Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Create visual effects with coloured water and Arduino

 After seeing the effect of water being vibrated as it came out of a hose, Arduino forum member "focalist" decided to create his version using an Arduino, a servo and some simple circuitry. By adding fluorescent colouring to water which is then passed through a tube with the end controlled by a servo, it can be seen at night when a blacklight is shined on the liquid. Then with the Arduino commanding the servo, various effects can be generated, for example:

 

That's a whole box of awesome, so head over to the Arduino forum 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 you found the project above interesting - but not sure how to start with Arduino - then the best way to learn is with our Experimenter's Kit for Arduino:

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

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

Control Arduino via ASP.NET C#

There must be scores of methods of controlling an Arduino via a PC - however most of them don't present a relatively simple interface for the end user. However with the tutorial by #ben, you can have the framework to create a pleasing browser-based solution using Microsoft Visual Studio. With this a simple web page has been created and code to control four Arduino digital outputs. The PC side simply sends serial commands which the Arduino interprets and acts upon. 

The example is well written and digestible, so visit the tutorial to get started. 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:

Send email or SMS with Arduino and Google App engine

Although originally designed for an aquaponics system, Instructables user "IAquaponics" has published a great tutorial describing the hardware and software required for an Arduino to send email or SMS text messages using python, the Google App python SDK and a Ubuntu OS computer. The ability to send an SMS will be determined by carrier availability in your area however the explanation of the code and the total design is very well articulated, deserving a read for at least interests' sake. 

So to get started, check out the tutorial from here. 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 Ethernet-enabled Arduino-compatible board, consider one of Ethernet-enabled boards, such as the Freetronics EtherTen - the Arduino Uno-compatible with onboard Ethernet, microSD socket and optional PoE:

... or for more program space, I/O ports consider the Freetronics EtherMega - the Arduino Mega2560-compatible with onboard Ethernet, microSD socket and optional PoE:

Simple Arduino-based "party button" with LED effects

Time for something different and entertaining with this simple project by Arduino enthusiast "#ben" - who has created a simple system that  has a party button - which when depressed commands the Arduino to blink LEDs to the rhythm of an older and possibly cringe-worthy song as shown in the following video:

 

When working with Arduino you have to start somewhere, and this example shows how quick and easy you can control digital outputs. For complete details including the sketch and schematic, head over to the project page. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

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

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

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

Installing Arduino on Windows 8 without disabling driver signing

At this point in time some people are having issues installing their Arduino Uno and other compatible boards on Windows 8 systems due to the requirement for a "signed driver". Thus there have been several work-arounds published involving forcing Windows to allow installation of unsigned drivers - however some aren't too happy with that solution. Thankfully a new method has been described by Darrell that involves using an existing signed driver for another piece of hardware with the same device ID. Interesting - check out the video for more details:

 

So if you're looking for another method of Windows 8 installation, check out Darrell's blog. 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:

Sunday, 24 March 2013

DIY Obscure password generator with a LeoStick

Prolific author Simon Monk has published a review of our Freetronics LeoStick and a matching tutorial that creates a unique and useful device. Simon's project uses the LeoStick to generate an obscure password, which is then stored in the microcontroller's EEPROM. As the LeoStick can emulate a USB keyboard, the password is "typed" into the connected computer at the press of a button. Then when it comes time to change the password, the other button will re-generate the password for for future use. In the project example below you can see how easy it is to mount the external circuitry on the matchingProtoStick board:

Well done Simon for sharing this great project with us. You can follow his writings and review this project from his website. 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.

3D-printed enclosure for Freetronics EtherTen

 If you're looking for an enclosure for your Freetronics EtherTen board, and have access to a 3D printer - then this enclosure published on Thingiverse may be for you. Created by Andrew Gemmell the enclosure allows for wall-mounting and space for another protoshield on the EtherTen. And the M3 bolts at the end add a snazzy technical finish as well:

Kudos to Andrew for publishing his work, and the design files can be found on Thingiverse. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

 

So what is a Freetronics EtherTen? It's a great board that saves you space, time and money - it combines an full Arduino Uno-compatible board, an Ethernet shield, a microSD socket and the option of using power over Ethernet - all on one board. For more information and to order - click here!

Using analogue panel meters to display the time

Analogue panel meters don't die - they just find uses in new and interesting projects. An example of this is by Instructables user "tech-e" who has harnessed a pair of 5 V panel meters with which he can display the time, audio VU levels and other data of interest. Driving the meters is easily done using pulse-width modulation (using the Arduino analogWrite() function) and with a little calibration the results can be quite successful. With a little more work the use of custom panel backgrounds and LEDs really enhance the effect, for example:

 

Very well done, and not difficult at all - so visit the project page to get started. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

When making your own clock - don't skimp on timing accuracy - so consider using our real-time clock module based on the DS3232 - with a temperature-controlled oscillator it is highly accurate, and has an onboard backup battery for when the power dies and 236 bytes of non-volatile memory for user data.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Control Futaba S-BUS devices with Arduino

The Futaba company (popular for remote-control devices, servos and so on) has a control bus for their newer products that allows an easier method of wiring multiple servos, batteries, controllers and so on - called the "S-BUS". Being a proprietary system you'd be stuck with their parts - however enthusiast Michael Baker has worked on the reverse-engineering of the bus - and created some example sketches and an Arduino library to allow control of the Futaba devices with an Arduino. 

 

Well done to Michael and all those who contributed to the project. For more discussion, library and notes visit the Arduino forum. And we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

When prototyping more advanced Arduino-based projects, you'll need a protoshield to mount the external circuitry. In doing so, consider our range of ProtoShields. From the tiny LeoStick to the Mega range, we offer a complete range for you to work with.

Networked Arduino control via MATLAB

Amongst the multitude of things you can do with MATLAB software is the ability to remotely control an Arduino board via Ethernet. With the included code you can create a visual interface to simply control Arduino digital outputs, and expand on them with your own requirements. Although the project uses a separate Arduino Ethernet shield you could also use an integrated board such as an EtherTen.

An interesting and useful example for MATLAB users out there - 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 you're looking for an Ethernet-enabled Arduino-compatible board, consider one of Ethernet-enabled boards, such as the Freetronics EtherTen - the Arduino Uno-compatible with onboard Ethernet, microSD socket and optional PoE:

... or for more program space, I/O ports consider the Freetronics EtherMega - the Arduino Mega2560-compatible with onboard Ethernet, microSD socket and optional PoE:

The LASERino laser staging box project

As we often say you can do a lot with an Arduino and the following project is a great example of this. Arduino forum member "rediculum" is working on a staging box to control a 20mW laser that will generate various lighting effects. It uses a system of servo-controlled mirrors to alter the laser reflection and thus the resulting patterns, and after final construction will end up cheaper than a commercial unit. Here's an example of the current work in action:

 

It's a work in progress, however the project is being documented very well, and you can follow to find the results from here. 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 projects based on a miniature Arduino-compatible - look no further than the Freetronics LeoStick. Apart from being one of the smallest Arduino-compatibles on the market with USB, it also has an onboard RGB LED and piezo for sound and knock detection:

Control Arduino digital outputs with an iPhone

It's easier that you think to control an Arduino remotely via the Internet, and the following project by Instructables user "fpoels" is another excample of this. In his project he uses an Ethernet-enabled Arduino board as the target device, which runs a sketch which generates a simple HTML control page for the digital output - which then naturally can be accessed and used to control a digital output. It's a great example and one that you can work with for your own remote-control devices. A quick demonstration follows in the video below:

 

For complete instructions, visit the project page. 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 Ethernet-enabled Arduino-compatible board, consider one of Ethernet-enabled boards, such as the Freetronics EtherTen - the Arduino Uno-compatible with onboard Ethernet, microSD socket and optional PoE:

... or for more program space, I/O ports consider the Freetronics EtherMega - the Arduino Mega2560-compatible with onboard Ethernet, microSD socket and optional PoE:

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

An Arduino NFC time clock project

Michael Paholski was tasked with creating a modern rendition of an employee punch-clock, and turned to Arduino as the base for his solution. By using a Freetronics EtherTen, an after market NFC shield and related circuitry his goal has been successful. Over various articles the project is described from the idea phase through to the culmination of the final product. When completed it can record the card data, the direction of entry on the card and alter this, and send required data to an external database. 

It's an interesting and useful project to follow, so for more information start here. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

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

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

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

DIY Weather-prediction LED with Arduino

Although it's enjoyable to make fun projects with an Arduino, there are also serious applications that can help with daily activities. One example of this is the weather-prediction LED by Mike's Lab. They use an Ethernet-enabled Arduino board to interrogate web-based weather information websites, and then display different colours or effects using an RGB LED. If you're not interested in weather, this could be a good framework for other Internet-based information retrieval and display system. View the following video for a complete explanation:

 

For more information and code links, visit the about section on the YouTube page. 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 Ethernet-enabled Arduino-compatible board, consider one of Ethernet-enabled boards, such as the Freetronics EtherTen - the Arduino Uno-compatible with onboard Ethernet, microSD socket and optional PoE:

... or for more program space, I/O ports consider the Freetronics EtherMega - the Arduino Mega2560-compatible with onboard Ethernet, microSD socket and optional PoE:

New Arduino library for the DS3232 real-time clock IC

If you're not a fan of using raw I2C-commands with a real-time clock IC, check out the new Arduino library for the DS3232 by Vino Rodrigues. Unlike other versions, Vino's library uses the official Arduino time library, and thus more portable. You can easily set and retrieve the time and date as well as read the onboard thermometer, set the alarms and choose whether the alarm interrupt or square-wave generator is enabled. It's a great addition for a very useful component.

To download the library, visit the library github page. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

When making your own clock - don't skimp on timing accuracy - so consider using our real-time clock module based on the DS3232 - with a temperature-controlled oscillator it is highly accurate, and has an onboard backup battery for when the power dies and 236 bytes of non-volatile memory for user data.

Lockduino - the Arduino door combination lock

With an Arduino you can create things that may seem complex in a simple manner, and one example of this is by Instructables user "electricloser" with his combination lock. By using four potentiometers and reading their value with analogue inputs, a "four position" combination lock can be made without much effort. When the pots' are in the correct spot matching the pre-stored values, a servo unlocks the door mechanism allowing the door to be opened, and when the combination is changed (a potentiometer is moved) the door locks again, for example:

 

What a great project, and something anyone can try. Visit the instructions to get started. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

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

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

Make an inexpensive Arduino serial data logger

As either an experiment in parsimonious project creation or a bare data logger - this project by Instructables user "RayBurne" fits the bill. They've used the absolute, below-specification application of an ATmega328P-PU with the Arduino bootloader as the heart of the simple device, which simply records incoming data from an RS232 stream and writes it to an SD card. You may damage some parts in the process so take care and heed all the instructions. All the instructions and sketches are included so with some time you can reproduce it yourself. 

 

For complete details on how to reproduce this yourself, visit the instructions page. And 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!

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Using vintage game controllers with MAME games

At the mahoneytech blog they've shown how to resurrect a classic video game controller so it can be interfaced with a PC and thus control more recent and other games playable on the PC. The controlled was a basic eight-position micro switch unit, however without any form of PC interface an Arduino Leonardo was required to interface with the controller and then emulate the moves as USB keyboard presses. Thus the joystick can now be used for various PC games and the odd Mario session:

 

Doing so was quite simple and demonstrated here. 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 embedded-Arduino and USB emulation projects - look no further than the Freetronics LeoStick. Apart from being one of the smallest Arduino-compatibles on the market with USB, it also has an onboard RGB LED and piezo for sound and knock detection:

Hacking children's' night lights with RGB LEDs

German enthusiast Hendrik received one of our RGBLED modules in a tronixstuff.com competition a while back and turned it to good use without much effort at all. After buying a night light for his child, it occurred to him that the RGBLED module could offer a much more interesting colour combination. Thus Hendrik made a compact controller for the module based around the Microchip PIC12F1822. Furthermore the user can select between the new RGB and the existing whilte LEDs in the lamp for variety. 

It's a great project and also shows an example of our modules working with other development platforms. Visit Hendrik's website for more details and the schematic. 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 your own colourful LED-based project, consider our 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.

Build an Arduino Animatronic Hand

For a school project Instructables user "pablo_g16" decided to create something not seen before and thus created his "Handroid" animatronic hand. It's a stellar effort, and uses five Arduino-controlled servos to control the fingers. The fingers are made from scored rubber tubing, and the servos pull the fingers back via fishing line. The author mentions a lot of trial and error, however for a first project of such complexity it's a great job. 

To find out more and recreate your own, check out the project page. And for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

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

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

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

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Write your own Arduino libraries

After writing your own functions for particular devices, or working with new parts - you might wish for an Arduino library to make re-use faster and easier. Well wish no more as the folk from NoMI design have published a useful tutorial that will get you on your way to writing your own Arduino libraries. Doing so really isn't that difficult, and once you get the hang of it you'll wonder why you didn't do so earlier. 

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 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:

Build a scrolling text clock with a dot-matrix display

John over at tronxistuff has created another one of his different clocks with our Freetronics Dot Matrix Display and other products. It's a simple project that displays the current time in words that scroll across the display. It's something different and a more interesting alternative to simply displaying the numbers in the manner of a digital clock. Plus you can modify the system so it displays messages at certain times of the day. Here's a quick video demonstration of the clock in action:

 

It's quite easy to build for yourself, so get started 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

Hacking a fireplace controller with Arduino

If you have a fireplace with a remote ignition controller, this project may be of interest. On the geek-tips website, they've described how to modify remote-ignition controllers with Ethernet-enabled Arduino boards so they can be easily turned on or off via a connected device. Like most devices with simple button control the modification is simple, and with theteleduino system you could even do this from almost anywhere. However it would be wise to consider the unwanted possibilities of such as system - you don't want any "unrequested" ignitions!

Nevertheless, check out 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 you're looking for an Ethernet-enabled Arduino-compatible board, consider one of Ethernet-enabled boards, such as the Freetronics EtherTen - the Arduino Uno-compatible with onboard Ethernet, microSD socket and optional PoE:

... or for more program space, I/O ports consider the Freetronics EtherMega - the Arduino Mega2560-compatible with onboard Ethernet, microSD socket and optional PoE:

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Build a decorative colour-changing lamp with Arduino

Sooner or later most enthusiasts will experiment with RGB LEDs for a while then move onto something else. However if you can rustle up a box of plastic spoons and an empty water bottle - why not make something useful and more permanent instead? A perfect example of this is by Instructables user "LostRite" who shows how to make a decorative lamp enclosure that can be illuminated via an RGB LED controlled by an Arduino. It's a simple yet visually-appealing device, for example:

 

What a great use of simple materials! For instructions, visit the Spoon Light page. 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.