Rewind: Absurdly awesome Arduino projects from 2015

Arduin-OMG! This year was great!

Here are 35 Maker marvels with the best or craziest (or maybe both) Arduino ideas that we stumbled upon in 2015. Wacky, weird and we love it.

Wake-Up Machine

Always seem to hit the snooze button? Well, Simone Giertz’s alarm will hit you instead. And once you’re awake, you can let a robotic arm spoon feed you breakfast or throw on a helmet to brush your teeth.

Combo Breaker

Your Master Lock has met its match, thanks to Samy Kamkar. That’s because the serial hacker devised a motorized, battery-powered, 3D-printed, Arduino-based mechanism that can crack any combination lock in less than 30 seconds.


Another security project from Kamkar, this stealthy unit camouflages itself as a functioning USB wall charger and passively sniffs, decrypts, logs and reports back (over GSM) all keystrokes from any Microsoft wireless keyboards in the area.

JöLLY Tracker

Ad agency McKinney introduced a wearable of a different kind. It’s not a fitness tracker. It’s not a smartwatch. It’s an embedded Santa Claus beard that has one job, and one job only: to monitor how much you smile. Should you frown, it’ll emit a friendly little reminder in the form of an electric shock to your face.

Mjölnir Replica

Like Thor from The Avengers, engineer Allen Pan created his own real-life Mjölnir replica that only he could lift by using electromagnets, an Arduino Pro Mini and fingerprint scanners.


Most commonly associated with the military or NASA, railguns are electromagnetic projectile launchers based on similar principles to the homopolar motor. David Wirth is neither a soldier or a rocket engineer. Instead, he’s simply a Maker who decided to build a Quake-like blaster with the help of 3D printing and some widely available components.

DIY Overhead Control Panel


Most of us rely on a keyboard and mouse to perform tasks on our computers. Not Redditor user “smashcuts.” Instead, the Maker constructed a fully-functional overhead control panel for his PC, complete with 100 programmable buttons and switches that trigger all kinds of actions, from the useful to the absurd.

True Love Tinder Robot

Just in case contemplating age, location and looks is too daunting of a task, NYU ITP grad student Nicole He has developed a robot that can automatically swipe right or left based on your galvanic skin response.

3D-Printed Skittles Sorting Machine

Not a fan of yellow Skittles? Only enjoy the purple ones? Why waste your time sorting through the candy when there’s an automated machine that can do it for you? That’s exactly what Nathan Peterson did. The Maker 3D-printed a gizmo capable of detecting the color of each Skittle and then spitting them out in different repositories for easy picking.


Tired of always trying to decide whether or not a piece of furniture will fit inside in your living room? For those times where a tape measure will just not suffice, one group of researchers have built a handheld gadget that can actually sketch room-sized objects at scale, in minutes.

Open Source Snow Plow Robot

With winter quickly approaching, wouldn’t it be nice if there was a machine that could do all that tedious shoveling for you — without ever having to step foot outside? Boris Landoni thought so, too. The Maker developed a caterpillar robot that can be remotely operated via a PS2 controller.

Boombox Blaster

While not everyone may have the same taste in music, there are just some cases where we can’t help but to all agree that a tune is godawful. And with the countless stations on Internet radio, it’s bound to happen. This is what inspired the Neo-Pangea crew to dream up a creative project, which adds a gamification element to their boombox selection by turning a NERF target into their “skip” button.


These hair extensions let wearers discreetly open applications, send preset messages and broadcast a person’s location.

Circular Knitic

Now this is what we call doin-knit-yourself!


Spray-painted graffiti is so 2014. Just ask media artist R▲, the creator of a cyberpunk wearable device that enables you to project audiovisual art on a variety of objects and surfaces, ranging from the walls of buildings to the bottom of fire escapes.

Real-Life Space Invaders

Martin Raynsford, who happens to be co-owner of Just Add Sharks, chose to play a real world version of the classic arcade game with laser cutters. The paper invaders were clipped to a plate that used stepper motors for movement, while the 80W laser cutter is driven side-to-side by an Arduino Nano hooked up to a PC via USB.

Moon Phases

As a way to better visualize new, quarter and full moons, Makers Yingjie Bei and Yifan Hu’s interactive, turntable-like installation lets you input a date and see its corresponding moon phase.

BB-8 Replica

Right in time for the debut of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, robot enthusiast and prop-builder James Burton devised his own Bluetooth-controlled, Arduino-driven BB-8 droid.

Camera Restricta

Looking to put an end to touristy photos, Philipp Schmitt has developed a new type of ‘smart’ camera that determines its location via GPS and then combs through online images that have been geotagged in the same place. If the device decides that too many images have been taken at your location, it retracts the shutter and blocks the viewfinder, disabling you from taking any more pictures there.

Open Sesame

MIT student Dheera Venkatraman figured out a way to unlock an Internet-connected door by simply saying the words “open sesame” into his Android Wear smartwatch.

Cover That Judges You

Have you ever judged a book by its cover? Well, Dutch artist Thijs Biersteker and creative studio Moore turned the tables on the old-school idiom with a book cover that sizes you up before letting you read it.

Heartbeat Car

Sure, there has been quite a bit of talk around a future filled with autonomous vehicles. But what about cars that can reflect a driver’s heartbeat? That’s exactly what Lexus has set out to accomplish with its first-of-its-kind, specially-designed coupe that uses biometric technology and electro-luminescent paint to visualize the thrill of driving an RC F from both an emotional and physical perspective.

The Typewriter Symphony

A computer scientist at Tufts University hacked his 1960s typewriter to turn it into a mechanical printer. Even better, the keystrokes play percussive music while printing out a document.


Dmitry Morozov (commonly known as ::vtol::) came up with a prototype truncheon that sends a text message to an police officer’s mother every time it is used, in an attempt to prevent cop brutality. This was just one of several impressive projects from the Russian artist this year.

Knife-Wielding Tentacle

In what may surely be one of the most abstract (and dangerous) DIY gadgets of all-time, YouTuber “OutaSpaceMan” unveiled a robotic tentacle that flails a Swiss Army knife around in the air. We all know what you’re wondering, why a knife bot? According to his video description, the project was designed “to amuse those who may be bored. Just right now I think the world needs a laugh.” The better question is, how will he turn this thing off?

3D-Printed Rubberband Sentry Gun

Let’s just say that you’ll never have want to fling rubber bands with your fingers again.

 Jacobson’s Fabulous Olfactometer

Knowing all too well the dangers of air pollution, Susanna Hertrich built a head-mounted contraption that offers sensory augmentation for the human olfactory system under extreme living conditions. The wearable enables you to directly sense chemicals in the air and as a warning signal, modifies your face similar to a specific form of animal behavior called the ‘Flehmen response.’


The brainchild of researchers at Hasso Plattner Institute’s Human-Computer Interaction Lab, this Arduino-driven band can be worn around the arm, leg or foot, and when combined with a VR headset and custom software, allows you to ‘touch’ objects or ‘feel’ like you’ve been hit in virtual reality.

Electric Knife Orchestra

What do you get when 16 knives and one meat cleaver come together to perform a Bee Gees hit? This.

Bedfellow Robot Bed

Forget self-driving cars, Randy Sarafan over at the Instructables Design Studio has created an autonomous bed that seeks out people and makes new friends along the way.

MyoWare Bionic Claws

While we’ve seen plenty of ‘X-cellent’ DIY Wolverine projects in the past, Advancer Technologies founder and die-hard Maker Brian Kaminski has surely topped the list of clawesomeness. With his 3D-printed bionic accessory, he simply flexes his arms — and snikt! — the claws extend in a matter of seconds.

Environment Dress

Marìa Castellanos and Alberto Valverde have designed a smart dress that measures the aggressiveness of your environment and analyzes how it affects mood and behavior. Its embedded sensors can detect variations in noise, temperature, atmospheric pressure, ultraviolet radiation or the amount of carbon monoxide present in our daily life. All this information is then transferred, via Bluetooth or open Wi-Fi networks, to a smartphone and generates a big database with the geolocated references.


Frank Kolkman at London’s Design Interactions/RCA set out to explore whether building surgical robots, outside the scope of regulations, could plausibly provide an accessible alternative to expensive professional healthcare services worldwide. Made from a combination of off-the-shelf components and custom 3D-printed parts, the open source machine could permit people to perform keyhole surgery on themselves using just a Playstation 3 video game controller. Psh, what could go wrong?

Sensible Data

As a way to demonstrate just how easily people are willing to give up their personal information to participate in something fun, ECAL student Martin Hertig’s unique installation collects a user’s data, judges their mood, age, gender and beauty, and then creates a faux passport that is also randomly sent to another participant without them knowing.

Ex Machina Sound Reactive Wall

If you’ve ever watched the sci-fi flick Ex Machina, then chances are you’re familiar with Nathan’s (played by Oscar Isaac) infamous dance scene. The character flips a switch to transform his home’s concrete-walled lounge into a disco floor, complete with music-synced flashing lights. For those of us not lucky enough to be billionaires and install high-tech walls inside our homes, engineer Dan Chen has revealed that it only takes some laser-cut cardboard, LEDs and a little ingenuity to devise an affordable replica of the groovy, sound-reactive light fixture of your own.

Super Ventilagon

Alejandro Cura, with help from friends Jorge Crowe and Cristian Martinez, decided to attach an Arduino Nano to fan blade and play a version of Super Hexagon in a more “circular” format.

Remote-Controlled AT-AT Walker

What do you get when you combine an Arduino, an Adafruit Servo Shield, an Xbox 360 controller and a 1981 Kenner AT-AT Walker? A toy that Star Wars fans like Dave Stein have always dreamed about as kids.

Personal Space Defense System


Don’t you hate when people invade your personal space and get right up in your business? What better way to send a message than by squirting them with a water gun? Well, DJ from Instructables has an automated solution that takes care of that task for you. If someone gets a bit too close, an embedded sensor pendant will detect the invader and the Super Soaker Electro Storm will blast a few shots of H2O in their direction.

Android Autonomous Vehicle

One team of students at the University of Gothenburg turned an RC car into a self-driving vehicle capable of following street lanes, parking and overcoming obstacles.



Working on a project? Cramming for an exam? This brain-sensing, environment-augmenting lamp uses EEG technology to tell how focused your are and block out distractions.



Have you ever found yourself craving a citrusy beverage on a hot summer afternoon only to turn on Netflix in search of something equally refreshing? Or maybe pondered what show would go best with your late night bite? Apparently a team of FirstBuild hackers has — their fridge magnet recommends movies based on what time of day you’re snacking.



Learning new skills which are more physical and instructional in nature has always been limited by the constraint of a mentor and the learner having to be in the same space. Akarsh Sanghi wanted to change that. His shoulder-worn tool provides a mentor with real-time insight into a learner’s environment through the coupling of a first person POV and an instructional laser pointer.


This robot wants to bridge the gap between immersive virtual simulations and real world physical telepresence. An Oculus Rift can track a user’s head movements and orientation, whether up/down, left/right or forward/backward. That data is then wirelessly transmitted to the bot’s Arduino and Intel Edison MCUs, prompting its camera-equipped head to mimic the headset wearer’s movements.


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