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A lot of hacker projects start with education in mind. The Raspberry Pi, for example, started with the goal of making an affordable classroom computer. The Shrimp is a UK-based bare-bones Arduino targeted at schools. We recently saw an effort to make a 3D printed robotic platform aimed at African STEM education: The Azibot.

Azibot has 3D printed treads, a simple gripper arm, and uses an Arduino combined with Scratch. Their web site has the instructions on how to put together the parts and promises to have the custom part of the software available for download soon.

We’d bet most Hackaday readers won’t need the software, anyway. The robot clearly uses RC servos for the drive and the little arm at the front, so controlling it directly from the Arduino ought to be easy enough. If you don’t want to roll your own, Senegal-based Azibot is taking preorders for kits for $99. We were a little surprised you couldn’t kick in a little more when you ordered to subsidize other kits for schools in need.

We talked about another low-cost school aimed project, the Shrimp, If you think the needy schools won’t have 3D printers, maybe this 3D printer could come to the rescue.

Filed under: 3d Printer hacks, Arduino Hacks, robots hacks

Afrimakers, planting the seed of local change

Africa, arduino, education, social tech Commenti disabilitati su Afrimakers, planting the seed of local change 


Afrimakers is a initiative born to inspire young African makers and plant the seed of local change through social entrepreneurship, digital fabrication and regional collaboration.

Its main promoter is HacKIDemia, a global organisation based in Berlin that enables future changemakers to access and create a hands-on science, technology, art, engineering and design education that will enable them to solve challenges by developing and testing creative solutions and physical artifacts.


They launched a crowd funding campaign on Indiegogo to create maker workshops focused on local challenges in 7 hubs around Africa, to activate training paths and work with young people (potentially Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Zambia, Ghana, Nigeria, Egypt ).

Stefania Druga, HacKIDemia founder, strongly believes that:

“Learning by doing and by playing comes natural to children as they have an innate curiosity. With HacKIDemia hands-on workshops we try to encourage and develop that curiosity and give them tools to transform their dreams into reality. The sooner they start the better.”

Each of the seven hubs will receive a maker kit which consists of several components, among which also Arduino Uno boards, and a local team will then be recruited and trained by HacKIDemia to organize and run hands-on workshops in local private and public schools.

They are running an indiegogo campaign and 2 hubs got already funded. CHech the video below and help them fund the rest!


A Baby Monitor goes open source: interview to the team

Africa, arduino, Biomedical, education, engineering, kenya, Medical, open source Commenti disabilitati su A Baby Monitor goes open source: interview to the team 

Open source Baby Monitor

Last August, a team composed by researchers coming from  Research Center E. Piaggio of University of Pisa and FabLab Pisa, went to Nairobi to work at the Summer School developing an Open Source Baby Monitor for OS4BME (Open Source for Biomedical Engineering). Arduino supported the project with some hardware and following their adventure in Africa.

Arti Ahluwalia (Professor of Bioengineering), Daniele Mazzei and Carmelo De Maria (Biomedical Engineers, co-founders of FabLab Pisa and researchers at the Center) are now back in Italy and I interviewed them as this project raised interest from the open source community.

Open source Baby Monitor

Which tools did you use to prototype the baby monitor and why they were useful?

We decided to use open source tools to design and prototype the baby monitor because we believe economic barriers can’t stop the creative process. Our results will be the starting point for future projects, following the open source philosophy. A baby monitor is composed by a 3D-printed mechanical frame, an electronic board and a control software. Thus, in order, we used FreeCAD for mechanical design, MeshLab to analyze the quality of the mesh, Slic3r ( to generate the machine code, Pronterface to send commands to a Prusa Mendel RepRap. The brain of the baby monitor, electronic and software, is based on Arduino.  MediaWiki helped us in documentation. As you can see the list is quite long, and the final result is a credit to all the components. This interview gives us the opportunity to say thank you to all the people who work in these projects.

Open source Baby Monitor

In which way the participants played an active role in the workshop?

From the first day, participants were divided into working groups in order to facilitate interaction. The groups were given specific tasks related to documentation and note taking, so as to collect all the notes for the final wiki document. On the third day the groups were split up into practical working groups according to the interests of individuals, whence they were given an aspect of the baby monitor to design, develop and realise.

What type of collaborative processes did you start and what are the next steps (documentation, sharing..etc)?

The processes involved a sort of twinning between Fablab Pisa and Fablab Nairobi. We delivered the Arduino donated kits to the Fab Lab Nairobi and Kenyatta University. FabLab Pisa introduced the FabLab Nairobi to the IOTPrise project of University of Pisa. Being part of the IOTPrise community FabLab Nairobi became beta tester of UDOO, an open hardware low-cost single-board Android/Linux ARM computer with Arduino-compatible integration.

As the importance of the action, particularly as regards the need to develop excellence and sustainability in Biomedical Engineering higher academic was noted by all. Thanks to our technical guidance and previous experience with human resource building in developing countries, all academic participating academic institutions have decided to pool their resources towards the creation of an African Biomedical Engineering consortium, dedicated to sharing curriculum development, staff and student training and teaching materials.

You started the this challenge with some expectations, what happened of unexpected?

We had expected the action to be an immediate success, and it was. Most students and staff were unaware of the existence of tools such as Arduino, FreeCad, Slicer, Media Wiki etc, let alone the power and implications of open source design and prototyping. The course was instrumental in bringing this knowledge to the participants, and their keen interest throughout the introductory part, particularly on 3D printing and rapid prototyping was apparent. We also expected immediate follow ups (requesting more information and documentation) from all participants. Actually this did not happen. We do need to be sensitive of cultural differences and of the fact that our priorities may not be the same as those of the participants.

Dealing with healthcare is not an easy task, how are you meeting with regulatory and performance standards?

As Biomedical Engineers, we were fully aware that biomedical devices must ensure patient safety and efficacy above all. Part of the course was purposely dedicated to biomedical device standards, regulation and performance, and this is what made the action unique with respect to others such as cooking hacks etc.

How can people collaborate now?

One of the goal of OS4BME  project was to create a common language, a shared way of thinking on which build future objectives. African engineers can use now our same instruments, and we know by first hand which are the real needs, desires and enthusiasm of African people: these facilitate an active collaboration. As aforementioned, FabLab Nairobi is involved together with FabLab Pisa in the IOTPrise project community.
In parallel, the University of Pisa is working with the ABEC and Boston University to raise funds for further courses and student and staff exchange. I have to stress that our (or at any rate my) objective is enable African countries to manage, develop and maintain their own medical equipment by transferring Biomedical expertise to African universities.

Baby Monitor Open Source

Learn more on their wiki

See more pictures on the Fablab Pisa website

Read the press release of the University of Pisa (in italian)


A Neonatal Baby Monitor goes open source and collaborative in Kenya

Africa, Announcements, arduino, device, Fablab, Medical, opensource Commenti disabilitati su A Neonatal Baby Monitor goes open source and collaborative in Kenya 


On the 11th of August a team composed by researchers from FabLab Pisa and University of Pisa’s Center for Bioengineering and Robotics “E.Piaggio” will start a great adventure with a Summer School on the project called OS4BME (Open Source for Biomedical Engineering).

The aim of the project is to bring the DIY&Makers approach in the developing of simple, low cost/high impact biomedical devices, precisely, in this particular case, a neonatal Baby Monitor.

The course will take place at Kenyatta University (Nairobi) and it will involve setting up a 3D printing system, developing a neonatal monitoring device, using open source, electronics based on the Arduino platform and powered by solar panels.

Participants will play an active role in the identification of components, design, assembling and testing of the device and in the discussion of regulatory issues in its development. Close attention will also be paid to safety, ergonomic aspects and regulatory  standards for biomedical devices.

The medical device industry in Africa is largely absent and there is an over reliance on foreign companies to repair and design biomedical instrumentation and resolve technical problems … More importantly, at present there are no specific engines or platforms focused on the sharing of biomedical instrumentation and devices. This is because, by their very nature, biomedical devices possess stringent performance requirements to comply with regulatory standards to ensure patient safety.

OS4BME is a project created by Prof. Arti Ahluwalia (Univ. Pisa), Daniele Mazzei and Carmelo De Maria (both from Fablab Pisa but also post-doc researchers at Centro E.Piaggio). The summer school is an initiative organized by a consortium of nine African universities with the objective of creating a sustainable health-care system, developing a network of academic excellence for Biomedical Engineering in Africa with the support of the ‘United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).

 Arduino is supporting the project and  we sent to the team a bunch of Arduino UNO boards, Wi-Fi and GSM Shields to be used during the course and then will be donated to the Kenyatta University and Fablab Nairobi.

Arduino Package

In the next week  we’ll keep in touch with the team and receive updates directly from the summer school. Stay Tuned on this blog and on the work in progress of their WIKI!

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