Audio D-Touch: Tangible musical interface from EPFL 
Thursday, August 20, 2009, 12:24 PM - Music
Enrico Costanza from EPFL sent us a heads-up about the release of his tangible interface system for musical applications called Audio D-Touch. The site includes instructions for building your own d-touch system, as well as downloadable code for Windoze, Mac, and Linux (registration required).

Applications include a drum machine and a sequencer.



More videos are available here.

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Flapping wing micro-UAV from AeroVironment 
Thursday, July 16, 2009, 10:08 PM - Flying Contraptions
AeroVironment has developed a flapping wing micro-UAV under a DARPA-funded project. The prototype made a 20 second radio-controlled flight. There is a video on YouTube, and a short description of the recent milestone.

This is probably the work of micro-RC pioneer Matt Keenon, who works at AeroVironment.



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Stickduino now uses Atmega328 
Wednesday, July 15, 2009, 12:10 AM - Electronics
The new Stickduino Arduino clone as been upgraded with the new Atmega328, so as to match the latest version of the "official" Arduino. The price is still below $20.

Strangely enough, the stickduino website makes no mention of the change!

How do I learned about it then?

Well, I just received a new batch of Stickduinos and tried to program one, but the program wouldn't upload (I kept getting "stk500_recv() programmer is not responding" from avrdude). I started looking on the web for answers, but couldn't find anything. After fiddling for a while, I looked closely at the board, and realized it had an Atmega328. I configured the Arduino IDE for the new Duemilanove Arduino, and everything worked perfectly.

Still, I'm surprised the stickduino people don't mention this anywhere.

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Joel Frahm the Quotemaster 
Thursday, June 11, 2009, 05:32 PM - Jazz
Tenor sax virtuoso Joel Frahm was playing his regular Tuesday-night gig at La Lanterna in NYC this week, accompanied by Bill Campbell at the drums (as usual), and Johannes Weidenmuller at the bass (replacing Joe Martin). Joel is something of a "quotemaster": his solos are often peppered with snippets from all kinds of things from other jazz pieces, classical music, pop music, and just about anything under the sun.

This Tuesday, Joel was in a particularly playful mood, and his high-flying solos brought an unusally rich harvest of detectable/delectable quotes including such things as Peter and the Wolf, Michel Legrand's "Les moulins de mon cur" (Windmills of my mind), and (that's got to be a first) a theme from Star Wars!

Over the last 3 months, photographer Jimmy Katz has come to 8 or 10 of Joel's trio sessions at La Lanterna, equipped with a compact digital multi-track recorder. Each session he recorded has about 3 hours of music. Hopefully, these will soom be distilled and made available.

By ze way, the complete collection of Joel's sessions at Small's are available for on-line listening here.
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Huuuge collection of 3 views 
Saturday, June 6, 2009, 04:09 PM - Flying Contraptions
Bertrand pointed me to this positively gigantic collection of airplane 3 views at rcgroups.

They even have one of my favorites: the obscure the coleoptere.

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cyclogyro 
Thursday, May 14, 2009, 07:06 PM - Flying Contraptions
There seems to be a renewal of interest in the heretofore abandoned concept of the cyclogyro

The cyclogyro has two rotating sets of "paddles" whose angle of attack is cyclically modified to create lift in the desired direction. The principle is well described by the animation in this Wikipedia article.

There is a YouTube video of a thethered micro-size cyclogyro, which was designed at the National University of Singapore. A detailed description of the design is available here.

A team of Japanese roboticists has apparently revived the concept, using a "pantograph" mechanism to vary the angle of attack (link to IEEE Tans. Mechatronics article),
and a short description with pictures on PhysOrg.

I'm somewhat doubtful of the efficiency of the design, but it looks like a fun thing to build.

There is a number of article on the web that describe 1930's designs for cyclogyros. I am somewhat surprised that none of these designs seem to include an anti-torque system. These paddles are bound to generate a high torque that would make the vehicle pitch up (which is why the cyclogyro on the YouTube video has a propeller in the back).


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Rovio robots play soccer at NYU 
Thursday, May 7, 2009, 11:39 PM - Robotics
This past semester, I have been teaching an undergraduate course Introduction to Robotics. The first series of assignments included programming Arduinos to read sensors and actuate servos and DC motors. The second series included programming a Pololu 3Pi robot to follow a line (using a PID controller), and perform dead reckoning (coming home after following a line to its end).

The last series of homework consisted in getting Rovio robots to play soccer. I feel I should mention this here because the class page showing videos and pictures of the students' soccer-playing Rovios had been mentioned by a number of blogs, including Slashgear and RoboCommunity.

The Rovio robots can be seen as "Wifi webcams on wheels". The goal of the project was to push a tennis ball into a goal. The tennis ball is bright yellow, and the goal posts are red. The rovios are controlled by software running on a laptop which performs the vision and control algorithms. The software is written in our very own Lush language, which is a dialect of Lisp.

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Bill McHenry at La Lanterna 
Wednesday, April 1, 2009, 12:57 AM - Jazz
Tonight at La Lanterna in NYC tenor sax Bill McHenry was sitting in for Joel Frahm, with bassist Joe Martin and drummer Bill Campbell. They played two of Bill McHenry's new compositions "Violetta" and "Lines" which I thought were particularly interesting.

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micRo CNC kit 
Thursday, March 26, 2009, 03:00 AM - Misc TechnoToys
Lumenlab proposes the micRo CNC kit for $500 for a partial kit and $1000 for a complete kit. You can also get a low-end Dell PC to control the CNC machine for $330, pre-configured with Ubuntu.
The total travel dimensions are 34cm x 25cm x 8.9 cm.

[via Makezine blog]



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XBee carrier boards 
Thursday, March 26, 2009, 02:50 AM - Electronics
The Makershed has a new XBee adapter for $10 with 10 pins, some which directly fit in an FTDI serial USB adapter cable. It includes level shifters and a 3.3v regulator and can be plugged into a proto board.

Newmicros also has an XBee USB dongle, for $40.

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Cheap dual wireless cameras 
Saturday, March 14, 2009, 09:09 PM - Electronics
Intelspy sells a surveillance system with two wireless cameras and a 2-channel receiver for $130. The interesting thing is that the claimed range is over 500m.
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Arduino-based magnetic levitation 
Saturday, March 14, 2009, 09:00 PM - Electronics
A cool little hack in which an Arduino is used to levitate a magnetic object and regulate its distance from the levitating electromagnet.
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Arduino JEP shields 
Monday, March 9, 2009, 10:04 PM - Electronics
This page has a bunch of interesting prototyping shields for the Arduino, including relays, power FETs, motor drivers and such (via Makezine blog).


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Micro RC Spitfire RTF from Plantraco: 1.7g and 15cm wingspan 
Thursday, March 5, 2009, 07:47 PM - Flying Contraptions
Micro RC manufacturer Plantraco has a Ready-to-Fly 1/72 scale RC Spitfire, with a wingspan of 15cm, and incredible weight of 2.7 grams. The plane is available for $99 including the radio. It uses a 4mm coreless motor with a 32mm prop, a 0.38g 2channel receiver (rudder and throttle), a 0.07g rudder actuator, and a 0.95g 20mAh lipo battery.

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Akai EWI 4000s patch editor for Linux 
Sunday, March 1, 2009, 01:52 AM - Misc Music
I just noticed this nice Akai EWI 4000s patch editor/librarian app called EWItool. The best part is that it runs on Linux (as well as on Windoze). There is a pre-compiled debian package too.

It can automagically fetch patches from EWIpatchExchange.

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WRAM show 
Monday, February 23, 2009, 01:28 PM - Misc TechnoToys
The WRAM show is an R/C modeling trade show that takes place every February at the Westchester county center in White Plains, north of the New York City. The show usually occupies two floor and the booths are filled with manufacturers, importers/distributors, and retailers showing their exotic gear. This year however, the show was rather disappointing and occupied only one floor. Many of the manufacturers that usually have a booth were absent, and many of the big on-line retailers like Hobby Lobby and BP Hobbies were absent. It looks like the economic crisis is having an impact.

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