Category Archives: Arduino

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Maker mods his NERF blaster into a fully-functional Halo 5 MA5D


A DIY weapon for Humans vs. Zombies — with an ammo counter, scope and all!


Jeremy Chang is a big fan of Humans vs. Zombies (HvZ), a live-action game where players try to survive a post-apocalyptic world using soft toys like socks and foam dart guns. Well, in this case, the Maker decided to do something a little different and add another layer of roleplaying to his HvZ experience by modding his NERF blaster to resemble a Halo MA5D assault rifle.

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This device boasts a number of impressive features, which range from a digital ammo counter to a functional scope. Based on the fictional United Nations Space Command weapon, the 3D-printed replica certainly looks ready to obliterate zombies.

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In order to get the iconic shape of the MA5D, Chang used some 3D-printed part to upgrade his blaster. On the inside, Chang employed an Arduino Nano (ATmega328) to detect trigger pulls, a few reed switches in the chamber to determine the current ammo count and an Adafruit 128×64 OLED lit with a NeoPixel LED. (The color on the screen change as the percentage of ammunition goes to zero.) The display even has a functional mission timer and will reveal if the clip is not fully closed. Aside from all that, a 5V scope adds a nice finishing touch to the MA5D prop.

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Intrigued? You can check out Chang’s entire build here.

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Have your Arduino let you know when your package arrives


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.”

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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?

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This system lets you experience the hidden politics of networks in everyday products


Politics of Power explores how a mass-manufactured products could behave differently depending on the nature of its communication protocol. 


If the U.S. presidential election took place tomorrow, and only power strips were running, at least we would now still have a choice of candidates and political ideologies. Shunning the two party system, design consultancy Automato has decided to create a three types of power strips, each with its own method of distributing electricity.

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“With a growing number of networked and autonomous objects as well as the outbreak of fields such as ‘the IoT,’ communication protocols used by connected products are increasingly important as they act as the network’s backbone. Since the end product is ‘black-boxed’ to the user, we often assume that all nodes of a network are equal,”the team writes. “But is it? For example, in a home, two appliances in the same network must be working at the same time, but because of a power shortage, they cannot run in parallel. This bring us to question, who should be given the priority and why?”

Politics of Power is an exploration into these questions on a micro-scale by employing a simple ubiquitous gadget, the multi-plug. These power structures include the generally democratic and physically circular “Model D,” featuring five plugs all running at 220V. In this system, a delegate (socket) is elected and it’s power grows until it’s unplugged. “Model M” is somewhat more repressive, with one plug running at 220v, two plugs at 180v, and three plugs at 110v.

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Finally, the “Model T” power strip is most repressive, with one one plug running at 220v, while the other four have to be content with 5V. They protest their situation at times by blinking power on an off, however the leader can shut power off to them if it so chooses. It is noted that this strip can turn into a “Model D” if the leader is taken out of the equation, though one might suspect another socket would rise to power in a violent power grab.

Politics aside, these power strips are controlled by an Arduino Pro Micro (ATmega32U4), with a phase detector to sense changes in current. Meanwhile, a TRIAC gate circuit is used to control the power output to the sockets.

The whole setup is quite interesting, both visually and as a social commentary. This project offers a simplified way of looking at what’s at stake in debates over net neutrality, peer-to-peer networks, encryption backdoors and other modern-day controversies. And as smart devices continue to emerge throughout our daily, it certainly makes us wonder: Who’s actually in charge of making the decisions? Meaning, what are some of the hidden rules, structures and logic behind products such as power strips that were often thought of as being ‘neutral?’ You can see the results in the video below.

[h/t Creative Applications]

 

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What’s the temp in your house? This Arduino-based Nixie tube thermometer will tell you


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.

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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.

 

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This 3D-printed, Arduino-powered robotic mower will take care of your lawn for you


Build your own Ardumower for less than $300.


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.”

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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.

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This machine can print pictures using drops of coffee, wine and other liquids


Just when you thought you’ve seen it all…


If you’ve ever been to a Maker Faire, then chances are you’ve stumbled upon the PancakeBot, a CNC machine that extrudes delicious art out of batter. A few years ago, RIT Assistant Professor Ted Kinsman decided that he wanted to print using something other than ink as well. His choice? Coffee, or any other material with low viscosity.

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The machine itself is an xy-axis printer equipped with a solenoid liquid valve, stepper motors for positioning and an Arduino, which can store images of approximately 80×100 pixels. However, despite its mediocre resolution, it does plot human faces fairly well. The drip size, the nozzle distance and the paper that the beads of coffee extract fall onto can all be changed.

“For many years I have thought about building a machine that could paint for me,” he explains. “Since I always have leftover coffee, I thought it would be a fun medium to play with.”

For what it lacks in resolution, it surely makes up for in cost — Kinsman says that it’s super inexpensive to create images. To begin, the professor snaps a picture, heightens the contrast and converts that into a PGM file that the Arduino could read. The sketch then prints a test grid, which can be modified by dropping in a PGM image and adjusting the space between drops. As MAKE: notes, the grayscale is converted to an array of dots whose darkness corresponds to the length of time that the valve of the pipette opens to release a coffee drop.

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“Each of the pixels is turned into a number from 0 (no coffee) to 256 (the largest drip size). The size of each pixel is controlled by determining how long to open the drip valve for — the largest drop (and darkest pixel) requires the valve to be open for 63 milliseconds. In this way, the machine currently can do 53 different shades of coffee,” according to PetaPixel.

A Mariotte’s siphon is employed to ensure that the depth of the coffee in the reservoir won’t affect the pressure, which in turn could influence the size of the drops. Each print requires about an hour from start to finish, but takes roughly a day to fully dry.

Looking ahead, Kinsman would like to explore the possibility of adding another stepper motor so that he can make spirographs or use a syringe that would enable him to print with thicker liquids. But until then, you can watch it in action below (note that the machine is using blue ink) and read more about the project here.

 

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This ‘useless IoT device’ prints out Reddit’s Shower Thoughts


With the press of a button, Thinking Man produces a random amusing thought from Reddit’s popular subreddit Shower Thoughts. 


If you’ve never seen it, the subreddit /r/Showerthoughts is full of brilliant, concise and often hilarious insights that come to mind while, you guessed it, showering. Amidst all of that lathering and rinsing, our brains wander. The question is, what do you think about during your most vulnerable moments?

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Cognizant of this, the crew at MAKE: Magazine have developed a “totally useless and ridiculous desk toy” that prints out snippets from Reddit’s infamous feed. With one press of a button, the aptly named Thinking Man generates a random amusing thought from its onboard thermal printer, which is downloaded from the social network via Wi-Fi. The result is an objet d’art (or “work of art”) that can surprise you with its cleverness.

Aside from its thermal printer, this Internet of Useless Things project combines an Arduino Mega (ATmega2560), an ESP8266 module and a plastic mannequin head. (You can see how to program the ‘duino, wire the boards, work with code and power up the device referring to its in-depth writeup here.)

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“Because the entire response from Reddit is too large for the Arduino to store in memory, the microcontroller has to pick out the relevant data as it is received. The included source code does just that, and can be adapted to read data from anywhere on the Internet or your home network,” MAKE: explains.

With a little tweaking, you can configure your own Thinking Man to produce jokes, or even more useful tidbits such as to-do lists, headlines, weather reports and class schedules. The possibilities are endless. Intrigued? Then head over to MAKE:’s entire write up here, or watch the team’s weekend project video below!