Category Archives: Uncategorized

Make your own Arduino-powered laser engraver at home

Instead of shelling out hundreds of dollars, a 16-year-old decided to build his own professional-looking machine. 

If you don’t have a laser cutter, and would like one (after all, who wouldn’t?) you could buy one for thousands of dollars…. or build one yourself. 16-year-old “MichielD99” decided to do just that, and documented the entire process on Instructables.


Control is handled by an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) running the grbl CNC controller software. This, in turn, runs two stepper motors via driver boards, as well as a laser via its own separate driver. It’s noted that this configuration could even be used as a CNC router if a rotary tool and Z-axis was added.

What really sets this project apart is the beautifully-made physical structure. It’s constructed primarily from 18mm and 12mm sheets of MDF, which translates to roughly ¾” and ½” thick material. It’s been 3D-modeled, and the cutouts are available as PDF images and STL files. This means that if you want to replicate it, all you have to do is print the PDFs out, then use a bandsaw to cut out the appropriate pieces. STL makes it possible to replicate with a laser or CNC router. Some work with a Dremel tool will also be needed, though this could possibly be avoided if using a CNC router to make the cuts.


If you’re going to create one of these yourself, this engraver is a great place to start (right after you purchase a pair of safety goggles meant for your laser’s wavelength). For another take on this type of tool, check out this build using similar electronics with a frame made of aluminum extrusion.

Maker builds a Pro Trinket-powered GPS watch

Hey, watch-a got there?! 

Sure, you could always go buy a GPS watch like the TomTom Spark or Garmin Forerunner. Or, you could be like Shawn Cruise and build your own nifty, somewhat Steampunkish wearable device.


The Arduino GPS Watch, which is made up of two leather cuffs, consists of a 128×32 OLED display, a 3V Pro Trinket (ATmega328) with a battery pack, and an Adafruit Ultimate GPS breakout board. There are two tactile buttons and an RGB LED on the outside, as well as a temperature sensor, three 220 Ohm resistors and a 4.7K Ohm resistor mounted to a perfboard. The wires and battery are all hidden between the two straps.


Admittedly, the watch came out a bit thicker and bulkier than Cruise had originally intended, but is pretty sweet nevertheless! It boasts a wide range of features, including the ability to show time, read temperature, reveal GPS coordinates, and even packs a flashlight that can illuminate a dark space.

Beyond that, wearers can use the device to find and mark a coordinate, and then return to it as they move around. The OLED screen shares direction and speed, too. You can watch the video below as Cruise takes you through some more of the watch’s other core elements.

Maker creates an Arduino lightning detector

Now you can use an Arduino to detect lightning along with an approximate distance.

Lightning is both beautiful and terrifying, and should generally be enjoyed indoors. You could watch the weather report to see what is on the horizon storm-wise, but if that’s not available, you can instead turn to your own personal lightning detector.


Texas-based engineer Kevin Palivec decided to build his own, based on the AS3935 lightning sensor. This sensor interfaces with an Arduino Nano (ATmega328), which provides the brains of the operation. The Arduino, in turn, is hooked up to a Nokia LCD display for output, as well as a few buttons in order to select the needed options. As seen in the video below, Palivec has designed a neat interface for his sensor, including a cloud that floats around onscreen.

As for the design’s functionality, Palivec claims that “the MOD-1016 can detect storm fronts up to 40km away, trigger interrupts on your microcontroller to let you know about weather events and changes in storm distance — you can even tell as storm fronts move closer and move further away.”


Pavilec does videography for a local high school football team, so besides being an interesting project, he could see this device being a useful tool for that endeavor. Perhaps, something like this could even be used for lightning photography, though one would need to engineer a way for it to interface with the camera’s shutter release.

Intrigued? Head over to the project’s page here.

17 smart crowdfunding campaigns you may want to back this week

Every Friday, we’re taking a look at some of the smartest, most innovative projects that have caught our attention on Kickstarter and Indiegogo over the last seven days. 

MetaWear Coin


This low-power IoT platform is comprised of a coin-sized Bluetooth dev board, sensors and an SDK, enabling you to develop your own wearable products with ease. MbientLab is currently seeking $50,000 on Kickstarter.

Pocket NC


This five-axis desktop CNC mill would be a welcomed addition to any Maker’s workspace. Pocket NC is currently seeking $70,000 on Kickstarter.



This USB light puts high-quality, sun-like color rendering right in the palm of your hand. Relio is currently seeking $55,578 on Kickstarter.



This smart frame allows you to share all of your media content with friends and family via an accompanying app. CIMNE TIC is currently seeking $70,000 on Kickstarter.

3DSimo Mini


This multi-functional pen not only 3D prints objects in thin air, but solders, burns and cuts as well. 3DSimo is currently seeking $70,000 on Kickstarter.



This smart and stylish toothbrush is looking to reinvent oral hygiene. T.brush is currently seeking $274,661 on Kickstarter.



This dev board connects directly into your vehicle’s control network and allows you to reprogram its features to your liking. Conrod is currently seeking $77,786 on Kickstarter.



This sensor attaches to a tennis racquet to measure every aspect of a player’s game, analyzing strokes, the spin and speed of the ball, as well the accuracy of each shot. QLIPP is currently seeking $30,000 on Indiegogo.

Silk by Saffron


This smart LED bulb automatically adjusts its color temperature so you get light tailored to your circadian rhythm. Saffron is currently seeking $100,000 on Kickstarter.



This open source kit lets you to transform any part of your body into a controller by analyzing muscle and motion patterns. Gesto is currently seeking $75,000 on CrowdSupply.

Luzi Smart Lamp


This intelligent lamp uses therapeutic light, personalized sound and voice commands to help you fall asleep faster and wake up more refreshed. Luzi is currently seeking $50,000 on Indiegogo.

Kiwi 3


This plug-and-play dongle links to your car’s onboard diagnostic port, retrieves info and then wirelessly transmits it to your mobile or wearable device. PLX Devices is currently seeking $25,000 on Kickstarter.



This Bluetooth-enabled water fountain for cats not only encourages better drinking habits, but helps you keep tabs on your kitten’s H2O intake right from your smartphone. Pura is currently seeking $100,000 on Indiegogo.

Xkey Air


This wireless keyboard lets you play music anywhere from any mobile device. The CME team is currently seeking $10,000 on Indiegogo.



This hands-free, high-definition wearable display attaches to a wide variety of glasses via a magnetic docking station, giving you the ability to interface with any application. Vufine is currently seeking $50,000 on Kickstarter.

Plug ’N’ IoT


This unit makes creating an IoT gadget as easy as plugging in sensor, dragging and dropping the necessary library and uploading the code to the board. Avionics Control Systems is currently seeking $39,733 on Kickstarter.



This portable recorder can capture high-quality 24-bit/96 kHz audio with the press of a button and then stream recordings over Bluetooth. Mikme is currently seeking $25,000 on Indiegogo.

Did you happen to miss last week’s notable campaigns? If so, you can check them out here. Also, if your project is powered by Atmel MCUs and you’ve been featured on our blog, be sure to download the respective badges here for use in your ongoing marketing efforts. 

We Picked Atmel Rectangle_Yellow_updated_062315

CyPhy LVL 1 is an easy-to-use, swipe-to-fly drone

LVL 1 is hoping to become the first drone for everyone. 

Several years ago, the mere idea of having a robotic cleaning device make its way around the floors of your home seemed well beyond our time. But since its debut in 2002, Roomba has gone on to sell well over 10 million units worldwide with new and improved functionality introduced with every iteration. Similarly, who would have ever thought of the day where users would replace kites with unmanned aerial vehicles in their backyard? In line with the burgeoning Maker Movement, the market for DIY consumer-grade drones will only, in fact, continue to soar over the next couple of years.


Enter the CyPhy LVL 1, an easy-to-use, affordable drone with aspirations of becoming the first widely accessible UAV for users of all ages and levels. CyPhy Works — who happens to be led by CEO and iRobot co-founder Helen Greienr — is no stranger to aerial vehicles, albeit not for the hobbyist crowd. That was until now.

Recently launched on Kickstarter, the LVL 1 features a smartphone-based, swipe-to-fly remote interface, instant sharing of captured footage to social networks and geofencing. Impressively, the drone can remain in flight for at least 20 minutes on a full charge, all while weighing less than two pounds.


Luckily, the CyPhy Works crew has dreamt of devising a fully-packed aerial vehicle at a price point that consumers — from children to grandparents — could afford. The team explains, “Other drones claim all sorts of impressive capabilities, but typically their most expensive parts like cameras are exposed and flights all too often result in expensive damage.”

Aside from its price tag, its creators also reveal that the LVL 1 will differ from others on the market today thanks to its revolutionary Level-Up technology. This allows the drone to remain stable so that users can capture the perfect photos and videos every time it takes to the sky. By eliminating tilting, users can handle the airborne gadget intuitively, with an unrivaled out-of-the-box experience.


One of its other advantages, Greiner explains, is that the LVL 1 will simplify the flying process through geofencing. In other words, users can define a designated area and minimum/maximum height in which the drone can roam via smartphone with the swipe of a finger. What’s also nice, especially for those prone to crashing their drones, is that LVL 1 is equipped with a protected camera and boasts the ability to share footage in real-time. LVL 1 even features a second downward facing camera.

Other notable components of the drone include a USB 3.1 charger, built-in GPS and onboard image storage. Beyond that, Makers can take comfort in knowing that the open-source LVL 1 can be hacked for specific uses, manually flown by connecting a hobby transmitter and even used to transmit data over Wi-Fi.


Sound like a drone you’d like to have? Hurry over to CyPhy Works’ recently launched Kickstarter campaign, where the team is currently seeking $250,000. Shipment is expected to begin in February 2016.

X-Carve is an open-source, next-gen CNC carving machine

This CNC machine will let Makers carve the way they want.

For a couple of years, Inventables has been the CNC device of choice for Makers with their open-source, easily-modded Shapeoko 2. And while multi-axis, computerized milling machines are nothing new, the Chicago-based company continues to cater to the burgeoning DIY community with the launch of a new device. Dubbed X-Carve, the machine not only packs several upgrades from its older siblings but is entirely scalable as well.


You may recall the Shapeoko family from way back in 2011 when the concept CNC machine kit first made its Kickstarter debut. There, it well exceeded its initial goal having garnered over $11,000. This design would go on to inspire the market-ready Shapeoko 2 in 2012.

With X-Carve, Inventables brings a number of innovative elements to the CNC kit concept. Essentially, it features all the upgrades you wished the Shapeoko had, including stronger corner-mounting for increased rigidity, NEMA 23 motors and self-tapping screws. Beyond that, the latest machine uses 50% fewer parts and requires just half the build time.

“With a relentless focus on reducing the part count and improving rigidity, we designed single-piece extrusions for X‑Carve’s gantry and spindle mount. New Y-axis plates bring the spindle closer to the center, decreasing flex,” the team writes.


The kit comes in two size options — standard and large with 500mm and 1000mm rails, respectively. The workable space is about 12” x 12″x 2.7″ for the standard and 31″ x 31” x 2.7″ for the large. Inventables says the latter is even big enough to work on a full-sized longboard. What’s more, X-Carve can even be configured to any size, as long as it falls within the standard and large spectrum.

The X-Carve is also capable of creating precision parts from a wide range of materials including plastic, wood, metal, foam, cardboard and wax. Created for a workshop (and the occasional Makerspace) setting, the unit is both customizable and expandable. In other words, if a Maker already has one of Inventables previous machines, they can upgrade and scale their existing device by simply adding a few X-Carve components.


On the electronics side, the X-Carve boasts a 24VDC spindle with a single source power supply for its motor and spindle. This gives users spindle control through Gcode. The gadget is designed to be controlled using an Arduino (ATmega328) and gShield (an Arduino shield with three stepper motor drivers), but more advanced users can also leave off the controller and try their own. The open-source machine will run the Easel software along with other CAM options as well.

Interested? Good news, X-Carve will begin shipping April 30, 2015 and will begin at $799 with fully-souped up models upwards of $2,000.  Like its predecessor, it comes in kit form. An upgrade kit for the Shapeoko 2 will also be available for just $200. Until then, you can head over to its official page to learn more.

Greetings from Digitopia!

When it comes to the privacy and security of data, what does the future hold for consumers, companies and governments?

A tremendously interesting document, called “Alternate Worlds,” was published by the U.S. National Intelligence Council. It’s a serious document that not only examines four different alternatives of what 2030 might look like, but possesses some major geo-political thinking about the future.


In the entire report there was only one comment regarding privacy, which is amazing.  This brings up many questions.  Has privacy already become a quaint notion and a relic of times past? Is the loss of privacy a done deal? Will there be any attempt at reclaiming personal privacy? Will renewed privacy only be available to the upper classes? Will companies be required to take responsibility for embedding more security and privacy in their products and systems? Will governments fight for citizens’ rights to privacy or insist on the right to intrude? These all are important 21st century questions, and they are simply impossible to answer now given that there are far too many variables. Only time will tell.

At the moment, however, it is pretty clear that the trend is away from privacy, at least in the way that privacy was defined in prior generations. If you observe first-world high school and college kids, you can easily see that many, if not most, live their lives way out in the open on apps like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and others, and don’t really seem to care all that much who is watching. Lately, more limited audience apps like WhatsApp, Snapchat, and WeChat that focus on smaller groups rather than general broadcasts have been growing, which belies some return to privacy concerns (i.e. don’t let mom see this), but the generational theme is clearly “live out loud.” Younger people live in a type of virtual society. Let’s call it “Digitopia.” Digitopia is far from a utopian place because it is insecure — really insecure. Cyber criminals, nosey companies, sneaky governmental operators, and other techno-mischief makers run rampant there.

One of the more intriguing predictions in the Alternate Worlds report points to future brain-machine interfaces that could provide super-human abilities, as well as improve strength, speed and other enhancements (i.e. bestow super powers). This notion could have come right out of author William Gibson’s classic cyber-punk novel Neuromancer where people’s brains directly “jack-into” the matrix.  The report states:

“Future retinal eye implants could enable night vision, and neuro-enhancements could provide superior memory recall or speed of thought. Neuro-pharmaceuticals will allow people to maintain concentration for longer periods of time or enhance their learning abilities.  Augmented reality systems can provide enhanced experiences of real-world situations. Combined with advances in robotics, avatars could provide feedback in the form of sensors providing touch and smell as well as aural and visual information to the operator.”


Hanging Out in Digitopia

Even the peaceful denizens of Digitopia are by default reckless, especially when it comes to their own privacy.

“A significant uncertainty … involves the complex tradeoffs that users must make between privacy and utility. Thus far, users seem to have voted overwhelmingly in favor of utility over privacy,” the Alternate Worlds report states.

As introduced in a prior article called “Digital Annoymity: The Ultimate Luxury Item,” the desire for personalized services is very seductive, and consumers are now complicit in, and habituated to, revealing a great deal about themselves. Volunteering information is one thing, but much of the content about our digital selves is being collected automatically and used for things we don’t have any idea about. People are increasingly buying products that automatically track their lives including cars storing data about driving habits and downloading that to other parties without the need for consent. As we visit web pages, companies get access to our digital histories and bid against each other in milliseconds fir the ability to display their advertising to us. This is kind of creepy. There is now an unholy trinity of governments snooping on us, corporations targeting our buying behaviors, and cyber-criminals trying to rip us off. The antidote is better security, but cyper-security is not something that individuals will be able to make happen on their own.

Data collection systems are not accessible, and they are not modifiable by people without PhDs in computer science. Because of that, security and privacy could easily become commodities which consumers will demand and thus economically force companies to provide. The only weapon consumers have is what they consume. If consumers only purchase secure products, then only secure products will succeed. In Digitopia, a company’s success may become dependent simply upon how well they protect the interests of their customers and partners — that is not a hard concept to understand.

You can almost see how there could easily be the equivalent of a “UL” label for privacy. Products and services could be vetted for the strength of their security mechanisms. Subsequently, products should then be rated on if they have encryption, data integrity checks, authentication, hardware key storage, and other cryptographic bases.


Beyond the testing of the products themselves, there could easily be businesses set up to provide secure protections to individuals and companies like a digital Pinkerton’s for digital assets. It is likely that those who can afford digital anonymity will be the first to take measures to regain it. To paraphrase a concept from a famous American financial radio show host, privacy could replace the BMW as the modern status symbol. The top income earners who want to protect themselves and their companies will be looking for a type of “digital Switzerland.” Regaining privacy will likely democratize over time as the general population will demand the same protections as the 1%-ers. Edward Snowdon showed us that everyone is under some sort of surveillance, so we have to face the facts that data gathering on a grand scale is part of the world now and will only grow in scope. However, we don’t have to just accept insecurity because things can be done, including adding secure devices to digital systems.

The Future Belongs to the Middle Classes

Maybe the most important factor noted in the Alternative World report has to do with the forthcoming growth of middle classes. As populations increase and more people worldwide move into the middle class, a growing number of people and things will be connected. That is why the Internet of Things is expected to grow so quickly. More connected things means more points of attack, and more data gathering for legitimate and illegitimate purposes. Therefore, the need for digital security is tied directly to the number of communicating nodes, which is tied directly to the growth of the middle class. More people with financial means means there will be more things to secure. This is becoming obvious. The middle class buys the lions’ share of products and services, and more of those products and services and how they will be ordered and delivered will be electronic. More people, more electronic things, more need for security.

When it comes to population, South and East Asia are the elephants (and dragons) in the room, as the chart below demonstrates.


The most powerful trend going forward is arguably the emergence of new “super-sized” middle classes in China and India. The worldwide middle class will grow exponentially, and it has already started to super-charge demand for food, energy, and manufactured products — particularly smart communicating electronic devices, many with sensing capabilities. That, of course, is how the IoT is getting started. Major companies are holding out the IoT as a way to drive efficiencies in production and distribution while keeping costs low.  You can see that in the literature of major companies such as GE who is targeting the Industrial Internet of Things as a major strategic vector.

Population and purchasing power go hand-in-hand, and the evolution of smart, secure, and communicating systems will follow.  As Stalin said, quantity has a quality all its own.   That is why Asia matters so much.


From the demographic analyses, you can see that most Digitopians will be physically living in South and East Asia and this will continue to rise with time. So, what does that mean for security and privacy?


There is a very different view of the privacy rights in Asia due to a varied tapestry of intricate and ancient cultures — cultures that differ from Western traditions in many ways. However, it must be pointed out that that Western governments are far from the white-knight protectors of privacy rights by any means. Even with uncertainty in how privacy will be embraced (or not) long-term woldwide, in the short- to medium-term, enhanced security will have to filter into networks, systems, and end products, including the IoT nodes. You can look at that as securing the basic wiring and digital plumbing of Digitopia, even if governmental institutions retain the right to snoop.

Practical Security

To close on a practical note, in the short- to medium-term there will be a strong drive to embed more robust security to embedded systems, PCs, networks, and the Internet of Things. Devices to enhance security are already available, namely crypto element integrated circuits with hardware based key storage. Crypto elements are powerful solutions, whose fundamental value is only starting to be recognized. They contain cryptographic engines to efficiently handle crypto functions such as hashing, sign-verify (ECDSA), key agreement (ECDH), authentication (symmetric or asymmetric), encryption/decryption, message authentication coding (MAC), run crypto algorithms (elliptic curve cryptography, AES, SHA), among many others. Together with microprocessors that run encryption algorithms crypto elements easily bring all three pillars of security (confidentiality, data integrity, and authentication) into play for any digital system.

As certain forces move the world towards less privacy and more insecurity, it is good to know that there are real technologies that have the potential to move things back in the other direction. To make a fearless forecast, it seems that going forward companies will increasingly be held liable for security breaches, and that will force them to provide robust security in the products and services that they offer. Consumers will demand security and enforce their preferences with class action legal remedies which they are damaged by lack of security. The invisible hand of the market will point towards more security.  On the other hand, governments will argue that they have a duty to provide physical and economic security, which gives them license to snoop.  Countervailing forces are in play in Digitopia.

Securing the Internet of Streams

The evolution of IoT is now at a point that it will require a comprehensively redesigned approach to security threats in order to ensure its continuous growth and expansion.

The relentless flow of new product introductions keeps fueling the gargantuan estimates of billions of connected communicating computing devices which is projected to imminently make the Internet of Things ubiquitous within every facet of our lives. The IoT has been portrayed as the key enabler of a smarter world with compelling use cases that cut across a wide array of both personal and industrial ecosystems.

A great description is that the IoT is the global nervous system. This could be a pun, as IoT is increasingly producing troubling headlines. Stories abound, detailing security breaches that sound as if they were taken from a sci-fi movie, from hacked security cameras to a spamming refrigerator.


Figure 1 (Source:

The explosive growth of the IoT coincides with an alarming increase in reported rates of identity theft and hacker attacks on everyday gadgets and appliances. Security researchers have easily established the feasibility of attacks against TVs, cars, security cameras, and medical equipment. There is much more than stolen money on the line if these types of attacks are carried out. The evidence demonstrates that existing security mechanisms are insufficient or ill-suited to address the risks inherent with the ubiquitous deployment of the IoT.

The need for a new original approach

The traditional approach to security, applied to both consumer and business domains, is one of separation – preventing those who are considered bad actors from accessing devices and networks. However, the dynamic topology of the network environments in which IoT applications are deployed largely invalidates the separation approach, making it both impractical and overly rigid. For example, with BYOD (bring-your-own-device), enterprises struggle to apply traditional security schemes to devices that may have been compromised while outside the perimeter firewall.

Many IoT devices self-configure and run autonomously. User interaction is limited to the devices’ operations, and there are no means to change security parameters. These devices rely on the manufacturer to implement security, both in the hardware and the software.

Moreover, manufacturers have to consider the broader ecosystem, not just their own products. For example, recent research has revealed inherent security flaws in USB memory stick controller hardware and firmware. Users must be concerned not only about the safety of the data on the memory stick, but if the memory stick controller itself has somehow been compromised.

To thwart similar issues, IoT device vendors are rushing to upgrade their product portfolios to low-power, high-performance microcontrollers that include firmware upgrade and data encryption mechanisms.

Atmel's IoT Layered Security Solutions

Figure 2 (Source: Atmel’s White Paper: Integrating the Internet of Things)

In the hyper-connected world of IoT, security breaches will gravitate towards the weakest link in the chain. It will become very hard to maintain the confidence that any particular device, user, application or service maintains its integrity; instead, the assumption will be that things will occasionally break for a variety of reasons, over which there is little control and no method for fixing. As a result, IoT will force the adoption of new concepts for the establishment of trust.

A smarter network combined

In the loosely coupled world of IoT, security issues are driving a need for greater collaboration among the vendors participating in the ecosystem, recognizing their respective core competencies. Hardware vendors make devices smarter. Software developers make applications and services smarter. The connective tissue, the global Internet with its myriad of communication transports and protocols, is tasked with carrying the data that powers IoT. This begs the question – can the network be made an enabler of IoT security by becoming smarter in its own right?

Context is essential for identifying and handling security threats and is best understood at the application level, where the intent of information is processed. This points towards a higher-level communication framework for IoT – the Internet of Data Streams. This framework enables apps and services to view things as consumers and producers of data. It allows for descriptive representations of devices’ operational status and real-time detection of their presence or absence.

Elevating the functional value of the Internet, from a medium of communication to a network of data streams for IoT, would be highly beneficial to ease collaboration among the IoT ecosystem participants. The smarter network can provide apps and services with the ability to implement logic that detects things that break or misbehave, flagging them as suspect while ensuring graceful and consistent operation using the redundant resources.


For example, a smarter network can detect that a connected sensor stopped functioning (e.g. due to a denial of power attack, possibly triggered through some obscure security loophole) and allow the apps that depend on the sensor to provide uninterrupted service to users. Additionally, a network of data streams can foster a global industry of security-as-a-service solutions, which can, as an example, send real-time security alerts to app administrators and device manufacturers.

The evolution of IoT is now at a point that it will require a comprehensively redesigned approach to security threats in order to ensure its continuous growth and expansion. Addressing the surfaced issues from an ecosystem standpoint calls for apps, services and “things” to explicitly handle communication via a smarter data network, which has the promise of placing IoT in safer hands, courtesy of the Internet of Streams.

Building a web configurable Xively logger with ATmega328

Maker develops a DIY logger to send data points to any Xively feed.

Xively is devoted to simplifying and deploying connected products for the rapidly-growing Internet of Things. In essence, the service consists of an online database that enables developers to connect sensor-derived data to the web and build their own applications based on that information. Recently, Davide Gironi designed a modular data logger using an ATmega328 MCU that was capable of sending data points to any Xively feed.


The embedded platform features a network interface, allowing users to configure it using any browser by simply pointing to the device address. Gironi notes that it can be configured in one of two ways: Static IP, gateway and netmask, or DHCP.

The Xively API Key and feed ID can also be modified though the network interface, Gironi explains. “Those parameters can be useful if you want to build many devices with same sensors, and then connect it over a different Xively feed, without compiling and uploading a new hex. Every sensor module can add one or more configuration parameter, you can implement it in the configuration modules files.”


“Every sensor module must implement some functions. Every sensor module, must be registered in the checkdata.c file,” says Gironi. “Every module must implement a set of functions with strong name rules, [and] every function name must end with a terminal string, depending on what the function implements.”

On the hardware side, the platform is driven by an ATmega328, running at 16Mhz, in addition to a “cheaper” network board. In order to accelerate the deployment of logger boards, a PCB was developed based on top of the use of an Arduino Pro Mini (ATmega168).


According to Gironi, he has been using his solution for nearly two years now to log a variety of things, such as air quality, temperature, AC current, luminosity, and most recently carbon dioxide, as seen below.

Interested in learning more? You can find all the necessary codes, schematics and other details of the project here.

Making a DIY calculator with Arduino

Get ready to crunch some numbers with this Arduino-based machine.

While it may not be as practical or aesthetically-pleasing as your everyday TI-84, Maker Kale Cloud has devised a pretty slick calculator using an 8×2 LCD, a keypad, a laser-cut case, and an Arduino Duemilanove (ATmega328).


The project was conceived after one of Cloud’s teachers had made an Arduino-based calculator of his own, that unfortunately was not able to withstand the classroom setting for very long. Fortunately, the Maker knew just how to rebuild the machine and in doing so, took apart the entire device, rewrote most of the code and constructed it from scratch.

Like just about any other calculator, the DIY device is equipped with a 16-button matrix keypad. In addition, an embedded ATmega328 based Arduino is responsible for decoding the pressed buttons, at which point the appropriate characters are displayed on its LCD screen. While its overall functionality emulates that of any calculator, where this number-crunching mechanism differs is in the controls. First, a user must select a number from the pad, followed by pressing either the “A” and “B” key to scroll through various arithmetic functions, which appear on the 2×8 display. Once a function is chosen, a user then hits “D” (or equals) and goes on to select the next number, before pressing “D” again.


As Hackaday’s Rich Bremer notes, not only does the project boast standard arithmetic functions but trigonometric functions as well — a feature that the calculator’s predecessor was not capable of doing.

“Even though it’s probably not practical due to it’s size, repetitive use of the equals button (due to the lack of keys), and cost (you can probably buy a calculator that does the same thing for $2), it is really fun and adds a few skills to your inventory,” Cloud explains. “I learned alot, spent lots of time debugging, and added many new features. In the end, it was a project definitely worth doing.”