I always considered circuit boards like this something you bought, not something you made.
Not any more.
I actually helped to make the board in the picture above. And it was awesome fun.
The board is designed to monitor the conductivity (and, possibly, contamination) of water in lakes and streams, with the wonderful feature that it fits through the mouth of a regular water bottle. It’s called Riffle and it is the brainchild of Don Blair, who’s working with Public Lab and the MIT Center for Civic Media. This week I had the honor of working with Don at MIT.
Visualizing one’s heartbeat is just cool. I’ve been into the idea since I learned that signals sent by the Polar heart monitor straps joggers use can be detected with a cheap device.
I’ve made a heartbeat hoodie, which was a lot of fun. But in the end, a bright, flashing sweatshirt starts to annoy the people around you. Now I’m working toward a more wearable wearable, one that changes subtly as my heart beats faster or slower.
This week I took a step on the way to that wearable by getting three LEDs — blue, green and yellow — to light up according to my heart rate. A calm heartbeat and blue glows, a little faster and you get green and really fast lights the yellow one.
Sewing by hand can be tedious. Sewing by hand with conductive thread is frustrating.
The thread I use is almost woolly, so if you use too much at once, it twists and tangles in itself. Ugh.
For a project I have in mind, there would be much sewing with conductive thread. But we recently got a sewing machine, and this weekend I thought … heeeeey! The thread actually comes in little bobbins. Maybe I could load one in the machine?
For years, we’ve talked about adding accent lighting to our living room — particularly under the TV on the wall, to light up a small shelf underneath.
I’ve put it off. I just didn’t want to deal with the wiring, the mounting, the falling down, the mounting again. Even finding a fixture was daunting.
But then I spotted these adhesive-backed LED strips! Which can be powered by a 9-volt battery. Excellent.
This week became “Tinker Every Week” more than “Make Every Week,” as I tried to make a new device-sniffing device.
Previously, I managed to detect wifi signals around me, and I wanted to do the same for Bluetooth devices, including gadgets using new “Bluetooth Low Energy,” or BLE, signals. These include iBeacons and other tracking systems being deployed more and more around us.
I got myself a Bluefruit LE Sniffer from Adafruit ...
... and rigged it up to my Raspberry Pi.
Texting is a quick way to exchange information with another person:
But what about with a robot?
In that little exchange, there are a couple of hitches to solve, which I took on for this week’s #MakeEveryWeek.
(To skip ahead to the results of my experiment, text the word hello to 646-887-6253.)
The buzz in our corner of Manhattan is all about the Inwood Seal.
But what about when we’re not there? How will we know if he’s returned?
Now, there’s a bot for that.
I learned a lot this week:
- How to use the Readability API
- What’s possible with a similar Readability Node Module
- How to plumb a particular part of a web page using that program’s DOM feature
- How I might play with MongoDB with Node.js (also here)
- What the heck Assert is and does
- How to use Twilio with Node.js (I’ve only used Ruby)
I also used some that new knowledge to write a little program that pulls the title, lead image and date from pages like the one you’re reading right now.
But I didn’t make anything, really. Except a base to build upon.
So while I don’t have a cool thing to post just now, I’m glad for what I’ve learned.
Including the fact that this year has 53 weeks.
In a nod to the egg-dying we’ll be doing this weekend, I made an egg I can color from my phone.
In truth, it was the perfect excuse to play with a Metawear board I picked up a while ago. Hatched from a Kickstarter campaign, it’s a bunch of sensors and an LED packed onto a board the size of a postage stamp. You talk to it over Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE).
The idea is that Metaware can help quickly build smart wearables and fitness trackers. To dip my toes into the process, I made an egg.