Saturday, September 28, 2013

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News Day2Day Team

Sunday, June 2, 2013

3D-printed Robohands help kids without fingers

Carpenter Richard van As made his own digits after losing his fingers in an accident. Now he's helping kids by 3D-printing prosthetics and running an Indiegogo campaign.

(Credit: Indiegogo)
People who have lost fingers can try to get robotic hands that cost tens of thousands of dollars. Or they can try to 3D-print their own hand.
That's what Richard van As did after a woodworking accident in 2011 cost him four fingers. The South African carpenter decided to build his own fingers from hardware store parts but eventually turned to 3D printing.
Using a MakerBot Replicator 2 printer, he collaborated with Ivan Owen to create a prosthetic finger after much trial and error. They've since printed hands for four South African children who lack fingers.

The Robohand works by a series of cables and bungee cords that are controlled by movements of the wrist and arm.
The first was Liam, a 5-year-old boy withamniotic band syndrome, who was born without fingers on his right hand. At the request of his mother, Van As and Owen produced Robohand, a low-cost, 3D-printed prosthetic.
Check out this video of Liam using his Robohand, performing precise movements like picking up coins.
Aside from distributing the open-source files for Robohand on Thingiverse, the partners are now trying to raise $10,000 in an Indiegogo campaign so they can help more children for free.
The cash is needed to buy materials such as PLA plastic for the 3D printer and hardware to assemble the hands.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Apple Juice: How to Charge Your Phone With Pocket Change and Fruit

Arthur C. Clarke wrote that "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic," but he was wrong. It's easy to tell the difference—technology works. For example, "remote-viewing" mentalists claim they can see events far away, yet they fail every test. In fact, remote viewing is simple: It's called TV.
Another example that recently circulated online was a fake video of someone charging his iPhone by jamming the end of a USB cable into an onion. How do I know it was fake? First, you need contacts made of two different metals, and second, you can't get enough voltage out of a single vegetable. What makes the ruse so disappointing is that it is possible to charge an iPhone this way, if you do it right.
Theodore Gray, the author of Popular Science's monthly column, "Gray Matter," is convinced that when kids and adults are introduced to science in its most exciting form, they, too, will get hooked. In his newest book Mad Science2: Experiments You Can Do At Home, But Still Probably Shouldn't, Gray wants to spark that curiosity with visually spectacular experiments that illustrate the principles, the beauty, and the power of science.

Why It Works

A regulation vegetable battery, made by sticking strips of zinc and copper into a potato, generates about half a volt. The electricity comes from the oxidation of zinc; the vegetable is just an elecrolyte (conductive barrier), and the copper completes the circuit. Stacking alternating layers of vegetables, zinc, and copper is like wiring batteries in series, each set adding its voltage to the total.
After some 10 volts' worth of teary-eyed onion peeling, I decided to switch to apples using a fruit corer to cut out the apple rods and a cheese slicer to cut them into disks. Pennies with the copper plating sanded off on one side made a handy source of copper and zinc layers in one.
Apple Juice: How to Charge Your Phone With Pocket Change and FruitSEXPAND
About 150 of these, arranged into six parallel batteries of 25 apple/zinc/copper layers each, yielded enough power to charge an iPhone, but only for about a second. (Much larger zinc plates and whole slices of apple would have provided more power for longer.) Around 200 of the layers went into one three-foot long apple battery, delivering much higher voltage. I was able to create a visible, and potentially fatal, spark with this battery. Yes, in the right configuration, you can electrocute yourself with an apple.

How I Did It

This was one of the most involved demonstrations I've done, due to the need to produce a couple hundred half-sanded pennies. Post-1982 pennies are made of copper-plated zinc, so if you sand off the copper plating on one side of them, and combine them with solid copper pre-1982 pennies, you have both metals needed to create a battery.
I mounted a short iron water pipe, whose inside diameter was just about the same as a penny, up against a small vertical belt sander, leaving a gap between the end of the pipe and the sanding belt that was just a bit thinner than a penny. Then I filled the pipe with a stack of pennies, and pressed them up against the running belt with a plunger. Each penny in turn was sanded down until it was thin enough to fit through the gap, at which point the moving belt threw the penny out of the machine, allowing the next one to advance into position. It worked surprisingly well as an automatic penny sander, plopping out a sanded penny every few seconds.
Apple Juice: How to Charge Your Phone With Pocket Change and Fruit
I first thought of using onions because I figured I could core them with a fruit coring tool (basically a very thin-walled metal tube with a sharpened edge, which you can use to cut plugs out of fruits), and then the layers would separate into lots of individual disks. Unfortunately onion didn't work very well, I think becasue each layer has a sort of membrane on one side that doesn't conduct electricity very well. So I switched to using apples instead, and had to manually slice the cores into disks.
Apple Juice: How to Charge Your Phone With Pocket Change and FruitSEXPAND
With about two hundred sets of alternating penny/apple disks connected in series (stacked inside a clear plastic tube) the battery produces enough voltage (over 100V) to actually be dangerous. To charge an iPhone I had to rearrange the battery into six stacks of about 20 apple/penny slices each, with the six stacks connected in parallel to incrase the current capacity. Even so it charged the phone for literally about one second, just long enough for it to come on and display the charging symbol
Real Danger Alert: This experiment could damage your iPhone if done improperly.

HTC One Google Edition confirmed; will hit Play Store on June 26

It’s time for Round 2 of HTC One vs Samsung Galaxy S4. Google’s Sundar Pichai, the head of Android, Chrome and Apps, took the stage at AllThingsD’s D11 conference with an HTC One. However, this was no regular HTC One as Pichai went on to reveal that a Google Edition for the Taiwanese company’s flagship will arrive on the Play Store on June 26 for $599.

HTC’s One and the Galaxy S4 are the biggest competition for each other when it comes to Android smartphones. And the ‘Nexus’ One will be a full $50 cheaper than the stock Android-running Samsung Galaxy S4, which will also be available on the same date on the Play Store. In terms of price and having seen the rave reviews (here’s ours) for the HTC One, this can be considered a great coup for the ailing Taiwanese smartphone maker. After suffering a bleak couple of years in terms of sales and brand perception, HTC can finally count the Google Edition One as a minor victory against Samsung, the leading smartphone maker in the world.
HTC One running stock Android
HTC One running stock Android

In terms of specs, the Google Edition smartphone won’t be terribly different from the device which was officially launched in India earlier this week. Of course, the one major difference is that the One will get the pure Android experience and consequently will be receiving software updates from Google as soon as they are ready to roll out. Version updates have been a major sore point in the past with HTC phones and this Google Edition phone will go a long way towards easing those pains. 

HTC says that the special edition of the HTC One will come with a bootloader that “can be unlocked by standard method for “Nexus experience” devices.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

This Replacement Cap That Turns Any Water Bottle Into a Humidifier

When you name your product the 'Amazing Humidifier' it better be bringing something great to the table. After all, it's pretty hard to get excited over something as mundane as a humidifier. But the fact that this compact version transforms any water bottle into a secret weapon to battle dry skin is, admittedly, pretty amazing.
Powered via a USB connection, the $34 compact humidifier is easy to travel with since it uses any-sized water bottle as its reservoir. So the longer you want it to run without a refill, the larger the bottle you'll need to find, but an average-sized bottle should keep it going for up to eight hours.

A long filter sponge extends deep into the bottle, soaking up water while preventing unwanted particulates from clogging up the evaporation mechanism. Besides a giant wad of cash, there couldn't be a more perfect travel accessory for your next trip to Vegas.
This Replacement Cap That Turns Any Water Bottle Into a Humidifier

Monkey Light Pro - Bicycle Wheel Display System

Display images and animations on your bike wheel. Download your own graphics to the Monkey Light Pro and show them while you ride.


Use our web-based software to create a playlist with your own images and animations - or choose from our collection of custom artwork.  Then send your playlist to the Monkey Light Pro with Bluetooth wireless.
Mount the Monkey Light Pro to your bike wheel and take your message to the streets.  Once you're rolling the display fills the bike wheel and is visible from both sides.  The Monkey Light Pro is waterproof, durable and designed for use on city streets.  Crank your bike to eleven.
In the past we've hand built our prototypes for exhibits and developers only.  You may have seen one at Maker Faire, Siggraph, Dragon's Den, EuroBike, SXSW or at a Museum.  
Finally, we're ready to launch the Monkey Light Pro in product form.  We've field tested 100 units of the most recent hand-made prototype.  We've refined the design a lot from our developer feedback.  Now we need your help to manufacture the Monkey Light Pro with a user-friendly package and price.
All the footage in our video was made with Monkey Light Pro prototypes.
Check it out:

8-bit robot animation
8-bit robot animation

furry friends animation
furry friends animation

retro tape deck animation - acceleration activated
retro tape deck animation - acceleration activated

sample artwork slide show
sample artwork slide show


To get you started we'll pre-load the Monkey Light Pro with an amazing image and animation collection for you to use.  Over 10 artists have created artwork specially for the Monkey Light Pro.  We're really excited to be able to give you a curated collection of work from David OpeYoshi Sodeoka, Devon Penney, Shelley Eshkar, Kevin Kunzman, Natalie Walsh, Katya Popova, Noah Vawter and more.  This is just a taste!  If our project is successful we'll get lots more.  



  • Designed and Manufactured in California, USA
  • Weight: about 500 grams, even balance
  • Size: 520mm diameter, 25mm thick
  • Visibility:  evening, overcast and indoors.  Not visible in bright sunlight.
  • Media format support: JPG, GIF, PNG, AVI, MPEG, MOV, QT, FLV, and more.
  • On-board media storage:  1000 image frames
  • Playlist capabilities:  playlists allow looping, timing and sequencing of frames.
  • Web-based playlist creation, download from Windows and Mac
  • Developer tools and API: runs on Mac and Linux
  • Integrated Battery:  7000mAh Lithium Polymer
  • Battery Runtime:  3-8 hours at full brightness, up to 48 hours at reduced brightness.  Runtime depends on what graphics are shown.
  • Not for use with motor vehicles


The Monkey Light Pro has 4 bars of LEDs which are attached together inside your wheel.  As your ride the system rotates, using Persistence Of Vision to create an image with its 256 full color LEDs.  The Monkey Light Pro has sensors to track its speed, heads-up position and rotation direction.  This allows the system to create stable, full-wheel images from 10 to 40 mph (15 to 65 km/h).


You won't find this technology in any other product.  Geek out:
  • A 2-axis accelerometer and 4 magnetic sensors are used to track speed, heads-up position and rotation direction.  This keeps the display stable at different speeds, during acceleration and braking, and even if you ride backwards!
  • Double-sided display hardware.  Text and graphics are readable on both sides of the wheel.
  • 4-piece bolt-together design.  4 LED bars produce a full-wheel image at low riding speeds.  The bars insert within the spokes and bolt together into a single rigid unit.  Our design keeps the 4 bars accurately aligned (important for high display quality) and allows sturdy attachment to many common bicycle wheels.
  • Internal electrical loop bus.  The electrical connectors of the 4 bolt-together LED bars form a redundant loop bus hidden within the assembled device.  There are no exposed or dangling wires, and the redundant connectivity is vibration proof while riding.
  • Solid rubber molded construction.  We developed this to meet the needs of year-round use on city streets, and proved it with our smaller Monkey Light products.  Our proprietary 80A clear urethane resists cracking, scratching, clouding, water and dirt better than any type of hard plastic shell.  It's also thinner and lighter and will last years longer. We developed the process ourselves and operate our own manufacturing line here in California.


The Monkey Light Pro fits a lot of common bike wheels.  If you have a less common type of wheel please check carefully below.
  • Adult bike wheel sizes:  26", 27", 28", 29", 700c
  • Hubs:  The maximum wheel hub diameter is 58mm.  All standard front wheel hubs are fine.  All cassette (derailleur) rear hubs are fine.   Disc brake hubs are fine.  Rear hubs with a coaster brake and 1 or 3-speeds will fit.  Rear hubs with internal 5-speed or more will not fit.  Some dynamo hubs fit and some don't, you'll have to measure.  Electric-bike motor hubs will not fit.
  • Spokes:  Standard 32 and 36 spoke patterns will fit.  Wheels with more than 36 spokes will not fit.  Wheels with less than 24 spokes will not fit. 


The Monkey Light Pro includes 4 separate pieces.  Connect the pieces within the spokes of your wheel and bolt them together.  The assembled unit straps securely to your spokes.  Installation is easiest if you remove your wheel from the bike first.  
Installation and setup take about 1 hour.  We'll make a video to show you how to do it.
If you want something that works right out of the box, check out the ready-to-ride option which is pre-installed on a Linus bicycle.

Un-mounted Monkey Light Pro prototype.  4 pieces insert inside the spokes and bolt together.
Un-mounted Monkey Light Pro prototype. 4 pieces insert inside the spokes and bolt together.


Application developers are welcome and encouraged.  Our playlist, download and control software and API are available with an open-source license.  Use Bluetooth wireless to download graphics and control the Monkey Light Pro.  Make a moving installation with a bicycle, or check out our SM1 powered display stand for fixed installations.  Contact us if you have any questions about your idea.
Many developers have already done amazing things with our prototypes:
  • The Fukushima Wheel project outfitted a bike with pollution sensors.  As you ride around, it collects data from the environment and displays it on the wheels.  
  • The Science Museum of Minnesota created an educational display.  
  • Our own staff created an interactive 3D spherical display (video below). 
  • The Museum of Brisbane made a video featuring the Monkey Light Pro (video below)
  • Old Bond and Cycloscreen created innovative mobile advertising systems which include our Monkey Light Pro hardware.


  • Monkey Light T-shirt.  These will be available in all men's and women's sizes.  The shirts are black with a white logo silkscreen.  Fit style is similar to American Apparel.
  • 1 Monkey Light Pro system (for 1 bike wheel).  Just one is fantastic!  Put it on your rear wheel, it looks great riding and also you can hold the bike up and spin it easily to show your friends.
  • 2 Monkey Light Pro systems (for 2 bike wheels).  The ultimate setup, crank your ride to eleven!
  • Ready-To-Ride:  In collaboration with Linus Bikes we are pleased to offer a ready-to-ride option:  2 Monkey Light Pro systems pre-installed on a Linus Roadster Classic bicycle.  Other ready-to-ride Linus models available by request.

At a store near you: Our M210 and M232 Monkey Light bike lights are available worldwide for $50 to $75.  They are fun and visible and your purchase is a great way to help this project.  Ride one today!
International Customers Welcome: We'll ship to you using Fedex or DHL courier service.
Payment Methods: Until the project meets its funding goal all pledges can pay through Kickstarter.  After the goal is met we'll also accept Paypal and bank transfer.
Contact Us if you have any questions.  We want you to be happy and having fun!



All of us here at MonkeyLectric love riding our bikes.  We developed the Monkey Light to make riding at night just as fun as the day, and to share our good cheer with those around us.  The first thing you notice when you ride around town with a Monkey Light is how many smiles you get.  Just remember to smile back!
A business should reflect the values of its owners and employees.  Several of our staff are volunteer organizers of the largest Oakland and San Francisco events focused on positive, community-wide cycling.  We contribute many non-commercial projects and How-To's to the open source community for others to build and use on their own.  our innovative mobile sound system designs have inspired many other builders and helped enable off-grid parties around the world.
There's more about us at our company website.

The MonkeyLectric Team
The MonkeyLectric Team

MonkeyLectric design and manufacturing building - just outside San Francisco
MonkeyLectric design and manufacturing building - just outside San Francisco


We're a small company, 6 people.  Two years ago we brought our M210 Mini Monkey Light to market largely through funding from Kickstarter.  It was a really positive experience for us.  We're really grateful for all of the support we received from our backers.  Several contributed artwork and designs that were included in the final product.  The Mini Monkey Light is now available in hundreds of bike shops around the world.  We followed that up with the M232 light.
The Monkey Light Pro is a big chunk of hardware!  Just take a look at the diagram below.  Scaling it up to manufacturing requires a lot of up front costs for tooling and parts.  Creating the web interface will require development effort.  Kickstarter is the best way for us to raise funds and ensure we have enough customers to make it work -  before we go out and buy all that gear.  The Monkey Light Pro is also a really creative product.  There is a lot of potential for artist and developer collaborations.  Launching it on Kickstarter is a great way to connect and make something that is more than the sum of its parts.


Dan says:  "I built the first prototypes purely as a technology demonstration - just for fun!  I made an exhibit and showed it at Maker Faire, SigGraph, Interbike and some other places.  People kept asking me if they could buy one, but it wasn't a product yet.  We’ve built about 100 kits so far using a very labor intensive process, it is really difficult and expensive!  The prototypes also had primitive software, only the hackers could use it.  Over the past 2 years we sold some of the prototypes to application developers who did some really cool things - like the Fukushima Wheel project."
"We kept taking the Pro to all our shows - everyone loves to see it.  And they kept begging us to make it available!  Every day we get an email like that.  We put together a plan for how we could make the Monkey Light Pro  commercially - bring the price within reach and make it easier to use.  We talked to some traditional funding sources.  Bankers drive BMW’s, they don't ride bikes!  They just didn’t get what we are doing. "
"We knew the Pro was a really big project so we had to make some steps along the way.  In 2011 we launched our Mini Monkey Light on Kickstarter.  That let us prove our manufacturing technology and production capabilities.  We designed our own manufacturing line!  Now both the smaller Monkey Lights are in hundreds of bike shops around the world.  Finally we have all the pieces in place to make the Monkey Light Pro a reality.  We can do this.  I hope you will support our project so we can bring this amazing technology to you."


This does not exist yet.  The smartphone scenes in our video give an idea how it might work.  If we're lucky enough to not only reach our goal but exceed it then we will plan to work on smart phone apps that can do live control of the wheel graphics.  
Application developers are able to do their own smart phone interface as needed.


Risks and challenges

The Monkey Light Pro is a well tested design. Over the past 2 years we hand built 100 units of our latest prototype. Over 20 independent developers, artists and professional agencies have used the prototypes in a variety of applications. All of the footage in our video was made using our prototypes.
Our capabilities for engineering, design, manufacturing and distribution have been proven with our smaller Monkey Light M210 and M232 products. We Kickstarted our M210 product 2 years ago. Today both the M210 and M232 are in volume production and sold in hundreds of shops worldwide. They are top rated on Amazon and known for their quality.
The following tasks remain to complete the Monkey Light Pro:
* Design and fabricate production molds for the Monkey Light Pro, integrating the same manufacturing technology we use with our smaller Monkey Light products.
* Update the Monkey Light Pro hardware to include USB charging, newer wireless hardware, additional themes, and cosmetic improvements.
* Curate additional artwork
* Deploy our playlist creation back end onto a web server
* Create a web front end for our playlist creation tools
* Create Windows downloading tool
* Make an installer for the existing Mac download tool
Production Plan:
* We will produce the Monkey Light Pro at the same California-based facilities as our existing Monkey Light M210 and M232 products. Our smaller Monkey Light products are already in volume production, and the Monkey Light Pro will use the same production technologies.
* Component sourcing has already been completed during the prototype phase. The funding received from this Kickstarter is essential to purchasing the full quantity of needed parts at more cost effective pricing.
* Our engineering, test and manufacturing processes are rigorous and focused on producing high quality, well tested products. As we move towards final integration and testing of the Monkey Light Pro, we may learn that additional revision is needed to meet our quality standards. This may delay the delivery schedule.
* The remaining tasks may take longer than expected to complete.
* Supply chain delays. The Monkey Light Pro uses a lot of different parts. Sometimes a part can become discontinued or be out of stock for a long time. This can impact delivery schedule if we need to design or test an alternative part or wait for delivery.