley is a mild-mannered open hardware evangelist for Intel. But after hours he is the master of K-9, a robot dog he works on a little at a time. Yes, this is a Whovian thing, which is why John's K-9 looks so much like the Doctor's. But K-9 is also a pretty good dog on his/her own. No vet bills, no constant hunger, no barking at feral cats in the middle of the night, obeys every command... so maybe Dr. Who and John Hawley have the right idea when it comes to canines. Except.... aww.... my dog, Terri the Terrorist Terrier, just licked my hand. What a sweetie! Terri may not take orders from a hand-held remote, but she has a lot of other fine characteristics, including affection. K-9 is very cute in a squared-off, mechanical way, though. Hard to resist, despite a lack of soft fur and no tongue for licking his/her master's hand. (Alternate Video Link)
A while ago you had the chance to ask programmer and open source advocate Bruce Perens about the future of open source, its role in government, and a number of other questions. Below you'll find his answers and an update on what he's doing now.
Not everybody at a Maker Fair (or even Faire) is there to get kickstarted or to make a billion of whatever it is they're displaying. Ned Danyliw is one of the non-kickstarter people: an electrical engineering student displaying a quadcopter development platform he hopes can bring the cost of a quadcopter prototype down to $50 or so, or about the same price as a toy quadcopter. You can follow Ned's work step by step and see all the code at his blog, Burnt Transistors. (Alternate Video Link)
samzenpus (5) writes Andrew "bunnie" Huang holds a Ph.D in electrical engineering from MIT and is one of the most famous hardware and software hackers in the world. He is a contributing writer for MAKE magazine, and has worked on a number of projects ranging from autonomous robotic submarines to peel-and-stick electronics. We recently covered one of his latest projects, an open source hardware laptop called Novena which features entirely NDA-free components. Bunnie has agreed to take a break from his work and hack away at any questions you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
25-year electronics veteran Conrad Lee noticed that commodity multi-channel security DVRs have both more channels than a typical household needs and more capabilities than their makers advertise -- at least, with some creative re-use of their video feeds. With a home-grown controller hooked up to an otherwise unused video channel, a run of the mill security DVR can be used as a command center for household items, like lights, locks, thermostats, cameras, or whatever else you think of) by means of controls both old-fashioned (the ubiquitous X10 devices, some of which you probably have stashed in a drawer) and new (Z-wave). He showed off his system at last month's Maker Faire -- take a look (video below) at what his clever hardware re-use makes possible, and at Lee's controller. It means giving up one (relatively) inexpensive channel, to gain capabilities that would cost quite a bit more in a ready-built system, like smart-phone control and pan/tilt control for cameras. (Alternate Video Link)
Last month, at Maker Faire Bay Area 2014, Timothy Lord spotted a guy wearing a very large piece of headgear that included two crossed wrenches. The guy turned out to be Mike Szczys, Managing Editor of hackaday.com, which says, "The Hackaday Prize will send one person into space for building the next evolution of hardware." That's certainly of interest to the hardware hacker/maker crowd. How they're going to arrange the space flight (probably one of those "just above the atmosphere" hops) isn't specified, but even so the contest is an interesting idea, and the Hack A Day site seems to have some interest hacks and tutorials on it. So go ahead and enter the contest -- and don't forget to take your camera with you on your flight into space, because we'll want to see pictures! (Alternate Video Link)
A while ago you had the chance to ask amateur scientist, and author of the Getting Started in Electronics and the Engineer's Mini-Notebook series, Forrest Mims, a number of questions about science, engineering, and a lifetime of educating and experimenting. Below you'll find his detailed answers to those questions.
Gideon wants to be an astronaut. You could even describe him as "space-obsessed." He wants to be the first astronaut from Tanzania. The only African to make it into space so far is Mark Shuttleworth, who is from South Africa. Can Gideon talk Elon Musk into launching from Tanzania, which is directly on the equator? How about bringing in other space buffs and entrepreneurs? Don't think this is a silly idea. Gideon is only 14, but he's a straight-A student at the Florida Air Academy, and before that was one of the top students at Shepherds Junior School in Arusha, which Mama Lucy Kamptoni originally financed by raising and selling chickens. Gideon's scholarships to Shepherds and later to Florida Air Academy have been financed in part by EpicChange.org, which is also helping him spread the word about Star Day (tomorrow; June 7), the holiday Gideon created, which is being celebrated all over the world even in this, its first year of existence. You can celebrate it, too. All you have to do, weather permitting, is sleep outdoors under the stars, and maybe make a wish or two. After all, wishing (and a lot of studying and hard work) have helped Gideon get to where he is today, and may yet help him become Tanzania's first astronaut.
It's a device, and quite a small one, based on the Raspberry Pi. It tells you when the ISS is visible from your part of the world and when it will soon be visible so you can grab the kids and dogs and run outside to wave at the astronauts. Or just to watch the closest thing humanity has to a space colony orbit the Earth. Liam Kennedy, ISS-Above's creator, points out that the ISS passes over most of the inhabited parts of the Earth five or six times a day, which is more than most people know. And about ISS-Above and Kickstarter: It's too late to climb on that wagon, and it already was when this interview was recorded in mid-May. But don't despair. Liam managed to raise $17,731 -- which was far more than his $5000 goal. Can you buy one of these things in its various manifestations? Yes. But you need to look long and hard at the ISS-Above website to spot the all-caps word HERE that takes you to the order page. Liam also points out that you can get all kinds of smartphone apps that will tell you where the ISS is at any given moment, but the ISS-Above has an advantage or two over those apps that will be revealed only to those who watch the video or read the transcript. (Alternate Video Link)
The Fuel 3-D website has a blurb that says, "The world’s first handheld point-and-shoot, full color 3D scanner. Our planned list price is $1500 but by placing your advanced order now you pay only $1,250. Fire up your creativity!" We've thought about getting a 3-D scanner ever since we first messed with a 3-D printer, but we've thought more about something in the sub-$300 price range than in $1000+ territory. But that's just us. There is no doubt a healthy market for 3-D scanners to use in commercial applications where $1250 (or even $1500) is hardly worth noticing. Ah, well. Maybe we need to look at the The DAVID website which describes their device as an "Incredibly Low-Cost 3D Scanner for Everyone!" Their 3-D starter kit is only $529 from a randomly-selected U.S. reseller, which isn't too bad compared to the alternatives. But waiting for prices in this market niche to come down is another possibility, and it's one a whole lot of individuals -- including us -- and smaller companies will probably choose. (Alternate Video Link)
This is something that caught Tim Lord's eye as he cruised the 2014 Bay Area Maker Faire: A 360 4K-resolution video camera. It's not out yet for retail sale, but if you look at the Centrcam website you can see a number of videos their cameras have shot, including some high-motion ones that they say, truthfully, are excellent to watch full-screen. The people who came up with this aren't college students who have never done any professional design work. Rather, they're "the same team that engineered and built the Apple iPhone cameras." So it's no wonder they have made something pretty cool that has already been used to make videos for Fox Sports, National Geographic, and the U.S. Army, among others. Their Kickstarter blurb is pretty cool, too. It is one of the most detailed ones we've ever seen. It's sad that they only got $607,628 of their $900,000 funding goal, considering all the work they've put into their product, along with the great presentation. They didn't know this would happen at the time this video was shot at the Maker Faire; their Kickstarter time window didn't close until four days ago. But there are other ways to fund a startup, and we hope they manage find one -- because we would eventually like to get our hands on one of their cameras and test it for ourselves, possibly with a little help from some of the Bradenton Riverwalk Skatepark regulars. (Alternate Video Link)
samzenpus (5) writes "Recently you had a chance to ask Jennifer Granick, the Director of Civil Liberties for the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School, about surveillance, data protection, copyright, and number of other internet privacy issues. Below you'll find her answers to those questions."
Meet David. Tim Lord ran into him at the 2014 Maker Faire Bay Area. He didn't have a display, and he wasn't obviously trying to sell anything or promote a Kickstarter campaign. He was just walking around with a panel full of LEDs that he wears as a backpack while riding his bike, which beats the heck out of regular bike taillights, even the blinky flashy ones a lot of us have these days. So good on you, David. This is your three minutes of Slashdot fame -- and please note, people, that you can now fast-forward through any preroll ads longer than 30 seconds, so you won't get bombed with multi-minute ads to watch a three minute Slashdot video. (Alternate video link)
It's a one-wheeled, self-balancing electric skateboard called (appropriately) the Onewheel. You can't buy one right now. They've already shipped all of their first production runs and still have Kickstarter backers' orders to fulfill. After that, though, they might make one for you -- if you come up with a deposit of $500 against a total price of $1499. Plus shipping. This may seem like a lot of money to some people, but enough folks have found it reasonable that Onewheel has sold out not just its first production run but also the second one. Their Kickstarter success was nothing short of amazing, with $630,862 raised although their goal was only $100,000. Inventor Kyle Doerksen is the man behind Onewheel, but he's also one of the people behind Faraday Bicycles, whose flagship model costs $3500 -- and whose initial production run is also sold out -- which means there are people around who are willing to pay $3500 for an electric bicycle instead of putting a motor kit on a used Schwinn for a total cost of less than $500 (with a little careful shopping). Alternate video link.
Bunnie Huang is both a hardware and software hacker, but that's greatly understating the case: renaissance man is more like it. Bunnie doesn't just tinker with one-off system modifications or console mods (though he's done that, too) -- he creates and repurposes at scale. (He's also an author, respected researcher with interesting thoughts on a wide range of topics, like how to think of the H1N1 flu from the point of view of a security researcher.) Bunnie's latest long-term project has been mentioned a few times on Slashdot: It's an open-source laptop computer that goes much farther than some other open-source hardware projects, and as a bonus includes an FPGA as well as a conventional -- but unusual -- processor. (Bunnie grants that there are still bits that aren't quite open source, but points out that we also don't have the software that runs the fabs; there's a point of diminishing returns.) A crowd funding campaign (via CrowdSupply) was successful enough to also fund several stretch goals, including a general purpose breakout board. I talked with Bunnie at the recent Bay Area Maker Faire. (Expect more from that show in coming weeks.) He walked us through the state of the hardware, and talked about some of the design decisions that go into making a computer that is of, by, and for hackers. (Alternate video link)