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Using ATtiny Chips for Arduino-Like Projects

tinyavr

The Arduino platform is great for prototyping. Its easy-to-use shield architecture, readily identifiable pin numbering scheme, and beginner friendly IDE and software library has created a large and loyal following. In the life of many projects, however, there comes a time when the project is to be permanently deployed. When that time comes, leaving a precious Arduino in the field is often not the best option. Instead, a specialized board with either an ATmega chip or even an ATtiny chip is the best choice.

When cost or space is a factor an ATtiny chip is an attractive alternative to the ATmega for simpler projects. Thanks to the Arduino-Tiny project, an ATtiny can be used as a drop-in replacement for most Arduino projects. This initiative provides ATtiny chip configurations as upload board choices in the standard Arduino IDE. By following the instructions described in my previous article – Program an ATtiny Using an Arduino – your Arduino sketch can be uploaded as easily to an ATtiny board as it can be to an Arduino one.

More recently, the ATtiny has gained semi-official support given the variants posted by David Mellis on Github. Please note that this new firmware specification … Read the rest

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A Maker’s Microwave

microwave-rasberrypi

How many microwaves have you thrown out because they get flaky after a few months? The thrift stores are full of these rejects. How many times have you wondered who designed the user interface for these things? What planet were they from? Wouldn’t it be nice to have a microwave that isn’t flaky and has a sensible interface?

Nathan did exactly that. He took a broken microwave and put in his own smarts via a Raspberry PI. It has a beautiful control panel, accepts voice commands and provides voice synthesized feedback. It even scans a product bar code to fetch cooking instructions. It is so smart, that you don’t have to babysit the thing to stop it to stir. With the bar code powered instructions, it will stop at the right time, tell you to stir, and start up again to finish the cooking. He even did a tablet interface.

The key to a project like this is a microwave with an intact magnetron, which is the tube which does the cooking. As already mentioned, most of the time these tubes are fine. It is the sorry electronics that flake out. Take inspiration from this guy. You don’t have … Read the rest

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Get Accredited Degree Online

While many universities have been offering some of their courses online for a few years now, none have offered actual degrees (aside from dubious “professional” colleges). Georgia Tech is first to have taken the leap. In collaboration with Udacity (which I have written about before), they are offering an accredited masters of computer science degree for $7,000.

Of particular interest is the fact that the actual courses are free. It is only the degree that costs money. This is nevertheless good news. There are a number of positive things to note:

  • An actual college degree can be obtained online from home without having to move and live near or on a campus.
  • The cost is much less than tuition for the same degree is normally; not to mention the considerable savings in living expenses.
  • The actual education is free for everyone in the world.
  • The degree is obtained via proctored exams offered at 4000 Pearson locations around the country.

That last item also points to another positive trend – certification by exam. Currently, the primary value of a college degree has nothing to do with education. Its main value is the piece of paper that opens doors into the world … Read the rest

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Nanotechnology at Work – A Wonder Waterproof Coating Now Available

There is a new two-part coating that will make anything waterproof. Called Ultra-Ever Dry, it is nano-technology based and works wonders. Watch the video below and be amazed:

The only problem with this product is it is far too expensive to be practical and only comes in large industrial quantities.

There is now good news. Rust-oleum has brought out a similar product called NeverWet. You can buy it at Home Depot for only $20 for 18 oz. It is still pricey, but practical for many things. Imagine boots that cannot get wet or even muddy. This product is definitely not your father’s Scotch-guard. I just hope there isn’t a patent war, putting this technology out of reach for us regular folks.

For more materials that have great uses for the maker, see Materials for the Maker/Provider.

If you use this product, please share the applications you find for it in the comments.… Read the rest

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Why You Should Homeschool Your Child

Here at ProvideYourOwn, we believe one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your children is to teach them at home. If you need yet another reason to do so, take a moment to watch this telling interview with Michio Kaku on how children’s intellect and desire to learn are crushed by the schools:

Of course, homeschooling is not a panacea if it duplicates the public school model. Set your child free – let him or her direct their own learning. That is what children are designed to do, and it makes your job as a mom or dad that much easier.

Thanks to PCBHeaven for the link.… Read the rest

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Making Hay

Putting up Loose Hay

We just finished making this year’s hay at our family farm.

Haymaking is an art….. It is exhausting….. It is glorious.

It is worthwhile to experience it at least once. You might even want to add it to your . For city folks, you may be wondering what is this big deal about hay? Hay is like the stuff we find in small bales in October right?

Like most things in life, there is a lot more to hay than first realized. When you are done reading this article, you will have incorporated some key knowledge of country living and keeping animals. It is hoped you will be able to vicariously enjoy the process to some extent as well.

What is Hay?

Hay is dried grass or possibly other green plants. It is not straw. While straw is a dried plant, it is made from the stems of cereal grasses such as wheat or oats after the grain has been harvested. By harvest-time, the stems are turning brown and have almost zero nutritional value. Straw is good for bedding animals. It is worthless for food.

Grass on the other hand is excellent food for grazing animals. It is even appreciated … Read the rest

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Can LED Lighting Cause Blindess?

2013-01-09-140601

Here at Provide Your Own, we are a big fan of LED lighting. Recent research has raised the alarm that LED lighting can cause retina damage. Is there any truth to this assertion? Can LEDs really be bad for your eyes, even causing blindness?

Fortunately for LED lovers, the answer is a resounding NO. When the facts are examined, if LEDs are bad for your eyes, then sunlight is at least ten times worse. Let’s first look at the basis for the assertion.

The Research Study

According to a sole news account:

The study found that LED radiation caused significant damage to human retinal pigment epithelial cells in vitro.

Translated,

We irradiated naked retinal cells with intense light from LEDs in a petri dish and they didn’t do so well.

Keep in mind that damage would be done with any high intensity light. Have you stared into the sun lately? How about staring into lasers or high intensity LED flashlights? Think you might have some retina damage?

This research has not been peer reviewed, but is simply an account given by Dr Celia Sánchez Ramos. This fact does not invalid the research, but shows that we have absolutely no … Read the rest

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DIY Desklamp – from a Pizza Box!

cardboard-desklamp

Here at Provide Your Own, we love LED lighting. We also believe the best use of LED lighting is by making your own custom fixtures rather than going out to buy a manufactured light bulb.

An Italian company has the same idea. They have a product where you make your own LED desklamp from a pizza box. In the great spirit of open source, they even provide downloadable plans for cutting and folding your own.

Their version of the lamp uses only a 4″ LED strip for illumination. That comes out to about 60 lumens or the output of a 4 watt bulb. We recommend using at least a 12″ strip (cut into two 6″ pieces), which would provide about 180 lumens or 12 watts equivalent.

Here’s what you need to build your own:

For your convenience, we offer a complete kit (no soldering required) for only $24.95 (over 30% saving over buying the parts separately).

You don’t have to be limited to cardboard either. It is simple to repurpose an … Read the rest

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DIY Power Over Ethernet (PoE)

Ethernet (your computer network) only uses 2 pairs of wires. Cat5 cable provides 4 pairs, leaving 2 pairs leftover. You can use those two extra pairs to transmit power (in small amounts) to power remote equipment such as another router, switch or a bridge.

This additional capability is not provided by default. This article provides clear instruction on setting up your own Power Over Ethernet (PoE) network, including making custom adapters for injecting & extracting the power.… Read the rest

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No, Your Dishwasher is Not Broken

WashTubs

My sister in-law has taken to washing her dishes by hand because her dishwasher no longer gets them clean. Millions of other Americans have had the same problem. Many have vainly replaced their dishwashers with new ones only to face the same problem. The problem is not your dishwasher. It is your dish-washing detergent. It has changed. It is not the same product it used to be. A vital ingredient is missing.

While you may have noticed the effects of this missing ingredient in your dishes, you may not be aware of the same problem with your clothes. That is because this vital ingredient was taken out of laundry detergents over twenty years ago. That is so long ago, that most of us just think clothes are supposed to be grungy after a few washings. I am old enough to remember clothes staying clean, but didn’t understand why they didn’t any more until recently.

The Missing Ingredient

The magical ingredient that is no longer present in commercial detergents is tri-sodium phosphate or TSP as it is commonly known. This natural ingredient is made from phosphate deposits primarily found in Florida.

In general, it acts as a detergent, but in the … Read the rest

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