By Dennis Clemente
As many tech startups there are in New York to admire, people always marvel at the sight of an actual physical invention, as the NY Tech Hardware Meetup demonstrated in its 7th meetup last March 26. It showcased a CAD community site, a heart matrix, bike computers, a robot touch sensor, and many more.
If you’re into CAD modeling, GrabCAD (grabcad.com) helps even the most technically challenged. One novice rendered a snow rider by literally grabbing designs from the site, while another from India, with no CAD experience whatsoever, designed the interiors for a Shelby Mustang.
Founded in 2009 by Hardi Meybaum, GrabCAD is a mechanical engineering community for sharing talent, including making use of its free CAD model library and engineering tools. As a community, the site has a voting mechanism for the best answers to the CAD questions.
If you want to start something, the site is brimming with over 90,000 projects, with about 530,000 logging in time at the site. GrabCAD is headquartered in Boston in the United States, but maintains an office and development team in Tallinn, Estonia, where the company was started.
The next presenter, LucidTronix (lucidtronix.com) from Brooklyn, showed how open source DIY technology can be extremely fun. For its LED-enabled Heart Matrix, you can spell out any message you like, or have 70 of its LED lights dance in different patterns on the display. It takes about 30 minutes to solder and assemble with three signal wires and two powers.
LucidTronix’s bike computer kit is your personal on-cycle data processor. It can measure your speed, distance, calories burned, but it is so much more than a speedometer. It measures the temperature, honks a little buzzer and controls LEDs to light your way and stylizes your ride!
Both are built on top of an arduino platform. The website offers a detailed tutorial with step-by-step instructions, videos, diagrams, and sample code so getting them running should be a breeze. If LucidTronix has a bike computer, Peter Pottier of MyBell gives those classic round cycling bells a new spin er sound.
Pottier showed a video of how his early stage MyBell contraption works featuring David Sheinkopf, electric designer, at work: “The bell has an efficient high-powered amplifier, a small wave player and LED lighting system.”
MyBell is about customizable sound. “People can upload ringtones or the music they like as their bell (horn),” Sheinkopf added.
These gadgets are already small but the last presenter Takktile (takktile.com) showed us an even tinier invention—an open-source robot touch sensor with digital barometers called Freescale Semiconductor. It has to be small to fit on a cell phone as it offers location pinpointing technologies that supplement GPS. It gauges positions based on changes in atmospheric pressure.
People will like to hear that the tiny barometers are reportedly easy and inexpensive to assemble.