empowering creative people

    Raspberry Pi Workshop 22/2/17

    This week we ran our first 5pm Raspberry Pi Workshop with resounding success! A common interest for some of our workshop participants was using the RasPi as an in-car computer for entertainment and telemetry. One participant, Adrian, was particularly interested in the differences between  Arduino and Raspberry Pi.


    To get our participants started on their journey we covered what a RasPi is, powering one up, exploring the Pi's filesystem and functions, writing scripts in Python and how to trigger scripts from the shell. We finished up with blinking an LED from the Pi's GPIO.


    Book a session today if you'd like to join one of our Raspberry Pi Beginners Workshops, we supply all the hardware required to participate. Likewise, we're here to help if you're looking for Raspberry Pi in Australia.

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    - By TechSupport2 TechSupport2

    Electronic Feline Warfare

    2 Cat related Arduino posts inside of a week, what's gotten into us? Well, I'm currently cat-sitting for a friend so the idea of sweet revenge on my new feline neighbour is super appealing to me. If you've had a cat in the past you'll understand my grudge, with 3-4am being the optimal time for bouncing off the walls and tearing up the carpet. 

    Well, leave it to a maker to come up with this idea. Instead of being a responsible, mature adult and trying to discipline his cat with tasty treats or shouting, JimboWatts decided to create a sentry bot that would take care of the discipline for him. 

    Using a Teensy board, a servo, a few wireless sensors and an old camera tripod, he created a sentry bot that could sense when his cat was tearing up the carpet and react by spraying it with a stream of water. Check it out below, although apparently the setup was so efficient that after 1 night it was impossible to get footage of the cat being sprayed.

    The best part is that Jimbo went ahead and did a pretty impressive writeup for this seemingly innocent and fun project, check it out here.

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    - By Aidan

    Raspberry Pi Car Media Player

    The Raspberry Pi is so versatile, being used all over the world in exciting, creative ways. Well, using a Pi as a Media centre is hardly innovative, but taking a Pi Media Center and mounting it on the dashboard of your car is new to me! 

    That's what DIY'r eratosthene did, in this awesome project. Using a Pi 3 with LibreElec installed, he set out to install a Pi media Center in his 2007 Toyota Corolla. Along with the official Raspberry Pi Touchscreen, a 128GB USB drive and some hard work, he took his slightly outdated dashboard from this.


    To this


    There's a pretty detailed write-up on the entire process, you can view it here if you're interested. 

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    - By Aidan

    Trump vs Eagle Rock 'em Sock 'em

    Today I present you your opportunity to fight for freedom! If you were lucky enough to grow up with a Rock em Sock em robot toy, then you'd know how much fun they were. But a simple, mechanical toy is too good an opportunity to waste, so RobotGeek created their own version with motorised robots with 3D printed impressions of President Trump, and the American Eagle.

    Whilst it would be interesting to see a higher-powered version with a bit more impact, it's a sure fire way to blow through components, motors, and prints, but the goal of punching the button located on the chest of the opponent servos for an entertaining match.

    I'll leave you to decide which player you control, but it's such a creative use of 3D printing and servos that it just had to be shared.

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    - By Sam

    A DIY Laser Pointer for your Cat

    Every now and then I stumble upon some projects that just make me chuckle. And well, that's half the fun when making things right? Fun, almost pointless inventions that can do stuff. Well, take a look at this project from Lucas Berbesson. It's a laser pointer module for your cat. 

    With a couple of servo motors, an Arduino, a laser pointer and some code, Lucas whipped up this automatic toy for his cat. If you have ever had a laser pointer around a cat, you'll understand the beauty behind the idea here.

    Take a look at it in action (mind the constant clips of him just playing with the cat)

    All you need to make this project is

    - 8xAA Battery Case
    - Arduino Uno
    - Breadboard
    - Laser Diode
    - Jumpwires
    - 2 Servo Motors
    - Arduino USB cable

    And you can grab the Arduino code here.

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    - By Aidan

    3D Printing and Modelling Workshop - 14/2/2017

    On Tuesday afternoon, we ran the first of our revised 3D printing & modelling workshops and had a blast! Michael (our workshop participant) turned up only having knowledge of the existence of 3D printers and CAD software but had absolutely no experience, the perfect participant. We kicked off with walking through our printer setup and took a look at the basics of FDM technology. He was particularly interested in being able to print models that he could find online, so we went right into slicing up some models and learning the lay of the land with Cura, our slicing software.


    After a crash course in Fusion 360, we walked through making a small project box. Michael decided to print his grandson a small animal figurine, so off to Thingiverse we went to find something suitable. We ended up deciding on a model that our 3D printer would be able to print simply and easily. We ended up deciding on a Pig figurine and sliced it at .2mm and got it printed inside of half an hour.

    We used the Lulzbot Mini and some orange ABS filament to print this model.

    Book a session today if you'd like to join one of our 3D Printing Workshops. Likewise, we're here to help if you're looking for help with Lulzbot in Australia,

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    - By Aidan

    Meet Loomo - Segway Robot

    I normally prefer to share projects that are of a DIY, maker level, however, this new developer project from Segway is way too cool not to share. Meet Loomo.

    They've taken the iconic 2 wheeled segway platform, and used it to create an intelligent, assistant robot which is capable of vision, speech, locomotion, connectivity, interaction, and hardware extensions. Oh, and it's open source. It's awesome to see companies that are leading the technological curve, creating open source platforms to allow developers to further the application of robotics. Check it out for yourself:

    I think that the beauty of projects like the Loomo robot is that it shows the potential of open source designs which allow for a community driven advancement, rather than closed-loop development. At the moment it's only available to developers for pre-release development, but it'll be exciting to see the fruit that Loomo bears.

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    - By Sam

    Arduino Workshop 10/2/17

    Yesterday was the first of our 5pm Arduino workshops, and it was a lot of fun! Rhett (our workshop participant) was particularly interested in how the Atmega328 chip (the microcontroller on the Arduino Uno) handled the inputs and outputs from a hardware perspective. So I showed him the difference between low impedance outputs vs the high impedance inputs and how the easy to interpret 'digitalWrite' function runs the underlying lower-level code to set different registers on the Atmega328.

    Arduino Workshop breadboard setup

    By the end of the workshop we'd covered using the digital and analogue pins as both inputs and outputs, and making that data easy to rea by exploring the serial interface which can print values back to the computer. Whilst we didn't cover everything under the Arduino name, it was great fun to explore every concept at a deeper level, and really understand the 'why' behind what was going on.

    We use the Sparkfun Inventors Kit with a genuine Arduino Uno for our Arduino Workshops, and as you can see, Rhett was pretty stoked!

    Arduino Workshops Sparkfun Inventors Kit

    Book a session today if you'd like to join one of our Arduino Workshops. Likewise, we're here to help if you're looking for Arduino in Australia,

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    - By Sam

    Sorting Skittles with Arduinos

    Sometimes, you don't want to bother with the Yellow skittles. It's nothing against them, they just can't match up to a handful of juicy, red ones. Maybe you are more of the M&M demographic, candy covered chocolates are still delicious and most importantly colored. Either way, surely you have thought about sorting, or even manually sorted, your candy by color in the past. Well, have I got a pointless but beautifully designed Arduino Project for you.

    Cast your eyes upon this beautiful device.

    Mechanical Engineer and Maker, Willem Pennings from New Zealand created this machine after being inspired by a similar project he saw on YouTube. The real difference was some core redesigns Willem made, alongside the sleek, beautifully designed housing the invention was mounted in.

    The basic idea is the candy is loaded into the Hopper on the top of the unit. One at a time the candy is sorted using an RGB color sensor and an Arduino Nano, before being dropped into the corresponding 'tub' for its color. What a great project!


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    - By Aidan

    Using Dash With Arduino

    The Internet of Things is here, and as more and more platforms become integrated with IoT applications, it's here to stay. New IoT services are popping up daily, and Amazon's Dash service makes ordering and re-ordering products as simple as pressing a button. However, for many makers, the IoT is a daunting and intimidating venture. Integrating familiar microcontroller functions with the unknown aspects of web integration is a big challenge. So Brian Carbonette created an awesome guide, along with an Arduino library for using the service with a web-connected Arduino such as the MKR1000. Check it out here.

    Amazon Dash button with MKR1000 breadboard layout

    It's a very neat project, and a great example of a seasoned maker using his skills to provide other DIY'ers with the ability to put together great IoT projects like this one!

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    - By Sam

    The MOARstruder is here!

    We're happy to announce a new addition to our Lulzbot 3D printer tool head range, the MOARstruder. Usually, the name of the tool head is pretty indicative of exactly what it's purpose is, but what do Aleph Objects (Lulzbot) mean by MOAR?

    Well, actually they mean exactly that! Instead of going into finer detail with tinier and tinier nozzles to get even more detailed prints. Lulzbot decided to design an extruder that goes in the other direction, designing a tool head that can just pump (yes, PUMP) prints out, super quick. 

    Check out the promotional video by Lulzbot!

    With a 1.2mm Nozzle, this tool head is simply awesome at producing bigger prints, faster. Most of the technology is the same, with the standard tool head design from Lulzbot being quite effective at printing, the big change is in the hot end. The new hot end is a lot bigger, designed to heat a lot more filament for extrusion resulting in some big, juicy layer heights.

    We will have our installation guide and review up in the coming days, so stay posted if you want to see how it prints!

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    - By Aidan

    Arduino Emulated Altair 8800

    Modern technology is great and all, but sometimes it's nice to take a step back in time, and look at how things operated before the 4K displays and BLE connected devices that we know and love.

    YouTuber David Hansel has used an Arduino Due to emulate the CPU functionality and structure of the original computer, which was marketed as the first 'PC' in kit form. Based on the Intel 8800 processor, it's simple memory address system and toggle switch interface gives insight into the early form of microcontrollers. But perhaps the best way to explain this wonderful project is to simply watch:

    It seems funny that in an age where content such as video games and movies are measured in gigabytes as standard, and terabyte storage is the norm, that a game, even one as simple as the killbits demo, can occupy only 24 bytes.

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    - By Sam

    Love Nixie Tubes? Try Lixie

    Nothing says cool looking numerical displays quite like a Nixie tube does. A vacuum sealed the tube with 10 separate cathodes that are each in the shape of a different numeral between 0 and 9, if you apply power to one cathode it will glow in this awesome orange neon color, the kind of glow you just can't quite replicate. That didn't stop Connor Nishijima from trying, though, utilizing some modern day tech to revive this unique display method. His method of choice was laser cutters and NeoPixel LEDs though.

    Why would you try to revive such a tech? Simply because of how awesome a Nixie tube can look. Take a look at this video and see what we mean:

    Using edge lit laser cut acryllic alongside some NeoPixel lights, Connor did a fantastic job at reviving this vintage display.

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    - By Aidan

    PC Behemoth Asus releases their own Single Board Computer

    The tech behemoth Asus has decided to enter the Single Board computer market with their own Raspberry Pi sized computer, the Tinker Board. This board boasts improvements on every one of the Raspberry Pi spec's, at a slightly higher price point. Take a look at the table below for a quick and easy way to see the differences.



    The form factor is identical to the Pi, as well as the microSD storage system. The real interesting difference is the superior processing speed and RAM that you would be getting along with the Tinker Board. The board is currently available in Europe/Asia and it's expected that we will see it in Australia in the coming weeks. 

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    - By Aidan

    Autodesk Eagle Has Crash Landed

    Today is a sad day. Today is the day where I share with you the new plans for the popular PCB design program; EAGLE. As you may know from a previous blog post, EAGLE was aquired by Autodesk (from Farnell) last year and its future was up in the air. Whilst Autodesk is a respectable CAD software company, many people steer clear of their products due to the willingness to embrace subscription based licensing, which naturally doesn't mesh well with the maker community.

    EAGLE was the standard for small-scale PCB and schematic design because of its availability and free-use license options; no longer. I myself have used EAGLE for 3 years or so now, and while perhaps not as invested into it as other users, I know my way around it and have plenty of custom libraries which I rely on.

    The big point for me will be watching what changes Autodesk make to the software itself. If they overhaul the UI, introduce the features that it's been missing, and implement  inter-product compatibility (such as pre-rendered 3D models to create 3D PCB mockups in Fusion 360 easily), then perhaps I might deal with the changes and stick with them. However there's a good chance that in the future I'll be exploring KiCAD as a viable alternative. But until then, here is a great video from Dave Jones at the EEVBlog detailing the changes and how they may affect users.

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    - By Sam

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