New Blog URL!

I have taken an internet vacation as you may have noticed…

I’ve decided to start a new weblog — you can find it at

I’ll try to copy over all of these old posts into the new blog, but that might take a while as my time is not so abundant.

This will most likely be my final post on this blog. Thanksssss!

motorNet – proof of concept

quick video of a potentiometer controlling a servo motor over the interwebs.

arduino -> processing -> PHP [serverside] -> .txt file [serverside] and all the way back on the other computer.

i’ll put up code when it’s all ready to go. as it is, this is ready to go both ways, but for clarity i just filmed it going one way.

these two computers could be thousands of miles apart, just need to be online.

C3 Pilot Program

Wow, I have not posted in WAY too long.

I have done so much, and not documented it on here at all — but that will change! I’ll be putting stuff up more and more as i get it looking good.

To start, here’s a video of the DIY activity that I developed as part of the Collect, Construct, Change (C3) curriculum at the New York Hall of Science!


I’ll post up way more about this soon! Including… KIT INFORMATION!

5-volt USB Breakout board

I actually made this back in February (you can see the date etched next to my initials on the board), and never got around to posting about it.   It’s a super simple breakout footprint for a USB mini type-B port.  I wanted to make a really simple way to power my breadboard, and since my computer is usually on my work table, this seemed like a great idea.  I made about 60 of these tiny boards which measure about 2cm x 3cm and hope to sell them as a really cheap, tiny kit one day.

Other than the board itself, the only components necessary are a USB mini type-B port, a 22uF SMT capacitor, and two header pins, which can plug directly into the power rails of your breadboard.  My friend Jen asked me to help her put together a glowing LED circuit inside some ceramic pottery, and part of the concept was that the organic piece would need to plugged into to your computer to ‘live’.  Here are some images of the Arduino Pro Mini powered by my breakout board.

USB 5v Breakout board

USB 5v Breakout board

USB 5v Breakout board

USB 5v Breakout board

USB 5v Breakout board

bootloading an ATMega328 with an Arduino

Awesome! Arduino finally released a tutorial on how to bootload a chip using an Arduino board.

There have been several hacks to do this, but now they have released code to do it legit style!

The tutorial can be found here. I played around with the setup, and successfully did it by inserting my blank chip into another an Arduino, and used a second Arduino with their code uploaded to bootload the firmware. I discovered: 1. This is a feature available only with Arduino0018 (the latest version of the IDE). and cannot use an ATMega168 as the chip performing the bootload. It must be a Duemilanove with a 328 on board.

I then did it with a blank chip in a breadboard with a barebones circuit around it, and an Arduino board uploading to it. Here’s a really blurry, really anticlimactic video of the breadboard setup doing it’s thing. You can see once the bootloading has completed, the chip is no longer blank and begins flashing LED13.

Perfboard Hackduino Instructable!

Finally completed an instructable on how to assume your own $8 Arduino-compatible circuit.  I started last year to spread the word of using ATMega chips outside of the standard blue Arduino board.  There are so many benefits to this including cost and size/shape, but the ability to create entire circuits including other analog or digital parts (opAmps, relays, LED drivers, anything!) is the biggest reason any serious pcomper should know how to do this.

I’ve been busy, and so the hackduino blog has just been pretty much my projects (and a few of Nick Hardeman’s!) that use ATMega chips programmed with the Arduino IDE in completely custom circuits.  No more having to take apart a project just to reuse that bulky $30 Arduino board!! Hackduino 4-eva —

prototyping solar robots!

Amber Krishan, Justin Blinder, and I have begun prototyping solar robots in phys comp. The current goal to is to create a kinetic object, powered using solar energy. The only problem is, solar cells are not the most efficient, reliable, or consistent power source, so it is quite a challenge. Walking/rolling robots have been done sooo many times in so many ways, that we decided a flying robot was the way to go.

solar flying fail #1
"The Emu"

As I mentioned, solar energy is not the easiest to harness, and the key to ‘amplifying’ the power source is using large capacitors and a 1381S74U voltage detector (as well as several PNP and NPN transistors).  The schematic for this 1381-based solar engine came from solarbotics. These components (particularly the caps) add a lot of weight to the structure.  This translates to failure.  We kept the structure as light as possible, using hollow plastics, as little perfboard as possible (in fact the first prototype used a “dead bug” configuration, soldering the legs of each component directly to each other), and thin flexible solar panels.

"the Emu" : solar flying fail #1

In the end, we got all four blades to spin (these are hacked vibration motors), but failed to take off due to excessive weight, and let’s be real: not enough power.  It seems to me that building  really small bots using a photo-popper circuit will be the only way for any real success with solar energy.

"the Emu" : solar flying fail #1

Sonic Wire Sculptor iPhone app released!

My friend Zach has been collaborating with an amazing artist musician who i’ve known about for a few years now (since i used the sonia Processing library, which he created), Amit Pitaru. Anyway, a few months ago Zach asked me to beta test the Sonic Wire Sculptor iPhone app, a port of Amit’s globally exhibited interaction piece. You can see a vid of the original project here — imagine this on a screen in the center of a room with the sound played back in 3D space:I tested the app, gave some feedback and sent him a couple ‘sculptures’ i made. and they decided to use one as an example in the app! so check it out – my sculpture i called ‘march of the lemmings’ is included with the app. i am honored. Here’s Amit demoing the iPhone app that you can buy here.

augmented facemask

This was a project I made in June 2009 in Beijing, China. The facemask had green, yellow, and red LEDs that would indicate safe, medium, and dangerous levels of proximity. The project was inspired by the crowded streets of Beijing, and how physical walking down the street could be. The lights would color your face depending on how close something or someone might be to you, emphasizing personal space and public interaction.