How to program your Arduino to query the FedEx API every time someone comes to your door in order to determine whether that person was delivering a package.
If you’re expecting a package, and can’t be bothered to go to the door to actually check and see who is bothering you, Adafruit has your solution. That’s because they’ve developed a guide, which will teach you “how to program your Arduino to query the FedEx API every time someone comes to your door in order to determine whether that person was delivering a package. Then, you’ll program the board to use the Zendesk API to alert you if a package was delivered.”
Physically, this task is fairly straightforward, involving only an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) with a Wi-Fi shield (AT32UC3) for communication, and an infrared sensor to detect whether or not someone is at your door. Setting up the software, as you might suspect, is somewhat more involved, including getting a Temboo account, a Zendesk account, and obtaining FedEx developer keys.
If you’re thinking about doing this project, it’s much easier to obtain the FedEx keys than you might suspect, and what you need to do to set everything up is laid out in a step-by-step procedure. On the other hand, if you’re expecting something from UPS or the U.S. Postal Service, you might still need to actually go to the door and see what it is. Besides, you’ll have to get the package eventually!
For another idea on how to interface devices in your house with the Internet, why not check out this Amazon Echo controlled wheelchair experiment?
Because every engineer loves a good Nixie tube thermometer.
If you want to know the temperature, normal digital thermometers, or increasingly the Internet, are usually good enough. Visually though, it’s hard to beat the warm glow and retro look of a Nixie tube. What better way to display this than with a three-digit tube display like Luca Dentella’s build.
His process is outlined in a series of 10 posts that can be found here, or you can just skip to the completed version. The “brain” of this display is a Arduino Pro Micro (ATmega32U4). It uses a thermistor-style temperature sensor, which has a resistance than changes depending on the temperature, to tell how hot it is.
The display is, of course, three nixie tubes. The first thing that’s interesting about the setup is that the third tube shows “°C.” Dentella is using an “IN-19A” tube for this purpose, which can also reveal a number of other symbols. In this case, it shows the degrees Celsius value at all times.
The other interesting part of this design, besides the generally clean layout and printed circuit board use, is that each tube has a programmable LED under it. This allows for a unique coloring, and could certainly have produce many interesting visual effects. Perhaps in another life, this type of display could serve as a sound level meter, with the LEDs pulsing on and off to the beat of the music.
Mowing the lawn; it’s a nice slice of solitude and exercise for some, and an arduous task for others, to be avoided at all costs. If you fall into that second category, then the Ardumower might be for you. According to its description,“With this download project you can build your own robotic lawn mower at a fraction of the cost that one would have to apply for a commercial one.”
The mower itself is an interesting build, with a nicely sloped canopy and driving wheels that resemble something found inside of a clock. Housed inside is an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) and a motor driver board for control. Two 12V electrical motors are used for locomotion around a yard, while another motor turns the cutting blade.
The robo-mower is kept within your yard using a boundary wire fence to tell it when it has reached the limits of its domain. As seen in the video below, it also has some obstacle avoidance capability, though it would likely be best to keep it in an area free from animals, children, and irresponsible adults!
If you want to assemble one yourself, you can do so for about $250-$300 — a fraction of the cost of its commercial counterparts. A manual, which is available for $12.16, claims to give step-by-step directions to build your own Ardumower (or maybe two for larger lawns!), as well as info on how to create the boundary fence.
One ring to rule them all, one ring to tell time!
Watches come in all shapes and sizes, but this DIY ring watch featuring the ATtiny85 is quite a feat of miniaturization! It’s based on two previous posts by Maker Chen Liang, explaining how the watch guts work on a breadboard and how he put a similar design together in a more traditional wrist watch. As he had to use a smaller battery than the breadboard version in his ring, he expects battery life to be around half a year.
The ring’s ATtiny85 was programmed using a Digispark (as outlined here), and the device’s circuit was set up on three tiny boards for physical flexibility. The circuit board sections included one for the chip, another for the display, and another for three tightly-spaced buttons. These buttons were able to share one analog input pin on the tinyAVR MCU by using a clever technique involving resistors across two of the button circuits. The three buttons were wired into an analog input, giving different voltage reading depending on the button pushed. Since the ATtiny85 could differentiate between these readings, only one pin was needed for control.
The watch band was 3D-printed, and covered with a clear thermoplastic layer. Although impressive by itself, Liang has plans to “research sync time method, GPS, Wi-Fi + Internet, BLE + mobile phone, and more.” Maybe we’ll see this project expand to a variety of rings that can be worn and linked via Bluetooth depending on what is needed in a particular situation. Do we sense a Kickstarter? In the meantime, check out the Maker’s entire build here.
Artist Francesco Fabris created a sonic representation of stars and constellations through a dedicated interface.
Unlike some science fiction movies would have you believe, there is no sound in space. With this fact in mind Francesco Fabris created Stellar. This interactive art installation was designed to be “a sonic representation of stars and constellations through a dedicated interface.”
This project takes the form of a cylinder with several important constallations represented below its transparent cover. Inside this cover are two robotic arms which are controlled by hand motions via a non-contact sensors and an Arduino Uno (ATmega328). These arms are used to select the star that is seen and heard.
Once selected, several aspects of that star are analyzed, including temperature, brightness (as seen from Earth), distance (from Earth), frequency, amplitude and duration. These statistics are then represented and displayed as a sound and color. The video below shows the installation in action, or you can check out the “making of” video at the end for more insight into this project.
“The project has been developed using Arduino and Max7 software,” Fabris explains. “Data of more than 300 stars and 44 constellations have been stored from the open-source software Stellarium.org, and coded to interact with the robotic arms.”
In addition to Fabris, several other people helped make Steller a reality: Patrycja Maksylewicz, Przemysław Koleszka and Eloy Diez Polo. It looks like this was a huge undertaking, involving quite a bit of programming, and a lot of work at the project’s location to get everything set up.
This Halo replica features Bluetooth-controlled NeoPixels.
If you’re a fan of Halo, at some point you’ve probably thought that having an energy sword would be a good idea. For better or worse, you can’t obtain one of these weapons (yet), but the Ruiz Brothers at Adafruit have come up with the next best thing: a 3D-printed replica that uses programmable LED strips to make it glow.
These strips are controlled by an Adafruit Feather 32U4 Bluefruit LE (ATmega32U4), enabling them to be programmed for excellent effects, like changing colors and powering on the lights in a sort of slow powerup pattern. Since this Feather has Bluetooth capability, the sword can even be controlled with a smartphone with no physical access to the board.
Besides Bluetooth, another neat feature of the Feather is that it has a battery charging circuit built-in. This allows the sword’s 2000mAh lithium-ion battery to be charged without adding any additional hardware. A switch is, however, added to turn the unit off when the owner isn’t busy pretending to pwn noobz with it.
The blades are printed with transparent PLA, and the sword, including the handle, is made in 20 sections attached together with super glue. Despite its 34-inch blade, it impressively weighs under one pound.
If this all seems a little familiar, you might recall either of the Ruiz brothers’ Daft Punk helmet builds — you can find more info on Thomas’ helmet replica here.
This Maker installed 12 meters of FLORA-driven NeoPixels to his apartment for a lighting system like no other.
If you’re having a hard time deciding on which of the excellent (?) candidates to vote for this election cycle, perhaps Charlie Gorichanaz’s sound-reactive room lighting will swing your opinion. He doesn’t appear to actually be running for office, but at least he will have the website setup for any future political aspirations.
Regardless, he has our vote for the most fun bedroom, as he’s mounted 12 meters of NeoPixel strips in the corners where the walls meet the ceiling. The lighting is controlled by an Adafruit FLORA (ATmega32U4), which is normally meant for wearable use, but as shown here, can be quite versatile. This could be compared to how mere mortals put up comparatively boring crown molding.
This setup (explained here with diagrams and a parts list) was originally used in Gorichanaz’s apartment in Tokyo. After some code cleanup, it is now alive and well in the United States. You can see it shown in the video below.
If you notice that the audio is a little cleaner than you would normally expect, it was actually combined with the video after the fact. This is explained in the second link above, and could be useful for taking your DIY videos to a new level.
For another option, if you only want lights on one of your walls instead of the ceiling, here’s a sound-reactive panel idea inspired by the movie Ex Machina.
This Maker replaced his oscilloscope’s knobs and buttons with a touch interface.
Igor, the author of the “More Than User” blog, decided that his unwieldy button and knob interface on his oscilloscope wasn’t good enough. He chose to enhance it with a touchscreen ripped out of a Preistigo 7” tablet, using an Arduino Nano (ATmega328) to convert these signals into something that the scope could understand.
This stated goal of this project was to “remove keyboard completely, instead add touch screen to control oscilloscope.” As seen in the video below, the project is a success, and Igor can control quite a few scope parameters with the press of an onscreen button or the swipe of a finger. As he puts it, he “managed to emulate keyboard data with ATmega328, then I just mapped all the codes that was used to control DSO [digital storage oscilloscope], and bascially that’s all.”
Despite his humble description of the project, actually implementing this solution involved quite a bit of work. The COM port wasn’t working correctly, so he had to find and analyze the keyboard interface pins and revers-engineer the protocol for it. He recommends getting a logic analyzer for tasks like this, as the job will be much easier, especially since he was working on the same scope that he was using for analysis!
If that weren’t enough, the touchscreen itself had to be set up, including multiple broken component issues that had to be dealt with. In the end, it now works well, and is mounted on a nice wooden stand. The Nano is displayed proudly on the front, with wires radiating toward the touchscreen, which should be useful for troubleshooting and modification in the future!
This Maker decided to build his own MPPT (maximum point of power tracking) charge controller.
Lukas was asked by a friend for help on a solar project. Inspired by an Instructables article, this friend wanted to make (or inspire someone else to make) a system to charge a battery to provide power in his garden. Charging a battery might seem like a simple task, but the a panel’s varying voltage output levels present a challenge. If this voltage spikes at too high of a level, there is a risk of damaging the battery.
If this over-voltage condition were constant, a DC-DC converter, commonly known as a “buck converter” would be well-suited to make the needed voltage conversion. However, since it’s not constant, a “switching converter” would have to be used. Normally a switching converter cycles much faster than an Arduino would be able to handle, but since voltage levels change relatively slowly in this instance, an Arduino’s speed would be quite sufficient. Since this slower speed minimizes switching losses, it would actually be an advantage.
The project is well-documented here, including available design files. Once this neat converter was built, the second step was to test it out. Lukas reports that it does its job with an efficiency of over 95% in the voltage range of interest. He plans to talk about the software involved next, so hopefully we will get to see the entire charging station come together soon!
This 4x4x4 cube measures only 2cm on each side.
If you read Atmel’s blog, chances are that you’ve seen a programmable LED cube. Given the amount of soldering involved, adequate space between each light would seem like a necessity. Hari Wiguna, however, decided that he could make a 4x4x4 cube measuring only 2cm on each side. In other words, as seen in the first video below, it would roughly fit on a quarter.
This build took Wiguna “months to build, but it’s finally done,” and, unless he hears differently, it is the smallest 4x4x4 LED cube in existence. Soldering, as shown in the second video, seems that it was quite a nightmare, but at least he had a custom PCB on which to set his LED stacks once they were assembled. For work that small, he needed a fine-tip soldering iron, but had to actually build his own set of jigs to assemble everything correctly.
The circuit, seen in the third video uses an Arduino Nano (ATmega328) to control the 64 RGB LEDs used. It’s a very clever setup, modeled after the Charliecube design found here. The four stacked LEDs are each rotated 90 degrees to each other, allowing its diode property to separate out each light’s signal.
The resulting animations are quite impressive — amazing for something this size! Check out the three clips below for even more background on this tiny wonder.