Category Archives: DIY

Using TensorFlow To Recognize Your Own Objects

When the time comes to add an object recognizer to your hack, all you need do is choose from many of the available ones and retrain it for your particular objects of interest. To help with that, [Edje Electronics] has put together a step-by-step guide to using TensorFlow to retrain Google’s Inception object recognizer. He does it for Windows 10 since there’s already plenty of documentation out there for Linux OSes.

You’re not limited to just Inception though. Inception is one of a few which are very accurate but it can take a few seconds to process each image and so is more suited to a fast laptop or desktop machine. MobileNet is an example of one which is less accurate but recognizes faster and so is better for a Raspberry Pi or mobile phone.

Collage of images for card datasetYou’ll need a few hundred images of your objects. These can either be scraped from an online source like Google’s images or you get take your own photos. If you use the latter approach, make sure to shoot from various angles, rotations, and with different lighting conditions. Fill your background with various other things and even have some things partially obscuring your objects. This may sound like a long, tedious task, but it can be done efficiently. [Edje Electronics] is working on recognizing playing cards so he first sprinkled them around his living room, added some clutter, and walked around, taking pictures using his phone. Once uploaded, some easy-to-use software helped him to label them all in around an hour. Note that he trained on 24 different objects, which are the number of different cards you get in a pinochle deck.

You’ll need to install a lot of software and do some configuration, but he walks you through that too. Ideally, you’d use a computer with a GPU but that’s optional, the difference being between three or twenty-four hours of training. Be sure to both watch his video below and follow the steps on his Github page. The Github page is kept most up-to-date but his video does a more thorough job of walking you through using the software, such as how to use the image labeling program.

Why is he training an object recognizer on playing cards? This is just one more step in making a blackjack playing robot. Previously he’d done an impressive job using OpenCV, even though the algorithm handled non-overlapping cards only. Google’s Inception, however, recognizes partially obscured cards. This is a very interesting project, one which we’ll be keeping an eye on. If you have any ideas for him, leave them in the comments below.

from Blog – Hackaday

ASK AN ENGINEER 5/23/18 (video) @adafruit #AskAnEngineer #adafruit

ASK AN ENGINEER 5/23/18 (video). What is “Ask an engineer”? From the electronics enthusiast to the professional community – “Ask an Engineer” has a little bit of everything for everyone. If you’re a beginner, or a seasoned engineer – stop in and see what we’re up to! We have demos of projects and products we’re working on, we answer your engineering and electronics questions and we have a trivia question + give away each week.

Live text chat in discord in the #livebroadcast channel, and we’ll have live video on Youtube, Twitch, Periscope (Twitter) and Facebook.

via Adafruit

SHOW-AND-TELL LIVE VIDEO! 5/23/18 (video) #showandtell @adafruit #adafruit

SHOW-AND-TELL LIVE VIDEO! 5/23/18 (video). Want to join the #showandtell Here’s how and video. The live chat for videos is over on Adafruit’s Discord server, JOIN here!

via Adafruit

Robot Archaeology: Blimp Robots #Robots #Blimp #Dirigible #CRICKIT #MakeRobotFriend

Adafruit loves DIY blimps! We’ve written about many Maker blimps (dirigibles) over the past 10+ years, they are just so cool. And they are ultra-affordable, often using materials already found around the house or at the party store.


What is a blimp? A blimp is a vehicle that uses a gas-filled bag to achieve lift into the atmosphere. You can think of a helium balloon with a string a tethered mini-blimp. Most blimps come with a control mechanism to be able to steer around. The controls don’t have to be electric, but they often are. Using a small motor (like drone motors), a blimp can move around in a controlled manner (similar to full-size blimps).

Would you like to explore projects which resulted in inexpensive controlled blimps? Here is a list of past and present Maker blimps for you to look through:

With the new Adafruit Crickit Creative Robotics & Interactive Construction Kit board, we think some pretty robots can be built, especially blimps and other flying bots.

Keep an eye out for our design work with Crickit on the Adafruit blog.

Show us what blimp projects you know of or are working on in the comments below! Blimps = #MakeRobotFriend!


via Adafruit

Retro Rebuild Recreates SGI Workstation Demos On The Go

When [Lawrence] showed us the Alice4 after Maker Faire Bay Area last weekend it wasn’t apparent how special the system was. The case is clean and white, adorned only with a big red button below a 7″ screen with a power switch around the back. When the switch is flicked the system boots to display a familiar animation and drops you at a menu. Poking around from here elicits a variety of self-contained graphics demos, some interactive. So this is a Raspberry Pi in a box playing videos, right? Not even close.

Often retro computing focuses on personal computer systems. When they were new the 8-bit graphics or intricate 2D sprites were state of the art, but now their appeal tends towards learning opportunities and the thrill of nostalgia. This may still be true of Alice4, the system [Brad, Lawrence, Mike, and Chris] put together to run Silicon Graphics (SGI) demos from the mid 1980’s but it’s not the whole story. [Lawrence] and [Brad] had both worked at SGI during its heyday and had fond memories of the graphics demos that shipped with those mammoth workstation. So they built Alice4 from the FPGA up to run those very same demos in real-time.

Thanks to Moore’s law, today’s embedded systems put yesterday’s powerhouses within reach. [Lawrence] and [Brad] found the old demo code in a ratty FTP server, and tailor-made Alice4’s software and hardware to run them natively. [Brad] wrote a libgl which implements the subset of the IrisGL API needed to support their selected set of demos. The libgl emits sets of triangles to the SDRAM where [Lawrence’s] HDL running on the onboard FPGA fetches them to interpolate color and depth and draw the result on-screen. Together they allow the $99 Altera Cyclone V development board at Alice4’s heart to run these state of the art demos in the palm of your hand.

Alice4 is open source and extensively documented. Peruse the archeology of reverse engineering the graphics API or the discussion of FIFO design in the FPGA. If those don’t sate your appetite check out a video of Alice4 in action after the break.

from Blog – Hackaday

NEW PRODUCT – Ultra High Density DotStar LED PCB Bar – 128 LEDs

NEW PRODUCT – Ultra High Density DotStar LED PCB Bar – 128 LEDs

Look, just bolt this to your ceiling fan already – we know that’s the first thing you thought of! OK, so you already know what DotStar LEDs are – those digitally controllable LEDs that have two data wires and higher refresh rates for than NeoPixels. You can control them with any microcontroller since the timing on the data lines isn’t particular, and you can use an SPI peripheral to send data pretty fast. DotStars come in the classic 5050 (5mm x 5mm) size as well as an adorable 2020 (2mm x 2mm)

So what we have here is a special rigid PCB with 128 those tiny 2mm x 2mm LEDs on em, as close as possible. We already have flexible LEDs, but with the ultra high density (240 LED/meter density) we have here, you have to go rigid. Also, instead of a plain FR4 PCB it has an aluminum backing for extra strength and heat dissipation. Note that the PCB is rigid but requires support so it doesn’t droop and crack. It’s not intended to be bent or curved at all, and if you do so you may crack the copper traces.

3776 iso ORIG 2018 05

3776 detail 01 ORIG 2018 05

This rigid LED Bar is just under half a meter long (400mm, excluding connectors) with 128 addressable LEDs and looks fantastic as accent lighting, back lighting, edge lighting, etc! However, we must note these bars are not cheap, and require some care to use. First, they must have mechanical support so they don’t bend & crack. Second, you could turn on all the LEDs on at full brightness and draw about 6 Amps but you’ll overheat and damage the LEDs. So instead, keep your brightness at 50% or don’t light up to many LEDs. Keep the power usage at under 15W (3A @ 5V)

3776 quarter top ORIG 2018 05

These bars come with a 4-pin JST SM connector on both ends (and an extra GND and 5V wire), but you can remove these easily with a soldering iron. For the power wires, you will probably want a 2.1mm DC jack to wire in, so you can connect one of our 5V wall adapters to power it.

We have a tutorial showing wiring, power usage calculations, example code for usage, etc. Please check it out!

3776 lit 02 ORIG 2018 05

In stock and shipping now!

via Adafruit

NEW PRODUCT – Ada Twist, Scientist

Ada Twista Scientist Book Front ORIG 2018 04 orig

NEW PRODUCT – Ada Twist, Scientist

The creators of the New York Times bestselling picture books Rosie Revere, Engineer and Iggy Peck, Architect are back with a story about the power of curiosity in the hands of a child who is on a mission to use science to understand her world. Ada Twist, Scientist, from powerhouse team Andrea Beaty and David Roberts, is a celebration of STEM, perseverance, and passion.

Like her classmates, builder Iggy and inventor Rosie, scientist Ada, a character of color, has a boundless imagination and has always been hopelessly curious. Why are there pointy things stuck to a rose? Why are there hairs growing inside your nose? When her house fills with a horrific, toe-curling smell, Ada knows it’s up to her to find the source. Not afraid of failure, she embarks on a fact-finding mission and conducts scientific experiments, all in the name of discovery. But, this time, her experiments lead to even more stink and get her into trouble!

Ada Twista Scientist Book 02 ORIG 2018 04 orig

Inspired by real-life makers such as Ada Lovelace and Marie Curie, Ada Twist, Scientist champions girl power and women scientists, and brings welcome diversity to picture books about girls in science. Touching on themes of never giving up and problem-solving, Ada comes to learn that her questions might not always lead to answers, but rather to more questions. She may never find the source of the stink, but with a supportive family and the space to figure it out, she’ll be able to feed her curiosity in the ways a young scientist should.

Excellent for use in:

  • STEM
  • Common Core
  • Next-Gen Science Standards
  • Creativity & Innovation
  • Character Education – Grit/Perseverance
  • History: Ada Lovelace

For reviews, teacher’s guides, interviews, and more check out the Ada Twist, Scientist website!

Ada Twista Scientist Book 03 ORIG 2018 04 orig

Ada Twista Scientist Book ORIG back 2018 04 orig

In stock and shipping now!

via Adafruit