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Businesses

Kenya's iHub Creates Accelerator Program For Tech-Hardware Entrepreneurs 16

An anonymous reader writes: The iHub in Nairobi has long been at the epicentre of tech developments in Africa, and has been lauded by both Barack Obama and Satya Nadella in recent weeks. It currently has about 3000 software devs registered as members, but since last year has been building a makerspace for hardware entrepreneurs, too. Gearbox, as its called, it's just launched its first incubation program with the backing of Village Capital, offering $100,000 in investment opportunities for 12 entrepreneurs through a three month program. According to the organisers, it's the first of its kind on the continent. (It's certainly not the first hackerspace in Africa, though -- even in 2012, there were quite a few.)
Hardware

Learn FPGAs With a $25 Board and Open Source Tools 93

An anonymous reader writes: Hackaday has a 3 part tutorial with videos of using open source tools with a cheap ($25) FPGA board. The board isn't very powerful, but this could be the 'gateway drug' to FPGAs for people who don't want to spend hundreds of dollars and install 100s of megabytes of software and license keys just to get their feet wet. The videos are particularly good--like watching them over their shoulder. As far as I know, this is the only totally open source FPGA toolchain out there.
Hardware Hacking

'Gynepunks' DIY Gynecology For Underserved Women 59

New submitter Alien7 sends an article about a group of bio-hackers who are out to bring DIY gynecological medicine to women who don't have easy access to it. Under the name GynePunks, they're assembling an arsenal of open-source tools for DIY diagnosis and first-aid care—centrifuges made from old hard drive motors; microscopes from deconstructed webcams; homemade incubators; and 3D printable speculums. ... So far the work is largely focused on diagnosis, and members of the collective are quick to note that what they’re creating is far from a comprehensive solution. It’s limited by some obvious factors—access to materials, a place to put them together, and the time to do it. But where the infrastructure does exist, and people are motivated to do so, it is very possible to establish some useful alternatives for self-care. As an example, Klau pointed to a pilot vinegar test program that’s lowered cervical cancer deaths by some 31 percent among poor women in Mumbai’s slums.
Printer

MIT Develops Inkjet-Style 3D Printer That Uses 10 Different Materials At Once 24

Lucas123 writes: Researchers at MIT have been able to build a printer with uses 10 different photosensitive polymers to create a myriad of objects, and they were able to build it using off-the-shelf commodity parts for around $7,000. The MultiFab 3D printer works by mixing together microscopic droplets of photopolymers that are then extruded through inkjet printheads similar to those in office printers. A UV light then hardens the polymers layer by layer. Perhaps even more remarkable than the list of materials it can use is the MultiFab 3D printer's ability to self-calibrate and self-correct during a print job (PDF). The printer has an integrated machine vision system that automatically readjusts the printer head if errors occur, rectifying the build before a problem ruins the object; that means print jobs that run into errors don't need to be cancelled and materials wasted. The researchers said they can foresee an array of applications for the MultiFab 3D in consumer electronics, microsensing, medical imaging and telecommunications, among other things.
Hardware

Video The IoT, the MinnowBoard, and How They Fit Into the Universe (Video) 25

The IoT is becoming more pervasive partly because processor costs are dropping. So are bandwidth costs, even if your ISP isn't sharing those savings with you. Today's interviewee, Mark Skarpness, is "the Director of Embedded Software in the Open Source Technology Center at Intel Corporation," which is an amazing mouthful of a title. What it means is that he works to extend Intel's reach into Open Source communities, and is also aware of how hardware and software price drops -- and bandwidth price drops at the "wholesale" level -- mean that if you add a dash of IPV6, even lowly flip-flops might have their own IPs one day.

This video interview is a little less than six minutes long, while the text transcript covers a 17 minute conversation between Mark Skarpness and Slashdot's Timothy Lord. The video can be considered a "meet Mark" thing, and watching it will surely give you the idea that yes, this guy knows his stuff, but for more info about the spread of the IoT and how the Open Hardware MinnowBoard fits into the panoply of developer tools for IoT work, you'll have to read the transcript.
Toys

Ask Slashdot: Tips For Getting Into Model Railroading? 149

An anonymous reader writes: A relative of mine has been hinting that he'd like me to take over his model railroad collection in the event of his death (or even before that, to make this a bit less morbid-sounding). I'm intrigued by the idea, because I've been interested in model railroads for years, but too commitment shy and too transient to actually start a collection. That's changed enough that I'd like to start planning a train system, and am looking for advice from people who have been at it for a while. A couple of parameters: 1) I'm only interested for now in HO-scale stuff, so I am not all that interested in the relative merits of the other kinds, cool as they might be. 2) Related, I am somewhat less interested in the rolling stock than I am in the construction and control of the track and surrounding landscape. Interested in learning from experienced model railroad enthusiasts what lessons you've learned over the years that would be useful for a newbie, especially if you've made some cool automation for your system, or have built extensive support structures. This includes negative lessons, too, if you've overloaded circuits or floorboards. I'd *like* to integrate some interesting sensors and control systems, and I see some interesting open source software for this. So: What advice would you give to a late-start railroader? For reference: this set-up may end up living in an unfinished suburban basement.
Cloud

Ubuntu Core Gets Support For Raspberry Pi 2 GPIO and I2C 57

An anonymous reader writes: Ubuntu Core is a tiny Ubuntu distribution aimed at the Internet of Things, using a new transactional packaging format called Snappy rather than the venerable Debian packaging format. It recently gained support for I2C and GPIO on the Raspberry Pi 2, and a quick demo is given here. Ubuntu's Core support site says that the support for Raspberry Pi 2 isn't yet official, but provides some handy tips for anyone who wants to try it out.
Technology

MIT 3D Prints With Glass 43

An anonymous reader writes: MIT's Mediated Matter Group has published a paper and a video about their new technique for 3D printing with glass. The top part of their printer is a kiln that heats the glass to temperatures of approximately 1900 degrees Fahrenheit, causing it to melt. The molten glass is then passed through an alumina-zircon-silica nozzle, which moves just like an extruder on normal 3D printers. "The frame of the printer is constructed out of 80/20 aluminum stock and square steel tube. They used three independent stepper motors and a lead screw gantry system and drivers which were controlled via an Arduino and a RAMPS 1.4 Arduino shield." The device's makers say, "The tunability enabled by geometrical and optical variation driven by form, transparency and color variation can drive; limit or control light transmission, reflection and refraction, and therefore carries significant implications for all things glass."
Robotics

Video HooperFly is an Open Source, Modular Drone (Video) 24

Tricopters, quadcopters, hexicopters. A HooperFly can be any of these, or an octocopter or possibly even a larger number than that. The HooperFly is a modular creation, and spokesman Rich Burton says the design is open source (and was showing off the HooperFly at OSCON), so the flier's configuration is limited only by your imagination. The main construction material is plastic tubing available from most building supply and hardware stores. The electronics? We didn't see schematics or code, but presumably they're out there. One thing for sure is that the HooperFly is good for making music videos like M.I.A. & The Partysquad's Double Bubble Trouble (NSFP; i.e. NotSafeForPrudes; has images of 3-D printed guns, flying copters, etc.) and the lyrical Peace Drone at Twilight. It looks like HooperFly lives at the intersection of technology and art, which is a good place to be -- not that there aren't plenty of HooperFly skateboard videos, too, because one of the first things it seems most skateboarders do when they get a camera-equipped drone is shoot a skateboard video and post it to YouTube. But beyond that, intrepid drone pilots can work with the HooperFly's autopilot features to do many beautiful (and hopefully legal) things.
Medicine

Video WearDuino Uses Arduinos to Make Wearable Medical Sensors (Video) 14

WearDuino, now being developed by PDX Wearable Health Lab, is the brainchild of Mark Leavitt, MD, PhD; "an experimenter, maker, mentor and consultant in wearable health technologies, drawing on his lifelong experience in the fields of engineering and medicine." The WearDuino, he says, "is an open source wearable wireless sensor." The prototype fits in a FitBit case because, according to Dr. Leavitt, there are millions of unused ones out there, both surplussed by people who bought Fitbits and then stopped using them, and in the form of aftermarket cases sold to make your Fitbit cuter than when it came from the factory. In any case, WearDuino is still in the prototype stage. Dr. Leavitt plans to look for funding through Crowd Supply, but isn't "there" yet, so if you want to get on board with this health wearables project, you'll want to sign up for their Google Group or follow them on Twitter. You might also want to check out Quantified Self (tag line: "self knowledge through numbers"), and even if you vastly prefer videos to text articles, check out the text transcript ("Show/Hide Transcript") attached to this article, because it contains nearly twice as much information as the video, and goes a little deeper than the video into Dr. Leavitt's reasons for building the WearDuino -- none of which are financial gain, believe it or not.
Build

Video 'My Name is C.H.I.P. and I'll Be Your $9 Computer Today' (Video) 111

Think of C.H.I.P as a tablet computer that runs Linux instead of Android, "without the tablet bits," says interviewee Dave, who gave a talk -- which was mostly live demos -- at OSCON 2015. 50,000 C.H.I.P.s have already sold for $9 through their successful Kickstarter campaign, and Next Thing Co. plans to stick with the $9 price for the foreseeable future -- plus add-on boards (that they call "shields") they hope to sell you, but that won't flatten any but the skinniest wallets; given the projected price scale, you'll have trouble spending as much as $50 for a fully-accessorized C.H.I.P. unit.

"But," you may ask, "is C.H.I.P. Open Source?" You bet! No hedging here, just flat-out Open Source, from the bottom to the top, with all software (and hardware specs) freely available via GitHub. And lastly, the "I'll Be Your $9 Computer Today' statement in the headline above is allegorical, not factual. We've seen projected shipping dates for C.H.I.P ranging from "by the end of 2015" to a simple "2016." Either way, we're waiting with bated breath.
Open Source

Video Marvell's Kinoma Create Keeps On Creating (Video) 14

Marvell is the parent company. Kinoma is the company Marvell bought in 2011 that "provides an open-source, cross-platform ECMAScript stack aimed at developing software for Internet of Things products and other embedded devices." They'll sell you a little hardware, too, which makes sense when you realize that parent company Marvell is big-time in the hardware business and will happily help you produce your IoT product -- for a fee, of course. Slashdot interviewed Peter Hoddie at last year's OSCON, so please consider this video an update. And before you ask: Peter says Kinoma is open source, from the bottom to the top -- to which we reply, "we like it like that."
Robotics

Philadelphia Hackers and Others Offer Brotherly Love To Fallen Robot 142

An anonymous reader writes: Since a hitchhiking robot was destroyed in Philadelphia over the weekend, there has been an overwhelming show of support according to its co-creators Frauke Zeller and David Smith. Makers from all over Philly have reached out and offered to help rebuild the robot. "We'll say that at this moment, if we get the OK from the creators to repair or replace the needed parts for HitchBOT, we'll be happy to do so," wrote Georgia Guthrie, executive director for a local makerspace called The Hacktory. "If not, we understand and we may just build ourselves a HitchBot2 to send along on its journey. We feel it's the least we can do to let everyone, especially the Robot community, know that Philly isn't so bad."
The Military

US Navy Tests 3D Printing Custom Drones On Its Ships 66

itwbennett writes: Researchers at the Naval Postgraduate School are testing the use of 3D printers on ships to produce custom drones outfitted for specialized missions. The idea, said Alan Jaeger, a faculty research associate at the school, is that ships could set sail with kits of the core electronics parts, since they are common to most drones, but have the bodies designed according to specific requirements for each mission. A prototype drone was designed by engineers on shore based on requirements of the sailors at sea, and the 3D design file was emailed to the USS Essex over a satellite link. Flight tests revealed some of the potential problems, most of which were associated with operating the drone rather than the printing itself, Jaeger said. 'Even with a small amount of wind, something this small will get buffeted around,' he said. They also had to figure out the logistics of launching a drone from a ship, getting it back, how it integrated with other flight operations, and interference from other radio sources like radar.
China

The Factory of the World - Documentary On Manufacturing In Shenzhen 34

szczys writes: This Hackaday documentary (video) looks at the changing ecosystem of manufacturing in the Pearl River Delta (Shenzhen, China) through interviews with product engineers involved with the MIT Media Lab manufacturing program, Finance professionals in Hong Kong, and notables in the Maker Industry. Worth checking out for anyone thinking of a hardware startup or just interested in how hardware gets made.