This plasma arc speaker is way cooler than your expensive Hi-Fi setup

Charles Gantt | Modding | Mar 14, 2014 4:48 PM CDT

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!"

The Plasma Speaker works by plugging in an audio source such as your smartphone, laptop, or radio. The audio input is converted into a pulse that causes an arc of high-votage electricity to jump from one electrode to another, and the audio is reproduced as sound waves emanating from the plasma. This is definitely one Kickstarter I am backing, and you should too. Head over to the source link below for more information.

Continue reading: This plasma arc speaker is way cooler than your expensive Hi-Fi setup (full post)

First curved coins from USMint unveiled, commemorate Baseball HoF

Charles Gantt | Business, Financial & Legal | Mar 14, 2014 1:59 PM CDT

Traditionally coins minted in the US have a very distinctive round and flat shape, but a new release from the US Mint has all but shattered that pattern. A new commemorative design will soon roll out that honors the National Baseball Hall of Fame's 75th birthday in the form of the country's first curved coin. The round coin takes the profile of a baseball and is featured in both gold and silver mintings.

The coins profile and design are loosely based on the curved shape of the International Year of Astronomy coins minted by France back in 2009, as well as Australia's Southern Cross coins. Designed by California Artist, Cassie McFarland, the coins feature a baseball on the front and a catchers mitt on the reverse. Her winning "Hand full of Gold" design was chosen from a pool of 178 entries and was based off of a baseball glove she used as a kid.

"Raised loving the native pastime, a glove assisted me not only as a tool, but helped foster communication between my family and peers," she wrote in her submission. "It is a fundamental symbol for teamwork and camaraderie." Up to 50,000 $5 gold coins, 400,000 $1 silver coins and 750,000 half-dollar coins will be minted, and will cost an extra $35, $10 and $5 each, which will go toward funding the Baseball Hall of Fame's non-profit operations.

Continue reading: First curved coins from USMint unveiled, commemorate Baseball HoF (full post)

Check out this dual Arduino Micro XPlorerBoard on Kickstarter

Charles Gantt | Modding | Mar 14, 2014 12:53 PM CDT

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!

Continue reading: Check out this dual Arduino Micro XPlorerBoard on Kickstarter (full post)

Pi-Bot is an educational robot platform built around the Arduino

Charles Gantt | Modding | Mar 14, 2014 9:46 AM CDT

Educational robotics hold a special place in my heart, and over the last few years, I have designed several different models that I have used to teach both my self as well as others the theory behind embedded electronics for robots. All of my designs have been based on the Arduino development platform though, something many educational robotic kits default to. A new project on Kickstarter aims to continue trend and focuses its build around Arduino to offer an affordable educational robot.

The Pi-Bot has been engineered from the ground up, with several full redesigns throughout the process to make things more affordable, functional, and educational. It's makers have included students in the design process as well to ensure that the project is appealing and fun. The Pi-Bot gets its name from its Pi symbol shaped chassis, and not from the utilization of a Raspberry Pi like the name would have you believe. The educational kit is being offered through Kickstarter and is well on its way to reaching its funding goal now. Check out the source link below for more information.

"Just as humans rely on skeletons, robots need a solid chassis to move around. Our Pi-Bot shape was not born overnight. In fact, we didn't even set out to design a "Pi"? shaped robot! We explored various shapes and sizes, experimented with multiple CAD models and tried out numerous laser-cutting test cycles. We considered everything from a boring, but easy to make, rectangular chassis all the way to a circular "Pie" Bot (where sensors would be added on like toppings). Here's a look at some of our original designs and prototypes!"

Continue reading: Pi-Bot is an educational robot platform built around the Arduino (full post)

Kindle Fire users get NCAA March Madness Live app

Shane McGlaun | Software & Apps | Mar 14, 2014 9:18 AM CDT

One of the biggest events in college sports is the NCAA March Madness tournament that is played each year. This tournament has 67 games and a total of about 150 hours of live TV coverage before the winner is announced. If you are a fan of March Madness that has a Kindle Fire tablet, you will have a new way to enjoy the games this year.

The NCAA March Madness Live app has been around for platforms like Android and iOS for a while. The app lets the users watch live games wherever they are via a web connection. This year the app will be offered on another platform, the Amazon Kindle Fire. That means Kindle Fire owners with a cable subscription to a participating provider can watch games on the go.

Users do have to log into the app using the username and password from their cable or satellite provider. If you are wondering, the selection for the teams that will play in the tournament will start on March 16. The games start on March 18 and will continue until the winner is announced on April 5-7.

Continue reading: Kindle Fire users get NCAA March Madness Live app (full post)

Element14 now offers 7 and 4-inch LCD screens for Beagle Bone boards

Charles Gantt | Modding | Mar 14, 2014 9:00 AM CDT

A few months back I reviewed what I consider to be one of the best development boards on the market today, the Beagle Bone Black. In that time I have grown to realize the true potential that is locked inside the Beagle Bone Black, and unlike the Raspberry Pi (another favorite of mine), the Beagle Bone Black has much more I/O to share even when connected to a massive LCD touch-screen.

Recently, Element14 unveiled one of the coolest "Capes" for the Beagle Bone series to date. Dubbed the Beagle Bone View, these new add-on LCD screens come in 4.3-inch and 7-inch sizes and feature a 4-wire resistive touch panel. The 4.3-inch model features an effective resolution of 480x272 pixels while the 7-inch version has a slightly higher resolution of 800x480 pixels. The boards are powered directly from the Beagle Bone Black or Beagle Bone with no external power connection needed to the screens.

The BB-View has been designed with convenience in mind and extends the I/O interfaces of the BeagleBone & BeagleBone Black allowing users to utilize a touchscreen LCD display without sacrificing I/O interface access. BB-View fits on top of the BeagleBone or BeagleBone Black and still has full access to all the GPIOs via two 46-pin connectors. It's equipped with five switches (four for GPIOs & one for Boot) and two user defined LEDs.

Continue reading: Element14 now offers 7 and 4-inch LCD screens for Beagle Bone boards (full post)

Intel rumored to launch 16-thread Haswell-E platform at Computex

Anthony Garreffa | CPU, APU & Chipsets | Mar 14, 2014 7:30 AM CDT

It looks like we could expect Intel to surprise the world by releasing its Haswell-E processors at Computex in Taipei, in just a few months time. The chipmaker is preparing its new Core i7 Extreme CPU, as well as its X99 chipset.

Intel's Haswell-E processor will be the company's first desktop processor to feature eight cores, for a total of 16 threads. We should also expect 20MB of L3 cache, quad-channel DDR4 memory support, Turbo Boost 2 technology, an 40 integrated PCI Express 3.0 lanes. The new Haswell-E CPUs will be made on Intel's 22nm process.

The new Haswell-E processors will arrive as the 5000-series, compatible only with the X99 chipset and LGA2011-3 socket. The platform is being targeted toward enthusiasts, so we should see some exotic motherboards unveiled at Computex by the usual players: ASUS, GIGABYTE, ASRock and so forth. The new X99 chipset should deliver some great new features and technologies, too.

Continue reading: Intel rumored to launch 16-thread Haswell-E platform at Computex (full post)

ASRock unveils its own cloud storage service, ASRock Cloud

ASRock has announced that it has partnered up with Kloudian to unveil its own cloud storage service, ASRock Cloud. ASRock Cloud includes a three-year subscription to Orbweb.ME Professional, which is priced at $149.97.

This is a personal cloud storage service which is normally priced at $49.99 per year, as well as one-month upgrade to Orbweb.ME Ultimate, which gives consumers access to a Remote Desktop function. James Wei, the CEO of Kloudian, said: "It is very exciting to work with ASRock, one of the world's largest motherboard manufacturers. With the continued proliferation of mobile devices and the growing demand to 'stay connected', we are proud to provide a powerful and convenient solution to enable users the freedom of their portable device plus the power of their ASRock personal computer."

ASRock Cloud comes in both iOS and Android apps, or you can your web browser on your PC, where you can then remotely power on your PC, stream music, photos and video clips remotely through Orbweb.ME's file Xplorer, at anytime, anywhere. In order to jump in on this, you have to own an ASRock motherboard, and then visit this link for more info.

Continue reading: ASRock unveils its own cloud storage service, ASRock Cloud (full post)

Glee's Lea Michele on American Horror Story? We'd like to see that

Alyssa Coulter | Celebrities & Entertainment | Mar 13, 2014 9:42 PM CDT

Lea Michele, who is best known for her role as Rachel Barry on the hit television series Glee, dished to Billboard magazine about her overwhelming desire to join the cast of American Horror Story. According to Lea Michele, she has literally begged Ryan Murphy, who is the creator, writer, director, and producer (talented fellow) of both Glee, and American Horror Story, to let her in on an upcoming season of American Horror Story. According to Lea Michele (via Billboard):

"I've basically talked to him about it every day. If I could get my fans to start working on that for me, that would be great. I've been literally begging him. But it would probably have to be for their season five, or something like that. I think it would be a great opportunity for people in the acting world to see."

What exactly could Lea Michele have to offer a dark, hellish, nuanced-gothic television show like American Horror Story? Well, by looking at her track record, quite a lot.

Continue reading: Glee's Lea Michele on American Horror Story? We'd like to see that (full post)

Pro gamer attempted suicide after revealing match-fixing scandal

Roshan Ashraf Shaikh | Gaming | Mar 13, 2014 8:25 PM CDT

League of Legends professional gamer Cheon 'Promise' Min-Ki attempted suicide by jumping from a twelve story building after he revealed an eSports match-fixing and scam via Reddit. Currently, the South Korean based gamer is in a serious condition.

Promise was a part of an eSports team where he claimed that it was nothing more than a scam. The gamer confessed that he and his team mates were told that they will receive cash sponsorships and computers. But what he came to know later that the sponsors will only give them gaming gear in exchange for the rights to the team's brand name.

He added,"Our manager Noh had lied to us, and took out a loan to pay for our housing, living expenses, computers, and even our salaries. He was planning on placing illegal bets on eSports games and fixing them to win back the borrowed money and make a profit."

Continue reading: Pro gamer attempted suicide after revealing match-fixing scandal (full post)