Thursday, 31 January 2013

Make a Laser Harp with Arduino

If you're looking for a holiday project, a new kind of futuristic musical instrument, or need to impress someone - build a laser harp. Instructables user "Shobley13" has used an Arduino, several laser pointers and some optical sensors to create a device that senses breaks in the laser beams - which emulate harp strings - and sends the signal out via MIDI to a suitable computer with music software. And the results are outstanding - watch the following video:

 

The instructions are incredibly detailed, so click here to get started. And we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well. 

If you're interested in more advanced Arduino projects and usage - 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

Build a gravity-sensing game controller with Arduino

As part of a larger project to create a driving simulation game, Instructables user "searx" has made a fascinating type of game controller. It can sense the controller's position relative to gravitational force, and reports the data back to a PC via Arduino. This can be read by python or other software to act on the controller's position. The controller itself is simple - by attaching weights to two potentiometers - their value will change depending on the way the controller is held, and thus the relationship with the position can be read. 

And kudos for the LEGO enclosure... for more information visit the project page. And we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well. 


You too can measure various movements and changes in g-force with our AM3X: accelerometer moduleThis tiny 3-axis accelerometer module can operate in either +/-1.5g or +/-6g ranges, giving your project the ability to tell which way is up. Ideal for robotics projects, tilt sensors, vehicle dataloggers, and whatever else you can dream up. It even has a "zero g!" output to detect when the device is in free-fall, so you could connect that to an "interrupt" pin on an Arduino to have your project react immediately if it's dropped! For more information and to order, visit the product page

Make your own PCB etching agitator with Arduino

If you're etching your own PCBs, experimenting with biology projects or just like making things that move, consider this next project by Danne Woo. He's used an old CDROM drive (or DVD etc.) and by controlling the eject motor with an Arduino has created a simple yet effective agitation device. The motor is interfaced with a simple H-bridge, and if making your own - add a power switch:

 

Overall a great way to solve a problem and re-purpose old technology, so click here to get started. 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.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

DIY Spectrum Analyser with a Dot-matrix Display

Arduino enthusiast and writer John Boxall has just completed another chapter in his series of tutorials - and in the latest edition is a great project that uses our Freetronicsdot-matrix display board as an output device for the MSGEQ7 spectrum analyzer IC. The project is quite simple, and using a few parts a full seven-band stereo spectrum analyzer can be possible. Even with one display unit the results are effective, for example:

 

The tutorial includes a full explanation of the equalizer IC and Arduino sketches, so anyone can have a go. So grab a DMD and get started from here. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

For the uninitiated, the Freetronics Dot Matrix Displays are simple to use, yet 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

Arduino-controlled large "record player"

Perhaps not a record player in the standard mould, but instead an inverted version that can only be considered a work of art. Design students Dries, Laurens and Sven made a huge vinyl disc, and cut pits in various places in a circular fashion. Then a motorised "reader" navigates around on an arm from the centre of the disc, measuring the pits and playing tones in relation to their location... almost a reverse record player - for example:

 

Certainly something different, 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.

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:

Face detection and tracking with Arduino and OpenCV

Using Open Computer Vision software, a webcam and an Arduino, Hazim Bitar has created an inexpensive facial-tracking system that works. The OpenCV software takes care of the facial recognition, and sends the commands back to an Arduino which controls servos to align the wecam. There's an interesting synergy between the software tools, and the result is cheaper than a commercial unit. Watch the video below for a quick demonstration:

 

 Fascinating work, which is detailed 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.

Interface Arduino with digital calipers

For something different - here's an interesting yet simple method of interfacing an Arduino with inexpensive digital calipers from "martin's useless and useful creations". The controller from what seems to be a set of generic digital calipers sends out 24-bit data sets which can easily be read by an Arduino with the provided sketch. Either way it's an effective way of creating a remote display for your calipers - the feed could go from an Arduino to an LCD shield, PC or even a huge dot matrix display. Why not?

The circuitry would only take a few minutes, and Martin has provided everything you need to get started here. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

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

 

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

DIY RFID-based cat door access system

There's a saying that can often sum up the relationship between cats and humans - "Dogs have masters, but cats have staff". If you would like to turn the tables on your cat(s) - consider this RFID-controlled cat (or other pet) door. Exercise control over the feline movements at your discretion - and ban those who used to sneak in for a free meal. By simply mounting the RFID and Arduino hardware described by Instructables user "landmanr", and two solenoids to control the flap - you're set. With the addition of a real-time clock you could also add time-based access to the system. You can see the solenoids and system in action below:

 

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

When creating projects with external devices or circuitry - consider our range of ProtoShields. From the tiny LeoStick to the Mega range, we offer a complete range for you to work with

Monday, 28 January 2013

Ethernet-enabled solar tracking device with Arduino

Contributors to the Techmind Denmark website have published an interesting solar-tracking project that has a web-based status display. Although only a beta-version at this stage, it can measure the currrent from the solar cells and adjust their angle using a small motorised LEGO system. The current statistics are displayed on a basic web page which also has an emergency stop feature for the motors. You could reduce the cost of this system by using two or more light sensors to detect the position of the sun, however the system is open to interpretation. 

 

An interesting concept that could scale up if necessary. Nevertheless, click here to get started (opens in Google Translate).And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

When putting together your next Internet-enabled Arduino project - save time, space and money with the 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.

Make your own LeoStick to Arduino conversion shield

Although the Freetronics LeoStick is designed for more compact applications, and also has it's own matching prototyping shields - there may come a time when you'd like to use it with full-sized Uno-compatible shields. It seems that Instructables user "nerdling" has had the same thoughts, and published Cadsoft EAGLE board files for a simple adaptor shield that accepts a LeoStick and brings the I/O to match the normal Uno size shields.

Well done to the creator, and we look forward to your future work - in the meanwhile, check out their files here. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

So what is a LeoStick? It's 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.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

DIY BioPrinter system

A new wave of creativity is upon is with the advent of bioprinting - printing with biological materials. It might be a bit early to consider whipping up a new kidney on a 3D printer, however Patrik on Instructables has run through a detailed explanation of creating a simple bioprinter using parts harvested from inkjet printers and CDROM drives. Using an Arduino and a project from kickstarter they can now print all sorts of things such as food dyes, invisible ink or even bacteria. In the following video Patrik gives us a quick explanation:

 

Fascinating stuff - click here for more. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

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

 

Automatic Pez dispenser with Arduino

 For something a little less challenging than a self-balancing robot, check out this automated Pez dispenser by Hazim Bitar. An Arduino board takes readings from an ultrasonic distance sensor under the dispenser, and when a a hand or object comes close - a servo whips open the head of the dispenser allowing retrieval of the sweet. It's a fun little project that would be an interesting task to introduce younger ones to the world of Arduino, for example:

 

For complete instructions visit the project page 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.

Make your own self-balancing robot

Since the cost of electronics, robotics parts and sensors has come down over time, many enthusiasts often find the challenge of making their own self-balancing robot a satisfying and successful project. An example of this has recently been published by Arkadi Rafalovich. His robot has four wheels, with two larger ones at the top to protect the electronics and also make it easy to use as a normal robotic vehicle as well. Apart from just giving us the Arduino sketch and parts list, Arkadi has documented the project in detail to make it easy to follow. And here it is in action:

 

For more information you can download the project details from here. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

 

When creating projects with external devices or circuitry - consider our range of ProtoShields. From the tiny LeoStick to the Mega range, we offer a complete range for you to work with

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

DIY Frog Catapult with Arduino

And now for something from the "possibly pointless but fun" file comes a catapult from Instructables user "mrigsby". They have made a small catapult using parts generated from a 3D printer, and used two servos and a spring to both launch the subject and return the catapult back for another fling. So if you're looking for a reason to get a 3D printer, or an excuse to have fun with the children - this could be a lot of fun:

 

Visit the project page to make your own - however use fake frogs. 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 "skeletal" Arduino board

Japanese Arduino enthusiast Kimio Kosaka has created a skeletal version of an Arduino-compatible board - not something spooky, but called this as there isn't a PCB. Instead, he connected the circuit up using steel wire, and soldered the components to the necessary points - creating a single-sided Arduino board without a PCB. Check it out in the following video:

Very different, very creative... more of an artistic board than for school use! For more details, visit Kimio's websiteAnd for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

 

If you're wanting to reproduce the project above - 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!

True analogue audio volume control with Arduino

The Arduino and audio enthusiast team at CoolArduino have published a fascinating method of creating a truly analogue audio volume control with an Arduino (keep reading). Knowing that tungsten wire (found in bulbs) has a resistance that is proportional to temperature - they control the bulb brightness with PWM control from the Arduino, and pass the audio through a voltage divider comprising of the bulbs which then alters the volume. 

Sounds crazy but it works, so visit the project page for a complete explanation. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

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

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Make your own PWM fan speed controller

There is more to PWM from your Arduino than just adjusting LED brightness, and one alternative use has been demonstrated by Instructables user 'recwap', who demonstrates how to control 12V DC cooling fans. These are the type found in device enclosures and can be quite inexpensive. You can use PWM to control the speed of the fans even with an external power source, and would be great for adding a thermostat-controlled cooling system or a soldering fume extractor, or just for fun - for example:

 Furthermore the circuit keeps the digital outputs from the high-current fan circuitry, protecting your Arduino. Find out more from 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.

Arduino-USB/HID 14-channel data logger

One of the great things you can do with an Arduino and very little effort is logging data - and most methods generally write data to a microSD card for later analysis by a PC. However we'd like to illustrate another method by Ray Burne - which uses a microcontroller with the Arduino bootloader and external circuitry directly connected to a PC's USB port. The device then reads the status of 14 I/O pins and sends it back to the PC as text - which is made possible by the device acting as a USB keyboard. This opens up more interesting possibilities such as having the data "typed" straight into a spreadsheet or other software. 

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

 

If you're wanting to reproduce the project above - 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!

Make your own Arduino Poem Printer

This isn't a device that prints poems about Arduinos, it's a device that is controlled by an Arduino which can print poems! Using a small thermal printer with a serial interface, Giles Booth created a device that can send short poems, wisdom, or other messages on demand to the printer. What you can print is limited by the type of board you're using, however there's still scope for a variety of messages. Here it is in action:

 

 

Not bad at all, so head here for complete instructions. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

 

When creating projects with external devices or circuitry - consider our range of ProtoShields. From the tiny LeoStick to the Mega range, we offer a complete range for you to work with

Monday, 21 January 2013

Simple Arduino to Android control tutorial

The people at the Mitchtech blog have published a useful article about controlling Arduino digital outputs using an Android phone via the Arduino+USB host shield combination. The neat thing about the tutorial is that the author has written in a style to make it as simple as possible, instead of trying to be too clever. In no time you'll be controlling digital outputs and increase your confidence to move further along. They use the "microbridge" Android Debug Bridge (ADB) implementation for microcontrollers, so check it for compatibility with your phone before getting started. 
 

 

Nevertheless it's a great way to get started with Arduino and Android. 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 for ADK experimenting 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 Arduino-controlled beer Pong game

If you're looking for an excuse to spend more time with friends, all the while looking busy making something - consider knocking up a version of beer Pong as described by Instructables user "PotNoodle". It's quite easy - using piezo sensors under each cup with an LED next to the sensor, the game detects when a cup (or skittle, etc) has been knocked over and lights the LED. Furthermore the Arduino can generate various sound effects as well. It's a simple project that's open for experimentation, and can be a lot of fun after a few drinks:

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

If you're interested in working with piezos for various reasons we have a neat little SOUND: sound and buzzer module:

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, please visit the product page here

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Central heating and HWS monitor system with Arduino

One excellent and relatively simple project you can create with Arduino systems is temperature monitoring, and this has been demonstrated very well by Arduino enthusiast Jonas. He has published details on his system that monitors "both indoor and outdoor temperatures, radiator inlet/outlet temperature, wood furnace heat transfiguring and effect and the hot water storage tank temperature". In other words, a complete view of the vital statistics to get him through a European winter. The control system is very well done, with a great display - for example:

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

 

When making your own system. consider our TEMP: temperature sensor, which uses the Dallas DS18B20 1-wire digital temperature sensor, which has a range of -55 to +125°C at an accuracy of +/- 0.5°C:

Analyse Arduino data with "ArduinoMonitor" software

Arduino enthusiast Stefan Hölzl has published some interesting and useful software - his "ArduinoMonitor". It is another tool that allows monitoring and graphing of data received from the Arduino via USB. You can also use this for two-way communication as a replacement for the Arduino IDE's serial monitor function. It's simple to use and Stefan has included the documentation and example sketch showing how to make use of his software. 

So for more information and downloads,  visit Stefan's github page. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

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

The Arduino light-seeker

When experimenting with an Arduino for the first few weeks, it's amazing what you can come up with using a small amount of hardware and some imagination. One example of this is by Instructables user "aze1337" who used two light sensors mounted on a servo horn to create their light-seeking device. By measuring the light levels the Arduino can determine which direction has more light, and move the servo accordingly. This may seem simple, but could used as a step towards greater devices such as robots or guidance for solar collectors. Nevertheless, here's the project at work:

 

This is a great demonstration of what can be possible with an Arduino, so click herefor 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.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Generate better Arduino audio output with dual-PWM

It's no secret you can generate tones and simple audio with pulse-width modulation, but it isn't the best. However using the methods described by the Open Music Labs, you can use two PWM outputs and some simple analogue circuitry to create reasonable audio output. This is accomplished with 16-bit audio by sending the high bit to one digital output and the low bit to another, then mixing them with external circuitry. 

An interesting extension of what's possible with Arduino, and can be found hereAnd 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.

DIY CPU and memory meter with Arduino

Using an Arduino you can easily interpret data coming in from the serial line, and with that in mind enthusiast "kraegar" created a system to display the memory and CPU usage of his PC with easy-to-read LED bar graphs. The Arduino simply listens to the serial line for the values from the PC then converts the values suitable for driving the LEDs via 74HC595 shift registers. It's simple and it works. 

That's a fun and interesting project, you can follow the instructions from hereAnd for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.


When working with 74HC595 shift registers and solderless breadboards (or more permanent solutions) consider using the Freetronics EXPAND: Expansion/Shift register module. It contains the 74HC595 shift register on a small board with standard 0.1" spacing holes that are perfect for soldering header pins into for breadboard use, and a small "power on" LED. By doing this you have a robust vehicle to insert and remove easily without tools or the risk of bending the IC pins. This is only one of our large range of prototyping modules - check the full range today!

Controlling four LCD modules with one Arduino

Generally people only consider an Arduino capable of driving one parallel-interface LCD at any one time. Some people get around this by using external I2C-interface backpacks, however this can increase the cost somewhat. Another method without any extra external circuitry has been published by Thomas Flummer - allowing four HD44780-interface LCDs to happily coexist at once. His method involves controlling the enable pins for each LCD and sharing the data line, with success:

Visit Thomas' website for complete instructions. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

 

If you only need one LCD for your Arduino, 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 analogue input pin: