Thanks to a "gentlemans flight" I did not have to rush to Heathrow and also had plenty of time when I was there. As the plane flew into Newark, I took the train and subway over to Queens and got a view of the city. The nearest subway to the hotel (an overhead line) had a view of the unisphere, observation platforms and the science centre and rockets.
In the morning I had a bagel at a local deli and headed over to the venue. I have been to a few other Maker Faires such as the UK one up in Newcastle and the mini makers faire that ran at Elephant and Castle for a couple of years. I've also seen the Makers at Mex that were at Sandown last year. However the Americans being the way they are, have a much bigger faire, I knew this in advance but was still surprised by the sheer scale of their setup.
The Makers Faire was divided into 6 zones, each focusing on a rough topic area such as electronics, maker spaces, education or robots and drones. As we were waiting to go in we were serenated by a stilt walking band with a dancing cardboard dinosaur. I knew this was a good sign of the great things to come. I shortcutted through the science centre gardens and said hi to the Atmel crew and spotted a familiar face at the Arduino stand.
I also headed over to the Makershed to meet fellow Brit and laser cutting expert Dominic who'd traded some of his time for free accommodation and was helping out with the Solarbotics stand. I also met up with Andy Sigler from Patchbay.IO who was unfortunately frustrated by lack of power so I promised to return later to see things in action. I was impressed with the number of medical makers and thought I'd seen Enrico's Meditech case at one point. There was a great example of a Lego MRI and proton beam machine that were used to show kids how they worked so they would not be so scared when inside. I also liked the add ons for kids motorised ride on toys that meant that not only were they easier to use for disabled children but they could also be used to help develop certain skills or muscles.
Daddy Daughter Electronics
Whilst I was there I also attended a few talks, some were thinly disguised sales promotions but others were from enthusiastic makers wanting to share their experiences and ideas. I managed to miss the start of the Les Machines De L'île De Nantes but saw the slides of their fantastic ride on motorised Elephant, factory/gallery and next project the Stork Tree which is a giant metal tree with two ride on storks that take 60 people at a time in huge baskets under the wings. They pay for their projects via grants, sponsorship and by charging an entrance fee to their gallery where they get the public to test out their latest prototypes. There were also some good talks on making, hacking and fixing.
There were lots of fantastic projects inside the science centre too, and I got to see a work in progress cardboard formula one car being made, Stirling engines, a semaphore flag game with imaging processing to rate the flag user, magical 3D printed castles and another fellow Brit, Ross Atkin from Craft Robot who is kickstarting his project shortly. There were a lot of people who were just about to run kickstarter projects, and a lot of those were in the Startup zone. Here there was gadgets to show what mood your dog was in by how he wagged his tail, giant building blocks, architecture kits, multi headed 3D printer, laser cutting milling machines and some chaps from Dublin with a novel pin board for holding circuits or projects in place whilst you solder them.
I ended the first day exhausted so managed to miss the Menthos and Coke show over at the UniSphere.
The next day decided to revisit the electronic section and say hi to Cadsoft. They were really friendly and explained the new licensing model to me. Also I spotted another celebrity Eben Upton.
There were a few announcements (that I mostly missed) whilst I was at the show. Arduinio has finished their new Wifi shield with Atmel's cyptography chip on it. Adafruit is bringing out a new board and Atmel were talking about the new Atmel Studio and their web based IDE.
I did however manage to see the Life Sized Mouse trap in action, watch drone racing, see experiments being done, talk to loads of people and buy some presents.
Big 3d Printer
Cardboard formula 1 car
Experiments with ExperimentBoy
Hive76 Clyde Computer
Instructables chainsaw robot
Mario the Magician with Animatronic Monkey Marcel
Lego Crowd Creation
Mural painted live
Power Racers Parade
Stilt walking jazz band and dancing cardboard dinosaur
Tiny Arcade Machines
I finished my weekend by watching the Eepybird chaps spraying coke zero all over the place, in time to music.
A big thanks again to Element14 for arranging the trip and selecting me as the winner.
The show is massive and I must have walked miles yesterday. There are lots of amazing things too see and lots of fantastic people. I also attended a few interesting presentations. One thing that struck me was the diversity, people have all different reasons to make and different levels of skills and technology. I had a fantastic day and am sure I'll have another one today.
I'll write a bit more and upload more pictures once I've access to computer.
When I met up with shabaz and mcb1 the other evening they asked if I was excited about going to the New York Maker Faire. The answer is "not yet". Part of the reason for that is I'm still thinking about the logistics aspect, where can I get my dinner, how do I get from the airport to the hotel etc. I'm also still in my denial phase, not quite believing that I'm actually going!! Also there was not much to go-on for the Maker Faire website.
Today I saw a report from the Bay Area Faire and there was some amazing projects so I checked the Maker Faire site again and there are some details now available. It's beginning to become real for me.
World Maker Faire – 6th Annual
New York Hall of Science, Queens
September 26 & 27
Saturday and Sunday 10AM – 6PM
The overall programme for the New York Faire has not yet been posted but there are some heavy hints in the form of who the sponsors are and some of the makers who have already signed up.
To celebrate Andy Clark's ( Workshopshed) Enchanted Cottage winning the Enchanted Objects Design Challenge we planned something rather special on the streets of New York.
Here is what happened on Friday night:
Where was this happening?
If you are in the New York area on Friday night you might have seen us projecting the winners announcement video on the streets of New York from 33rd & 9th Ave through Chelsea, Union Square & Lower East Side.
For a closer look here is the video that was shown:
This particular enchanted object is right out of the storybooks. Deep in the forest is a small cottage owned by a timeless couple, Hans and Matilda who are doomed never to meet. When it is wet he goes outside but when it is dry she must leave the house.
The idea was to take an old fashioned "cat gut" based weather house and use the electronic components to bring it up to date. The key features would be servo driven mechanics, LED showing the temperature and the Arduino Yun for getting the weather from the internet.
Whilst the challenge was running I used the work on the project to spin a few articles onto the Workshopshed blog. It gave me a break from writing in the third party and also allowed the posts to span what was several weeks of the challenge.
Attached is video of how this all works. I put everything together to work, but without the clock everything couldn't be demonstrated. I set this up in the basement and couldn't have the lasers work the thermostat as we don't have one where I did the demo. Everything works in the demo as you will see. Hope you enjoy:
This is everything until I finish the clock and have it all together. Thank you for your patience and hope you enjoyed. I want to give a very special thank you to my daughter Chrystal (I am now her minion), she taught me a lot.
Here is our final (But not final) update for our Enchanted Clock.
My goal was to create a wooden clock and enchant it with the kits supplied by our generous sponsors, Atmel, Element 14 and Infineon. I wanted to have the clock recognize who was in front of it, control the lights and temperatureby voice command, control the lights by sensing if you were sleeping. There would also be a way to keep the time correct without self-adjusting the clock.
All the clock parts were cut out and partially assembled; due to tearing the ligament in my hand I wasn’t able to complete the clock. Once healed, I will complete the clock and incorporate all the electronics.
Voice control is completed and works perfectly. I have the commands Light, Dark, Sleep, Hot, Cold, Off and Timer embedded into the voice controller. Using the command “Light” turns on the lights, “Dark” turns them off and “Sleep” turns them all to dim. “Hot” and “Cold” turns the heater up or down. “Off” stops everything as a back-up command. “Timer” is for future use of setting a sleep timer or cooking timer. The temperature thermostat was across the room so Chrystal (my daughter) thought of using a laser with photo sensors to turn the motor on and off. When the command “Hot” or “Cold” are said the laser would hit the photo sensor and allow the power through to the motor and adjust the temperature.
For the clock to have its time correct I added a binary clock to keep track of the correct time. This will be placed with the wood clock as it will control the servo used to adjust time. There is a magnetic sensor in the wood clock to know where the minute hand is located. When the minute hand reaches the hour, the sensor checks the minutes of the binary clock. If it is within a couple of minutes it won’t adjust, if more than that it will activate the servo to turn the minute hand forward or back. The binary clock is complete and works great. I placed the temperature lasers into the board for looks and to be compact.
The recognition sensor is an ultrasonic sensor that measures height from the top to the floor. So when someone from the family is standing in front of the clock it takes their height and compares it to the database and displays “Hi (Name)”.
Sleeping sensor works with ultrasonic sensors as well. How this works is by sensing movement, if you are on the sofa reading, you constantly move which the sensor recognizes. If you were to fall asleep you moving around is a lot less which will let the sensor know you fell asleep and turn the lights down. Because the sensor knows you’re on the sofa, if someone walks in the room the lights won’t turn on unless the one sleeping moves a pre-set amount.
Items used and price
Arduino (3) - $26.00 each
Infineon RGB Board - $34.00
LED strip lights - $37.00
Arduino prototype board - $12.00
Ultrasonic sensors (3) - $12.00
Wood for clock – Free
Wire & Msc. - $45.00
LED Display – Free (Recycled)
Voice recognition module - $37.00
Drawing of the final project attached below. Pictures will follow later tonight as I am out of town.
When subbmiting my application to join this road test, I set myself 4 success citeria:
Success Criteria: I will deem the project a success if:
•It can accurately and reliably display the number of messages in my inbox up to 12
•The system can cope with more than 12 messages in a way that does not result in catastrophic failure
•The display can be read in darkness with an LED backlight
•The unit is powered by a single DC wall wart
My project has been successful in meeting all four of these criteria. The final version of the multimeter was able to display more messages than expected, and additional messages merely left the needle in the highest position without moving any higher.
The led backlight was also incredibly successful. My original design featured a single blue led to provide illumination due to the requirement to use a motor controller. By hooking the display up to the arduino with resistors I was able to use simple PWM control to manage the display, allowing me to then use an led driver shield to implement an impressive three colour backlight that not only allows the display to be read in darkness, but also provides an additional means of displaying the number of messages. The one failing with the backlight is that it is not quite as bright as I had hoped. Due to space constraints, the LEDs had to be mounted in the case in a way that left them pointing more towards the inside of the case than the top of the display. The backlight is still useable, but the colours are a little less content than I had hoped. However, this shortcoming is partly made up for by the fading effects enabled by the driver shield. Using the shield, I was able to set up a system so that when values on the display changed, the colours of the backlight would neatly fade into the new shade instead of suddenly changing. A similar fade also occurs when the backlight is turned on or off.
Finally the unit was powered with one dc power brick to the use of a ubec to provide regulated power to the yun. The original idea was to power the unit with a "wall wart" style adapter with the transformer moulded directly into the plug, but I instead opted for a "power brick" unit with the transformer connected to mains via a kettle lead. This makes it fay easier to extend the length of the power cord as the kettle lead can easily be replaced. It also had the advantage of allowing me to recycle a used power adaptor that would otherwise have gone to landfill. The main intention of the "single wallwart" objective was that the unit should not need two plug sockets, so this can be considered a slightly modified objective to better utilise the parts available.
My original apapplication also highlighted some areas of the project that appears to potentially be difficult. Theses were:
• Writing the code for the parser
-Whilst I do have some experience of python, I have only coded something like this once in the past
•Calibrating the pwm
-I will probably needs a separate program to test pwm values via a serial terminal. I will probably use an arduino Leonardo for this, simply because I feel more confident using it
•Comunicating between Linux and the Atmega
-Having never used a Yun, this appears to be one of the challenges specific to the platform
Calibrating the PWM turned out to be incredibly easy. The fast upload times of my new Uno board made the use of a serial connection unnecessary, and trial and errror found appropriate values surprisingly quickly. The other two areas were even harder than I expected. IOT is incredibly difficult. The internet is a huge, wonderful resource, but tapping into it can be hard. The yun made the creation of an iot device possible for me, but writing the code for it was incredibly challenging. Plus, it didn't help that the site I was working with had some badly timed issues .
I would like to finish this post by thanking all the people who made this project possible.
Thank you to the element 14 staff who arranged this design challenge; your work creates worldwide enthusiasm for electrical engineering and is an excellent opportunity for both aspiring and we'll versed engineers.
Thank you to the network engineers who tracked down the issues with the site and rendered it useable for this project, and sorry about the bad timing.
Thank you to all the people who commented on my posts, you provided rays of inspiration for this project and helped keep me motivated.
Thank you dad for letting me use your multimeter, you can borrow mine if you want.
And finally, thank you Genesis for writing some excellent music for me to listen to whilst working.
This project has been an immense journey for me and I am glad that it turned out to be such a success. Once again, my thanks to everyone for making this such a great success.
Today I finished putting the final touches on to the inbox and the code. First of all, the code. Unfortunately, for the past few weeks there has been an intermittent issue with the inbox and activity on the element 14 website. The issue has now been resolved, and was not a major barrier to normal use, but it made prototyping code increasingly difficult as the section of the site the code was trying to observe would fail randomly, making troubleshooting incredibly difficult. As a result of this I was forced to delay writing my code until the site was repaired, hence the rather late nature of this blog post. Eventually I was able to get some python code running to provide the cookies normally seen when logged in to the site and request the HTML of the page. This HTML was then parsed to return just the number of messages in my inbox, and passed this number over to the atmega chip to drive the display to the appropriate value. I made sure that the code waited a full 20 minutes between each time it attempted to check the website. This will ensure that it does not use too much of my internet bandwidth or put an excessive load on element 14s servers.
/\ Some of my first success with the parser, finding a block of code featuring my account name, also proving the cookies worked
After writing the code, the time finally came to mount the circuitry. Installing the display and LEDs was reasonably easy with a little hot glue, and transferring the wiring was simply a case of transferring conditions from the breadboard one at a time. I did however run into some major issues in getting everything to fit into the case. Because of the weight of the various ports on an arduino yun, shields will often not be able to fit onto it properly. My intention was to work around this simply by having the shield at an angle with some pins not fully within the female header. Unfortunately this did not provide a good enough connection in some pins, forcing me to rethink my design. In the end I solved this issue by soldering a second set of male headers directly onto the ones I had already mounted. This effectively gave me double the height and easily allowed me to clear the ports. However, this new set of headers rendered the bord far to thick to fit correctly into the original case. In the end the only way I could solve this problem was by running a ribbon cable from inside the multimeter out to a separate enclosure containing the boards. This worked surprisingly well and the meter was soon up and running.
The case I chose for the boards was a cardboard box with a slide off clear colour. When I eventually install this I will try and find a better way to conceal the extra electronics, but for now I thought it would would be better to have them clearly visible for you all to see. With this done the only two parts to add were the voltage regulator for the yun and the switch to turn off the backlight. On my breadboarded version of the circuit I used a tact switch to turn off the backlight when held down. Obviously this is not practice in the actual meter so instead I desoldered one of the original switches from the multimeter circuit board and soldered it in place of the tact switch. Due to the design of the case, the switch would hold itself in place so I did not need to glue it in, allowing me to seperatge the two half's of the case for easy repairs. As for the voltage regulator, I choose to use something called a ubec. Ubecs are switching voltage regulator designed to produce a very low amount of rf noise for rc applications. I choose to use on because they are more efficient than traditional linear regulators. It also helped that I had one in my parts bin. To simplify construction, I attached the two input power lines for the ubec to the 12v power supply simply by soldering them to the underside of the power connector on the led driver board. 5v and ground were connected to appropriate pins on the shield and the whole thing was carefully checked with a multimeter before plugging in the yun. It worked perfectly.
The only other addition I made to the board was for photography. Because of the 20 minute delay, filming and photographing the board was going to be a very time consuming process. In order to circumvent this I added two tact switches to pins 2 and 3 using the internal pullups. As in some of the prototypes, these were programmed to increment and decrement the post count allowing me to change the value on the display without having to wait for the system to update. For some additional rigidity glued the switches to a piece of wood. It is important to stress that this was only done for the purpose of photography and is not a required part of the system.
The system seems to be working fully. I will evaluate the success of the solution against my original specification in a separate post, but for now, here are some posture of the finished unit.
In the below presentation on security Rohini Pandhi mentions the problem of keeping your device updated.
Unconnected consumer items used to be simply build, distributed and sold with no process for doing any updates. Embedded systems did have options for updating but often this needed to be done by a trained field service engineer or by returning the item to the factory. Small issues spotted post production were fixed in new versions but often not patched in older versions. If there was a significant fault with a system then they would need to be an expensive product recall.
With connected devices there is the added issue of security. When there is a security issue these often need to be patched faster or there might be problems for the end users.
The fact that the device is connected means that patches can be downloaded and applied more easily as is done with mobile phones and PC.
For embedded products there are additional challenges
Lack of user interface
Power requirements (flashing a ROM could use a lot of power)
Automating the installation process
I've not really looked into these issues for my project so would be interested to know what other peoples thoughts are?