2018-05-25 (F) Weekly Summary

Assistive technology holds a special place in most hacker's hearts. When those devices demonstrate the ability of computers to take part of our mental workload, that is two factors in favor of it. This device gives clear directions for someone getting dressed to offload the work from caregivers and return some dignity to patients.

When I first came across this blog post, I nearly passed it over. Many of the other authors did. There is not a huge demand for low-power motors which cannot start moving on their own. But, it reminded me of a game spinner so I wrote it up as a specialty device and pointed out that the power source is only a transformer. Usually, this kind of device needs a DC power source and a controller. Those can get spendy.

Prototypes often look like garbage. Sometimes this reflects where the materials came from and there is nothing wrong with that. When a prototype looks like a finished product, it can feel like an accomplishment all its own. Eric Strebel, is a pro, literally, who makes it his job to make things look good. He shared his technique for making resin shells which look like blow-molded plastic. Clear resin cast this way often has a blown-glass look.

Moving something in cartesian directions isn't always easy or inexpensive, and it usually involves at least a couple moving parts. This project has one moving part and on top of that part is a smiling robot face. On top of that, the little character is part of the circuit board on which it rides. This is mostly a proof-of-concept project but it is darn cool to watch a little robot skitter across a circuit board.

A controller, Teensy-LC was attached to the controller board, far left. Getting feedback from the first two boards turned out to be a hassle even though they were right next to the Teensy. Before it was cracked, another I2C device was hooked up to make sure everything on the controller board was done correctly.

Getting feedback from the first two boards

The second half of the keyboard, boards three, four, and five, was connected with a piece of scrapped audio cable. Electrically, this worked all right but the cable was inconvenient to attach to the boards. It took awhile to get communication established on all the boards. Keycaps were installed but there wasn't any programming on them so they were only for show at this point.

Keycaps installed on boards which could all communicate with the controller

The rest of the weekly summaries have been arranged by date.

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