Tag Archives: Arduino Mega 2560

Get into the holiday spirit with these Arduino-controlled light shows

These Makers channeled their inner Clark Griswold and adorned the outside of their homes with Arduino-based lighting. 

“250 strands of lights, 100 individual bulbs per strand, for a grand total of 25,000 imported Italian twinkle lights… 25,000 lights. I dedicate this house to the Griswold Family Christmas…Drumroll, please…Drumroll…Jooooooy to the worldddd.”

Just days before all of your friends, loved ones and Santa arrive, Christmas and its twinkling light spectacles are well underway. And really, what could be more appropriate for Makers than a set of artfully strung, decorative LEDs controlled by an Arduino? For those looking to channel their inner Clark Griswold and adorn the outside of their home with hundreds of bulbs, here’s some holiday inspiration!


Over the years, a number of DIY enthusiasts have turned to the easy-to-use Arduino Uno (ATmega328), Yún (ATmega32U4) or Mega (ATmega2560) to drive their impressive displays — some of which would put “Sparky” to shame.

Then, there’s always that one neighbor who does their best to keep you from getting into the spirit. If you’re like Clark and have a Todd and Margo Chester of your own, you’ll get a kick out of what one Maker did to get back at those next door in a very subtle yet ingenious manner. Using an Arduino Uno (ATmega328), the Instructables user “ywyjrgrasc” decided to program his lights to blink an insulting phrase in Morse Code. (#GeekMode)


And for the Star Wars fans out there, this is an added bonus is for you. Although it may or may not be powered by an Arduino, this clip from ABC’s Great Christmas Light Fight will certainly awaken your holiday decorating force!


gCreate goes big with two new 3D printers

gCreate has introduced the next big thing in 3D printing. Meet the gMax 1.5+ and 1.5 XT+. 

Last fall, Brooklyn-based startup gCreate unveiled a pair of 3D printers in their gMax line: the gMax 1.5 and gMax 1.5 XT. Despite already having one of the larger build volumes on the market, the team has decided to once again improve upon its capacity by increasing the printable height by nearly two inches.


The newly-revealed gMax 1.5+ and gMax 1.5 XT+ boast volumes of 16’’ x 16’’ x 12’’ and 16’’ x 16’’ x 21’’, respectively, and feature interchangeable bed plates and extruders that enable print jobs in a variety of materials including PLA, ABS, Ninja Flex, Carbon Fiber, water soluble PVA, WoodFill, Bronzefill and stainless steel, among many others.

Like the rest of its family members, both the 1.5+ and 1.5 XT+ are embedded with an Arduino Mega 2560 (ATmega2560) along with a RAMPS 1.4 shield and run Marlin firmware. All gMax machines are comprised of 80/20 aluminum frames in either black anodized or natural silver. Additionally, each kit ships with 3D-printed plastic parts in four different colors: red, yellow, blue or carbon fiber.


Aside from that, it boasts a redesigned LCD screen with an integrated USB connector, better wire management and 2D pen plotting capabilities. By using 8mm four-start precision stainless steel screws, gCreate has also drastically increased its Z-axis speeds while maintaining a minimum of 80 micron layer heights.

Since coming to scene in 2013 with a successful Kickstarter campaign, the team led by Anna Lee and Gordon LaPlante has taken into consideration a vast amount of feedback from its users in order to enhance the overall 3D printing experience. Some of these improvements include its all-aluminum carriage for hassle-free calibration and bed swapping, as well as a metal X-axis extruder plate for simplified leveling and tool head changing.


  • Printer size: 28.5” x 24” x 21.5”
  • Build volume: 16″ x 16″ x 12″ (1.5+); 16″ x 16″ x 21″ (1.5 XT+)
  • Nozzle diameter: 0.5mm J-Head Mk V-BV
  • Layer thickness: 80-360 micron
  • Power supply: 120V/240V 300W Micro ATX
  • Connectivity: USB, SD card, OctoPrint and MatterControl
  • Software: Compatible with all major slicing engines and host software (slic3r, Simplify3D, Cura, Printrun, MatterHackers)

Both printers are now available and will ship fully-assembled, calibrated and tested. The gMax 1.5+ starts at $2,495, while the 1.5 XT+ at $2,995.

Disney Research creates a 3D printer that can print in fabric

A new form of 3D printing technology can make embeddedable, plush toys.

3D printing has grown leaps and bounds over the last couple of years, not only in terms of the gadgets themselves, but the filaments they are capable of extruding as well. Still though, most consumer-grade 3D printers only construct objects comprised of rigid and hard materials (like plastics, ceramics or metal) fused together. That was until now. A group of researchers from Disney, Cornell University and Carnegie Mellon University have recently developed a new 3D printing technique that creates items out of layers of felt.


“Consumers increasingly prefer high quality and beautiful bespoke objects, as evidenced by the success of websites such as Etsy,” the team elaborates upon the inspiration of the project. “However, these websites typically require individual craftspeople to produce such objects by hand. New additive manufacturing technologies (more commonly known as 3D printing) provide an opportunity to manufacture highly custom objects on demand.”

The so-called Layered Fabric 3D Printer works along principles similar to those used in polymer deposition. A 3D model is broken down into slices, which are translated into the printer. This is where the two techniques diverge. Rather than being laid down by an extruder nozzle, this method uses a laser to cut the outline of each layer from a roll of heat-activated adhesive fabric that correspond to the sliced layers. The fabric is fed to the bottom face of the bed by rollers mounted to the sides, and held in place by a vacuum during cutting. This layer is then transferred onto the printer’s build platform, where it is activated by a warm disc on the machine’s print head. This process is then repeated until the object is fully “printed,” whereupon completion, the result is a block-like figure that is manually peeled, revealing a soft and flexible layered object.

The printer is also multi-material, and can automatically integrate two types of fabric into a single print. Meaning, conductive fabric can be embedded in a print to create a capacitive touch input or electric circuit paths. “For example, objects with printed ‘wiring’ can be constructed using conductive fabric. This ‘wiring’ is completely flexible since it is formed with, and entirely embedded inside of, fabric sheets,” the team adds. “We have used this capability in several proof-of-concept demonstration objects including a soft cell phone case which contains a printed fabric coil capable of harvesting power from the NFC hardware of an off-the-shelf cell phone.”


By using conductive fabric as one of their material feeds, the researchers were able to make custom-printed capacitive sensors as a part of a normal print, including a touch-enabled necklace pendent in the form of a soft starfish connected to an Arduino Lilypad (ATmega328) and a capacitive sensor configured as a slider linked to an off-the-shelf Teensy MCU.

Much like a number of other traditional printers available today, the Layered Fabric 3D Printer is powered by an Arduino Mega 2560 (ATmega2560) driving a RAMPS 1.4 control board with Repetier firmware. On the software side, the project employs Repetier-Host v0.95 with no modification and Slic3r v1.1.7. The build volume for the current prototype is 10” x 10” x 10”, though the team does note that larger-sized devices could be easily constructed using this same design.

To first test out its approach of crafting on-demand plush toys, the team constructed a 2.5-inch Stanford bunny in roughly two and a half hours. Interestingly enough, unlike conventional printers where printing and filling the model are the most laborious parts, with this machine, movement of the bonding platform and the bonding steps consume the most time.

“It consists of 32 layers of acrylic felt fabric resulting in a 64mm high final product. Despite the relatively thick 2mm felt used in the print, it preserved most of the details in the underlying 3D digital model like the nose and ears. Also notice the relatively com- plex overhanging shape in the ears of the bunny. Because of the cutting strategy we used, fabric from the bounding box area of the previous layer serves as support for overhangs, including very small and sharply overhung features such as these.”

When all is said and done, the researchers are looking to usher in a new way of layer-based 3D fabric printing that can form precise, yet soft and deformable 3D objects from rolls of off-the-shelf fabric. As TechCrunch notes, “It’s as much a laser cutter as it is a 3D printer.” Nevertheless, it’s still extremely cool — and AVR powered!

Want to learn more? You can read the entire paper from Disney Research, Cornell University and Carnegie Mellon here.

This office chair will let you speed around the office at 20 MPH

The Office Chairiot Mark II has turned an ordinary piece of furniture into something quite awesome.

Let’s face it, sitting behind the same desk in the same chair can get a bit boring after a while. But what if that same chair could whiz through the office at 15 to 20 miles per hour? That’s exactly what Maker Andy Frey sought to accomplish.


In essence, the Office Chairiot Mark II is a motorized IKEA Poäng chair that uses some off-the-shelf scooter parts like wheels, axles and batteries to roll around. The second-generation gadget is comprised of three parts: the chassis, the control panel and the chair itself.

One of the primary parts of the chassis is its motor controller, which enables a rider to navigate in between cubicles with a single, user-friendly joystick. The twin engines are computer-controlled through a Dimension Engineering Sabertooth 2×60 controller capable of 60 amps per channel. The chassis is based on an Arduino Mega 2560 (ATmega2560) that can be controlled via a handheld remote, which is tasked with receiving data from various sensors for motor, power wire and ambient temperature, as well as wheel RPMs and accelerometer information. The Arduino takes commands from any number of remote controls over its UART and translates a simple protocol of characters and bytes into motor commands, RGB LED and relay control.


What’s more, the NASA-like, aluminum control panel is comprised of over 30 switches and buttons, a few displays, and a master switch. Each of the devices on what the Maker calls an “over-complicated” console are controlled by a second Arduino Mega (ATmega2560).

Frey even packed the office vehicle with LED lighting for its headlights, turn signals and undercarriage. To really round out the design, he added an audio PCB, an Adafruit Class D Audio Amplifier and an MP3/SD card breakout board to give the office vehicle some sound effects, which range from flatulence to car alarms to horns. These can also be customized by simply placing an MP3 on the SD card.


The Chairiot’s firmware was designed with simplicity and safety in mind. The remote needs to ping the onboard Arduino twice a second; otherwise, the unit will stop dead in its tracks and turn off the lights.

“I am very busy eating up all of my spare time writing the firmware for the command console. It’s written in C++ using embeddXcode+, an amazing piece of Xcode add-on/tweaking engineering that allows you to build AVR/Arduino firmware using Apple’s very excellent Xcode IDE,” Frey notes.


Most recently, the Maker plugged an Xbee wireless receiver board into the chassis’ DB-15 connector, which is now capable of handling commands over the air and thereby replacing the cable. The wireless remote is built around an Arduino Pro (ATmega328) and powered by a LiPo battery thanks to SparkFun’s USB LiPoly Charger.

“I like [Arduino Pro] for quick builds because I can program them using the Atmel AVR ISP Mk II programmer. I don’t need the Arduino bootloader at all, which also means I don’t have to have an on-board USB port when I don’t need it. This Pro is running at 8 MHz and only 3.3V to match with the Xbee board.

Thinking about souping up your desk chair? Frey plans on making his schematics, code and CAD drawings all open-source. Until then, you can read about his build here and watch it in action below.

Orbis is a steampunk-inspired kinetic sculpture

Maker meshes wood and electronics to create an innovative piece of artwork.

Over the last couple of months, we’ve seen a number of impressive installations that fused both traditional art and modern-day technology in pretty slick ways. Added to that growing list is Orbis, the brainchild of Long Island-based Maker Guido Bonelli, who many of you may recall from last year’s Kickstarter campaign for his Arduino debugging tool, Dr.Duino.


The concept for the wooden kinetic and lighting sculpture all began after Bonelli was commissioned by a client to find some truly unique artwork that would serve as the focal piece of their home. Upon conducting a search for a dynamic piece to adorn his own walls, the Maker realized that there wasn’t anything available today that truly met either his or his client’s needs. And so the idea of Orbis was conceived, coalescing a classic wooden look with electronics in a simple yet extremely imaginative manner.

The installation, which mounts to the wall like any other form of art, will surely capture the attention of anyone in the room as it spins to life and emits a series of bright, color-chaning lights. In addition, the client requested a separate control box that would allow visitors to interact with the kinetic sculpture themselves. The steampunk-like installation is powered through some custom firmware and a pair of independent Arduino Mega 2560 boards (ATmega2560) — one lies underneath Orbis itself, the other housed in the control box that communicates via a pair of Xbee modules. The device is also equipped with several potentiometers, which let a user do things like control its LEDs and the speed of the motor.


In order to create the unique kinetic sculpture and control box, custom 3D models were meticulously developed and tested. Once the client approved of the initial design, the relevant files were emailed to a laser wood cutting service, with each piece subsequently hand stained and carefully assembled.

Orbis is capable of displaying nearly 16 million various colors, and features six distinct control modes of operation which are selected via a rotary phone dial. Two of the operation modes enable the user to take direct control over the installation.

Fascinated? You’ll not only want to watch it in action below, but may want to head over to its official page here.


TwinTeeth is a PCB mini-factory for electronic hobbyists

Diyouware’s innovative PCB fabricator will give Makers the ability to create PCB prototypes right at home.

A pair of Madrid-based brothers, who you may recall from their recent DiyouPCB project, have now released the design for a new 3D printer. Diyouware’s TwinTeeth — which gets its name from the principle of moving the construction bed instead of the tool head — is best described as an open-source PCB mini-factory geared towards electronic-savvy hobbyists. It is an innovative fabricator of Arduino shield-size PCBs which will enable Makers to create circuit board prototypes right in the comfort of their own homes.


Mega 3D IMG_0002_0

The mini-factory can perform a variety of functions, including photoengraving with a UV laser on sensitive film or pre-sensitized boards, drilling holes using any mini-rotary tool, dispensing solder paste onto SMD PCB pads, plotting circuits with a permanent pen-maker, as well as 3D printing knobs, casings, front-panels and circuits with conductive filament.

Its interchangeable tool head allows users to automate the process of most PCB fabrication stages, with its only limitation being a small Arduino shield sized workspace. The robotic device draws the PCB circuits in rastering mode much like any paper printer does, moving the laser (or the bed in their case) from one side to the other. TwinTeeth boasts auto-bed leveling, thereby giving users a flat plate with a tolerance of less than 0.01mm during the printing process.


“While traditional 3D printers or CNC machines move the tool while the working piece is fixed on the bed, TwinTeeth moves the bed while the tool is fixed. The first method is good if the tool is small and you want to make large pieces. But if the tool is heavy like a mini-rotary tool or a 3D extruder and the piece you are working on is light like a PCB, it is better to move the piece because it provides more precision and reduces vibrations,” the duo writes.

TwinTeeth is embedded with the well-known combination of an Arduino Mega 2560 (ATmega2560), a RAMPS 1.4 control board and A4988 drivers,  and is powered by a trio of Nema 17 motors. Aside from that, Diyouware used modified Marlin firmware to support the multiple tools, manage and control the laser, implement the auto-focus system, print in rastering mode, and improve the buffering. A small USB camera was included to make it easier for Makers to see tiny details on high-density PCBs. According to its creators, the built-in camera is also useful to set the home position, a very important element in obtaining accuracy.


Similar to their earlier project, the Makers equipped TwinTeeth with the same PHR-803T optical pickup used in the DiyouPCB with a wavelength of 405nm. Meanwhile, Diyouware developed an entire software suite for the mini-factory, which makes for easier management and control of the machine. This program enables users to connect and disconnect via USB, select tools, move the bed, go to homing position, set the speed and Z position, calibrate the robot, stop and resume a print job, and toggle the camera view, among a number of other things.

  • Print area: 70mm x 80mm x 60mm
  • Print speed: 1200-1500mm/minute
  • Print resolution: 600DPI
  • Nozzle diameter: 0.35mm
  • Code: G-Code, postscript and BMP files
  • Connectivity: USB 2.0
  • Filament: 1.75mm PLA/ABS

Interested in your own PCB mini-factory? You’ll want to check out Diyouware’s entire blog post here.

SmartrapCore is a low-cost, open-source wooden box 3D printer

SmartrapCore is the company’s second model and is even easier to assemble than the Smartrap.

As the popularity of inexpensive, open-source 3D printers continues to grow amongst the DIY community, Smartfriendz is hoping to help accelerate adoption with their latest device, the SmartrapCore. Touted as a “true RepRap printer,” it is capable of constantly improving itself by printing its own plastic parts and upgrades. Possessing the same ease-of-use as the French startup’s earlier Smartrap 3D Printer, Makers will be able to access online plans, instructions and assembly assistance through a series of tutorial videos.


However, in an effort to differentiate itself from the Smartrap, the team started the project with a coreXY base. (Hence, the “core” in its name.) The 3D-printed components are placed inside and atop of a wooden box, then simply screwed in using wood screws. As for its hardware, like a number of other RepRaps available today, the SmartrapCore is based on an Arduino Mega 2560 (ATmega2560) and a RAMPS 1.4 control board.


Smartfriendz shares that the machine is expandable from 20cm x 20cm to around 50cm x 50cm. More importantly, all designs are entirely written in OpenJSCAD along with various NEMA, rod, print and wood thickness sizes. All models are dynamically updated from parameters, while print plates will soon be automatically generated. Beyond that, the team has recently made improvements to reorient the stop on “new plate2,” as well as the J-Head attachment with its inductive sensor.

Interested? Not only can you now purchase the SmartrapCore online, you can also find its files on Thingiverse and Github.

This robot may soon 3D print objects as large as 100 cubic meters

Artis Engineering has created a robotic arm that will soon revolutionize architecture. 

While 3D printers tend to be bound by available materials, build volume and nozzle size, one Germany company is looking to change all that. In fact, a team from Artis Engineering recently conceived an idea after toying around with the concept of 3D printing: Why not use a big robot to print out even bigger objects?


Already having a gigantic CNC machine in their possession, the team’s current KUKA Quantec arm boasts a build envelope of 150 cubic meters, a 7-axis system, as well as a tool changer on its “hand” that is capable of milling, sanding, polishing, hot wire cutting, and now, 3D printing. Using the industrial gadget, Artis Engineering believes one day it will even be able to construct 3D-printed objects as large as 100 cubic meters in size.


The robot is based on an Arduino Mega 2560 (ATmega2560) and RAMPS 1.4. On the software side, the team used Rhinoceros 5, Grasshopper, KUKA|prc to make this all possible. The nozzle is equipped with two 40w heat cartridges and pair of 100k resistors, while an LCD control panel is tasked with monitoring temperatures and speed settings. Simon Lullin of Artis Engineering tells 3DPrint.com that employing a E3D v6 modified nozzle allows the team to print at high speeds, with a 0.5mm, 1.0mm and 2.5mm nozzles avoiding jamming and other problems.


“Our next goal is to perfectly synchronize the robot movements with the extruder (mainly the speed), which will require a mountain of new hardware, since we are already to the limits in terms of ‘extensions’ quantity. This is the equivalent of adding an 8th axis to our robot. This will be done in the upcoming months,” Lullin adds.

Interested? Head over to Artis Engineering’s official page here, or watch it in action below!

This 6-axis robotic 3D printer was inspired by spiderwebs

This project looks to eliminate the line between “designing” and “fabricating.”

As creepy and crawly as spiders may be, their inherent ability as Makers have inspired a new generation of additive manufacturing. Based on the micro-formation of webs, a team of designers in Shanghai has devised a spatial 3D printer based on a 6-axis robotic arm.


“It is more like the revival of craftsmanship in digital age. Factories only require technology showing capabilities in making things; but designers must arm themselves with technology that perform smart strategies outside the scope of replacing human labor,” the team reveals.

The project — aptly dubbed Robotic 6-Axis 3D Printing — is a highly-integrated installation that combines modern-day robotics, additive manufacturing and an interactive interface. While the KUKA-based system uses the same material (ABS) as traditional printers, the extrusion process itself resembles that of silk threading often seen by arthropods. According to its creators, this enables printing in a more simple, self-supporting form. Based on a standardized 3D printing module, the tandem of a built-in sensor and heater ensure that the temperature remains within appropriate range, while tubes send compressed air to the front of printing head to cool the end result. Subsequently, the system is capable of printing a biomimetic object.


“By studying the material and structure performance of 3D form in nature, we figured out a way to incorporate biomimetic fabrication strategy into 3D printing process. And by designing the special robotic-end effector and utilizing the great flexibility and accuracy of KUKA robot system, the biomimetic fabricating process has been fully realized,” the team writes.

At its core lies a petaloid turn-plate equipped a fixed printing head in the center tasked with extruding linearly, while three movable print heads attached beside on another create separate and sinusoidal wave shaped materials to reinforce the object’s structure. The rotation of the turn-plate leads to the oscillating motion of the three movable printing heads, which in turn produces the spindle-knot-like motion trail.

Similar to other devices on the market today, the robotics are based on an Arduino Mega 2560 (ATmega2560) while the machine is driven by four individual servo motors. One motor is responsible for handling the rotating motion of the central turn-plate, while the speed of material delivery and rotation can be changed via a switch on the center stack.


Interested in learning more? Head over to the project’s official page here, and watch it extrude in spider-like fashion below.


The ATOM 2.0 isn’t just any Delta-style 3D printer

Makers, meet the most refined Delta printer yet.

Over the past few years, the Maker Movement has ushered in a wave of Delta-style 3D printers. Given their open-source, easy-to-assemble and expandable nature, not to mention affordability, the machines have become a popular choice for hobbyists throughout the world. However, these DIY devices have been found to sometimes be on the flimsier and fragile side. Well, one Taiwanese company is looking to change all that by launching what they believe to be “the most refined Delta printer yet.”


Unlike some others we’ve seen before, the ATOM 2.0 embodies a much sturdier look and feel than its predecessors, constructed entirely out of metal using a modular assembly system. Based on an Arduino Mega 2560 (ATmega2560), the printer boasts a spacious build volume and packs an all-new triple fan cooling system in its center hub. One fan is dedicated for stabilizing the hot end temperature, while remaining dual fans provide accelerated cooling for freshly laid down filament. This, of course, enables precise prints in relatively fast speeds, at extreme angles, and even bridges without support material.

“We’ve re-designed the entire hot end assembly from the ground up and custom built our parts so they can fit together seamlessly to provide a super consistent extrusion of filament. The hot-end is CNC milled from titanium and, paired with the custom aluminum heatsink, ensures that the heating stays in a very localized area for better temperature control and better preservation of filament integrity,” the team writes.


Designed with Makers in mind, the megaAVR powered ATOM 2.0 not only features a single extruder, but its unique modularity allows for users to swap out for double extrusion attachments or a laser engraver. With various conditions and factors meticulously controlled, the consumer-friendly machine print extremely thin layers, so thin that the layers are almost indistinguishable by the eye.

  • Printer size: 42cm x 42cm x 76cm
  • Printer weight: 13kg (28.6 lbs.)
  • Layer thickness: 0.5mm (50 microns)
  • Nozzle diameter: 0.4mm
  • Filament type: 1.75mm ABS and PLA
  • Connectivity: SD Card, USB


The company has launched a crowdfunding campaign on the Chinese funding site ZecZec, where it has already garnered its initial goal. The ATOM 2.0 is currently priced at $1,599, with the first batch of printers expected to be shipped in May 2015. Interested in one of the sleekest, most comprehensive Delta printers to date? Head over to its official page here.