About Brian McLaughlin

Brian is a NASA engineer by day and a GeekDad contributor by night. Opinions shared are my own and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of NASA.

Final Hours: PancakeBot Kickstarter

PancakeBot Kickstarter

The first time I saw the PancakeBot in action, I was hooked. It was at the 2012 Maker World Faire in New York and it was just fascinating to watch in action. Voluntold by his kids that he needed to create a robot that could print in pancake batter, Miguel had created a machine that actually prints in pancake batter. Continue reading

About Brian McLaughlin

Brian is a NASA engineer by day and a GeekDad contributor by night. Opinions shared are my own and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of NASA.

Kickstarter Alert: Studio Cosplay

Studio Cosplay

Many of us in the GeekDad community have experience with makerspaces and DIY work, including cosplay. The cosplay I have seen over the years simply boggles my mind. When people are given the right tools and have the push, the cosplay results can be spectacular and bring fandoms to life. A Kickstarter campaign, Studio Cosplay, seeks to give more people access to those tools. There are several Kickstarters that I have backed quietly, but this is one that I have not only pledged my money towards but also want to spread the word. Continue reading

About Brian McLaughlin

Brian is a NASA engineer by day and a GeekDad contributor by night. Opinions shared are my own and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of NASA.

Need a New Desktop? Build Your Own!

My new rig. (Image: Brian McLaughlin)

Recently, I had a crazy idea. I had identified that I needed a new desktop machine. Ok, needed is a stretch. I wanted a new desktop computer. I had the desire for a more powerful, dedicated machine that could run some games and handle 3D rendering and other higher-performance duties well. It had to be Windows-based for some of the utilities I wanted to run and didn’t want to bother with VM performance or dual booting. I started looking at the traditional pre-built sites like Dell and even some amazing high-end market providers like Maingear. I was impressed by what I saw, but what I really longed for was something I hadn’t done since about 1992: build my own computer from scratch. It was easy enough when I built a 486-based machine. I was in for a lesson on exactly how much had changed under my nose while I was buying computers in a commodity style. Continue reading

About Brian McLaughlin

Brian is a NASA engineer by day and a GeekDad contributor by night. Opinions shared are my own and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of NASA.

Win a Tektronix Oscilloscope With GeekDad!

Tektronix TBS1202B Oscilloscope

Having the right tools for the job is crucial for any development project. There is a standard array of tools that folks working on electronics have in their arsenal. A soldering iron, a board holder, a digital multimeter, and a slew of similar tools. One of those tools that many are missing is a quality oscilloscope. Continue reading

About Brian McLaughlin

Brian is a NASA engineer by day and a GeekDad contributor by night. Opinions shared are my own and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of NASA.

Oscilloscope Basics and Tektronix Giveaway Reminder

Tektronix TBS1202B Oscilloscope

As I mentioned in my post last week, announcing our giveaway of a Tektronix TBS1202B oscilloscope, an oscilloscope can be one of the most powerful tools on a electronics work bench. I thought I would take some time to explain how a scope can be useful, and highlight some of the features of the TBS1202B. Continue reading

About Brian McLaughlin

Brian is a NASA engineer by day and a GeekDad contributor by night. Opinions shared are my own and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of NASA.

11 Things to Watch Rather Than SyFy’s Aliens on the Moon “Documentary”

(Image: Flickr User kosmolaut under CC Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0))

There are some things we encounter in the world that just make a person want to shake their head. We, at GeekDad, recently received a press release from a public relations company asking us to post an announcement about an upcoming “SYFY Event Documentary” titled “ALIENS ON THE MOON: THE TRUTH EXPOSED” because they are certain that our readers will be intrigued. As we care deeply for our readers we wish to make sure you read our announcement.

Announcement: Do not waste any of your time on the farcical waste that will premiere on the SyFy channel on July 20th titled “ALIENS ON THE MOON: THE TRUTH EXPOSED.” Continue reading

About Brian McLaughlin

Brian is a NASA engineer by day and a GeekDad contributor by night. Opinions shared are my own and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of NASA.

Calculating Time By The Second

How do you know what time it is right now? One good way to find out is to check with the time standard at the US Naval Observatory. You can always go to that website but it is also the time standard used by GPS, which transmits the time information as part of position determination. How about your cell phone? That time generally comes from the USNO. You could set your local network to use the USNO Network Time Protocol (NTP) servers or do-it-yourself and pull it directly from GPS for your network. How exactly is that time measured? One second at a time as shown in this great video from The Atlantic interviewing Dr. Demetrios Matsakis, Chief Scientist for USNO’s Time Services. Continue reading

About Brian McLaughlin

Brian is a NASA engineer by day and a GeekDad contributor by night. Opinions shared are my own and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of NASA.

Harold Ramis: The Passing Of An Icon

Harold Ramis

How do you memorialize the death of someone you never knew personally yet you feel like you’ve known your entire life? Last night, we lost one of those people that has probably made almost every one of you reading this laugh. Harold Ramis passed away from complications due to an ongoing battle with an autoimmune disease. He was only sixty nine years old. Far too young for a person who filled the world with so much laughter. Continue reading

About Brian McLaughlin

Brian is a NASA engineer by day and a GeekDad contributor by night. Opinions shared are my own and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of NASA.

A Tale of Two Drones: Parallax ELEV-8 & AR.Drone 2.0

[Parallax ELEV-8] [Parrot AR.Drone 2.0]

As we come out of a cold and bitter winter into spring, you may look towards the sky yourself and think of getting a UAV or drone of your own. There are lots of great smaller models of drone out there but in this article, I take a look at two of the heavier hitters, the Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 and the Parallax ELEV-8. These are two very different commercial options, in a similar class, and both are outstanding for their different uses. Continue reading

About Brian McLaughlin

Brian is a NASA engineer by day and a GeekDad contributor by night. Opinions shared are my own and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of NASA.

Kickstarter Alert: MOSS Dynamic Robot Construction Kit

A MOSS Robot

I love good robotics and electronics Kickstarter projects. I recently had the MOSS Dynamic Robot Construction Kit come along my desk, and I have to say I am impressed by what I see. Continue reading

About Brian McLaughlin

Brian is a NASA engineer by day and a GeekDad contributor by night. Opinions shared are my own and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of NASA.

Steam Locomotive Contruction in the 1930s

We do a lot of articles on GeekDad about modern technology and modern conveniences, but an old technology that still captures the hearts and minds of techies around the world is the steam locomotive. They are beautiful to see in a museum, and even more amazing to see in action. Continue reading

About Brian McLaughlin

Brian is a NASA engineer by day and a GeekDad contributor by night. Opinions shared are my own and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of NASA.

Kickstarter Alert: Learn Electronics with LightUp

LightUp

This week, I was fortunate enough to represent GeekDad at the Make Hardware Innovation Workshop and saw a demonstration of a great project for electronics education. It is called LightUp and upon first glance it is very similar to other electronics education systems. What sets LightUp apart is the Augmented Reality (AR) features. Continue reading

About Brian McLaughlin

Brian is a NASA engineer by day and a GeekDad contributor by night. Opinions shared are my own and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of NASA.

Hubble’s 23rd Birthday Image and a Proud GeekDad

How does one go from being a Geek to becoming a GeekDad? For this GeekDad, the story is related to an image released Tuesday that was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. Continue reading

About Brian McLaughlin

Brian is a NASA engineer by day and a GeekDad contributor by night. Opinions shared are my own and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of NASA.

Indiegogo Alert: Photon 3D Scanner

Photon 3D Scanner

So, what is it going to take to get the world to the 3D printer/scanner/fax combination that is so ubiquitous in home and professional offices? Enter the 3D scanner and a Indiegogo project called the Photon. Continue reading

About Brian McLaughlin

Brian is a NASA engineer by day and a GeekDad contributor by night. Opinions shared are my own and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of NASA.

Kickstarter Alert: UDOO Development Board

UDOO Board (Image: UDOO)

The UDOO is a dual processor system featuring an ARM i.MX6 from Freescale Semiconductors and a ARM SAM3X8E from Atmel. The Atmel ARM chip is the same chip as the Arduino DUE and the UDOO board has the footprint of a DUE built right into the board, including all of the IO pins. The Freescale ARM i.MX6 is available as a dual core or a quad core and runs at 1 GHz. Continue reading

About Brian McLaughlin

Brian is a NASA engineer by day and a GeekDad contributor by night. Opinions shared are my own and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of NASA.

Going Retro: 4 Emacs Easter Eggs

Emacs game of Life (Image: Brian Mclaughlin)

Want to show your geeklings some real retro computing? How about showing them the emacs easter eggs built into emacs. There is a MUD, the game of Life (the cellular version, not the board game version), ASCII Tetris, and a primitive AI for Psychoanalysis. Continue reading

About Brian McLaughlin

Brian is a NASA engineer by day and a GeekDad contributor by night. Opinions shared are my own and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of NASA.

Pulse Width Modulation – SparkFun Electronics Tutorial

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Want to learn more about the Pulse Width Modulation, or PWM, capabilities of your favorite microcontroller? Check out this great tutorial from the folks at SparkFun Electronics all about PWM! Continue reading

About Brian McLaughlin

Brian is a NASA engineer by day and a GeekDad contributor by night. Opinions shared are my own and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of NASA.

NASA – Hubble Breaks Record in Search for Farthest Supernova

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NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has found the farthest supernova so far of the type used to measure cosmic distances. Continue reading

About Brian McLaughlin

Brian is a NASA engineer by day and a GeekDad contributor by night. Opinions shared are my own and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of NASA.

Building your First Robot – EZ-Robot BoxBot

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This tutorial series from our friends over at EZ-Robot shows you how you can build your own robot using items from around the house (like cardboard boxes) and the EZ-Robot Complete Kit (available in the Maker Shed). Continue reading

About Brian McLaughlin

Brian is a NASA engineer by day and a GeekDad contributor by night. Opinions shared are my own and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of NASA.

SparkFun Electronics Presents According to Pete – Filtering

spfn

Have you ever wanted to understand electronic filtering better? Here is a favorite According to Pete segment from SparkFun Electronics that addresses that topic in one of the best, easiest to understand, descriptions I’ve ever seen. Continue reading

About Brian McLaughlin

Brian is a NASA engineer by day and a GeekDad contributor by night. Opinions shared are my own and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of NASA.

GeekDad Approved: Tektronix MSO2000B Series Oscilloscope

Tektronix MSO2024B

When in the course of building electronics projects there comes a time when you need to step up your game Continue reading

About Brian McLaughlin

Brian is a NASA engineer by day and a GeekDad contributor by night. Opinions shared are my own and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of NASA.

Learning the Arduino Is an Adventure!

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The world is abuzz with Makers moving from scripting to physical computing using the Arduino platform. GeekDad’s own James Floyd Kelly and Harold Timmis make learning how to make the jump to physical computing with the Arduino an adventure in their new book, Arduino Adventures: Escape from Gemini Station. Continue reading

About Brian McLaughlin

Brian is a NASA engineer by day and a GeekDad contributor by night. Opinions shared are my own and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of NASA.

Win a Trip to the Iron Man 3 Premiere

Alcatel One Touch Idol

It is rare where I find myself envious of a movie’s character but there is one character in particular of whom I am madly jealous. That would be Tony Stark of Iron Man fame… Continue reading

About Brian McLaughlin

Brian is a NASA engineer by day and a GeekDad contributor by night. Opinions shared are my own and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of NASA.

Upgrade Your System With The SanDisk Ultra Plus SSD

Solid State Drive, or SSD, storage technology has passed the point of being a new technology novelty and entered the mainstream. Now many companies are producing their own drives and vying for your business. SanDisk has been a leader in … Continue reading

About Brian McLaughlin

Brian is a NASA engineer by day and a GeekDad contributor by night. Opinions shared are my own and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of NASA.

For the Home Theater Geek, Spyder4TV HD Shows Your True Colors

The central part of any great home entertainment system is the display. We spend a great deal of money on display technology but how much effort do we make to ensure that your display is properly calibrated? I know when … Continue reading

About Brian McLaughlin

Brian is a NASA engineer by day and a GeekDad contributor by night. Opinions shared are my own and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of NASA.

Help Send PancakeBot to the 2013 Bay Area Maker Faire!

PancakeBot is like an additive manufacturing CNC machine that uses pancake batter. It is exactly as cool as it sounds. But its creator needs help to get it to the Bay Area Maker Faire this year! Continue reading

About Brian McLaughlin

Brian is a NASA engineer by day and a GeekDad contributor by night. Opinions shared are my own and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of NASA.

Drobo 5D: Speed, Space, and Peace of Mind in a Box

When I was in college, many years ago, my media library existed on a wooden rack that held my DVDs, VHS tapes, and CDs. I would select the media I wanted to listen to or watch and put it … Continue reading

About Brian McLaughlin

Brian is a NASA engineer by day and a GeekDad contributor by night. Opinions shared are my own and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of NASA.