Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Arduino Wifi Shield is finally here!

Finally, a TCP/IP WIFI "co-processor". Takes all the load off the arduino, and can run independently.

From http://arduino.cc/blog/2012/08/16/the-arduino-wifi-shield-is-now-available/

We’ve been working for a while on this new wifi shield for Arduino that is quite different from what you can find already on the market.

Instead of just getting the usual pre-made module we decided to build a product that would encourage hacking and modifications so we decided to use an AVR32 processor running an open source version of TCP/IP and the WIFI software stack. The Arduino communicates over SPI with the AVR32 and this in turn controls the WIFI module, an HDG104 from H&D Wireless. Following the Arduino tradition the full software stack running on the AVR32 is released as open source as well as the Arduino library that controls the shield.

Having the full source for the software stack allows adding more complex protocols directly on the AVR32 without using the limited code space of the atmega328 on the Arduino. On top of this, skilled C developers can re-program the shield to operate as a standalone device without the need of an Arduino connected to it.  Since we expect that there will be amazing new features created by the community we made updating its firmware very easy, just connect a usb cable to the shield. We believe this opens up to a lot of hacking potential.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Sensors & Detectors

Detectors in science

In order to study anything in science, you must first be able to detect it. The most interesting things, of course, are those that we can detect with our own senses. We then use devices to amplify what we can sense, in order to study those energy forms more thoroughly.
We also use detectors to study energy forms that we are not able to sense, such as magnetic fields. Detectors and sensors make up the starting point for most scientific studies.

Man-made detectors

Scientists have invented various types of sensors to detect energy forms. For example, a smoke detector in you home will set off an alarm when the energy from smoke or heat reaches its detection device. The microphone on you tape recorder detects the energy from sound waves and creates an electric signal that records the sound.
  • Solar cells and photographic film detect light.
  • Microphones detect sound.
  • Thermometers sense the change in heat or temperature.
  • Pressure gauges detect touch.
  • Scales detect and measure the effect of gravity.
  • There are many devices that detect various chemicals and even odors.
  • A magnetometer detects magnetic fields.
  • An electric meter detects electricity.
  • A Geiger counter detects atomic radiation.

Changing signals

The signals received by a detector may often be manipulated to gather desired information. Often the signal received is weak, so it must be amplified. Sometimes the signal is too strong, so it must be filtered. Extraneous signals and noise also must sometimes be filtered out, so that only the desired signal comes through.

Amplifiers

Besides detecting energy forms, many devices amplify or enlarge the signal. Some are mechanical, but most amplifiers are now electronic. Examples of amplifiers include:
  • A telescope makes distant objects appear closer.
  • Electronic amplifiers can increase the level of sound
  • Very faint chemical signals (odors or tastes) can be amplified electronically to give their details.

Filtering

If you would try to study the Sun, the light would be too bright to view or photograph. A filter could be used to lower the light level. It could also filter out all colors except those that you want to measure.
Sometimes electrical signals on the radio or television include static and other forms of noise. Electronic filters eliminate the noise and allow you to get a good, clear signal.

More at http://www.school-for-champions.com/science/sensors.htm

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Digispark, the tiny "Arduino"

Digispark:

We set out to build a little brother to the wonderful Arduino line of development boards - we were tired of leaving our valuable Arduino's behind in projects, or worse, ripping apart old projects to build new ones! We also felt the Arduino was too big and powerful for many projects where we only needed a few pins, or an SPI or I2C bus. And so the Digispark was born! To us, the best things about the Arduino is the community, the easy of use, and the IDE - by making the Digispark an Arduino compatible development board all of those remain common. Plug it in, power your project with USB or external sources, program it with the Arduino IDE, and easily use existing Arduino code! But with its small size and low cost you can feel free to leave it in your project, give one to a friend, and use them everywhere!

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/digistump/digispark-the-tiny-arduino-enabled-usb-dev-board