Gibbs-Duhem writes "SaikoLED is a little company in the US that after 5 years of engineering, feedback, and installation experience is launching a pretty awesome open source and open hardware audio-responsive RGB+W Arduino-based LED light for a starting price of $79. The light is being launched using a new crowdfunding platform, also launched today, called Crowd Supply where you can donate now if you like.
There is a wide variety of really neat stuff in the technical blog which is also being used as a repository for general Arduino and LED Lighting know-how. Some examples which generally include both media and code are autonomous audio responsive mode, a deriviation for how to convert from HSI colorspace to RGB+W optimally, how to get 4 channels of 16-bit PWM on any ATmega32u4 based device (including Arduino Leonardo), a color changing surface that can be used as either a beautiful table for artwork or as a neuroscience tool to study the function of flicker phosphenes in generating geometric hallucinations, how to get arbitrary color correction functions using HSI colorspace, cool shades that make neat patterns on walls, and a start to extensive documentation about how the device works from a low level to a high level. On top of it all, they plan to run events like the myki Challenge and donate a portion of their lights to schools and hackerspaces if they get funded."Link to Original Source
Gibbs-Duhem writes "The LeafLabs Maple, an ARM device designed to be pin compatible to the Arduino with a strikingly similar and familiar development environment has reached a new milestone — being carried by SparkFun (http://www.sparkfun.com/products/10664). By swapping the popular "avr-gcc" compiler with CodeSourcery's "arm-non-eabi-gcc," LeafLabs manages to provide a nearly identical programming experience to Arduino despite targeting a completely different architecture. Also, while some Arduino shields are incompatible due to certain capabilities being allocated to different pins, several of them are currently supported and there are more to come."Link to Original Source
Gibbs-Duhem writes "This awesome video was produced by some MIT Engineers recently. They've started a fully open-source, open-hardware high power LED lighting project that they designed to be modular enough to control with the Arduino (or any other control system)! Using their open-source firmware, you can set up the Arduino to connect to WiFi and receive Open Sound Control packets. Then, they went further and released open-source software for PureData and Python to do music analysis and make the lights flash brilliantly in time with the music! A full Instructable was also posted in addition to the existing documentation for design and assembly on their website, http://saikoled.com"Link to Original Source
Gibbs-Duhem writes "Four MIT Engineers, Brian Neltner (covered previously on slashdot for his work at http://led-artwork.com/ ), Daniel Taub, Perry Hung, and Russel Ryan, have in their spare time taken it upon themselves to produce an open-source, flexible, modular, and extremely high power LED light based on custom open hardware, and designed to make it easy for hobbyists to start using high power lighting in their projects. The "Saiko5" ( http://saikoled.com/saiko5/ ) is documented from circuit design and assembly all the way to case design and control software, and is all released under creative commons and GPL licenses.
The fixture they designed outputs over 800 lumens of focused LED lighting. It is controllable entirely over WiFi and is based around either an Arduino ( http://arduino.cc/ ) or a Maple ( http://leaflabs.com/devices/maple/ ) along with their open-source and open-hardware Light Shield ( http://saikoled.com/lightshield ). The firmware developed by these engineers uses the Open Sound Control ( http://www.opensoundcontrol.org/ ) protocol, a successor to the popular MIDI and DMX control schemes.
On the software side, the Saiko5 has fully open-source Python ( http://www.python.org/ ) example scripts which can be used as a backend to allow any software running on the computer to control the lights with simple commands such as "flash". At a higher level, they have also released an example audio analysis patch using the open-source version of Max/MSP known as PureData ( http://puredata.info/ ). The result is a variety of awesome videos showing the interaction of the LED light fixture with music which are posted at http://saikoled.com/applications/ .
The authors also posted a handy Instructable ( http://www.instructables.com/id/Ultra-bright-LED-Color-Changing-Spotlight-using-Op/ ) with step-by-step instructions for how to construct one of these light fixtures!"Link to Original Source
Gibbs-Duhem writes "This is some really cool artwork built by an MIT graduate student. He's designed custom LED light fixtures which are seven times brighter than the closest similar commercial models, and include colors which can't be reproduced by a normal RGB cluster (including two ridiculously bright UV LEDs) in order to create some beautiful mixed media artwork. The author's goal is to eventually publish a guide to make getting into creating such artwork more accessible to the general public.
The site includes lots of great photos and a movie of the art in action. It also has in depth descriptions of the theory involved in this relatively new form of art, an explanation of how the paints were chosen, and an in depth technical discussion of how such lights are designed with schematics and board layouts for those who might wish to build their own lights.
It's a bit heavy on the technical details for a typical artist, but it's a goldmine of experienced technical advice for an engineer looking to get into making their own LED based lighting."Link to Original Source
Gibbs-Duhem writes "BBC News is reporting on the first large-scale study of cellulosic ethanol using actual measured values from a 5-year study involving ten farms from three to nine hectares. The results show that ethanol derived from switchgrass contain approximately 540% more energy than is needed to produce it. Switchgrass and other fast growing crops are very attractive for cellulosic ethanol production because, unlike corn or other food crops, the entire plant is used.
The study includes real measured values for fertilizer, diesel fuel for transport, fuel used for seed production, and herbicides. The remaining energy input to be measured is the efficiency of the actual biorefineries which would convert the switchgrass cellulose to ethanol, so the study was forced to estimate those values. The numbers for that stage of the process are due out soon, with six refineries scheduled to be opened by 2010 which are "above the pilot plant scale.""
Gibbs-Duhem writes "Time Magazine is reporting on the best inventions of the year. Alas, the top invention is the somewhat well-known iPhone, but there are some extremely cool projects included that I had certainly never heard of, including a device for capturing waste heat from car engines to increase efficiency up to 40%, a novel car designed to run entirely on compressed air claiming to have a range of 2000km with zero pollution, a James Bond style GPS tracking device that police can use to avoid high-speed chases, a small-scale printing press capable of printing and binding a paperback book in 3 minutes for under $3/book (and $50k per machine), a microbe-based technology for turning soft sand into sandstone, a water-based display which uses computer controlled nozzles to produce coherent gaps in the water, and a way to convert type A, B, and AB-negative blood into type O."
Gibbs-Duhem writes "Sen. Max Baucus (Dem from MT) wants free college tuition for US math, science, and engineering majors conditional upon working or teaching in the field for at least four years.
It's difficult to see anything that pumps money into education as a bad thing, but is this the best way to help the country create a more stable, educated workforce to compete with India, China, and Canada? It certainly seems that the "trickle-down" effect could help high school education as well, as more graduates look to teaching as a way to repay their debt to society."Link to Original Source
Gibbs-Duhem writes "Nice to see that some market forces are working against DRM. Of course, the big difference between this situation and music is that the professors aren't being paid to submit to the journal, so the journal turning around and restricting access to that work is even more ridiculous. Here is a case where the threat of those professors no longer publishing in that journal may well be enough of a danger that the SAE removes the DRM from their software.
From the Article:
The MIT Libraries have canceled access to the Society of Automotive Engineers' web-based database of technical papers, rejecting the SAE's requirement that MIT accept the imposition of Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology.
SAE's DRM technology severely limits use of SAE papers and imposes unnecessary burdens on readers. With this technology, users must download a DRM plugin, Adobe's "FileOpen," in order to read SAE papers. This plugin limits use to on-screen viewing and making a single printed copy, and does not work on Linux or Unix platforms.
MIT faculty respond
"It's a step backwards," says Professor Wai Cheng, SAE fellow and Professor of Mechanical Engineering at MIT, who feels strongly enough about the implications of DRM that he has asked to be added to the agenda of the upcoming SAE Publication Board meeting in April, when he will address this topic.
Read More... "