98: Figments of My Imagination

Chris and Elecia talk about memetics, learning, and processors. 

Elecia was coy about the Pasadena party May 9th and 10th, but Hackaday announced it so you can invite yourself. She will also be speaking at the Solid conference in June in SF (email for a coupon!). She'll also be at ESC-Silicon Valley in July

Star Wars Teaser #2 and SpaceX almost-landing

BLE fun: TI's CC2640 and Nordic nRF51822 (Elecia likes the BLE Nano with the free, online mbed compiler for getting started with the nRF5122).

Everything seems to be a Cortex-M0 these days (including the aforementioned CC2640 and nRF51822). The new Atmel SAM-L series is Cortex-M0 and even more low power than usual. On the other hand, the MSP432 is low power and is a more powerful Cortex-M4 (and inexpensive dev kits!),

Elecia has a book: Making Embedded Systems. It makes a great gift.


97: Bubblesort Yourself

Professor Paul Fishwick joined us to talk about CS and STEM education, excellent analogies, and the crossover of art and technology. 

The Linker post related to this episode managed to be reasonably topical for a change.

Paul's work:

 Radiolab Color Episode

Forrester System Dynamics

Max is a visual programming language for music and multimedia.

CS Unplugged is a collection of free learning activities that teach Computer Science through engaging games and puzzles that use cards, string, crayons and lots of running around. 

There are many bubblesort dance videos (mindboggling) but this is the one Elecia knew about previously.

The Computer History Museum is awesome. If you are in the area, you should definitely go. 

Conference and contact notes:

96: Yarn Is Very Serious Business

Carrie Sundra (@AlpenglowYarn) spoke with us about doing a Kickstarter on her own… and nearly failing.

The SkeinMinder is an automation tool for small yarn businesses (and enthusiastic amateurs). When the successful Kickstarter nearly fell short, Carrie candidly wrote about it (includes a great description of the economies of scale).

Carrie’s yarn company is Alpenglow Yarn. You can use the contact page there to ask for electrical engineering help as well. Carrie is active on Instagram and her blog is a blend of crafts and engineering.

Ravelry is the social media site for knitters and crocheters (requires free account to see anything)

The insanely popular Potato Salad Kickstarter


94: Don't Be Clever

The linker post for this episode is Be Excellent to Each Other.

Dennis Jackson spoke with us about drones (and Airware), simple code, and learning. 

Hobbyist drones and UAVs on Amazon: tiny and cheap,  medium (Christopher's gift), and please-I'm-drooling-right-now. Only the last one may be an Airware platform (Dennis could neither confirm nor deny).

Airware's breakdown of proposed FAA rules

Simple code:

Dennis has also worked on DEKA's iBOT and at Avinger's OCT system.

Dennis had a list of suggested articles and blogs on safety critical software development:

Dennis' other suggested reading (ongoing blogs):

93: Delicious Gumbo

The Linker post for this episode is RTOSs and Brownies.

Joel Sherrill (@JoelSherrill) spoke with us about real time operating systems, free and open source software, interns, and space.

RTEMS home page and wiki

Google Summer of Code (the FAQ is the best part!) and ESA Summer of code (awesome tagline: In space no one can hear you code).

The LEON is the ESA Sparc core with open source VHDL and extensive use by ESA.

Some projects RTEMS is used on include the Magnetosphere Multiscale Mission, the ExPRESS Logistics Carrier, Mars Curiosity, and the Dawn spacecraft that is visiting the Ceres asteroid.

92: Everybody Behave, Please

The Linker post for this episode: Make Anything

James @Laen Neal from OSHPark spoke with us about starting a business, helping open source hardware, and throwing wild parties. 

OSHPark got its start from DorkbotPDX.

If you are in Portland, Oregon, check out their meetup (started out on Mondays, now first Tuesday of the month, look at the CymaSpace meetup calendar for the Maker Meetup).

Open Source Hardware Association (OSHA)

PCB Design School blog

Bay Area Maker Faire 2015 is May 16-17, Bring a Hack dinner is usually Sunday. 

This time we really did talk about the Maker Pro book.

Elecia's first OSHPark board

Elecia's first OSHPark board

91: Save Us from Astronauts

The Linker post for this episode: How to Win the Hackaday Prize (and Other Design Challenges)

Sophi Kravitz, electrical engineer and Hackaday Mythical Creature, came on to leak the new Hackaday Prize details! 

On twitter, she's @SophiKravitz and often has the reins of @HackadayPrize.

Sophi mentioned Matt Berggren's PCB workshop (oh! and a Solid talk too!). All three of us have been trying to make time for Contextual Electronics (now with fewer time constraints!).

Hackaday Omnibus

HardwareCon (startup conference in San Leandro, CA)

Giant Flip-Dot Display at CES

Soft Robotics Kit (and contest)

The balloon project is going to FITC. You can hear the soothing sounds here.

Sophi rejoins us after being on Episode 77: Goldfish, Fetch My Slippers. Also, we forgot to discuss it but Sophi was an author in the Maker Pro book, full of neat essays.

90: Stick It in a Pumpkin

The Linker post for this Episode: Solving a Different Problem 

ThingM's Tod Kurt (@todbot) joined us to talk about the most important part of every embedded system: blinking lights.

ThingM has been making I2C lights (BlinkM, MinM and MaxM) since 2006. 

The newer, more productized USB light is the Blink(1) (there is a coupon near the end of the show). Blink(1) had two successful kickstarters (second one).

The BlinkMs have an ATTiny85 (which is also on the Adafruit Trinket). The Blink(1)s have a PIC processor that is small, cheap, and supports USB quite well (PIC16F1455-I/ML and dev kit).

Other smart LEDs include WS28xx  (aka NeoPixel) and APA102 (aka DotStar)

Seeed Studio was discussed as a way to get boards built, assembled, even housed. Elecia mentioned Tindie's new CM review site.

Tod is cofounder of Crash Space (@CrashSpaceLA), a Los Angeles based hackspace. They (including Tod) were on the short-lived Mythbusters-hosted Rube Goldberg devices show called Unchained Reaction.

Tod has worked on some neat art projects, including the Crystal Monster and the Cash Machine.

Tod's blog.

Speaking of blogs, Chris and Elecia are going to start writing after (podcast) action reports for Element 14. More announcements (and actual links) soon.

Don't forget the Chris Savage (Parallax) call for assistance!


89: I Have New Batteries

Chris Savage (@SavageCircuits) talks about building a community and about stopping projects when life intrudes.

His site is Savage Circuits. He has a YouTube channel. He has Savage Circuit TV which are the longer, more in depth videos and Short Circuit for the shorter ones. Also see his forums.

Chris works for Parallax and had some kit suggestions: BOE-BOT (board of education bot), its successor the ActivityBot, and the ELEV-8 Quadcopter Kit. Chris is also a writer for Nuts and Volts.

At the top of the show, we mentioned Chris' wife. Here is Ken Gracey's request for help. Or you can skip that and use the PayPal link on the Savage Circuits thank you page. (No PayPal account required.)

88: Science Is a Lot like Quilting

Same day PCBs?!?  Danielle Applestone (@dapplestone) chatted with Chris and Elecia about desktop CNC milling using @OtherMachine's OtherMill. 

OtherMill links:

Synthetos TinyG controller (also see the Make write up about TinyG)

BANT (budget, authority, need, timing): more info


86: Madeupical Word

Erin McKean (@emckean) is a lexicographer, programmer, and start-up founder.  We spoke to her about Wordnik (the online uber dictionary), Reverb (smarter recommendations), and her many books.



Erin has written many books, some about words, one about dresses (The Hundred Dresses), and one fiction novel about The Secret Lives of Dresses. She has also given two TED talks.

Watson on Jeopardy

Brian Garner talks about skunked words in his book  Modern American Usage

Five Intriguing Things via Tiny Letter [Feb 2, 2015: This link is broken today but it is the right link, google "Five Intriguing Things" to see if they've fixed it.]

Elecia's Wordy project if fully documented over on Hackaday

Reaction Housing is hiring!

85: Stalked by Hoopers and Engineers

Scott Miller built a hula hoop with Bluetooth, an inertial measurement unit, a 32-bit processor, an 8-bit processor, and a slew of individually addressable LEDs. It makes wild patterns when you move.

Scott's "normal" company, with all of its ham radio equipment, is Argent Data Systems. The hula hoops are Hyperion Hoops

You can buy a hoop. They are also on Facebook or you can watch the mesmerizing lightshow on YouTube (also here and here). 

Yes, the hula hoop does speak DMX512, doesn't everybody?

Reaction Housing is hiring!

84: You Can't Make Money Taking Tests

The founders of Bluestamp Engineering spoke with us about running a hands-on summer engineering program for high school students (while keeping their day jobs).

Bluestamp website, Twitter (@BlueStampEng), YouTube channel full of student projects and Facebook page

Dave Young (@daveyoungEE) is also the principal engineer at Young Circuit Design.

Robin Mansukhani is also CEO of AlzecaRobin also gave a TED talk about learning by doing.

83: The First Time I Was Electrocuted

Raman Pi creator Mark Johnson (@flatCat_) spoke with us about spectrometers, 3D printing, and competing in the Hackaday Prize. 

Raman Pi project on Hackaday.io

Hackaday prize semi-finalist video

Mike Szczys' Fl@c@ bio on Hackaday.com

Open Source Fusor Research Consortium

Wikipedia: spectrometerRaman spectroscopy, fusors, and optical coherence tomography

Weird Stuff is a Bay area electronics surplus store

Raman Pi also has its own website

82: I Was a Chewbacca Person

Jen, Chris, and Elecia talk about the movies that influenced them to go into engineering.

Real Genius (imdb, Amazon)

Star Wars (imdb, Amazon)

Choose Your Own Adventure books (Amazon, wiki)

Wargames (imdb, Amazon)

Ghostbusters (imdb, Amazon)

Star Trek: The Next Generation (imdb, Amazon)

321 Contact, show and magazine (imdb (tv))

The Muppets Show (imdb, Amazon)

Sneakers (imdb, Amazon)

Phineas and Ferb (imdb, Amazon)

Sisterhood of Spies (Amazon)

Crytonomicon (Amazon)

81: Two of Those People Can’t Be Ducks

Chris and Elecia babble up a show about gifts, conferences, and makers.

Embedded Systems Conference is put on by UBM. The conference is in Boston May 6-7, 2015, Santa Clara July 20-22, and Minneapolis November 4-5. The Santa Clara proposal deadline is January 9th.

O'Reilly's Solid Conference is June 22-25 in San Francisco. Proposals are due January 12th.

Fitbit Surge (Amazon)

Kerbal Space Program and some controllers and telemetry boards from other people

CrossyRoad is on iOS and Android (This is bad, do not start. Also unihorse is the best!)

Elecia's Wordy project on Hackaday

Magnetoception in humans is controversial (wiki) but the magnetometer/motor anklet is neat.

80: Most of Us Are Human Beings

Bill Winterberg (@BillWinterberg) chatted with Elecia about leaving embedded engineering to become a financial planner then to being a technology adviser to other financial planners. 

Bill's company is FPPad. You can subscribe to his newsletter and watch Bits and Bytes, his video blog (or read it).

Bill and Elecia met at LeapFrog. Bill was instrumental in making the original LeapPad Learning System.

When Elecia mentioned Domini Social Investments, Bill mentioned Vanguard Total Stock Market.

Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance In Your Twenties and Thirties

Financial adviser networks:

Robo-advisor (automated investment management)

Bill says: "It shouldn't be this hard for smart engineers."