May 042016
 

arduino-ide

If you’ve just installed the Arduino IDE on Ubuntu, you’ve likely encountered an error similar to the one above the first time you tried to upload a sketch to your board. The error that I specifically get reads:

avrdude: ser_open(): can't open device "/dev/tty/ACMO": Permission denied
ioctl("TIOCMGET"): Inappropriate ioctl for device
Problem uploading to board. ...

I got this error today while doing a fresh install of Arduino 1.6.8 on Ubuntu 15.10, aka Wily Werewolf, but I’ve also run into it on previous Ubuntu versions as well. As I suspect this is not the last time I’ll encounter it, I figure I should write up the solution here instead of having to hunt it down again the next time it stumps me.
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Jul 132015
 

littleBits Arduino with Extra I/O HeadersIn keeping in line with their KISS philosophy, the littleBits Arduino module does not offer (easy) access to the full range of analog and digital I/O options that can be found on regular Arduino boards like the Arduino Uno. As a matter of fact, the littleBits Arduino only provides 3 bitSnap inputs and 3 bitSnap outputs if you intend on staying entirely within the littleBits ecosystem. Another difference is that unlike regular Arduino boards, the littleBits version uses its micro USB port for programming only. Power for the module must be supplied via one of the bitSnap inputs.

If you want to use your own sensors or actuators and you don’t have a Perf Module or Proto Module, or if the bitSnap inputs (or outputs as the case may be) are all full, hope is not lost. littleBits recognized that many users would need more I/O and all it takes is a little bit (no pun intended) of soldering.

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Jun 252015
 
littleBits BitSnaps Package - Front

BitSnaps Package – Front

The RadioShack here in town, *my* RadioShack, is finally closing its doors forever after more than ten weeks of clearance sales the likes of which I won’t likely ever see again. I scored a lot of cool gadgets at ridiculously low prices, but my favorite continues to be the littleBits modular electronics system. As I’ve previously written about, my introduction to littleBits was via the cloudBit Starter Kit and the Arduino Coding Kit. Since then I have been grabbing a handful of the individually packaged elements on my weekly trip to the Shack. Now that my harvest has come to its inevitable end, I’m posting my take. A few of these were included in the kits I had bought as well, but I know I don’t have to remind a fellow tinkerer that too many of anything is never enough. Now for the pictures …

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May 092015
 
littleBits Arduino Coding Kit

littleBits Arduino Coding Kit

So I honestly haven’t even had the chance to build a littleBits circuit more complicated than a battery, single dimmer and LED yet, but as soon as I unboxed the cloudBit Starter Kit, I knew I wanted more.

As an Arduino addict, grabbing the Arduino Coding Kit at a 60% discount seemed like a no-brainer. So just a few hours after returning home with my first littleBits kit, I was headed back out the door to grab a second.

I panicked on the short car trip to the store that they may have already sold the last one from the shelf. I’ve gotten burnt that way already as I try to balance my needs/desires against the current discount level during RadioShack’s clearance.

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May 082015
 
littleBits cloudBit Starter Kit

littleBits cloudBit Starter Kit

Ever since my local RadioShack started carrying littleBits, the modular electronics system for students, makers and hackers, I’ve spent more and more time in front of their display in the store, going back and forth about whether to purchase any. I never did pull the trigger. Until now.

Honestly, the price for both the kits and the individual components was (and still is) a bit off-putting. Maybe just as importantly, littleBits seemed like a step backward for me. I’m not an electrical engineer by any stretch of the imagination, but color-coded, snap-together components must just be be for kids, right?

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Apr 212015
 

RadioShack Clearance ItemsAfter RadioShack filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the store in town and the few others nearby were among the lucky 1,740 of 4,000 nationwide chosen to live on, albeit as Sprint-RadioShack hybrid stores.

Say what you will about RadioShack’s business missteps over the last few decades, but I was happy for these stores. RadioShack’s employees often find themselves the butt of jokes and scorn regarding corporate decisions out of their control, but to a person, every employee that I’ve dealt with has been helpful, knowledgable, and sincere. I was glad that they would be keeping their jobs. Continue reading »

Mar 192006
 
iRobot Packbot Scout

iRobot Packbot Scout

For the premier issue of Robot magazine the guys from the popular Discovery Channel show Mythbusters documented their attempt to recreate an iRobot PackBot using stock components of the Vex Robotics Design System. Even though no one had any previous experience with the Radio Shack robotics kit, co-hosts Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage together with build team member Grant Imahara were able to build a rough, but functional, PackBot prototype in less than two days.

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