Hobbyist Kits — Yesterday (200-in-1) and Today (DuinoKit)!

The DuinoKits

I must have been around twelve years of age when I began developing an interest in electronics. I started taking electronic gizmos like alarm clocks and kitchen appliances apart (often without permission) and examining them more closely. Rather than discourage me, my parents switched gears and birthday and Christmas presents moved from toys to more fun and advanced project-like gifts. One of the more memorable ones was a 200-in-1 electronics kit from Radio Shack. Continue reading

Hacking the Holidays


One of my favorite things about the maker revolution is the availability of tools that a decade ago were out of reach of the average hobbyist. Sure, magazines like Nuts & Volts catered to the die-hard hobbyists, but before the internet, and before e-commerce it was difficult for the average guy to find the parts for their projects. It wasn’t just availability either, the price of these things was high. Development boards for microcontrollers cost upwards of $100 and more, and small parts often had a minimum order of 100 units.
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The Mothership: A Visit to the New SparkFun Building


The shipping department was full of dudes with asymmetric facial hair on skateboards. An engineer had picked up about a thousand Keva planks and on an upstairs wrap-around counter space, there was a crowdsourced build going on — in which you could tell the crowd had higher than the average bear’s level of design thinking skills. Strung on a wall was a DIY art piece made of light bulbs and wire that was set to ripple in response to sounds. A trigger-operated race car track wound underneath a 7-foot tall version of one of those wooden dinosaur skeleton kits. Continue reading

Want to Learn Electronics and Arduino Programming? It’s Your Lucky Day!

BE Board

If you’re wanting to teach yourself electronics, one of the best ways to do it is to grab a book and a parts kit and sit down with the soldering iron and work through the examples. Continue reading

Texas Instruments USB Launchpad MSP430F5529

MSP430F5529 USB Launchpad

Texas Instruments has released a new Launchpad that uses the 16-bit MSP430F5529 MCU. This is the fastest and most capable MSP430 processor yet with a clock speed of 25 Mhz, 8KB of RAM and 128KB of Flash. The USB Launchpad supports many USB modes including CDC (communications), HID (keyboard and mouse), and MSC (mass storage).
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FIRST Championship Showcases Brilliant Innovation in First Lego League


Among the many outstanding displays of innovation at the FIRST Championship in Saint Louis this past weekend, the FIRST Lego League impressed the most with great projects to solve real world problems. Continue reading

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

Learning the Arduino Is an Adventure!


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

Best of Both Worlds: Make: Lego and Arduino Projects

GeekDad’s very own John Baicthal has joined Matthew Beckler and Adam Wolf (co-founders of Wayne and Layne) to release Make: Lego and Arduino Projects. Just like the other Make: books, it’s a high-quality, full-color book that lays flat and looks … Continue reading

A $13 ARM Single-Board Computer

We live in a great time to be an electronics tinkerer. What with the Arduino, Raspberry Pi, BeagleBoard and other single-board computers, it’s cheap and easy to get started with hardware hacking. And the options available to prospective makers continue … Continue reading

Kickstart Your Own Space Program With Firefly, A Flexible Mission Control Board

We’ve previously highlighted the Firefly, an Arduino-compatible system with onboard power, charging, data logging, and radio communications–all the standard stuff that can take a while to piece together individually. The flexible “mission control” board can be used for a variety of projects … Continue reading

FireFly Controller Board Simplifies Rocket Science

Recently, my friend Mike Doornbos from Evadot got together with the small-satellite crew down at the non-profit Kentucky Space to try to fix an annoying problem. They wanted a standard “mission command” board that could serve as the basis for … Continue reading

Establishing the Ultimate GeekDad Reference Shelf

When I get started on a new project or endeavor, I become a voracious consumer of information. I start reading everything I can get my hands on that will introduce me to that subject and give me a good foothold. … Continue reading

Review: Environmental Monitoring With Arduino

I love to read through project suggestions and examples for the Arduino and other platforms. It keeps my mind constantly running with ideas for projects. I was recently provided a copy of Environmental Monitoring with Arduino to review and it … Continue reading

10 Take-Away Lessons From Maker Faire New York

Last weekend the kids, husband, and I attended the 2nd annual Maker Faire New York at the New York Hall of Science in Corona, Queens. We were all blown away by the experience–I spent the weekend happily geeking out: touching … Continue reading