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1  Community / Bar Sport / Re: Sparkfun Items for Sale on: May 12, 2013, 01:50:36 pm
Who was the lucky fellow?
That would be me  smiley

And I'd like to commend mjk for taking the extra care (and paying the extra postage!) to send them in a small box, instead of the padded envelope I expected, protecting the flex sensor against the risk of the envelope getting folded or crunched in transit. A lot of the alleged "professional sellers" I deal with don't bother to do that.
2  Community / Bar Sport / Re: Arduino based replicator on: May 01, 2013, 05:59:47 am
They are expecting you to do that and have hefty return fee and a non-printable part in there, which you can only buy off some grey market.
Don't laugh: it's true. One of my clients bought a Cubex.  After the first 8 or 10 hours of printing, the feedstock decided it wanted to be "stock", instead of "feed": it refused to come out of the cartridge. Having encountered the same symptoms with WeedWhackers, the client decided to pop open the cartridge to see if he could fix the hangup.

Which he did: just like on WeedWhackers, the filament had jumped the spool and gotten itself jammed. Unfortunately, what he also found was that the cartridge had been designed such that opening it without following the correct (but undocumented) special procedure would break the ID chip that straddles its two halves.

And, of course, the ID chip is not on offer as a separate item: you have to buy a whole new cartridge.

It's the old "razors and razor blades" gambit, except that you have to pop 3 grand for the "razor" before you start shelling out for the overpriced "blades".
3  Community / Bar Sport / Re: Flying with Arduino on: April 28, 2013, 02:48:37 am
I think I'll start a petition on to allow microcontroller boards on airliners as long as they are 2.36 inches or shorter.
Don't forget that I/O boards have to be limited to 10 pins.
4  Community / Bar Sport / Re: Finally a use for EL wire. on: April 04, 2013, 01:29:49 am
Coming soon to an arena near you: "TRON on Ice"!!
5  Community / Bar Sport / Re: Good, Cheap Camera for Close Ups? Macro? on: April 04, 2013, 01:02:24 am
First suggestion: look up reviews for your specific model of iPhone, and see how well its camera fared. My recollection is that some are good, and some not.

If you decide you need a camera, look in places like craigslist and Goodwill for ones that are dirt cheap because they're a few years old and don't have 40 gazillion megapixels.  Many cameras with what are now considered "too small" sensors had superb optics.  Unless the PCBs you're photographing are PC motherboards, 3-5 megapixels should be plenty.

I disagree with the suggestion of a tripod: you're going to want something more like a "copy stand" to hold the camera pointing dead straight at the PCB.  If you try to use a tripod, you'll find that the legs get in the way, or you have to cantilever the camera out so far that it becomes unstable, or you have to try to prop up the subject at odd angles to get the camera's axis perpendicular to it.  To make one really cheaply, start with a base that's nice and flat, and about 10-12 inches on a side.  Something like one of those plastic kitchen  cutting boards that's about half an inch thick should do.  Mount a vertical piece of 2x2 lumber to it. Attach your camera/phone holder to another piece.of 2x2, and use a C-clamp to hold it horizontal at the right height.

You can get fancier and more expensive, but that's all you really need for occasional use.

6  Community / Bar Sport / Re: Seasons greetings! on: January 01, 2013, 11:11:05 am
but I don't know if I can cope with being married to a grandma.

It'll definitely be a lot harder to cope if she catches you posting stuff like that  smiley-twist
7  Community / Bar Sport / Re: Seasons greetings! on: December 31, 2012, 04:33:48 am
This morning a nice, crispy -30C
I'm reminded of a Lewis Black audio from youtube about Minnesota winters (Warning: lots of X-rated language, as in any Lewis Black recording): when he saw on the news that it was -20F there, he said "That's not 'weather': that's 'an emergency condition'. And if you had any sense, you'd be calling the federal government to say 'Get us the (bleep) outta here!'".
8  Community / Bar Sport / Re: Need programmers eyes for this (not code): on: December 30, 2012, 03:30:35 pm
Looks like something from one of the first color Palms.

It's pretty funny that they pitch it as "cross-platform": their homepage is festooned with logos, claiming you can "deploy your apps anywhere". But, if you check their feature matrix (about halfway down the page), 90% of their features don't work on any "platform" that you couldn't have your dog fetch with your pipe and slippers.
9  Community / Bar Sport / Re: Nutter or Genius? on: December 12, 2012, 01:55:14 am
If only a threetoed sloth could talk and inform us what he thinks pi is ?


However, since it's a sloth, most people would give up and walk away before it got past the second "3"...
10  Community / Bar Sport / Re: Arduino Uno controlling a toy helicopter with your thoughts! on: December 09, 2012, 07:17:27 pm
This isn't the site I saw last night (sorry, I didn't bookmark it), but it confirms that the Star Wars toy is the one sending fewer values.

11  Community / Bar Sport / Re: Nutter or Genius? on: December 09, 2012, 07:04:18 pm
There is nothing unique about base 10.  We chose it because of our fingers?  This proves that there is some connection between the base we use and the number Pi.

There you have it: incontrovertible proof that evolution is a lie, and we were intelligently designed with 10 fingers so we would choose decimal numbers and find the secret messages embedded in the value of pi  smiley-twist

And if that's not enough, don't forget that our eyes' spectral response was designed so we could see Jesus in that grilled cheese sandwich on ebay.

What more could you ask for?
12  Community / Bar Sport / Re: Arduino Uno controlling a toy helicopter with your thoughts! on: December 09, 2012, 06:03:48 pm
It seems a little underwhelming to me: all you really get is a single "mental potentiometer" that controls the main rotor speed.

If you just want to experiment with the technology, there are much cheaper toys on the market that have already been hacked to give you a head start on getting access to the EEG data.

Be sure to do some research before buying: I came across one website by someone who'd been playing with multiple devices, and discovered that at least one of them (the Star Wars one, I think) outputs less of the EEG data on its internal serial interface than others do.
13  Community / Bar Sport / Re: What's with the response to Sandy's victims ? on: November 27, 2012, 07:14:54 pm
I'm amazed at how right wing the world is becoming
Y'know, it really isn't. There are real exceptions: the Russians have moved right in response to the anarchy that followed the collapse of the Soviet empire. And some that are portrayed that way, but really aren't, like some "Arab Spring" countries that are only advancing to 18th- or 19th-century (semi-)theocracies instead of leaping to the 21st century pluralist liberal democracy that many hoped for.

Every day, all around the world, people who previously just rolled over for authoritarianism are dying to get rid of it, or to resist those who would (re)impose it. Sometimes against the very same odds that made it seem "futile" before. Even the Chinese are inching (or maybe just millimeter-ing) away from it.

In the U.S., we've developed something of a dip in the bell curve as more on the right have shifted to the extreme, but overall left-right mix hasn't changed much on social and economic issues. There's been some drop in the resistance to encroachments on civil liberties in response to 9/11, but that spans the whole spectrum.

The right wing has gotten more visible, thanks to cable, talk radio, and the net. And it's temporarily gotten more powerful, thanks to its takeover of the GOP.  But simple demographics guarantee that that will pass, and the GOP will either moderate, or go the way of the Federalist Party.
14  Community / Bar Sport / Re: I want to get into 3d printing... on: November 24, 2012, 05:25:27 pm
I would do some checking around to see what kind of reviews people who have bought the Printrbot would give.  Don't get into a hurry and research well.

This is really good advice. It's also important to watch for reviews from people doing the sorts of things you want to do with it.

As flyboy can tell you, precision costs a lot more than it would seem to the "uninitiated".  My cheap Chinese lathe looks as good as ones that cost 3 to 5 times as much, on the surface (mostly: there are some non-critical areas where, e.g.,  they didn't polish castings the way they would for a top-quality machine).  But it can't easily be turned into a CNC machine, because there's so much slop in the lead screws and other areas: if I want to make a shaft that's exactly .087 diameter, I can't just stick a piece of stock in the jaws and crank the cross-slide according to the markings on its dial.  I have to use my expensive high-precision dial caliper to measure what's being cut and "close the feedback loop".  That's fine with me, because I bought it knowing that I would have to pay for my upfront savings with additional manual work compensating for that.

A low-cost machine might be ideal for you if you want to make custom accessories for your kids' Lego minifigs, or build a robotic sculptor, but be a huge disappointment if you want to make custom gear trains for your robots.
15  Community / Bar Sport / Re: What do you think of these odd cheap displays from American Science and Surplus? on: November 20, 2012, 01:50:21 am
The "XO" displays could make an interesting binary clock display: use the crescents for the low-order 4 bits, and the bars for the 3 high-order ones.

You could also use them to make an animated gauge by "spinning" it at a variable rate to show magnitude.
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