Youtube space lab and ebay electronics.


Let’s start with spacelab.

Spacelab is a project being run by YouTube (really by Google then) to encourage scientific thinking in education. It’s basically a big competition to come up with the best experiment to be done in space. If you win the international competition your project is put 250 miles above the earth. If you win the regional competition you get a computer and a zero-G flight. This is pretty cool stuff and I’m pretty sure it’s been done before. Anyway, before I talk about it more have a look at this video to get a rough idea of how cool this thing is.

Okay so it’s a pretty cool idea. But it’s going to be a very difficult thing to win (not that I might enter or anything). Here’s a couple of reasons as to why:

  1. It’s extremely popular. The main promo video embedded above has over 2 million views at the time of writing. That’s a lot of kids.
  2. This thing is the sort of thing that can define someone’s career. Imagine going to the university interview. Now what have you done at school? Oh, I only designed an experiment that was launched by NASA. You’re in to MIT or any other cool university instantly.
  3. The challenge of coming up with a good idea is huge. There are people at NASA whose entire job it is to come up with experiments. Weight costs a lot on rockets and they try not to waste any of it. So a lot of the obvious good ideas have already been done. That’s probably why they made this competition up to get some new ones. You’ll have to look pretty hard for something interesting to do.

To find out more about this whole thing visit the website at http://www.youtube.com/user/spacelab . They have a great little app that simulates a rocket taking off from your location which leads into the main highly interactive site.

Moving onto more boring and more down to earth things, (that is if you’ve come back to this site after having spent half an hour on the spacelab one like I did) I got some new ebay electronics today. I thought I’d show you a few photos from the unboxing of this gear: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Arduino-DIY-Starter-Kit-lcd-Relay-Stepper-Infrared-1602-/160665168054?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item256863e8b6

The box I'm putting this stuff in. i'm going to try and keep this stuff a bit more organised than my last lot of ebay electronics.

The box I'm putting the new electronics in. i'm going to try and keep this stuff a bit more organised than my last lot of ebay electronics.

The box it came in. I wish I'd continued to learn chinese.

The box it came in. I wish I'd continued to learn chinese.

Oh yeah and take note here all ye who unbox things online. Notice how I didn’t show my adress. It’s kind of essential for not getting cyber stalked.

This looks promising.....

This looks promising.....

Crappy breadboard. Useful for keeping stuff you want to modify in future.

A crappy breadboard. Useful for keeping stuff you want to modify in future.

An LCD. So we meet again Mr LCD. Look for a post I wrote a while ago to get what I mean.

An LCD. So we meet again Mr LCD. Look for a post I wrote a while ago about a certain LCD soldering experience to get what I mean.

Um yeah, a lot more wires. I really don't need any more.

Um yeah, a lot more wires. I really don't need any more. But thanks anyway.

I don't think I'm going to be short of resistors for quite some time.

I don't think I'm going to be short of resistors for quite some time. Or any other little parts.

A 9V battery lead. Very useful.

A 9V battery lead. Very useful.

Relays, 7-segment displays and some driver chips. Useful for room automation stuff.

Relays, 7-segment displays and some driver chips. Useful for room automation stuff.

The stepper motor. These take a lot more external circuitry to drive than I expected.

The stepper motor. These take a lot more external circuitry to drive than I expected.

Headers and an IR remote. Both are really useful.

Headers and an IR remote. Both are really useful.

A 10K potentiometer that actually fits in a breadboard.

A 10K potentiometer that actually fits in a breadboard for once.

Enough padding to make a fake jumping castle in your backyard. In my experience, ebay shops are more careful with shipping than non ebay shops (sparkfun etc).

Enough padding to make a fake jumping castle in your backyard. In my experience, ebay shops are more careful with shipping than non ebay shops (sparkfun etc).

All the major components that came with this have were tested and worked fine (i.e. the LCD, stepper motor and the number display as well as the driver chips). The LCD has a really nice backlight and the blue LEDs that came with the kit are really bright. However, I did notice one wrong part. The RB LEDs that were meant to come with the kit were actually RG LEDs

I don't think I'm going to be short of resistors for quite some time.

I don't think I'm going to be short of resistors for quite some time.

The whole kit was well packed and came pretty quickly (under 2 weeks) You can’t really complain when you get this many components for only $40. But the breadboard that came with the kit is pretty annoying.

I might write a blog post about my new iSpy security camera setup sometime. It’s pretty cool.

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