Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Holidays Everyone - Modkit Micro: Our Gift to You!

In the spirit of sharing and just in time for the winter holiday, we wanted to give everyone a chance to try Modkit Micro so we opened up the Modkit Micro preview (previously Kickstarter and Alpha Club members only) to anyone with a google account. We also wrote up this quick post to walk you through getting started with Modkit Micro. Since we've been posting all of our updates on our Kickstarter page, we know we need to get more content on the blog, but in the meantime let's get you started with Modkit Micro!

1. Download and run  Modkit Link

Get the latest version of Modkit Link for Windows, MacOSX, or Linux (Ubuntu).  Once you download Modkit Link, you'll need to run the installer on Windows, drag the App to your Applications folder on Mac, or unzip and read the README instructions on Linux.  After that, you should be able to run Modkit Link and see the M-icon show up on the Windows task bar, OSX Menubar, or GNOME Notification Area on Linux.

(Note: this version of Modkit Link (RC4) has been heavily tested with Arduino Uno and a new release will be available with improved support for other board so check back soon.)

2. Install your board drivers and plug in your board

You'll need to install any required drivers for your board before using your hardware with Modkit Micro.  Assuming you are using an Arduino UNO, you'll only need a driver if you're on Windows.  You can grab the .inf file and follow these instructions.

3. Launch Modkit Micro and choose your board

Launch Modkit Micro by browsing to and logging in through google when prompted.  Once Modkit Micro loads, click "Get Started" and if you're using an UNO, your board should  be automatically detected.  Select your board and click "Continue."
(Note: If you're using a board other than the UNO, we'll post instructions along with the next update of Modkit Link.)

4. Configure your hardware

Once you've chosen your board, you'll be in "Hardware" view where you can add addtional hardware components.  First, let's configure the built-in LED by dragging out an LED block and selecting PIN13 from the dropdown list.  

5. Build a small program

Once we're configured the hardware in "Hardware" view we can move to "Blocks" view by clicking the icon at the top of the app.  We can then drag out a "forever" block and drop two "setLED" and "delay"blocks into it like the screenshot shows.  When dragging the blocks, you'll notice that the blocks will highlight to show you how they can be connected.  If you drag a block out by mistake, you can drop it back in the "drawer" where you first dragger them from.

6. Press "Play" to test your program

Once, we're done laying out our new program, we can press the "play" button to send it to our board.  If all goes well, you should see "Programming Ok" and the program will then be running on your hardware.  

7. Check out "Code View" and play around a bit

Once you've ensured you can program your board with Modkit Micro, it's a good time to play around with the editor a bit.  Make sure to check out "Source" view to see (or edit) the code generated by the blocks you built.  
That's it for now.  We'll be back soon with more updates.   Until then leave us a comment and let us know what you think!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Fabkit/Fabduino in the Big Leagues: How my humble Open Source Hardware Project made it to the NBA All Stars

Fabkit/Fabduino built by MIT classmate Ella Peinovich. Photo courtesy of Ella Peinovich

When I developed the original Fabduino board back in ~2007, I didn't have any lofty goals for the project. Sure, it was a cheap (~$5) microcontroller development board that we could produce in the Boston Fab Lab in about an hour.  You could modify the board design to create a physical user interface right in the Fab Lab by adding and arranging sensors such as buttons and then putting the modified board into a larger project.  It worked with the up and coming Arduino project, which meant that it would work with the Modkit programming environment I started to prototype in the following years.

While at the MIT Media Lab, I revived the project and shared it with my How to Make Almost Anything (HTMAA) classmates to use as a base for their fabricated projects.  After renaming the updated board Fabkit, dozens of modified boards were produced by my classmates to support a diverse set of final class projects.  After leaving the Media Lab to focus on Modkit full time, I checked in on the class again last winter to find that the Fabkit/Fabduino board had sticking power.  At the final project expo, I identified at least a dozen Fabkit boards or derivatives out of about 30 projects.

I've been pretty focused on our Modkit Micro release for the last few months so I missed a lot of things happening out there in Internet world.  Now that Modkit Micro is up on Kickstarter, I've been looking for ways to drive traffic to the page.  Imagine how surprised I was to find the following video featuring a Fabkit derivative being used by my former colleagues at the Media Lab to sense the forces exerted (by the ball on the net) in the NBA All Star Slam Dunk Contest.

You really can't miss the Fabkit derived board.  It makes cameos at 00:58, 01:55, 02:11, and 02:28.  If you're interested in making your own Fabkit board, instructions are available here.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Kickstarting Modkit Micro

The Modkit team had an eventful weekend! While at the Maker Faire in the Bay area, we launched a Kickstarter campaign for our latest project: Modkit Micro.

You can find out everything about the project by visiting the Modkit Micro Kickstarter page. We appreciate your ongoing support and hope that you'll back our Modkit Micro work. Your support will help us launch a desktop (offline) version of Modkit Micro. Supporters who contribute more than $25 will get early access (as early as 6/1/12) to the new Modkit Micro online version through a membership to our Alpha Club.

Help us keep the momentum going by spreading the word!

Monday, April 2, 2012

4.28.2012 Modkit presents the Mass Ave (Mini) Make-it Market

If you will be in the Cambridge/Boston area on Saturday April 28th, come check out an event we're co-hosting with EMW Enterprises.

What: The Mass Ave (Mini) Make-it Market.
Where: East Meets West Bookstore in Central square 934 Massachusetts Avenue.
When: Saturday April 28,1PM - 5PM
Why: Because you want to...
-Meet makers
-Support them by buying what they make
-Get access to new electronic gadgets, DIY kits, locally-designed clothes, amazing art, fabulous food, and fun!

We will provide more information about vendors in the coming weeks.
For now, save the date.

Looking forward...