Today I want to introduce you to a new board, the Meow Meow Mini. It’s basically a capacitive touch keyboard, which makes it easy to turn any almost anything into a controller for games and other apps.
Meow Meow is created by my friends at Electronic Cats, a Mexican open source hardware company headquartered in Aguascalientes.
Meow Meow Mini is a more compact, lower cost version of their larger board, but has the same 10 capacitive sensors and USB connection. The cute PCB is in the creative shape of a kitty face, with all the components and labels on one side. The sensors are the whiskers.
To get making with Meow Meow Mini, attach alligator clips to the through holes on the sturdy circuit board and connect the other ends to whatever material you’d like to try. It’s fun to experiment with what materials will work, since anything that’s even slightly conductive is fair game.
Connect the micro USB cable to your computer to use your new creation as a keyboard. Press the reset button to calibrate the sensors to the material you connected, and you’re good to go.
The ten keys are WASD, up down left right arrows, space bar, and left mouse click.
This kitten isn’t reprogrammable like it’s big brother, but it’s also only half the price, which makes it more accessible for educators and families doing STEAM projects with their kids. It’s a great companion to Scratch, as a controller for homemade games.
Meow Meow is similar to Makey Makey, which is a keyboard input board that uses resistive touch sensing. I think they are both awesome at helping kids and adults alike get a creative introduction to electronics that has lasting impact.
It’s cool to see Electronic Cats create and sell hardware in Mexico, where they are able to reach local communities more directly and without expensive import taxes, while also reaching the wider North American and global markets.
When you look in the mirror, who couldn’t use a few words of encouragement? Build a display inside a mirror to scroll custom affirmations you can read over your own reflection. This polished project comes together easily with a store-bought shadow box frame and some see-through mirror material. You can build a simple version with a basic Arduino or compatible, or level it up using a NodeMCU (ESP8266 WiFi board) in order to add more positive quotes to the mirror over the internet.
Many pairs of wire strippers have come and gone in my life, but these wire strippers by Hakko has remained throughout. They’ve stayed sharp over years of frequent use, and this flared part of the handle makes them a joy to hold and use.
The rubber grips have a powder mixed into the rubber to give them a sturdy, really nice feeling grip, even if your hands are slippery with motor oil.
Every maker needs a reliable utility blade, and my favorite, my Old Faithful, is the Olfa 5003 ratchet-lock heavy-duty utility knife. It’s the most versatile option in a standard class of tool that includes these cheapo box cutters and these more industrial utility knives. Its biggest upside is the shaped metal blade holder at the tip, which keeps the blade from wobbling back and forth. When the ratchet mechanism is clamped in place, there is no play in the blade whatsoever.
I just got my ham radio license! I started studying for my ham radio test at the suggestion of my friend David, who was also studying for his first license at the time. He made a strong pitch to my technological curiosity and urban survivalist interests by suggesting we could potentially communicate with each other without the assistance of the power grid or cell tower networks.
Other topics were completely new to me, like ham etiquette and the regulatory stuff. Wave behaviors stood out as particularly fun and novel to me– here’s an awesome video about wave behaviors that helps illuminate the subject beautifully:
I picked up a portable radio that I’ve seen commonly recommended as a first radio: it’s a BaoFeng UV-5R (3rd generation) (with an upgraded antenna). I looked up the times and frequencies of some nets in my local area and tuned my radio to listen in. I found it helpful to pick up a programming cable, so I could program my local repeaters and stations into my radio’s memory.