January 10, 2018 AUTHOR: Donald Bell CATEGORIES: News Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Asus Tinker Board S [Maker Update #66]

This week on Maker Update, an interactive music ring, the Asus Tinker Board S, Google’s Vision kit for Raspberry Pi, and a servo movement recorder. This week’s Cool Tool is 3M SandBlaster Ultra Flexible Sanding Sheets.

Show Notes

Advanced Project

Photo and project by Jon Bumstead.

LED Eclipse With Touch Sensors and MIDI by Jon Bumstead


The ASUS Tinker Board S.

ASUS Tinker Board S Unveiled at CES



TechShop “Memorandum of understanding” – canceled?


Introducing AIY Vision Kit: Make devices that see by Google


Adam Savage Builds Jon-A-Tron’s Deckard Binoculars

Blade Runner Binoculars by JON-A-TRON

Cool Tools Minute

Photo by Donald Bell.

3M SandBlaster Ultra Flexible Sanding Sheets [Med]

3M SandBlaster Ultra Flexible Sanding Sheets [FINE]

3M SandBlaster Ultra Flexible Sanding Sheets [X-FINE]

Original Cool Tool Recommendation from Mark Frauenfelder


Tips of the Week: Cheap Stripper, DIY Cutting Oil, and a Soap Finish

Servo City Servo Recorder

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This week on Maker Update, an interactive music ring, the Asus Tinker Board S, Techshop’s back on the chopping block, Google’s Vision kit for Raspberry Pi, ultra flexible sandpaper, and a servo movement recorder.

It’s Wednesday, I’m Donald Bell, back with the first Maker Update of 2018. I hope everyone had a great holiday. I had a fun break but I am happy to be back into my own groove here.

Now, there’s so much news to catch up on that I’m only going to cover one new project this week — but it’s super cool, so let’s get right into it.

Jon Bumstead has made a number of projects I’ve covered on this show, including this interactive Geodesic LED dome and this amazing interactive laser sheet generator.

Well, Jon’s back with another interactive LED music machine, but this is the most approachable build he’s published yet. This design uses a sandwich of laser cut MDF sheets, an Arduino UNO, some inexpensive addressable LEDs, and some copper sheets to create the capacitive touch pads.

What you get is a unique, tabletop MIDI instrument that responds to touch with lights and spits out MIDI notes to any connected synthesizer or drum machine or computer. Jon includes all the code needed to load onto your Arduino, plus all the laser cut files for constructing the enclosure.

What I love most about this is Jon’s focus on honing his wild interactive instruments down to a build that demands less time and money, while still delivering a great payoff. And how cool would it be to show this off at a party?

It’s time for some news. The big news in project boards this week is that Asus has announced a new version of their Tinker Board, the Tinker Board S.

The original board sorta limped out from Asus last year as a high-end Raspberry Pi competitor, offering a similar, Linux-based, single-board computer, juiced with extra processing power, improved graphics processing, more memory, and better audio quality.

The new board will have an even more powerful Cortex-A17 Quad-core processor, 16GB of built-in storage and 4 USB ports instead of 2. It should be available in the first quarter of this year with a suggested price of $80, but probably selling closer to $60 like the first gen.

Personally, at that price, “tinker” seems like the wrong word for it. You’re not buying this thing to play around. That said, if you’re designing some high-end kiosk or interactive art installation where graphics and sound were a priority — this could be just the thing.

In other news, if you haven’t been following the TechShop drama, the chain of makerspaces was on the brink of bankruptcy in November, and were then thrown a lifeline in December with a possible buyer. But reports from both Adafruit and Makezine say that the purchase has been cancelled and so things are back in limbo. It’s a bummer, but seemingly not over yet.

Over the holiday, Google released their AIY Vision Kit for Raspberry Pi. This was a bonnet made for the Raspberry Pi Zero W that allowed it to recognize objects using a connected camera module. So, face detection, expression recognition, color detection, even pet detection.

The whole kit retails for $45 and comes with a custom cardboard enclosure and a color-changing arcade button. Unfortunately, it sold out stupid-fast. Hopefully there will be more available soon.

Finally, I just have celebrate that Maker megastar Adam Savage posted a video documenting his build of the 3D printed Blade Runner binoculars designed by Instructables’ Jonathan Odom (aka Jon-A-Tron).

I featured Jon’s original project 10 episode’s ago, and if you know this show you know how much I love his work. I got such a vicarious thrill seeing Jon mentioned and celebrated by Adam Savage. It was also a nice validation for me knowing that sometimes I beat Adam Savage to showing you the cool stuff. Nice work, Jonathan!

It’s time for another Cool Tools review. This time we’re looking at this Ultra-Flexible sandpaper by 3M. I got four sheets of this for around $7 on Amazon, which is kinda pricey for sandpaper but I’ll show you why it’s special. If you buy some for yourself using the Amazon link in the description helps support my videos and the Cool Tools blog.

We’re all familiar with sandpaper. Sometimes, there’s just no substitution for sanding something by hand.

These Ultra Flexible sheets aren’t paper at all. The grit is backed by a smooth plastic film that feels like packing tape, but stretchy. It is the limpest, floppiest sandpaper I’ve ever used. And honestly it weirded me out when I first tried it. It’s a very different feel.

But there are some huge advantages. The packaging states that it lasts 15 times longer than conventional sandpaper, but it doesn’t say why.

One reason is that it doesn’t rip. You could destroy it if really try, but the plastic back would rather stretch than rip.

It also doesn’t crease. I can fold it, I can roll it up, I can form it around complex shapes, I can crinkle it up into a little ball if I want — but it just goes back to being this floppy sheet of sandpaper. So it’s very versatile.

It can also be used wet or dry, since there’s nothing to get soggy. The flexibility makes them resistant to clogging. And you can shake them out like a rag or whip them on the table if you need to knock anything loose.

They’re cool. I’m glad I have them. They come in Medium, Fine, and Extra Fine grit. I’ve been keeping a Medium sheet rolled up at my workbench that I use almost like a sanding rag. Mark from Cool Tools has been using these for sanding the wooden spoons that he whittles.

You can use the Amazon link in the description to pick some up for yourself. And remember, you can see thousands of reader recommended tools just like this at Cool-Tools.org

One more tip to share with you this week. Over on Gareth Branwyn’s tips of the week column on Make, there are great tips from Laura Kampf, Sean Michael Ragan, and Jimmy Diresta. But the one I found most surprising was a tip from Simone Giertz.

She shows off a $110 Servo Recorder box from Servo City. It’s like a servo tester board, but you can connect and directly control up to 4 servos with it using the knobs, and record your movements to an internal memory that can store up to 3-minutes of movement.

When you’re done, you kick it over into play mode and it will play back your servo movements just how you performed them. Compared to programming servos with code and trial and error, this is a quick way to get animatronics or a robot arm to perform a routine. Not cheap, but good to know about.

And that does it for this week’s show. Be sure to subscribe, leave a comment, leave a thumbs up. Get yourself some long-lasting, floppy sandpaper. Subscribe to the email list to get these links sent to you each week. Happy new year, and I’ll see you next week.

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