Tech Marinade
Uncovering Hidden Innovation in DIY Electronics
Weekend Crowd Fund Picks
by Ryan Sailor ▪ 9.7.2014 Crowd Fund

It’s a great weekend to browse a few crowdfund sites for new projects. Here are three projects you should consider backing.

CANBus Triple

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Modern cars are packed with electronics: engine diagnostics, dashboard panels, GPS units, satellite radio, cameras, sensors. Computers on wheels, basically. Simpler models might have a few dozen processors, whereas complex luxury vehicles can have well over 100. In order to allow the many diverse electronic units in the car to talk to each other, cars use a standard communication protocol called Controller Area Network Bus (shortened to CAN Bus).

As makers, we ask: how can we get inside this vast array of little car computers? The CANBus Triple – now funded on kickstarter – provides an answer. It’s an Arduino-compatible device with three CAN bus controllers. If you know how to install a car alarm, you can open up your car’s electronics to the CANBus Triple. For a $75 pledge, you will receive a first-run CANBus Triple from their campaign. Read more about it at the kickstarter.

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Robogaia 2D Robotic Obstacle Detector
by Ryan Sailor ▪ 9.2.2014 Crowd Fund

Ever wanted to build a robot butler that won’t run over your cat?

The Robogaia 2D Robotic Obstacle Detector is a robust object sensor that can be used in situations demanding wide-angle proximity sensing. A small team of engineers from Cleveland – under the name Robogaia Industries – is developing the device and is now running a Kickstarter to fund development of its fourth version.

Inspired by a lack of inexpensive sensors on the market that they could use in their robots, the team at Robogaia crafted their own and now make the result available to anyone.

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McThings Reaches The End Of Its KickStarter Campaign
by Kyle Patrick Cayabyab ▪ 7.22.2014 Tech Marinade

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The suite of BLE sensors and controllers regarded as McThings reaches the end of it’s Kickstarter campaign, earning well over its $50,000 CAD goal. WestWork Technology Ltd. developed this collection of devices and software to measure and control anything you need and even connect to the cloud. WestWork envisions that homes, shops, etc. “…will have a large number of low-cost, low-power easy to setup sensors and controllers that will improve efficiency, quality of life and minimize power consumption.” And these sensors and controllers will connect to the cloud and fully integrate with Facebook, Twitter, and more. This integration can already be seen on household appliances like refrigerators you can tweet from.

McThings comes together to create a low cost and low power infrastructure with fill internet connectivity. The main control board, called a McModule, will run for years on a coin cell and runs on a 32-bit ARM Cortex processor with a 2.4GHz multi-protocol radio and a 128-bit AES encryption co-processor. A McRouter and McPlug will also be available for backers and in preorders.

Are you a beginner at programming? The McModule uses a rule engine for instruction and a wizard to define those rules. You don’t need to be a pro to use McThings as programming is not required.

Hosting a variety of sensors including temperature, acceleration, moisture, biometrics, and more, the McModule can handle any kind of measuring you may need. It can even control, indicate or log things such as send a text message when the temperature of you home increases and turn on the AC with a reply. You can even log almost anything and keep track of useful information like the temperature of various rooms in your house or anything else you can think of.

Be sure to check out the Kickstarter page, the McThings page, and WestWork’s site for more information and how you can preorder if you missed out on backing it.

 

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The Voltset Smart Multimeter Begins Its Kickstarter Campaign
by Kyle Patrick Cayabyab ▪ 5.27.2014 News

 

Last September, we wrote about an interesting product we saw at the World Maker Faire NYC. It was a conveniently sized multimeter that connects to your smartphone and uses custom software to give you mobility and ease with your electronics measurements. This multimeter is known as the Voltset and the team behind it have begun a Kickstarter campaign to promote and raise money for the device.

From the article we wrote previously, the Voltset has evolved from the Mini-Voltset and the Mega-Voltset into the Voltset and the Voltset PRO. These multimeters are in the CAT II measurement category. This includes small devices and the outlets within a home. The Voltset team is striving to make the multimeter CAT III capable, allowing for the measurement of higher power systems including a home distribution panel.

The key difference between the Voltset and the Voltset PRO is the range of readings that each can make. While the Voltset includes the ability to measure voltage, resistance, diodes, and conductivity; the Voltset PRO includes additional measurements of capacitance, frequency, and current.

Although it is odd that the measurement of current is unavailable to the Voltset while it is a staple in many multimeters, the software provided by the Voltset will include automated calculations that can compute the current. The software provided will also be able to chart and export data to Excel. If a user were to use the Voltset on an outlet or battery, the software will also be able to tell you additional information. The software for the Voltset is open to expansion and customization with support from the Voltset community.

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The Hummingbird Duo: A Robotics Kit for All Ages
by Kyle Patrick Cayabyab ▪ 5.20.2014 News

8ae513f143c2125d14469bec810ff2cf_largeBirdBrain Technologies introduced the Hummingbird Duo this week on Kickstarter, offering an electronics kit that can be used by primary education students all the way up to the adult maker, with different levels of learning. A development from the original Hummingbird robotics kit that won the Parent’s Choice Gold Award, the Hummingbird Duo is a 2-in-1 board, capable of operating as an original Hummingbird controller or as an Arduino Leonardo with an integrated motor/servo shield and improved connectors.

Future Hummingbird kits will feature the Duo controller as the core along with a variety of additional components including motors, servos, vibration motors, LEDs, and sensors. The kit components are easily secured to the Duo controller via clearly labeled spring-loaded terminal blocks.

The kit is also available with additional components (based on the rewards). These include an HS-311 Servo, a Pololu Gearmotor, single color, and tri-color LEDs. There will also be a collection of sensors available as well including light, temperature. distance. and ambient sound.

 

The Hummingbird Duo supports a wide range of programming environments from easy to learn to advanced. The CREATE Lab Visual Programmer is the original way to program a Hummingbird. Originating from the research program, Arts and Bots at Carnegie Mellon, it implements a story-boarding concept to programming robots. Other supported visual programming tools include Scratch 2.0 and Snap!. The Hummingbird Duo also supports Arduino IDE, Java and Python APIs, and Raspberry Pi.

For future reach goals, BirdBrain seeks to add Pixy integration, 3D printable parts, curricular resources, and a new sensor pack. Moving forward, BirdBrain also aims to support K-12 education. They have a partnership with ITEEA/Engineering by Design to produce a standards-aligned module for using the Hummingbird in the 6th grade. They are also developing a network of professional development partners to provide training workshops to school districts and organizations. Additionally, 1% of BirdBrain’s net profits go to the Computer Science Teacher’s Association.

You can read more about the work BirdBrain Technologies is doing from their site. Or you can directly support the Hummingbird Duo from the Kickstarter page.

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Give Your Devices Flexibility with Paper-Thin Printoo Boards and Modules
by Kyle Patrick Cayabyab ▪ 4.19.2014 News

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Flexibility is the key to creativity and those pesky physical limitations of creating hardware can impede the production of truly unique devices. Ynvisible from Cartaxo, Portugal wants to help relieve creators from the pains of physical design limitations by introducing the Printoo; flexible low-power boards and modules that are Arduino compatible. These paper thin boards are sure to fit into any design you can come up with Ynvisible aims to provide a wide selection of boards to choose from. And the board designs are open source as well!

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