BE Maker Kit Campaign on Indigogo

The guys at Borderless Electronics are kicking things up a notch with the launch of their BE Maker Kit project to accompany their recent $9 Arduino compatible board.

The most interesting thing here is their “Learning System” which includes 10 hours worth of electronics-related learning materials in the form of video-based tutorials which can be used in conjunction with their kits.

More information about the project can be found on their campaign page.

Handy Link: PHP Serial Class

Need a way to talk to your serial devices (Arduino, PIC Micro, etc) using PHP? This nifty new Serial PHP Class written by Rémy Sanchez should scratch your itch! It currently works with Windows and Linux systems.

As of the time this post was written, you will need a Linux system to use the full (that is, Read AND Write) functionality of the Serial Class.  If you are using it under Windows, you will only have Write access to the serial port, but as you can still do quite a lot with just write access as far as projects are concerned I don’t see that as a major drawback.

If you want to see a practical example of the PHP Serial Class in use, the guys at Hak5 have used it to control a Garage door via a Web interface. You can view the full episode here.

Handy Link: Programing an AVR with a Bus Pirate

The guys over at HintShop have published a tutorial on using a bus pirate as an In-Circuit Programmer to flash firmware to an AVR Microcontroller using SPI.

As if that wasn’t cool enough, they also include instructions showing how multiple Mircocontrollers can be flashed by one Bus Pirate on the same board, in their tutorial! Is there anything this little gadget can’t do?

Handy link: Arduino Ethernet Bumper Pack

Georg Kaindl, over at gkaindl.com has developed a collection of libraries for the Arduino environment which allows developers to make use of the  DHCP, DNS and Bonjour (Apple Computers’ implementation of Zeroconf) protocols in their network-enabled Arduino projects. Documentation for each individual library (including installation instructions) can be found on Georg’s site.

If anyone is using these libraries in their own projects already, then feel free to share you experiences in the comments section. I’d love to hear about some of the cool stuff other people have made with them.

Handy Link: bpython

bpython is a Python interpreter interface on steroids! It’s main features are:

  • Syntax Highlighting
  • A save function (to save code you’ve entered to a file)
  • Auto-intending (we all know how important correct indenting is when you’re writing python scripts!)
  • Auto-Completion which displays suggestions for any built-in functions, helping you to get the syntax for a statement spot-on without having to dig through reference manuals. The auto-completion feature also helps with import declarations, showing you a list of available modules as you type.

Installation in Ubuntu is as painless as typing sudo apt-get install bpython Other packages are available for Debian, Fedora and OpenSUSE as well. You can also obtain the source code from here and compile it yourself if need be.

If you need any help with using bpython, then check out the project’s webpage. Hope this is useful to someone.

Happy new year!

Handy Link: “Invent with Python”

Need an accessible guide to learning Python that won’t send you to sleep? “Invent with Python” is just what you need!

Invent Your Own Computer Games with Python, 2nd Edition (to give it its full title) is a book written by Al Sweigart.  It is available for free on-line in both HTML and PDF format. You can download the PDF format from here.

The book is released under a Creative Commons licence and is aimed at people who are completely new to programming.

Comprised of 19 Chapters (at the time this post was written), it guides the reader through the basic concepts (Installation of Python, use of the Python interactive shell, Variables, functions, etc) and some of the more advanced stuff as well.

The coding examples in the book are all games (so you can actually have some fun with what you create as you go through the book!), which increase in complexity as the chapters progress.

There is also a Blog related to the book, so you can keep up with any future additions that are made to it.