Yahama digital trumpet at Hammacher-Schlemmer 
Friday, November 24, 2006, 03:02 PM - Misc Music
Hammacher-Schlemmer, the way-overpriced-but-occasionally-cool gadget store has the Yamaha EZ-TP digital trumpet for sale at 500 bucks.
You sing into it (and use the keys if you want), and the trumpet turns the pitch of your voice into synthesized sound, or to the corresponding MIDI messages (from which you can control another synth). The trumpet has been available in Japan for a while, but this is the first time it is available in the US.
I'm guessing it will be available from other vendors for a much lower price after the holiday season, but since my WX-5 MIDI Wind Controler is broken, I can't wait.

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Cheap waterproof digital video camera with recorder  
Friday, November 24, 2006, 02:49 PM - Electronics
My old buddy and Techno Toy Enthusiast Steve Crandall pointed me to this nice and cheap waterproof "action" camera from Oregon Scientific. For 130 bucks, it can record VGA-resolution video on a 2GB SD card. The camera is designed to be mounted on a helmet, but it could very well be mounted in a miniature flying contraption.

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Antares 20E: a full scale electric sailplane 
Monday, November 20, 2006, 06:56 PM - Flying Contraptions
Lange Flugzeugbau sells a full-scale electric powered sailplane called the Antares 20E.

This is not a model: it's a full-scale electric saiplane.
The power is supplied by 72 Lithium Ion cells from SAFT, which can take the sailplane to 3000 feet on a full charge.

The saiplane has an on-board computer running Linux.

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Sony Mylo 
Monday, November 20, 2006, 06:35 PM - Robotics
LinuxDevices has an article about the new Sony Mylo, a hand-held computer running Linux/Qtopia with Wifi, music and video playback, Skype, etc...

The interesting thing is the Freescale i.MX21
around which the Mylo is built. It has a lot of interesting features for embedded robotics applications.

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IMU for 100 bucks 
Wednesday, November 15, 2006, 12:02 AM - Electronics
Sparkfun has a 5 degree of freedom Inertial Measurement Unit for a little over $110. It does Roll, Pitch, X, Y, and Z, not Yaw. Should be easy to build a UAV auto-pilot with one of these.

Perhaps one could add an altimeter based on this barometric pressure sensor, with a claimed 9cm resolution. One could also include a GPS using one of those modules.

Sparkfun has tons of cool sensors, electronic components, microcontrolers, and development kits for robotics and such.
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high-power laser from a DVD burner 
Tuesday, November 14, 2006, 11:42 PM - Electronics
Fun with Lasers is a nice page about how to get the high-power laser diode from a DVD burner. The power is roughly 200mW. Since a DVD burner is roughly $35, that's a whole lot cheaper than the $200/150mW Pulsar laser from Wicked Lasers.

A 200mW laser can burn through plastic. I wonder if this could be used to build a cheap CNC Laser machine to cut Depron.....
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Techno Toys? 
Monday, November 13, 2006, 04:26 PM
My name is Yann LeCun, welcome to my non-serious blog. Most days, I'm an academic and computer scientist at New York University's Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences. I work on such things as machine learning, computer vision, and robotics (see my serious home page or my lab's web site if you want to know more about that).

But enough bragging: this blog is about my other interests, which are pretty typical for a geek with an engineering background like me
- Technological Toys
- Miniature Flying Contraptions: including radio-controled planes, particuarly if they are electric powered, very small, and unusual in their design.
- Robotics: I'm not just a professional roboticist, I'm also an amateur. I like autonomous robots, particulalry when they can fly.
- Music: particularly Jazz, contemporary, and synthesized music, and Renaissance music.
- Technology and Politics.

A sample of my airplanes can be found here.

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