Welcome to the Electromaker Show episode 3! The week of June 15, 2020 finds a slew of neat projects uploaded to Electromaker, a do-it-yourself 4K projector, crowdfunded FPGA boards, Arduino-powered synthesizer, and more. Read on and check out the video show for the latest stories from the maker, tech, DIY, crowdfunding, and embedded worlds!
Best Projects on Electromaker for the Week of June 15, 2020
Anyone (even you, dear reader) can share a project on Electromaker. In addition to our robust staff blog featuring everything from news and editorials to tutorials, we've got a massive repository of user-submitted content. These community-created projects are inventive and wide-ranging, from easy maker projects you can create in an afternoon to complex DIYing. This week there were some rad projects. As a big synth fan, especially John Carpenter, Goblin, S U R V I V E, and Zombi, Charis Cat's Arduino-based DIY synth stood out. The UK-based video producer, musician, and hobbyist whipped up a super cool Arduino-powered synthesizer. It generates two triangle waves complete with decay and wave knobs for experimenting with harmonics. There's a knob for controlling the frequency of repetition for pitch variation. The code itself is fairly simple, and hooking up components remains uncomplicated as it's basically following directions for a LEGO kit.
I'm a big gamer, from video games to board games like Clue/Cluedo, Battleship, and Bananagrams. Scrabble can be a great way to pass the time, and particularly while practicing social distancing, board games and tabletop games are a blast. If you've got a Raspberry Pi, you can up your Scrabble capabilities. Using a Raspberry Pi coupled with the Raspberry Pi high quality (HQ) camera module and some Python code, you can cobble together a heads up display that shows you all the words you can spell in Scrabble alongside the number of points you'll get for each. It's a fantastic co-op player, but your Scrabble opponent may disagree.
Here at Electromaker, we host regular contests. Contestants in the Google AIY Kit Challenge have been selected, and their Google AIY Vision and Voice kits shipped out. If you've been picked, congrats! Keep an eye on the post for your kit. For those that didn't receive a kit, fear not! We'll have more contests coming soon. Once you get your Vision or Voice kit, get started turning your dream into a reality and documenting your project on Electromaker. You can showcase your build, seek help troubleshooting, or just chat with fellow makers over on our forums.
Marble Machine - Have I Lost My Marbles?
3D printing is fun from multiple perspectives. You can create anything from functional objects like headphone holders to cosplay items or even games. A clever maker whipped up a 3D printed marble machine. It's a fairly simple design, yet not necessarily a device the average DIYer would concoct. Once build, you can place marbles within and bounce it up and down to send marbles hopping around a makeshift track. What's incredible about this 3D printed marble race track of sorts is that it's comprised of merely two different pieces that neatly slot into one another. If you're looking for a 3D printed game that will keep you happily entertained, this is a neat option.
DIY Perks 4K Projector
4K television sets have plummeted in price. Sure, there are plenty of OLEDs and premium 4K LCD or LED panels available. But projectors still boast the best screen real estate for the money. While projector technology definitely matters, resolution is a major factor. Matt over at DIY Perks recently built a true 4K home cinema projector from scratch. And the finished product is absolutely bonkers. With a cursory glance, you'd be hardpressed to differentiate it from a pre-built projector. There's Android onboard for a self-contained home theatre experience. Plus, amenities are onboard such as a focus wheel for maintaining a crisp, clear picture. Purchasing an off-the-shelf projector is definitely much easier, particularly with the abundance of budget 1080p and 720p projectors on the market. However, the cost-savings and startling performance of this DIY 4K projector are absolutely stunning, so it's totally worth the effort of putting one together.
For microcontroller units (MCUs), Arduino boards rock. And ESP32 or ESP8266 MCUs are extremely popular. The Espressif ESP32-S2 is a nifty Wi-Fi development board (dev board). ESP8266 provided an upgrade over many Arduino boards, then ESP32 trounced 8266 MCUs in most ways. But initial ESP32 microcontrollers were not programmable via USB. Instead, you'd need a USB breakout. Enter the ESP32-S2. It allows for programming an ESP32 MCU with USB. Several dev boards feature the ESP32-S2.
There are some super cool crowdfunding campaigns going on. Over at Crowd Supply, there's the ULX3S, an open-source FPGA dev board. You'll find an onboard ESP32 microcontroller and tons of different components. The ULX3S utilizes a Lattice Semiconductor ECP5-series FPGA chip. Wi-Fi, LEDs, storage, and a display come standard. Wireless networking allows for over-the-air (OTA) updates. It should be a pretty utilitarian board.
Elecrow, manufacturer of various maker hardware options including an Arduino-powered smart gardening kit and a CrowPi Raspberry Pi starter kit. The next iteration of its Pi kid for kids, the CrowPi 2, has hit Kickstarter. Although it maintains a similar form factor to the original, Elecrow doubled down on the portable clamshell design, now offering the CrowPi 2 in a laptop housing. The keyboard is fully-removable for access to underlying components. This should be a fantastic STEM tool for hands-on learning and exploration. It's packed with features such as an 11.6-inch full 1080p display, over 22 onboard sensors, removable wireless keyboard, and Raspberry Pi 4 compatibility. You can run multiple operating systems (OSes) including CrowPi's own Linux-based OS which comes complete with Pi programming utilities as well as games like Minecraft.
Recently, we highlighted the Bela Mini board in our Maker Board Mondays series. It's a unique dev board with a focus on music-making. And the Trill from Bella brings touch-sensing for music makers. Using the Trill sensor, you gain a touch interface for digital projects. It employs capacitive sensors for finger movement tracking, and comes a la the Bela team which also offers an open-source maker audio platform. The Bela Trill crowdfunding campaign features five different sensors: the Trill Bar, Square, Craft, Hex, and Ring. The Trill Bar and Square are pretty standard capacitive touch sensors, while the Craft (not to be confused with the 1996 cinematic masterpiece of the same name) is a 30-channel breakout board enabling the creation of a touch interface from virtually any conductive surface. You can even use Trill sensors to build a modular synth.
Electromaker Show Episode 3 - Final Thoughts
There's a lot happening in the maker world. From cool crowdfunding campaigns to marvelous maker boards and microcontrollers. While these are our favorite DIY stories from the week, we'd love to hear YOUR thoughts. Have a favorite project from this week's round-up? Find a project we missed? Comment below and join in on the conversation!