• FIRST LOOK: The $25 Raspberry Pi Computer

    This week we got our hands on the only Raspberry Pi Model A in the United States, thanks to Limor “Ladyada” Fried and her team at Adafruit, a do-it-yourself company started by Fried in New York City.

    Raspberry Pi is a simple, affordable computer designed by Eben Upton of the U.K., who dreamed of building a computer that’s accessible to anyone. To keep the cost down, only minimal components were included in this credit-card-sized computer. There isn’t even a case.

    The Model A is the slimmed-down sibling of the $35 Model B computer that came out about a year ago, opening up a world to new computer programmers and fanatics. By removing the Ethernet connection and one of the two USB ports, and by reducing the amount of onboard memory, the company was able sell the Model A for all of $25.

    In a short time, Raspberry Pi has created a devoted following of programmers who have taken the technology and run with it. It’s been used to build home arcades, capture images from near space, become a

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  • Descriptive Camera Trades Pictures for Text

    The Descriptive Camera is a novel idea. It’s the kind of idea someone who’s looking for new ways to approach photography comes up with, when, as a society, we’re oversaturated with digital cameras, Facebook and Instagram.

    Instead of revealing a picture, the camera prints a description of what’s in the image. And the description isn’t written by Watson or a carefully written algorithm, it’s actually crowd sourced. The camera hooks up to a wired internet line, and after you take the picture it’s sent to a webpage. There a “describer” views the image, types whatever he or she sees, and hits “submit.” A printer built into the camera then reveals the description. It can be literal or humorous; it can be a short 140 characters or the truly necessary 1,000 words.

    The camera is homemade and built with off-the-shelf technology by Matt Richardson, a student and, fittingly, an editor at MAKE Magazine. The camera clearly didn’t roll off the Apple manufacturing line next to its sleek chrome and

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  • Turn Your Old Plastic Bottles into 3-D Filament

    With any printer, the cost of ink is what puts people off long after the machine has been paid for. With ink jet and laser printers, you can’t turn your plastic recyclables -- the cartridges -- into new toner. With 3-D printers, you can.

    Tyler McNaney, a college student in Vermont, fell in love with 3-D printing about a year ago and has spent his spare time reconfiguring an old plastic extrusion technology to build his own line of recyclable 3-D filament extruder to turn plastic bottles into more projects. The Filabot grinds the pieces of plastic to a uniform size then feeds the plastic chips into the heating unit, which melts the plastic to the appropriate temperature. It’s extruded as filament through an interchangeable nozzle.

    The Filabot, as McNaney has named it, will turn water, juice and milk bottles into 3-D printing filament. Not only does the Filabot offer a cheap alternative to expensive 3-D filament - MakerBot sells its online for $48 per kilo (a little more than 2 pounds)

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