Saturday, April 22, 2017

Project: Preview | MAKERbuino Console

Today I've got a very exciting review of a product that just successfully finished funding: the MAKERbuino DIY game console by Albert Gajšak out of Croatia. Many thanks to him for obliging a review and for all his hard work. You can find more about him and the console on Kickstarter and their website, where you can also preorder a MAKERbuino of your own:


Stick around and I'll fill you in on this terrific piece of tech.


---

Review - The MAKERbuino Console



What is MAKERbuino? In short, it's a game console for Makers who are tired of prebuilt games consoles and want the experience and joy of building, programming, and playing their very own video games. That they've created themselves.




The kit I recieved included both a preassembled and DIY version of the MAKERbuino. And boy does the console look sharp. And there's so much to do with it. It actually took a bit longer to review this console than I had expected because I wanted to make sure I covered every aspect of the device.

My package included:

-1x Preassembled MAKERbuino

-1x DIY MAKERbuino Kit

-1x Preloaded MicroSD card

It all fits inside a quite small package. Even though it's larger than its spiritual cousin, the Gamebuino, the MAKERbuino still leaves a pretty small footprint.


The Hardware:



The MAKERbuino is, first and foremost, a DIY console. Yes, you can buy a preassembled unit, but that takes half the fun out of it! There's something thrilling about putting together something like this- especially if you've never gotten the chance to solder before. Speaking of which, this DIY kit does require tools. However, if you happened to leave your soldering iron in your other suit, you can always buy the bundle from the MAKERbuino store which includes the necessary tools.

MAKERbuino is based of the Arduino development platform, a robust, popular, and open-source microcontroller system. Arduino allows you to write, compile, and run your own programs through their IDE. Written in C++, it's easy for you to pick up and start writing programs right away!

HELLO_WORLD!

There are a lot of different parts to this console, which may seem a little daunting at first. But the website offers clear, easy-to-understand assembly instructions.

Here's a list of all the hardware included in the DIY kit:



  • MAKERbuino PCB
  • laser CNC cut acrylic casing (has three pieces)  
  • ATmega328P-PU microcontroller
  • 28 pin IC socket (for the ATmega328)  
  • Nokia 5110 graphic LCD breakout board
  • Li-Po charger board with micro USB port (TP4056 charging circuit)
  • Li-Po battery, 3.7V, 600mAh with male JST connector
  • female JST battery connector  
  • 128MB SD card preloaded with games (for storing, loading and streaming files and programs)  
  • SD socket
  • 16Mhz crystal
  • 3.3v voltage regulator (MCP1702-3302E)
  • 4 pin angle anti-reverse pin header (for i2c ports) x2
  • 3.5mm headphone socket
  • 2N2222A NPN transistor
  • 100uF capacitor x3
  • 100nf capacitor x2
  • 22pf capacitor x2
  • 100Ω resistor
  • 10kΩ resistor x24.7kΩ resistor x2
  • 2kΩ resistor
  • 1kΩ trim-potentiometer x2
  • 1N4148 diode 
  • big clicky pushbutton with corresponding button cap x7
  • mini slide toggle switch x2
  • 8Ω, 0.5W, 28mm diameter speaker
  • ISP port angle header pins
  • Serial port angle header pins
  • Breakout port angle header pins  
  • FTDI USB to rs232 adapter board (a board for conneccting your MAKERbuino to the computer)  
  • Set of screws, nuts and spacers needed for fixating the screen and the casing

It may seem like too much to keep track of, but everything's pretty easy to figure out. And the instructions are simple and straightforward.

We've mainly reviewed the presassembled model so far, but we'll update this article once we've thoroughly reviewed the DIY model as well.

Our unit came in a lovely red PCB with matching buttons. (Same PCB color for the DIY model as well) Everything was in working order, and the oversized buttons feel solid and responsive. The buttons actually have caps on them, so you can swap out the colored caps for nearly endless color combinations.

The included MicroSD card (and adapter) is only 128MB large, but that's all you'll need for this system. The .HEX files that the games are loaded from are tiny, meaning you can fit plenty of code onto that card without any worries.

The screen is the same kind used in the Nokia 5110, wwhich makes sense. This console looks like the child of a Nokia candybar phone and the Gameboy Micro. Which is actually a pretty cool thing. The screen is sharp and clear, and a dial on the bottom controls the screen's backlight.

The other dial controls the speaker volume. (There's also a switch to toggle the volume on/off) The sound is nice and loud, although like any project like this the louder you go the tinnier it sounds. But it's still pretty impressive how the different tunes and sound effect are incorporated into the games.

You also have your various ports around the edges of the console. Besides the MicroUSB for power, the MAKERbuino also includes (2) I2C ports (for multiplayer daisy-chaining), ICSP, serial port (for programming it) and extra breakout holes. The serial port will be covered more in the next section.

The battery is a 600mAh Li-Po. And it can last a long time. When we pulled it out of the box, it was already charged up and ready to go. You can definitely get quite a few hours of gameplay before you have to hook it up to a USB charger.

Like I mentioned earlier, the MAKERbuino is the sort of spiritual cousin to the smaller Arduino-based console, Gamebuino. Successfully crowdfunded on Indiegogo in 2014, Gamebuino was the creation of Aurelien Rodot and was a major inspiration for the MAKERbuino.




The Software:



One of the best parts about MAKERbuino being related to the Gamebuino is that it is fully compatible with the entire game library and programming tools that Gamebuino already has developed! This makes it a LOT easy to develop for this console, since there is already a heavily-involved community that's written tons of programs, demos, and random bits of code and guides on how to use the system.

Like I mentioned, the SD card included is preloaded with a TON of games already. Some of my favorite gems included Paqman, Super Crate Buino, and Maruino. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. There is just sooo much to do with this console.

If the games written by the community isn't enough to sate your appetite, you can always write your own! MAKERbuino is fully compatible with the Arduino IDE (the development tool) and has preexisting libraries of code to make the process easier.



And it's not just games you can play on the MAKERbuino. There are also apps written that allow you to play audio files, paint on a canvas, and more. If it doesn't exist, you could be the first to write it!

Every game I tried was snappy and responsive, with no noticeable bugs. Loading the SD card game menu takes a little while, but it's understandable, considering this is all running off a single microcontroller.

The easiest way to load games onto your MAKERbuino is to copy the .HEX files onto your SD card. However, you can also use the serial port and USB adapter to program games directly to the console from your computer.

For reference, here are the tech specs for the MAKERbuino:

  • CPU: ATmega328 @ 16MHz (same MCU used in Arduino UNO)
  • Sound: 0.5W speaker with 4-channel audio generation, 3.5mm headphone connector, hardware volume control 
  • Input: 7 pushbuttons with replaceable button caps (D-pad + ABC buttons) 
  • Storage: 32kB of FLASH program memory, 2kB of RAM, up to 2GB SD card for loading and saving programs (HEX files) and data
  • Communication: serial UART port, i2c, SPI


The community for these two consoles is already huge and growing every day. The Gamebuino forums are a great place to ask questions, get help with a project, and see what other programs people have created.


It's a well-polished device all around. I found no problems, both software- and hardware-wise that caused problems, and the website is very easy and helpful with all guides and FAQs.

The MAKERbuino system truly is amazing. Mad props to Albert Gajšak and the rest of the team working hard to ship out orders! There will be plenty more development as the community continues to grow and flourish.

The Kickstarter is over but you can preorder MAKERbuino at the official web site, www.makerbuino.com today.

The kits preordered in this period will ship after the rewards from the Kickstarter campaign (June 2017).



And that wraps things up! If you want to learn more, or find out when and where you preorder one of these boards up for yourself, head on over to their Kickstarter or the Website and tell 'em Carter sent you.

Until I review again...

..Carter..





Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Live Projects: The GPD Pocket 7.0"


What's up, SHARDlings? I've got some news for you: GPD, the innovative gaming hardware company, has just started another campaign on Indiegogo for their latest device: The GPD Pocket 7.0".

The GPD Pocket 7.0"

It's a tiny, sleek laptop that's best described as a tiny shrunk MacBook Air. Its solid-body magnesium-alloy frame only weighs 480g. It can run either Ubuntu 16.04 LTS or Windows 10 Home Edition.


Inside the machine, it runs a Quad-core processor/Quad threading 1.6GHz processor with 4GB of RAM, meaning this machine can easily power through most any tasks you throw at it.

The screen is a 1920×1200,7 inch, 323.45PPI, IPS technology display protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3. The device features active cooling to keep it running at optimal speed.


And the best part? Its 7000mAh battery gives it a 12-hour battery life. Those are some pretty impressive specs.

The campaign is live on Indiegogo right now, and you can pick one up for yourself for only $399 in either Ubuntu or Windows flavor. So what are you waiting for?


 

Are you buying one? Let me no what you think!

Until next time,

..Carter..

Friday, December 30, 2016

Review | Hexiwear

What's up, everyone? SHARD Labs is back after a slight hiatus to bring our latest (former) Kickstarter review... the Hexiwear development system by MikroElektronika. They were gracious enough to send out a review just after the holidays. You can find them (and preorder a Hexiwear for yourself) at the link below:

So without further ado, let's get into the review!


---

Review - The Hexiwear


What is Hexiwear? The box our review unit came in, on the side, describes it as "A wearable development kit for the IoT (Internet of Things) era. A small and sleek, low-powered device packed with sensors to quantify yourself and the world around you."

That describes the device pretty well. Essentially, it's a small handheld puck-like device, made of high-quality plastic and glass, with a small screen and buttons. It can be used as a smartwatch, a smart sensor, or a smart... anything, really. It all depends on what you program it to be.



The Hexiwear development kit comes in a snazzy red-and white box with colorful, minimalistic designs patterned on the outside. Our kit was the "Power User Pack," so it came with two separate sections inside the box; the Hexiwear and accessories, and the docking station. Here's a comprehensive list of everything inside:

-1x Hexiwear (with glass front panel)

-2x Extra front panels (in different colors)

-1x MicroUSB cable

-1x Smartwatch strap

-1x Keychain case

-1x Docking station


There's a lot of fun stuff inside. I'll cover it all in more detail in the upcoming sections. 


The Hardware:



The Hexiwear is a pretty powerful little device. Unlike development boards developed upon the Arduino system, the Hexiwear is based on a microcontroller operating system, meaning multiple apps can be loaded and run on it at the same time. It features a color OLED screen and six capacitative buttons on the outside of the screen that control it. It also comes chock-full of sensors.

Processor: An NXP Kinetis K64 MCU (Running an ARM Cortex-M4, 120MHz processor with 1M Flash and 256K SRAM)

Connectivity: NXP Kinetis KW4x Bluetooth Low Energy & 802.15.4 Wireless MCU

Battery: 190 mAh 2C Li-Po battery

Sensors:
-Accelerometer and Magnetometer
-3-Axis Gyroscope
-Absolute Digital Pressure sensor
-Light-to-digital converter
-Digital humidity and temperature sensor
-Heart-rate sensor

Output:
-1.1" full color OLED display
-Haptic feedback engine
-RGB LED

...That's a lot of specs. And that's just in the Hexiwear itself! If you connect it to the docking station, the expansion slots allow for hundreds of additional sensors, outputs, and configuration. It's somewhat mind-boggling.



Besides expansion (or, as they call them, "click boards,") the docking station also allows you to enhance the core functionality with an onboard programmer, a microSD slot, and a I2S interface. This allows you to design your own circuits and connect them to the Hexiwear.

What else comes in the box? Why, accessories, of course. There are several fun ways to pimp out your Hexiwear and increase its functionality included in the kit. There are two types of rubber cases- one has straps, for smartwatch functionality, and the other includes a keychain hole (or you can use the hole to attach it to anything else.)


I'm currently using the keychain case for mine right now, and it works very well for keeping the Hexiwear safe and carrying it around.

The other interesting feature is the faceplates. The Hexiwear power user pack comes with three different-colored faceplates: yellow, green and blue. This allows you to personalize your Hexiwear to whichever color you like best. And the capacitative buttons on the faceplate work quite well, and are very responsive.


The Software:


Hexiwear runs on a custom OS designed for the low-power MCU inside. The GUI is very clean and minimalistic, and comes with several apps preloaded. They are:

-Weather

-Motion

-Flashlight

-Fitness

Fitness is actually two apps, Pedometer and Heart rate. Weather measures the air around you and gives you a real-time list of temperature, humidity, and pressure. Motion measures acceleration and rotation along the X, Y, and Z-axis. Flashlight turns on the RGB LED to full white, and fitness does two tasks. Pedometer does just what it says, measuring your step count (while the app is open) Heart rate uses an optical heart-rate sensor on the underside of the device. when you put a finger or wrist up to the sensor, it begins tracking your heart's BPM (beats per minute) in real-time. I found the heart-rate sensor to be a little of balance, as it jumped around quite a bit as it measured my pulse.

The battery lasts a remarkably long time for its small size, thanks to the low-power MCU. The software has a power-saver feature built in, so that whenever the Hexiear isn't in use, it shuts off its screen after several seconds. It can be woken up by double-tappling one of the buttons or by shaking the device.

There's not much to see software-wise with the Hexiwear, out of the box. That's because Hexiwear is first and foremost a development program. The real programs are the one you and all the users design for it.

So how do you program the the Hexiwear? Well, there are two ways of interfacing with the device. For just reading the measurements off the Hexiwear, you can download an app on either the Google Play or iOS app store and connect to the device via bluetooth. This allows you to get real-time stats and update your Hexiwear via OTAP (Over the air programming.) The iOS version of the app (which this was tested on) worked smoothly and without any hiccups, quickly pairing via bluetooth and syncing the readings in real-time.



 Each Hexiwear user also gets access to a private cloud where all the sensor readings are stored, provided by WolkAbout. WolkAbout is an Internet of Things company and partner of MikroElektronika.

For actual app creation, the Kinetis Design Studio (KDS) is a free integrated development enviroment the MCU. Based on open-source software, such as Eclipse, GCC, GDB, and others, the KDS IDE is a simple development tool for designers.

The Hexiwear is also ARM mbed OS 5, as well as mikroC compatible, meaning you can write programs for the Hexiwear in whatever programming language you love best!

---

There's so much to do with Hexiwear, and SHARD Labs will continue to explore and work on developing for the Hexiwear over time. Did we convince you to buy one? If so, head over to the Shop and order your own. Plus, leave a comment saying that you did so! (And what you thought of the review.)


Until next time,


..Carter..

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Review | LameStation

Hey folkey-folks! Carter here. Again. Back from the labs with another review! This time, one of the few DIY consoles you can actually buy on the market. Our verdict: It's pretty sweet. Keep reading for more deets.

As always, a big thanks to the Lamestation folks, who shipped me a review model. They'll be starting a Kickstarter soon for an revised and updated edition of this gadget, so make sure to be on the lookout for that. You can check 'em out here:


---

Review - The LameStation Console


So what is the humorously-named Lamestation? It's a handheld game console, for starters. But it's also so much more. It's powered by an arduino microprocessor, meaning you can program it to run a variety of premade applications (not just games) and even write your own programs!


Now a quick note on this model: This version of the Lamestation is actually scheduled for revision soon. The new model planned will be preassembled (the first one you had to build yourself) smaller and more ergonomic, like other handheld consoles, and will feature a rechargeable battery instead of the older version's AA battery holder. I'll be posting a link to the Kickstarter for the Lamestation upgrade version when it goes live. (Which is hopefuly soon!)




My model came very quickly and was preassembled, which, like I said, isn't how they come for most. But they had a couple premade ones lying around, so that helped make the review easier.

My review package included:

-1x Lamestation Console

-1x Serial-to-USB Cable

-1x DC Power Wall Plug


There isn't a lot, but you don't need a lot to have fun with this thing. The good stuff's all inside the console.


The Hardware:


Lamestation is, at its core, a game console. Running a Parallax Propeller microcontroller, it allows you to program it with an IDE not too different from Arduino. And like an Arduino board, the Lamestation features female headers for the different inputs and outputs of the microcontroller, allowing you to hook up the console to external electronic projects as well.

The Lamestation itself is a rather chunky console. Square, with rounded edges, it fits into the contours of your hands fairly well, but what really makes it bulky is the thickness. The Lamestation is actually a circuit board connected to a clear piece of acryllic on the back by four legs. Protruding from the front of the main board is the LCD screen, and on the back you'll find the battery holder.

It's not so thick that it's uncomfortable to hold, but it does give it a bit more of a hefty weight to it. But if you use the DC power plug, it should help cut down on the weight. And I hate to be negative at all, because it's an amazing system. It's just a little bulky. But I know that's because it's a DIY kit, and most people will need the space to insert and solder the parts together.

I won't speak much on the DIY aspect, since mine came preassembled, but you will need a soldering iron and steady hand to put the console together.


The console has a variety of inputs that include the joystick, A, B, and Reset buttons, volume and screen contrast slider... oh, and the power switch. As for the ports, you have your serial port, DC power, and headphone jack.

The serial port, used for programming the Lamestation, was amusing to see. I hadn't looked at one of those in quite some time, and it seems like an interesting choice for the console. But maybe it's what the chip uses for programming. Anyway, the cable provided with the console for programming is Serial-to-USB, meaning you can plug it right into any ol' computer and it'll work. (Once certain items have been installed. But more on that later.)

The contrast slider is also a nice touch, and definitely helpful. Not every game looks the same under the same contrast level, so it was definitely nice to be able to change that for the best viewing experience.

The last parts you'll see on the board are the LEDs, the speaker, and GPIO headers. The LEDs are fairly simple; one shows code-writing progress and status, and the the other is controllable by the user. The speaker, while slightly tinny, does its job well; although there aren't that many programs yet that have sound included.

The GPIO pins are similar to what you'd find on any single-board microcontroller. You've got spots for 5V and 3.3V power, GND, IO, and more. This makes it possible to write programs that actively monitor, control, and interface with your electronic projects.


The Software:


The Lamestation is programmed via the PropellerIDE, a programming enviroment created just for writing SPIN code, the code that controls the Parallax Propeller chips. This enviroment is very friendly and fairly easy to learn. Even if you don't want to write you own code, the process for uploading prewritten programs to your Lamestation is very simple: Just open the correct .spin file, click compile, and either run- or write- that program to the Lamestation.

The Lamestation SDK that you download from the website contains all the different demos, apps, games, and resources to program your Lamestation. Some of the demos are more complete than others, and some are rather broken. But they're all (for the most part) still in development, so give the Lamestation community time, and they'll keep working on them.

The Lamestation site provides a bunch of documentation on how to program in the Propeller language, SPIN. I dabbled with it slightly, and from what I've seen, it's a very clear and concise syntax to follow. They'll teach you the basics, from lighting up the LEDs to drawing out images on the screen. It's very fun.

There are a whole slew of games that come with the Lamestation SDK. Ranging from Frappy Bird, (what could that possibly be a clone of?) to a maze-crawling game, to Pikemanz (a very broken Pokemon varient) to much more. There's a lot to explore and play around with.

There's also an experimental sound synth app you can run. It's interesting. There's also a few graphics-demoing programs as well.

---
And that about wraps up my review. Did I convince you guys to pick up the console? Or wait for the revised model and nab that instead? If you simply can't wait, head to the >store< to pick up a Gen 1 Lamestation. Or bookmark this article for when the Gen 2 model is released!

Write for you later,

..Carter.. 


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Review | Circuit Scribe

It's me again. Carter here. Back with another SL testing of a crazy way for you to draw electronic circuits... with a ballpoint pen. I know, you're shocked.



...You are shocked, right? Anyway keep reading and I'll give you the low-down on this fabulous product that raised nearly $700,000 on Kickstarter.

Also, a big thank-you to the folks at Electroninks Inc.! (I know, it's like a tougue-twister.) You can find them and their products at their website:



---

Review - The Circuit Scribe System



What is Circuit Scribe? To put it shortly, it's a rollerball pen that writes with conductive silver ink. Limited editon 24K gold ink (not) coming soon. But it makes drawing circuits as easy a laying down a line on a piece of paper.



The Electroninks team was very generous and on the ball with sending me my review unit, it arrived just a couple days after I contacted them. So kudos to them for their speed. My review package consited of the Circuit Scribe Ultimate Kit, which includes, among other goodies,

-Workbook/Sketchbook

-Steel Sheet

-Resistors


...A bunch of modules, including:

-Dual-colored LEDs

-9V battery adapter (with included 9V battery)

-Motor

-Switches

-Jumper wires

...And more. The jumper cables let your circuit sketches become Arduino compatible, which is really cool. It makes the learning curve for basic Arduino skills far less of a challenge, without any messy breadboards to build. If you can draw it, you can power it.

But there are so many amazing elements to the kit! You can really do a lot with Circuit Scribe, depending on which kit you buy. And even if you don't use the snap-and-play modules, the conductive pen by itself has a lot of uses with standard electronic elements.


The Hardware:


When it comes to conductive inks, Circuit Scribe really sweeps away the competition. As shown in their Kickstarter video, they've really perfected the formula for a non-toxic, water-based, conductive silver ink that dries nearly instantly. This allow for the creation of circuits that connect every time and can be set up in moments.

The workbook contains a plethora of mini-lessons on how to use your pen and how the components work. Outlines on the paper let you know where to place the correct connections, but again, don't feel restricted to those lines. The beauty to Circuit Scribe is that you can put the ink anywhere and, as long as you put down a solid line and don't cross connections, it will still light up. Or beep. Or do whatever you can think of! (Except, perhaps, make you a sandwich. I'll suggest that to them for a future module.)

The steel sheet included in the kit is what allows you to hold the modules to the paper. Simply place it behind a workbook page (Or any piece of paper) and your modules will snap onto the paper with a nice, solid click. Also, the back of the sheet has a nice diagram on how each component functions.

When you've finished setting up your circuit, you can power it all using the 9V battery and snap adapter included the kit. This is an especially nice touch by the Circuit Scribe folks; not too many companies package batteries with their kits. So it was nice to find a power source included.


I've mentioned so much, and yet I feel like I've only scratched the surface of the Circuit Scribe system. Follow that link at the beginning to discover their site and all the various products they offer in this kit and beyond!


The Software:

Not much to say here. Obviously, there's no real software for this hardware-centric product, but if you intend to use this with Arduino, (Which if you have it, I recommend) you'll need the Arduino IDE. 

Oh, and the Autodesk 123D Circuits software, which lets you create virtual circuitry, works with Circuit Scribe, meaning you can set up a full circuit on your screen and make sure it works before you lay down a sing drop of ink.


---

Did I convince you to grab this fantastic kit for yourself? If I did let me know in the comments below and then head on over to their Store and, as always, tell 'em Carter sent you. 

Catch you later, skaters!...



..Carter.. 

Review | The Makey Makey GO

What's up, everybody? Carter here with another review form the labs... this time, a neato little system that converts your touch into a digital controller, regardless of the object. (Mostly.) It was highly successful on Kickstarter, raising almost $200,000. Intrigued? The review starts below.

Many thanks to the wonderful folks out of Joylabz who shipped me the device! A big thanks to them. You can find them at their website:


---

Review - The Makey Makey GO


What is Makey Makey? And more specifically, the Makey Makey GO? To quote the Kickstarter, it's an invention kit on your keychain. And they don't lie; this stuff is pretty fantastic. Using alligator clips that hook the device up to any object that conducts electricity, it digitizes your touch and sends the signal back to your computer as either a mouse or spacebar click. Perfect for one-button games, menial tasks that you want to make more fun, or, you know, bongo-drum jello.



The folks at Joylabz were very nice to ship me a review unit, and incredibly fast to do so as well. My kit came in just a couple days and included:
-1x Makey Makey GO Device
-1x Instruction Manual
-1x Booster Kit

The device itself comes with the plug-and-play dongle, as well as an alligator clip for hooking it up. The booster kit, which they graciously included as well, includes a bunch of conductive tape, cloth, wires, and jumper cables to help you set up an epic project with your device.

The Hardware:



The Makey Makey GO may be small, but it's a cool device. Roughly the same size as your standard USB flash drive, it fits into your pocket easily. But why would you put it in your pocket when you can flaunt it to the world!?! You can easily put it on a keychain or a cord and wear it around your neck.

The device is simple enough to operate: There are three capacitative buttons running along one side of the device. Well, two are buttons; one has a divot in it for you to clamp the alligator clip on.

The other two buttons control the reset, type of button press, and sensitivity mode. Reset allows you to, well, reset the device should you attach a new object. Button type lets you cycle between being detected as a mouse press or spacebar press. And sensitivity lets you increase the touch level dramatically. On very conductive surfaces, you can even have it detect your presence when your hand isn't even touching the object! (It still has to be close.)

The alligator clips have firm grips and are easy to use. They have a soft plastic casing on the outside to help grip the clamp and lessen a freak-out from the system's touch detection.
The setup for a computer is super easy. Just plug it in and you're good to go! The computer recognizes it similar to how it would a mouse or keyboard. Plus, the rainbow LEDs on the device light up in a cool light show when you plug it in.

The Booster Kit is an expansion pack for your Go. Think DLC for the real world. You get a BUNCH of nice, conductive materials that you can hook up to your Makey Makey GO and have it do tricks. Like laying down conductive tape on a slackline, hooking it up to a tablet, and seeing how long you last. It's a ton of fun.


The Software:


This area's a bit trickier to cover, since the Makey Makey Go works to varying degrees with a TON of software. If the program accepts mouse or spacebar input (Which, if it doesn't accept either, is odd.) the GO will work. The Makey Makey site has a ton of demo Scratch applications that you can use right in your browser to test out how the GO works. (I was even able to download some of the Scratch apps straight to my computer and run them offline with the Scratch Offline Editor.

I've found that the GO device generally has more application as a spacebar input than a mouse clicker. Because while it will input left-clicks, you can't use it to move the mouse around the screen. But if you want to use a big red button of doom to make those Amazon One-Click Purchases, be my guest.

Also, nearly every website out there with Flash games has some endless runners that'll work quite well. The Flappy Bird Scratch demo I tried, however, was incredibly hard. I barely made it past one pipe! But maybe I'm just not hipster enough to play that game.

But there a definitely a lot of applications for this device. And with its portability, you can take it nearly anywhere that you, a laptop, tablet, or smartphone (with adapter) can go.

---

And that's that, in a nutshell! If you want to learn more, or find out when and where you can buy one of these bad boys for yourself, head on over to the Store Page and tell 'em Carter sent you. 

Until I write again...


..Carter..

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Project: Preview | LumoPad

Today I've got a quick- but fun- review for y'all: the LumoPad light drawing system by Nestor Tkachenko out of New York. You can find them at their Kickstarter:


Stick around and I'll give you the inside scoop.


---

Review - The LumoPad



What is LumoPad? It's simply a phosphorescent-paint board. You draw across the surface using a mini LED, which leaves streaks of light that fade after a short period of time. It's awesome. It's the perfect tool for children in a dark room, flipart-style animation,



The kit I recieved is just a prototype and and isn't as polished as the finished model will be. My version included:

-2x LumoPads

-1x superbright LED


It's simple, but effective and fun.

The Hardware:



The LumoPad is simple enough in design; It's a simple piece of foam board that's been painted on one side with phosphorescent (or Europium-based) paints. When exposed to the superbright LED, the chemical reaction leaves a trail of glowing light on the board. The finialized model will have the board enclosed inside a frame, for protection against wear and tear, but will still weight very little.

My LumoPads came in two different colors: Yellow and Blue. The yellow board was made with phosphorescent paints, which are brighter, but fade quicker. The blue is a Europium-derived paint that isn't as bright, but holds a glow longer.

The LumoPad is still in design progress and the creators have announced that they'll be continuing to upgrade and enhance the design over time. It's a fun product that's mess-free and great for children (or adults) to enjoy in a darker room, in bed, or just with a blanket over their head. 



And wraps things up! If you want to learn more, or find out when and where you pick one of these boards up for yourself, head on over to Kickstarter and tell 'em Carter sent you.
Until the next review...
..Carter..