Kickstarter

MicroView: the Chip-sized Arduino Compatible with built-in OLED Display

Just backed this on Kickstarter: MicroView is an ATmega328P-based, Arduino-compatible DIP package with built-in 64×48 OLED display. A beefier chip might have been nice, a la Teensy, but the 328 should be plenty for most projects, and really this OSHW project is about giving you that integrated display, as well as widgets to help you leverage it in just a few lines of code. Backers around the world can get their hands on one for just $45 shipped, or $55 for one MicroView plus USB-Serial Programmer (looks like a nice little unit, and more fun than fiddling with an FTDI Friend and half a dozen wires, so I went for it). SparkFun are handling manufacturing and fulfillment, so I’ll be looking out for a little red box sometime in August!

I Have Forgiven You Pebble

Almost seventeen months after backing Pebble on Kickstarter, and two and a half after the initial (severely delayed) unit died within hours of arrival, I finally have a working replacement!  The RMA process was actually pretty impressive – a little over a week from filling out the form to holding a replacement in my hand (or…wearing it on my wrist!).  Despite the initial disappointment, I’m quite pleased with the device now – controlling music while driving and being able to see who’s calling when I’m not next to my phone so that I can decide whether or not to run for it is just as good as it was in my imagination for the year and a half during which the Pebble existed as no more than a figment of it.  It still seems rather limited and beta-y, but ignoring the wait and other tribulations, I’m happy enough with its current out-of-the-box functionality, and look forward to finally getting a chance to hack on it! (⌒o⌒)

Disappointing Pebble is Disappointing

My excitement about the Pebble watch had already started to wane long before the unapologetic lump of plastic and disappointment finally made its way to my wrist. I received shipment notification over 13 months after backing the Kickstarter project, yet this was preceded by numerous milestones of disenchantment. The failure to make good on the original September 2012 delivery estimate was to be just the first of many upsets. The device being available for retail purchase in Best Buy before mine had even shipped was perhaps the most bold, in that it required a decision to be made by Pebble to intentionally mistreat original backers (unlike for example OUYA, which I backed a month after Pebble and which I received only 3 months after the original estimated delivery date (over a month before Pebble), and as promised by OUYA, before they started selling in retail stores). It was at that point that I became completely disillusioned with the product and with the team, no longer anticipating the watch’s arrival with excitement, nor bothering to be offended by subsequent delays and other missteps.

When it arrived, I opened the box more out of morbid curiosity than of hope that after Read More…

Papilio FPGA RetroCade MegaWing Synth

The RetroCade Synth began as a Kickstarter project by self-taught OSHW designer Jack Gassett. I was one of its very first backers, having learned about the project from Jack during an extremely positive customer service experience with my Papilio Arcade order last spring, which was my first foray into FPGA. Since my interest was based on modeling retro hardware, and due to the obvious overlaps with my music production interests, the RetroCade seemed to be a giant shortcut toward much of what I was attempting to do anyway, and I leapt at the opportunity to back as well as promote the project in any way I could. The Kickstarter experience was one of the best I have had, with excellent communication and transparency from Jack, and even a very generous upgrade when it proved that the Papilio Pro would be required for full functionality, with the 500K (which I was intending to use) only supporting a “Lite” version.

My RetroCade MegaWing arrived on New Year’s Eve, and I was anxious to get it running, but ran into trouble attempting to load the firmware. I posted my problems to the RetroCade Synth Forums, and got a reply from Jack within a day, and an updated bitfile for use with the 500K after just one more day. I still intend to upgrade to the Pro in order to take full advantage of the hardware, Read More…

OUYA: the $99 Open-Source Android Video Game Console

I’m not sure that any explanation of what OUYA is is necessary – on its first day on Kickstarter, it has already exceeded its goal of $950,000 handily, and broken all sorts of records.  It is being hyped for its potential to disrupt the console space, which is an exciting notion, but while millions of dollars may sound like a lot of money, we’re still only talking tens of thousands of units.  The Nintendo Wii, by comparison, sold 370,000 units in its first two days on sale in Japan.  As much as I look forward to playing whatever games are available for the system at launch, what I’m far more excited about is the notion of a hackable Android device that connects to my TV – as well as the opportunity to create and experience homebrew-style games without voiding any warranties! ( ̄ Д)=3

ThingM blink(1) Open-Source USB RGB LED

I’m a big fan of ThingMtodbot‘s Hacking Roomba was one of my first forays into hardware hacking, and his taking the time to personally reply to my questions when I ran into problems had a huge impact; in addition, I own a fair number of ThingM products, including BlinkM, MinM, MaxM, and LinkM.  So, frankly they could put a blinking LED on Kickstarter and I’d probably back it just to support them!  And…they kind of just did!  The blink(1) is sort of a LinkM and BlinkM smooshed together in a smaller form factor, and made easier to use.  The original *M products were intended for prototypers and designers, but the blink(1) opens up this kind of functionality to just about anyone thanks to its cross-platform compatibility and software.  And since it can be used with IFTTT, you could for example set up your blink(1) to flash green when your friends check into the coffee shop down the street on foursquare (or red when your enemies do!?), or range from green to red as pollen levels rise in your area.  The blink(1) allows color, brightness and pattern to be set, so the possibilities are virtually endless (OK, so realistically it’s probably something like 16,777,216 colors x 256 levels x 48 steps, but…)!  I never thought it would come to this, but I am now an Early Bird backer of a blinking LED on Kickstarter! (o_O)

Pebble Digital Watches are a Pretty Neat Idea

Perhaps I’m just amazingly primitive, but the Pebble E-Paper Watch for iPhone and Android on Kickstarter may be compelling enough to rekindle my childhood obsession; this was a time when things like temperature and altitude were not so easily obtained as they are now via apps and widgets, and I couldn’t help but bore anyone who’d listen with continual updates of these exciting (to me) measurements (even when up to 50 meters underwater!)!  I can’t recall the last time I donned a timepiece on my arm, but the concept of a fourth screen to supplement my third – not to mention one with its own SDK – may prove irresistible!  ̄~ ̄

[Update 2012.05.09: It did - I'm now a backer!]

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