The Phi-Panel family of products from InMojo seller Dr. Liu allows for interactive data entry
Ever since the OSHW movement took off with the introduction of Arduino, users have been looking for simple, intuitive user interfaces to integrate into DIY projects. Dr. John Liu has been offering a series of intuitive interfaces - a line of LCD panels and keypads that can communicate with an Arduino over the serial bus.
In 2011, Dr. John Liu introduced his phi-panel family of products - a set of joint LCD-display and keypad data-entry modules that can connect to Arduino-based projects and provide for data entry at its simplest by leveraging Dr. Liu’s Phi-Prompt User Interface Library, a free code.
Now, users who don’t want to learn the library can integrate these panels into projects like home automation systems or anything that requires a user interface to read and manipulate data. “People love the simplicity of being able to add a professional looking user interface within a few lines of code,” Dr. Liu said when asked about the phi-panels.
This particular product, the Serial LCD Backpack, allows you to connect a keypad to an LCD display, and is available in various assembled and kit forms on Dr. Liu’s InMojo store. We think it’s a great product, so take a look.
What if you could replace all those Arduino shields with just one device - something that you already own? That is the promise of 1Sheeld - a new project that promises to provide an interface to all your smartphone's sensors!
It's pretty simple - just plug the 1Sheeld shield board onto your Arduino, then download and install the app on your Android phone. The board will connect to your phone via Bluetooth, allowing you to access the shield of your choice through your phone.
Basic shields available in the app include GPS, keypad data entry, camera, wifi, gyrometer, accelerometer, push button, LED shield, gamepad, and much more to come. We are really excited about this project and look forward to the great hacks this project will enable. Take a look and learn more on the 1Sheeld Kickstarter page.
The RPi900 allows for powerful data transmission between Raspberry Pi-powered devices in locations without wired or wireless networks..
If you're looking for reliable, configurable data transmission over long distances for your project, check out the RPi900 Long Range Radio.
Originally designed for applications using solar power and telemetry in remote locations where connectivity to the grid and the internet is difficult or impossible, the RPi900, when mounted on a
Raspberry Pi alongside a DNT900 transceiver module from RFM, can communicate at more than 20 miles (line-of-sight) to send information to and from other units.
Maker Matthew Hollingworth, who developed the RPi900, has one of his units rigged up in a weatherproof CCTV enclosure along with a camera module and solar controller. The enclosure is connected to an external solar panel and battery, and installed at a remote location to record and upload periodic images and photograph sunset timelapses, which are then transferred to another RPi900 unit installed on the roof of his house. Pretty cool!
"The RPi900 can be used anywhere a remote, low-power linux installation is desired for telemetry, monitoring and control of equipment," writes Hollingworth. "Examples include industrial and agricultural settings, as well as weather stations and webcams. RPi900 is also useful as a compact radio base station--for example, as a ground control station for an autonomous aerial vehicle (UAV) or high-altitude balloon."
And the best news of all: the RPi900 is on sale for 33% off until December 25th. A unit normally costs $45, but with the sale you can get your hands on an RPi900 right now for $30.
You can learn more about the RPi900 and browse a full set of tutorials for installation and use at RPi900.com.
Arduino and similar products are great for prototyping and tinkering projects, but they don’t meet all needs. If you’ve ever wanted more control over the boards you use in your projects, there is a great new resource that can help you make your own boards.
Make Zine has just released a new guide to creating a board from scratch, using the free EAGLE software program to design the circuit board that can be custom printed for you. The Make Zine guide uses the Really Bare Bones Board (RBBB) as a basic design. RBBB is a simple board that has been used in tons of awesome projects (like this fireworks ignition system and this super-smart puzzle solving robot).
Anyone (hardware newbs and pros) interested in learning more about how circuit boards are designed will enjoy taking a look at this guide. Comprehensive step-by-step instructions can be found at the Make Zine website.
A vector-graphics program is used here to add an image that will be screen-printed onto the final version of the Really Bare Bones Board. Photo from MakeZine.
Small open source hardware producers who want to use USB in their creations are facing a new challenge, according to news from Arachnid Labs, a OSHW electronics operation.
The folks at Arachnid report that they approached the USB Implementers Forum (the non-profit organization that manages the USB standard) with a simple question: "how can small, Open Source Hardware vendors get official ID codes for their USB capable devices?"
The USB-IF mandates that manufacturers of USB-capable devices to be sold on the open market purchase a $5,000 license. Nick Johnson, the man behind Arachnid Labs, asked USB-IF to consider providing this license to OSHW non-profits which could then issue ID codes to its members.
Their response? Apparently, the only way for OSHW makers who sell their creations to get a license is to pay the $5K - something that is not an option for most makers. So for now, USB is out of reach for makers who are also sellers - individuals we see a lot of around here.
Jie Qi's Circuit Sketchbook.
Here’s a cool project we stumbled across: the Circuit Sketchbook. It's a DIY notebook with a cell-phone power supply built into the back that allows the user to create functional circuit prototypes on paper using conductive metallic tape and small electronic stickers (LEDs, microcontrollers, and more).
Pretty cool, right? It seems like a project with huge potential for teaching people about circuits, and for allowing makers to fool around with designs on the go. Check out this video of example circuits for a few more great ideas of what a person can do with this sketchbook, as well as an explanation of how it works and how it was put together.
The circuit sketchbook is designed by Jie Qi, a Ph.D candidate at MIT. Check out more of Jie's DIY projects.
InMojo supports the Open Source Hardware Definition v1.0