Blog

MIT's Rubbish Project



The MIT Senseable City Lab has embedded hundreds of GSM-enabled tracking devices inside pieces of rubbish in order to create a digital visualisation of the movement of our disposed waste. The Trash Track project attempts to promote social responsibility by visually educating people about what happens with the waste materials we put into our tips.

Trash Track is a combination of hundreds of volunteers, a $100 USD GSM tracking unit and a Processing App which visualises the location data as the rubbish is dispersed to processing locations. The Trash Track modules use a Qualcomm GSM module and the Navizon location system to track the position of rubbish over time. The designer's chose a technique called Cell ID positioning which uses mobile phone tower's to determine a rough location for the tracked item-- GPS was ruled out as rubbish may be contained inside enclosed locations like rubbish trucks, storage areas and the bottom of junk heaps. GPS as we all know does not work well inside buildings, urban canyons or dense forest coverage.

Some interesting things we can see are that the final destination of much of the junk ends up in landfill's nearby the origin (Seattle distribution). The New York City distribution saw lot's of the rubbish end up in ocean landfill's courtesy of the famous NYC junk barges. The junk that travels the furthest is special-disposal items like batteries, mobile phones and printer cartridges.

Geeks Make Great Lovers: Valentine's Day Product Showcase


If you're tired of consuming most of your Arduino's pins to control a standard LCD display, the Serial LCD Backpack offers a standard TTL serial interface for your HD44780 display. The backpack is meant to be soldered into the display and allows you to send text to the display via your UART (TX pin on the Arduino). I heart Serial!

Due to supplier issues we had a hard time getting stock for the popular L293N shield from FlamingoEda, but Sparkfun offers a great alternative the Ardumotor. Get your robot going and going fast with the Ardumotor shield which features the classic L293 H-Bridge for some very romantic motor driving.





Take Advantage of MHVLib and a Full Eclipse Toolchain- AVR Development To The Max. The MHVBoard is a low cost Arduino clone, based off the Metaboard created by the new Hackerspace Make Hack Void. It offers a TTL serial port, USB programming, ICSP, breadboard compatible headers and hardware already set up for software USB via V-USB. My other girlfriend is an AVR Programmer.

OpenPicus Offers An Easy And Reliable Wireless Platform





An Italian startup OpenPicus is actively spreading the word about their new PIC-based wireless development platform. OpenPicus modules (so far the FlyPort Wifi module is available) are standalone wireless devices that are programmed with the USB "Nest", similar to the Arduino. Afterwards, the Flyport can be disconnected and used independently of the programming Nest.

OpenPicus is programmed in the provided IDE which runs in Windows-- hopefully they can get this ported to Linux and Mac OS as well. The FlyPort has been designed with reliability in mind and a post on OpenPicus' blog reveals quality control tests where an FlyPort ran for 15 days straight. This isn't bad seeing that most wireless routers need to be reset weekly!



See above and below for a videos of the OpenPicus IDE and embedded FlyPort WebServer Demo. The interesting bits are an easy configuration for wireless (including DHCP),the ability to configure it as an adhoc wireless network, and the ability to join existing network with WPA/WPA2 security.

Keep and eye on Australian Robotics over the next couple weeks for reviews --we are soon getting the OpenPicus development boards here in Australia for a good evaluation!



OpenPicus Demo Videos

Retail Prices: Flyport $69/Nest $26 AUD

Hackerspace MHV Opens In Canberra


Make Hack Void is located on Frencham St, Downer, ACT.

The hackerspace phenomenon has spread globally and now our own Canberra has one in the north side suburb of Downer. The group "Make Hack Void (MHV)" has been meeting in adhoc locations since early 2010 but have finally rented a permanent space.

MHV is heavily involved in local robotics initiatives as well as a design of their own Arduino-compatible board.

Way to go Makers!

Shieldlist.org Inventories More Than 200 Arduino Shields

Jonathon Oxer, i.e. Freetronics, Practical Arduino has created an Arduino database which documents more than 200 shields for Arduino by various manufacturers. Oxer's database features images, descriptions, and pin usage for each shield-- great for working out if the three shields you want to stack will play together.

Also, Oxer challenges all to submit a shield that is not in the database with the prize of a Freetronics Protoshield basic!

Link to Shieldlist.org



iPhone Robot Control with RCTx App and RCOIP

Local Aussie Network Engineer Mike McCauley has created a novel iPhone App RCTx for controlling RC devices using WiFi. McCauley as well as creating the iPhone app that emulates an RC controller has invented a new two-way network protocol called RCOIP (Radio Control Over IP) specifically designed for controlling small robots and RC vehicles.

WiFi Gmail Notifier Robot

A (Wireless) Physical Gmail Notifier

Having just received our first batch of WiShield 2.0's from AsyncLabs, I had to build something wireless! There are a few physical Gmail notifiers based on Arduino out there, but here is one that can be disconnected from your computer. It still needs a DC power supply for the Arduino, but it can be moved anywhere in the house as a lamp or small radio would. The robot body contains two servos more moving the arms and a spacious hollow interior for the Arduino and WiShield.

Web Data Logging With Pachube and LM335Z


An Arduino Mega Clone Resetting The Other Arduino + EthernetShield Every 30 Minutes.

Little Dog Robot Climbs With Agility

An incredible research project by the University Of Southern California robotics department shows off some awesome quadripedal movement-- without the funny noises. Way to go small dogs!