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Introducing Hack-A-Minute!

Introducing Hack-A-Minute! Videos on tips, tricks and life hacks in exactly one minute!
This week’s episode shows off a cool party trick you can do with the help of basic physics!
Few extra notes on this trick:
1. Corona bottles are by far one of the easiest types of bottle to break, so if you want to try it, start with those!
2. It is possible to do this with larger bottles — I once did a 750mL bottle!
3. You can’t do this with the original beverage inside — if it is carbonated, the cavitation turns to gaseous bubbles that do not implode!
4. BE CAREFUL! Practice over a garbage can and make sure you hold the bottle tightly — it is possible for the bottle to break and hurt you, although I’ve never had that happen.
5. Good luck!

Arduino FAQ — Guest Post!

Here’s some great info that my friend wrote up in response to some beginner questions on the Arduino, the cheap & super-functional microprocessor. Enjoy!


I’ve been getting a bunch of Arduino questions lately so I figured I’d type up a good overview of what you should know to get started and avoid wasting a bunch of time.

So yeah there is a bunch of Arduinos out there and each does something a little different. The main one that everyone should get first is a UNO.

          The UNO is what most tutorials and example code are written for and has a replaceable chip so when you connect things up wrong and fry the chip, it is only a $3 mistake rather than $30.
          The Leonardo is similar to the Uno except it is made cheaper, can do some unique USB things like emulating a keyboard, but has a slightly different pin out and the chip can’t be replaced
          The Mega 2560 has some pin compatibility problems with normal shields but has the advantage of 54 input/output pins rather than 20 so it can be used for bigger projects or when you are running out of code space (8x the memory)
          The Micro, Nano and Pro Mini are all meant for permanently wiring into projects once you are done prototyping things on breadboards. Each of these is slightly different but are basically shrunk down versions of the bigger ones(Micro = Leonardo, Nano = UNO, Pro Mini = UNO – on board USB)

The are some others out there that aren’t as common but worth a mention

          Due Huge 32-bit ARM cpu for faster programs but is only 3.3V compatible (some shields could destroy it)
          Fio Similar to Pro Mini but includes USB port and charging circuit for aLiPo battery for portable wireless projects

Other companies make Arduino Compatible microcontrollers which can be programmed as if they were a Arduino:

          Minuino is a UNO minus the USB so is you can has one USB cable (FTDI Adapter) among multiple boards to make your project cheaper
          ProtoSnap smart idea as a starter board when you have a project in mind since it includes pre wired sensors that can be broken off.
          Sippino has the same connections as a Pro Mini but is set up to connect right to a breadboard for easy wiring out of the box
          Protino is setup to solder on other chips of devices permanently beside your Arduino so it’s all on one board rather than a stack of shields.
          Seeduino Film AMAZINGLY TINY

The quickest way to create a project is by simply plugging in a pre-designed shield from many companies. 

Common ones include
          LCD Shield to give yourself a display and buttons
          Proto Screw Shield for connecting external IO easily to the Arduino
          Ethernet shield can use with Y cables to power your project or you can get a full Power over Ethernet compliant version is you have a POE router
          WiFi Shield
          Voice Recognition Shield
          Text to Speech Shield
          Audio Playback Shield
          GPS Shield for accurate position or time and date
          PWM Shield for driving lots of LEDs
          RFID Shield
          Pin Swapping Shield for fixing compatibility issues
          Prototyping shield For: Normal Arduinos & Minis to permanently solder up a project after testing it on a breadboard but still have it removable from your Arduino
          Motor Control
          Good starter shield for someone who just wants to connect up some buttons to outputs
          Xbee Shield for creating mesh networks of many devices

There is also other Microcontrollers in the same realm as Arduino but each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

          Raspberry Pi – More Powerful, Runs Linux, Bigger learning curve, 3.3V logic, code in many languages, on board HDMI, Audio & Ethernet, SD Card for expandable storage. Developed similar to Arduino with shields, but also has great things like cheap Wi-Fi adaptersVESA mounts for the back of a TV or monitor
          Teensy – Like a Arduino Micro but with a 32-bit ARM chip for more code and very fast USB data throughput for data streaming
          Parallax Propeller – 8 Core Microcontroller for interesting Parallel operations and graphics operations.
          NETduino – .NET programmable microcontroller
          NeTV Board – for HDMI HDCP Hacking
          BeagleBone Similar to Raspberry Pi but designed more as a microcontroller then a computer so better hardware connections but less powerful GPU. Does not have as big of a community as the Pi.
          MSP430 Launchpad – Low Power, Really Cheap, Smaller Community, Can be found for $4.30 new including 2 chips and a USB cable

This is just a short selection of the shields, Arduino boards and other development boards out there but the main ones of my focus.(Wiki List)

For resources there is good tutorials to get started at learn.adafruit.com,learn.sparkfun.com and http://arduino.cc/en/Tutorial/Foundations.

Most shields use pre-made code examples and libraries that companies link with their boards or some can be found at http://arduino.cc/en/Reference/Libraries or by some simple Googling.

For project ideas the easiest link is the Arduino category at Hackaday.

A good started kit to get some simple parts to try things out is here

For purchasing locations there is:
          Spikenzie Labs out of Montreal so you don’t have to deal with customs and get quick delivery but not a huge selection. Good Prices (My Primary Source)
          Creatron – Local Toronto storefront, little more expensive.
          Sayal Electronics – Good selection of general electronics, Many Ontario Locations, Poor Arduino stock, Arduino prices are steep.
          Adafruit – Great company out of NY with good selection and some of the best designed products and tutorials.
          Sparkfun – Good Company with largest selection. Shipping from US not perfect.
          Deal Extreme – REALLY CHEAP in quality and price, Non-existent documentation but normally copying a North American product so that documentation can be used with some hiccups. Also good for starter tools, cables and iPhone accessories.
          Tiger Direct – Now stocks a small off brand Arduino line. Good in a pinch.
          A1 Electronics Surplus – Many isles of crap to wander through, has some Arduino stuff and lots of basic electronic parts.
          Digikey –  Next Day Delivery by Fedex for $8, Great selection of everything electronic related not a huge Arduino selection, including every type of cheap cable needed(Don’t ever go to Best Buy)
          Newark – Has a good selection of Raspberry Pi Kits from different manufacturers listed above and Canadian based shipping.

Some of the projects I’ve built or help build that run on Arduinos include:
PicAxe based Line Follower http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2o3vli7cguk
Raspberry Pi based beer vending machine with visa payment (No Video for alcohol licensing reasons)
There is a lot of information here but this gives you a good overview and covers most of what you should know. Arduino is the biggest and probably the best for most beginner projects but depending on your programming experience or specific projects other development boards might be a better choice.

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