There was a time when our planet still held mysteries, and pith-helmeted or fur-wrapped explorers could sally forth and boldly explore strange places for what they were convinced was the first time. But with every mountain climbed, every depth plunged, and every desert crossed, fewer and fewer places remained to be explored, until today there’s really nothing left to discover.
Unless, of course, you look inward to the most wonderfully complex structure ever found: the brain. In humans, the 86 billion neurons contained within our skulls make trillions of connections with each other, weaving the unfathomably intricate pattern of electrochemical circuits that make you, you. Wonders abound there, and anyone seeing something new in the space between our ears really is laying eyes on it for the first time.
But the brain is a difficult place to explore, and specialized tools are needed to learn its secrets. Lex Kravitz, from Washington University, and Mark Laubach, from American University, are neuroscientists who’ve learned that sometimes you have to invent the tools of the trade on the fly. While exploring topics as wide-ranging as obesity, addiction, executive control, and decision making, they’ve come up with everything from simple jigs for brain sectioning to full feeding systems for rodent cages. They incorporate microcontrollers, IoT, and tons of 3D-printing to build what they need to get the job done, and they share these designs on OpenBehavior, a collaborative space for the open-source neuroscience community.
Join us for the Open-Source Neuroscience Hardware Hack Chat this week where we’ll discuss the exploration of the real final frontier, and find out what it takes to invent the tools before you get to use them.
Our Hack Chats are live community events in the Hackaday.io Hack Chat group messaging. This week we’ll be sitting down on Wednesday, February 19 at 12:00 PM Pacific time. If time zones have got you down, we have a handy time zone converter.
Applied Ion Systems is leading development in the world’s first and only open-source home-based advanced electric propulsion program!
The Hackaday hackchat this week covered this exciting project:
Michael Bretti is on the leading edge of the trend toward making satellites more DIY friendly. He formed Applied Ion Systems to address one of the main problems nano-satellites face: propulsion. He is currently working on a range of open-source plasma thrusters that can help keep nano-satellites on station and in orbit longer, and someday you’ll be able to buy them off the shelf like any other component.
In this week’s Hack Chat, we’ll discuss the design of plasma thrusters, the details of Michael’s latest testing, and the challenges of creating something that needs to work in space.
Follow them on Twitter for more exciting news!
It seems like everything and everyone has a special day set aside on the calendar. You know the drill – aheadline declaring it National Grilled Cheese Day (sorry, you missed it – April 12) or National Bundt Pan Day (not even kidding, November 15). It seems only fair with all these silly recognition days floating around that we in the hacking community should have a day of our own, too, or even a whole month. That’s why the Open Source Hardware Association declared the entire month of October to be Open Hardware Month.
Open hardware is all about accessible, collaborative processes that let everyone see and understand the hardware they’re using. The technological underpinnings of our lives are increasingly hidden from us, locked away as corporate secrets. Open hardware tries to turn that on its head and open up devices to everyone, giving them the freedom to not only use their devices but to truly understand what’s happening in them, and perhaps repair, extend, and even modify them to do something new and useful. Celebrating that and getting the message out to the general public is certainly something worth doing.
Michael Weinberg is a board member at OSHWA, and he’ll be joining the Hack Chat on October 23 (National Boston Cream Pie Day) to discuss Open Hardware Month and open-source hardware in general. We’ll learn about some of the events planned for Open Hardware Month, how open hardware is perceived beyond the hacker community, and what’s on tap for the 10th anniversary Open Hardware Summit in 2020.
Our Hack Chats are live community events in the Hackaday.io Hack Chat group messaging. This week we’ll be sitting down on Wednesday, October 23 at 12:00 PM Pacific time. If time zones have got you down, we have a handy time zone converter.
Click that speech bubble to the right, and you’ll be taken directly to the Hack Chat group on Hackaday.io. You don’t have to wait until Wednesday; join whenever you want and you can see what the community is talking about.
From Brian Benchoff on the Hackaday blog:
Scientific equipment is expensive. It can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to set up a lab. Simply the cost of machines, like data acquisition units or even a simple load cell, can cost hundreds of dollars. This makes research cost prohibitive, and that’s the case even if you do spend a dozen hours a week writing grant proposals. Citizen science is right out, because the cost of the tools to do science is so high.
For this week’s Hack Chat, we’re going to be talking about Open Hardware for science. This is the chat that’s all about Open Source equipment, hardware modular electronics, and Open designs to make the tools that make science.
Our guest for this week’s Hack Chat is [Dr. Alexxai Kravitz]. He has a PhD in Neuroscience from UPenn and completed a postdoc at the Gladstone Institutes in San Fransisco. [Lex]’s research focuses on understanding the reward circuitry in the brain, and his publications use a variety of experiments to examine this, including behavioral testing, in vivo electrophysiology, and optogenetics.
For this Hack Chat, we’re going to about how Open Source has made more science possible. Of note, we’ll be discussing:
- What Open Source science equipment is being used today
- The initiatives behind Open Source Hardware for science applications
- Scientific application that could benefit from Open Hardware
You are, of course, encouraged to add your own questions to the discussion. You can do that by leaving a comment on the Hack Chat Event Page and we’ll put that in the queue for the Hack Chat discussion.
PCB Art is likely as old as the manufacturing process itself. It has evolved over time from engineers hiding easter eggs in wasted space to whole companies devoted to the intricate authentic design. Andrew has created his own style by using each layer of the PCB to make multi-color images from computer generated designs. In this chat he will talk about his process of turning photos into PCBs as well as tricks to getting high resolution results with KiCad.
In this chat, we’ll be talking about PCB artwork:
- Bitmap to SVG Converstion (Inkscape and Illustrator)
- Kicad Footprint creation
- PCB Fabrication Limits
Here’s a list of some project with great PCB artwork:
Pure art boards
- Full Panel PCB Painting
- Hand-drawn PCB Artwork
- Making Braille Signs out of PCBs
- PCB lapel pin
- Full panel PCB sign by Andrew Sowa
- Lumen Electronic Jewelry
- Creating the Benchoff Nickel
- PCB Art With 4 Layer Boards
- PCB Paintings Facebook group
- PCB Painting Art Nouveau
- Convert Inkscape SVG drawings to KiCad footprints
Functional boards with awesome art/layouts
- OSHWi Octopus Badge by Gustavo Reynaga
- Trammell Hudson PCB art soldering badge
- Minifigure Atmel SAMD21 Board
- Cyborg Ring by zakqwy of neurotinker
- Glowbugs by JasMoH and reverse mount LEDs
- OSH Park PCB Crown
- Brain board for Sarah Petkus’ Noodle robot
- Heart-shaped Flashlight PCB
- Trixel Interactive LED Kit
- 4CHord MIDI
For this week’s Hack Chat, we’re talking about trusting the autorouter. The autorouter is just a tool, and like any tool, it will do exactly what you tell it. The problem, therefore, is being smart enough to use the autorouter.
Our guest for this week’s Hack Chat is Ben Jordan, Director of Community Tools and Content at Altium. Ben is a Computer Systems engineer, with 25 years experience in board-level hardware and embedded systems design. He picked up a soldering iron at 8, and wrote some assembly at 12. He’s also an expert at using an autorouter successfully.