Posts with «featured» label

This Arduino-controlled machine draws on textile with wax

Batik is a fabric decoration technique where wax is applied by hand to cloth that is then died, leaving behind beautiful patterns. While interesting, doing this manually is time-consuming and requires quite a bit of skill to properly execute. In a new take on this traditional technique, makers Olivia De Gouveia and Eugenia Morpurgo decided to make a machine to create wax patterns automatically.

What they came up with is a gantry-style robot that moves molten wax over a surface using a tempeature-controlled pen, with the help of an Arduino Mega with a RAMPS 1.4 shield. In theory, the device allows for an infinite printing area, and can be used to draw decorative patterns or even cutting paths for clothing. 

More information is available on GitHub and on the Digital Wax Print website!

Find astronomical objects in the night sky with this Arduino telescope assistant

No matter how good your telescope is, if you don’t know where to point it, it’s little more than a curiosity. Motorized GoTo telescopes are available at a very high price, but maker “DentDentArthurDent” has come up with an automated star-finder, showing you where your telescope needs to be aimed.

The system takes the form of a 3D-printed telescope pendant, allowing you choose from a database of objects displayed on a red LCD screen. A GPS module enables the device to know where it is, and potentiometers, initially calibrated using the North Star, tell where the telescope is pointed. Four LEDs then guide your telescope to the proper heading and elevation, so you can observe your selected object in no time!

Ready to explore galaxies, nebulae, and clusters? Check out the project’s write-up here!

Hot Ninja messages other devices using WiFi SSIDs

When you need to access the Internet via WiFi, it’s not too hard to find a hotspot if you’re in the right location, and the SSID usually gives you some clue as to who is providing it. What if you instead generated network names in order to communicate with people attempting to log on?

That’s the idea behind Hot Ninja, made by Moscow-based artist Dmitry Morozov, better known as “::vtol::.” His device uses a trio of ESP8266 modules to form and name three different networks, giving him 96 characters with which to message the surrounding area. If other gadgets do log on, Hot Ninja can also create a registration page with more information and even the ability to message back and forth. An Arduino Mega serves as the brains of this portable device, and a keyboard and OLED screen form its user interface–shown in the video below. 

Multifunctional network device for autonomous activity in the city environment. Its main function is communication and propaganda through the WiFi wireless standard. This is the hacktivism DIY response to attempts by the authorities in different countries to control the Internet. The project serves as an example of the possible opposition and decentralisation of networks to ensure communications and provide notifications irrespective of whether there is access to the global internet or certain restrictions are applied.

Expanding Death Star lamp with MKR1000

What could be better than a lamp that expands with the pull of a control cord? How about one that looks like the Death Star and is controlled with your voice? 

That’s exactly what maker Adi Singh created using a popular IKEA lamp and embedding it with an Arduino MKR1000 to take voice commands via Alexa. A stepper motor is tasked with opening and closing the exterior segments, and a solid-state relay turns the light on and off. It also features a spectacular custom paint job, making this lamp/superweapon stand out even more.

You can see the results in the video below as it changes shape and blinks to the soothing sounds of the Imperial March!

RC truck packs Arduino control system… and an electromagnetic accelerator turret!

While some toy vehicles perform quite well out of the box, others are just begging to be equipped with supplemental electronics. This was the case for YouTuber Tanner Tech, who after receiving a capable 4WD truck in the mail with no control system, outfitted it with a transmitter and receiver, along with an Arduino Uno.

That’s interesting enough by itself, highlighting the fact that Arduino boards can take in PWM signals from a normal RC receiver. What really sets this build apart is the coil gun that he constructed in the bed. This device is powered by three capacitors, and a servo pan/tilt assembly aims it. While the projectile isn’t particularly dangerous in its current configuration, one would need to use caution when dealing with capacitors here, as they can be charged to the “shockingly” high potential of 400 volts.

More info on the project can be found here or in the video below!

Robot Van Gogh will paint your portrait

Maker Faire Rome, where everything started

I participated in Maker Faire Rome back in December 2017. I came with the rest of the Arduino crew to spend two days talking to other makers in the show, check out the projects made in the field of education and to…  get a portrait painted. Now seriously, I hadn’t planned to get a painting of my beard made at Maker Faire, it just happened. I was walking around together with Marcus, one of the guys running the Arduino Education web infrastructure, when I saw my own picture on a computer screen at a not-so-distant booth. We came closer just to satisfy my curiosity, and then the surprise… there was a robot making my portrait!

The process of making this portrait was not exactly short, the robot moves back and forth every couple of brush strokes to get some more paint. The colors are created by dipping into small containers. Imagine a CNC of sorts moving on the X-Y plane and making a small movement with the brush in order to make a mark on the canvas. My portrait is made of several A4 pages glued together, as you can see in the picture. In total it takes several hours to produce a portrait like this one.

You can see the first traces made by the machine while painting my portrait in the following video.

The painting robot was built by Jose Salatino, a painter gone roboticist that used to go around making portraits to famous musicians and giving the paintings away to them. He told me that this is how he started in the art world. At some point he wanted to bring together his life passion with his hobby (electronics) and got interested into painting robots (seems like there is a whole niche there I haven’t explored yet) and realized that very few people were really using a painter’s technique to mix the colors. That triggered him into learning more about machines in general, and machines that could paint in particular.

[Jose’s self portrait process, image courtesy of Jose Salatino]

The machine itself

The painter robot, which I came to call Van Gogh because of its painting style, is a two-axis machine that can be programmed to move all over the canvas. The machine uses the technique of creating a color by mixing first basic pigments (blue, yellow, red) and then dipping the brush again into one of a series of containers grading from white to black. This is, Jose told me, how he would mix the paint: first dip into the different containers of basic color (e.g. to make a bright green, need to dip once in blue and maybe three times in yellow), second assign the luminosity by dipping into a certain gray color. When asked about whether the paint containers would not get dirty by doing so, Jose replied that so it goes when painting for him. The colors get dirty on the palette and you need to keep on adding new color. And this is when I realized that I was totally over engineering the project in my head when I tried to imagine how I would do it. Check the robot in action in the following video.

Note the sponge used to clean the brush before reloading it with paint, yet another master move, in my opinion. You can read more about the machine by visiting the project’s write-up here

The contest Jose is participating in

Jose has entered a robotics painting contest with the works made by his robot. One of the proposed pieces is actually my portrait.  

The 2018 “3rd Annual” International Robotic Art Competition’s goal is to challenge teams to produce something visually beautiful with robotics – that is, to have a robot use physical brushes and paint to create an artwork.

Jose’s robot is all about brushes, as I already told you. And he is all for the competition, for which he teamed up with his kids who learned everything that was needed to make the robot paint as it does. The idea is that, in case he won this contest, 90% off the $100.000 USD prize would be donated to an NGO in the US. Are you interested in art? More specifically, are you into robotic art? Then visit the contest’s site, register, and vote for your favorite pieces. If you voted for Jose’s work, you could also help him choose an NGO where to give the money away: Red Cross, Black Girls Code, Learn2Teach-Teach2Learn… as he lives in Barcelona, he doesn’t really know who he would give the price to in the US. Jose is open to suggestions, but remember he needs your vote first!

Check the whole contest here and Jose’s entry here.

Read more about Jose

If you are interested in reading more about Jose’s project, his daughter, Flor, made a very nice interview and reflection about the role of the artist when there is a machine making the work. This is something I bet many readers were wondering by now: “if the machine paints it, who is the one to be credited, the machine or the person making the machine?” In my opinion, and since I am one of the models, I think we–the models giving away our image–should be also getting some credit, or? (Note: this last sentence was a joke!)

A look back at CTC Valencia Fair 2018

On April 18th, a team from Arduino Education made it to the museum Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias in Valencia to participate in the CTC Valencia Fair. A total of 1,200 students (out of 1,500 people in attendance) participated in the five-hour-long event where the students exhibited what they had been producing over the last couple of months.

CTC, the Creative Technologies in the Classroom initiative

CTC started as a project in the region of Castilla La Mancha in Spain. I was asked what kind of process could be implemented in order to bring teachers and school up to speed with new educational technologies. Back then, in 2012, I had been teaching students from many different disciplines, mostly at the university level: interaction design, medicine, engineering, product design, mathematics, multimedia, fine arts… I had also been working with upper secondary school teachers from Spain, Argentina, and Sweden in the creation of small curriculums introducing interactive technologies a part of more transversal teaching in subjects like science and design.

When asked by the people in charge at the regional centre for educators in Castilla La Mancha, I suggested a quick iterative design process that began with a collective survey to teachers in 25 schools and followed by a curriculum suggestion on topics that they considered relevant. The most complex aspect in this process was how to design interventions in the way of implementing this programme so that I could incorporate the teachers’ as well as the students’ opinions and debug the content as we went. CTC has over 25 different mid-size experiments designed to help a class get acquainted to work in a project-based learning methodology through an iterative process.

The first CTC fair brought together over 400 students from all over Castilla La Mancha that presented 100-plus projects. Almost five years later, we have witnessed yet another incredible fair with very nice results, only this time in Valencia.

What has changed

CTC now includes experiments with wireless technology, accelerometers, capacitive sensing, motors, lights, and other interesting tricks, thanks to using the Arduino 101 board that comes with BLE, an IMU, and some other goodies. Students are introduced to programming using Processing and the Arduino IDE. But not everything is coding, given our pedagogic approach, they learn how to work in groups, search for technical information, organize time, and present their results…

On the Arduino side, we have jumped from having a good old WordPress site to enable communication between the students, to a full-fledged platform that is being augmented with new materials and courses on a yearly basis. The content works for both the classic IDE and the more modern Create IDE. At the same time, we have implemented a hotline where teachers can ask questions directly to Arduino’s support specialists. Of course, there is a forum just for teachers to talk to one another and the Arduino forum still supporting them; but we have learned that teachers like one-to-one communication because each school is somehow different in terms of equipment, network facilities, classrooms and policies, and social environment–teachers, students, and their families.

We have learned about complex deployments; for example, in Valencia there is a special Linux distribution called Lliurex that we had to hack in order to get the IDE running properly. During a previous project in Andalucia, teachers had no administration password to the computers! Well, we did figure things out and got the project to work. So big kudos to our support team that had to get out the hacker hoodie and code a clever solution!

Also, for the CTC webinars we make on a bi-weekly basis, we have changed our online seminar backend to have a much more efficient one. Now our calls allow full interaction with the participants that can be invited to talk and share screens when needed instead of simply having a chat line back.

Valencia is cool, isn’t it?

We had a CTC fair at the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias, a museum by Santiago Calatrava in the shape of a huge boat put upside-down. There are fountains surrounding the building, the weather was amazing (remember I am coming from Sweden, where we just had the worst winter in 10 years, so anything over 15°C is good at this point), the organizers from CEFIRE (the teacher organization in Valencia’s region) made a great preparation of the location, schools arrived on time, the show went fine-great-FABULOUS… so yes, Valencia is cool, and the so was the CTC fair.

On stage we could see almost 30 projects being presented by the students, while we conducted a two and a half-hour livecast for those interested in seeing the projects from anywhere in the world. We held 15 interviews, but unfortunately we couldn’t show everything happening, considering that there were a more than 150 projects on display!

The following video is a summary of livestream from the museum; for your benefit, we have chosen some highlights of the broadcast I conducted throughout the day.

The interviews were conducted in Spanish, which is another reason for the summary; but if you are interested in the actual interviews, check out the following video.

Some seriously nice projects

I cannot stop being surprised by the amount of creativity students show when making projects. Even if I attend an average of five events of this nature per year, I keep on finding projects that make an impression in me. Students are always challenging any pre-conceptions I might have about what could be done with something as simple as an Arduino board. The one thing teachers keep on saying again and again is that it was them, the students, that pushed the process forward, that once they got started with the course, it was hard not to get carried away by the students initiative. The role of the teachers is playing the realist, trying to make sure the projects come to an end. That said, here some of the things I saw while walking around in the faire.

Probably the most impressive project I came across was a model of the Hogwart’s castle inspired by the Harry Potter movies. It took the students four months to build the entire project. It was a replica of the castle, so heavy that it needed four people to carry it around. It had dragons flying around one tower, the lights could be turned on and off… there was even a fountain with running water! The whole mode could be controlled via Bluetooth from an Android tablet. In total, the model took three months to construct, the students said, while making the electronics and software work took one month.

On the other side of the spectrum, I could play with a small arm wrestling toy made by a single student that took only 5 hours to build. You can check out the interview with the student in the above-posted videos. While the project seems to be simple, it is clear that the student had become quite knowledgeable in the craft of making projects, since he had figured everything for the project on his own without any external help.

One last project I would like to talk about was a small drawing machine comprised of mechanics from DVD drives that could replicate small drawings (less than 10x10cm big) using a pen. The students explained that it barely worked the night before, but that they finally figured out the calibration process minutes before leaving for the faire. The results, as you can see on the video interviews, are quite amazing. They can export drawings using the open source program Inkscape in a format (G-code) their machine can understand, this allows them to trace any kind of vectorized drawing and reproduce it with their machine.

There were a lot more projects, take a look at the videos and pictures in this blog post. We will be presenting some others as part of the Arduino Livecast series in the the future. If you want to know more, just subscribe to Arduino’s YouTube channel and you will get weekly notifications on our videos.

Acknowledgements

The CTC Valencia project has been possible thanks to the generous contribution of EduCaixa, the on-site collaboration of the technical body at CEFIRE, the kind support of the regional government of Valencia – the Generalitat -, and the help of our old friend Ultralab.

From everyone involved in the project, big thanks to Ismael and Oscar, who believed in the project and pushed for it. Personally I want to thank Nerea who coordinated the project, and Roxana who was there making it happen from Arduino on a weekly basis; also Carla and Carlos who covered up when needed. Finally to Laura, who worked long evenings on top of everything else to make all of graphics needed for the fair.

At a more technical level, we have a new revision to the look and feel of the CTC project site coming, and it is looking awesome. Marcus, Gabrielle, Luca and everyone working with the UX in Arduino are creating one of the best-looking educational experiences ever. If not only the content is good, but if it feels good and looks good, then the experience will be excellent!

Do you want CTC in your world?

If you want to be part of the CTC initiative, visit Arduino Education’s website, subscribe to the Arduino Education Newsletter [at the bottom of that site], or send us a request for more information via email: ctc.101@arduino.cc.

[Photos by Pablo Ortuño]

1961 rotary phone gets a 2018 cellular upgrade

While it’s hard to beat today’s mobile devices functionality-wise, if you need a phone built like a tank and designed for voice communication and voice communication only, you can’t go wrong with the Western Electric Model 500 rotary telephone. As maker “bicapitate” shows on Imgur, these models include a generous amount of space inside, enough room in fact for an Arduino Uno along with a tiny Adafruit FONA module for cellular capabilities.

While build details are slim, it appears that the Uno takes pulses from the rotary input, then makes calls via the FONA. A DC motor drives the bell to indicate a call is being made, and the original headset, possibly modified with a new speaker and mic, is used for audio. It now also includes a LiPo battery, allowing you to use this wherever convenient—while still slamming the headset down with authority!

YouTuber makes his own Overwatch laser turrets

If you ever wanted to to see what Symmetra’s sentry turrets from Overwatch would look like in real life, now you can thanks to Mr. Volt. The YouTuber has produced a pair of them powered by a LiPo battery and controlled with an Arduino Mega, utilizing a relay shield to provide enough power to each laser.

In theory, the turrets can each be aimed with a servo motor and sense objects with an infrared range finder. The main control feature, however, is an arcade button that controls firing, along with a big red e-stop switch to cut things off as needed. 

After a couple weeks of tinkering, my first iteration of Symmetra’s turrets are alive! They may be 3D-printed instead of hard light constructs, but I still think they’re pretty cool. Each turret holds a 2W 445nm laser and RGB (Dotstar) LEDs. They’re controlled by an Arduino Mega and some relays.

You can see it demonstrated popping balloons at just after the 8:30 mark in the video below. Also, please be sure to use the necessary precautions when working with lasers. For his part, Mr. Volt decided to build his own FPV rig out of a welding helmet!

Arduino and Distrelec launch a new automation & robotics contest!

How can you help advance Industry 4.0 using the Arduino ecosystem? From robots and predictive maintenance to remote control and data acquisition, we’ve teamed up Distrelec to launch a new Automation & Robotics Contest challenging our community to create innovative solutions that can make the industry faster, cheaper, more flexible, and efficient.

Participants are required to tap into our extensive range of IoT boards like the MKR1000 WiFi and MKR GSM 1400, libraries, and online platform to bring their ideas to life. Industrial automation projects could target energy management, remote monitoring, machine safety, or predictive maintenance, for example, using Arduino Create to set up, control, and connect your Arduino, Intel, and Arm-based devices. Robotics projects could include designs for surveillance drones, robotic arms, rovers, or autonomous transportation, leveraging feature-rich boards like the Mega and Due to prototype advanced systems. 

How to Enter

  • Create a free account on Arduino.cc (or log in if already a member).
  • Register for the contest by clicking “Register as a participant.”
  • Send your concept to the Arduino/Distrelec: Automation & Robotics Contest by June 29, 2018. The top 150 makers will receive a coupon for Distrelec online store. Moreover, there will be a series of micro contests, with weekly prizes handed out from Distrelec.
  • Design, build, and submit your project by September 16, 2018. Winning projects will be selected based on their originality, quality, creativity, and social impact. 

Prizes

Ready to get started? You can find more information on the contest here and browse Distrelec’s entire Arduino lineup on their website. To submit your ideas, please visit the Arduino Project Hub. And remember, projects must use an Arduino board in order to be eligible to win!