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26 November 2012, 15:43

Hardware Hacks: Kickstarter woes, Tworse Key, Making Pi

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Zoom The fully assembled Tworsekey
Source: Tworsekey project
The H's Hardware Hacks section collects stories about the wide range of uses of open source in the rapidly expanding area of open hardware. It's where you can find out about interesting projects, the re-purposing of devices and the creation of a new generation of deeply open systems. In this edition, the Arduino creator's problems with bogus Kickstarter campaigns, a Morse interface for Twitter, a tiny altimeter, a tour of the Raspberry Pi assembly line, LCD displays for the popular mini-computer and a Raspberry Pi-based gas detector.

  • Arduino Kickstarter woes – Arduino creator Massimo Banzi is having trouble with campaigns on Kickstarter that misrepresent themselves as being connected to his project. In a recent incident, a company hired two former workers of one of the project's suppliers and the proceeded to call themselves a former manufacturer of the Arduino. Apparently, Kickstarter is less than willing to help him rectify these issues.

  • The Tworse Key – The Tworse Key is an open hardware design powered by an Arduino that accepts input in the form of Morse code and outputs it to Twitter. Called an "exercise in interface archaeology" by its creator, the device's design is licensed under Creative Commons BY-SA and includes an Ethernet interface, a piezo buzzer for auditory feedback and an LED to show connection status. A telegraph key is also required, of course.

  • A tiny altimeter – The MicroPeak is a tiny peak-recording altimeter. The device is approximately the size of an American dime (18mm x 14mm) and is powered by an 8-bit ATtiny85 CPU. The device was designed for amateur rocket applications but can be used in other applications as well. It can be purchased for $50 from the Altus Metrum store. The circuit board design is licensed under the TAPR Open Hardware License and the software running on it is available under the GPLv2.

  • The Raspberry Pi assembly line – The Raspberry Pi Foundation has published a detailed blog post showing off Sony's Raspberry Pi assembly line in Pencoed, Wales. The report includes numerous pictures from the visit as well as details of how Sony produces, on average, one Raspberry Pi every 7.5 seconds (4,000 devices a day).

  • LCD displays for the Raspberry Pi – Adafruit Industries has introduced multi-colour LCD displays with an integrated keypad on a riser board for the Raspberry Pi mini-computer. The displays are available as positive and negative LCDs and the riser board is designed to only use the two I2C pins on the Raspberry Pi, leaving the other pins unused. The display and keypad combination costs $24.95 and can be purchased from Adafruit's web store.

  • Raspberry Pi-based gas detector – Combining gas sensors, an analog-to-digital converter (ADC) and a Raspberry Pi, Gasser is a self-contained, mobile gas sensor that can very accurately register NO2, O3 and SO2 levels. The device is powered by a 8Ah battery and can be built for around €245. In the future, the developers hope to release a custom Raspbian image that will allow users to quickly set up a similar monitoring system.


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