Gadget Freak

Gadget Freak Case #201: Plug & Play Sprout Board

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Beth Stackpole
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The power of open source
Beth Stackpole   12/22/2011 6:29:13 AM
Seems like Jared has come up with a design that will give a lot of aspiring engineers and enthusiasts a solid foundation for creating whatever kind of innovation they can come up with. Yet another good example of how open source technologies can be a springboard for creativity.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: The power of open source
Rob Spiegel   12/22/2011 10:08:01 AM
I agree, Beth. This is a gadget that might spawn new gadgets. I nice jumping off point. I've always like open source tools. We'll have to watch upcoming Gadget Freaks to see it Jared's gets used.

Beth Stackpole
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Re: The power of open source
Beth Stackpole   12/23/2011 7:51:56 AM
What is it about this platform that would allow the non-expert/non-programmer to develop on it? Is it the use of the Arduino platform?

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Why invent new names
carvintom1   12/23/2011 10:04:07 AM

I applaud the newly-rediscovered enthusiasm for "homebrewing" and "hacking" -- though I do find the negative connotations of the latter term somewhat disturbing.

Building stuff and, in too many instances cases, filling my parent's basement with the pleasing aroma of charred electronic components was my path to a career in electronics. I think this has been lost for the past 30+ years simply because it wasn't considered "cool" or some other equally stupid reason.

The bone I have to pick with all of this is that seems that it is being done in a vacuum.  Perfectly good terms that we have used to name and describe things for years are being replaced by new ones for no good reason and, I believe, to the detriment of all.

For example, why would the Arduino (sp?) crowd feel it necessary to rename a "daughter" or "piggy back" card a "SHIELD"?  Isn't that word already being used for something else?  When I first started reading about the new, inexpensive hobby stuff built for and around this nifty new part I was confused by the continued reference to "shields" when there were obviously none (by my definition) present.  Finally, I figured out what was going on.  I just don't understand why.  Do "they" not know what terminology already exists?

Also, when did machine code, programs, software, etc. become "scripts"?  Has Silicon Valley been moved to Hollywood?

Wouldn't we all be better off to continue to use the terms that we have developed over the last 50-75 years and just add new terms for the things that are actually new.  That way, we minimize the confusion, accentuate the new ideas and move things ahead.


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Sprout board
BHB   12/23/2011 11:21:50 AM
OK two things.

1) where can I get this board?

2) How do we get this into schools?

I work with kids in the Lego robotics world and have run across a LOT of kids that would love to get into something like this but have no way to even see into it let alone get access to this sort of thing.

You want to help this country get out of the mess were in? Get this into kids hands! In weeks they will blow you away with what they can do!

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Sprout board
Rob Spiegel   12/23/2011 11:24:56 AM

You can find the list of parts to build the board if you scoll down the story. Als, at the very bottom you'll find detailed build instructions. We always run parts and build instructions with our Gadget Freak postings.

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Re: Why invent new names
sdw   12/24/2011 2:55:33 PM
There are two meanings for "hacking", the original constructive usage from MIT, and the destructive term used badly by the media.  We've failed to replace the latter with "cracking", so we're stuck with two meanings.  The first meaning is not going to go away and shying away from using "hacking" in the proper way is no way to encourage proper usage.

We should all be educating people on the proper, better usage.  One of the best developments has been the emergence of "hacker spaces".  I'm a member of Hacker Dojo in Mountain View, CA.  There are many more, popping up all over.

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form factor
wb8nbs   12/27/2011 9:54:39 AM
This board appeears to be designed for a rack mount system.  I doubt most casusal Arduino hackers need a rack.  It would be more appropriate to eliminate the fragile connection strip and put the connectors on the main board, perhaps as a second board spin.  Better yet, add holes for a pair of double row headers right at the junction between main board and the connection fin. Then you could saw off the strip, move it anywhere and connect it up with an old hard drive cable.  Finally, get Adafruit or Evil Mad Science to stock them.

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Re: Why invent new names
ab3a   12/27/2011 11:23:57 AM
Yeah, I wondered about that too.

It seems that every time someone re-discovers a largely forgotten technology, they invent new terms.  I used to build micro-processor computers based upon the infamous Z-80. I wrote EVERYTHING, and burned it in to an EPROM.

As long as we're acting curmudgeonly, here's my rant:

These days, the focus for I/O seems to be quite different. One thing I find disturbing is the continued lack of anyone teaching people how to properly ground and harden inputs and outputs. Things such as power supply decoupling, galvanic isolation, snubbing a relay coil, how to properly shield a device, or signal wiring integrity are STILL barely even mentioned in schools or hobbyist publications.

The end result is that guys like Howard Johnson make lots of money teaching what should have been taught before.

Mutter, grumble, spit...

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Re: form factor
Rob Spiegel   12/27/2011 11:46:47 AM
Good suggestions, wb8nbs. Those changes could make the board even more useful.

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