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Discrete electronic components such as resistors, capacitors and even larger IC's are shrinking down smaller every year, and that makes it harder for the average home maker or hobbyist to create their own DIY circuit boards. The difficulty comes in melting the solder paste that is used to affix the components to the PCB's circuitry. Why something as simple as a hotplate can do this, certain pad configurations and joint specifications require the "Reflow" process to be done in stages of varying temperature. In the past toaster ovens have been used for this and manually controlled, but that process was time consuming.
Reflowster is a new product which has just went live on Kickstarter that aims at making the toaster oven reflow method much more accurate while automating the temperature ramping process. Reflowster is basically a smart-outlet that is controlled by an Arduino-compatible microcontroller that utilizes a thermocouple temperature probe to turn the power to the toaster oven on and off to regulate the temperature. This allows the user to create custom temperature ramp profiles based on the instructions provided by various solder paste manufacturers. $100 is all it takes to get your own Reflowster which will begin shipping at the end of the year.
3D printing enthusiast world wide have at some point used Netfabb's cloud service to repair .STL files that were not solid meshes and not manifold. Over the last few years the service's popularity has grew can that has caused the service to slow down quite a bit. On Friday Netfabb announced that it has partnered up with Microsoft to host the cloud service on Microsoft's Azure cloud computing platform.
The new service is called Microsoft Model Repair, and uses Netfabb technology at its core to provide a more powerful and efficient mesh repairer that can scale as its popularity continues to grow. Instead of each model being issued a separate download key like before, Microsoft Model Repair uses your Microsoft Account credentials to securely store your fixed files. This greatly cuts down on the time it takes to get the file back to you after repair too, and users will notice a increase in speed with most repairs taking just seconds.
Its been more than two years since the first Raspberry Pi was shipped, and today the Raspberry Pi Foundation announced a new way to get your Pi on. The new Raspberry Pi Compute Module is based on the SO-DIMM form factor that is popular with DDR2 and DDR3 RAM in many modern laptops, but do not confuse that as being compatible with the SO-DIMM port on your laptop because it is not. The Raspberry Pi foundation says that this new form factor is designed to help makers embed their Raspberry Pi projects into final products.
The new Raspberry Pi compute module features a Broadcom BCM2835 chip with 512MB RAM with an on board 4GB eMMC Flash memory for booting the OS. The overall footprint of the device is 65mm x 30mm and its 200 pin edge connector allows the full i/o and other pins from the BCM 2835 chip to be utilized instead of just 19 I/O like the original Raspberry Pi.
XYZ Printing has just unveiled two new 3D Printers to its da Vinci line of affordable 3D Printers. The new da Vinci 2.0 Duo, and da Vinci 2.1 Duo Plus bring several new features to the popular da Vinci 3D Printer. The new da Vinci 2.0 Duo and 2.1 Duo Plus are dual-nozzle 3D printers that are capable of printing in 2 colors at once, with the da Vinci 2.1 Duo Plus functioning as a completely stand-alone unit.
The da Vinci 2.1 Duo Plus features Wi-Fi connectivity, and allows remote access and printing through a remote app, and allows users to monitor the print via a built-in camera. An easy to use touch-screen panel is also present for added functionality. The new da Vinci 2.1 Duo Plus is capable of printing in two colors at once just like its counterpart, the da Vinci 2.0. The 5-inch touchscreen LCD panel runs a version of Android, and allows users to select models to print that have been placed on a USB thumb drive as well.
Wearable electronics are the hottest thing in tech right now and with things like fitness trackers, smartwatches, and head mounted displays being released every week, it was only a matter of time before the DIY community joined the party. Today, MbientLab has launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter for its new MetaWear development and production platform that is designed to make DIY wearables easy, cheap, and fun!
MetaWear is designed around a small ARM processor and Bluetooth LE platform that is small enough to fit in arm bands, watches, headbands and more. MbientLab has optimized Metawear for cost and shrunken the Bill of Materials, so that use can take its design and move straight into production with your finished product. The entire development board is about the same size of a US quarter and is CE and FCC certified by TCB lab in California, meaning that no additional paperwork needs to be filled out.
It's been more than a year in the making, but Alessandro Ranellucci has finally released Slic3r 1.0 to the masses. For those not in the know, Slic3r is the default-slicing program that most 3D Printing enthusiast, such as myself, use to slice the 3D models we wish to print into manageable layers. Slicer also handles the hard-work of plotting the tool-path head, injecting control coding, and spitting it all out into machine-readable GCode. While there are other slicing programs out there, Slic3r is by far the most popular and feature rich.
Today Slic3r 1.0 stable has been released and it brings with it, a myriad of new features as well as support for a host of new printers and tool-heads. As always, Slic3r 1.0 is fully open source, and free to download, modify and distribute as you see fit, making it fully Libre / Open Source compliant. A lot has changed in Slicer 1.0 so I fully recommend that you read the user manual before jumping straight into use.
The Raspberry Pi is one of those micro-computer development boards that I often wonder how we ever lived without, and in recent months, the add-on board market for the Raspberry Pi has exploded with several high-quality boards that do everything from add Add Arduino Support, to increasing Audio capabilities.
Today I stumbled across a new add-on board for the Raspberry Pi that adds in HDMI input functionality that has the ability to let users stream HD video footage straight from their camcorder to the Pi and on to the Internet with very little effort. This new add-on board allows users to connect any HDMI video source and sent it straight to the Raspberry Pi. This could come in handy for those who use the Raspberry Pi as a media center and would allow Blu-ray playback or allow streaming directly to the internet.
Anyone who follows my articles here at TweakTown knows that I am a sucker for new Arduino-compatible development kits, and I especially like the micro-sized boards that are easily hidden inside projects. As such, a new Kickstarter campaign has caught my eyer and I just had to share it with everyone.
The MicroView is a "Chip-Sized" arduino-compatible that features a built-in OLED display, and is sized perfectly for bread boarding, or use in many different projects. Unlike many of the Arduino-compatibles that pop up on KickStarter every month, MicroView includes a purpose designed course that walks users through building 11 different circuits, making the MicroView an ideal development kit to use in a classroom environment.
A pledge of just $45 gets you a single Micro-View with OLED Display, while $55 lands you the MicroView plus USB Programmer. $95 lands you the MicroView, USB Programmer, Learning Kit, and a Cross-Platform Interactive Course. For educators, a pledge of $1350 will land you 15 of the Learning Kits and Teaching Materials. At just $55 for the MicroView and Programmer, I think I just might add one of these to my ever expanding collection of development boards.
At some point, I am sure that most of us have fantasized about being the stereotypical mad scientist who spends his days in a lab filled with chemical experiments and electricity arcing from one source to the other. While most of us will never make it to this point in our scientific endeavors, we can have a cool device that sends arcs of electricity shooting from one electrode to another, and have it play music at the same time.
A new Kickstarter campaign from ExcelPhysics is offering kits that let backers build their own speakers that emanate sound by using nothing but the plasma generated when electricity arcs from one electrode to another. "A plasma speaker plays music just like your normal speaker but it uses an arc of electrical plasma running at 30,000 volts," the company said on its Kickstarter page. "Most people aren't aware that plasma arcs can be modulated to generate sounds so your friends will be in for a surprise when you explain to them that the plasma arc IS the speaker! Your typical speaker uses an electromagnet to vibrate small drums, but a plasma speaker uses an electrical arc to ionize and compress the air around it to play music, all with no moving parts!"
Electronic education kits were one of the highlights of my youth, and I spent many hours attaching resistors, wires and other components together via those little shiny springs. Today with microcontroller boards such as the Arduino being as cheap as they are, educational electronic kits have taken on a whole new look, and ease of use. The Portable Dual Arduino Micro XPlorerBoard is one of those new easy to use educational electronic boards.
Featuring support for two Arduino Micro boards, the XPlorerBoard makes life easy by eliminating loose parts, and adding in very handy features such as a 3V and 5V logic level converter, on-board power supply, and a full compliment of analog and digital sensors. Since the XPlorerBoard was designed for education, the entire board is coated in an anti-static coating and all of the leads on the bottom are protected as well.
The entire board along with accessories fits neatly into a standard binder as well, making the board portable and easy to carry to class or your favorite MakerSpace. The XPlorerBoard is being offered through a KickStarter campaign right now and appears to be one of the best value educational development kits on the market at the moment. Best of all, the XPlorerBoard is a product of Savanna, Georgia, and not too far from my home town!