Today “regular” people will start receiving their pre-ordered Apple Watch. Whether they spent $350 or over $10,000 dollars, they’ll now have a device that connects to their iPhone and tells time. Like their iPhone does. But with Bluetooth!

What if you don’t want an Apple watch, but want to celebrate a real computing achievement? Check out this video on an Apple ][ watch. Oh and it is real.

That’s right, this isn’t just some clever movie-magic hoax. Following this Instructable, you can build your own Apple ][ Watch.

Most of the major electronic blogs have covered the controversy between Arduino LLC and Arduino SRL. My first deep look into it was from Hackaday’s Arduino v. Arduino. Since it has been covered so well by others, I won’t re-hash the already known facts.

If you want to join in giving feedback to these companies, please tag your posts, tweets, and content with “#OneArduino“.

Click to keep reading and see the letter.


Don’t be afraid of learning a new tool

Behind-The-Scenes of AddOhms #14

After moving from learning a new tool to mastery, the resistance for me to switch becomes very high. This can apply to hardware tools like a drill, saw or CNC milling machine. It can also apply to software tools like EAGLE, Programming Languages or video editing software. In AddOhms #14, I gave an overview of the VirtualBench from National Instruments which I’ve covered on this blog as a hands-on, written review and video review.

learn a new tool

Photo courtesy of smuay/

For this AddOhms Behind-The-Scenes look, I talk about my experience with changing my tool set, the most critical tool in fact, I use for creating AddOhms Videos. If you’ve ever wondered how I do those hand animations, keep reading for the deepest look yet into my workflow.

Case Study in Optimization: Faster SPI on AVRs

Nerd Ralph
March 29, 2015

The Arduino Library provides functions like shiftOut() and digitalWrite().  These functions are simple and effective, but they are slow. Of course, they’re doing a lot more than just toggling bits. Faster isn’t always necessary and can sometimes lead to more difficult debugging.  And as Donald Knuth said,

…premature optimization is the root of all evil.

So what happens, when you do need to optimize? For example, if shiftOut() is too slow for your project, what do you do?  In Ralph’s post, Fastest AVR software SPI in the West, he breaks down different SPI code implementations into their assembly code.

To make the best optimization, you need to change compiler flags. So this is, in my opinion, an interesting case study in what kind of performance benefit you can get when you do some serious optimization.

Of course, you really shouldn’t, unless you need it…

Check out his post: Fastest AVR software SPI in the West

Knuth quote from his paper “StructuredProgrammingWithGoToStatements.”

element14 is running a Design Challenge called Enchanted Objects. The idea is to add magic, or modern technology, into older objects, enchanting them. How could you turn an ordinary household object into something extraordinary?

You can see the content intro video here.

With my recent interest in retro-electronics, an entry by Jan Cumps caught my eye. He’s repaired a vintage record player (turntable) using an Arduino and Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) control. For more information on his work, the project page is here. Jan’s YouTube channel is at pitface123.

Sleep Infographic Using Raspberry Pi and Fitbit API

Paul's Geek Dad Blog
Tuesday, 24 March 2015


The Fitbit API allows you to get data from a Fitbit and use it in your own applications.

Paul wrote a Python script which runs on his Raspberry Pi which extracts the data. Then we processes the data using Excel. Once doing so, he created the above sleep infographic–his first effort.

The interesting aspect here, to me, is the idea of these wearable devices and their data. It is great we have large-scale data creation, but it is even better have access to the data for processing.

Great example of charting out critical health data using easily accessible tools.  Check out Paul’s full writeup with description and code.

Check-out these seven new features in the Arduino 1.6 release

Arduino 1.6.1 Screenshot

The (official) Arduino team has finally released the 1.6 version of the Arduino software. After being in the making for over 2 years, this release is an exciting one!

1.6 marks the end of split releases between the traditional 8-bit boards and ARM based boards. There’s some really cool features built-in, so keep reading to see my take on the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Arduino Compiler for LabVIEW

LabVIEW's 3rd Party Add-Ons

Arduino Compiler for LabVIEW Screenshot

Aledyne-TSXperts, a National Instruments Alliance Partner, has released an Arduino compiler for NI’s LabVIEW. Now it is possible to build a VI and download it into your Arduino.

The price tags from $99 to $499 might seem a bit high to the average hobbyist. However, at least it comes with a 7-day evaluation period. It is also compatible with the Home Edition of LabVIEW.

So if you’re a LabVIEW programmer with an Arduino on your desk, you might want to checkout the Arduino Compiler for LabVIEW.

Five Raspberry Pi Alternatives (via makeuseof)

Christian Cawley @ makeuseof
March 13, 2015

Not to long ago the only question about embedded boards was: Arduino or Raspberry Pi. Which really breaks the question down to “microcontroller” or “microprocessor.” Once you decide on a microprocessor platform, there are a bunch of Raspberry Pi Alternatives to consider.

Of course, no single board will always be the obvious “best.” Heck I’ve even got a pile of them on my bench that I haven’t messed with yet.

The 5 Raspberry Pi Alternatives

Even though I haven’t gotten to them all yet, Christian Cawley at makeuseof put together a nice list of Raspberry Pi Alternatives. So before you dive head first into your project, check out these other boards and see if one better meets your needs.

  1. Beaglebone Black
  2. ODroid-C1
  3. Hummingboard-i1
  4. Minnowboard Max
  5. Banana Pi

Even if you aren’t in the market for a new microprocessor board, you might want to check out the first section of the article. It’s a nice description of what to look for when selecting a board.


Awesome 3D Board (BRD) Viewer for EAGLE

3D Render of MSO Demo Board

3D Render of MSO Demo Board

Earlier I posted a PCB Checklist of items to double-check when sending your board out to a fab. The Dangerous Prototypes blog pointed to a 3D EAGLE PCB tool from a Bulgarian-based developer called Cytec that takes an EAGLE BRD file and renders it in 3D for you.

The example board I have above is a render of my MSO Demo Board. And I have to be honest, it looks much like that one! (more…)