Friday, June 6, 2008

Top 5 Snazzy Things in Open Source Hardware This Week

The more time I spend checking this stuff out, the more I want to tell people about it. But it's just not enough to write a blog article about even one or two of these cool I've waited until I had 5.

Now just a disclaimer: snazzy or not snazzy is completely arbitrary and may even depend on my mood today. Also, this is not necessarily even new. It just means I came across it. And liked it. This week. Stay tuned for next week's. Your stuff may be next!

1. Adafruit WaveShield

This might have been around for a while, but I was looking for something to play some quality sounds off my Arduino, and I picked up one of these over at Adafruit. Quality audio…you would think that’s the simplest thing to do, but it’s not! So the Adafruit WaveShield takes care of this in a simple, elegant way. It plays 22KHz, 12bit uncompressed audio files, plays off an SD/MMC, and includes a thumbwheel potentiometer to control volume. No matter how simple a device seems, it’s always way cooler when you build one yourself. You know what I mean.

2. Arduino Nano
Is it just me or does this world get smaller every day? Maybe I’m getting bigger? Nah. I think these boards are just shrinking. Check this out. Full functionality of an Arduino, the size of a stick of gum. Makes me think of two things: 1) How many of these tiny things can I stack together to give me some intense horsepower in a still tiny device? And 2) How much smaller can they keep making these things? They’re gonna be running iPod Shuffles off these things before I know it! Available June 16th from Gravitech.

3. Sparkfun Projects Case
I love bare circuit boards just as much as the next guy. The smell of solder, that familiar dark green…just feels like home to me, you know? But I keep having this issue of not really wanting to take my projects too far—and if I do, I always have to pad it and put it in some makeshift box, then take it out again. Sparkfun’s got a snazzy new plastic case that’s perfect for most projects. Better than putting this stuff in whatever I can find. You can also hold your project in place with standoffs, if it doesn’t fill up the whole case. Best of all? I still get to see what’s inside the clear plastic box!

4. Growduino

I’ve been getting into the green gardening world recently, ever since I bought one of those Aerogarden things at Target. But that thing was close to $200…and pretty much does what Boss Sauce was able to do here. Water, light, nutrients. Controlled by the Arduino. All you need, way cheaper, and way cooler than the Aerogarden.

5. BlinkM, from ThingM
To close this one out, the BlinkM is just something that is so simple and so cool- it could be on my list every week. Maybe it’s the little kid in me, but there is something about blinking, colored lights that just gets me in a trance. Yeah, I’m one of those people who gets the multi-colored blinking Christmas lights and leaves them up in my room all year. What’s that? It’s programmable too? This thing rocks, and no “snazzy” open source hardware list would be complete without it.

Well there you have it folks. The top 5 snazzy things in open source hardware this week. If you know about something snazzy, let me know. Or just come back and see what’s out next week.

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