Broadcast Engineer at BellMedia, Computer history buff, compulsive deprecated, disparate hardware hoarder, R/C, robots, arduino, RF, and everything in between.
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Apple Pencil gets rave review

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I use a Wacom Intuos Pro graphics tablet, but don't want to. Because I'm used to the quality of this product, though, I can't even use the toys that pass as art styluses for iOS an Android tablets. I've been thinking of switching to the Microsoft Surface Pro to avoid having to own a graphics tablet in the first place, but it turns out the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil are the bee's knees.

Gus Mueller, creator of the popular Acorn image editor, is in the same boat as me. He's smitten:

It feels absolutely right. Super low latency, palm rejection, and … it just works.

Is it the same as drawing in my sketchbook? No. Of course not. I'm rubbing a plastic tip across a glass screen.

It's still God Damn Amazing though. … I find that when using the HB Pencil in Procreate, I get something that is very, very close to what I feel when I'm drawing in my sketchbooks. But of course now I've got layers and many colors and a perfect eraser to work with. And endless pages. I love it. I'm drawn to it. It's wonderful. You should absolutely try one if you haven't already.

The problem, of course, is that you're likely looking at a $1000 or so price tag for the cheapest iPad Pro, the Apple Pencil, Apps and tax.

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1 day ago
Burlington, Ontario
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"Ring" is the doorbell I never knew I needed


front door

Apparently I’ve had crummy doorbells for the past 45 years and didn’t even know it. It took visiting a good friend’s home to find out what I was missing.  When I got there, I was greeted by what looked like a mini-HAL.


The creepy thing was that I didn’t even touch the device before hearing my friend's voice come through it. He was a hundred feet away and knew I was there because of a built in motion detector. When I began walking up his driveway, the RING detected me and pinged Juan on his phone. He then had the option of ignoring me, simply viewing my actions or talking to me.

Though I couldn’t see him, we were having a full conversation as if we were talking on a speakerphone.   But the fact that Juan could have been anywhere in the world and know that I was approaching his home, makes this so much more than a speakerphone or intercom.


When Juan FINALLY opened his front door, he showed me the recorded video of me walking up and talking into the device. I have to say I was amazed by how good I looked.

The RING’s video is HD and is recorded at 720p at 30 FPS. The field of view is 180 degrees and the RING has night-vision! My awesome iPhone 6 doesn’t have night vision!

One of the first things you'll do when you get your Ring device is set the sensitivity of the motion sensor. This is so that if you have kids playing in your yard, the RING doesn’t keep pinging you over and over.

All you need for the simple installation is a Wi-Fi connection and a drill.


There are a few other tools that you’ll need, but they're equipped in the well-designed packaging. 

To power it, you could either tie into your existing doorbell system or you can set it up with the supplied wall mount in any part of your home or office. The battery in the RING device is USB rechargeable and holds its charge for a full year!

Since it connects to your phone through the WiFi connection in your home, the RING doesn’t have to even be mounted outside - or at all for that matter.


Because this device is so versatile, I’ve been using it for tasks other than what it was designed for.

  • My wife was sick in bed last weekend so I unhooked the RING from it’s outside harness and laid it on our nightstand. Whenever Gina needed something, she was able to instantly connect and communicate with me.   Sure she could have used her cell phone but with only one button to push, this made things simpler.
  • My cats love to hang out on our kitchen table when my wife and I aren’t around. We have just 1 house rule and they break it whenever we aren't looking!  I was able to set up the Ring device so that it sits on the table and gets a perfect view. Because there’s night vision built into the RING, and I’ve set the sensitivity pretty low, I’m alerted only when they’re on the table.  When I accept the alert, I can see their actions and more importantly I’m able to shoo the cats away.


  • My friends and I play a heck of a lot of pool in my converted garage and when we order pizzas I normally have to keep popping my head out the door to make sure we aren’t missing the delivery guy. I become a hungry, paranoid mess!  Now, with the RING, I get the alert as soon as he shows up.
  • If someone in your family is suffering from dementia, the RING, could automatically ping you as they leave their home.  This could offer you great peace of mind while you're shopping for groceries or at work.


Ok.  Those those are pretty cool uses for the RING, but the designers intended for people to actually mount the device onto their home.  What I've just described are scenarios where I merely place in in different spots.

By using the RING as intended, you can give the appearance of being home even when you aren't.  Being able to converse with someone at your door, when you aren’t there is a great theft deterrent.

Even if you're in a meeting and can’t make it to your phone when alerted, the RING takes a video of who was at your door and timestamps it. You can then check out a back-log of all the videos its ever taken.


There are some pretty great movies that users have uploaded about how the RING saved their day and you can check them out here.

My favorite is #6 where a moving truck driver is busted because he put giant ruts in a client’s lawn. He was caught red-handed and had to pay for damages. Pretty awesome!


The Ring is pretty stylish and there are different colors to match your home.

There’s even a sister product you can pick up called the CHIME which works with the RING.   This device alerts you when the RING is pressed in case your phone battery is drained. Since it just plugs into a wall outlet, you can move it anywhere around your house.


I found that I needed tech support’s help with this part of the installation but that was pretty seamless.


I think the RING product is pretty darned fun and if I didn’t get to play with it myself, I wouldn’t have known I needed one.

The RING is $199.00 but for all that it does, I think it’s well worth it.


Our cats may never jump on the kitchen table again.


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1 day ago
Burlington, Ontario
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Broadcast Engineer Dan Braun

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Dan Braun

Dan Braun is a Broadcast Engineer at CTV Bell Media in Toronto, Canada, and has worked in the Industry for over 28 years.

He has been described as an unrepentant Computer history buff, and a polymathic, compulsive deprecated and disparate hardware hoarder.

He enjoys making, designing and playing with R/C, robots, cars, and boats, and working with arduino’s with his son.

He dabbles at astronomy and photography, and can often be seen busy at work dealing with the care and feeding of Audio, Video, and RF systems, as well as various Unix, Mac, and Windows systems all fighting for survival of the fittest, in the hunger games that is Broadcast Engineering .

 When asked about humour, he responded, that he loves that one left handed inside joke, that you need to read  a dozen books on a certain subject, just to understand, and then after laughing, reply YES it was *ALL* totally worth it!!  Or that there is ALWAYS room for one more pun, cynical or silly knock knock joke!

Some of his favourite quotes include.

“Jack of All Trades, Master of None, though oft times better than master of one” — Johannes factotum

Life is a science fair project — Forrest M. Mims III

Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt — Mark Twain

Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former — Albert Einstein

Never attribute to malice which can be explained by stupidity — Hanlon’s Razor

 “We live in a society absolutely dependent on science and technology and yet have cleverly arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. That’s a clear prescription for disaster.” — Carl Sagan

“The fact that we live at the bottom of a deep gravity well, on the surface of a gas covered planet going around a nuclear fireball 90 million miles away and think this to be normal is obviously some indication of how skewed our perspective tends to be.” — Douglas Adams,

Dan can be found on Twitter or on Facebook with the handle @TEKVAX.


Check out his most recent project and build on Facebook! An eleven digit nixie tube clock powered by an arduino, six shift registers, and a recycled nixie display board from a 1970’s 10 GHZ RF freq counter!

Video 1

Video 2

Video 3


Another weekend project. A rubidium atomic clock!

Rubidium Atomic clock

More images here.


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2 days ago
Burlington, Ontario
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Adafruit Holiday Gift Guide 2015: Android

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With over 1 billion android users in the world, you’re bound to know someone that would love another way to interact with their smartphone or tablet. We have just the guide to help you find the perfect Android gift! From stickers to advanced bluetooth breakout boards, there are many options for the Android fan in your life.

android sticker

Android – Sticker: This is the “I hacked, modded or made something with Android!” sticker for use with educators, classrooms, workshops, Maker Faires, TechShops, Hackerspaces, Makerspaces and around the world to reward beginners on their skill building journey!

bluefruit le

Our Adafruit Bluefruit LE (Bluetooth Smart, Bluetooth Low Energy, Bluetooth 4.0) nRF8001 Breakout allows you to establish an easy to use wireless link between your Arduino and any compatible iOS or Android (4.3+) device. It works by simulating a UART device beneath the surface, sending ASCII data back and forth between the devices, letting you decide what data to send and what to do with it on either end of the connection.

bluefruit ez-key

Create your own wireless Bluetooth keyboard controller in an hour with the Bluefruit EZ-Key: it’s the fastest, easiest and bestest Bluetooth controller. We spent years learning how to develop our own custom Bluetooth firmware, and coupled with our own BT module hardware, we’ve created the most Maker-friendly wireless you can get!

bluefruit le flora

Would you like to add powerful and easy-to-use Bluetooth Low Energy to your wearable FLORA project? Heck yeah! With BLE now included in modern smart phones and tablets, its fun to add wireless connectivity. So what you really need is the new Adafruit Flora Bluefruit LE!

skill badge

The Android skill badge, iron-on patch, is the perfect way to round out a gift for someone that hacked, modded or made something with Android. We believe everyone should be able to be rewarded for learning a useful skill, a badge is just one of the many ways to show and share. Read more.

bluefruit le micro

Would you like to add powerful and easy-to-use Bluetooth Low Energy to your robot, art or other electronics project? Heck yeah! With BLE now included in modern smart phones and tablets, its fun to add wireless connectivity with the Adafruit Bluefruit LE Micro.

wifi portable microscope

As electronics get smaller and smaller, you’ll need a hand examining PCBs and this little USB microscope is the perfect tool. While this camera is more expensive than a wired-variety, there’s nothing like it for when you want to view the output on a smartphone or tablet!

beginning nfc

Jump into the world of Near Field Communications (NFC), the fast-growing technology that lets devices in close proximity exchange data, using radio signals. With lots of examples, sample code, exercises, and step-by-step projects, this hands-on guide shows you how to build NFC applications for Android, the Arduino microcontroller, and embedded Linux devices.

arduino mega android

Arduino Mega R3 Android Accessory Development Kit (ADK) Board – ATmega2560 ADK R3: Fast track your Android phone hardware development or just design cell-phone robots with the Arduino ADK! The Arduino ADK is a microcontroller board based on the powerful ATmega2560 (datasheet). It has a USB host interface to connect with Android based phones, and a power supply boost converter to charge up the phone from DC power while its plugged into the ADK. Read more.

ioio mint

IOIO (pronounced “yo-yo”) is a bridge between Android devices and external hardware such as sensors and servos.  IOIO enables you to add the computational power, touch display, connectivity, and built-in sensors (camera, GPS, accelerometer) of Android to your projects.  IOIO can connect to any standard Android device (as early as Android 1.5) over both USB and Bluetooth.  Here’s a few IOIO projects which will give you an idea of what you can do with IOIO.


We’re excited for the Holiday Season here at Adafruit, and we can’t wait to share that excitement with you! Stay tuned into the blog where you will find new, handpicked gift guides five days a week from November 9th through December 24th, 2015 alongside holiday themed tutorials and builds!

Free Deals

Adafruit offers exciting deals and free items when you shop with us. As of October 13th, 2015 we are currently offering:

Some restrictions apply

Adafruit Holiday Deadlines 2015

Here are your 2015 shipping deadlines for ordering from Adafruit. Please review our shipping section if you have specific questions on how and where we ship worldwide for this holiday season.

The Adafruit Shipping Department works hard to get your orders out as quickly as we can, but once they’re in the hands of our carriers they’re out of our control.

Carriers have been struggling to keep up with the sharp rise in online orders. UPS, FedEX, and USPS all experienced delivery delays over the last few years.

So all the Adafruit Shippers say: Please be sure you get your gifts early! Order as soon as you can! Once you place your order we’ll ship like the wind!

UPS ground (USA orders): Place orders by Friday 11am ET – December 11, 2015 – There is no guarantee that UPS Ground packages will arrive by December 24.

UPS 3-day (USA orders): Place orders by Thursday 11am ET – December 17, 2015 – Arrive by 12/24/2015.

UPS 2-day (USA orders): Place orders by Friday 11am ET – December 18, 2015 – Arrive by 12/24/2015.

UPS overnight (USA orders): Place orders by Monday 11am ET – December 21, 2015 – Arrive by 12/24/2015.

Please note: We do not offer Saturday or Sunday service for UPS or USPS.

Friday, Dec. 25, 2015, Christmas, no UPS pickup or delivery service.

Friday, Jan. 1, 2016, New Year’s Day, no UPS pickup or delivery service.

United States Postal Service, First Class and Priority (USA orders): Place orders by Friday– December 11, 2014 – Arrive by 12/24/2015 or sooner.

USPS First class mail international (International orders)): Place orders by Friday – November 20, 2015. Can take up to 30 days or more with worldwide delays and customs. Should arrive by 12/25/2015 or sooner, but not a trackable service and cannot be guaranteed to arrive by 12/24/2015.

USPS Express mail international(International orders): Place orders by Friday – December 5, 2015. Can take up to 15 days or more with worldwide delays and customs. Should arrive by 12/24/2014 or sooner.

Gift Certificates are always available at any time.

When in doubt contact us!

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3 days ago
Burlington, Ontario
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Water Rocket Launcher #makereducation

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M47 Rocket 1 620x930

If you live in an area that stays warm through the fall, check out this rocket launcher tutorial from Make.

Water rockets have been around a long time, but really got popular when soda manufacturers started packaging soda in 2-liter bottles back in the mid-’70s. Since they were considerate enough to give away free rocket bodies with every soft drink purchase, many of us started building rocket launchers to fly these new rockets.

Read more.

Adafruit_Learning_SystemEach Tuesday is EducationTuesday here at Adafruit! Be sure to check out our posts about educators and all things STEM. Adafruit supports our educators and loves to spread the good word about educational STEM innovations!

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3 days ago
Burlington, Ontario
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The Everyday Carry Card is a real tool for real jobs and it's TSA approved

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Carrying this EDC card is like slinging around a handheld toolbox wherever you go. Its minimal design is small enough to fit in your wallet’s billfold, and it’s TSA-compliant so you’ll never leave it behind. It’s got hex wrenches, metric and imperial rulers, flathead and Phillip’s screwdrivers, and a bottle opener so that you’re ready when your car blows a fuse, your bike can’t seem to stay in gear, or you just need to pop a brew. In any case, you’ll always be prepared. Boy Scout’s honor.

  • 30 tools, like closed & open hex drivers, screwdrivers, a bottle opener, a lanyard, a pry bar & rulers to help you out in a pinch
  • 2.84mm thickness easily fits in nearly any wallet
  • TSA-compliant design sends you smoothly through airport security
  • Military-grade S35VN stainless steel blade is corrosion-resistant & incredibly durable
  • Unique torque position gets into tough hex fixtures
  • Finger & thumb grips maximize ergonomics
  • O-ring system for unique tasks using hex bit shanks
  • Blade designed for edge retention

Get your very own Everyday Carry Card for 35% off in the Boing Boing Store. 

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3 days ago
Burlington, Ontario
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