PLUG & PLAY: Add a Capacitive Touch Screen to Your Raspberry Pi

Adafruit's PiTFT Mini Kit makes a perfect console, X window port, or display on top of your Raspberry Pi A or B rev 2. Photo courtesy of Adafruit.

Raspberry Pi lovers will likely remember the old PiTFT Mini Kit resistive touchscreen, which required a stylus. This new kit, available from Adafruit, can be used with your fingerpad! Featuring at 2.8″ display, the new PiTFT Mini Kit offers 320 x 240 16-bit color pixels. The screen weighs just 44g and with the backlight cranked, the current draw only about 100mA. ... Read More »

LERN: New Glass Could Make Longer-Lasting Batteries

A new kind of glass could double the life of Li-ion batteries. Photo courtesy of ETH Zürich/Peter Rüegg.

Chemists and materials scientists at ETH Zurich have developed a new kind of glass they say could significantly improve batteries. The research team says the new material — vanadate-borate glass — could be used as the cathode to double the life of Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries. “One major advantage of vanadate-borate glass is that it is simple and inexpensive to manufacture,” says Semih ... Read More »

LERN: BeachBot Creates Huge Pictures in the Sand

BeachBot creates huge works of art in the sand using a special rake individually adjustable tongs. Photo courtesy of BeachBot.ch.

Disney Research and ETH Zürich teamed up to create an artistic robot that draws in the sand. BeachBot uses a rake with individually adjustable tongs to create lines in the sand, drawing abstract art and Disney characters. Three special balloon tires move the bot along with beach without a trace, so the robot is free to leave some areas untouched as it follows ... Read More »

PLUG & PLAY: A 5 Megapixel Camera for the pcDuino

Plug this small camera into any pcDuino to capture 5 megapixel images. Photo courtesy of Karlsson Robotics.

Upgrade the video capabilities of your pcDuino with a new camera! The tiny device captures 2592 x 1944 active array video and images. Connecting the 5 megapixel camera is easy, as it plugs right into to any pcDuino V3. The module’s onboard OV5640 image sensor is as high quality as those used in phone cameras. It also outputs files in ... Read More »

PLUG & PLAY: Hummingbird Duo Premium Robotics Kit

The Hummingbird Duo Premium Robotics Kit features a ton of pre-wired sensors and servos. Photo courtesy of Adafruit.

This beginners robotics kit from Carnegie Mellon University’s CREATE Lab features lots of pre-wired sensors and motors that can be easily connected — no soldering required. That makes the kit perfect for anyone starting out in robotics, from age 10 to 110. The kit includes light, sound, temperature, distance and rotary sensors, as well as several motors and servos. Single- and ... Read More »

LERN: Robots Practice Exploring Mars Using Volcanos on Earth

VolcanoBot 1, shown here in a lava tube, explored the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii in May 2014. The robot is enabling researchers to put together a 3-D map of the fissure. Photo courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech.

Researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory are set to send more robots into volcanos. VolcanoBot 1 has already explored Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano and built 3D maps of fissures inside. Now NASA says VolcanoBot 2 will be tested later this year. Lighter and smaller than its predecessor, VolcanoBot 2 has the added advantage of being able to tilt its camera up, ... Read More »

PLUG & PLAY: Trobo Robot Tells Stories About STEM

According to the designers, Trobo is designed to be a lovable companion first, and teacher second. Photo courtesy of Trobo.

Little kids love stuffed animals. Two dads, Jeremy Scheinberg and Chris Harden, decided to take advantage of this fact and design a plushy that would inspire kids to explore STEM concepts. Their toy, Trobo is designed to work in tandem with an iPad or iPhone. Once a wireless connection is established, can Trobo read an onscreen story to the child. The stories are ... Read More »

LERN: Sally Ride EarthKam Puts the World in Perspective for Kids

This photo from a 2012 Sally Ride EarthKam mission shows the Coral Sea. Photo courtesy of Sally Ride EarthKAM.

Children from around the world can request pictures from the International Space Station, via a new Sally Ride EarthKam mission. Teachers and homeschool instructors can sign-up in advance on the Sally Ride EarthKam Website, then log-in to make photo requests between January 27 to January 30. The photo requests are processed at the University California, San Diego’s Sally Ride EarthKAM Mission Operations Center. After the mission, students and instructors ... Read More »

PLUG & PLAY: Actobotics Parallel Gripper Kit A

Give your robot a hand with the Actobotics Parallel Gripper Kit A. (Photo courtesy of Servo City.)

Does your robot need to get a grip? The new Parallel Gripper Kit A from Actobotic could be the answer! The grippers on this part move toward each other in parallel to squeeze and hold the object of interest. It opens to a maximum width of 2.8″ but won’t take up much space on your robot, with body dimensions with  5″ long ... Read More »

LERN: Beagle 2 Found on Mars

By comparing images taken over the years, scientists have been able to identify parts of the Beagle 2 on the surface of Mars.

The UK’s Beagle 2 Mars Lander has been found on Mars, more than 10 years after it went missing. After analyzing and comparing images taken over a period of years by theHiRISE camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, scientists have identified a parachute, the partially deployed Beagle 2, a rear cover, and possibly even an air bag. The parts were all found ... Read More »

PLUG & PLAY: Sylvia’s Super-Awesome Arduino Kit

The kit includes all the parts you need to complete the projects in Sylvia's Arduino book. (Photo courtesy of Adafruit.)

Young engineers have enjoyed Sylvia’s Super Awesome Maker Show for years. Watching her explain STEM concepts through project-based science is inspiring. Her latest book, Super Simple Arduino, brings the enthusiasm to a print format, to teach the very basics of working with an Arduino. Perfect for young makers with no Arduino experience, the book features a host of easy projects, including ... Read More »

LERN: Robot Learns to Cook By Watching YouTube Videos

University of Maryland computer scientist Yiannis Aloimonos (center) is developing robotic systems that can learn by watching videos. (Photo courtesy of John T. Consoli.)

Humans often learn new skills by watching other people. Ideally, robots should be able to do the same. But interpreting human actions is challenging, even for the most intelligent robots. Now researchers at the University of Maryland (UMD) and the National Information Communications Technology Research Centre of Excellence in Australia have programmed a robot that learns new skills by watching videos. ... Read More »

PLUG & PLAY: New Dancing Dino from WowWee

WowWee's new robot, MiPosaur, can chase its trackball and gets angry when you pull his tail. Photo courtesy of WowWee.

WowWee’s latest creation is a robotic dinosaur that can dance and chase its ball. Known as the MiPosaur, this robot features two wheels, a biting mouth, and a long tail that helps it balance using a mobile inverted pendulum (MIP) design created with the UCSD Coordinated Robotics Lab. The MiPosaur’s main features relate to an included ball that it can chase, play with, ... Read More »