Does Arduino coding bring you out in a cold sweat? Perhaps what you need is the new open-source gear from TinkerForge. The modular system is designed for even novice users to whip up fully functioning robots in a matter of minutes hours. You start with a 4 x 4cm Brick, which you program over USB, but it won't do anything until you add accessories in the form of Bricklets: switches, joysticks, motors, accelerometers and LCDs. You can stack up to eight Bricks to expand the potential of your projects, including a step-down transformer and a (forthcoming) WiFi unit. If the rules-based programming software is too easy for you, the hardcore can bust out their mad C, C++, C#, Java and Python skills. The first models are available today, Bricks cost between €30 ($40) - €50 ($70) and Bricklets cost €3 ($4) - €20 ($25). Head on past the break to catch the press release and a video of some of the brilliant ways you can use this technology, including an infra-red theremin, self-positioning telescope and robots -- so many robots.

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Startup Tinkerforge presents modular open source hardware

Developing, discovering, learning and tinkering made easy. The new system of hardware building blocks from Tinkerforge allows to plug sensor and actor modules together and to program the desired behavior of the modules without prior knowledge in hardware programming.

The building blocks can be used professionally or as a hobby for the automation of processes or for the development of prototypes. Users will be surprised how simple it is to e.g. control a robot with this system.

A developer can build a system out of modules that are suitable for his application. Each module has one specific function, such as the controlling of a motor or the sensing of a temperature. The modules can be stacked on top of each other or connected with a cable. The system is expendable at all times, additional modules can be added as they are needed.

The modules can be controlled from a PC, mobile phone or tablet. For the programmer it does not matter in which way the modules are interconnected. Modifications of the system, without changing the source code, are always possible. The Tinkerforge hardware is currently programmable in C, C++, C#, Java and Python. More programming languages are supposed to follow.

The core of the new system are so called Bricks. Bricks are 4x4cm in size, they can be stacked on top of each other and connected to a PC via USB. With so called Bricklets it is possible to extend the features of Bricks. Bricklets can be connected to Bricks with a cable. There are bricklets to measure brightness, distance, voltage, to control LCDs and many more.

The Tinkerforge GmbH is a German Startup. Both hardware and software of the new system are Open Source. The developed software is published under GPL and the hardware uses the CERN Open hardware Licence. More information and videos can be found at www.tinkerforge.com.

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