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News Bus: January to December, 2015 Archive

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Dateline: 16 Nov, 2015:   Robo Universe

If you aren't aware of Robo Universe, you should be. There meetings are very cool and worldwide. Go to the site and click on an event and just see what's going to be presented. I'm going to the one here in San Diego next month. The list of sponsors is impressive. Check out the answer to Amazon's drone delivery engineers came up with in the UK. They are more grounded than Amazon. They are building autonomous carts that can deliver. It's seems much more practical and can be implemented now, verses wading through complex safety and interference rulings from the government. And probably a lot less scary!

Dateline: 12 Oct, 2015:   3D Printing Piracy

Guess what? Piracy is now a big issue with 3D printing. How could that be a problem? What's happening is scanning has become so good that vitually any part from a quality manufacturer can be scanned and printed to include the trademark. So poor quality parts can be made to undermine a companies good name and illegal profits made. Design News has an extensive article about this issue you can view at this URL. Check it out and write me with your comments. 3D printing is of age now, so it should act like a responsible adult.

Dateline: 3 & 4 Oct, 2015:   SD Maker Faire

Balboa Park was rocking with robotics projects, vender booths, mock battleship battles, and larger than life metallic robotic monsters that moved, shot fire, and flapped their wings.

They were expecting over 200,000 people over the two day event. I don't know how many showed up, but I went early and took my grandson to get a parking place someplace near the event. I forgot, San Diegans, especially on rainy days, don't get up early. Saturday was perfect. We rolled right up to the south end of the park, got the closest parking place you would want, and walked across the street to pick up out wrist IDs for the two days. Sunday went well too. We parked at the north end near the Fig Tree Park.

There was so much to see we spend Saturday only at the south end of the park. At this end on the parking lot in front of the Space Museum was a bunch of booths. It was clear this is the year of the 3D Printer. There were many booths dedicated to 3D machines of all sizes. We passed several science demos for ecology, aquaponics, 3D LEDs stacks of multicolored light. The Maker Sheds, National University projects, and a dazzling example of printed clothes with computerized lighting sewn in.

We proceeded into the Space Museum and spent a few hours in there looking at the new De Vinci area and the central area where there was a bunch of interactive booths and displays.

The mock battleship tank was pretty realistic with 2 to 3 foot long ships firing beebees at each other. The idea was to shoot down and sink freighters trying to get from one side of the pond to the other while the Allied ships tried to defend the freighters. It was exciting, and when a freighter got hit, it really sank. Only the flag was left sticking out of the water. The ship turrets moved and pitched up and down. It was fun to watch.

On Sunday, we went to the north end of the park. The Prado was full of events. We went to the Nature History Museum and the Reuben Fleet Center and roamed around for hours. At the central plaza was this huge standing Bot. Flames shot from the finger tips. That was the largest of the bots, but there a few monster rovers on the prado.

We went to the Train Museum just for old time's sake. It's still a major draw and wonderful to see again. There were a couple of halls full of displays and interactive areas.

This being the first Maker Faire for San Diego in Balboa with allthe museums dedicated to the event, was impressive. Overall, I was impressed by the enthusiasm of the crowds. My grandson and I had a great time, brought back ideas for our own projects, and hope to see more next time when the Faire rolls around. The all the Maker groups, I salute you.

Dateline: 10 Sept, 2015:   QualComm Accelerating Robotics

This presentation was put on by QualComm to inform the world of their entrepreneurial effort to find robotics projects to support. Their trailblazer is TechStars from Bolder, Co. This company has a flock of experts that screen projects from all over the globe that might be someone QualComm could get behind and underwrite.

The venue was over-booked, which created a packed house. This picture was at 8:00am as registration opened so is not indicative of the masses that followed.

Once the presentation started, I was surprised at what I heard. I hadn't realized that QualComm had this entrepreneur side and was actively pulling together this presentation to showcase ten of the best - best of show, so to speak. The talent scout from TechStars that selected each of their presenters, opened with a short story about their candidate. Then the CEO of each of the ten lucky companies got up and gave a pitch, not unlike an "elevator pitch", short and to the point. The idea was to entice the many people in the room with money to spend on new ideas.

The companies were: Carbon Robotics, CleverPet, CTRLWorks, INOVA_Drone, Muse Robotics, Rational Robotics, Reach Robotics, SkyFront, SkySense, and Solenica. You can find out company details at www.qualcommaccelerator.com.

I was particularly impressed with SkySense. They are providing the "service station" for drones just as gas stations provided service for the automobile. These ports can be distributed say along a power transmission line for an inspector drone to inspect on and continuous basis, landing for service, like battery recharge, along the way. All the drone specific technologies presented were advancements with those types of vehicles. One outstanding model has a combustible engine/generator instead of LiPo batteries and can stay airborne for four hours. The crowd's hearts were grabbed by CleverPet, a device to keep house bound pets busy while owners are away. The animals love it as can be seen in the videos. This is going to be a wonder product and can't help to be a great success.

I didn't stick around for the lunch outdoors in 95 degree weather with muggy humidity. Overall, the presentations felt like an Apple press conference and product roll-out time 10. The venue (Grand Del Mar Hotel and Spa) was beautiful, the services splendid, and the presentation excellent and very eye-opening as to what is just around the corner in robotics. QualComm stands to be at the heart of this product revolution with their Snapdragon processor and expertise with video processing and WiFi connectivity. It also clear there are many people that want to make San Diego the robotics center of the Universe. I saw, not only groups of venture capitalist swarming around the demo tables, but colleagues from MeetUp clubs and friends like me, just there to be part of the scene and pick up a few ideas for projects. I'm anxious to see if all these products takeoff in the manner QualComm hopes. If they do, that will mean the world just changed forever.

Dateline: 29 July, 2015:   ScaleMatrix Presentation

Our local Cloud network service provider, ScaleMatrix, sponsored a noontime presentation to bring the community of service providers up to speed on the latest benchmark test conducted with the main players Windows Azure, Google Cloud Platform, RackSpace Hosting, and Amazon Web Services. Here's the point. ScaleMatrix performed faster than all the rest. ScaleMatrix provides 100GB bandwidth and complex configurations to include hybrid cloud networks for worldwide cliental.

Here are a few facts to bring into focus what sort of Internet Service Provider ScaleMatrix is: Technology innovation in their physical plant to include a new approach to cabinet design, high use of SSD (non-spinning memory storage), and redundancy schemes to ensure 100% up-time at data rates that are second to none.

Understanding Cloud Services may need some explanation. Yes, this is system data storage that is off-site to you, the client, but there are different arrangements that are much harder to do. Private Cloud Service is storage inside a companies firewall and Hybrid Cloud Service sets complex rules for controlling private and public storage which maintains data sovereignty, but does not compromise data security. This is where ScaleMatrix has built a reputation.

The major advantages of Cloud Storage: Data are available at different locations at the same time, IT costs are optimized by using a facility that specializes in maintaining the equipment and has the capacity/bandwidth much greater than what you would want to support at your site alone, and confidence of 24/7/365 availability of your important data.

Nexenta Systems, Inc. is partnered with ScaleMatrix to provide world-class software defined data storage. Phil Underwood gave us an overview of Nexanta success and how they work in conjunction with ScaleMatrix.

Al Sadowski from 451 Research presented statistical survey data on the Cloud Storage industry. The trends are interesting to see a real paradigm shift between 2014 and 2015 towards software based cloud services and private clouds.

I enjoyed seeing the facility again. You should book a tour. Everything about the facility is state-of-the-art, and visit their website at ScaleMatrix.com and look through all the services and innovative designs presented there.

Dateline: 12 July, 2015:   Our Planet Recycling

I visited this reclamation center today for used, but useful parts for any project imaginable, and had a ball rummaging around in all the parts, many which were historical enough for serious collectors.

They are located at 432 Venture Street in Escondido, just north of the Auto Park on the west side of town. The picture is of a recent shipment of electronic parts that came in. They have old radio parts as well. We came across of metal box of old Navy vacuum tubes. You just don't know what you'll find under the next box you move out of the way. It's like Storage Wars with a free pass.

Shad Hunziker is the proprietor and is into techno art made from the parts found lying around. His business centers around picking up collections from commercial or private organizations of waste items. They are ewaste recyclers wanting information technology surplus and waste. The items are brought to the yard and that's good for you.

I suggest you get on down there and browse the old fashion way - picking through a quality junkyard - for your next project. You might want to give them a call at (800) 280-0797 to tell they what you might have in mind for a search and make sure they are open. If you plan to offload some material, then go to their website at OurPlanetRecycling.com. It's all explained there.

Dateline: 7 May, 2015:   Del Mar Electronics & Design Show

I visited the show on 6 May to skim the booths for goodies. There were two halls full of venders. Lots and lots of PWB makers. I found the indie companies very interesting. Every sort of electronic gadget you can imagine.

The picture was taken as Luscombe was announcing the giveaway of an iPod. DigiKey had their bright, redheaded girls out working the crowd. They spearheaded the crowd to go to the DigiKey booth and sign up for the giveaways. Several booths were giving away tee shirts. Always a good thing to pickup with all the projects around the house that end up destroying tee shirts. The oscilloscopes are getting to be miracle makers these days. It's beyond me to use a 50GHz bandwidth and similar sampling rate. These scope do everything but your taxes. All in all I enjoyed the day, being among fellow geeks chatting about electronics projects. I would recommend attending next year if you didn't make out there this time. Go forth and computer. See you on the Internet.

Dateline: 15 Apr, 2015:   Cell Division at Arduino

Guess what? Nothing good lasts forever, even when it's great. Arduino has gone the way of Budweiser. Remember Bud and "Boodvisor" from the Czech Republic? Well, Arduino is split into two warning factions tangled up in a law suit.

Now we will be dealing with hardware and software being developed and coded from two Arduino centers that will compete with one another! What does this mean? It means you will have to be careful to match boards and software or the software won't run your board. It has already happened with WinXP and the newer versions of the Arduino.cc group. You scoff. Who cares about WinXP? Well, there are many, many people all over the world that enjoy Arduino Uno's and still run XP. So many in fact, this is a big oops for the Arduino makers.

So what's the other Arduino faction called? Arduino.org. Go check them both out and compare. You'd swear they are the same company, but no my friend, even that great little microcontroller that spurn many a fun robot is now headed for the dust bin. Never fear, there is the Arduino Zero. Say what? Yep, goofy name, but it's a 32bit monster Arduino, and I have to laugh, with the same 14 digital I/O and 6 analog I/Os. Yes, there is a "Mega" version, but come on, we are now in a league of Beagle Bone Blacks, etc. What happened to teaching little kids how to program a controller? Profit and power snatched the candy from the toddlers.

This story is just now unfolding. Let's all watch from the sidelines as the maker movement gets thrown in with the piranhas.

Dateline: 26 Jan, 2015:   Challenge of PWB with Embedded Systems

We take for granted that when we place parts on a PWB, optimized for a good part fit, all is well. But as switching speeds increase intercircuit broadcasting has to be considered for stable operations. There is an excellent article in Embedded Newsletter that might interest you.

Checkout this article on The Challenges of Printed Board Design and Debug:
Click here for article.

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This website opened in late 2013 in hopes of supporting those interested in electronics and a hobby and a profession.