Tech Marinade
Uncovering Hidden Innovation in DIY Electronics
Teensy Takes Big Step Forward With The Release Of 3.1
by Kyle Patrick Cayabyab ▪ 12.12.2013 News

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The USB microcontroller development system by PJRC, implemented in projects such as a wall of light, a MIDI controller, and even a giant Penrose Triangle underwent a recent evolution into it’s 3.1 form. The aptly named Teensy, requiring only a standard “Mini-B” USB cable and a PC or Macintosh with a USB port, beefed up it’s stats compared to the Teensy 3.0 for less than a dollar increase in price.

The Teensy 3.1 is very similar to 3.0 physically, sporting the same size, shape, and pinout. It also supports code written for Teensy 3.0 and is supported on Arduino IDE with Teensyduino, making the upgrade simple to integrate into your projects. However, some slight adjustments have been made beyond the technical improvements of this update. Compared to the Teensy 3.0 tin plating finish, the Teensy 3.1 is dressed in gold for easier soldering. The Teensy also hosts a myriad of new features.

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DesignSpark: Better Than Eagle? – A New Look At PCB Design Software
by Ryan Sailor ▪ 12.11.2013 Editorial

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The PCB design software market is admittedly a little stagnant. Newcomers often traverse old forum posts where PCB veterans suggest the same few design applications for the same few superficial reasons. The bottom line is that until recently, there were only a few good offerings and most engineers choose by experience or comfort with a particular brand of PCB software.

EAGLE is one very popular PCB design software created by Germany-based Cadsoft Computer GmbH. The name “EAGLE” is almost ubiquitous with amateur PCB design, probably due partly to its freeware option but certainly mostly due to the fact that everyone keeps mentioning it whether for better or worse. Yeah, I’m guilty too.

In a number of forums you’ll see mentions of KiCAD, EAGLE, gEDA, Fritzing, ExpressPCB, and AutoTRAX DEX. They range from free to commercial products, but regardless of their cost they all seem to be good for different reasons and it’s best to try out a bunch of them before deciding which to use for a project. Take a look at this comparison on Wikipedia for starters.

EAGLE is an old-timer: it’s been around for a while and as such has become somewhat of a standard. In fact, Sparkfun usually uploads EAGLE format files for their open-source hardware. The problem is that if you spend some time with EAGLE and then some more time with other, newer EDA (that’s Electronic Design Automation) software and you will realize that EAGLE’s UI is definitively out of date. In an industry of software where the features are similar across the board, it’s the user interface and user experience that makes all of the difference.

With the number of more modern EDA products on the market that are free, many of which have fewer (to no) board size restrictions than EAGLE Free, I think it’s worth taking a detailed look at several EDA options for PCB design newcomers.

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Make Some Jams With The Audio Hacker Shield
by Kyle Patrick Cayabyab ▪ 12.9.2013 News

audioHacker-assembled-largeLaying down some sweet jams has always been one of my favorite pastimes and finding different ways to do it is definitely a supplementary activity. With the Audio Hacker shield for Arduino designed by Nootropic, jamming takes new turns as users can mix samples, build audio effects, or create their own synthetic sounds. The Audio Hacker can also be paired with a multitude of additional modules that include mixers and visual devices.

When fully assembled, the Audio Hacker contains audio input and output 3.5mm stereo jacks, a bypass switch to move between the input signal and output signal, a volume knob, two buttons for user input, a preamp gain to amplify weak input signals, and a battery connection to maintain the audio samples in non-volatile memory. One thing to note is that the input signal is converted to mono and the output will be in mono.

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Tutorial Roundup #6: DIY Holiday Gifts!
by Ryan Sailor ▪ 12.6.2013 Features

Need a gift idea but want something unique? How about homemade? It must be the personal touch that accompanies hand-crafted holiday presents that make them just a tad more special. Not to mention, as the maker, you might learn something in the process!

To foster this notion of creative gift giving, this week we have three tutorials for items that would make great gifts! Hopefully, they are the right balance of complexity and fun for both you as the creator and the lucky recipient. Feel free to build two so you can keep one for yourself!

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This is a nice Instructable that will test your Arduino, XBee, and Lego building skills. Instructables user sath02 will guide you through the process of making your very own remote controlled lego vehicle. Sath02’s design uses a microcontroller compatible with the Arduino IDE for ease of programming alongside a motordriver IC. On the computer side, he uses Processing to code a graphical controller on the PC. One of the cool things about this project is that it’s very customization. It seems almost needless to say that you could theoretically build any shaped car you wanted!

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Notch Set To Reboot Kickstarter In 2014
by Kyle Patrick Cayabyab ▪ 12.5.2013 News

d6cb4c3e349156919aa40ce832a26452_largeNotch offers to bring motion capturing to a casual, but stylish frontier, however will be waiting for the buzz of the holiday season to wear off. The futuristic clothing adaption that monitors movement in a discrete fashion and transfers that data to a handy app. After one week on Kickstarter, the New York based team decided to bide their time and wait for a better opportunity to share their device with the world.

Bearing a physical resemblance to a large cufflink, Notch can be affixed to many various forms of clothing on different positions of the body. Track the form of your golf swing, the consistency of your rowing, even the complexity of the movements of dance and share them with others, for both educational and competitive purposes. Through the use of Inertial Measurement Units (IMU), Notch can capture your movements and can be set to continuous tracking or controlled tracking with commands.

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Three Great Holiday Gift Ideas For Tech Kids
by Ryan Sailor ▪ 12.3.2013 Holiday

Need some ideas for a fun holiday gift? In this article, we take a look at three gift ideas for technology-minded children.

Smart Kids RC Monster Spinner Stunt Vehicle

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RC robots, cars, and planes were always a big holiday go-to before we started giving kids Android tablets. But, why play a racing game on a computer screen when you can recklessly drive around an RC stunt vehicle around the house? In all seriousness, the RC Monster Spinner Stunt Vehicle looks like a blast.

There are a few variations of this vehicle made by different manufacturers.

Get one from Amazon here. $19.95
Get one from Radioshack here. $14.99

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