posts tagged with the keyword ‘diavolino’

2014.11.01

Blue Gears

If you happen to be near Palo Alto this month stop by the Pacific Art League to see my piece “Blue Gears” in a gallery show titled “Science, Technology and the Future of Art”.

This is the first juried exhibition my work has been in. Typically I’ve shown my work at gallery night events or more maker-style events, and I was invited by the Beaver Dam Area Arts Association to take part in their “Beyond Your Imagination” show back in January 2013, but this is a new thing.

I found that since starting grad school I’ve really been able to focus on where my work is headed, and critically think about where it fits in the world.

(Oh, and if you’re not familiar with all of this, here’s some background on my art robots.)

(Big thanks to the folks at Evil Mad Scientist for helping out with the shipping and delivery. And yes, the robot that created this was indeed controlled with a Diavolino!)

2011.10.24

Friday Night Drawbot

You may be familiar with our Friday Night Drawbot from back when it was at Version 1. Well, we’re now at Version 3, and there’s been much improvement. With Version 2 we made the body a bit shorter to get a tighter turn radius, and we’ve continued that trend with the latest revision.

Friday Night Drawbot

We’ve also switched to AA rechargeable batteries, so no more disposable 9 volts. This means that we can use our eneloops and since we’ve got a dozen of them, we can run all day and switch them out as needed.

Friday Night Drawbot

We’re also using a Diavolino from Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories now, which means we can use a shield, which means we’ve cleaned things up a bit as far as the wiring. The “brains” are also detachable from the rest of the body now. Speaking of the body, we’ve rebuilt that as well, and used hot glue and velcro in place of duct tape and rubber bands, so things are a lot more secure. (Don’t worry, there’s still gaff tape and rubber bands, but it’s much cleaner now.)

Friday Night Drawbot

Keep an eye out for the Friday Night Drawbot at the next event that somehow manages to blend art and technology…. or something like that.

(Oh, I’ll also be adding a bunch more info on the Friday Night Drawbot project page.)

2011.07.14

Arduino Uno

Here’s a terrible photo of an Arduino Uno…

Diavolino

And here’s a terrible photo of a Diavolino…

Seeeduino

And here’s a terrible photo of a Seeeduino…

These are three terrible photos! I mean, they aren’t terrible terrible, but they’re not great. I could spend a few minutes with each one explaining what I don’t like about them.

We needed a good high resolution photo of an Arduino Uno for a project at the Milwaukee Makerspace, and I said I would quickly snap a photo and get it online, so I did.

I feel like 80% of the quality of these shots are due to the equipment. I used a Nikon D3x with a Nikon 28-70mm f2.8 lens. That’s a great combo. I also used our Elinchrom studio strobes, which are also very nice. I shot tethered to a 21″ Apple iMac, which showed the images on a large colorful screen as they were captured.

Honestly, with all of that stuff in place, anyone familiar with a DSLR and lighting could get a pretty decent shot.

When I use words like “terrible” and “decent” they are, of course, subjective. There’s a whole scale for applying those words. One photographer’s “terrible” is another photographer’s “awesome!”

Besides, these are more “technical” photos than “beautiful” photos. There’s not much style to them. But these also fall under the category of Product Photography, which is worth discussing…

Photography is an interesting thing, because there are so many different disciplines, and so many different subjects. I know some guys who only shoot beautiful women between the age of 18 and 25, outdoors, on sunny days. (Or so it seems.) Other people I know shoot landscapes and nothing but landscapes. Well, HDR landscapes actually. That’s all they do… and that’s all fine, but it’s not product photography.

None of the three photos above would be good examples of product photography, and I’ll explain why:

  1. The items are used.
    If you’re shooting a product, it should be brand new, fresh out of the box, never used. Used items are not the same as clean items. Do you know why? It’s because…

  2. The items are dirty.
    Once an item gets used, it gets dirty. It gets worn down. It gets fingerprints, and smudges, and dirt, and scrapes, and doesn’t look very nice. Yes, you can clean things, and we often joke about the fact that 75% of product photography involves cleaning things, while 15% involves taking pictures. The other 10%? That’s for cleaning it again.

There’s also a number of tricks when shooting products, as opposed to portraits, or landscapes, or beautiful women. Don’t get me wrong, each thing has its own tricks, but they are often different tricks. Actually, they mostly have to do with reflecting light, or blocking light, or basically controlling light, in different ways.

But if you aren’t shooting products for a client, but you are shooting things for your own purpose, like documenting projects, you might find it helpful to learn more about product photography.

And when I say learn, feel free to learn in your own way. If you can assist a product photographer, that would be good, but if you can’t, then study good photos, figure out what you like about them. Learn to control light. I’m not ashamed to say that some of the photos of things that I’ve taken that I really liked, I ended up shooting 30 different versions, all with slightly different lighting. That’s just how I do it. Take a shot, move a light. Take a shot, move a reflector. Take a shot, place a black board directly overhead instead of a white board. Take another shot. At some point after you think you have enough shots, stop. Review them later on a large colorful screen and pick the best one.

Trial and error is still an effective way of learning something… In fact, it may be the only way to learn something.

2011.04.21

Diavolino

Remember when I wrote about Cheap Arduinos? Well, if you do, maybe you remember the Diavolino.

The Diavolino is a damn cheap Arduino clone, coming in at about $13. (I say “about” because if you want some headers, or a battery pack, or a chip socket, it’ll run you another few bucks… but still, you can get away with just $13 for the base kit.)

Even though I said there was an “extremely detailed assembly guide” there were a few places where I got slightly confused, mainly just in the “power options” section. (I wasn’t even drinking when I put this kit together, unlike the last kit I built.) Since I got the Diavolino with the 3 x AA battery holder for $1, it was simple to just go with that option. Obviously you’ll need a FTDI USB-TTL cable to connect it to your computer to program it. Again, leaving out the on-board USB makes this kit nice and cheap. (I did get a socket for the chip, as I don’t like to solder chips directly into place.) My only real complaint is that, even though the board looks cool in red and black, it can be a little hard to read the type on the board to locate the correct pins. Then again, I tend to prototype in dimly lit rooms.

I got this kit put together in about 40 minutes. (In fact, I even made a time lapse video showing the assembly.) This seems like a pretty simple kit for a beginner. In fact, I could see the Diavolino being used as a kit put together in a class for people wanting to learn soldering and basic Arduino programming. (As long as you can send them home without an FTDI cable.)

The Diavolino appears to have been designed knowing that in being low cost, a few sacrifices had to be made, and I’m OK with that. If you know how you want to use it, it shouldn’t be an issue at all. (This one is destined for a robot.)

2010.11.05

As I continue to explore the world of Arduino, I started looking for cheap Arduinos to use in projects – permanent projects that need a dedicated microcontroller. Once you’ve got an Arduino and start having fun with it, you think about things you can build, but you always want one around for prototyping and trying out new ideas, so for permanent installation, you’ll want a cheap Arduino you can drop in place.

Now, since Arudino is open source hardware anyone could get the parts themselves and assemble and use/sell an “Arduino-based” board. This is great, and it’s why I love open source, and it provides many choices. That said, if you are not the “build your own from scratch” kind of person, keep reading for some kits that may work for you.

These are the cheap Arduinos I found, with some notes on each. All of them require some sort of of FTDI connector, as they do not have USB connections. This is fine for boards that will find their way into projects that do not need to be connected directly to a computer, the idea being, you buy one FTDI connector, and you can use it to program all of these boards. Each vendor should also have an FTDI connector for sale, for instance, SparkFun’s FTDI Basic Breakout 5V, Adafruit’s USB FTDI TTL-232 cable, etc. (You will need to figure out the whole 5V or 3.3V thing.) Also worth mentioning is that most of these are kits, which means you’ll need to be comfortable soldering small pieces to make them functional. (Shipping costs you see below are typically estimates, with the choice of the lowest cost.)

Ardweeny
Photo from Solarbotics

Ardweeny probably wins the prize for smallest Arduino, as the “board” and the components actually sit on top of the chip! It’s a novel idea, that’s for sure. If you want a super-cheap Arduino to plug into a breadboard, this is it.

Pros: Cheap – under $10, Very small
Cons: You can’t replace the chip*, so if it gets blown, you’re out of luck, No easy way to power it, Requires FTDI to program it

Now, if you want to “free your Ardweeny from the breadboard” you can get an Ardweeny BackPack which provides power, and a few other niceties. It’s $11.95, which makes teaming it with an Ardweeny total more than $20, which doesn’t make a ton of sense to me… It’s a neat idea, but it all seems a little weird.

Maker Shed has it for $9.95 + $6.95 shipping and Solarbotics has it for $9.95 + $6.94 shipping but note that Solarbotics has a $5.00 “handling fee” if you place an order under $30.

PicoDuino
Photo from The Makerspace

PicoDuino is another small Arduino. I don’t know much about “The Makerspace” and their web site doesn’t really provide much info on them. I do like their description of the product “We designed the Picoduino to be small, cheap, and disposable so that you can throw it in a project and forget about it.”

Pros: Cheap – just $10, Small, The chip is in a socket, so it is replaceable
Cons: No easy way to power it, Don’t know much about “The Makerspace”


Similar to how the Ardweeny has it’s backpack, the PicoDuino has it’s PicoDuino Shield Adapter, which makes using it in a more traditional fashion a little bit easier. The adapter is $10, same price as the PicoDuino itself.


The Makerspace has it for $10.00 + $5.00 shipping.

RBBB
Photo from Modern Device

Really Bare Bones Board (or RBBB) is a step-up in the small/cheap Arduino world. It’s got an easy to connect power jack, a socket for the chip, and the board itself is a bit “customizable” as far as the size you want it to be.

Pros: Affordable – under $13, Power jack, Customizable board size, Chip is socketed
Cons: Still need an FTDI connection (maybe)

I really like the specs of the RBBB. Also note, you can buy one fully assembled for $22.00 if that’s more your style.

Modern Device has it for $12.95 + $4.00 shipping, and The Shoppe at Wulfden has it for $12.00 + $2.00 shipping.

BoArduino
Photo by ladyadaSome Rights Reserved

BoArduino comes from Adafruit Industries, and looks to be pretty similar to the RBBB with perhaps just a few more niceties and features.

Pros: Affordable – $17.50, ICSP header, “No-Wait” bootloader, “protection” diode
Cons: A bit more expensive than the other options

Adafruit has it for $17.50 + $3.99 shipping. (Occasionally Adafruit offers 10% discounts on kits, so if you’re lucky you could get it for $15.75, which would just get you in under the $20 barrier including shipping.)

(Note that Adafruit also has a USB version of the BoArduino, which swaps the DC power jack for a mini-USB connection and comes in at $25.00)

Arduino Pro Mini
Photo from SparkFun Electronics

Arduino Pro Mini comes from SparkFun Electronics and it’s damn small. In fact, it’s miniature! It’s also not really a kit, as it comes assembled (you just need to add header pins.) The chip is surface mounted, so it’s non-replaceable. Again, size is the #1 feature of the Pro Mini.

Pros: Affordable – $18.95, Small, Really Small
Cons: More expensive than the other options, non-replaceable* chip

SparkFun Electronics has it for $18.95 + $4.41 shipping. (That’s the 3.3V version. There is also a 5V version.)

(Note that SparkFun also has the Arduino Pro which is just a dollar more, and comes in 3.3V and 5V versions as well, but at almost $20 and a surface mounted chip, I’m not as interested in this one.)

Diavolino
Photo by Windell H. Oskay, www.evilmadscientist.comSome Rights Reserved

Diavolino comes from Evil Mad Science, and it’s red, and has flames. The Diavolino does not come with a socket for the chip, so add another $1.50 or so if you want one. As for power, you can get a battery pack for an extra $1.00. There’s an extremely detailed assembly guide which I think any beginner would be comfortable following.

Pros: Cheap – $13.00, Nice power options
Cons: Large, No socket included

Evil Mad Science has it for $13.00 + $5.55 shipping.

So that’s my quick rundown of cheap (non-USB) Arduino boards. It should be noted that almost all of these get cheaper as you buy more of them. For instance, the RBBB is $12.50 for one, but just $9.50 each when you buy 10 of them. Also, while it makes the most sense to use an FTDI cable to program these, for any of the boards that use a socketed chip, you should be able to pull the chip, put it in a USB-equipped Arduino, program it, and then return it to the non-USB board. In theory anyway… Note that I also didn’t really talk about what model these are based on, most appear to be based on the Duemilanove or the slightly older Diecimila. How you use it will determine if this matters much. All boards mentioned use the ATmega328, though many show outdated photos with older chips on their product pages, so always read the specs!

And if this isn’t enough, take a look at the spreadsheet of many more Arduinos, which may be slightly dated, but is definitely a nice long list.

(Update: When I say something is “not replaceable” it may be better to say “not easily replaceable” at least by a beginner. — Thanks to Milwaukee Makerspace for pointing this out.)

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