Archive for the ‘reviews’ Category

Wearable Fabric on the Arduino Store

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

We are happy to announce the first wearable kit on the Arduino Store . This kit has been made by Plug’n’Wear specifically for us. All fabrics in this kit are produced in Italy, and strongly related to a textile family business. If you want to get deeper into the story of this product have a look at Riccardo Marchesi presentation (still in Italian, soon to be traslated!) at World Wide Rome 2012.

Read over for Kit’s features

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Screen Your Genome Under $512, Open Sourcing Biology With OpenPCR

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

Most of people working in the field of biological or scientific research should greet the open hardware applications we are  witnessing in this age of Garage Science. From the Phduino to the DIY Oscilloscopes, through  STM (Scanning-Tunneling Electron Microscope), Arduino is getting used to prototype tools that used to be more expensive and possibly unavailable some years ago.

OpenPCR is an amazing project aimed to bring the genome analysis to a desktot experience. From the “What Is OpenPCR?” page:

What can you do with it?

Cool apps include:

  • DNA Sequencing – PCR is used to generate enough DNA for the sequencing run. You can have a look at some of your own genome!
  • DNA Barcoding – Determining the species based on DNA. Can be used to identify plants, screen for agricultural pests, investigate airplane bird strikes, and check that sushi is legit. What about testing your food to see if they contain GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms)?

The Polymerase Chain Reaction, or PCR, is a method of replicating DNA. It is capable of taking a small amount of DNA, or even a single molecule, and amplifying (copying) a specific region exponentially, such that once the reaction is finished, there may exist up to 230 copies of each starting molecule (do the math — that’s more than a billion!).

This is important because DNA of interest often exists in quantities too small to detect, or may be mixed in with other DNA. For example, an accurate test for HIV must be able to detect a single virus particle in 50,000 cells. PCR is able to do this by targeting a small region of DNA that is specific to the HIV virus. If the virus exists in a sample, amplification will occur which can be easily detected. If no virus is present, no amplification will occur.

The specific region of targeted DNA is determined by how the reaction is setup, based on the specific “PCR primers” added to the reaction mixture. Virtually any sequence of DNA can be targeted.

if you still have some questions and / or want to know more about PCR have a look at this wonderful & explanatory graphics.

[See it in action!] via [OpenPCR.org]

Library for Libelium’s GPS module

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

I have been a little slow the last two months in reporting about my Xmass presents. Being on parental leave but being forced to arrange the moving of my lab to a new building seem to be two incompatible actions, but they are perfectly possible here in Sweden.

GPS on Mega

(c) 2009 BlushingBoy, GPS Shield on Arduino Mega

Leaving excuses on the side, I got a little jealous about Tom posting how he uses the Mega; therefore I decided to push a little harder for a library I am writing for the guys at Libelium. They sent me their GPS module and I decided to make a simple wrapper for users to plug their Tyco-GPS modules to Arduino Diecimila/Duemilanove/Mega from Arduino’s IDE 13/14/15. This is how much the whole thing has evolved since I started writing this piece of code in January… every time I thought I was done, we would release a new board or a new IDE and I had to debug the thing.

The library is running on a modified version of SoftwareSerial, and uses two functions by M. Hart, who wrote the brilliant tinyGPS library. My goal was to make something where unexperienced users would just have to write something like “GPS.init()” and “Serial.println(GPS.getLongitude())” and the thing would just work. Depending on how much you use the serial communication, this library weights between 4KB and 9KB … but it does everything for you ;-) On the other hand, on the Arduino Mega, 9KB is not even 10% of the available memory space. Download the library directly from this link.

GPS on Duemilanove

(c) 2009 BlushingBoy, GPS Shield on Arduino Duemilanove

I crafted three examples (basic, medium, advanced) featuring the use of different techniques to parse the GPS sentences. If you write something like a data logger, or a GPS toy, post your link here and I will be more than happy to include your code in the next revision of the library. Of course, if you found any errors or made any improvements, do the same thing.

This code compiles for Duemilanove and Mega, without any alterations. It works fine with the processors ATmega168 and up. Uses about 300 Bytes of memory space and is documented inside the code. Ah … there is a README.txt you shouldn’t miss; it explains how NOT to use the library.

[NOTE: If you are a linux user, please remember there is a bug in GCC-AVR that affects the way long ints are multiplied and this library makes an extensive use of that type of numbers. Please, read this note on Arduino's playground and upgrade!!]

microSD module from Libelium

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

I am starting my review series talking about the microSD module from Libelium. It is a tiny board (45x23mm) that can be used with any microcontroller platform able of communicating over SPI. I got it with a 1GB microSD card and a set of male headers that allow connecting the board to the digital pins 8 to 13. It is also possible to connect the board directly to Arduino’s programming header, since the SPI port is the one used to burn the Arduino bootloader.

(c) 2009 D. Cuartielles, Arduino color with microSD module

(c) 2009 D. Cuartielles, Arduino color with microSD module

The nice thing about the microSD module is that when connected to the digital pins, you won’t need any other wires to get it to work. Pulling pin 8 to HIGH is enough to power up the SD card. Libelium, on their wireless sensor networks website, have made great documentation of their board.

I am writing some code examples for them for some months now. We work together in some other open source project. I ask if it was OK to pre-release some of the code I am making for them regarding SD cards. After getting a green light, I invested my Sunday night in making a nice library for this article to be found at my open source repository.

I have now a good tool to push data into the card (with some limitations), read existing files, append strings to files, log sensor data or play pre-recorded sounds (more to come on this topic). The module’s form factor make it great to be included in many of the projects I face in my everyday work. I hope I hadn’t given Dave Mellis the second microSD module we got.

Remember you can win one of this modules if you participate in Libelium’s design contest. If you cannot wait that long, it is not expensive to get one and start with your experiments.

If you want more references about this design on Arduino.cc, visit:

- http://www.arduino.cc/playground/Learning/SDMMC
- http://www.arduino.cc/playground/Main/SimilarBoards
- http://www.arduino.cc/playground/Main/Resources

For getting the board’s code:

- http://blushingboy.net/p/SDuFAT/

For getting the board:

- http://libelium.com