Tag Archives: alcohol and Arduino

16-year-old Maker creates an Arduino-compatible, open-source smartwatch

Four months ago, 16-year-old John Wall had introduced the prototype of his Atmel powered OLED smartwatch. Now, the Maker has revealed that the design was completed and functioning on its own power.

“After all my hard work, soldering iron burns, panic moments, unforeseen delays, and small victories, my smart watch finally exists,” he revealed on the WΛLLTΞCH blog.


Version 6.1 of his open-source watch — described as a Bluetooth 4.0 fitness-tracking device for Android and iOS with a 1.5-inch color OLED display — is built around the IMUduinoBTLE, which features an ATmega32u4 MCU (bootloaded as an Arduino Leonardo).

The Maker had been cataloguing his build over on Hackaday for quite some time now as an entrant in the competitive Hackaday Prize.

“You may have seen any of the smartwatches on the market today and thought, ‘That’s way too expensive,’ or ‘I wish this feature was customizable,’ or ‘Darn, I need an Android phone for that,'” Wall writes.

Sound familiar? Luckily for the do-it-yourselfers out there, not only is this device more cost-effective, it is also equipped with a microSD slot, QI charging, NFC technology, an altimeter, a thermometer, a compass, a gyroscope, an accelerometer,a pedometer, and of course, BLE which enables phone notifications.


In true Maker fashion, Wall stresses that his Arduino-compatible watch can be customized to the core and can even fit the imaginative needs of any wearer. Why Arduino? MAKE Magazine recently reported that it all began when Wall impulse-bought an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) and used it to build a bedside clock. It was his first exposure to making and soldering.

“I didn’t really have any hobbies before this — probably Lego when I was a kid — and I think I saw it on the internet one day that someone had made something, like a little robot, so I looked into it a bit and thought, well, people are making some really cool stuff with this,” Wall explained.

At the center of this open-source design sits an ATmega32u4 that handles just about anything you can throw at it. Surrounding the inner components is a new 3D-printed case sourced from Sculpteo.com that slims the new design by 0.5mm. Wall also was able to remove the screen he had been using for testing and permanently assemble the design.

Though the watch is fully-functional, the 16-year-old Maker still plans on updating its wireless charging capabilities. He notes that once he makes a few aesthetic changes to the outer shell, he’ll adhere the QI wireless charging receiver to its base. “I’ll be able to just place it down on my charging base and it will begin charging wirelessly and by itself.”

While Wall was a bit disappointed not to have been named a finalist in the Hackaday Prize contest, he is beginning to polish the accompanying mobile application for his DIY watch.

“I’ll complete the operating system to use the communication standards I created in the app and add the fancy animations and features that will make this the coolest smart watch out there,” he concludes.



Sending text messages with alcohol and an Arduino !?

A team of international researchers has successfully sent a chemical signal using various concentrations of rubbing alcohol (to communicate different letters) four meters across the lab using a tabletop fan. The signal, decoded by a receiver, was subsequently transformed into a text message.

“The programmable platform performs molecular communication, which mimics chemical signaling found in nature. The best known example of this is pheromone signaling used by social insects such as ants for long-range communications,” explained Olivia Solon of Wired UK. 

“Chemical signals are also used in inter-cellular and intra-cellular communication. This approach to communications can be advantageous for situations when electromagnetic wireless systems are inefficient, for example in networks of tunnels, underwater, or at very small scales when antenna size is restricted.”

As Solon notes, communication systems typically rely on three primary elements: the transmitter, receiver and channel. More specifically, the transmitter processes an input text message from the user, converting it into a sequence of binary bits.

To conduct the experiment, the research team used an Atmel-powered Arduino Uno (ATmega328) paired with a DuroBlast spry mechanism and an LCD shield kit for text entry.

“Each letter was represented using five bits according to the International Telegraph Alphabet No.2. So the letter E is represented by 10000 and modulated into chemical signals where a spray represented 1 and no spray represented 0,” said Solon.

“The receiver had to be a sensor that could detect a chemical signal, which can then be processed and decoded back into text. Again, the team used the Arduino Uno to read the sensor data, decode it and then display a text message on a computer screen.”

The team – from Toronto’s York University and the UK’s Warwick University – selected isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) as the signaling chemical, although the system is also more than capable of operating with ethanol. 

According to Engineering Professor Weisi Guo from the University of Warwick, the platform could one day be used to communicate on the nanoscale “in medicine where recent advances mean it’s possible to embed sensors into the organs of the body or create miniature robots to carry out a specific task such as targeting drugs to cancer cells.”