Friday, 31 August 2012

DIY twitter-controlled message display

Although originally designed to be an automated way of leaving messages on your office door, this project can be used anywhere that an Ethernet-enabled Arduino board can be installed. Using some nifty coding, the Ardiuno can parse an RSS feed from your twitter account and display messages on an LCD module when the appropriate sequence of characters has been detected in the feed. This could be considered a one-way paging unit where the message comes from the twitter world. Furthermore it can also read the temperature from an external service and display this as well. Neat.

Although this may sound complex, it's pretty easy. So click here to get started. And we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

 

Looking to do this for yourself? Then you need an Ethernet-enabled Arduino board. We have two, the Freetronics EtherTen:

... the Arduino-Uno compatible with onboard Ethernet, microSD socket and optional PoE. Or if you need an Arduino Mega2560 board, consider the Freetronics EtherMega:

Quite simply 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. 

Make your own simple Kitchen Timer

And now something for those just starting to experiment with their Arduino boards - a great little kitchen timer project brought to us by Instructables user 'anonymouse197'. By using their Arduino, ten LEDs and other simple hardware along with a piezo buzzer - a customisable timer can be made. The LEDs are used to show the time left during operation, and also form part of the user interface. Watch the following video for more notes and a demonstration:

 

As always this project is open for modification, such as reducing the time periods represented by the LEDs or having it play a tune when the alarm activates. So to get started, click hereAnd we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

When making your own projects that require a buzzer or the ability to play a reasonable tune - use the Freetronics SOUND: sound and buzzer module:


This versatile piezo-element module can be used for both input or output! It can be used as a noise-maker driven by your microcontroller for audible feedback of events, and it can also be used as a knock-detector input to sense events and react to them. Includes a built-in 1M resistor to allow the piezo element to detect shocks. For more information and to order, click here


Thoughts about Arduino and Finite State Machines

Over at the 'hacking majenko' site, Matt has articulated his thoughts on different methods of programming an Arduino. Not different as in language, different as in the algorithm created to solve the problem. In his article Matt proposes thinking about a project in the terms of a finite state machine (FSM). In doing so, this increases the structure and reduces the need to rely on if, then, else, while and the delay functions. Furthermore by thinking of your project as an FSM, it is easier to add more functionality to the code later in following updates, as you're just introducing more actions that can happen upon an event. 

 

Apart from theoretical discussion Matt has included examples of an Arduino sketch to demonstrate his points. For more information click here. And we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

 

If you're interested in more detailed and useful projects based around an Arduino board - read a copy of "Practical Arduino" by Jonathan Oxer and Hugh Blemings:

 

Create 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. For more information and to order, click here

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Make a typewriter with an old keyboard, dot matrix printer and Arduino

Francisco Reinoso has found a fun way to use technology that ordinarily would probably be left on the footpath for the garbage collection. He has used an old PC keyboard with the original DIN-interface, a dot-matrix POS printer with a Centronics interface and connected the two with an Arduino. This results with a project whereby the user can simply type something on the keyboard, press enter - and the text is printed. For the non-believers, check the following video where Francisco runs through the entire project:

 

This is one of those projects that show how easily you can control something with an Arduino. For the sketch, notes and schematics download Francisco's pdf file. And we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

 

Although working with a Centronics interface is easy with Arduino, there are some devices that use a 3.3V line voltage instead of 5V. When you're faced with this situation - don't panic! Make sure you have some of our LEVEL: bidirectional 5V-3.3V level converters in stock. For more information and to order, click here.

Control a RC Car via a PC and Arduino

Almost any inexpensive remote-control car or toy has a simple remote control that consists of normal buttons. Taking advantage of this, the remotes can be opened and connected to digital outputs of an Arduino board to allow control via the sketch. The people at the JBprojects blog have taken this one step further by writing Java software to create a control panel which can then forward commands to the car via the Arduino and the USB-serial connection on the board. Here is a quick demonstration of it in action:

 

The hardware required to complete this project is incredibly easy, and would make a fun afternoon tooling around. So to get started, click here for the detailed instructions, Java code and Arduino sketch. And we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

 

 

Display PC CPU and memory load with analogue meters

From "The mad science of an insane ginger" blog comes a simple project of interest to the PC performance enthusiasts. Using an Arduino and two analogue panel meters, the CPU load and memory usage can be displayed using information sent from a python script running on the PC. Analogue panel meters can be driven quite easily using pulse-width modulation and this is also the case in this project. And by making your own background images for the meters and a nice housing, you can turn this into a professional project.

For more information, the Arduino sketch and python code head over to the articlehere. And we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

 

If Arduino is new to you, a great start is our Freetronics Eleven - the Arduino-Uno compatible with low-profile USB socket, onboard prototyping space and easy to view LEDs:

Improved Arduino timer library

Arduino enthusiast and author Simon Monk has created his own version of the Arduino timer library in order to overcome some shortcomings of using the delay() function - as it holds up everything. With his library you can create multiple events that can be activated within a sketch and operate on their own timings. It's a clever library and worth investigating further. 

To do so, visit Simon's blog for more examples and to download the library. And we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

 

For longer timing events that require working with real time and date - consider using our super-accurate real-time clock module. Based on the DS3232, it has a temperature-controlled crystal oscillator for accurate time keeping, battery backup and 236 bytes of non-volatile memory for user data. For more information, see our modules page

Make your own coffee bean roaster with Arduino

Instructables user 'nightlife31' has modified a simple popcorn make to instead roast coffee using some imagination, Arduino and external hardware. By controlling the speed of the fan in the popcorn maker, the temperature of the beans inside can be controlled - and an excellent candidate for automation. The results are effective and you can also control and calibrate the system with a PC as they're using the POID library. Please note that this project involves working with mains current which is dangerous to say the least, and that all work must be completed by a licensed electrician. 

So if you're a coffee fiend and enjoy your own roast, head over here to get started. And we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

 

When making your own version of the coffee roaster, consider 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:

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

MatrixClock: an 8x8 LED matrix clock without buttons

Once again Freetronics customer Mark Wilson has published another in his great series of Arduino-based projects. In this instalment he has shown us the "MatrixClock". As you can see in the following video, the time is displayed using the LED matrix in a unique method. An accelerometer is used to detect movement, and the clock's modes and settings are changed by physically moving it about. Furthermore there's a light sensor to control dimming of the display.

 

Kudos to Mark for such a great project and we look forward to his next works of art. For more videos and images of the clock, click here - and the sketch can be foundhere. And we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

 

Have you created a project using Freetronics equipment? We'd love to hear about it - you can post details in our Project Showcase forum.

 

When working with time and Arduino (or any other system with the I2C bus), consider using our super-accurate real-time clock module. Based on the DS3232, it has a temperature-controlled crystal oscillator for accurate time keeping, battery backup and 236 bytes of non-volatile memory for user data. For more information, see our modules page

Control Arduino via Android and TCP

There are many ways to control an Arduino board with an Android device - for example via bluetooth or direct connection with our USBdroid board. However Abdulrahman Alotaiba in Qatar has created another way of doing so - by creating a TCP server in python that waits for commands from any device connected to it (in this case his Nexus S phone) and then sends serial commands to an Arduino. Check out the following demonstration:

 

A great wireless solution and also open-source. To get started click here. And we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

 

For a direct Android interface or other applications that require a USB host shield - consider our Freetronics USBDroid:

 

The USBDroid combines the functionality of theFreetronics Eleven along with a USB host-mode controller and a microSD memory card slot all merged together into a single, integrated board that is 100% Arduino compatible. This is the ideal platform for developing peripherals or projects based around Android devices with ADK (Android Developer Kit) functionality, but without requiring a USB host controller shield stacked onto an Arduino. Connect your Android phone for all kinds of controller and networking features, and other USB devices like game controllers, Bluetooth dongles, digital cameras, etc. For more information and to order - click here!

Use a pencil drawing as a capacitive touch sensor with Arduino

Instructables user Alan Chatham has described an interesting method of creating customised user input - with a pencil drawing. Using his method you can create a capacitive touch sensor with an Arduino, a couple of parts and a drawing created with a graphite pencil. Although it's simple - you could create all sorts of images and diagrams with a pencil, cover with clear adhesive film and have a custom-made touch interface. Watch the following video for a great demonstration:

 

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

 

This is a great project to show younger people what is possible with an Arduino-type board. And a great starting board is our Freetronics Eleven - the Arduino-Uno compatible with low-profile USB socket, onboard prototyping space and easy to view LEDs:

 

Four-axis servo control with Arduino and Python

The contributors at Principia Labs have demonstrated a method of controlling four (or more) servos from a PC running python and an Arduino board. Their reason for doing so was to create a base software stack that could be built upon for any other python script. As shown in the video below they have found several uses, including joystick control of the servos:

It's a great idea and the base of much PC-controlled fun. So click here for more information. And we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

 

Thinking of embedding an Arduino-compatible board in your next project? 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 which can be used a knock sensor and various tune and sound effects. Plus you can add extra circuitry with the matching protostick! For more information and to order, click here.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Web to Arduino messaging with Morse Code

Prolific technology book author Simon Monk has created an interesting method of one-way communication over the Internet. Using our Freetronics EtherTen as the base, Simon has programmed a small web server which accepts a short message from the user, then blinks it out in Morse Code using a bright LED on the EtherTen side of things.

This is really neat, and could be used as a fine one-way paging system using Internet-connected devices. For more information and to get started, check out Simon's bloghere. And we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

Again - the Freetonics EtherTen can be found in another Arduino-Internet application: 

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. For more information and to order - click here!

Bluetooth-enabled personal thermometer with Arduino

Technologist and self-proclaimed geek Dr Michael Proll has created a simple thermometer and humidity-reporting device that can be polled via bluetooth to retrieve the current sensor values. The hardware is based on his low-energy bluetooth shield and our Freetronics Eleven board. Operation is by sending ASCII characters from an iPhone via bluetooth, which then receives the required data and displays it on the iBLE application on the iPhone. 

For more information and code, check out MIchael's page here. And we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

If you're looking for a sensor to measure temperature and humidity - check out ourHUMID: humidity and temperature sensor module. Designed around the DHT22 sensor, it only requires one digital pin and power - and is easy to use with out Quick Start guide. With a temperature range of -4°C to +125°C with +/-0.5°C accuracy, and humidity at 0-100% with 2-5% accuracy you're ready to measure. For more information and to order, click here

Freetronics Eleven Review and ThingSpeak Project

The team at Thingspeak have been experimenting with the Freetronics Eleven and Ethernet shield, and also published a great tutorial that interfaces an IObridge web gateway module with our gear to create a device that parses Google weather and tells the user if the weather is bad enough to wear a jacket. The Arduino sketch is very simple due to the thingspeak API, and it is available for download. A simple tutorial, however a great starting point.

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

 

Since publishing their article, you can now save space and money by using 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.

Low-level operations of Arduino and the Freetronics EtherMega

Technology enthusiast and product developer John Sloane has published a detailed account of (in his words) "how Arduino gets from power up to executing my software, a long and involved process whose explanation I found to be widely distributed and not easily forthcoming". To make others' lives easier John has described it in detail, and also working with the microcontroller itself, including fuse bits, the bootloader, uploading code with AVRdude and more. 

 Kudos to John for such a detailed article, so click here to get started. And we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

So what is an EtherMega anyway? Quite simply the most 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.

Inexpensive Oscilloscope clock with Arduino

Using the X-Y display mode of an oscilloscope and digital-to-analogue circuitry created with an R-2R ladder, Kapil Gupta has made a simple and effective analogue clock display for the oscilloscope. He has also added a temperature display which uses a thermistor for measurement. The circuitry fits neatly on a protoshield, as you can see in the following detailed demonstration video:

 

If you have an oscilloscope, this would make a fun and quick project. To get started, click here. And we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

 

When working with time and Arduino (or any other system with the I2C bus), consider using our super-accurate real-time clock module. Based on the DS3232, it has a temperature-controlled crystal oscillator for accurate time keeping, battery backup and 236 bytes of non-volatile memory for user data. For more information, see our modules page

Tutorial: MATLAB and Arduino

For those who are comfortable with using or are interested in MATLAB - the "programming environment for algorithm development, data analysis, visualization, and numerical computation" - instructables user rmagtibay has published a collation of information on interfacing an Arduino board with the software. With this combination you can receive data from an Arduino for analysis and also control it. A quick demonstration is show below:

 

However for many more links and notes, click here. And we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

 

If Arduino is new to you - you will want to get yourslef a solid board for your projects - and the ideal board for all-round work and beginners is our Freetronics Eleven - the Arduino-Uno compatible with low-profile USB socket, onboard prototyping space and easy to view LEDs:

Sunday, 26 August 2012

DIY Arduino-based home blast furnace

Using an Arduino, a PC and a lot of chemistry, instructables user 'ckrobi' has created from scrap an oxygen-injected miniature blast furnace. This is used for experimenting with ceramics and metal. Using a PC running python/GUi software they control an Arduino which takes care of the various furnace hardware. For control integrity they have created their own communication protocol over serial between the PC and Arduino. The system can also monitor various parameters and return the values back to the PC. Furthermore, heed the safety warnings if you're making your own. 


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

Thinking of making your own blast-furnace with an Arduino? 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 which can be used a knock sensor and various tune and sound effects. Plus you can add extra circuitry with the matching protostick! For more information and to order, click here.

Exchange exercise for computer time with the Personal Energy Orb

Sometimes we spend too much time in front of a computer. Some of us have no choice (work) and some do (fun). Nevertheless we all need our exercise and the Personal Energy Orb is just the device to help it happen. A project devised by German student Janko Hofmann,  it uses a mixture of PC software and an Arduino. When connected to the PC, the PEO's energy level decreases ... and so does the speed of the mouse. When the energy runs out - the mouse speed is set to the slowest possible, encouraging you to get out. Then when connected to a bicycle with the required hardware, the PEO's energy level increases - allowing you more PC time. For more, check out the  video below:

 

Fore more information, code and hardware designs check out Janko's blog here. And we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

 

When creating more complex circuitry such as the speed alarm as described above for your Arduino - consider our range of ProtoShields. From the tiny LeoStick to the Mega range, we offer a complete range for you to work with.

Play "Hunt the Wumpus" with Arduino

Once again Freetronics forum member 'eturnerx' has made use of the Freetronics LCD and Keypad shield to create some fun. In this instalment the classic game "Hunt the Wumpus" has been adapted to make use of the LCD and controls on the shield. In the following video you can watch an explanation and demonstration of the game:

 

Neat! For more information and the Arduino sketch, head over to the forum. And we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

To get some Wumpus action or other data display - you'll need 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:

How fast can you press a button?

Video game enthusiast Bryant Davis was interested in how fast he could press a button - a skill useful for playing various games and testing the build quality of arcade games. So he made a simple device using arcade-quality buttons and an Arduino to measure just that. The sketch is quite simple and doesn't use delay functions in order not to miss any rapid keypresses. The entire unit has been mounted in a large box suitable for taking a thrashing:

To get started with your own version, head over to Bryant's blog for code, notes and some interesting history. And 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:

Log data from an Arduino to Google Docs

There are many ways of sending data of logging data with an Arduino board - no secrets there. And getting data from an Internet-connected Arduino can be complex, and even cost real money to use one of the various logging services. However Mukesh Kumar has brought to our attention a method of sending data from an Ethernet-enabled Arduino board straight to a Google Docs spreadsheet. This is great as you can analyse and distribute the data amongst a team of people almost instantaneously at a very low cost.


For more information and a complete tutorial, head over to Mukesh's article hereAnd we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

Looking to do this for yourself? Then you need an Ethernet-enabled Arduino board. We have two, the Freetronics EtherTen:

 

... the Arduino-Uno compatible with onboard Ethernet, microSD socket and optional PoE. Or if you need an Arduino Mega2560 board, consider the Freetronics EtherMega:

Quite simply 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. 

Using the Apple OS X terminal to control an Arduino

Arduino enthusiasts of the Apple persuasion have found that there is no direct way to control an Arduino with live keystroke commands as Applescript doesn't provide a way to detect keyboard strokes. However Martin Koch has described a way of doing so, using the "Terminal" application included with OS X and the with the UNIX screen command which allows communication with the serial port. 

An interesting work-around for the Apple users out there. For more information and a demonstration sketch, click here. And we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

If you're looking for a simple way of controlling and receiving visual data from an Arduino, consider 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:

 

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Control video cameras via LANC and Arduino

A variety of video cameras can be controlled by the LANC (Local Application Control Bus) port, which was invented by Sony and found on other brands such as Canon and JVC. It's a simple protocol which can be interfaced quite easily with an Arduino. Neat - so using the knowledge from a tutorial on the ControlYourCamera blog - you can now automate various video functions very easily. 

The required circuitry is quite simple and will fit nicely on a protoshield. So to get started click here. And we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

 

Thinking of making your own LANC-automation system with an Arduino? 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 which can be used a knock sensor and various tune and sound effects. Plus the LANC circuitry will fit on the matchingprotostick! For more information and to order, click here.

Friday, 24 August 2012

The embedXcode project

For those of you who use more than one microcontroller platform and also use Apple computers - this project will be of interest to you. The embedXcode project is working on allowing use of the Apple Xcode official IDE for use with Arduino, Processing, Wiring, chipKit, TI MSP430 Launchpad and other platforms whose IDE is based on Processing. Having one IDE instead of many saves space, hassle and late-night confusion when working on multiple platforms. There is also a tutorial .pdf, project blog and forum to keep up to date.

Although the embedXcode project is a work in progress, check it out at the project pagehere. And 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:

Make your own GPS-based speed alarm

And now for something different - a GPS-based speed alarm that alerts you of travelling too fast by simulating the look of police lights in the rear-view mirror... Using an Arduino loaded with street coordinates and matching speed limits, and a GPS receiver module - the system can determine the location in the local street database and check if you're speeding or not. If you are - the imaginary police lights will fire up to let you know. Great for the paranoid or scaring people with something to hide. For example:

 

Although this may seem like a complex solution to something that is very easily solved, it's still interesting and good for a laugh. To get started, head over to the project pagehere. And we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

When creating more complex circuitry such as the speed alarm as described above for your Arduino - consider our range of ProtoShields. From the tiny LeoStick to the Mega range, we offer a complete range for you to work with.