Just a small update to the site, but hopefully one that will be useful. We have added the ability to easily print and download (PDF format) our product guides. Look for this icon at the top right on the Guides pages for our various products:

Click hear on the Guide pages to customize and print (or save to PDF)

The plugin allows you to customize the document before it is printed or saved. Say you don’t really want the 4 pages of pictures that is the parts list. You can click on that section to remove it from the print job or PDF document, thus saving printer ink and/or PDF file size.

Thanks to Mike S. for the feedback prompting us to add this feature!

CC_Teaser

Good news everyone! In just a few days, on Monday, November 11th, we’ll be launching a new kit!

We’re going to be doing things a little differently this time and will be launching it as a pre-sale over on Tindie.

For now, we’ll just leave you with the teaser image above. It’s blinky. It’s colorful. What could it be?!

Be sure to stay tuned for the official announcement (choose one of the social media icons in the footer to stay in touch), because we need your support to help make this happen!

Realizing that Halloween was only a few days away, I thought to myself “Self, your house has no Halloween decorations, and thus, is Lame.” Being the crafty (and cheap) electrical engineer that I am, I took stock of my…stock…of electronic widgets and bits. After some thought, I decided on a couple of beady little red eyes peeking out of various windows would be appropriately festive, somewhat creepy, and very easy to through together.

Each pair of eyes uses an ATTiny85 chip and two 10mm red LEDs. Since Halloween decorations displayed year-round are frowned upon by my homeowner’s association, I also wanted these to be temporary. Luckily, I had a few protoboards that I could tie up for a few days.

CreepinEyes_3boards

Since this is a simple, temporary project, I made use of the awesome Arduino-Tiny set of “cores” for the Arduino IDE. Arduino-Tiny allows for a variety of ATTiny chips to be programmed directly form the Arduino IDE. There may not be 100% functionality, but it’s darn close. But of course the ability to blink lights is there, hehe. All I had to do was throw together the code and upload using my USBTinyISP.

CreepinEyes_prototyping

Speaking of the code, here it is:

int led = 2;
int led2 = 3;

int randblink = 0;

void setup() {
  pinMode(led, OUTPUT);
  pinMode(led2, OUTPUT);  
}

void loop() {  
  digitalWrite(led, HIGH);
  digitalWrite(led2, HIGH);  
  randblink=random(5000,30000);
  delay(randblink);
  digitalWrite(led, LOW);
  digitalWrite(led2, LOW);
  delay(400);
}

Note: In the Arduino IDE, under ‘Board’, I selected ‘ATTiny85 @ 1MHz (internal oscillator; BOD disabled)’

Using a little bit of ‘random’ allowed for a little bit of variety in the “blinking.” The effect is simple, but pretty neat. And now my house is less Lame.

Last month, Dan and I went to the Open Source All the Things event in the Research Triangle Park and had the pleasure of meeting Jason Hibbets of both Red Hat Software and OpenSource.com. Jason gave us a lot of great advice but also asked to considering contributing to OpenSource.com – which we, of course, couldn’t turn down!

So, if you’d like a little behind the scenes look at the beginnings of Maniacal Labs, head on over to OpenSource.com and check out our article!

Between the three of us, we have expertise in the fields of software, electrical, and mechanical engineering. And we all have day jobs in very much closed and proprietary industries. We would not be where we are today without the wonderful open source community and maker movement. One of the most visible qualities of these communities is their willingness to help beginners and experts alike. We’re not exactly beginners, but we’re certainly not experts. A few searches on the great StackExchange.com community uncovered a great deal of the process and pitfalls we went through while designing our first product. We were, are, and will continue to be learning along the way…