Thursday, November 17, 2011

Android Hardware Development Environment

My favorite part of the Android Hardware Development Environment is that I can easily connect to a serial port/ use the USB host capabilities with Android. When I'm done with my project I typically burn my custom image of Android to a microSD card so I can reuse my operating system!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Maker Faire 2011– Bay Area Recap

Each year, I head out to Maker Faire, thinking I’ve seen it all, but I know that can’t be true. And year after year…well, I haven’t been disappointed yet! Besides enjoying some quality time in the gorgeous California sun, we managed to get our project demos up and running for the event.

Here’s the booth, with Will and Francis doing some final setup work on the projects.

Testing the Projects

Of course, it wouldn’t be Maker Faire without Gerard’s Paella, which also makes for a great excuse to meet and mingle with some fellow makers:


By Saturday, we had a chance to deck out the booth with the RC “street view” car, affectionately named Zippy :)

Zippy with a Camera

The car had a PS3 Eye camera strapped on to stream video out onto the BeagleBoard and BeagleTouch, which was something I only dreamed of doing as a kid. DIY tech has come a long way since!

Speaking of DIY (and open source) tech, it’s pretty neat to see that the Arduino hasn’t lost any steam. Google put together an Android Accessory Development Kit that they were giving out.

Google Android Accessory Development Kit Box

It comes with an Arduino Mega-based board with an onboard USB host and USB OTG port, and the Accessory Demo Shield (bottom). The Accessory Demo Shield is especially neat…it’s like the ultimate controller/debugger shield, all in one. Buttons, relays, servo connectors, joystick and even a touch sensor! It puts a whole new spin on the kinds of Android/Beagle/Arduino projects I want to do…

Google Android Accessory Development Kit

Microchip and Digilent came out with a PIC32 that Mark shared with me. Pretty cool, since I can now drive all sorts of Arduino shields with a PIC controller…

Pic32 Uno

Pic32 Mega

Back at the booth, Will, Francis and I met a lot of hackers who stopped by to play around with the projects.

Android Demo


Each of us had a few moments to sneak away from the booth (in shifts) to wander through the Faire and check out what everyone else was up to.

I think this was the best country stage ever…the front porch if an old Western house.

CIMG6630 (Large)

A little steampunk and futuristic in a video-game kinda way, there’s nothing that stops you in your tracks like a robot sculpture that shoots fire. All I could say was…wow!

Robot that Shoots out Fire

And the most efficient four-wheeler ever- a new take on the tandem bike. I would love to have one of these, and maybe even mount an enclosure on this. I wonder what a cross-country road trip on this human powered car would be like. Probably fun and a great exercise :)

Most Fuel Efficient Four Wheeler

That’s all I pulled off the camera for now, and I’ll upload more pictures to Flickr when I get them. Thanks again to all the makers and hackers who stopped by, and I’ll be on the edge of my seat waiting for the next Maker Faire!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

I’m off to Maker Faire (2011 Edition)!

It’s that time of the year again! Some folks call in summer – I call it Maker Faire. So next week, I’m packing up a few of my favorite new projects, and hopefully show off something interesting at my table out in San Mateo.

One thing I’m really excited about is the stuff I’ve been hacking around with in Android. I always felt like Android was one of those hardcore engineering things, but I’ve been able to get it to work with the BeagleBoard and BeagleTouch to do some pretty fun stuff.

Last week, Will, and I were sitting in the lab playing around with the old RC car and some of Playstation cameras we had from a project last year. Will always thought it would be cool if we could control the car without having to follow it around, so we gave it a whirl. Loading up the car with a couple hacked PlayStation 3 cameras, Will was able to drive the car around the house without leaving the room.

By hooking up the PS3 camera to the car, Will and I were able to bring up the camera to the BeagleTouch and see exactly what the RC car was seeing. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be driven around on a little RC car (think Honey I Shrunk The Kids :) and this is just about the closest I’ll get.  Using the same hack, I hooked up four PS3 cameras to the around my desk to make a “BeagleBoard Security System”, complete with split-screens and everything. It made me feel like a security guard/command-center operator of sorts, and plus, no one could sneak up on me.

Not to say I’ve forgotten all about the Arduino - I’ve also been playing around with a low power, portable, WiFi/GPS/Arduino rig with the GeoShield, which I’m going to test out at Maker Faire Exhibition Hall when I get there.

I had some spare time on my hands the past couple weekends, and some cooler gear to play with, so there’s plenty more projects I’ll have to show off. I’ll be there the whole time, and would love to say hi to some fellow West Coast hackers…see you there!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Android Platform Distribution

Thanks for all the emails and feedback over the last couple months on the Android Hardware Development kit, we're very excited to be using this advanced hardware platform. In fact, Matt has been busy hacking into nearly all our devices around the office that have exposed serial. Interestingly, Droid Does talk to quad CMOS sensor arrays to stream live video, but more on that later.

One of the common questions asked was: which version of Android does the Android Hardware Development Kit ship with?

The answer surprisingly turns out to be the in-line with the second most popular version on the market today, 2.1. This is great news because it shows a nexus of stable devices focused around Android 2.1 and 2.2 versions. This creates a stable base to upgrade from as the bleeding edge releases become more robust through aggressive software patch-work.

Current Distribution

The following pie chart and table is based on the number of Android devices that have accessed Android Market within a 14-day period ending on the data collection date noted below.

API Level
Android 1.5
Android 1.6
Android 2.1
Android 2.2
Android 2.3

Data collected during two weeks ending on February 2, 2011


Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy Antipasto New Year!

Happy Open Source Hardware New Year!!!

Queue Lion King's theme song, the Circle of Life music... Elton John begins... rewind 15 years ago, I am a teenage boy living in Connecticut (not in the ritzy South-eastern part of CT, the farmlandish central/middle part). My parents both worked very late, so a family friend used to pick me up from school, and on the weekends, and teach and tutor me in mathematics in my spare time. Little did she know, many moons later, I would still find mathematics exciting, and constantly trying to apply it to my hardware hacking endeavors :-)

I'm home as I type this, and the irony is... my family friend sent a plate of antipasti for the holidays, and New Years. I couldn't help myself, I immediately placed the plate on top of my laptop, popped open the Liquidware website, and voila! Real antipasto meets Liquidware Antipasto Hardware Blog - the circle of life completes!

The keen observer will notice the Java books on the right, and especially the Clojure book :-) I try to learn at least one new programming language during every holiday vacation - this time, it's clojure...