Microsoft , FedEx & Local Contractor

Galileo

 

Hello guys, Lonas here !

So, as the title probably hints, this article is about a personal experience/encounter with the above companies. First of all I would like to say a big thank you to Microsoft not only for the IoT (Internet of Things) Dev Kit but also for their stance during the whole process (read on, read on you’ll see).

Let’s go back a bit (a few months if I’m not mistaken). A program Microsoft had started fell into my attention. The program was named Windows Developer Program for IoT. So being interested in DIY electronics and with a few ideas for internet of things in mind I decided to sign up. The process was easy enough just filling some personal data (name, mail etc) programming knowledge and a field where you had to fill the applications you are interested in or that you have in mind . As soon as I submitted the form I got a (probably) automated mail from Microsoft IoT team saying that they had received my application and that if I was selected I would be contacted. One or two months passed and the whole thing had totally slipped my mind. So I’m opening my mail one morning to find a mail from Microsoft IoT team saying that my IoT Dev kit had been shipped via FedEx and giving me the tracking number. I was , to say the truth , a bit stunned since there was no prior communication informing me that I had been chosen for the program just this mail saying that the kit was shipped. But stunned in a very very good way. And a few days passed and I got an e-mail from FedEx’s local contractor informing me that a package for me had encountered customs delay and that action from my part was needed. I was a bit confused since it was the first time (after 4 years or so of ordering electronics from aboard) something I had ordered encountered customs. But nevertheless, I contacted them via a number they provided me with in the e-mail. They were very helpful and friendly and told me all I had to do is give them a rough description of what is in the package and they would then guide and help me through the process. I knew that since it had stopped at the customs there would be some kind of tax but I was ok with that since it’s usually a small percentage of the estimated value of the contents. Shortly after , I got an e-mail (from the local contractor) informing me what I had to pay to get the package out of the customs. And here is about the point it get serious. An the bill there was :

Customs’ cost : ~25 Euros (reasonable)

Airport cost: ~15 Euros (This is what they wanted for transporting the package from the airport to me but problem is the posting was already paid by the sender)

Their payment for the process : ~85 Euros

I don’t know if it’s only me but at the time I found it absurd that I had to pay triple the customs’ fee as a payment to them given the fact that posting was already paid and that they are supposed to be FedEx contractors. What I did was that I contacted them and informed them that given the charges I was not willing to receive the package since the contents were not worth 125 Euros and that they would have to return it (policy is that if you do not pay the customs’ fee within 5 days the package is then returned to the sender) which would cost them the posting back. Their reply was that they would try to reach the sender and try to reach an agreement. A few days after I receive an e-mail informing me that the customs’ fee along with the contractor’s payment were covered by the sender and once again I was amazed by Microsoft’s superiority. In a last stand to get some money out of me the contractor sent me over the document’s I had to sign in order for them to be able take the package out of the customs.  But instead of stating that I grant them permission to “import” (this is the term local customs use) this single package the document I was presented with stated that I grant them permission to undertake all of my imports for the next five years. This practically meant that the next time that a package of mine would reach customs they would go get it send it to me and charge me the full price without ever informing me and that even if I refused to receive the package  I would owe them the full price since they had done the process for me. All in all , I now have the Windows Dev Kit for IoT and I can’t wait to get started with some projects (oh you’ll be the first to know if I make something good !) and I deeply feel I owe a big big thank you to Microsoft for both sending me the kit and for ensuring that I reaches me.

That’s all for now, I hope I haven’t bored you.

See you all soon !

As always feel free to contact us through the comments section or one of our social media !

The new Intel Edison!

Hi Guys,

long time no see…which I guess is my fault,anyway you know what time is it? It’s cookie time!!!!

cookie

Just kidding. It’s new product time, as of yesterday the Intel Edison is available for purchase. What is the Intel Edison you ask? Well it is a (deep breath) , SD card-sized computer/development board that sports a dual core Intel Atom with dual threaded CPU clocking in at 500 MHz and an additional 32-bit Intel Quark clocking in at 100MHz. Also this little guy has support for 40 GPIO pins. Memory wise it includes 1 GB LPDDR3 and 4 GB EMMC  which make it easy on the batteries meaning that it is ideal for low-power applications.Also the board supports dual-band WiFi and Low Energy Bluetooth. But the above are just to sweeten the deal,notice that I reffered to it as little guy? That was no joke, the board is tiny! How tiny exactly? Well take a look:

edison

It’s usefull to keep in mind that the Edison is a computer at heart meaning that it’s a step above the microcontroller family boards (Arduino,PIC,etc.) and gives you a variety of programming languages you can use,the list includes:

  • Arduino
  •  C/C++
  • Node.JS
  • Python (yummy)
  • RTOS

zoid

So why should you/I buy it ?

Well if you have an Intel Galileo and you find it too big and/or power-hungry for your next project or you find your Arduino Due too underpowered,but you think a Raspberry Pi/Beaglebone Black is a bit of an overkill you fall right in the Edison category !

Oh almost forgot there are a few shields available for the Edison too,but I will let you find them by yourselfes and who knows maybe you’ll get some inspiration for your next project on the way! I know I did 😉

Thanks Tommy!

t e

Stam out.

(Images by Google)

Tools of the Trade Vol.1

    Tools of the trade Pt.1

 tools

Hallo und wilkommen zu, ehh… I mean hello and welcome to the second article of the Electronics series. Today we will be dicussing tools. Every electronics hobbyist must have a set of trusty tools to rely on while embarking on the magnificent journey of electricity. I like dividing my tools into 2 major categories software and harware.scratching-head

-But is software a tool?

Well.. yeah,because there sooo many kinds of compilers,IDEs,CAD (and other) software,operating systems (trust me here, there are more than 3) that you need to have quite a bit know-how in order to find your way through all of that info.

-So where do I start from?

The basic stuff,a general rule of thumb for beginners(especially those of you with no programming experience) is to keep it nice and simple,just so you can get hold of general concepts that dwell in the realm of programming. My suggestions:

       Regarding programming languages:

  • Absolute beginner: Scratch, a simple yet information packed computer language that can get your running with the big boys (or girls) at no time!
  • Intermediate: C or some variety/version of C (such as C++,C#),because it’s a language that combines some high level characteristics (similarity to physical language,libraries,functions) with low-level goodies (speed,efficiency,etc.)
  • Advanced: Python,what can we say about Python? It’s such a weapon!High level,featuring powerful built in functions in a vast array of applications, just an all around wild card!
  • Super Advanced Boss Level: Verilog. If you have never heard it,then you probably don’t fall in this category. If you do then you certainly don’t need instructions regarding basic electronics!

       Regarding software (from the design/CAD viewpoint):

 

  • Absolute beginner: Fritzing super simple but powerful designing software,really intuitive too.
  • Intermediate: After a lot of thought I reccomend Draftsight, which is sort of a free AutoCAD version but a tad simpler.
  • Advanced: For you there is AutoDesk 123 a 3D designing program ideal for the well conditioned hobbyists (or as I like to call them semi-pros).
  • Super Advanced Boss Level: Eagle CAD with PCB layout features and a ton other stuff.Eagle is really powerfull, but skillwise a very demanding software.

For everyone I recommend CircuitLab a very usefull and easy-to-use little programme!

 

Regarding Operating Systems(this can come in handy in our Raspberry Pi exploratons):

 

  • Absolute beginner: If you have Windows stick to it, if you have a Mac well things might be a little more difficult for you but hang in there! More and more programms are incorporating Mac compatibility and in the meantime we are here for you!
  • Intermediate/Advanced: Linux,cause it’s EVERYWHERE nowadays: PC,servers,smartphones (I’ve even heard of vending machines that run it) plus the infamous Raspberry Pi platform runs Linux.
  • Super Advanced Boss Level: Hehe aren’t you in for a treat.. for all of you OS wackos out there I have…. MINIX 3, I won’t even say more just look it up!!

-Whoa you weren’t kidding when you said there are a lot of stuff out there.

No I wasn’t. But hey,look at the bright side we’re done with the software part of tools!

-Thank God,…ehh I mean bummer 😦

I will let that slide,Mr. hypothetical reader but just this once!

**Note: Because I will be upgrading some of my equipment in the next few days/week(s) the hardware part of Tools is going to be uploaded  a bit later (sorry in advance.)

Books: C++ Primer,Python for kids(not really a book for kids)

 images

 

Confused? Ask me anything right here,

or there: https://www.facebook.com/JustAddCoffeeBlog?fref=ts

or there: https://twitter.com/jacofe

Stam out.

Images from: Google.com

 

Quick Update/Magnifying Glasses Projects Teaser

Next week together with the second series article called: “Tools of the Trade” ,I will be uploading a short 10′ hacking project  that I completed yesterday. The idea for this project occured to me while searching for an electronics magnifying visor  in my hometown (every visor I encoutered was either too crappy or too expensive, or both). So, I decided to hack a pair of glasses and a magnifying monocle i had previously bought online, in order  to create a  pair of comfortable,repairable and above all CHEAP  magnifying glasses. I already told you too much, this project will self-destruct in 10 seconds.

 

Stam out.

Electronics 101 (A beginners guide to awesome)

 

 JACFE3

Hello and welcome!

 

My name is Stamatis and I am the newest member of the JustAddCoffee team,I also am an engineering student from Greece and an a huge electronics enthusiast. From here on I will be your wizard guide/Jedi mentor (much like Gandalf and Yoda but with a goatee and a lot less green) to electronics. Through this series of articles I will be presenting to you the basics of electronics DIY building including: motion/light activated circuits,build your own robot(world domination instructions and giant monsters not included),microphone,electric guitar effects,scripts/sketches/code and debugging,sensor input,tool usage and basic circuit schematics reading/drawing skills and a bit of theory too.

 

-What is electronics,exactly and why should I care?

Do you like:

  • TV
  • Robots and electronic toys
  • PC’s and game consoles
  • Cellphones,Smartphones and GPS
  • Dubstep and electronic music in general (Google ATARI Punk Console)
  • Lasers
  • Youtube,Google,Facebook,Instagram and generally The Internet (don’t lie)
  • Cars,airplanes,boats,hi-tec bicycles
  • Ice cream,chocolate and French frie production so you can enjoy them anytime (again,don’t lie)

 

If you do,then chances are you are using electronics a lot ,in fact hundreds of basic electronics components work together right now composing  a nanometer sized orchestra to enable you to read this very article and help you accomplish hundreds of everyday tasks that would be impossible without their assistance.

-Oh no, not another electronics geek,just what we needed,get your math,physics and object oriented programming and take it somewhere else buddy!!

Wait,you think electronics is all science and no fun right?  Wrong(annoying buzzer-like voice)

You wanna know all the math and physics you’ll need through this course? Get ready here it comes:

V=I*R

V=Voltage

 I=Current (not C because of  monsieur Coulomb a french scientist from wich a static electricity charge unit was named)

 R=Resistance

ohms-law-1                                                                                                                                                                              (Source:Google)

Yup that’s all ,pretty much this formula is all you need. Courtesy of Herr Georg Simon Ohm (a pretty cool dude overall).

Georg_Simon_Ohm3                                                                                                                                                             ( Source:Wikipedia)

-Hah!! What about the programming?

Simple stuff as well, the platforms I will be using have very simple structure and require minimum programming experience,however if you are a total beginner I will be uploading the code from square one for every project with comments right beside to each line explaining what it does, so you can review the material at your own pace.

-tl;dr I’m a visual learner.

Like video? No prob, we got you covered, every article will be accompanied by a video featuring yours truly displaying techniques,shortcuts,making mistakes and explaining them all for your visual and educational enjoyment.

-I have questions

Ask away! Either a comment below the video, the blog comments section,my facebook,my twitter will be answered as soon as possible

-I wants moar!!!!

Need some books? Perhaps some extra articles/videos/schematics? Want to compare prices?No worries we’ve got tons of material to recommend for all you electronics geeks in the making out there!

-Oh yeah,also I’m broke…

Lucky for you (and us) electronics is one of the cheapest hobbys around, most parts are dirt cheap,reusable,easy to find,vary very little from seller to seller and require minimum space. In fact a desk is all you need. Budgets for every project will be announced beforehand (including cheaper and more expensive alternatives and where to find them ).

-What will you be covering?

Mainly open source harware and software topics. For starters I will be presenting Arduino platform projects,then Raspberry Pi applications/hacks/projects,BeagleBone black projects/hacks/setup,robotics using all of the above including basic software engineering(making the controller do want you want it to do) and who knows what more!!

-Any software needed?

Nope, although I will be recommending some types of software (don’t worry it’s all free) no software is required. (Except the Arduino IDE and Raspbian Wheezy packs which are obligatory in order for the Arduino and Rasprberry Pi platforms to function)

-Why should I listen to you?

Well, even before university as a student I was really interested in electronics and what I lacked in knowledge back then I made up in persistence.I have destroyed over 100 small electrical devices in my youth and probably made all the possible mistakes a beginner could do.I just want you to get a headstart in electronics through the experience I gained, which means all the fun minus the hard work and frustration (and getting scholded by your Dad for destroying the toaster/radio/TV remote)

-I have an idea/suggestion!

I am open to ideas/suggestions so feel free to contact me through any medium!

 

That’s all for now folks,remember any questions and/or suggestions can be posted below.

 

 Stam out.

 

 

*Extra Bit: Too excited? Can’t wait? Want something to read?

Try reading: Getting started with Arduino by Massimo Banzi (Co-creator of the arduino)

Try watching:The MAKE presents video series on Youtube (featurin Colin Cunningham) to get acquainted with some basic electronics parts and their historical backround.

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-mHLvtGjum4&list=PL5A1CBB3B80AF24B9)

** Next up: Basic tools, time to invade a beautiful and mysterious realm…your Dad’s tool cabinet   (or your local harware store)