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.

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