This Handy Wall Mount Gets Your Bike Out Of The Way In Style

Johnny Wikk wrote in to show off his clever bike rack that gives your wall the ability to “hold” your things with its very own hands. What you see is pretty much all there is. There just isn’t a ton to say about this clever build. Johnny himself doesn’t say […]

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The post This Handy Wall Mount Gets Your Bike Out Of The Way In Style appeared first on Make: DIY Projects and Ideas for Makers.

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This drink machine pours, slices, and dispenses mint!

Automated cocktail machines can be fun projects, but this device by CamdenS5 takes things to a whole new level. Not only can it pour liquids from multiple bottles, but it chops limes, dispenses sugar and mint, and even features a refrigerated compartment to keep ingredients at the appropriate temperature.

An Arduino Mega along with an Uno are employed for control, while user interface is provided by an Android tablet affixed to the front of the assembly. 

There’s a lot going on mechanically inside, including a linear actuator for chopping, and augers that dole out mint/sugar as needed. 

Details on the build are available here, with code/files ready for download, and an interactive Fusion 360 model that you can manipulate in your browser.

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Enginursday: Building a Wireless EL Wire Dance Suit, Part 1

Continuing on my journey of merging art and technology, I decided to try using EL once again for my students' 2017 spring performance with Streetside Studios. If you have not been following along with some of my Enginursdays, be sure to get caught up with the following blog posts.

Let's check out some of my first designs. For Mark I, EL tape and panels were inserted between a shirt and clear vinyl. It did not pan out as well as I thought, since the tiny wires attached to the tape/panels kept breaking off at the joint, and the electronics kept falling out of their pockets. For the next version, I sewed together a harness using non-addressable LEDs. With the success of the second version, I added an accelerometer, N-Channel MOSFET and Arduino to control the LEDs for Mark III.

Mark I: EL Dance Shirt Mark II: LED Dance Harness Mark III: Motion-Controlled LED Dance Harness

Click on the images/GIFs/links for a closer look.

Mark IV: Wireless EL Wire Dance Suit

After some experience adding lights to shirts and harness, I decided to expand to the arms and legs. Instead of using EL tape and panel forms like the first version, I decided to try out EL wire. While the EL wire did not have as much surface area as the flat tape and panel, it was more flexible to a certain point. I also had more time to plan it out over the course of three months. Off I went, sewing 42 meters (coincidence?, I think not) to hoodies and pants. For those that use Imperial units, that's ~1,653.5 inches of hand-sewed EL wire. I decided to join in on the fun with my own suit, so I opted to make a wireless glove to control the suits using XBees and EL sequencers. Behold, my students and I wearing Mark IV.

Wireless EL Dance Suits in Action

How Do You Build Such a Thing? Part 1

As with any project, you will want to start small and work on the project in parts. In this case, I needed to build a Wireless Glove Controller for the project to control each dancer's EL sequencer. Below is a tutorial showing how I built the wireless glove controller to control a simple RGB LED. The concept and coding used to control the RGB LED is the same as toggling each channel of an EL sequencer remotely.

New!

Wireless Glove Controller

April 24, 2019

Build a wireless glove controller with Arduinos to trigger an LED using XBees!

Tune in some time in the future when I go over the next part of the wireless EL suit. ;D

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Google's Sensorvault Can Tell Police Where You've Been

Do you know where you were five years ago? Did you have an Android phone at the time? It turns out Google might know—and it might be telling law enforcement.

In a new article, the New York Times details a little-known technique increasingly used by law enforcement to figure out everyone who might have been within certain geographic areas during specific time periods in the past. The technique relies on detailed location data collected by Google from most Android devices as well as iPhones and iPads that have Google Maps and other apps installed. This data resides in a Google-maintained database called “Sensorvault,” and because Google stores this data indefinitely, Sensorvault “includes detailed location records involving at least hundreds of millions of devices worldwide and dating back nearly a decade.”

The data Google is turning over to law enforcement is so precise that one deputy police chief said it “shows the whole pattern of life.” It’s collected even when people aren’t making calls or using apps, which means it can be even more detailed than data generated by cell towers.

One deputy police chief said Google’s location data “shows the whole pattern of life.”

The location data comes from GPS signals, cellphone towers, nearby Wi-Fi devices and Bluetooth beacons. According to Google, users opt in to collection of the location data stored in Sensorvault. However, Google makes it very hard to resist opting in, and many users may not understand that they have done so. Also, Android devices collect lots of other location data by default, and it’s extremely difficult to opt out of that collection.

Using a single warrant—often called a “geo-fence” or “reverse location” warrant—police are able to access location data from dozens to hundreds of devices—devices that are linked to real people, many of whom (and perhaps in some cases all of whom) have no tie to criminal activity and have provided no reason for suspicion. The warrants cover geographic areas ranging from single buildings to multiple blocks, and time periods ranging from a few hours to a week.

So far, according to the Times and other outlets, this technique is being used by the FBI and police departments in Arizona, North Carolina, California, Florida, Minnesota, Maine, and Washington, although there may be other agencies using it across the country. But police aren’t limiting the use of the technique to egregious or violent crimes—Minnesota Public Radio reported the technique has been used to try to identify suspects who stole a pickup truck and, separately, $650 worth of tires. Google is getting up to 180 requests a week for data and is, apparently, struggling to keep up with the demand.

Law enforcement appears to be seeking warrants to access this extremely detailed location data. However, it’s questionable whether the affidavits supporting those warrants truly establish probable cause and also questionable whether judges fully understand what they’re authorizing when issuing these warrants.

According to the Times, the warrants frequently rely on an officer’s assertion that the fact that “Americans owned cellphones and that Google held location data on many of these phones” somehow supports probable cause for the warrant. The warrants also list GPS coordinates that supposedly “geo-fence” the geographic area for which they are requesting data, but many don’t include a map showing the area itself. Without a visual representation, there’s almost no way to tell how large or small the geographic area covered by the warrant is.

Law enforcement seems to be using a three-step process to learn the names of device holders (in some cases, a single warrant authorizes all three steps). In the first step, the officer specifies the area and time period of interest, and in response, Google gives the police information on all the devices that were there, identified by anonymous numbers—this step may reveal hundreds of devices.

After that, officers can narrow the scope of their request to fewer devices, and Google will release even more detailed data, including data on where devices traveled outside the original requested area and time period. This data, which still involves multiple devices, reveals detailed travel patterns. In the final step, detectives review that travel data to see if any devices appear relevant to the crime, and they ask for the users’ names and other information for specific individual devices.

This technique is problematic for several reasons. First, unlike other methods of investigation used by the police, the police don’t start with an actual suspect or even a target device—they work backward from a location and time to identify a suspect. This makes it a fishing expedition—the very kind of search that the Fourth Amendment was intended to prevent. Searches like these—where the only information the police have is that a crime has occured—are much more likely to implicate innocent people who just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Every device owner in the area during the time at issue becomes a suspect—for no other reason than that they own a device that shares location information with Google.

Second, as the Supreme Court recognized in Carpenter v United States last summer, detailed travel data like this can provide “an intimate window into a person's life, revealing not only his particular movements, but through them his ‘familial, political, professional, religious, and sexual associations.’” This is exactly what the deputy police chief recognized when he said Google location data “shows the whole pattern of life.”

Third, there’s a high probability the true perpetrator isn’t even included in the data disclosed by Google. For these kinds of warrants, officers are just operating off a hunch that the unknown suspect had a cellphone that generated location data collected by Google. This shouldn’t be enough to support probable cause, because it’s just as likely that the suspect wasn’t carrying an Android phone or using Google apps at the time.

Techniques like this also reveal big problems with our current warrant system. Even though the standard for getting a warrant is higher than other legal procedures—and EFF pushes for a warrant requirement for digital data and devices—warrants, alone, are no longer enough to protect our privacy. Through a single warrant the police can access exponentially more and more detailed information about us than they ever could in the past. Here, the police are using a single warrant to get access to location information for hundreds of devices. In other contexts, through a single warrant, officers can access all the data on a cell phone or a hard drive; all email stored in a Google account (possibly going back years); and all information linked to a social media account (including photos, posts, private communications, and contacts).

We shouldn’t allow the government to have such broad access to our digital lives. One way we could limit access is by passing legislation that mandates heightened standards, minimization procedures, and particularity requirements for digital searches. We already have this in laws that regulate wiretaps, where police, in addition to demonstrating probable cause, must state that they have first tried other investigative procedures (or state why other procedures wouldn’t work) and also describe how the wiretap will be limited in scope and time.

The Fourth Amendment itself also supports limits on the scope of individual warrants. It states that warrants must “particularly describ[e] the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” However, many courts merely rubber stamp warrant requests without questioning the broad scope of the request.

As the Times article notes, this technique implicates innocent people and has a real impact on people’s lives. Even if you are later able to clear your name, if you spend any time at all in police custody, this could cost you your job, your car, and your ability to get back on your feet after the arrest. One man profiled in the Times article spent nearly a week in police custody and was having trouble recovering, even months after the arrest. He was arrested at work and subsequently lost his job. Due to the arrest, his car was impounded for investigation and later repossessed. These are the kinds of far-reaching consequences that can result from overly broad searches, so courts should subject geo-location warrants to far more scrutiny.

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Friday Product Post: You’ve Been Thunderstruck!

Hello, there everyone! It's Friday, and that means we have some new products to show you all - starting with a Lightning Detector Breakout. Yup, you read that right! We also have the new Google Coral Single Board Computer, and three DMX cables. Let's take a closer look at all!

Storm's Coming, Ani!

SparkFun Lightning Detector - AS3935 (Qwiic)

added to your cart!

SparkFun Lightning Detector - AS3935 (Qwiic)

In stock SEN-15276

The SparkFun Qwiic Lightning Detector adds lightning detection to your next weather station to make sure you are aware of any…

$24.95

Add the SparkFun Qwiic Lightning Detector to your next weather station to make sure you are aware of any potential hazardous weather heading your way. The AS3935 is capable of detecting lightning up to 40 km away, with an accuracy of 1 km to the storm front, and a sensitive antenna tuned to pick up lightning events in the 500 kHz band. Utilizing our handy Qwiic system, no soldering is required to connect it to the rest of your system. However, we still have broken out 0.1"-spaced pins in case you prefer to use a breadboard.


Google Coral Development Board

added to your cart!

Google Coral Development Board

In stock DEV-15318

Machine learning development board from Google.

$156.95

The Coral Dev Board is a single-board computer with a removable system-on-module (SOM) that contains eMMC, SOC, wireless radios and the Edge TPU. You can use the Dev Board as a single-board computer when you need accelerated ML processing in a small form factor, but it also serves as an evaluation kit for the SOM. You can use the dev board to prototype internet-of-things (IoT) devices and other embedded systems that demand fast on-device ML inferencing, and then scale to production using just the 40 mm × 48 mm SOM board combined with your custom PCB hardware using board-to-board connectors.


XLR-3 (DMX) Cable - 5ft

added to your cart!

XLR-3 (DMX) Cable - 5ft

In stock CAB-15308

This is a five foot long DMX cable capable of better communications for lighting and special effects through standard or digi…

$4.95

This is a five-foot-long (~1.5 m) DMX cable capable of better communications for lighting and special effects through standard or digital communication protocols. We specifically like to use this cable with our ESP32 Thing Plus DMX to LED Shield, but it can also be used to interface with other DMX fixtures, as well!

If you need a longer cable, you're in luck! We also offer cable lengths of 10 ft and 25 ft.


That's it for this week! As always, we can't wait to see what you make! Shoot us a tweet @sparkfun, or let us know on Instagram or Facebook. We’d love to see what projects you’ve made!

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Linkdump: February 2019

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This Servo Driven Word Clock Creatively Mixes Light and Motion

  You’re probably already familiar with the term “word clock”. If not, just imagine a jumble of words, and you light up the particular ones that happen to represent the current time. It is a cool concept and we’ve seen many, many variations ranging from slapdash constructions to fine woodworking. […]

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The post This Servo Driven Word Clock Creatively Mixes Light and Motion appeared first on Make: DIY Projects and Ideas for Makers.

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This incredible word clock is controlled by 114 servos

Word clocks normally use an array of lights to show the time, and although this project does use lights, how it works is much different than others. 

LEDs for the device are hidden behind a thin layer of PVC, while 114 tiny SG90 servos move the lights and their 3D-printed frames back and forth. The result is a stunning display where the time is spelled out by the appropriate characters. These progressively come into focus, setting them apart from inactive letters which appear to fade into the background.

An Arduino Nano drives the assembly, along with an infrared controller setup and an RTC module for accurate timekeeping. A demo can be seen in the first video below, and the very involved build process is highlighted in the second clip. 

What has 114 LEDs and is always running? As you may know the answer is a word clock. What has 114 LEDs + 114 servos and is always moving? The answer is this servo controlled word clock.

For this project I teamed up with a friend of mine which turned out to be a must because of the large effort of this build. In addition, my electronic and his mechanical skillset complemented each other quite well. The idea for this adaptation of the popular word clock came to us while we were making a regular one as Christmas gift. There, we noticed that it is also possible to project the letters from the back onto a white sheet of paper. At the time this was only a workaround solution to hide our crappy craftsmanship since we ended up with a lot of bubbles while attaching a vinyl sticker with the letters to the back of a glass plate. We then noticed that one can achieve interesting effects when bending the sheet of paper since the letters change size and become blurred. This made us come up with the idea to make a word clock where the letters are projected from the back onto a screen and can be moved back and forth to change the size of the projected image. At first we were a bit reluctant to build this project because of the costs and effort it takes when you want to move each of the 114 letters individually. So we tossed with the idea to make a version where just every word that is used to display the time can be moved back and forth. However, after seeing that the Epilog contest was coming up on Instructables asking for epic projects, and also after finding relatively cheap servo motors, we decided to go all the way and make a proper version where each letter is individually controlled by a servo

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Coding Breakout’s brick-breaking action | Wireframe #11

Atari’s Breakout was one of the earliest video game blockbusters. Here’s how to recreate it in Python.

The original Breakout, designed by Nolan Bushnell and Steve Bristow, and famously built by a young Steve Wozniak.

Atari Breakout

The games industry owes a lot to the humble bat and ball. Designed by Allan Alcorn in 1972, Pong was a simplified version of table tennis, where the player moved a bat and scored points by ricocheting a ball past their opponent. About four years later, Atari’s Nolan Bushnell and Steve Bristow figured out a way of making Pong into a single-player game. The result was 1976’s Breakout, which rotated Pong’s action 90 degrees and replaced the second player with a wall of bricks.

Points were scored by deflecting the ball off the bat and destroying the bricks; as in Pong, the player would lose the game if the ball left the play area. Breakout was a hit for Atari, and remains one of those game ideas that has never quite faded from view; in the 1980s, Taito’s Arkanoid updated the action with collectible power-ups, multiple stages with different layouts of bricks, and enemies that disrupted the trajectory of the player’s ball.

Breakout had an impact on other genres too: game designer Tomohiro Nishikado came up with the idea for Space Invaders by switching Breakout’s bat with a base that shot bullets, while Breakout’s bricks became aliens that moved and fired back at the player.

Courtesy of Daniel Pope, here’s a simple Breakout game written in Python. To get it running on your system, you’ll first need to install Pygame Zero. And download the code for Breakout here.

Bricks and balls in Python

The code above, written by Daniel Pope, shows you just how easy it is to get a basic version of Breakout up and running in Python, using the Pygame Zero library. Like Atari’s original, this version draws a wall of blocks on the screen, sets a ball bouncing around, and gives the player a paddle, which can be controlled by moving the mouse left and right. The ball physics are simple to grasp too. The ball has a velocity, vel – which is a vector, or a pair of numbers: vx for the x direction and vy for the y direction.

The program loop checks the position of the ball and whether it’s collided with a brick or the edge of the play area. If the ball hits the left side of the play area, the ball’s x velocity vx is set to positive, thus sending it bouncing to the right. If the ball hits the right side, vx is set to a negative number, so the ball moves left. Likewise, when the ball hits the top or bottom of a brick, we set the sign of the y velocity vy, and so on for the collisions with the bat and the top of the play area and the sides of bricks. Collisions set the sign of vx and vy but never change the magnitude. This is called a perfectly elastic collision.

To this basic framework, you could add all kinds of additional features: a 2012 talk by developers Martin Jonasson and Petri Purho, which you can watch on YouTube here, shows how the Breakout concept can be given new life with the addition of a few modern design ideas.

You can read this feature and more besides in Wireframe issue 11, available now in Tesco, WHSmith, and all good independent UK newsagents.

Or you can buy Wireframe directly from us – worldwide delivery is available. And if you’d like to own a handy digital version of the magazine, you can also download a free PDF.

Make sure to follow Wireframe on Twitter and Facebook for updates and exclusives, and for subscriptions, visit the Wireframe website to save 49% compared to newsstand pricing!

The post Coding Breakout’s brick-breaking action | Wireframe #11 appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

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Teardown of a Spex HS1000 monochromator controller

SPEXHS1000-600

Kerry Wong did a teardown of a SPEX HS1000 monochromator/spectrometer controller:

Monochromator is one of those things that has always fascinated me. Over the years, I have done quite a few experiments (I, II, III) with an EP200Mmd monochromator and it was a lot of fun. Because monochromators are such highly specialized equipment, decent ones are hard to come by at reasonable prices second hand. So my strategy has been to scour eBay once a while and pick up bit and pieces whenever I can.

See the full post on his blog.

Check out the video after the break.

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