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September 30, 2014 AT 6:00 am

Time travel Tuesday #timetravel a look back at the Adafruit, maker, science, technology and engineering world

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The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot. ~Michael Althsuler


1882 – Thomas Edison’s first commercial hydroelectric power plant (later known as Appleton Edison Light Company) begins operation on the Fox River in Appleton, Wisconsin, United States.

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The Vulcan Street Plant was the first Edison hydroelectric central station. The plant was built on the Fox River in Appleton, Wisconsin and put into operation on September 30, 1882. According to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the Vulcan Street plant is considered to be “the first hydro-electric central station to serve a system of private and commercial customers in North America.” It is a National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark and an IEEE milestone.

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1882 – Hans Geiger, German physicist is born.

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Johannes “Hans” Wilhelm “Gengar” Geiger was a German physicist. He is perhaps best known as the co-inventor of the Geiger counter and for the Geiger–Marsden experiment which discovered the atomic nucleus. Geiger was born at Neustadt an der Haardt, Germany. He was one of five children born to the Indologist Wilhelm Ludwig Geiger, who was professor at the University of Erlangen.

In 1902, Geiger started studying physics and mathematics in University of Erlangen and was awarded a doctorate in 1906. In 1907 he began work with Ernest Rutherford at the University of Manchester and in 1909, along with Ernest Marsden, conducted the famous Geiger–Marsden experiment called the “gold foil experiment”. Rutherford and Geiger created the Rutherford-Geiger tube, later to become the Geiger Counter. In 1911 Geiger and John Mitchell Nuttall discovered the Geiger–Nuttall law (or rule) and performed experiments that led to Rutherford’s atomic model. In 1928 Geiger and his student Walther Müller created an improved version of the Geiger counter, the Geiger–Müller counter.

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1954 – The U.S. Navy submarine USS Nautilus is commissioned as the world’s first nuclear reactor powered vessel.

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USS Nautilus (SSN-571) was the world’s first operational nuclear-powered submarine. The vessel was the first submarine to complete a submerged transit to the North Pole on 3 August 1958. Sharing names with the submarine in Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, and named after another USS Nautilus (SS-168) that served with distinction in World War II, Nautilus was authorized in 1951 and launched in 1954. Because her nuclear propulsion allowed her to remain submerged far longer than diesel-electric submarines, she broke many records in her first years of operation, and traveled to locations previously beyond the limits of submarines. In operation, she revealed a number of limitations in her design and construction. This information was used to improve subsequent submarines.

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1980 – Ethernet specifications are published by Xerox working with Intel and Digital Equipment Corporation.

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Ethernet is a family of computer networking technologies for local area (LAN) and larger networks. It was commercially introduced in 1980 while it was first standardized in 1983 as IEEE 802.3, and has since been refined to support higher bit rates and longer link distances. Over time, Ethernet has largely replaced competing wired LAN technologies such as token ring, FDDI, and ARCNET. The primary alternative for contemporary LANs is not a wired standard, but instead a variety of IEEE 802.11 standards for wireless connection, also known as Wi-Fi.

The Ethernet standards comprise several wiring and signaling variants of the OSI physical layer in use with Ethernet. The original 10BASE5 Ethernet used coaxial cable as a shared medium. Later the coaxial cables were replaced with twisted pair and fiber optic links in conjunction with hubs or switches. Data rates were periodically increased from the original 10 megabits per second to 100 gigabits per second.

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2004 – The first images of a live giant squid in its natural habitat are taken 600 miles south of Tokyo.

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he first photographs of a live giant squid in its natural habitat were taken on 30 September 2004, by Tsunemi Kubodera (National Science Museum of Japan) and Kyoichi Mori (Ogasawara Whale Watching Association). Their teams had worked together for nearly two years to accomplish this. They used a five-ton fishing boat and only two crew members. The images were created on their third trip to a known sperm whale hunting ground 970 km (600 mi) south of Tokyo, where they had dropped a 900-m (3000-ft) line baited with squid and shrimp. The line also held a camera and a flash. After over 20 tries that day, an 8 m (26 ft) giant squid attacked the lure and snagged its tentacle. The camera took over 500 photos before the squid managed to break free after four hours. The squid’s 5.5 m (18 ft) tentacle remained attached to the lure. Later DNA tests confirmed the animal as a giant squid.

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2013 – Tutorials added to the Adafruit Learning System: How to make a silicone Robo-Tentacle and Trinket Temperature & Humidity LCD Display

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Soft robots can potentially do a lot of jobs a hard robot made of steel and servos just can’t do. Something composed of soft, flexible structures and actuators might be able to burrow through the dirt like an earthworm, conform to complex objects like a human hand, and go huge distances on minimal power just like organic machines (bats, bugs, dolphins, etc) do.

One reason you don’t see too many robots like these is how difficult they are to design, plan, and manufacture. Either they’re made of lots of interconnecting soft structures knitted together with glue and fasteners (each seam meaning additional labor, expense, and chances of breaking), or composed of a single skin.

I’ve been poking at easier ways to manufacture soft robots and think that these single skin designs have a lot of potential. I think that making robots this way could lower their cost while increasing their strength and durability. I’ve been calling these single skin robots plionics.

The method consists of designing your robot in CAD and working backwards from there to produce an outer mold and an inner core. Casting silicone between the mold and the core forms the robot itself and melting out the core gives you the finished product.

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The first thing a microcontroller project must do is communicate, often with us humans. While the Trinket mini microcontroller does not have a serial monitor built in (like the Arduino Uno), it can talk over various protocols including software serial, I2C (two wire), and SPI. Adafruit sells a wide array of I2C devices including a backpack to interface with a number of nice liquid crystal (LCD) displays – perfect as it only requires two of the five Trinket pins.

Monitoring sensors is very common for Internet of Things (IoT) projects. Here we’ll select the popular DHT series of temperature and humidity sensors.

This project can be placed in a very small enclosure and used anywhere environmental monitoring is needed. The code and concepts may be used in a number of your own projects.

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