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Robotics

John Hawley Talks About UAV Controls (Video) 19

Posted by Roblimo
from the monocopter-bicopter-tricopter-quadcopter dept.
John 'Warthog9' Hawley was the boss sysadmin on kernel.org before he jumped to Intel in April, 2014, as an open hardware technical evangelist. He last showed up on Slashdot in June, 2014, with his Dr. Who-inspired Robot K-9. Now he's talking about flight computers for quadcopters, specifically ones based on MinnowBoards. Last month (April 2015) he was speaking at the Embedded Linux Conference + Android Builders Summit. That's where he and Timothy Lord had this conversation about flight controllers for UAVs, which makes it a fitting sequel to yesterday's video, which was also about controlling drones with real-time Linux.
Build

MakerBot Lays Off 20 Percent of Its Employees 153

Posted by timothy
from the new-ones-being-printed dept.
Jason Koebler writes MakerBot fired roughly 20 percent of its staff Friday. Figures from 2014 placed the company's ranks at 500, meaning the cuts could equate to roughly 100 employees. The orders came from new CEO Jonathan Jaglom, Motherboard was told. Employees are apparently being led out of the company's Brooklyn office by security today. "It's about 20 percent of staff," a MakerBot representative, who asked not to be identified because she had not received approval to speak to the press, told Motherboard. "Everyone suspected that something would be coming with the new CEO, and that there would be restructuring coming."
Robotics

Embedded Linux Takes to the Skies (Video) 25

Posted by Roblimo
from the robot-drones-want-you-to-take-them-to-your-leader-(beep) dept.
This is an interview with Clay McClure. He makes his living designing 'custom Linux software solutions for technology start-ups in Atlanta and the San Francisco Bay area.' He also works on Embedded Linux for autonomous drones. Here's a link to slides from a talk he gave on exactly that topic: Flying Penguins - Embedded Linux Applications for autonomous UAVs, and that's far from all he has to say about making Linux-controlled drones. However, for some reason Timothy and Clay didn't talk about using drones for target practice. Perhaps they can discuss that another time.

NOTE: We urge you to read the transcript of this interview even if you prefer watching videos; it contains material we left out of the video due to sound problems.
Open Source

The Makerspace Is the Next Open Source Frontier 46

Posted by Soulskill
from the pull-requests-to-clean-up-corner-cases dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Jono Bacon explains that in the same way open source spawned millions of careers and thousands of companies, the same openness has massive potential when applied to products. It could potentially jumpstart a revolution in how we conceptualize, build, and share things and how we experiment and innovate to push the boundaries of science and technology. He outlines some steps for adapting open source principles to physical creations: "...we will need to create a premise of a blueprint bundle. In much the same way I can download a branch from Git or a tarball with some code, complete with build system, we will want to be able to download a single branch or tarball with the full software, hardware designs, and more for how to create an open product. ... we will need to figure out how we collaborate and improve different pieces of these projects. For example, if someone refines a 3D printed piece of a drone, how do they fork the blueprints, submit their changes, have them reviewed, and get them merged into the project? Another question could relate to automated testing: when building physical products we can't always afford to build and test new physical hardware for it to then crash and burn, so how can we have unit tests for hardware or test in a virtual setting?"
Technology

1980's Soviet Bloc Computing: Printers, Mice, and Cassette Decks 74

Posted by samzenpus
from the making-it-work dept.
szczys writes Martin Maly rode the wave of computer evolution in the 1980's while living in the former Czechoslovak Republic. Computers themselves were hard to come by, peripherals were even more rare and so enthusiasts of the time hacked their own, like dot-matrix printers and computer mice. If your build was impressive enough, the government would adopt it and begin manufacturing the design somewhat widely. Was your first computer mouse built into a plastic spice container? We covered what the personal computer revolution was like in Eastern Bloc countries back in December.
Hardware Hacking

Another 'Draw Your Own Circuits' System at SXSW (Video) 27

Posted by Roblimo
from the is-this-an-easy-way-to-connect-the-'rear'-speakers-in-your-home-theater-system? dept.
While Timothy Lord was at SXSW, he chatted with Yuki Nishida of AgIC and learned about the company's conductive ink products. But AgIC wasn't the only company at SXSW showing off conductive ink. You could also meet the Electroninks people and see their Circuit Scribe product, which had a Kickstarter campaign a while back that raised $574,425.

This kind of product seems to be attractive to the kind of people who fund Kickstarter projects, and this bunch seems to have good resumes and some interesting, well thought-out products. There is apparently room in the 'draw circuits and learn electrical basics' market for both AgIC and Electroninks -- and probably for another dozen competitors, too.
Australia

3D Printed Guns Might Lead To Law Changes In Australia 244

Posted by samzenpus
from the print-and-shoot dept.
angry tapir writes An inquiry by an Australian Senate committee has recommended the introduction of uniform laws across jurisdictions in the country "regulating the manufacture of 3D printed firearms and firearm parts." Although current laws are in general believed to cover 3D printed guns, there are concerns there may be inconsistencies across different Australian jurisdictions. Although there aren't any high-profile cases of 3D printed weapons being used in crimes in the country, earlier this year a raid in Queensland recovered 3D printed firearm parts.
Hardware Hacking

eBay Sales Patterns Show That the Maker Movement is Still Growing (Video) 24

Posted by Roblimo
from the homemade-always-tastes-better dept.
Meet Aron Hsiao. He works for Terapeak, a company that tracks sales through online venues such as eBay and Amazon in order to help merchants decide what to sell -- and how. The five 'maker' categories Terapeak tracks (drones, robotics, Arduino, Raspberry Pi and 3D printing) outsold Star Trek-related merchandise by a huge amount, namely $33 million to $4.3 million, during a recent 90 day study period. Star Wars merchandise did better at $29.4 million, but still... And as another comparison, Aron says that all Apple laptops combined, new and used, sold $48.4 million, so the DIY hobbyist movement still has a ways to go before it catches up with Apple laptops -- but seems to be heading steadily in that direction.

Drones are the hottest hobbyist thing going right now, Aron says, but all five of the hobbyist/tinkerer' categories Terapeak tracks are growing steadily at a rate of up to 70% year over year, with drones leading the way and robotics trailing (but still growing). It's good to see people taking an interest in making things for themselves. If you remember (or have heard of) the Homebrew Computer Club, you have an idea of what tinkerers and hobbyists can produce if given even a tiny bit of encouragement. And it's good to see that the DIY mindset is not only still alive, but growing -- even if it seems to be moving away from traditional hobby tinkering (cars; radios) toward concepts (drones; robotics) that weren't considered mass market 'homebrew' possibilities even a few years ago.
Cellphones

Smartphone-Enabled Replicators Are 3-5 Years Away, Caltech Professor Says 117

Posted by Soulskill
from the if-you-are-excited-about-replicating-hard-plastic dept.
merbs writes: In just a few years, we could see the mass proliferation of DIY, smartphone-enabled replicators. At least, Caltech electrical engineering professor Ali Hajimiri and his team of researchers thinks so. They've developed a very tiny, very powerful 3D imager that can easily fit in a mobile device, successfully tested its prowess, and published the high-res results (PDF) in the journal Optics. Hajimiri claims the imager may soon allow consumers to snap a photo of just about anything, and then, with a good enough 3D printer, use it to create a real-life replica "accurate to within microns of the original object."
Hardware Hacking

Armstrap Claims to Make ARM Prototyping Easier (Video) 41

Posted by Roblimo
from the not-just-easy-but-fun-too dept.
It almost seems too perfect that the originator of the Armstrap 'community of engineers and makers' is named Charles Armstrap. He just introduces himself as 'Charles' on the Armstrap.org website. Names aside, Armstrap.org is 100% open source, including circuit board designs. This is not a 'draw your own circuit boards' bunch, although you certainly could if you wanted to badly enough since they provide schematics and even full CAD drawings of what they make. The reason they do this is laid out on their Core Values page. The boards Armstrap sells are not expensive, but if you are going to be truly open source, you need to supply the means to duplicate and modify or extend your work, as is totally permitted under the MIT License they use.
Hardware Hacking

Radar That Sees Through Walls Built In Garage 63

Posted by Soulskill
from the real-life-wall-hacks dept.
szczys writes: Building radar in his garage is nothing new to Greg Charvat. He has a PhD in this stuff and has literally written the book (and a University course) on building your own radar system. This time around it's Phased-Array Radar. This is more than just judging the speed of a baseball or Ferrari. This rig can actually see through walls. Greg uses the example of a soda can to illustrate the quality and resolution possible from this type of system.
Hardware Hacking

Turning the Arduino Uno Into an Apple ][ 113

Posted by Soulskill
from the what's-new-is-old dept.
An anonymous reader writes: To demonstrate how powerful modern computers are compared to their forebears, engineer Damian Peckett decided to approximate an Apple ][ with an Arduino Uno. In this post, he explains how he did it, from emulating the 6502 processor to reinventing how characters were displayed on the screen. "The Apple II used a novel approach for video generation, at the time most microcomputers used an interlaced frame buffer where adjacent rows were not stored sequentially in memory. This made it easier to generate interlaced video. The Apple II took this approach one step further, using an 8:1 interlacing scheme. This had the first line followed by the ninth line. This approach allowed Steve Wozniak to avoid read/write collisions with the video memory without additional circuitry. A very smart hack!" Peckett includes code implementations and circuit diagrams.
Cellphones

Tiny LIDAR Chip Could Add Cheap 3D Sensing to Cellphones and Tablets 62

Posted by timothy
from the dig-your-shape-baby dept.
There are expensive dedicated devices that do 3D scanning (like the high-end tablet in Google's Project Tango), and versatile but bulky add-ons, like the Sense from 3D Systems, but it's not a capability built into the typical cellphone or tablet. That could change, thanks to a microsensor being prototyped now (at low resolution) at CalTech. From The Verge's coverage: The tiny chip, called a nanophotonic coherent imager, uses a form of LIDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) technology to capture height, width, and depth information from each pixel. LIDAR, which shines a laser on the target and then analyzes the light waves that are reflected back to the sensor, are best known for their use in precision-guided missile systems and self-driving cars.

While LIDAR itself isn't new, [project lead Ali] Hajimiri explains that "by having an array of tiny LIDARs on our coherent imager, we can simultaneously image different parts of an object or a scene without the need for any mechanical movements within the imager." Each "pixel" on the new sensor can individually analyze the phase, frequency, and intensity of the reflected waves, producing a single piece of 3D data. The data from all of the pixels combined can produce a full 3D scan. In addition, the researchers' implementation allows for an incredibly tiny and low-cost scanner, all while maintaining accuracy. According to the researchers, the chip can produce scans that are within microns of the original.
Build

New Yarn Conducts Electricity 44

Posted by timothy
from the pants-on-fire dept.
sciencehabit writes: Researchers report the creation of an ultrathin, fabric circuit that keeps high conductivity even while bending and stretching as much as yoga pants. The fiber's core mimics spandex, consisting of an elastic synthetic thread—polyurethane—twinned by two cotton yarns. These stretchy strings were then dipped in silver nanoparticles to instill conductivity and then liquid silicone to encase everything. This silver nanoyarn could stretch as much as spandex—500% of its original length—and retain a high conductivity (688 siemens per centimeter), the team reports online this month in ACS Nano. That's 34 times the conductivity and five times the flexibility seen with prior attempts at nanowires made from graphene. The fibers kept high conductivity after being bent 1000 times or wrapped around fingers. The team used their yarn to link light-emitting diodes within foldable plastic, meaning the fibers might serve as flexible wiring in new-age curved TVs, stretchable digital screens, or electronic clothing.
Input Devices

Control Anything With Gestures: Myo Bluetooth Protocol Released 15

Posted by timothy
from the not-for-use-while-driving dept.
First time accepted submitter Legendary Teeth writes The makers of the Myo Gesture Control Armband (Thalmic Labs) have just released the specs for the Bluetooth protocol it uses. While there are already official SDKs for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android, this means that now anyone can roll their own support for other platforms like Linux or Arduino without needing to use one of the official platforms as a bridge. Anything you can write code for that that can act as a Bluetooth GATT client would now be possible, really. If you aren't familiar with the Myo armband, it's a Bluetooth Low Energy device with 8 EMG pods and an IMU that you wear on your arm. It can read your muscle activity to detect gestures you make with you hands, which you can then use to do things like fly drones, play games, or control music.
Hardware Hacking

Hand-Drawn and Inkjet Printed Circuits for the Masses (Video) 33

Posted by Roblimo
from the give-your-kids-paper-plates-with-lights-that-tell-them-to-eat-their-veggies dept.
We started looking at ways to make instant hand-drawn or inkjet-printed circuit boards because Timothy met an engaging young man named Yuki Nishida at SXSW. Yuki is a co-founder of AgIC, a company that makes conductive ink pens and supplies special paper you can use to write or draw circuits or, if you have the right model of Brother printer, to print them with special inkjet inks. The AgIC people are aggressively putting the 'A' in STEAM by marketing their products to artists and craftspeople. Indeed the second line on their website's home page says, 'AgIC offers handy tools to light up your own art works.' This is an excellent niche, and now that AgIC has developed a circuit eraser (due to ship this April), it may lead to all kinds of creative designs. And as is typical with this kind of company these days, AgIC has been (at least partly) crowdfunded.

A little cursory Google searching will soon lead you to other companies selling into the home/prototype circuit board market, including Cartesian Co and their Argentum 3-D printer that does prototype and short-run PCBs and only costs $899 (on special at the time this was written) and Electroninks, which markets the Circuit Scribe pen and associated materials with an emphasis on education. There are others in this growing field, and a year from now there will probably be more of them, all working to replace the venerable breadboard the same way electronic calculators replaced slide rules.
Build

Ikea Refugee Shelter Entering Production 71

Posted by Soulskill
from the ships-with-9-randomly-chosen-and-superfluous-bolts,-screws,-and-dowels dept.
jones_supa writes: Ikea's line of flatpack refugee shelters are going into production, the Swedish furniture maker announced this week. The lightweight Better Shelter was developed under a partnership between the Ikea Foundation and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and beta tested among refugee families in Ethiopia, Iraq, and Lebanon. Each unit takes about four hours to assemble and is designed to last for three years — far longer than conventional refugee shelters, which typically last about six months. The product is an important tool in the prolonged refugee crisis that has unfolded across the Middle East. The war in Syria has spurred nearly 4 million people to leave their homes. The UNHCR has agreed to buy 10,000 of the shelters, and will begin providing them to refugee families this summer.
Build

Rebuilding the PDP-8 With a Raspberry Pi 92

Posted by Soulskill
from the what's-old-is-new dept.
braindrainbahrain writes: Hacker Oscarv wanted a PDP-8 mini computer. But buying a real PDP-8 was horribly expensive and out of the question. So Oscarv did the next best thing: he used a Raspberry Pi as the computing engine and interfaced it to a replica PDP-8 front panel, complete with boatloads of fully functional switches and LEDs.
Australia

Australian Company Creates Even Faster 3D Printer 52

Posted by Soulskill
from the for-when-you-need-new-shower-curtain-rings-NOW dept.
ErnieKey writes: One of the major reasons 3D printing hasn't really caught on is because it's an incredibly slow process. Just last week a company called Carbon3D unveiled a super fast new 3D printing process that utilizes oxygen and light. Now, another company — Gizmo 3D — has unveiled an even faster 3D printing process which is claimed to be more reliable than the process presented by Carbon3D. It can print 30mm in height at a 50 micron resolution in just 6 minutes.
Build

New 3D Printing Process Claimed To Be 25X Faster Than Current Technology 95

Posted by Soulskill
from the may-be-t1000-in-disguise dept.
ErnieKey writes: Carbon3D, a startup based in Redwood City, CA. has just announced a new breakthrough 3D printing technology called Continuous Liquid Interface Production technology (CLIP). The process works by using oxygen as an inhibiting agent as a UV light rapidly cures a photosensitive resin (abstract). "Conventional 3D printers usually take several hours to print an object — because with most printing methods, they need to individually treat each new layer of material after it's put down so that the next layer can be put down on top of it. The new method is much faster because it works continually, instead of in layers, eliminating this step. As a result, it works in minutes, rather than hours — 25 to 100 times faster, its creators say, than conventional 3D printing." The company has just emerged from stealth mode and announced that they have raised a staggering $41 million to further develop the process and bring it to market.