Posts with «uncategorized» label

SKELLY the Skeleton Robot

While it might seem like a long time away to most people, if you’re looking to make an amazing automated display for Halloween, it’s time to start planning! One idea would be an automated skeleton robot like SKELLY.

This particular robot was built using an Arduino Mega, a Cytron PS2 Shield, a modified sensor shield, and a wireless PS2 controller. SKELLY is equipped with a total of eight servos: six for bending his shoulders, elbows and wrists, one for running his mouth, and another for turning his head. There is also a pair of LEDs for eyes, and a small motor in his head with a counterweight that allows him to shake.

SKELLY is programmed using the Visuino visual programming environment. As seen in the videos below, the robot–which is the author’s first–is quite nimble, waving and moving along with an automatic piano!

Selectively silence a landline phone with Arduino

Silencing a smartphone at night isn’t difficult, but if you have a landline, Arduino can help!

Before computer hacking/modding became accessible, the next best thing was to creatively explore the phone system via custom electronics. Though this pursuit, known as “phone phreaking,” has largely gone away, some people still have landlines. As “MolecularD” shows in this Instructables writeup, with a few components you can creatively trick your phone into not ringing on your end, while appearing to the caller to simply ring and ring as if no one is home.

In order to make it much more useful, MolecularD hooked up an Arduino Mega with a real-time clock module to turn the device on and off depending on the time of day. Now calls from phone solicitors, or “IRS agents” at 4 in the morning can be eliminated automatically. As noted, this may or may not be legal where you live, so attempt it at your own risk!

Arduino Day: Extended deadline, new events, and more updates!

Arduino Day is now less than three weeks away, and we cannot wait to celebrate with everyone on April 1st. So far, we’ve received hundreds of submission from all across the world and are constantly updating our map with new events — which by the way, if yours has been approved, do not forget to add the agenda!

As we prepare for Arduino Day, we’ve got three more announcements to share:  

  • NEW DEADLINE: The call for submissions has been extended until March 18th! Remember, participation is open to everyone and anyone can organize event of their own Submit yours here!
  • OFFICIAL ARDUINO DAY IN MALMÖ: Aside from our festivities in Turin, the Arduino team will host another official event in Malmö. The program will include a showcase of Maker projects, free activities for kids, and a lineup of talks. Live in Sweden or nearby? Join us!
  • ONLINE EVENTS: Not only will the Arduino community come together at various physical locations throughout the globe, but now several celebrations this year will also be taking place virtually. If you want to host an online event — such as a hangout or a live streamed workshop (we are very open!) — please contact arduinoday2017@arduino.cc with your idea, and we’ll get back to you!

Last but not least, do not forget to post and invite your friends via social media using the hashtag #ArduinoD17

 

Attachment is like a modern-day message in a bottle

If you want to reach out to someone, you could always pick up your phone and send a text. But if you’re seeking something a bit more random and indirect, one idea would be to write and attach a message to a biodegradable balloon using Swiss designer David Colombini’s “poetic machine.”

Colombini’s Attachment project allows you to do just that, by dispatching digital notes, images or videos gleaned from the Internet into the atmosphere. Once the Arduino Mega-driven device receives this input, the message is laser-etched on a thin piece of balsa wood, then released into the air (though a human has to ‘reload’ after five launches). Word space is limited to a Twitter-esque 120 characters, but the finder of the balloon can access any additional content that you include through a code on the project’s website.

According to Creative Applications:

Software includes PHP / MySQL database, vvvv (take the message from web database, layout of the message, transform it and stream it to the engraver) and Arduino IDE (controlling all the mechanisms). Hardware includes an Arduino Mega, NEMA 23 motors + drivers, linear actuators, a Bambi air compressor, helium cylinder, Festo pneumatic components (helium + air valves, helium and air pressure sensors, pneumatic cylinders, DHEB) and MicroSlice engraver (based on Arduino Uno).

You can read more on this project as well as its previous version. Additionally, visit the Attachment.cc page to input your own message!

(Photos: David Colombini)

Teensy 3.5 & 3.6 Kickstarter

As many of the followers of my blog know, the Teensy 3.1 and Teensy LC have been my favorite microcontroller boards for the past couple of years.  The Teensy 3.1 has since been replaced by the slightly better Teensy 3.2, which has a better voltage regulator but is otherwise pretty much the same as the 3.1.  I’ve been using the Teensy LC with PteroDAQ software for my electronics course.

I’ve just noticed that PJRC has a Kickstarter campaign for a new set of boards the Teensy 3.5 and 3.6.  These will be much more powerful ARM processors (120MHz and 180MHz Cortex M4 processors with floating-point units, so at least 2.5 times faster than the Teensy 3.2, more if floating-point is used much).  The form factor is similar to before, but the boards are longer, taking up 24 rows of a breadboard, instead of just 14.  The extra board space is mainly to provide more I/O, but there is also a MicroSD card slot.

The designer is still dedicated to making the Teensy boards run in the Arduino environment, and the breadboard-friendly layout is very good for experimenting.

PJRC is positioning the new boards between the old Teensy boards and the Linux-based boards like the Raspberry Pi boards. The new Teensy boards will have a lot of raw power, but not an operating system, though I suspect that people outside PJRC will try porting one of the small real-time operating systems to the board.

The new boards are a bit pricey compared to the Teensy LC ($23–28 instead of under $12 for the Teensy LC), but still reasonable for what they provide.  PJRC also has a history of providing good software for their boards.

I probably need to get both a Teensy 3.5 and a 3.6 to port PteroDAQ to them—that looks like a $50 purchase. If the boards and the software are available in time for me do development on PteroDAQ by December, I might get it done—any later than that and I’ll have no time, as I have a very heavy teaching and service load for Winter quarter.

I suspect that the new Teensyduino software will need a newer version of the Arduino development environment, which in turn would require a newer version of the Mac operating system (my laptop is still running 10.6.8), which in turn probably means a new laptop.

I’m waiting to see if Apple releases a new, usable MacBook Pro in October, so there is a bit of built-in delay in the whole process. I’m not impressed with their recent design choices for iPhones and MacBook Air—I need connections to my laptop—so there is a strong possibility that I may be having to leave the Macintosh family of products after having been a loyal user since 1984 (that’s 32 years now).


Filed under: Uncategorized Tagged: Arduino, Kickstarter, PteroDAQ, Teensy

An Arduino VU meter for classrooms

With his beautifully-colored classroom “noise-o-meter,” Mr. Jones knows when things are getting out of hand.

When you were in school (or if you are in school) the teacher likely told the class to be quiet, perhaps repeating him or herself over an over during the day. The teacher, however, likely never really defined what is good and bad. Mr. Jones has finally solved this issue by creating a classroom “noise-o-meter” using an Arduino, an electret microphone, and a programmable LED strip. In order (apparently) too keep the class in line, noise is simply marked as green for “expected,” amber for “louder,” and “red” for too loud which corresponds nicely with more “traditional” VU meters.

I built this a short while ago as an idea to use in a primary classroom setting. Poster displays are often used by primary teachers wanting to control the noise levels in their classrooms but I wanted to add technology to make it dynamic and responsive. The motivation for this came after seeing the Adafruit Digital NeoPixel LED Strip online and realizing its potential as part of a VU meter.

Are you a teacher and want to build one for yourself? You can check out Mr. Jones’ Instructables page or his own website in a different format.

Maker builds feeding machine that lets his cat ‘hunt’ for food

Although automated pet feeders seem to be a dime a dozen these days, Benjamin Millam’s project is on a whole ‘nother level. Last year, the Maker created a system that caters to the primal instincts of his indoor cat, Monkey, by training him to look for plastic balls hidden around the house and then drop them into the machine. Once the apparatus recognizes the RFID-tagged balls, food gets dispensed into the bowl.

The system is comprised of a modified Super Feeder, an Adafruit RFID reader, a remote antenna, a few relays and an Arduino Uno. Millam writes that he conceived the idea after learning why cats repeatedly scour the same area.

What if my cat, while out on patrol, actually found its prey? Surely this would bring him one step closer towards a more fulfilled and self-actualized indoor kitty existence. I imagined hiding little bowls of food around the house… then I imagined me actually refilling these bowls. Then I imagined having to move them around to different hiding spots, spilling, forgetting, and every so often, perhaps only after following a trail of ants, finding one undiscovered and rancid. Hmmm, maybe there’s a way to hide something else, a way to hide something other than food, a way to make something not-food = food…

Throughout the day, the feline seeks out a series of embedded balls and plops them into a blue bowl on top of the makeshift device. From there, gravity takes over. As the ball makes its way down the shoot, the RFID tag is scanned and and the program is initiated. The Arduino switches on the relay that closes the feeder’s power circuit, and voila!

The Maker does note, however, that a little training is needed in order for this method work. While we’ll have to wait and see if this becomes an actual product, you can watch Monkey go after some Wiffle Balls right meow!

Spinphony turns cycling into music

Spinphony is a bike installation that was built in collaboration with 72andSunny‘s Google team and their Made with Code initiative, with hopes of inspiring teenage girls to take an interest in coding.

As its name would suggest, the project combines spinning (indoor cycling) and music with each bike representing a different instrument stem of a song.

For instance, bike one controls drums, bike two might control bass and so on. The way we made it all come together was to have the volume of each stem depend on the speed at which the bike was being pedaled (i.e. the slower the RPM the quieter the stem of the song and vice versa). This is where Arduino came into play.

The prototype is based on an Arduino Uno and uses two magnets, a reed switch, RPM values, and MIDI to produce some spincredible sounds. You can see it in action below!

 

The CALEIDUINO is a digital and sound reactive kaleidoscope

The CALEIDUINO is an Arduino-based digital and sound reactive kaleidoscope, designed to serve as a toy, an art object, and a tool for teaching electronics and programming in a playful yet creative way.

At the heart of CALEIDUINO is a PCB for connecting an Arduino Nano, a TFT 1.8 “display, an analog 3-axis accelerometer GY-61, a piezoelectric, a switch, and a 9V battery–all of which are housed inside a hexagonal methacrylate case. Just like in any kaleidoscope, t three mirrors in triangular prism shape, while an accelerometer collects a user’s movement to generate the psychedelic graphics and sounds.

In terms of software, the CALEIDUINO uses the Arduino IDE along with the Adafruit GFX and ST7735 libraries. The project is entirely open source and is the work of artist José Manuel González. You can read more about the device here, or see it in action below.

Sci-fi masks glow to reflect Twitter sustainability trends

Twitter is not only a convenient way to consume daily news and converse with friends online, it has become an excellent platform for gaining insight on what’s important at any particular moment in time. With this in mind, Maker Chadwick John Friedman has decided to harness the social network’s data into web-connected physical representations with the help of Arduino and Temboo.

PrecogNation uses three 3D-printed geometric masks as real-time sci-fi future forecasters, which illuminate and change colors to reflect sustainability trends throughout the world.

The three geometric 3D-printed masks are wirelessly connected to the Internet via an Arduino Yún. The masks were printed using a Zortrax 3D printer and white Z-ABS filament. The masks are a remixed version of Stephen Kongsle’s “Low Poly Mask.” Each mask took approximately 16 hours to print. The masks are constantly scraping data from Twitter in real-time via Temboo Choreos. Temboo assigns special API keys for Arduino devices that allow the user grab real-time data from Twitter that would otherwise be difficult to gather. That live data is then fed to the Arduino Yún, which illuminates a specific 10mm super bright LED, connected to the masks.

One of the largest challenges in representing this overload of data physically was finding the correct terms and/or keywords that activate a specific color/thought in the Precog’s faces. The three colors present in the faces are scraping the Twitterverse for terms relating to sustainability, environmental threats, and political involvement. PrecogNation has its very own Twitter account, which allows the masks to scan through data specifically submitted by sustainability related users, corporations, and initiatives.

As seen in the video below, progress in sustainable development (green) is represented by keywords such as renewable energy, clean coal, water treatment and wind turbines. Threats to sustainability (red) include deforestation, global warming, record heat, extinction, pollution, pandemics and so on. Meanwhile, blue denotes an overload of data and contradicting results.

The overload of data in the color blue works like this… say the word ‘polar’ is found, but then the words ‘melting-polar’ are found, followed by the words ‘polar bear.’ This is an unreadable thread of information – it’s not really giving us threats or progress related to sustainability so the face reflects the color blue to signify that confusion. Coming up with the correct terms to represent the overload of information was especially tricky, and writing the code to reflect that confusion was equally as challenging. I eventually found a series of keywords and demands that elicited the response I was hoping for in this category.

It is important to highlight the fact that although the colors red and blue may be perceived as negative (and usually appear more than the color green), they also mean that there are discussions about those negative sustainability issues happening every time those colors are activated. This is, in fact, a positive outcome, as one of the main goals of this project is to highlight the importance maintaining a dialogue – even if that dialogue surrounds daunting threats to sustainability. It is important that the masks provoke a highlighted continuation of focus surrounding social and political sustainability issues.

You can read all about the project on PrecogNation’s page.