Posts with «featured» label

Track the sun with this Arduino-based solar panel

Solar panels are a great way to produce power literally out of thin air, but how much power they produce depends, in part, on how they are aimed. In order to figure out just how much better his solar setup could be with active tracking, YouTuber GreatScott! decided to test this by creating a miniature solar tracking system.

His device uses four LDRs to feed position data to an Arduino Nano, which then moves the small panel to properly face the sun.

The tracker/panel was set up next to a non-moving panel lying flat on his roof, and after a 2 ½-hour test, he found that the moving configuration generated 15% more energy. Of course there are other factors to consider, including time of day and how much power the tracker itself consumes, so be sure to see the experimental project and his thoughts on the results below.

Nature and Arduinos combine as binary driftwood alarm clock

Binary clocks, which use a series of dots to indicate the time, are nothing new, but you’ve never seen anything like this device by Matt Wos! 

Wos’ project features a beautiful driftwood base, and WS2812B RGB LED dots that are suspended above it with copper wire to show the time.

Inside are a pair of Arduino Nanos used to control the LEDs and take input from a small infrared remote, along with an RTC module that allows it to keep accurate time. When the alarm function goes off, you’re treated not to a normal buzzer, but the “soothing” tones of a dial-up modem via an MP3 module and speaker!

Binary clocks have always attracted my attention and here is my version. There are a number of design elements that I believe sets it apart from other variants described on Instructables and other internet sites:

  • Addressable RGB LEDs have been mounted on a copper frame that is external to the body that houses the electronics.
  • An IR remote is used to set the time / alarm, snooze the alarm, select a display colour.
  • The alarm tone is able to be easily personalised.
  • Its in a piece of driftwood!!

The use of the external frame to support the LEDs was due to how much I liked the completed look of the display. The original plan was to have it mounted inside a box, behind opaque perspex but this would have been a design crime!

Novel lathe control method with Arduino

If you want to work with round parts, a lathe is the tool to have, but takes some time to master. A full CNC version takes even more time and skill to understand, but mechanical engineer “Wade’o Design” has come up with something in between. Instead of running his machine with code directly, his device allows the operator to input numbers into an Arduino Uno-based controller pulled off of a mechanical drawing.

The machine then uses this information to automatically move the cutter with a pair of servos, turning out a perfect part. As an added feature, it maintains full manual control, but uses an encoder on each crank to read inputs and turn the servos in a kind of machine-by-wire setup. Cutter position is displayed on the interface screen in this mode, assisting the user even when making parts manually. 

You can see everything in action below, while more build details are available here.

Arduino Blog 11 Jul 16:50
arduino  cnc lathe  featured  uno  

Arduino goes to summer school in Costa Rica!

Back in May, the Arduino team ran a physical computing workshop as part of the summer school program organized by the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design. Each workshop was taught in the context of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The one-week long class focused on designing physical and interactive objects that can help kids understand the building blocks of the digital world and its foundation (e.g. the binary system, barcodes, RGB colors, digital images, digital sounds, programming, laser printing…) in an experiential and playful way.

Italian pedagogues have, at different stages, imagined innovative learning approaches where children are the center of their own learning process through a direct experience of phenomena and concepts applicable in the real world, which is a radical departure from the classic lecture-based system.

To implement this active and experiential learning approach they also designed tools that help children discover abstract concepts through play like, for example, the Montessori Pink Tower to introduce the concept of scale and the decimal system, or the tactile workshops by Bruno Munari to explore the sense of touch and textures.

In the XXI century, human experiences are increasingly mediated by digital tools, and the world we live in is going through a radical digital transformation which requires a deeper understanding of its complexity. To make this world more accessible, we need to encourage children to understand how these digital tools work and enable them to become active citizens of the future, rather than passive learners.

A handful of playful and engaging experiences have been designed by the students, which will allow children to understand a specific technology, such as how solar panel works, how to express colors in binary language, how RFID tags are able to activate objects, and even identify the principle behind accelerometers that we use everyday in video games controllers.

Bucky Glow is an Arduino-controlled LED dodecahedron

After successfully building a gigantic geometric interactive light structure, Jonathan Bumstead decided to do things in a more approachable manner, creating a more a reasonably-sized dodecahedron controlled by an Arduino Nano. The device, named “Bucky Glow,” uses 11 RGB LEDs to light up each side with the exception of the bottom pentagon section.

While it doesn’t have its own light, the base does have a few interesting tricks of its own, with both an opening for programming the Arduino, along with female headers that allow you to access 11 of its I/O pins. This means that you can hook up your own sensors to create your own interactive contraption without designing everything from scratch, and an app interface is even available if you’d like to forgo programming, at least initially.

The Bucky Glow is an interactive LED dodecahedron consisting of 11 LEDs, which are controlled with an Arduino Nano. Using the Arduino programming environment, you can create endless light-up patterns. The Bucky Glow also includes break-out header pins, so you have access to eleven digital I/O pins, a TX (transmit) pin, a RX (receive) pin, reset pin, and ground pin. These pins enable you to connect the Bucky Glow to sensors (e.g. capacitive touch, infrared, ultrasonic), motors, MIDI jacks, and any other electronics you can think of. There are tons of unique ways to make the Bucky Glow musical and interactive.

More info on the Bucky Glow can be found in Bumstead’s write-up here, and kits are on sale via the demo video’s description.

Robotic Connect Four lets you play remotely

In order to restore some tactile feeling to remotely-played board games, maker “lyudatan” created a pair of Arduino Uno-based Connect Four robots. 

When a player makes a move by dropping a disc into a slot, this is recorded by an IR proximity sensor on the first board. The data is then transmitted via an Ethernet shield to a web server.

The second board uses a stepper motor to position discs above the correct slot, and drops them using a servo motor. This process is repeated until the game is done, allowing two players to play the game at a distance.

Code for the project is available here.

An auto-curing chamber for SLA prints

If you have a 3D printer, it’s probably the fused deposition modeling (FDM) type that deposits melted material onto a bed, eventually building up whatever you had in mind. Stereolithography (SLA) printers, however, work in the opposite way using light to solidify liquid material, which is then pulled out of a vat. 

While an interesting process, one consideration is that after generating the print, materials, especially those that are biocompatible, must be left alone under the proper light and temperature conditions in order to solidify fully.

To help with this task, makers at Fablab Irbid designed their own Arduino Uno-based “Post-Curing Box.” It features UV LEDs and a rotating platform, along with a temperature sensor for monitoring conditions. Brightness, rotation, and cure time are set with a simple user interface consisting of an LCD screen, knobs, and buttons. 

This project not only produces ideal conditions for finished parts, but certainly helps with the temptation to poke around—especially since you can see in with its partially translucent viewing window!

Control your GoPro wirelessly with an Arduino MKR1000

As Arduino boards have revolutionized what people can make at home, you might say that GoPros have done the same thing for portable cameras. Later generations of these devices even feature WiFi capabilities, so with the proper programming, Arduinos like the MKR1000 can be used for control!

In this project write-up, maker Randy Sarafan (AKA “randofo”) takes us through how he was able to set up a MKR1000 to communicate with a Hero 4 as well as a Session 5, including sending a “magical” Wake-on-LAN signal to power up the Session camera. 

While he’s not the first to control a GoPro using an Arduino, it’s certainly more elegant than methods like hot-wiring a remote or even recording your own voice to speak commands to it remotely!

TerraDome is a Jurassic World-themed terrarium

If you need a warm place to keep your tropical plants, then look no further than the beautiful “TerraDome” from maker “MagicManu.”

The device is equipped with an Arduino Mega that helps regulate the temperature inside its clear octagonal structure via a reptile heating pad, along with a fan salvaged from a PC power supply. A DHT11 sensor is used to sense temperature and humidity, shown on top of the dome by a small LED display.

Aside from taking care of plants, the project is decidedly dinosaur-themed, specifically Jurassic Park/World. It even features a servo-driven wooden door assembly on the front that looks like it came straight out of the movie, which swings open automatically to allow heat (or dinosaurs) to escape. 

You can check out the build process in the video below (in French), or see the second for a short dino-style glimpse of the assembly.

Earth Clock brilliantly tracks the sun’s light

While we understand that the Earth rotates to produce day and night, and tilts on its axis to vary the day’s length, how is the planet positioned in relation to the sun right now? Unless you’re well-attuned to our solar system’s rotational dance, this is difficult to visualize. To help with this, hacker “SimonRob” came up with a clock that shows how the sun shines in real-time at all points on the Earth.

An array of LEDs provides artificial lighting for the device, which rotates a nicely painted physical globe around a daily axis, along with a much larger rotational axis that controls the Earth’s tilt. Both are controlled via stepper motors, which are in turn controlled by an Arduino Uno and a bevy of supporting electronics.

It’s a clever concept, and a well-executed build, so be sure to check out the project write-up for more information!

Arduino Blog 25 Jun 14:34