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Tracking, Tracking

0847201l While the rest of the Blogosphere has been docked in Las Vegas this week, SparkFun Electronics released a new GPS evaluation board for the itty bitty 20-channel ET-312 SiRF III GPS module from USGlobalSat. Able to pull power from an onboard USB port and serially link with a PC via the same USB port, this $100 eval board could be just the ticket for building a portable DIY GPS tracking monster gizmo.—Dave Prochnow

Get BUGged

Buglabs_600 Bug Labs has just released the pricing for their initial release of BUG modules. As an added incentive, the “first wave” of customers will receive a BUG Early Adopters Discount:

  • BUGbase $349 ($299 w/discount)
  • LCD module $119 ($99 w/discount)
  • GPS module $99 ($79 w/discount)
  • Camera module $79 ($69 w/discount)
  • Motion detector / Accelerometer $59 ($49 w/discount)

So jump, don’t walk, to the BUG store and get in line to order your modules beginning January 21. Then you’ll be fully prepared to enter the PopSci Build-a-BUG Challenge.—Dave Prochnow

(Image: Bug Labs)

Lightweight LiPo(wer)

Gpmp0811 If your project needs a strong, lightweight battery power source, this discounted Great Planes lithium-polymer 3-cell battery pack could do the trick. Rated at 11.1V 720mAh, this $27.99 battery pack is wired and ready to juice up and go. Tipping the scales at a lithe 1.85oz, it won’t weigh you down, either. Tower Hobbies also carries a Great Planes charger for $24.99 that is ideal for charging these picky LiPo battery packs. You’ll also need a 12V battery to supply the charger.—Dave Prochnow

(Image: Tower Hobbies)

Here Comes HERO, Again

Blackherobot Good news for vintage robot enthusiasts; Heathkit and its classic robot HERO, might be headed back from oblivion. This reincarnation is being disguised in the body of the 914 PC-BOT from White Box Robotics. Heathkit’s “Phoenix” robot will retain some roots with its pedigree, however. The Heathkit Educational Systems robot will be named HE-RObot. Built on a Mini-ITX mobo with Intel Core Duo microprocessor and using Windows XP for its operating system (unlike the model 914 PC-BOT which can be outfitted with Ubuntu), HE-RObot is being built and priced towards the educational market. A market that sorely needs a sophisticated robot platform. The hobbyist DIY market, on the other hand, could suffer from sticker shock. The HE-RObot’s 914 PC-BOT counterpart is priced from $5,000 - $8,000 which could make the HE-RObot a tough sell to even the most rabid roboticist.—Dave Prochnow


(Image: Heathkit Educational Systems)

A 2-Way Candlestick Holder

On2 David Weeks is at it again. That clever designer who brought you devilish desk lamps, funky floor lamps, and crazy chandeliers, now brings you the 2-way candlestick holder LED flashlight. Yup, when you dinner party goes awry and you need to throw a beam of light rather than cast some light, just flip your $40.00 candlestick holder over and use the embedded LED as a flashlight. Presumably, you wouldn’t have a burning taper in the holder when using the flashlight. Also, there is no comment on the environmental economy of using 3 AA batteries versus a candle.—Dave Prochnow

(Image: Velocity Art and Design)

Peruvian Children Get Wired

Xo After six months of operation, the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) “XO” laptop has logged its first major success story: Peru. Kids love ‘em, administrators love ‘em, parents love ‘em and Nicholas Negroponte is ecstatic. Loaded with approximately 100 copyright-free books (are you listening Amazon.com?), the XO has become exactly the empowering tool that Negroponte predicted. This success story is not without its minor hiccups, however. Although targeted for 9,000 Peruvian elementary, only about 4,000 of these schools have Internet access. Nonetheless, OLPC is working with Peru to surmount this obstacle.—Dave Prochnow

(Image: laptopgiving.org)

The 2-Day Laptop Battery

Batteries The headline couldn’t be more attractive—“A Laptop 40-Hour Battery?” Alas, all this is just speculation raised from some juiced theoretical prototypes at the moment. Regardless, in the ScienceNOW article by Robert Service, a research team, lead by Yi Cui, a materials scientist at Stanford University, is cited as developing a battery anode from nanowire strands of silicon which can hold a charge up to 10 times longer than conventional carbon anodes. What’s holding this technology back from reaching your laptop’s battery? Designing a cathode that is equally able to hold a charge that is 10 times greater than current technology. Let’s just hope that these new 10x batteries don’t produce 10x-sized laptop fires.—Dave Prochnow

Color Me, ASUS

41ibqdk0twl That’s right, the hot-selling ASUS Eee PC is now available in colors. Granted, this isn’t the flagship, Eee PC 4G model, it’s the 2G-Surf flavor, but at least you now have the luxury of selecting from three odd color choices: blush pink, sky blue, and lush green. Each color is served up at a tasty $299.99 from J&R Music and Computer World via the venerable Amazon.com. At first blush, that price and color might look tempting, but beware that there are more differences between the 4G and the 2G-Surf than just a 50% smaller flash drive. Missing is the built-in webcam and the 2G model also sports lighter weight 4400 mAh batteries.—Dave Prochnow

(Image: Amazon.com)

They're Here, err, There

41ziuv0hezl For you last minute shoppers, Amazon.com is now showing the ASUS Eee PC 4G-Galaxy Black as “in stock.” The list price is, well, list price: $399.99. You will have to hustle, though and select One-Day Shipping to have it delivered by December 24.—Dave Prochnow

(Image: Amazon.com)

New PSP System Software

Psp_front When I wrote my book on the PSP, one thing I learned was to keep System Software version 1.5 permanently installed on my handheld entertainment device. No upgrades for me. If, on the other hand, your PSP lacks this vintage system software, then you might want to upgrade to the new version 3.80. Released on December 18, 2007, the two most noteworthy features that version 3.80 gives your PSP are the inclusion of Internet Radio and a newly revised theme package (oddly-named, version If you can live without these “extras” and your PSP has System Software version 1.5, then you should forgo the upgrade and continue to enjoy the pleasures of homebrew gaming or Mac OS 7 via Basilisk II.—Dave Prochnow

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