Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Voice-controlled Smart Home system

The Arduino platform lends itself well to home automation (for example) and another example of this has been demonstrated by university students Jiayuan Wang and Sheng Zhang. They have used a voice-recognition IC to enable user input to control various lighting, heating and entertainment devices in their test system. Furthermore the voice-control section of the system is connected to the main unit wireless via XBee data transceivers, allowing a more user-friendly approach. 

Considering this was a university project, it shows promise and is an excellent demonstration of the concept. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

If you found the project above interesting - but not sure how to start with Arduino - then the best way to learn is with our Experimenter's Kit for Arduino:

The package includes a wide variety of parts, sensors and modules including: a servo motor, lights, buttons, switches, sound, sensors, breadboard, wires and more. Furthermore a Freetronics Eleven Arduino-compatible board is included to make this an extensive hobby experimenter, inventor and starter kit. However we don't leave you alone to figure it all out, included is a great project and instruction booklet, plus access to a supporting web page and software examples. In other words - this is everything you need to get started for a fun range of electronics and Arduino related projects! 

So to get started or for more information and to order, check out the product page. 

Choose your own adventure with the "Choosatron"

In the past the "Choose your own Adventure" series of novels were popular with younger readers, due to the interesting twists and turns in the stories. In the spirit of these books, Jerry Belich has brought this concept into the 21st century with his "Choosatron". This is an Arduino-controlled device which prints passages from CYOA books with a thermal printer, then offers the reader a choice which they select with a numeric keypad, at which point the story continues. Futhermore Jerry has published details on how to format other stories to suit the Choosatron, allowing more varied use. For a quick demonstration, check out the following video:

 

For more information on this outstanding project, click here. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

 

If you're new to Arduino, the first step is a solid board for your projects - our Freetronics Eleven - the Arduino-Uno compatible with low-profile USB socket, onboard prototyping space and easy to view LEDs:

DIY Arduino-controlled Gas Chromatograph

If you're interested in using gas chromatography on the cheap, this project may be of interest. Before moving any further, gas chromatography is (according to Wikipedia):

... a common type of chromatography used in analytical chemistry for separating and analysing compounds that can be vaporized without decompositionTypical uses of GC include testing the purity of a particular substance, or separating the different components of a mixture (the relative amounts of such components can also be determined). In some situations, GC may help in identifying a compound. Inpreparative chromatography, GC can be used to prepare pure compounds from a mixture.


Arduino forum member "Harristotle" has documented the build and sketch for his own version of a GC machine, which uses borosilicate glass pipe filled with silica gel to separate and identify halogenated alkanes. The pipe is inserted into a custom oven whose temperature is controlled via the Arduino. 

It's an interesting device even if you don't have a use for it, or if you do - log in to the Arduino forum for details and discussion. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

If you're making a similar project and need to control large currents with your Arduino digital outputs - you'll need a MOSFET. We've got you covered with out NDRIVE: N-MOSFET driver/output module:

This high-power N-MOSFET module lets you switch high-current loads using a tiny microcontroller. Perfect for controlling that set of traffic lights mounted in your living room! Works brilliantly for automotive projects such as switching high-power 12V lights and high wattage LEDs. For more information and to order, visit the product page

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

DIY Arduino-controlled Egg-drawing robot

For something completely different, consider making a device that can draw patterns on an egg. Although the concept isn't new, Arduino forum member "Msquare" has demonstrated their own version using a stepper motor, a servo or two and some basic hardware. Once the motor control and servos have been aligned properly some interesting effects can be created on the surface of the egg with a felt-tip pen controlled by the device, for example:

 

And doing your own is much cheaper than a commercial kit. So for more information and the sketch, log in to the Arduino forum. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

 

If you're new to Arduino, the first step is a solid board for your projects - our Freetronics Eleven - the Arduino-Uno compatible with low-profile USB socket, onboard prototyping space and easy to view LEDs:

Control Epson M190 receipt printers with Arduino

Over time thermal receipt printers have become inexpensive and very easy to work with in Arduino-based projects - however the properties of thermal paper exclude their use when a permanent printed record is required. In these cases dot-matrix printers will live on, and with the library by Steven Pearson you can easily use an Epson M-190 printer mechanism (found in receipt printers) with an Arduino. You can print text and graphics, which is demonstrated in the following video:

 

Listening to that printer takes me on a trip down memory lane, however click here to find out how it's done. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

When connecting external devices for your Arduino, such as the printerEpson  mentioned above, you'll need a protoshield to mount the external circuitry. In doing so, consider our range of ProtoShields. From the tiny LeoStick to the Mega range, we offer a complete range for you to work with.

Motorise your window blinds with Arduino

 It can be quite expensive to order custom motorised window blinds - however with an Arduino, motors and some time you can do it yourself. With the use of a simple motor, control circuitry and the right sketch you can make your own blind controls that are sensitive to light, temperature or operate to a schedule. To get started, consider the tutorial published by Instructables user "cgmalantonio" wwho used a motor from an old VCR, a motor shield and some hardware to hold it all together. It's a simple method but gets you started on the hardware side of things:

 

Once you have the motor working effectively, so much more can be done. Visit theInstructable to get started. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

If you found the project above interesting - but not sure how to start with Arduino - then the best way to learn is with our Experimenter's Kit for Arduino:

The package includes a wide variety of parts, sensors and modules including: a servo motor, lights, buttons, switches, sound, sensors, breadboard, wires and more. Furthermore a Freetronics Eleven Arduino-compatible board is included to make this an extensive hobby experimenter, inventor and starter kit. However we don't leave you alone to figure it all out, included is a great project and instruction booklet, plus access to a supporting web page and software examples. In other words - this is everything you need to get started for a fun range of electronics and Arduino related projects! 

So to get started or for more information and to order, check out the product page. 

Control many LEDs with few I/O pins via Charlieplexing

If there's one thing people enjoy it's using lots of LEDs for data displays, games and other general blinky fun. However the more LEDs the use the more I/O pins you'll need - unless you use a method called "Charlieplexing". A term coined Charlie Allen at Maxim Integrated (where the MAX7219 comes from), it uses the concept that current only flows in one direction to illuminate an LED, and thus with some directional current control you can control two or more LEDS with relatively few I/O pins - for example, six LEDs only require three pins:

This has been demonstrated very well by "Andy" who explains the method of connecting one or more LEDs for this process. Then with some simple I/O functions you're in business - his examples work around the ATmega328 that's the heart of Arduino boards and alsoavailable separately. To get started, visit his blog. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

 

If you want to control 512 LEDs at once - have you considered using a Freetronics Dot Matrix Display? Available in a variety of colours, they consist of a 32 by 16 matrix of LEDs. Included with the DMD is a cable to directly connect with an Arduino-compatible board, and at low brightness (which is still fine to read indoors) you can power one DMD from the Arduino. However by connecting 5V at 2.5A for each board they operate at a brightness which is visible anywhere. Furthermore you can daisy-chain (with the included cable) six or more displays for great effects. So for more information head over to the DMD pages today.