Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Visualizing distance sensor data with Arduino and Processing

By mounting an infra-red distance sensor on an inexpensive hobby servo, measuring the distance reported by the sensor as it is rotated by the servo and feeding this to a processing sketch, enthusiast Cory Barton has created a simple radar solution using an Arduino. The distance data and also the servo motion distance is sent via serial to the host PC running processing, which then generates a visual display of the output, for example:

Simple, something different and also useful when making autonomous robots or vehicles. Click here to get started with the Arduino sketch, processing code and so on. And for more, 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:

DIY FM Radio Arduino shield

Sometimes the simple things can be modified and controlled with an Arduino to enhance their use or operation. One example of this is by the "coolarduino" people who have hacked an inexpensive FM radio onto a protoshield and controlled the tuning function. The radio is based around the older Philips/NXP TDA7088 which seems to have been cloned and used in various cheap receivers. The hardware modification is quite simple and could be the base for a digital-preset FM radio control on a tight budget.

So if you see a cheap radio in the $2 shop, check it out and have some fun with it by starting hereAnd for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

 

When recreating a project such as the radio shield above, consider building the external circuits on a ProtoShield - it makes your project all the more professional, and easier to enclose. We have a range of shieldsincluding basic PCBsshort versions and our ProtoShield Pro with SMD LEDs:

Control a parallel-port printer with Arduino

You can never have too many options when interfacing with older devices that may have originally been past their "use by" date. One example of this is by Arduino forum member "sentrygun53" who has published an Arduino sketch to print text to an older printer with a Centronics parallel interface. For the younger readers, look for a printer with a socket that accepts a plug like this:

The author has successfully tested the sketch with a HP Deskjet inkjet printer, and with some experimenting should be fine with others. There is also some further discussion about using port manipulation and interfacing with other parallel devices such as flatbed scanner mechanisms. Click here for more information and discussion. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

 

If this type of project is of interest, you will enjoy the book  "Practical Arduino" by Jonathan Oxer and Hugh Blemings: 

 

 

Using this book you can 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

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Programming an Atmel AVR with an Arduino

After spending time working with the Arduino platform there will come a time when you may want to start directly programming the microcontroller or smaller, cheaper versions such as the ATtiny series. To do so requires a seperate programmer, however if you have an Arduino it can be used as one, saving some money. To help us along Michael Holachek has created a video tutorial on how to use the Arduino as an AVR programmer. It is clear, articulate and easy to follow:

 

For the matching notes to his video, click here. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

 

If you're interested in working with the bare microcontrollers, but not quite ready to give up the Arduino bootloader - we've got you covered with our new ATmega328P MCUs with Arduino Uno bootloader:

 

This is the same Atmel AVR ATmega328P microcontroller used in the official Arduino Uno, as well as our ElevenEtherTenUSBDroid, and other boards. Perfect for building your own Arduino-compatible project directly on a breadboard or on a custom PCB, or for replacing the MCU in an existing board. Comes with the Arduino Uno bootloader pre-installed. Better still, it even has a special label stuck on top with details of the pinout, so you don't even need to look up the datasheet when connecting it up in your project! For more information and to order, click here!

Sunday, 28 October 2012

"PUMPKTRIS" - play Tetris in a pumpkin...

Now for a project that has finally found synergy between the Tetris game, an Arduino board and a pumpkin. Nathan's "PUMPKTRIS" uses an Arduino and a custom-made LED display fitted inside of a pumpkin - and a customised pumpkin stalk to use as a controller - for a version of a video game console that really does have a use-by date. You have to see it to believe it, so here goes:

 

Fantastic, just don't re-use the pumpkin for cooking afterwards. Visit Nathan's project page to find out more and make your own. And for more, 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:

 

Make your own physical Reddit message indicator with Arduino

For those of you who enjoy exploring the depths of Reddit comes this very useful message indicator. Creator Brad has embedded an Arduino and some LEDs into a clock housing - which makes a nice display device. By connecting the Arduino to a PC running a perl script, any new message notitifcations from reddit can be monitored and then indicated by the Arduino-controlled LEDs. In the following video you can watch Brad run through his invention:

 

What a great little project, and could also be modified for other services. Click here to get started with your own version. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

If you would like to recreate this project yourself - consider using a Freetronics LeoStick - the Arduino Leonardo-compatible board that's cheaper and smaller than the original:

You could use the onboard RGB LED and piezo as annunciators for the message alert system described above. Furthermore, you can add extra circuitry with the matching protostick! For more information and to order, click here.

Minimalist electric motor with Arduino

Arduino enthusiast Didier Longueville has created a simple electric motor using only an Arduino and some simple wiring, without using a motor shield or driving transistors. Although his motor is for demonstration purposes, Dider uses an interesting method of maximising the amount of current one can source from an Arduino by using multiple digital outputs almost simultaneously and port manipulation. If you're going to repeat this or modify it for your own use, be mindful of the current draw on each pin.


For more on this interesting application of theory and practice, click here. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

 

If this type of project interests you and you're new to the Arduino world, check out our new 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.

"HydraSonic" - the Arduino-controlled whole house audio system

From the Overclockers Australia forum comes an interesting project to watch - the "HydraSonic - Arduino Controlled Whole House Matrix Audio System". Member "davros123" is in the process of creating what will be a fascinating Arduino and web-controlled audio system for multiple zones and rooms with levels of intelligence only seen in commercial systems costing ten times as much. Although the project is a work-in-progress, we look forward to reading more about it and following the design journey.

To follow the project, start with the forum post hereAnd for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

It's complex projects like the one above that show how an Arduino system can work with other platforms and technologies to create worthwhile projects. If this type of system is of interest, you will enjoy the book  "Practical Arduino" by Jonathan Oxer and Hugh Blemings: 

 

 

Using this book you can 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

Friday, 26 October 2012

Control an Arduino over the Internet with Telnet

Many people have created projects that control an Arduino board over the Internet with web pages, cloud services and other GUI-style interfaces. However you can still send and receive basic text with an Arduino over the Internet using an Ethernet shield and the right software - in this case Telnet (or other terminal software). At the FIUADY website they have documented and demonstrated this by showing how to control digital output pins using such as method. 

And although this isn't a graphical interface, the Arduino can still respond with text sent back to the terminal, just like "in the good old days". So to get started, click here. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

 

If you're looking to recreate this remote control method for your Arduino project, consider our 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:

Make your own novel-writing progress monitor with Arduino

The writing of a novel may not be simple, however tracking the amount of words you have written can be simple by making this progress monitor. As part of the National Novel Writing Month, author Steve Hoefer created an Arduino-based device that polls the progress of the novel that you post on a website, and uses the value to control a servo. The servo pushes or moves a cardboard indicator that works in a similar method to an analogue meter. Here it is in the following video:

 

Although it's quite simple, the final product works very well. Visit the project page for complete instructions on how to make your own. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

If this type of project interests you and you're new to the Arduino world, check out our new 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 and read Arduino I/O from a PC

Arduino enthusiast Rohit Gupta has written a useful Windows-based program to interface with an Arduino board. It would be useful for testing hardware connected to digital output pins and also reading the values returned from analogue inputs - great for testing prototype hardware without having to insert temporary testing code in sketches. However you do need to upload Rohit's sketch to interpret the commands from the PC. Watch the following snazzy video for a demonstration:

 

Visit Rohit's instructable for more information and the software download. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

If you're looking for another way to control your Arduino project, consider the Internet by using our 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, 24 October 2012

Control AC sockets with an Android phone and Arduino

Enthusiast Mario Böhmer has published a method to control AC mains sockets safely and remotely using an Android phone and Arduino. instead of attempting to rewire the mains sockets he simple hacked into the remote control for some remote-control mains outlets, and has the Arduino digital outputs tapped into the remote buttons with optocouplers. Then the Arduino listens via serial to a PC for text sent by the Android phone - which runs a custom app to simply turn the outlets on or off. For example:


Visit Mario's website for more information, a video demonstration and the required code. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

 

If you're looking for an Arduino-compatible board with inbuilt USB host shield in order to experiment with the Android developer kit, look no further as we have the Freetronics USBDroid board:

Apart from being a fully Arduino Uno-compatible, it has onboard microSD socket and the full USB socket and host-mode controller. As well as the Bluetooth application described above, 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. For more information and to order, visit the product page here


DIY Garage door opener with Maxim iButton and Arduino

After acquiring a Maxim iButton reader and tag, Instructables user "kenyer" decided to use it as as the basis for a garage door opening button. After some experimentation he discovered how to connect the iButton reader to an Arduino using the 1-wire bus, and ended up making an entire system that also has a digital clock (without using a real-time clock IC) displayed using an LCD. Here's his system at work:

 

Even if you're not interested in his primary goal, the explanation of making a clock without an RTC is a good read, so click here for more information. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

Although an Arduino can timekeep on its' own, when he power goes out so does the time, instead - 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

Score goals with rubbish bins and Arduino

In an effort to encourage people to put their rubbish in the bin, instructables user "kgrevendonck" has created a fun device similar to that which tracks basketball goals. They've fitted an Arduino with an ultrasonic distance sensor and an LCD. Then every time something flies past the sensor and into the bin, the score accumulates. They've also taken the project one step further in the video below, by using a PC runnning processing to generate a nicer score display (note that some of the video is in Dutch, but you'll get the idea):

 

Something fun, different and not difficult at all. Visit the project page for more information. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

If this type of project interests you and you're new to the Arduino world, check out our new 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.

The Portable Arduino Electronics Laboratory

Enthusiast Jason Welsh has used a 3D printer to whip up an interesting folding portable electronics laboratory casing. It can hold an Arduino board, a shield, and some random parts in a seperate drawer - or instead of the shield a small solderless breadboard. The whole case is held together with M3 screws, and you can download the design files yourself from Thingiverse. In the following video Jason runs through his creation:

 

An interesting creation, and certainly useful for the mobile experimenter. For more information and the download flies click here. And for more, 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:

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Create your own custom Arduino shield in ten minutes

Although making your own circuits and redesigning them to fit into Arduino shields is simple and fun, there will finally come a time when you need to consider making your own shields. And frankly, that's one of the great things about the Arduino platform - you can do it yourself. In doing so you would have to learn one of the PCB design tools and after a few nights lay down what is hopefully the correct layout. However things may change, as there is a new web-based service called circuits.io - an online PCB design tool which allows you to export the gerbers and design files to send off to a PCB factory. One of the founders Karel has created a video demonstrating how to design your own shield, including creating your own part footprints - in the following video:

 

And there you have it - a process that was once almost out of reach is available to everyone. For more information about circuits.io, click here. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

 

Although designing your own PCB is fun, if your circuit is easily made up consider building the circuit on a ProtoShield - it makes your project all the more professional, and easier to enclose. We have a range of shieldsincluding basic PCBsshort versions and our ProtoShield Pro with SMD LEDs:

Tutorial: Arduino button de-bouncing in software

Generally when people are using a button or sensor with similar types of contacts, there is some "bouncing" due to the switch contacts and thus a pull-down (or up) resistor and capacitor may be used. However this can often not be the optimal solution, especially when trying to minimise the parts used - or someone may have forgotten to include hardware de-bouncing in the design. This leads us to investigate a small Arduino sketch example by Instructables user "delphino-999", who has devised a way of de-bouncing using interrupts. 

It's a clever solution and leaves room for adjustment to take hardware factors into account. To run through it yourself, click here for the example. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

If you're an experienced Arduino user and interested in more advanced Arduino topics such as interrupts and hardware design - get yourself 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

DIY "Simon" Game with Arduino

Those born in the 1970s and earlier may recall the electronic game by Milton Bradley called "Simon" - where four colour panels would illuminate in a random sequence, and the user would have to reproduce that pattern by pressing matching buttons before the time ran out. Although the game itself was simple in theory, it was quite addictive and the cause for many competitions. You can also recreate this yourself with an Arduino board and a few basic components by following the guide by Instructables user "mpilchfamily". Their version has been constructed on a breadboard yet remains faithful to the original version, for example:

 

Not bad at all, and it leaves room for more experimentation. To learn how to make your own, click here. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

If this type of project interests you and you're new to the Arduino world, check out our new 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.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Make your own Arduino Word Clock

Building a clock is almost a rite of passage in the Arduino community, and Arduino forum member Riva has certainly moved forward and created a great word clock. Using 128 LEDs, a lot of prototyping board, and a non-board Arduino circuit using a pre-programmed microcontroller, the results are very good. What finishes the clock well is the housing and the quality of the laser-printer clock face. And unlike other simple word clocks, the display can become one large scrolling text unit as well. Here is the clock in action:

 

Kudos to Riva for their excellent clock. For build and design instructions, head over to their forum post. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

 

For your own projects 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


Sunday, 21 October 2012

Log temperature with a Gnu/Linux system and Arduino

Software engineer Nico Waldispühl has documented in detail a simple way of logging temperature measured from DS18B20 temperature sensors via an Arduino board. The data is the fetched from the board using a PC runnning a Perl fetch script and logged. Furthermore the  data can also then be charted using the URL-based Google Charts API for a pleasant result:


For more information including all the required code, check out Nico's website hereAnd for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

 

To get started with your own temperature-controlled projects, consider using our TEMP: DS18B20-based temperature sensor module:

... or our HUMID: Humidity and Temperature sensor module based on the popular DHT22 sensor unit. Both modules are fully documented and easy to get started with. These are only two of over a dozen of our sensor and output modules

Arduino LCD game: Mugwump

Once more Emmanuel Turner has ported another game to work with an Arduino and our LCD Keypad Shield. In this instalment he brings us the classic game "Mugwump". The game consists of an imaginary area mapped out into ten by ten locations, and four "Mugwumps" are randomly located in each. Your player moves about this area, scanning for a Mugwump, and once all four are found the game is over. It's a classic game from the 1970s that translates easily into the Arduino language. 

 

 

For more information including the sketch and other interesting Arduino projects, visit Emmanuel's siteAnd for more, 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:

Friday, 19 October 2012

Create an Arduino-controlled RGB Lamp with style

The lamp has the style, it's up to you to add some during construction. Nevertheless, instructables user "silverbyte" has documented his excellent RGB lamp that has the option to control colour, hue and cycle speed. The hardware and sketch is quite simple, however the lamp housing itself is most professional and wouldn't look out of place in a living room.  The following video is a time-lapse of the construction and demonstration of the lamp. Skip to 4:30 to see the lamp in operation:

 

It's great to see projects like this that start as an idea and end as a finished product. For complete instructions, click here. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

If you're looking to make more creative designs with LEDs, consider the Freetronics RGBLED: full colour module. It includes 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.

Motorised large POV Display with Arduino

Making a persistence-of-vision display with an Arduino brain is quite popular, however they generally involve the user waving the device about or fitting it to a bicycle wheel. Carlito has taken this one step further by re-purposing all sorts of things to create a motorised version which could be attached to a vertical surface. It only has six LEDs, yet still creates interesting effects. 

Furthermore he has explained the design and sketch so you can recreate your own. For more information, Arduino sketch and notes visit the project pages here. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

When making your own POV or Arduino-based portable project and size is an issue, consider using the Freetronics LeoStick - the Arduino Leonardo-compatible board that's cheaper and smaller than the original:

 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.

Networked Temperature Monitor for Home brewing

A home brewing enthusiast had a problem with one of their fridges in a seldom-visited room, and after some trial and error has created a detailed and useful networked temperature monitor. It's based around a Freetronics EtherMega, a lot of DS18B20 temperature sensors and a TFT colour touch screen. Using this setup you can display up to twelve temperatures at once - a great use of the 1-wire interface and an Arduino. And the results are quite professional, for example:

For more information, click here for sketches, notes and other home-brewing topics. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

 

To get started with your own temperature-controlled projects, consider using our TEMP: DS18B20-based temperature sensor module:

... or our HUMID: Humidity and Temperature sensor module based on the popular DHT22 sensor unit. Both modules are fully documented and easy to get started with. These are only two of over a dozen of our sensor and outputs modules

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Guino: PC Dashboard for your Arduino

Mads Hobye has created a great piece of software that allows one to create a software "dashboard" for your Arduino. The purpose of this to make life much simpler when debugging and running Arduino sketches, by allowing you to visualise realtime data and Arduino status. In other words, it's a graphical user interface for your Arduino. See it in action during the following video:

 

This would have many uses, and certainly be very handy when debugging hardware sensors and so on. To get started, visit Mads' project page. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

Although the PC dashboard is super-convenient, you may need to test in the field or away from a computer. In these cases consider using the Freetronics LCD & Keypad shield to display your data. It contains a bright 16x2 character LCD and five buttons that can be read from only one analog input pin:

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Make your own laser "sleep remaining" clock

When you wake up in the early hours of the morning and wan to know how much more sleep you can get in - however have trouble focusing on the clock, this may be the project for you. Niravel Patel has created an interesting method of display how many hours are left in a user-set period by shining a laser pointer between vertical and horizontal. The device has a potentiometer which is set to a certain number of hours, and during that period of time the laser is rotated by a servo at a constant rate until the beam is horizontal - at which time your sleep is (theoretically) over. For example:

What a great idea. To get started, visit the project pageAnd for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

If projects like this interest you, however you're not sure about using servos or Arduino in general - don't panic! Check out our new 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.