Tag Archives: hardware

I made a video about hexapods.

I made a video about hexapods! yay. I’d estimate it was a full 4 or 5 days working on it, learning final cut pro along the way. It basically covers my journey through 2.007 two years ago, and is meant to be a resource for students in the class.

Note to self: shortcuts: < > ctrl-= alt-w

Meanwhile, I think an instructable a week sounds like an excellent plan for Spring semester senior year.

Hardware Search Engines

Previously I daydreamed about octopart for meche; turns out I spoke too hastily. There are supplies search engines which exist already, though they’re not as cool as octopart IMHO ๐Ÿ™‚ Well, none of them have customer reviews like google shopping anyway.

While hunting for spring suppliers (as opposed to making the springs myself, which may work but I’m not sure), I ran across globalspec and then I used one of those “similar sites” search engines to find several hardware supplier search engines.

In rough order of relevance / how much I liked them:

  • http://www.thomasnet.com/prodsearch.html
    • Search ThomasNet to find manufacturers, distributors and service providers – from Actuators to Zirconium and everything in between.
    • geographical, not just by state but by “within x miles”
    • has whitepaper and some explanations at taxonomic levels — on the K-12 level sort of explanation
  • http://www.globalspec.com/
    • The Engineering Search Engine
    • has a taxonomy of sorts “browse products and suppliers”
    • get “register” nagging :///
    • has geographical locations with maps, so I can search for local suppliers of springs
    • as an “application notes” search, presented as search results (not nicely), and also 1-sentence explanations of things (although has descriptions at a slightly “deeper” level than thomasnet, I feel)
  • http://www.engnetglobal.com/
    • EngNetยฎ … to enable Engineers, Technicians, Tradesmen, etc. to find information and communicate effectively with suppliers in the Engineering Industry. […] provides a searching facility free of charge to users
    • more varied taxonomies / ways to browse (by industries, by engineering discipline, products/services, brandnames)
    • no “extra explanation” details, solely listing
  • http://www.amazon.com/industrial-scientific-supplies/b?ie=UTF8&node=16310091
    • pointed out to me by octopart person brian newbold yay
      • http://www.directindustry.com/ 
        • The Virtual Industrial Exhibition — more 
        • also has taxonomy
        • more of an index of companies
        • no geographical
        • http://www.engineering.com/Products.aspx
          • directory of companies
        • http://www.engineersedge.com/engineering/Products_Directory/
          • ugly interface, no specific search, and too many ads, IMHO
        • http://www.interfacebus.com
          • web 1.0 Text link directly ftw. Taxonomy + search via google. Cleaner than engineers edge (less ads all over the place)
        Engineering reference sites:
        • http://www.efunda.com/home.cfm Efunda
          • eFunda stands for engineering Fundamentals. Its mission is to create an online destination for the engineering community, where working professionals can quickly find concise and reliable information to meet the majority of their daily reference needs.
          • Nicely designed interface and information is cleanly presented ๐Ÿ˜€ makes me want to nom nom info
        • http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/
        • http://kmoddl.library.cornell.edu/index.php
          • Kinematic models! Oh man, I can look at pretty mechanisms online. <3 delicious.
        • http://www.electronics-tutorials.ws/
          • because the awesome. so true, what that “thank-you” video guy said re: Khan’s videos and what advantages videos offer over humans (besides freeing up time for knowledge-bearers to not just lecture but help people one on one):
            • And some of those videos I watched over and over twenty of thirty times until I got it. I don’t think there’s a tutor in the world that I could pay who would repeat the same thing twenty or thirty times without getting at least a little bit judgmental.
          • asdlfkj yes. This, professors, is why — even if it encourages people to be truant — why lectures should be recorded. Guess what? I’m not going to get it the first time. 

        Also, octopart competition? o__o  Sort of.

          • http://www.findchips.com/
            • “Welcome to the original and fastest electronic part finder and chip search engine. FindChips electronic components search engine scours the leading distributors to give you instant inventory levels and pricing around the world.”
            • Well designed, displays key data very cleanly and good for checking component specs, not just sourcing suppliers, but clearly for people who know exactly what they want. Does not provide octopart’s (perhaps amazon inspired?) extremely flexible and awesome search-by-specification that allows you to browse components
          random link dumps:
          http://engineeryourlife.org/ designed to convince girls to be engineers
          ====
          spring suppliers, search:
          http://www.hardwareproducts.com/ — MA but rather bad online catalog browsing interface
          http://www.planetspring.com — online spring design calculator, not quite sure how it links to ordering yet, seems to have a weekly or monthly fee? *confused*
          and linking this again b/c I keep forgetting to read it: RFID explained http://www.morganclaypool.com/doi/abs/10.2200/S00040ED1V01Y200602MPC001
          ===
          also, a bit late for me, but some electromagnet force calculators
          still need to learn how to use FEMM

          Hardware sharing / versioning, recent startups

          A good number of hardware (well, electrical) online version control / sharing startups have come up recently.

          • http://www.evilmadscientist.com/article.php/visdiff – thoughts on smarter diff for EE
          • http://upverter.com/ 
            • http://upverter.com/tour/eda/
            • (version control. has good snapshot features for both board and bill of materials. has embeddable schematics. has nets. based around github, so social) 
            • “Online electronics design. Includes schematic diagrams, design hosting, parts library, and GitHub integration. Free for public open-source projects”
          • http://solderpad.com/ 
            • http://solderpad.com/tour
            • (version control and online ee viewing, board and schematic embedding. less of a social feel) 
            • “SolderPad is a place to share, discover and collaborate on electronic projects.” 
            • based off of github, so integrated
          • http://www.circuitbee.com/ — no updates since october 2011?
            • (for embedding boards/schematics)
            • “CircuitBee provides a platform for you to share live versions of your circuit schematics on your websites, blogs or forums.”
          • http://www.openhardwarehub.com/ 
            • (includes full hardware, not just ee, part sourcing) 
            • “The place to post and contribute to open-source hardware projects”

          No doubt some form of open-source biology version control software will come into play soon too. But meanwhile the mechanical engineering side of things is looking a little bit neglected.

          For online 3d model viewing, there are a few implementations, namely Thingiverse and 3dCADBrowser:
          http://www.3dcadbrowser.com/preview.aspx?modelcode=3229 (has assemblies, it looks like) (no embedding)
          http://www.thingiverse.com/thingiview:86385 (parts only, not assembled projects) (CAN be embedded!)
          and a community around CAD:
          http://grabcad.com/
          another one, solidworks oriented:
          http://www.3dcontentcentral.com/default.aspx

          Tools / raw materials search: Maybe we should do our startup around this, for integrating into one of the hardware version control platforms. Octopart is doing it for EE; now lets get the meche side done too. Then we can really have full integrated open source products sharing+version control online, and then life will be awesome ๐Ÿ™‚
          If open hardware hub got popular enough (they allow “links” when you submit parts for your project), that would be cool.
          [Edit 6 Dec 2011: I found a few search engines. See http://www.orangenarwhals.com/?p=157]

          Some more research on the subject:
          http://electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/8767/version-control-systems-for-hardware-projects basically says “use all the normal software version control systems” (none of which are made for visual diffing)
          For some snark on circuitbee:
          http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/11/07/26/183257/sharing-electronic-schematics — so yea, circuitbee is not too useful
          and some more snark on upverter / circuitbee for not making the extra effort to be open source themselves:
          http://dangerousprototypes.com/2011/09/21/editorial-upverter-another-closed-source-vampire-exploits-open-hardware-for-ventrue-capital-pr-and-profit/
          and
          http://hackaday.com/2011/09/14/upverter-its-like-github-for-hardware/
          I think actually both circutibee and upverter are awesome and people are just being paranoid. -^-^- look at the long responses all the posts got from the founders o.o

          to check out: another online circuits project:
          http://code.google.com/p/webtronics/