Archive | February 2008


I’ve been playing with a series of BlinkMs hooked up to an Arduino and I am impressed.

Knight Rider Light Bar

UPDATE (2/17/08): Added more videos to the bottom of this post.

UPDATE (2/17/08): Code is available here.

I’m making a Knight Rider (KITT) Light Bar to celebrate the premier of the new Knight Rider Made-For-TV Movie (tomorrow night on NBC). I’m using an Arduino Diecimila board and 18 LEDs.

Here’s a picture from a few hours ago. The LEDs are now much more aligned and some of the wiring has since been cleaned up, but the photo will give you the general idea.

Materials (so far): FedEx box (temporary; looking for a suitable plastic container) with black construction paper for the housing. Arduino, 18 LEDs (wired to 9 output pins on the arduino – two LEDs in parallel per pin), 9 75 ohm resistors (note, 75 is not the right value, but they were the closest I had). The faceplate is made of cardboard, tissue paper (light diffusion) and some cheap car-window-sun-shade-material I found at Target.

Here’s what it looks like in action (this vid is from the afternoon, before the housing and faceplate were ready):

If you haven’t already, consider reading this article about the guys who built the real thing!

New Video: In the box, during daylight.

New Video: Out of the box.

New Video: Arduino and wiring.

A New Way to Help Kids Learn to Read

LeapPads and the like have been around for a while. Put a specially configured booklet into an electronic pad. Tap a button or two with a special pen. Then let your child page through the booklet tapping on pictures and sentences to hear the story and learn the words.

Tag is different.

With Tag, the books themselves are printed on Anoto paper. The Tag pen reads tiny dots on the paper to know which book, which page and which word or picture is being tapped on. No need for a special electronic pad, just a pen and specially printed books. No need for special instructions, just tap.

How is Tag better than current solutions? Well, nothing is better than a parent sitting with the kid, but this is better than the other electronic solutions out there because it’s easier to use and less bulky. I think this will be an effective tool for teaching kids to read who are much younger than the kids who are helped by the options available previously.

Tag has another innovation. Plug the pen into your computer and the parent gets an interactive look at what their kid has been doing with the pen and how much he is learning. Nice!

Watch the video!!!

Links: LeapFrog Tag at Demo (with video), LeapFrog Tag official site, my 2004 review of the Logitech IO (also based on Anoto tech).