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Posts From March, 2015

Donation of Raspberry Pis means it’s ‘game on’ for new top attraction 

26 March 2015 11:28:00

RS Components (RS), the trading brand of Electrocomponents, the global distributor for engineers, has demonstrated its support of innovation and education by donating 300 Raspberry Pi credit card-sized computers to be used in a new games hub, the National Videogame Arcade (NVA) in Nottingham’s creative quarter, a CNN ‘top ten attraction’ set to launch in March.

The NVA is the brainchild of GameCity, an annual festival that aims to bring games culture to a wider audience through pioneering approaches, which works in partnership with Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham City Council and Confetti Institute of Creative Technologies. The launch of the NVA, which is hailed as the ‘world’s first permanent cultural centre for videogames’, will provide a video games hub with themed galleries, a changing programme of interactive exhibitions, and an educational programme across the National Curriculum whilst promoting the diverse cultural, educational, economic and social benefits of games to a broad audience.

The Pis of which 50 are new and 250 are mendable, will be used in the setup of the venue, as well as in the education programme and exhibitions to make easy platforms for showing content. They will also be used for lighting control and as part of 'Introduction to Raspberry Pi' workshops for school groups.

GameCity was founded in 2006 by Iain Simons, a creative journalist with a background in theatre and music who grew up in the Commodore 64 era, which first sparked his enthusiasm for gaming.

Iain explained: “The National Videogame Arcade is a limited company with 20 members of staff with experience across many disciplines, and will pioneer new forms of creative engagement with technology. GameCity has established partnerships with institutions such as the British Library, the Welcome Trust and Nottingham Trent University as well as the games industry. The NVA has a strong education ethos that will work to support the changes in the IT curriculum in schools.”

“The donation of the Pis is fantastic, as we have a variety of uses for them; we can offer them as a resource to resident artists, who will be creating and delivering workshops, and we'll offer their use to teachers, to help them take their new knowledge back to the classroom. We are hoping that with the ones that need mending, we may inspire groups interested in up-cycling, who are up for a challenge.”

The centre will hold a mixture of permanent and constantly-changing exhibitions suitable for all ages. It will be a ‘show and tell’ themed centre for excellence where people can play games together, learn different ways of putting input into games and have lessons in coding and design. The first major exhibition ‘Jump!’ examines the history and craft behind one of the medium’s most fundamental pleasures. The exhibits include Mission Control, a multi-player experience designed to encourage people to make games as soon as they arrive and convey the message that games are something you can easily create.

One permanent feature of the NVA will be ‘A History of Games in 100 Objects’. This interactive exhibition will map the history of videogame culture in Britain – from the appearance of the world’s first game-playing computer at the 1951 Festival of Britain, to the newest virtual reality experiences on Oculus Rift.

There will also be member only events where members can meet, network and use the centre and equipment to create games. Members will be encouraged to learn to fix and recycle, as well as experiment.

Iain concluded: “Our general philosophy is that there should be no barrier to learning, so we really want to encourage people to use our equipment during visits and workshops.”

For more information about GameCity and The National Videogame Arcade, visit http://gamecity.org/national-videogame-arcade/.

Mouser and Imahara unveil giant Spider-Bot as basis for second robotics “Empowering Innovation Challenge”  

26 March 2015 11:10:00

Mouser Electronics, the global authorised distributor with the newest semiconductors and electronic components, is partnering with celebrity engineer Grant Imahara to call on engineers of all levels to collaborate with him to provide creative ideas and solve real world problems using his Spider-Bot as part of the next Robotics Empowering Innovation Challenge. This second challenge is a continuation of Mouser and Imahara’s journey with the engineering community to Empower Innovation Together, where engineers can engage with Grant Imahara through a variety of topics and series of challenges that question and defy innovation in the pursuit of new ideas.

The Robotics Empowering Innovation Challenge is the second in a series of different challenges on a variety of engineering topics. This time, Grant is asking engineers to solve a problem using his robot known as “The Spider.” The challenge is to creatively describe what to attach or add on to enhance Grant’s existing Spider-Bot to solve a real-world problem and why that particular problem should be solved. Once submitted online through Mouser.com, entrants are encouraged to share their idea with their friends through social media channels to help in gaining votes.  To vote, simply go to the Empowering Innovation Challenge webpage, click and scroll through the list of ideas, and pick which one you think deserves the top honors. It’s as simple as entering your email and hitting the vote button. The top three ideas with the most votes will qualify for a prize. With less than a month remaining, the race is on for the engineering community to share their ideas online, let the public vote and let genius prevail.

The first 200 entrants of the Robotics Challenge will receive a “Letting My Genius Prevail” T-Shirt. Grant, familiar to many through the Mythbusters television series, will select the Grand Prize winner. The Grand Prize winner will also receive signed Grant memorabilia.

For over 20 years, Grant’s passion has been in robotics, and it’s apparent in his Spider-Bot design. Now he’s looking to engineers of all levels to collaborate with him to help solve real-world problems using “The Spider,” and encourages everyone to go online, share their ideas and invite their friends to do the same.

“This challenge, similar to the first Robotics Challenge, is a great opportunity for engineers to prove their genius and earn those bragging rights…again,” said Grant Imahara. “With so many great ideas from the first robotics challenge, I’m really looking forward to what our engineering community has in store for my Spider-Bot this time around.”

The Robotics Empowering Innovation Challenge is just another way that Mouser is connecting to engineers through innovation and creativity that defines engineering design.

“We’re so thrilled to be working with Grant on this Empowering Innovation Together campaign,” said Glenn Smith, Mouser president and CEO. “It’s a great partnership, because Mouser provides the newest products and technologies, while Grant provides the inspiration and engineering expertise – it’s a perfect pairing, and so far, the response has been phenomenal.”

The Empowering Innovation Together campaign is sponsored by Platinum Program Partner Texas Instruments. Also joining in the sponsorship are Molex and Panasonic as Diamond-Level partners.

Well known in the engineering community, Grant Imahara has paired his engineering expertise with a Hollywood TV and film career. In addition to his roles on Mythbusters and Battlebots, Grant has worked on many famous robotic characters – including R2-D2 in the Star Wars prequels, The Late Late Show’s Craig Ferguson robot skeleton sidekick – Geoff Peterson, and the Energiser Bunny. He joins the Mouser team as a collaborator and spokesperson who shares Mouser’s passion to positively influence and support innovative design.  

With its broad product line and unsurpassed customer service, Mouser caters to design engineers and buyers by delivering What’s Next in advanced technologies. Mouser offers customers 20 global support locations and stocks the world’s widest selection of the latest semiconductors and electronic components for the newest design projects. Mouser Electronics’ website is updated many times per day and searches more than 10 million products to locate over 4 million orderable part numbers available for easy online purchase. Mouser.com also houses an industry-first interactive catalog, data sheets, supplier-specific reference designs, application notes, technical design information, and engineering tools. 

Equipment donation helps college specialisation  

09 March 2015 05:17:00 Categories: Comment

Specialist in connectors and industrial Ethernet products Electroustic is investing in the future of engineering by donating £3000 worth of stock to Milton Keynes College. In recognition of the current UK skills gap in science and engineering, Electroustic seeks to promote practical learning opportunities and help cultivate bright young minds for the future. 

"The progressive nature of the connector and industrial Ethernet market dictates that products must constantly evolve to keep up with security, speed and power developments,” explained Paul Carr, managing director of Electrousic. “This means equipment becomes obsolete faster than in more traditional industries. Electroustic didn’t want to see older generations of fully functional connectors, capacitors, resistors and components go to waste. 

"We came up with the idea of asking our local campus, Milton Keynes College, whether it had any use for the equipment. The response was very positive and the outreach has opened talks for future collaboration with the college. Electroustic would like to encourage other engineering companies to reach out to local schools more and get involved in training the next generation of engineers."         

The £3000 worth of stock was donated to the Department of Leadership Technology and Built Environments to provide learning materials for the college students for years to come. 

"The call from Electroustic asking if we wanted the stock couldn't have come at a better time really," explained Mark Pears, deputy director for Leadership Technology and Built Environment at Milton Keynes College. "A lot of the electronics donated were things that we were about to order anyway. This meant that we were able to allocate that budget on other equipment for the department, creating a richer learning environment and attracting prospective pupils to the college." 

Electroustic has a history of over 50 years distributing top brand connectors, leads and electromechanical components for industry, particularly sectors like automotive, transport, food manufacturing, energy, petrochemical and security.

Qi App guides you to more Than 3000 Wireless Charging Locations  

03 March 2015 03:24:00 Categories: Comment

Aircharge has announced the launch of a new mobile application to allow consumers to easily locate a public location or venue that provides wireless charging compatible with the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) Qi interoperable standard. Currently, there are more than 3,000 existing locations deployed around the globe, and the WPC predicts this will increase rapidly as support for Qi wireless charging from major mobile phone manufacturers continues to accelerate, driving widespread consumer awareness and adoption.

Qi wireless charging provides a convenient and safe method for powering consumers' mobile devices throughout their day without having to carry a charger, cable or battery pack. Whether the need is to charge at home, in the car, the office, a coffee shop, restaurant, airport lounge, hotel or even at the gym, an established and rapidly expanding ecosystem is enabling this. The new Aircharge-Qi wireless charging locator app helps consumers to locate nearby public charging spots so they can charge mobile device wirelessly.

The app, designed and managed by Aircharge -- recently elected as chair of the WPC Infrastructure Application Group (IAG) and co-chair of its Promotional Working Group (PWG) -- already includes more than 3000 public locations worldwide. These include all Aircharge installed locations as well as all other Qi wireless charging locations via input from a number of WPC members. This illustrates how large the rapidly expanding ecosystem for Qi wireless charging is, already fifteen times greater than that of public available infrastructure supporting other wireless power standards. 

Users of the App can choose to set a battery percentage threshold, which when reached, triggers an alert to prompt them to locate a charging location. Using the map function, they can quickly locate and be directed to a nearby venue which offers Qi-enabled wireless charging. Consumers can also switch to a list view to view details about a nearby venue and view its distance from their current location. Additional features include the ability to leave user feedback and experiences at each specific location. Collectively these features not only supply a convenient tool for general consumers but also a powerful portal for businesses to drive traffic to their location.

The Aircharge-Qi wireless charger locator app is available to download now on iOS and Android and from the relevant App stores. It can also be downloaded from the Aircharge website at http://www.air-charge.com/app. It will be available on the Windows platform in early March. All public Qi-enabled locations can be added to the App via the Aircharge team. Please contact Aircharge for details.

 

Michelle WinnyMichelle Winny

With a combination of news, products and feature articles, Michelle provides up-to-wire commentary on new technology and legislation. Coupled with in depth coverage for specifiers and purchasers of electronic components and equipment, Michelle brings everything within the electronics market directly to her readers.