Manganlabs.com > Blog > Articles by: siliconghost

No Shortage of Maker’s in VT!

Champlain Mini Maker Faire
Wow! Our second annual Maker Faire appears to have been a huge success. I heard rumor (unconfirmed) that the Faire was at capacity (sold out) on Saturday. My booth was buzzing with eager makers from open to close on both days.

What better setting could we possibly have for a Maker Faire than the Shelburne Farms Coach Barn?
Shelburne Farms

There is something about combining new technology in an old and beautiful setting that I really like. It seems to go really well together.

My main project / theme was “Roll Your Own Persistence of Vision“. In addition to my own large scale POV fan (seen behind me to my left in the photo below), I had a couple of commercially available POV toys to further demonstrate the concept. People of all ages were extremely interested in learning more about the capabilities of Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and the differences between the two, all of which I was more than happy to explain.

In addition to POV, I laid out various random projects such as a laser trip wire that turns lights on/off and plays random sounds and RGB LED lights flashing with amazing colors. These were all done using Arduino components. These definitely got the creative juices flowing for my visitors. They walked away excited and interested in learning more about the endless possibilities for these controllers for their own future projects.

Spreading this excitement in learning is exactly why I love volunteering my time to do this. It is my little taste of why some teachers are so passionate to teach.

At my partially setup booth on day one.  A bit of calm before the storm!
At my partially setup booth on day one. A bit of calm before the storm!

I met many people who wanted my business card or wanted to know if I consulted on various projects. I had to explain quite a few times that ManganLabs.com is just my personal hobby site and not what I do for a living. For those of you that want to stay in touch or contact me, you can always use the About Page on this site which has a contact form, and also follow me on Twitter, Google+ and of course, Instructables.

The SparkFun Roadshow Van.
The SparkFun Roadshow Van.

For those of you that don’t know, Sparkfun.com is like a huge online toy store for tech geeks. I wish they had physical stores and they were local! They are what Radio Shack was back in the day for Electronics geeks but 10x better.

As always, my retro Armatron robot arm from the 80's was a huge hit for kids and adults!
As always, my retro Armatron robot arm from the 80’s was a huge hit for kids and adults! This thing never gets old.

While this particular robot arm is no longer being made, you can find a similar one on Amazon for about $38. Click the link for details.

In closing, I really wish I could have done more with my booth this year but work and home responsibilities prevented me from doing so. I didn’t even START my POV fan project until the day before the Faire. Lucky for me, everything worked on the first try as I was putting it together (that doesn’t happen too often). There is no doubt that I will be back again next year. This is an event that pretty much defines who I am.

It was so much fun answering questions and demonstrating a few of my projects to others. For the “Newbie’s”, there is no such thing as a stupid question. I’m more than happy to help anyone that is eager to learn.

Take care and keep on Making!

– John

Book Review: iWoz

iWoz: Computer Geek to Cult Icon: How I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-Founded Apple, and Had Fun Doing ItiWoz: Computer Geek to Cult Icon: How I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-Founded Apple, and Had Fun Doing It by Steve Wozniak
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have always been a fan of Woz, long before I was ever an Apple user. After reading this book, I’m an even bigger fan!

You will really enjoy this book if you’re a technical person that is always creating and building things yourself.

I found it very easy to relate to Steve in many ways, not just on the technical side, but also with his overall perspective on life. If you don’t care about the technical details of how things work and are designed from the ground up, this may have some dull parts for you. That said, they are pretty well contained in the book so it would be easy to skip over those sections as needed.

There is no doubt that I would highly recommend this to all my Engineering and Maker friends.

View all my reviews

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Dry Aged Beef @ Home

Dry Aged Beef.  It’s what any high end steakhouse serves and one of the main things that is difficult to reproduce at home with your normal grilling process.

Until now anyway.  Thanks to Seriouseats.com, below is a fantastic article on how you can produce your very own dry aged beef.  Let me know if you try this. I know I’m dying to myself.

http://www.seriouseats.com/2013/03/the-food-lab-complete-guide-to-dry-aging-beef-at-home.html

Digital RGB LED Strips Using Arduino!

Get started on RGB LED strips using Arduino

Check out this awesome Arduino controlled Digital RGB LED Strip.  There are 32 LEDs per meter of the strip and they can be shortened or extended quite easily.

With this I can programmatically set the color of each LED’s red, green and blue component with 7-bit PWM precision (so 21-bit color per pixel).  Below you can see my demo of it running through a test script with several different effects going on.

This is much easier to do than one might expect thanks to the libraries that have been already written by others to do the grunt work.  You can easily have your own RGB LED strips using Arduino for control in no time! If you have any questions, feel free to ask!

 

Warning, once you start playing with these and realize how easy they are to control, you will be hooked!

RGB LED strips using Arduino

Below you will find several options for buying your own LED strips from Amazon

Special thanks to John Cohn for hooking me up with these! (John, you can borrow my Arduino stuff anytime!)  You can see John wearing a headband made of the same type of LEDs on his Wikipedia page and possibly spot his nearly famous LED hula hoop in one of his many blog posts. The project opportunities are endless.  I’m hooked.

Find Schematics On Everyday Products

Did you know that detailed technical schematics and product documentation is available for most common electronic devices?  Phones, remote controls, games, etc. Anything that has to be registered with the FCC can be found here, and it is not widely advertised.

This little known tip should come in quite handy for your next DIY project.  Here is a 30 second video overview:

To get started simply visit the FCC ID website shown below:

http://transition.fcc.gov/oet/ea/fccid/

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