Posts with «project» label

Hacking Robotic Arm using Controllino and Cayenne



This tutorial will show you how to take over the controls of the OWI Robotic Arm with the help of an Arduino compatible, open-source PLC called the Controllino MAXI, together with Cayenne (my go-to iOT application for remote connection to my Arduino projects). The Controllino MAXI will provide the physical connections to the OWI robotic arm, and Cayenne will allow me to control the arm via my web browser or via the Cayenne app on my phone.


Arduino Libraries and IDE

  1. The Arduino IDE can be used to program the Controllino. You can dowload the Arduino IDE from here:
  2. You will also need to read the Cayenne Ethernet library installation instructions in order to install the Cayenne Ethernet Library.
  3. The Controllino will connect to the internet via the Ethernet port onboard.
  4. You do not need the Controllino library for this project, however, if you have a Controllino, you might as well install the library. You can read the Controllino library installation instructions from their GitHub webpage here:
  5. You will need to notify the Arduino IDE of the Controllino MAXI board by pasting the supplied URL into the "Additional Boards Manager URLs" in the Arduino IDE.
  6. This is located under: FILE - PREFERENCES - Additional Boards Manager URLs.
  7. The URL that you need to paste is in STEP 3 of the Controllino Library installation instructions on their GitHub page.
  8. The video at the top of this tutorial may help clarify the process.



The code above is very simple, however you will need to create a dashboard of widgets from within your Cayenne account in order to control the OWI robotic Arm from your phone or via the Dashboard webpage.


Setting up Cayenne Dashboard

Once you have created your Cayenne account, you will be presented with a webpage to choose a board to connect to. Controllino is an Arduino compatible PLC, so make sure to follow these instructions for setting up the Controllino in your Cayenne Account.

  1. Select Arduino from the available list of boards.
  2. Make sure to install the necessary libraries if your have not done so already.
  3. Select Arduino MEGA from the avaliable list of Arduino boards
  4. Select Ethernet Shield W5100
  5. Copy and paste the Arduino code that pops up on screen into your Arduino IDE and upload to the Controllino.
  6. Alternatively, copy and paste the code from above, however you will need to insert your Authentication token to get it to work

After you upload the code to the Controllino, and providing it has an ethernet cable connected to the internet router (and has access to the internet), and is powered on, it will connect to your Cayenne Dashboard. You can now add widgets to the dashboard in real time to interact with the Controllino, and without uploading any more code to the open source PLC.


Adding Widgets

We need to add a number of widgets in order to activate the relays on the Controllino. The relavent digital pins that we will need to know about can be found on the Controllino website here:

Here is the direct link to the PINOUT file for the Controllino MAXI.

"Armed" with that knowledge, we can now create the widgets which are necessary to control the relays on the Controllino. From within the Cayenne dashboard, please follow these instructions to create a widget:

  1. Select - ADD NEW
  2. Select - DEVICE/WIDGET
  3. Select - ACTUATORS
  4. Then - RELAY from the dropdown box
  5. Select - RELAY SWITCH
  6. Give the widget a descriptive name to differentiate it from the other widgets and a name that is somewhat informative (eg. R0 - Pos)
  7. I gave the first widget the name "R0 - Pos", because it will connect to Relay R0, and that relay will be connected to the Positive (POS) terminal of the OWI robotic arm.
  8. Select the device you would like to connect to. Be aware that you can change the name of the device in the settings. If you followed this tutorial, it should have the name "Arduino MEGA", but I changed the name of the device to "Controllino" to be more accurate.
  9. We will be using a digital pin to control the relay, therefore select "Digital" as the Connectivity option
  10. For this specific widget, we will be controlling R0, which is activated by digital pin D22 on the Controllino. Therefore select "D22" from the "Pin" dropdown box.
  11. Choose a "Button" as the widget type
  12. Choose an icon from the dropdown box that makes sense to you
  13. Skip Step 1
  14. Select Step 2: Add actuator

You should now see your new widget on the dashboard. Select the widget to enable or activate that relay. If you do this, and if everything goes to plan, you will see the LED for R0 illuminate on the Controllino. You now have to add the rest of the widgets to the dashboard in order to control the rest of the relays on the Controllino.


Widget Dashboard

Here is a table to show you how I setup my dashboard.


Fritzing diagram


OWI Robotic Arm Pins


Normal OWI Robotic Arm Circuit

The following circuit diagram will show you how the wired control box is normally connected to the OWI Robotic arm. This is the circuit diagram of the OWI robotic arm under normal operating contidtions.


OWI Robotic Arm Circuit when connected to Controllino

The following circuit diagram will show you how the OWI Robotic Arm will be controlled by the relays of the Controllino. This is the circuit diagram of the OWI robotic arm when it is connected to the Controllino.


All connected

The OWI Robotic Arm is connected to a breadboard using the female-to-male jumper wires. Solid core wire is then fed through to the relay terminals of the Controllino. You could just wire it up so that the robotic arm is connected directly to the Controllino, however, I did not have the right connectors for this purpose.
The Controllino is also connected to my internet router via a normal RJ-45 ethernet cable, and is powered by a 12V DC power adapter.



Now that you have all the physical connections made, uploaded the code to the Controllino, and have created your dashboard in Cayenne, you should be able to control your OWI Robotic arm from anywhere in the world. As demonstrated in the video at the start of this tutorial, the robotic arm has quite a bit of give on each of the joints, which makes it difficult to achieve certain tasks that require an element of precision. There goes that idea of being able to perform surgery with this thing !!! At least you can get it to make you a cup of tea, and if you are patient enough, you might even get a grape once in a while.

Thank you to Controllino and Cayenne for making this tutorial possible. If you would like your product featured in my tutorials, please contact me on my contact page.


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Prextron CHAIN BLOCKS - Arduino Nano controlled Ultrasonic sensor that switches a motor wirelessly using 433MHz RF modules and a relay board.



In this tutorial, I will be evaluating Prextron CHAIN blocks – a new system that allows you to connect your sensors and actuators to an Arduino NANO using clever 3D-printed prototyping boards that can be stacked sideways. This very modular system makes it easy to connect, disconnect and replace project components, and eliminate the “rats nest of wires” common to many advanced Arduino projects. CHAIN BLOCKS are open, which means that you can incorporate any of your sensors or actuators to these prototyping boards, and you can decide which specific pin on Arduino you plan to use. The CHAIN BLOCK connections prevent or reduce common connection mistakes, which make them ideal for class-room projects and learning activities.

I am going to set up a project to put these CHAIN BLOCKs to the test:
When I place my hand in-front of an Ultrasonic sensor, the Arduino will transmit a signal wirelessly to another Arduino, and consequently turn on a motor.


Parts Required:

You need the following Prextron Chain Blocks

Please note: You may need to solder the module wires to the CHAIN BLOCK protoboard.


Arduino Libraries and IDE

This project does not use any libraries. However, you will need to upload Arduino code to the Arduino. For this you will need the Arduino IDE which can be obtained from the official Arduino website:


ARDUINO CODE: RF Transmitter




Fritzing diagrams for Transmitter






Fritzing diagrams for Receiver





Concluding comments

The purpose of this project was to evaluate Prextron CHAIN BLOCKs and put them to the test. Here is what I thought of CHAIN BLOCKS at the time of evaluation. Some of my points mentioned below may no longer apply to the current product. It may have evolved / improved since then. So please take that into consideration


What I liked about Chain Blocks

  • The design is simple, the product is simple.
  • Once the Chain Blocks were all assembled, they were very easy to connect to each other.
  • I can really see the benefit of Chain Blocks in a teaching environment, because it simplifies the connection process, and reduces connection mixups.
  • It was good to see that the blocks come in different colours, which means that you can set up different colour schemes for different types of modules.
  • You can incorporate pretty much any sensor or Actuator into the Chain block which is very appealing.
  • You also have the flexibility of choosing which pins you plan to use on the Arduino.
  • Projects look a lot neater, because you no longer have the rats nest of wires.
  • The Blocks lock into each other which means that they are much easier to transport/carry.


What I did not like about Chain Blocks

  • In most cases, the Chain Block protoboard lanes were not numbered, which increased the chances of making mistakes when soldering
  • The need to solder modules to the protoboard, may be a discouragement for some people.
  • I would have liked a choice of different size Chain blocks. Some of the sensors did not fit nicely into the Square blocks.
  • Prextron really need to work on their website if they plan to get serious with this product: Webpage has incomplete functionality or irrelevant links etc etc.


Thank you very much to Prextron for providing the CHAIN BLOCKS used in this tutorial, and allowing me to try out their product. If you are interested in trying them yourself, then make sure to visit them at:

If you like this page, please do me a favour and show your appreciation :

Visit my ArduinoBasics Google + page.
Follow me on Twitter by looking for ScottC @ArduinoBasics.
I can also be found on Pinterest and Instagram.
Have a look at my videos on my YouTube channel.


EasyEDA RGB5050 LED Scroll Bar


Guest Post Disclaimer

This is a guest post by the EasyEDA team. I would like to thank EasyEDA for providing this tutorial for everyone to enjoy. All information within this post was provided by EasyEDA.



None of us could deny the fact that we would love with to play with LED’s and lighting stuff. I love to play with LED’s and create attractive lighting effects. This project was a result of such an attempt where I created a stunning RGB light effect using the popular development platform Arduino Nano. Let’s see the circuit, code and instruction on building this project:


Image source: EasyEDA


Arduino Libraries and IDE

No libraries are required for this project. The Arduino IDE can be downloaded from the Arduino website. Here is the download link.



Preparing the LED strips

Cut down the LED strips into 10 single pieces. Make sure you cut them into equal halves and make sure that only the copper conduction plate in the strip is cut. Making a wrong cut disrupts the electrical conductivity between the LED’s. After cutting down into separate strips, you will need to connect each strip using a Dupont wire connectors.

Image source: EasyEDA


Designing the Control Board

I have made a custom control board that incorporates an Arduino Nano. The control board is used to boost the incoming signal from Arduino and lights up the corresponding LED strips.


Image source: EasyEDA


Control Board Circuit diagram

I used a free Online circuit and PCB designing platform called EasyEDA to develop my control board. It is pretty easy to use especially because of the large library of parts to choose from. Once the design is complete, you have the option to order it through EasyEDA. They offers great prices on custom PCB manufacturing. I have added 10 connection points for 10 LED strips. Each RGB LED strip is controlled by one of the Arduino Nano digital pins.. Transistors Q1,Q2,Q3….Q10 act as a switch for these LED strips for controlling 12V strips via a 5V signal from the Arduino. And switches S1,S2..S4 were added to be able to select the effect on the strip. The schematic can be seen below:



You can access the actual EasyEDA schematic by clicking on the image below:

Image source: EasyEDA


PCB Board Design

Here is the PCB board design for this project.
You can access the actual EasyEDA design by clicking on the image below.

Image source: EasyEDA


PCB Fabrication

After completing the PCB design, you can click on the Fabrication icon.

You will then have access to the PCB order page which will allow you to download your PCB Gerber files that can be sent to any manufacturer. However it is a lot easier (and cheaper) to order it directly from EasyEDA.
Here you can select:

  • the number of PCBs you want to order
  • the number of copper layers you need
  • the PCB thickness
  • copper weight
  • and even the PCB color
After you’ve selected all of the options, click “Save to Cart” and complete you order. You will then get your PCBs shipped a few days later.

Image source: EasyEDA


PCB final product

When I received the PCBs, I am quite impressed with the quality, they are pretty nice.

Image source: EasyEDA


PCB Build of Materials

Image source: EasyEDA


PCB connections

Connect the LED strips through the connection points in the board. Make sure that you connect these correctly (push the connectors all the way onto the pin), because the chances of a short increase significantly with the number of wires connected. Once all the connections are done all that left is to install your Arduino Nano (pre-programmed with the Arduino code above), and to power the PCB with a 12V power supply.


Image source: EasyEDA


Project Video


Concluding comments

Hope you like this RGB light effects project, do try it out and post your feedback below.
This is a guest blog post by the EasyEDA team. All information within this post was provided by EasyEDA.

ScottC 11 Sep 07:09

Rita’s Dolls Probably Live Better Than You Do

If it wasn’t for the weird Dutch-Norwegian techno you’d presumably have to listen to forever, [Gianni B.]’s doll house for his daughter, [Rita] makes living in a Barbie World seem like a worthwhile endeavor. True to modern form, it’s got LED lighting. It’s got IoT. It’s got an app and an elevator. It even has a tiny, working, miniature television.

It all started with a Christmas wish. [Rita] could no longer stand to bear the thought of her Barbie dolls living a homeless lifestyle on her floor, begging passing toys for enough monopoly money to buy a sock to sleep under. However, when [Gianni] visited the usual suspects to purchase a dollhouse he found them disappointing and expensive.

So, going with the traditional collaborating-with-Santa ruse, he and his family had the pleasure of collaborating on a dollhouse development project. Each room is lit by four ultra bright LEDs. There is an elevator that’s controlled by an H-bridge module, modified to have electronic braking. [Rita] doesn’t own a Dr. Barbie yet, so safety is paramount.

The brain of the home automation is a PIC micro with a Bluetooth module. He wrote some code for it, available here. He also went an extra step and used MIT’s scratch to make an app interface for the dollhouse. You can see it work in the video after the break. The last little hack was the TV. An old arduino, an SD Card shield, and a tiny 2.4 inch TFT combine to make what’s essentially a tiny digital picture frame.

His daughter’s are overjoyed with the elevation of their doll’s economic class and a proud father even got to show it off at a Maker Faire. Very nice!

Filed under: home hacks
Hack a Day 06 Sep 12:00
aqua  arduino  automation  barbie  doll  girl  home hacks  house  led  mit  pic  project  scratch  tft  world  

Add Robotic Farming to Your Backyard with Farmbot Genesis

Growing your own food is a fun hobby and generally as rewarding as people say it is. However, it does have its quirks and it definitely equires quite the time input. That’s why it was so satisfying to watch Farmbot push a weed underground. Take that!

Farmbot is a project that has been going on for a few years now, it was a semifinalist in the Hackaday Prize 2014, and that development time shows in the project documented on their website. The robot can plant, water, analyze, and weed a garden filled with arbitrarily chosen plant life. It’s low power and low maintenance. On top of that, every single bit is documented on their website. It’s really well done and thorough. They are gearing up to sell kits, but if you want it now; just do it yourself.

The bot itself is exactly what you’d expect if you were to pick out the cheapest most accessible way to build a robot: aluminum extrusions, plate metal, and 3D printer parts make up the frame. The brain is a Raspberry Pi hooked to its regular companion, an Arduino. On top of all this is a fairly comprehensive software stack.

The user can lay out the garden graphically. They can get as macro or micro as they’d like about the routines the robot uses. The robot will happily come to life in intervals and manage a garden. They hope that by selling kits they’ll interest a whole slew of hackers who can contribute back to the problem of small scale robotic farming.

Filed under: cnc hacks, green hacks

Simple Clock is Great Stepper Motor Project

You’d think that we’ve posted every possible clock here at Hackaday. It turns out that we haven’t. But we have seen enough that we’ve started to categorize clock builds in our minds. There are the accuracy clocks which strive to get every microsecond just right, the bizzaro clocks that aim for most unique mechanism, and then there are “hello world” clocks that make a great introduction to building stuff.

Today, we’re looking at a nice “hello world” clock. [electronics for everyone]’s build uses a stepper motor and a large labelled wheel that rotates relative to a fixed pointer. Roll the wheel, and the time changes. It looks tidy, it’s cyclical by design, and it’s a no-stress way to get your feet wet driving stepper motors. And it comes with a video, embedded below.

The clock is driven by the ubiquitous 28BYJ-48 stepper motors that can be found on eBay for a few bucks. They don’t have much torque, but all they have to do here is turn a cardboard disk. It’s the perfect match.

There is one caveat with these motors, though: they don’t have an integral number of steps per turn. If you have the “1:64” geared version, it’s actually geared 8910:567424. The upshot? Instead of 2,048 steps per turn, you need 2,037.8864. Get this wrong and you’re losing 14 minutes per day with a 12-hour wheel.

So between just driving the motors, and the low torque and the non-integral gearing, there’s more to learn here than you’d think. You can add a real-time-clock circuit if you want it precise. With all this room to expand, you can get it built and running in a weekend for a few bucks. And that makes it the perfect “hello world”.

Filed under: clock hacks

Arduino Disco Ball Cake



This is a fun project that will surely impress anyone you make this for. If you are having a "Disco" themed party, you cannot have a boring old cake. Let me tell you, this is probably the only Arduino project that my wife has ever been willing to be a part of. She did the hard work of putting the cake together, and I, well.... I was in charge of lighting. My biggest fear was that one of the wires would come loose and ruin the event at the most critical moment... While a wire did come loose, I managed to fix it in time before the guests arrived. Ok enough of my monologue, let me show you how to make one of these things.


Parts Required:

Note: powering this project using batteries is possible, but not recommended, and done at your own risk.

You will also need a Disco Ball Cake which you will have to make(or buy).My wife made this one. And as you will see shortly, the cake on the inside was Pink, because it was a strawberry cake.

Arduino Libraries and IDE

You can get the Arduino IDE from here:
I used version 1.6.4, which is probably way out of date... but works fine nonetheless.
You can get information about how to use the FastLED library here:
And you can download it from here: FastLED Library
I used version 3.0.3, which is also probably out of date.



  • FastLED Library: You need to make sure that you have downloaded and installed the FastLED library into your Arduino IDE. The library is included in this sketch otherwise the FastLED functions will not work.
  • The "NUM_LEDS" variable: tells the Arduino how many LEDS are in use. In this case, we have 4 LED rings, with each LED ring containing 16 LEDs, and therefore a total of 64 LEDs. If you define a lower number, for example 16, then the sketch would only illuminate the LEDs on the first LED ring.
  • The "DATA_PIN" variable: tells the Arduino which Digital Pin to use for data transmission to the LED ring. In this case, I am using Digital Pin 9.
  • Other variables: I have a couple of other variables which are used for LED randomisation and hue control. Hue is the colour of the LED. By incrementing the hue variable, you can get the LEDs to cycle in a rainbow-like pattern. The "hue" variable is a "byte", which means that it will only go up to a maximum value of 255, before it jumps back down to zero.
  • Initialisation Code: If you have a different LED ring to the one in this tutorial, you may have to modify the initialisation code. This LED ring has a WS2812-B chipset (according to the ICStation website), and so this line:
    FastLED.addLeds(leds, NUM_LEDS); Will tell the FastLED library which chipset is being used (NEOPIXEL), the pin used for data transmission (DATA_PIN), the LED array to be controlled (leds), and the number of LEDs to be controlled (NUM_LEDS).
  • In the "loop()": section of the code: the "hue" variable is incremented to create a rainbow effect, and a random LED is selected using the FastLED's random8() function.
  • The random8(x) function: will randomly choose a number from 0 to x.
  • The randomSeed() function: is there to help "truely randomise" the number. This is helped by reading the randomness of a floating analogPin (A0). It doesn't have to be analogPin 0, it can be any unused analog pin.
  • leds[rnd].setHSV(hue,255,255): This line sets the random LED to have a hue equal to the "hue" variable, saturation equal to 255, and brightness equal to 255. Saturation equal to zero will make the LED shine white.
    Brightness of zero essentially turns the LED OFF.
  • No physical changes will be made to the LED ring display until a message is sent from the Arduino to the Digital input pin of the LED ring. This message is transmitted when you call the; function. This tells the LED rings to update their display with the information contained within the led array (leds). So if you set all LEDs to turn on, the board will not illuminate the LEDs until the; function is called. This is important to know - especially when trying to design your own LED sequences.
  • The delay(50) line: will set the amount of time between flashes to 50 milliseconds. You can change the delay to increase or decrease the number of flashes per second.
  • The leds[i].fadeToBlackBy( 180 ) function: essentially fades the LEDS by 180 units. You can increase or decrease this number to achieve the desired fade speed. Be warned however, that if you forget to call this function or if you fail to fade the LEDs sufficiently, then you may end up with ALL LEDs turning on, which could potentially destroy your Arduino board - i.e. depending on the number of LED rings you have, and how you have chosen to power them.


The Cake

  • Slide 1 - Base Plate: It is important to create the base plate with all of the electronics fitted and in working order BEFORE you put the Cake onto it. Trying to fit wires/cables LEDs and circuits under the base plate while there is a Cake ontop is a recipe for disaster. So prepare the base plate first, and then move to the cake making part later.
  • Slide 2 - Bake Cake: You will need a couple of hemisphere cake pans to make the two sides of the ball. You have to make a relatively dense cake to withstand the overall weight of the cake, icing and fondant, and to maintain it's shape. Once cooled and chilled, you can place them ontop of each other to form a sphere. They are held together by a layer of icing between them.
  • Slide 3 - Fondant Icing: The fondant icing has to be rolled out on a special non-stick mat. We found that adding a bit of flour helped to reduce the stickiness. There are special rollers which ensure that the thickness of the fondant is consistent throughout. You then have to cut them into square pieces (about 1 cm squares worked well for us). The squares are then painted Silver with a special/edible silver fondant glaze. You may need to use a few coats, and allowing it to dry between coats.
  • Slide 4 - Iced Cake on Base: The cake can either be iced on or off the base plate... probably better to do it off the base plate. But if you decide to do it on the base plate, you will need to protect the LEDs from stray icing that may fall from the cake (in the process). Once the cake has been fully iced (with icing/frosting), you will need to place the cake into the central position on the board. There may be a chance that the cake may slide from the base... so do what you need to do to make it stay put.
  • Slides 5-7 - Place Fondant Squares: While the icing is still soft, you will then need to quickly, methodically and tirelessly place the fondant squares in a horizontal linear pattern around the cake. Work your way towards the north and south poles of the cake doing one row at a time. You can cut a fondant circle for the north pole of the cake. In slide 7, you will see a hole at the top of the cake. This was made to cold a plastic canister inside, which would be used later the hold the decorations in place at the top of the cake. Do this before placing the fondant circle at the top of the cake.
  • Slide 8 - Add Glitter: After placing all of the fondant squares onto the cake, it is very possible that some of the Silver glaze may have been wiped off some of the squares. This is where you go over it again with a few more coats of silver glaze, and on the last coat, before it dries, you can sprinkle some edible glitter all around the cake to give it that extra shine.
  • Slide 9 - The end product: The final step is to add some wire sparklers and some other decorations to the top of the cake. Push the wires through the fondant cap at the north pole into the canister within. This will hold the wires in place without ruining all of your hard work.

LED Ring pins

  • WS2812-B chipset: This LED ring uses the WS2812-B chipset, and has 4 break-out pins
    (GND, 5V, Din, Dout)
  • Power: To power this module, you need to provide 5V and up to 1A of current
  • Signals: To control the LED ring, you need to send signals to it via the Digital Input pin (Din).
    You can connect another LED ring to this one by utilising the Digital Output pin (Dout)


Power Usage Guide

  • General Rule: Each individual LED on the ring can transmit Red, Green and Blue light.The combinations of these colours can make up any other colour. White light is made up of all three of these colours at the same time. Each individual colour will draw approximately 20mA of current when showing that colour at maximum brightness. When shining white at maximum brightness, the single LED will draw approximately 60mA.
  • Power multiplier: If each LED can draw up to 60mA and there are 16 LEDs on a single LED ring, then 16x60mA = 960mA per LED ring. To be safe, and to make the maths easier, you need to make sure that you provide enough current to accommodate 1A per LED ring. So 4 LED rings will need a 5V 4A power supply if you want to get full functionality out of the modules.


Fritzing diagram

Connecting ONE LED Ring to the Arduino- (Click to enlarge)

  • 3 wires: You only need 3 wires to connect to the LED ring. If you only plan to light up a couple of LEDs at any one time this should be ok.
  • The SAFE WAY: A safer way to do this is to use an external power supply to power both the Arduino and the LED ring.
  • Electrolytic capacitor: By connecting a large 4700 uF 16V Electrolytic capacitor between the positive and negative terminals of power supply leads, with the negative leg of the capacitor attached to the negative terminal of the power supply, you will protect your LED rings from any initial onrush of current.

  • Protecting Resistor: It is also advisable to place a 300-400 ohm resistor between the Arduino's Digital Pin 9 (D9) and the LED Ring's Digital Input pin (Din). This protects the first LED from potential voltage spikes
  • Suitable wires: If you plan to chain a few of these LED rings together (see below), then you will probably want to keep the wires as short as possible and use a decent guage wire that can handle the current being drawn through them.


Connecting TWO LED Rings to the Arduino- (Click to enlarge)

  • Three extra wires:You only need 3 extra wires to connect an additional LED ring. A wire needs to connect the Digital output (Dout) of the first LED ring to the Digital Input (Din) of the 2nd LED ring.
  • Stay safe: Once again, a safer way to do this is to use an external power supply, a large electrolytic capacitor at the terminals, and a 300-400 ohm resistor between the Arduino and the first LED ring's digital input pin.


Connecting FOUR LED Ring to the Arduino- (Click to enlarge)

  • Sixty Four LEDs:You need 3 extra wires for each additional LED ring. 4 LED rings provides a total of 64 LEDs.
  • Watch the AMPS:At full brightness, this setup could potentially draw up to 4amps (or roughly 1 amp per LED ring)
  • External Supply essential: It is essential to use an external power supply to power these LEDs when there are so many of them. If you don't use an external power supply and you accidentally illuminate ALL of the LEDs, then you are likely to damage the microcontroller from excessive current draw.

Connection Tables

How to connect ONE LED Ring to the Arduino- (Click to enlarge)

How to connect TWO LED Rings to the Arduino- (Click to enlarge)


Concluding comments

In this tutorial I showed you how to go about decorating a Disco Ball cake and also showed you how to use the RGB LED rings from ICStation. If you look at the video you will see just how versatile these LED rings are. I would like to thank my wife for providing such an exciting project to work on, and ICStation for their collaborative efforts. Please make sure to share this project with all of your friends and family.

If you like this page, please do me a favour and show your appreciation :

Visit my ArduinoBasics Google + page.
Follow me on Twitter by looking for ScottC @ArduinoBasics.
I can also be found on Pinterest and Instagram.
Have a look at my videos on my YouTube channel.


ScottC 04 Jun 07:38

Arduino Stroboscope Animation

This tutorial will show you how to build your own Stroboscopic Animator using Magzor's Mechanotronic Design Portal as a starting point. Magzor Corporation is a business in California that is trying really hard to simplify robotic design. They want to enable users with little to no engineering experience to design and manufacture a custom robot by themselves in a matter of hours.

What is a stroboscope? A stroboscope is an instrument that uses a strobe light to make a moving object look stationary… We will use this feature to create an interesting 4 picture animation on a rotating disk.


Have a look at the video below to see the project in action, and the MDP process walk-through:




Parts Required:


Magzor Schematic Diagram

Click to zoom ...


Further build instructions can be obtained by selecting the components in the Mechanotronics Design Portal within the Magzor website. Generating the build, and then selecting "Setup Instructions" tab at the top of the page. See video above to see this process in action.

Arduino Sketch

Make sure to copy and paste the following code into your Arduino IDE. It doesn't seem to work directly from the browser. You also need to install the Arduino Magzor I2C library ( )


Putting it together


Arduino MEGA


Magzor I2C board


MIC Boards


MIC Boards Assembled


Sensors, Modules and Shields - all put together


Motor with Bracket and Wire


Picture lined up with magnet on disk


Stroboscopic Animation


The Arduino MEGA microcontroller listens for the hall effect sensor to be triggered by the south facing side of the magnet on the underside of the rotating disk. As the magnet moves over the hall effect sensor, the sensor is triggered and the Arduino instructs the LED to blink for a fraction of a second. By manipulating the delay after the trigger time, we can get the LED to blink when one of the four images on the rotating disk is towards the front position. And if we get the timing right, we can make a simple animation.
If you watch the video above, you will see that the image bounces around a little bit. The duration of each frame is determined by the speed of the rotating disk (or motor), and the number of LED flashes per frame. Any changes in rotation speed will affect the position of the picture when the LED blinks. My rotating disk is not completely semetrical or centred correctly, and therefore a bit jumpy… but you get the idea. Bold images with high contrast seem to work best… Precision is key for this type of project. And if you can get the disk to rotate at a constant speed, you could probably do away with the hall effect sensors and magnets… however, in my case, these were essential in getting the project to work as intended.
This project is a lot of fun. You can really get creative by making your own pictures or 3 dimensional models (for a stop motion effect). Try different colours. It really is quite cool.

Concluding Comments

I would like to thank Magzor for supplying the components used in this tutorial, and letting me try out their MDP process. I really like the concept, the one stop shop which looks after you from beginning to end. Providing everything I needed to get the project off the ground. The point of this exercise was to go through the entire process of selecting the parts, build the project, and get it up and running. And I have done that in no time at all.
There is only one library to download and install, and the good thing is that you don't have to go hunting for it. The latest "correct" working version of the library is easy to find, right there on the Magzor website… Speaking of the Magzor website, please make sure to take a quick look around. It is quite impressive.

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This project would not have been possible without the collaborative effort from Magzor Corporation.
Please visit their site and check out the MDP.

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Link Trucker is a Tiny Networking Giant

If you’re a networking professional, there are professional tools for verifying that everything’s as it should be on the business end of an Ethernet cable. These professional tools often come along with a professional pricetag. If you’re just trying to wire up a single office, the pro gear can be overkill. Unless you make it yourself on the cheap! And now you can.

[Kristopher Marciniak] designed and built an inexpensive device that verifies the basics:

  • Is the link up? Is this cable connected?
  • Can it get a DHCP address?
  • Can it perform a DNS lookup?
  • Can it open a webpage?

What’s going on under the hood? A Raspberry Pi, you’d think. A BeagleBoard? Our hearts were warmed to see a throwback to a more civilized age: an ENC28J60 breakout board and an Arduino Uno. That’s right, [Kristopher] replicated a couple-hundred dollar network tester for the price of a few lattes. And by using a pre-made housing, [Kristopher]’s version looks great too. Watch it work in the video just below the break.

Building an embedded network device used to be a lot more work, but it could be done. One of our favorites is still [Ian Lesnet’s] webserver on a business card from way back in 2008 which also used the ENC28J60 Ethernet chip.

Filed under: Network Hacks, tool hacks

Arduino LED Light Box


Long straight lines of LED luminescence is nice, but sometimes you may want to light up something that has an unusual shape, or is not so linear. This is where the 12mm diffused flat digital RGB LED Pixels can come into play. This cool strand of 25 NeoPixels fit nicely into 12mm pre-drilled holes of any material you like.

This tutorial is dedicated to making a LED Light Box. I wanted the box to be equally as interesting during the day as it was at night. If you decide you make your own, feel free to be as creative as you want !! However, if you lack artistic acumen, you may need to source a minion or two.


Arduino Libraries and IDE

Before you start to hook up any components, upload the following sketch to the Arduino microcontroller. I am assuming that you already have the Arduino IDE installed on your computer. If not, the IDE can be downloaded from here.

The FastLED library is useful for simplifying the code for programming the NeoPixels. The latest "FastLED library" can be downloaded from here. I used FastLED library version 3.0.3 in this project.

If you have a different LED strip or your NeoPixels have a different chipset, make sure to change the relevant lines of code to accomodate your hardware. I would suggest you try out a few of the FastLED library examples before using the code below, so that you become more familiar with the library, and will be better equipped to make the necessary changes.

If you have a single strand of 25 Neopixels with the WS8201 chipset, then you will not have to make any modification below.



Arduino Code Description

The code above will generate a randomised raindrop pattern on the NeoPixel LED Light box, however I have written code for a few more LED animations. These animations were written specifically for this light-box setup. In other words, once you have hooked everything up, you will be able to upload these other LED animations to the Arduino board without any further modification to the hardware/wiring, and yet experience a totally different light effect. You can find the code for the other animation effects by clicking on the links below:

  1. Breathing effect
  2. Ripple effect
  3. Clock effect
  4. Rotation effect
  5. Sweep effect
  6. Spiral effect
  7. Lightning effect
  8. Paparazzi in the Rain effect

Hooking it up:

Power requirements

Each Neopixel LED can draw up to 60 milliamps at maximum brightness (white). ie. 20 mA for each colour (red, green and blue). Therefore you should not try to power the LED strand directly from the Arduino, because the strand will draw too much current and damage the microcontroller(and possibly your USB port too). The LED strand will therefore need to be powered by a separate power supply. The power supply must supply the correct voltage (5V DC) and must also be able to supply sufficient current (1.5A or greater per strand of 25 LEDs).

Excessive voltage will damage or destroy your Neopixel strand. The LEDs will only draw as much current as they need, however your power supply must provide at least 1.5A or greater for each strand. If you chain two strands together, you will need a 5V 3A power supply.

Neopixel strand connection

There are 25 Neopixel LEDs per strand. Four of the wires at each end of the strand are terminated with a JST connector. The red wire is for power (VCC), blue wire for ground (GND), yellow wire is for Data, and green wire for Clock. A spare red wire (VCC) and a spare blue wire (GND) are attached to the ends of each strand for convenience, however, I did not use either. Please double check the colour of your wires... they may be different.

If you want to attach the LED strand to a breadboard, you can cut the JST connector off and use the Neopixel strand wires. Alternatively, if you would prefer to preserve the JST connector, you can simply insert jumper wires (or some male header pins) into the JST connector, and then plug them into the breadboard as required.

Each neopixel LED is individually controllable using two pins on your Arduino. The strand is directional. i.e. There is an INPUT side and an OUTPUT side. The strand should be connected such that wires from the microcontroller are attached to the INPUT side of the first neopixel. The arrows on each LED show the direction of data flow from INPUT to OUTPUT. The arrow on the first NeoPixel should be pointing towards the second NeoPixel, NOT towards the breadboard.

Other considerations

As a precaution, you should use a large capacitor across the + and - terminals of the power supply to prevent the initial onrush of current from damaging the Neopixels. I used a 4700uF 16V Electrolytic capacitor for this purpose. According to Adafruit, a 1000uF 6.3V capacitor (or higher) will also do the trick. You may also want to consider a 330 ohm resistor between the Arduino Digital pin and the strand's DATA pin.

If you want to power the Arduino using the regulated 5V external power supply. Disconnect the USB cable from the Arduino, and then connect the positive terminal of the power supply to the 5V pin on the Arduino. Be warned however, that excess voltage at this pin could damage your Arduino, because the 5V regulator will be bypassed.
Providing the USB cable is NOT connected to the Arduino, it should now be safe to plug the power supply into the wall. This setup will allow you to power the Neopixel strand and the Arduino using the same power supply.
WARNING: Never change any connections while the circuit is powered.

For more information about these NeoPixel strands, you may want to visit the Adafruit site. Adafruit was the source for most of these NeoPixel Strand precautions.

Fritzing diagram

The following diagram demonstrates how to connect the NeoPixel Strand to the Arduino and to the External 5V power supply.

This diagram was created using Fritzing

Connection Instructions

These instructions will help to guide you through the process of connecting your NeoPixel strand to the Arduino, and to the external power supply. The instructions assume that you will be powering the Arduino via a USB cable.

LightBox assembly

You will need to drill a 12mm hole into the craft timber box for each LED on the strand. It is worth taking the time to make accurate measurements before drilling the holes.
I made 12 holes for the outside circle pattern (12cm diameter), 6 holes for the inside circle pattern (8cm diameter), and a hole in the centre. I also made two holes at the front of the box, two on the left side, and two on the right side. I made one last hole at the back of the box for the 2.1mm DC power line socket.
Therefore you should have a total of 26 holes in the box. 25 of the holes are for the Neopixel LEDs and one for the external power supply socket.

The lid of the box is about 19.5cm x 14.5cm long, which makes for a very tight squeeze. Probably too tight, because you have to account for the inner dimensions of the box. The inside of the box is used to house the Arduino, breadboard, the chipset side of the LEDs and cables/components. The inner dimensions of the box are 18cm x 13cm. Therefore, the housing for the LED chipset PCB (1.8cm x 2.5cm) prevented the box from closing. I used a Dremel to carve out the space required to close the lid.

Each LED is approximately 8cm apart on the strand, however, if you are really keen, you could cut the wires and extend them to any distance you require. But keep in mind that each LED is mounted on a small PCB (with a WS2801 chipset).You will therefore need to leave a minimum of 2cm between each 12mm hole to accomodate the size of the PCB+LED. If you plan carefully, you can probably squeeze a couple of LEDs within a distance of 1cm... but I would recommend that you give yourself a bit more room, because the PCBs are not square, and there is a good chance that you will have to start all over again.

In hindsight, I could have made the circle patterns a bit smaller, however I don't know if I could have packed these LEDs any closer. The diameter of the inner circle pattern must be at least 2cm smaller than the outer circle pattern. So I think "a bigger box" would have been the best option.

Once all of the holes have been drilled, paint and decorate the box to suit your style.

When the paint is dry, insert the LEDs into the drilled holes in number order.
You can see the end result below.

Project Pictures

These pictures show the Light box after it has been drilled and painted. The LEDs have been inserted into their respective holes, and all wires + Arduino + breadboard are hidden within the box.

Concluding comments

Once you start writing LED animations for the NeoPixel Lightbox, it is very hard to stop. The colour combinations

If you like this page, please do me a favour and show your appreciation :

Visit my ArduinoBasics Google + page.
Follow me on Twitter by looking for ScottC @ArduinoBasics.
I can also be found on Pinterest and Instagram.
Have a look at my videos on my YouTube channel.


This project would not have been possible without OpenLab's collaborative effort.
Please visit their site for more cool projects.

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