Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Schedule meeting rooms with "The Roominator"

In a great example of necessity being the mother of invention, the team at RapLeaf have designed and built a meeting room scheduling system that interacts with Google Calendar. Each meeting room has a node with LEDs and an LCD which show the room booking status from Google Calendar, and the users can simply book or cancel a room reservation by pressing a button on the node. Interestingly from a hardware perspective, communication between the nodes and master is via I2C and not Ethernet. 

Furthermore the entire project has been made open-source, so head over to GitHub for the Arduino code, schematics and EAGLE files. And we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well. 

When rapid-prototyping your Arduino projects that use an LCD, time and effort can be saved by using an Arduino shield with inbuilt LCD, such as the Freetronics LCD Keypad Shield, which contains a bright 16x2 character LCD and five buttons that can be read from only one analog input pin:

DIY Simple Game-show Buzzer System

Using a minimalist-Arduino circuit and four external buttons, Chuck has created a simple game-show buzzer system for four players. The first person to press their button illuminates a matching LED, and the remaining players are ignored until reset is pressed. This would be great for trivia nights or as a design foundation for something more elaborate - perhaps this project and four DMDs could be used to recreate "Sale of the Century". Nevertheless, it's a fun project and could be built in a short afternoon.

So to get started, head over to Chuck's website here. And we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well. 

 

When making your own game-show system or other Arduino-embedded projects, consider our Freetronics LeoStick. Apart from being one of the smallest Arduino-compatibles on the market with USB, it also has an onboard RGB LED and piezo for sound effects and knock detection:

The Completed "Taipan" Arduino Game

After many months and project updates, Simon Jansen has completed his Arduino-based rendition of the Apple II game "Taipan". It was an amazing journey of experimenting, trial-and-error and what looks to be a lot of hard work - however Simon has pulled it off. The game is so complex he uses one Arduino board for the game play, and another for the display control (using the tvout library), with game data stored on external memory via I2C. Finally the game hardware has been built into a great enclosure - an original copy of Tai-Pan. Watch Simon's video about the game below:

 

Kudos to Simon for creating such a project, and also sharing it with us in great detail. To follow his epic design story, check out his website here. And we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well. 

 

If you are new to Arduino and looking to make your own projects, join in with our range of Arduino-compatible hardwareprototyping shields and module range. A good start is the Freetronics Eleven, the Arduino Uno-compatible board with onboard prototyping space:


Interfacing Arduino with commercial message boards

Ellen Sundh has demonstrated in her website how to interface a commercially-available Amplus LED message board with an Arduino. From a hardware perspective it's pretty simple, and Ellen has written her own Arduino library to take care of the software side of the problem. Once again it's great to see people finding ways of controlling items with an Arduino, and tihs is a great example.

For more information, hardware instructions and code, visit Ellen's blog here. And we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well. 

Although interfacing with an existing LED display is pretty nifty, an easier way would be to get your hands on one or more of our Freetronics Dot Matrix Display units. Apart from being dead simple to use, they're very bright for indoor and outdoor situations. Available in various colours, the 32 x 16 LED matrix can display text and graphics quite easily - and can be daisy-chained together for extended displays. For more information, see our range of Dot Matrix Displays here

 

The 4-bit Maze Game

Computer scientist Todd Neller has created and documented his Arduino rendition of of Oskar van Deventer's 4-Bit Maze game. Although very simple in principle, to win the game requires a keen short-term memory and a little patience. The "maze" consists of four LEDs (each with a matching button), that are on at the start of the game. The goal is to turn off all the LEDs. However, when you turn one of the off, others may turn on. Here is an example of a finished prototype:

To play an online version of the game, plus all the details to make your own - visit Todd's website here. And we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well. 

 

If you're working with Arduino projects like Todd's that require some external circuitry, consider one of our range of Protoshields. From the tiny LeoStick to the Mega range, we offer a complete range for you to work with

Create a simple "Etch-a-sketch" with Arduino and Processing

Enthusiast Trevor Shannon has demonstrated the use of an Arduino sending data back to a PC to be used by a Processing sketch in the form of a simple rendition of an "Etch-a-sketch". He has connected two potentiometers to the Arduino analogue inputs, whose values are relayed back to the PC and then graphed in a Processing display window. For example:

 

Although a simple example, it shows what is possible with Processing and an Arduino. For more information including the sketches, visit Trevor's interesting website here. And we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well. 

 

If you are new to Arduino and looking to make your own projects, join in with our range of Arduino-compatible hardwareprototyping shields and module range. A good start is the Freetronics Eleven, the Arduino Uno-compatible board with onboard prototyping space:

Monday, 30 July 2012

Build your own Arduino-based movie props

Sooner or later someone who watches too many movies and has a numeric keypad, an Arduino board, and a technical-looking briefcase is going to make a movie prop that resembles an explosive device. However it's fun, could have other applications - for example a time-delay door lock, or more fun. It's up to your imagination. However - be responsible. Here's a video of the example prop:

 

For more information, including the hardware design and Arduino sketches - visit theinstructable here. And we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well. 

When building your own Arduino-embedded projects, consider our Freetronics LeoStick. Apart from being one of the smallest Arduino-compatibles on the market with USB, it also has an onboard RGB LED and piezo for sound and knock detection:

 

DIY Arduino-powered Catalpult

Instructables user and Freetronics customer 'unusualtravis' has published details of his fantastic Arduino-powered catapult. Using some simple woodwork, a large servo and circuitry, a Freetronics Eleven board and the laws of physics - this great example of possible fun and games has been created:

 

Following the plans and instructions this would be a great weekend project, and something with great potential for use both indoors and out. For more information, including plans, circuitry and the Arduino sketch - visit the instructions site here. And we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well. 

 

If you are new to Arduino and looking to make your own catapult, join in with our range of Arduino-compatible hardwareprototyping shields and module range. A good start is the Freetronics Eleven, the Arduino Uno-compatible board with onboard prototyping space:

Simple Arduino-controlled LED Tree

Whether you're looking for a basic Arduino project to share with some  youngsters, or getting in early on the festive season - this project will be of interest. By mounting thirteen LEDs and matching resistors on some prototyping board, the designer has created an illuminated LED tree that could be useful as a decoration of sorts, or another form of data output. 

To get started, head over to the project website for code, construction advice and inspiration. And we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well. 

 

 

When experimenting with your Arduino board by interfacing with all those LEDs, it can be difficult and time consuming to mess about connecting wires of various sizes to the board. As you can see the designer has chosen our Freetronics Terminal Shield for Arduino - which neatly solved the problem:

Apart from having a larger than normal prototyping area, there are terminal blocks for every Arduino pin, three LEDs for general use and a reset button on the shield. Great for experimenting and fast I/O connections - so order yours today

Amazing web-controlled Multi-user Interactive Light Display

Technologist Andrew Fisher has designed and demonstrated a beautiful multi-user interactive light display with a web-based control system, using a range of our products. The display comprises of three main components - an Ethernet-enabled board that accepts commands from the web server and controls RGB LEDs, a web interface that accepts user control of the different lights, and a web server that processes the web commands from the users and feeds them to the Arduino. The following is a short demonstration of the display at work:

The project may sound complex, however Andrew has published everything you need to get started with your own display. So for a project overview, along with links to the code and documentation - visit Andrew's site here

To recreate your own display, apart from our Ethernet-enabled Arduino-compatible EtherTen board for the web server and hardware control - you'll need some easy to use RGB LEDs:

 Our RGB LED modules as demonstrated include a bright RGB LED on the top of the board and a WS2801 constant-current, addressable, multi-channel LED driver on the back. This smart module can be daisy-chained, so you can connect a number of these together in a string and drive each of the module colours individually from your microcontroller. For more information and to order, visit the product page.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

The "Sleepytimer" Ardiuno-based sleep pattern monitor

Once again Mark Wilson has created and share with us another of his fascinating Arduino-based projects. With his "Sleepytimer" you can record the movements made while lying in bed, as a three-axis IMU measures and sends the movements to an Arduino-based device which not only plots them on a graphic LCD, it also dumps the data in graph form to an old point-of-sale printer. This is an amazing logging device that must have saved Mark a lot of money over paying for a commercial unit or visiting a special sleep-monitoring service.

For more information, visit here for links to the project detailed images and Arduino sketch. And we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well. 

 

If you're looking to create an Arduino-based data logging solution, consider our Freetronics EtherTen. Apart from being fully Arduino Uno-compatible, it has onboard Ethernet, microSD socket, full USB interface (so you don't need a costly FTDI cable just to upload a sketch!) and supports optional Power-over-Ethernet:

 

DIY Arduino-based 3D tracking range finder

Over at the fftarduino blog they are working on a laser rangefinder tracking system, powered by an Arduino board that uses a pan/tilt device mounted with lasers and a simple TTL-based digital camera module. Although it's a work in progress, the results so far are impressive and an interesting vision of what could be possible in the future:

 

For more information and motivation, visit the project blog site for code, details and the maths behind the control system. And we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well. 

 

When designing your own Arduino-embedded laser wea.. rangefinders, consider our Freetronics LeoStick. Apart from being one of the smallest Arduino-compatibles on the market with USB, it also has an onboard RGB LED and piezo for sound and knock detection:

Tutorial: Arduino Timer Interrupts

Normally an Arduino sketch merrily goes along doing what you want it to do, however sometimes you want things to happen at very specific time intervals. For example, counting the number of pulses over a set period of time to make a speedometer or frequency counter. In situations like these, the use of timer interrupts are very useful as you can stop the sketch at precise times and then call a specific action to occur. 

Although it initially sounds complex, Amanda Ghassaei has written a detailed and easy to follow tutorial which explains the concepts of timer interrupts, followed by some great examples. So to get started, head over to the tutorial and get started. And we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well. 

 

If you are new to Arduino, join in with our range of Arduino-compatible hardwareprototyping shields and module range. A good start is the Freetronics Eleven, the Arduino Uno-compatible board with onboard prototyping space:


Build your own DJ-style MIDI Controller with Arduino

Although building MIDI controllers with Arduino boards is becoming quite popular, not many of these have resulted with an imaginative form of user input similar to the "Hard-DJ" example we found recently. Based on an Arduino Mega-style board, the Hard-DJ uses the usual buttons and sliding potentiometers for control. However the designers have taken the next step and used two old hard drive platters which are mounted to encoder wheels, that act as controls which are operated in the same way as a DJ would fool about with two record players. For example:

 

Certainly a step above the rest, the "Hard-DJ" is a MIDI controller that works well and can be reproduced with a little effort. To do so, visit the project page on GitHub for the code, Arduino libraries and other information. And we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well. 

 

When projects such as the Hard-Dj have outgrown the normal Arduino-compatible boards, running out of program and flash memory space, or you're stacking on Ethernet and microSD shields, or all at once - it's time to upgrade to the Freetronics EtherMega:

 

Quite simple the EtherMega is the fully-loaded Arduino-compatible board on the market today. Apart from being completely Arduino Mega2560-compatible, it includes full Ethernet interface, a microSD card socket, full USB interface, optional Power-over-Ethernet support and still has a circuit prototyping area with extra I2C interface pins. Using the EtherMega you could even introduce Internet-control to your MIDI controller! So if your project is breaking the limits, upgrade to the EtherMega today. 

Friday, 27 July 2012

Convert a ZX81 into a USB Keyboard

 If you have an old Sinclair ZX81 that can't be brought back to life (as using it for any other reason would be sacrilege if it worked), you can keep it alive in spirit by converting it into a USB keyboard. As you know an Arduino board can emulate USB devices very easily using the USB library, so with a little hardware the Sinclair can interface with the Arduino, and your'e set. For example:

For more information, the schematic and Arduino details visit the Tynemounth Software blog. And we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well. 

 

If you're looking to embed an Arduino-compatible board in your own USB-related projects, consider our Freetronics LeoStick. Apart from being one of the smallest Arduino-compatibles on the market with USB, it also has an onboard RGB LED and piezo for sound and knock detection. Furthermore as it has the latest Leonardo firmware, the LeoStick can easily emulate a USB keyboard, joystick or mouse:

 

Thursday, 26 July 2012

The CarDiuno - an excellent first Arduino project

After heading over to the new Hackduino meetup group in Melbourne, Steven Occhipinti picked up some new Freetronics gear; and after learning what others were up to with their Arduino systems, got motivated and made a great start with his own project - the CarDuino. Using our LCD Keypad shield, it's a game that involves steering a character 'car' to avoid obstacles as you drive along. For example:

 

Kudos to Steven and his friends for getting started so quickly and making something interesting. For more information and the sketch, check out Steven's blog here. And we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.  It's always great to see people making things with Freetronics products, and if you have documented your project publicly - please let us know via info at freetronics dot com. 

In his CarDuino game, Chris used our Freetronics LCD & Keypad shield which contains a bright 16x2 character LCD and five buttons that can be read from only one analog input pin:

 

The Automated Cat-activated Water Tap

Technologist Chris Dillon had some spare time and decided to solve a problem using an Arduino, a lot of hardware, and some interesting code. He created a device to control a cold water tap that is activated by an infrared sensor. This was required as his cat likes to drink water directly from the tap. Furthermore, using XBees the movement data is logged and available for analysis via ruby on rails and SQL. See the project in action below:

 

Sometimes I think it would be easier to train the cat to drink from a bowl. Then again, "dogs have masters, but cats have staff". So head over to Chris' page to follow his designs, and we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well. 

If you're working with Arduino projects like Chris' that require some external circuitry, consider one of our range of Protoshields. From the tiny LeoStick to the Mega range, we offer a complete range for you to work with

Hacking inexpensive GSM modems to send text messages

If you need to get current data from a remotely-located Arduino that doesn't have Internet access, one option is to use a GSM module of some sort. There are a few on the market, however the retail costs amount to over $100 once the required parts are accounted for. One inexpensive solution has been documented by Michael Finch - who describes how to modify a very cheap GSM USB modem for use with an Arduino. You will need some fine soldering skills, however the savings will be worth it. 

For more detailed information and instructions, check out Michael's excellent notes here.  And we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well. 

If you're planning on using the modem as described above, an ideal matching Arduino-compatible board would be our Freetronics LeoStick. Apart from being one of the smallest Arduino-compatibles on the market with USB, it also has an onboard RGB LED and piezo for sound and knock detection:

 

Monitor RSS feeds via an Arduino with LCD

Instructables user fritterdonut has described a very simple way to display RSS feeds on a 16x2 character LCD and a PC-connected Arduino board. This opens up all sorts of data monitoring ideas, such as news, twitter searches, keeping an eye on blogs, etc. 

For the uninitiated (from Wikipedia), an RSS feed ("really simple syndication") 

... is a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated works—such as blog entries, news headlines, audio, and video—in a standardized format. An RSS document (which is called a "feed", "web feed", or "channel") includes full or summarized text, plus metadata such as publishing dates and authorship.

Almost every Internet-based news source and website should have an RSS feed, so there's plenty of information to choose from. To get started, check out the instructions page here. And we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well. 

Instead of building your own LCD module onto a breadboard, save time and move forward with the Freetronics LCD & Keypad shield which contains a bright 16x2 character LCD and five buttons that can be read from only one analog input pin:

 

 

Build your own printing Fortune Teller machine

Unlike other random fortune-telling machines in the past, the unit described in this article is as close to "the real thing" that we have ever seen. Apart from the professional housing and enclosure, this unit uses a small printer similar to those used in point-of-sale machine to print the fortune for the ponderous to take with them. 

Building such a project isn't that difficult, however sourcing an old printer could be a challenge. Don't forget to review our post about using old printers here. Nevertheless, it's a fun project and would be great for fund-raising and so on. So to get started on your own "Lucky Panda" machine, head over to the project page.

So if this sort of project intrigues you and 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:

 

Controlling relays via the Internet and Arduino

Although this project can only be described as possible overkill, Peter Lavelle has designed and documented a method of controlling relays using an Ethernet-connected Arduino and the web. The purpose was to switch between headphones and speakers on his PC, however this project is a natural explanation for another method of controlling Arduino-connected items over the Internet. As the control is via a web browser, it also opens up ideas with regards to home automation via web-enabled devices on a home intranet. 

There is some circuit to build, however it is easily accomplished by a beginner. To move forward and explore for yourself, visit Peter's page here. And we're ontwitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well. 

Controlling almost anything is a reality with an Ethernet-enabled Arduino board, and at Freetronics we have what we think is the best one on the market - the Freetronics EtherTen. Apart from being fully Arduino Uno-compatible, it has onboard Ethernet, microSD socket, full USB connection (no pesky FTDI cables needed) and supports optional Power-over-Ethernet:

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

DIY Arduino-based USB Keyboard for Cubase

Musician and Arduino enthusiast "XeNo" has designed and published details for a USB keyboard simulator to use with Cubase music software on his PC. As a lot of commands were repeated frequently, XeNo has created a foot pedal to activate the USB keyboard commands to save having to reach for the keyboard after every take. This type of project can be useful for any PC application that requires repetitive keystrokes, such as games or other editing packages.

To get started with your own keyboard emulator, visit XeNo's blog page here. And we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well. 

Part of the project mentioned above was inspired by a project in the book "Practical Arduino" by Jonathan Oxer and Hugh Blemings, which contains fifteen interesting andpractical projects that are based around the hardware available from Freetronics. 

By reading this book and will be able to work on your own Arduino-based designs, gain an in-depth knowledge of the architecture of Arduino, and learn the easy-to-use Arduino language all in the context of practical projects that you can build yourself at home. Get hands-on experience using a variety of projects and recipes for everything from home automation to test equipment. Now available in the freetronics store today. 

 

Interfacing Nintendo DS with Arduino

Korean Arduino enthusiast 'Hounjini' has documented a method of two-way data communication between an Arduino and a Nintendo DS video game system. The hardware side of things could be a little tricky for the beginner, but it is possible. Furthermore there is also a library for the Arduino<>DS communication. Once it's working, you can retrieve touchpad position data and also read the DS buttons. For example:

 

If you decide to start experimenting with the your NDS, be sure to heed the warnings in the instructions. To get started you can find the instructions hereAnd we're on twitter, so follow us for news and product updates as well. 

 

When creating projects with external circuitry, such as the audio system described above - consider our range of ProtoShields. From the tiny LeoStick to the Mega range, we offer a complete range for you to work with

Build an accurate clock with sensor display

Arduino enthusiast Kalshagar has documented his minimalist, Arduino-based clock detects your presence as you come close to it. The distance between the clock and human is measured with a Sharp infra-red distance sensor, and the closer you are the brighter the backlight in the LCD module. And for accurate time-keeping, Kalshagar has used the excellent Maxim DS3232 real-time clock IC. Here is the clock mounted in an iPod case:

You can never have too many clocks and this example is certainly different. For more information, including the Arduino sketch and circuit, visit Kalshagar's project pagehere. And we're on twitter, so follow us for news and product updates as well. 

The most important part of any clock project is the inclusion of an accurate real-time clock IC. Here at Freetronics we have the Maxim DS3232 real-time clock IC module:

Apart from keeping accurate time for years due to the temperature-controlled oscillator and having a tiny coin-cell for backup, it is very simple to connect to your Arduino project. A driver library allows your program to easily set or read the time and date. Perfect for clock projects, dataloggers or anything that needs to know the date and time. Furthermore it contains a digital thermometer and 236 bytes of non-volatile memory to store user settings and other data. For more information, check out the module page here

DIY Motorised Rotary Persistence-Of-Vision Display

Using our great KitTen Arduino-compatible board kit as a base, the people from MicroEd Computers have created a nifty little persistence-of-vision display that doesn't require any mad hand-waving. Instead, the LEDs are fitted a small board which is mounted on a motor which rotates them to create the desire effect. For example:

 

This is a great adaption of POV systems, and could be used as a decoration, part of a store window display, or another random style of data output. To get started with your own, visit the project page for all details and code here. And we're on twitter, so follow us for news and product updates as well. 

Although you can use almost any Arduino-compatible board for this project, for a more permanent installation consider using the Freetronics LeoStick. Apart from being one of the smallest Arduino-compatibles on the market with USB, it also has an onboard RGB LED and piezo for sound and knock detection:

Control Epson POS printers with your Arduino

After being given an older Epson point-of-sale printer from a friend who returned from a sale, Philip Hayton set about understanding the Centronics parallel-printer interface and has documented how to drive the printer from an Arduino board. This is a great start as there are many, many older printers with the Centronics interface that could be used as well. 

So to get started with your own Arduino-based docket system or hacking away with other Centronics-interface printers, visit Philip's fascinating project site here. And we're on twitter, so follow us for news and product updates as well. 

 

So if this sort of project intrigues you and 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:


Read Sega Megadrive cartridges with Arduino Mega

An Arduino and video game enthusiast has documented a method of reading the contents of Sega Megadrive video game cartridges using an Arduino Mega board and some simple hardware. A Mega is required due to the number of connectors on the game cartridge, which connects to the circuit via an old ISA slot from a '486-era motherboard. Although simple, this project could possibly lead to methods of backing up the old Sega cartridges.

For more information, Arduino sketch and notes - visit the project web page. And we're on twitter, so follow us for news and product updates as well. 

 

When projects such as the Sega cartridge reader outgrow the normal Arduino-compatible boards, running out of program and flash memory space, or you're stacking on Ethernet and microSD shields, or all at once - it's time to upgrade to the Freetronics EtherMega:

Quite simple the EtherMega is the fully-loaded Arduino-compatible board on the market today. Apart from being completely Arduino Mega2560-compatible, it includes full Ethernet interface, a microSD card socket, full USB interface, optional Power-over-Ethernet support and still has a circuit prototyping area with extra I2C interface pins. So if your project is breaking the limits, upgrade to the EtherMega today. 

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Play MIDI music with your Arduino

Although we can generate a variety of beeps and tones with piezo buzzers, that isn't the limit to your board's musical capabilities. John at jarv.org has taken music further and described a way to convert MIDI files into code that can generate very good renditions of the original. The process requires some open-source sequencing software and python code which converts the sequence files for use in the Arduino sketch. Here's an example of the system at work:

 

Very well done in our opinion. Using this method you can add very credible tunes and sound effects to your projects. So to get started, check out John's blog here. And we're on twitter, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

 

When creating projects with external circuitry, such as the audio system described above - consider our range of ProtoShields. From the tiny LeoStick to the Mega range, we offer a complete range for you to work with

DIY Arduino-based BiCMOS Curve Tracer

And now for something completely different - using Don Sauer's detailed instructions you can make your own curve tracer. It is made possible with some interesting external analogue circuitry, and Processing on a host PC to work with the data from the Arduino board. The purpose of this is to analyse characteristics of transistors such as the collector current as the voltage changes. The circuit is relatively simple, and Don has documented it very well. 

So for more information and to get started, visit Don's detailed project page here. And we're on twitter, so follow us for news and product updates as well. 

 

To get started with your own Arduino-embedded projects, look no further than the Freetronics LeoStick. Apart from being one of the smallest Arduino-compatibles on the market with USB, it also has an onboard RGB LED and piezo for sound and knock detection: