Category Archives: drones & bots

A Maker’s Dream: Unboxing the new Arduino Education Starter Kit

Today, i received one of the first samples of the new Arduino Educational Starter Kits by RS and i have to admit that beside it’s cool design this educational starter kit is one of the most exiting collections of electronics i have ever tested. It comes in combination with an Arduino Projects Book that gives a detailed description of each Arduino experiment on more than 170 pages. For each project, Massimo Banzi, co-founder of Arduino gives an online video instruction, in which he explains the details. The tutorials start from the very beginning, how to set up your Arduino development environment and explain in simple incremental steps how to build more complex examples, that include all kinds of sensors, motors and even a LCD display (all part of the Arduino Starter Kit).

Unboxing my new Arduino Starter Kit

The entire Arduino Starter kit really contains an impressive collection of electronic components and all parts you need to start immediately. It consists of following major parts:

  • Arduino Projects Book
  • Arduino UNO Board
  • USB Cable
  • Breadboard
  • Wooden base
  • Jumper Wires
  • Photoresistor
  • Temperature sensor
  • Tilt sensor
  • LCD screen 16×2 characters
  • Lots of LEDs
  • DC Motor
  • Servo Motor
  • Piezo
  • H-bridge motor driver
  • Optocouplers
  • Transistors
  • Capacitors
  • Diodes and resistors
  • Poti
  • Buttons

Here are some pictures i took during the unboxing of the Arduino Starter Kit.

iPhone controlled bug and beatle

iPhone Controlled BugThis little artificial bug is one of two different models that was published recently by i-Robot. These toys try to simulate the movement of real bugs and beatles. The two creatures come along in combination with an iPhone app that enables the remote control by using your own smartphone. The battery lasts for around 20min operation times. Look at the video below to see these creature in action:

Arduino Education Starter Kit with free Video Tutorials

This new Arduino Starter Kit offers an UNO board along with a huge collection of sensors and actuators to learn to experiment with the Arduino board from the scratch. The Arduino StarterKit was intended by it’s creators with the precise intent of learning how to use an Arduino and the base of electronic by discovering. The starter kit contains everything a beginner needs to build simple to complex electronic experiments without additional hardware costs.

As an additional benefit one of the initiators of the Arduino movement, Massimo Banzi, is giving stepwise video tutorials. These video sessions were started today with a brief session, how to setup your Arduino development environment and to get an introduction into your new Arduino educational development kit:

LEGO Renewable Energy Education Kit

LEGO’s revolutionary robotic and microcontroller education kit Lego Mindstorms NXT,  allows kids to do their first experiments with moving robots by controlling 3 servos and a collection of useful sensors. The kit includes a light sensor, noise sensor, a mechanic bumper and best of all an ultrasonic distance sensor, that works like a charm. You can find my own design for a Lego NTX  controlled telepresence robot here.

I recently found out that LEGO published a new education kit for renewable energy that sounds really interesting for teaching kids how wind turbines and solar panels work. The LEGO Renewable Energy Education kit includes a solar panel, turbine blades, a motor/generator, LED lights, an extension wire, a LEGO Energy Meter and full-colour building instructions for six real-life LEGO models to build.

As an additional feature owners of the LEGO Mindstorms NXT kit are able to add the components of the Renewable Energy kit as sort of sensors and data loggers. Connected to the Mindstorms NXT brick, the energy meter works as a sensor and can be used for both programming and data logging.

NASA’s Curiosity Rover tests Robotic Arm on Mars

The following image from NASA’s Curiosity rover was taken by the left mast camera (Mastcam).  It shows an image of the camera on the rover’s robotic arm, the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), during the 30th Martian day, or sol, of the rover’s mission on Mars. MAHLI is one of the various tools that sit on the end of Curiosities robotic arm and is used to explore the near surrounding on Mars. After several days traveling and driving on Mars NASA’s rover Curiosity starts to test these tools on it’s robotic arm. NASA is spending several days preparing for full use of the tools on its arm.

“We will be putting the arm through a range of motions and placing it at important ‘teach points’ that were established during Earth testing, such as the positions for putting sample material into the inlet ports for analytical instruments,” said Daniel Limonadi of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., lead systems engineer for Curiosity’s surface sampling and science system. “These activities are important to get a better understanding for how the arm functions after the long cruise to Mars and in the different temperature and gravity of Mars, compared to earlier testing on Earth.”

Camera on Curiosity's Arm as Seen by Camera on Mast

The image below shows the exact location of the arm on NASA’s Curiosity rover, in addition to the arm’s turret, which holds two instruments and three tools. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech:

Curiosity's Robotic Arm

Telepresence Robot Double allows Virtual Museum Visits anywhere

California-based Double Robotics has published a self balancing Telepresence Robot Double balances an iPad on top in order to enable people to virtually visit museums anywhere worldwide. By connecting to this Double telepresence robot you can perform a museum tour by actually driving and looking around with your telepresence avatar robot. This could also be a great device for virtual meetings or telepresence tours/visits in companies and between project teams. The robot is able to move around and to elevate the iPad at the normal height of your eyes in order to get a good overview. By using the camera, microphone and speaker a remote conversation with other real or telepresence avatars is possible. The robot contains a battery that lasts for a tour of around 8 hours, which is quite enough to nearly visit any museum, except maybe The Louvre or the Vatican Museam in which you barely scrap the surface with an 8 hour visit 😉

How to build a Micro Multicopter in 10 Minutes

In this video, which is said to be one of the best micro multicopter / quadrocopter video tutorial on the web, a detailed description is given how to fully assemble a micro quadcopter within 10minutes. Despite the fact that i do not understand the speaker, the video is detailed enough to easily understand each assembly step. For those of you who prefer to buy an assembled, ready to play Quadcopter, check out the RobotStore gallery.

Quadrocopter Swarm Performance Across the Night Sky at the Ars Electronica Klangwolke

Rehearsal voestalpine Klangwolke - The Cloud in the Web
At this years Ars Electronica technology art festival (Klangwolke), the audience enjoyed the performance of a Quadcopter Swarm, consisting of 50! Quadcopters (AscTec Hummingbirds) synchronized together to fly and form shapes like one single organism, which in fact is a world record. The quadcopters were equipped with led lights in different colors to perform ambient light effects during the motion. The so called ‘Cloud in the Web’ performance was programmed by the Ars Electronica Futurelab and Ascending Technologies GmbH. The firmware of the standard AscTec Hummingbird Quadcopters was modified slightly to enable this synchronized art performance.

RC Drone Launching and Landing from Skyscraper Hotel Balcony

See how the crazy guys from Team BlackSheep try to land a radio controlled model plane in a hotel room located in one of the top floor of a skyscraper hotel in Thailand. Launching the RC plane from the balcony seemed really easy but they did not thought about possible landing failures 😉 See for yourself:

McorTechnologies – 3D Paper Printer

Mcor Technologies recently published a paper printing 3D printer, that allows to print complex 3D objects out of paper, as you can see within the video below. While most popular 3D printer use some kind of plastic molding, like MakerBot, Eventorbot or Tangibot, the Paper 3D Printer – the Matrix 300 uses paper as the basic forming material. Therefore the material costs are still up to 50 times less expensive than traditional plastic molding. The process uses A4 paper and a water based adhesive which makes the output eco-friendly.