Tag Archives: Arduino Micro

Maker builds a pocket-sized chording keyboard

This Arduino-based chording keyboard can communicate over Bluetooth or USB.

Per Brian McEvoy’s Instructables article, “A chording keyboard is a device which relies on pressing multiple keys at once, similar to playing a chord on a guitar.” This type of computer interface can be quite fast as you don’t have to move your fingers off of the home position. In McEnvoy’s case, he designed his keyboard so that it would be extremely portable for a cyberpunk costume he’s assembling.


His 3D-printed keyboard features three thumb buttons and a button for each finger, and uses an Arduino Micro (ATmega32U4) to translate key combinations into something that a computing device can recognize. According to his writeup, the seven keys and processor are required, but many of the other components, including the Bluetooth module, accelerometer, battery holder and USB port are optional. On the other hand, it appears one could need either a battery holder or USB port to get power from somewhere, so one of the two is probably necessary.


It would seem like something similar to this running under Bluetooth would make an excellent phone accessory, perhaps as a custom case. The learning curve would be steep, but once learned, this type of accessory could make texting or phone-emails much, much faster.

You can find even more information about how this device came to be on his 24 Hour Engineer site!

Control your home theater with any IR remote

This Maker’s sketch emulates a USB keyboard to control Plex when it receives button presses from a remote.

Once you have a home theater PC (HTPC) set up in your living room, how to elegantly control it is a huge priority. A wireless keyboard is an obvious solution, but the limited range and general “largeness” of many of them can make this less than ideal. Of course you could always buy a tiny keyboard meant for this type of use, but if you’ve got an Arduino Micro (ATmega32U4) and an infrared receiver, you can simply use your existing remote!


A Maker by the name of “Ep1cman” decided to do just that since he had the parts available, as documented the setup on GitHub. In his case, the Arduino receives IR signals from a NOW TV remote and translates it into a keyboard press from a virtual USB keyboard. His sketch will take any unknown IR codes it receives and output them on a serial port. This would, of course, be extremely useful for soemone that wanted to adapt this to his or her own remote control.

One thing that the Arduino does not support by default is waking a sleeping PC. For this, he used NicoHood’s library. He also employed the IRremote library to properly receive signals. Finaly, to complete his control package, he wrote an EventGhost script that allowed him to switch between Plex and Steam.

Maker builds a giant LEGO NES controller

Baron von Brunk has created a fully-functional, Arduino-powered NES controller out of LEGO. 

The original Nintendo controller is arguably one of, if not, the most iconic gaming accessories of our generation. After all, who could forget the clickety clack of the red “A” and “B” buttons and the black directional pad? Well, Maker Baron von Brunk — who you may recall from his Super Mario Bros. LEGO sprites — decided to pay homage to the device by building a freakin’ huge NES controller out of giant LEGO bricks and a series of tiles.


The gargantuan project was developed back in 2012 and released in 2013. At the time, it had used the circuitry from the original controller that was hacked apart and reattached to play actual NES games. Recently, von Brunk decided to revisit his earlier creation and make some changes, which included its aesthetics and electronics. In fact, he even used LEGO pieces to make the text.

The fully-functional LEGO gamepad sits atop a large folding table and features removable tiled plates as its ceiling. For this version, von Brunk removed the inner workings of the previous piece and employed an Arduino to serve as the brains of the operation. Unfortunately, this meant he could now only play computer games.


The embedded circuit powered is powered by an Arduino Micro (ATmega32U4), which is wired to eight momentary pushbuttons sitting beneath the large LEGO buttons suspended with Technic shock absorbers. When pressed, the bottoms make contact with the pushbuttons, thereby sending an electrical signal back to the Arduino, which is connected to the PC via USB.

von Brunk wrote an Arduino code that assigns the digital output pins to act as keyboard signals. He used an external gamepad and calibrated its buttons, which the computer reads as keystrokes. All of this is explained in his video below.

Interested? Be sure to watch it in action, as well as check out the first edition of the LEGO NES controller here.

Defend your personal space with this wearable device

Maker builds an over-sized, electro-mechanical backpack with a shoulder-mounted, self-firing Super Soaker. 

Don’t you hate when people invade your personal space and get up in your business? What better way to send a message than by squirting them with a water gun? However, having to manually target people with your soaker of choice can be a tedious task, especially if there is an entire army of time-wasting, close-talking friends or colleagues approaching you. Luckily, there’s an automated solution that will do the trick. Introducing the Personal Space Defense System (PSDS)


The brainchild of DJ from Instructables, the system is described as an “over-sized, electro-mechanical backpack with a shoulder-mounted, self-firing water gun.” While this isn’t the first robotic buffer zone defender, it’s perhaps one of the coolest — and most applicable nevertheless. (Anouk Wipprecht’s Spider Dress is still pretty sweet, too!)

How it works is pretty straightforward: If someone encroaches upon your personal space, an embedded sensor pendant will detect the invader and the Super Soaker Electro Storm will blast a few shots of water towards them.


Aside from the stripped-down water gun, the Maker employed several electronic components to make the project a reality. These included an Arduino Micro (ATmega32U4), an IR distance sensor, a PIR motion sensor, a laser diode, a power switch, an illuminated switch, a 2200mAh 7.4V LiPo battery, a voltage regulator, a MOSFET, a bunch of resistors, a transistor and a capacitor, as well as a number of other off-the-shelf supplies.

The PSDS is comprised of three main parts: a shoulder-mounted water gun, a sensor-laden necklace and a trigger mechanism. As AJ explains, pressing the power button activates system while pushing the trigger button will toggle between armed and disarmed modes. Once the system is armed, the gun will flip up and the attached laser diode will power on.


What’s more, he removed the original case of the Super Soaker to reduce the weight and allow for easy direct electrical control. This enabled him to wedge the water gun and reservoir into a channel bracket and actuate it by a geared servo.

“For ease of mounting and added comfort, I designed the system to be mounted to a regular backpack. The pack provides a sturdy mounting point for the main tube and proto-board for the electronics,” AJ adds. “The gun assembly is a bit hefty, so to balance out its inherently wobbly nature, I created a counterweight that has a mount for a camera. I ended up attaching a GoPro.” (This will surely capture some hilarious clips!)

The program running the PSDS is a basic Arduino sketch, which the Maker has made available, along with the Bounce library that will need to be installed. Those wishing to build a personal space defending wearable of their own can head over to AJ’s Instructables page, where you’ll find a detailed breakdown of the project.

This device lets you select music by its tempo

Radio Activity is an Internet-enabled device that connects to Spotify and lets you choose music by tempo.

Royal College of Art graduate Gemma Roper has developed a metronome-inspired device that enables users to select music based on the tempo and rhythm at which they’d like to listen.


Radio Activity works by connecting to Spotify and selecting songs based on their beats per minute by sliding a circular metallic dial up and down a vertical pole. From there, it automatically chooses tracks from the user’s music library that best match the set tempo and plays them aloud through its attached speakers.

“The device explores physical and tactile interfacing for online music without a screen through the use of an overtly reduced aesthetic that becomes the central focus for interaction,” Roper explains.


In order to make this possible, the designer had programmed the gadget to recognize Spotify genres and only emit the songs within the categories that match the setting. The metal dial, which can also be rotated to adjust the volume, makes its way up and down the pole at various increments representing different BMPs. It starts at 60-85 BPM, the tempo of slower classical music, and heads upward to 85-110 BPM for hip-hop, 110-135 BPM for techno, 135-160 BPM for dubstep, and so forth.

A marble base houses most of its electronics, which include an Arduino Micro (ATmega32U4), and supports the steel shaft onto which the dial is mounted.


“The internal component composition is incredibly complicated, as the electrical current needed to be carried throughout the length of the rail on small brass tracks that are connected to tiny switches inside the dial all the way to an Arduino Micro in the marble base,” Roper tells Dezeen.

Looking ahead, Roper is hoping to work with developers to apply the idea to other music platforms like Soundcloud. Until then, you can watch the impressive project in action below, or check out its official page here.

[h/t Dezeen]

The Opal is a countertop nugget ice maker for your home

A new ice age is upon us! The Opal lets you create a pound of crunchy nugget ice in an hour, right from home.

Contrary to what you may believe, ice is no longer just for chilling drinks, preserving meats and treating sprains. In areas like the South, it’s become a munchable snack for extremely hot summer days. Called nugget ice, this particular form of frozen H2O is soft and easy to chew, however outside of chain restaurants like Sonic and your local convenience store, it’s hard to come by. That was until now, at least.


FirstBuild — a co-creation space founded by GE and Local Motors — will let you satisfy your nugget cravings from right inside your own home with an affordable countertop maker. And while similar machines may already be on the market today, their price tag keeps them out of reach from most everyday consumers who aren’t looking to shell out upwards of two to three thousand dollars. Instead, Opal can soon be yours for a mere fraction of the cost ($499).

Having had the chance to see it firsthand at Maker Faire Bay Area, Opal boasts a sleek, aesthetically-pleasing design that will surely match the decor of any kitchen. The stainless steel device plugs into an electrical outlet and holds three pounds of ice, which is about as much as a typical refrigerator. Opal produces its first nuggets in 15 minutes, and can create a pound of ice each hour. The unit, which measures 16.5” x 10.5” x 14”, includes a crystal-clear, removable bin that easily slides out and tilts forward for access to the ice, as well as a capacitive touch interface for control. And you know what makes it even cooler (no pun intended)? It has an Arduino Micro (ATmega32U4) driving its indicator light!


What’s more, the Opal can be plugged into any standard 120V outlet and doesn’t require a dedicated water line to operate. The machine works by packing together small ice crystals, forming nuggets of soft yet crunchy ice. Not only do they cool down beverages like your coffee or soda faster than conventional cubes, the air pockets in each nugget absorb the flavor of the drink as it drops in temp, leaving a chewable and tasty refreshment for those who enjoy snacking on the ice when the liquid is gone.

For those unfamiliar with the community, FirstBuild is a new model of manufacturing that challenges Makers from around the world to dream up home appliance innovations. Earlier this year, Atmel had the opportunity to sponsor its inaugural 33-hour mega hackathon that brought together more than 200 DIYers, designers and engineers at its microfactory in Louisville to mod and build sci-fi-like equipment for the smart house of tomorrow. Evident by the sheer volume of ingenuity from that weekend, the crowdsourced design of Opal is just the beginning of real IoT applications generated by the Maker community.


Want one for your kitchen? The wait is almost over, as Opal made its debut on Indiegogo on July 28th — a date that also marked the one-year anniversary of FirstBuild. Keep in mind, this isn’t the co-creation community’s first crowdfunding effort either. Back in January, the team garnered over $316,000 for its Paragon Induction Cooktop, and the nugget ice maker has well surpassed its sibling’s success. The Opal ranks ninth on Indiegogo’s top 10 list of campaigns that have raised the most funds in 24 hours, and the 13th fastest to reach the half million dollar mark.

The initial batch of units is expected to begin shipping in July 2016 — right in time to help keep cool next summer!

This 3D-knitted onesie purifies the air around its wearer

One Dutch designer has created a 3D-knitted, Arduino-powered onesie that can purify the air around its wearer.

Borre Akkersdijk recently made a name for himself with a unique form of intelligent clothing: a 3D-knitted onesie capable of turning someone into a walking Wi-Fi hotspot. As the concept of modularity continues to rise in popularity and evolve throughout the Maker community, the Dutch designer decided to further develop his concept of interchangeable, high-tech fashion with a platform that adapts to one’s location of the wearer.


Akkersdijk believes that the current generation of wearable technology — ranging from smartwatches to fitness bands — isn’t so much something you wear as it is something you attach to yourself. This is what he likes to refer to as “carry-able technology.” His original garment, dubbed BB.Suit, was created in an effort to turn this so-called “carry-able technology” into a much truer wearable form.

This project was inspired by his earlier work on a Wi-Fi pillow that established a positive interaction between a caregiver and an individual suffering from severe dementia. He accomplished this by designing a thick padded shell of conductive yarn, copper wire and internal motors, so that the patients could share their gestures with a loved one holding the other side through vibrations. The innovation prompted the interest of SXSW organizers, who requested Akkersdijk come and show it off; however, he wanted to make a bigger splash than just a pillow.

And so, the first version of the BB.Suit was conceived, which featured electrical threads woven into a 3D-knitted fabric along with a GPS tracker, a Wi-Fi access point and a crowdsourced musical library. Beyond that, a wearer’s location was displayed on Google Maps using the suit’s built-in GPS. Initially conceived as a demo for the SXSW 2014 music festival, the Maker collaborated with 22tracks to allow its user and their community to access and upload songs.


As you can imagine, the initial prototype of the suit caught the attention of mainstream media as well as the organizers of Beijing Design Week. Riding the wave of its success, Akkersdijk returned with a second iteration of the conceptual onesie, one in which would solve a meaningful conundrum. Inspired by the city’s smog and pollution problem, version 0.2 introduces a few additional features, most notably an air purification system. In order to bring this to life, the Maker collaborated with Martijn ten Bhomer from the Eindhoven University of Technology, Daan Spangenberg Graphics, Eva de Laat, StudioFriso and Dutch magazine WANT.

Once again, electrical yarn was woven into the body and legs of the outfit, while the sleeves and hood are comprised of ordinary textiles. BB.Suit 0.2 employs a patented technology called Cold Plasma, which divides oxygen and water molecules into free radicals that then easily react to toxic gases, bacteria, viruses and dust particles to clean air. The air quality sensor is located at chest level and is connected to a hidden Arduino Micro (ATmega32U4), which receives and processes the data from the sensor and GPS receiver. The Arduino also controls the air cleaning device. This system communicates with a hacked TP-Link router running OpenWRT which sends the data to an online database.


What’s more, Akkersdijk sees these projects as the very first step to the ultimate goal for wearables: to enable communication in an organic, smartphone-free way. To make this a reality, the designer is already conducting experiments that use sensor-laden clothing to transmit thoughts and feelings. As its creator notes, the updated suit highlights the opportunities of such next-generational intelligent clothing.

Intrigued? Head over to the the Maker’s official page, or read WIRED’s elaborate write-up here.

SmartCap tracks your liquid consumption and reminds you when to take a sip

By syncing with your FitBit dashboard, this smart cap helps record, remind and rehydrate! 

Evident by the sheer number of health and fitness trackers on the market today, people are increasingly becoming focused on their general well-being. As fixated on eating right and exercising as they may be, it is often easy to overlook one of the most basic and vital things the human body needs: water. Though everyone is cognizant of the benefits of staying hydrated, a vast majority tend to neglect it with our busy lives. And so, a number of startups have emerged with innovative ways to remind us to sip on some high-quality H2O, including most recently Hidrate Me and Trago. Next on that list is SmartCapthe brainchild of Maker by night and software engineer by day Ben S.


What began as a mere idea for himself that he designed and continues to use has now transcended into a hopeful product with mainstream appeal. This smart cap, which fits any standard bottle, is capable of tracking water intake and updating a web-based dashboard by syncing with FitBit.

“I didn’t want to burden myself (or you) with yet another smartphone application. The SmartCap application does nothing more than ferry data between FitBit and allow simple configurations such as authentication, notification on/off and frequency,” Ben explains.


Like Hidrate Me, users will be notified to consume some water through an illuminated light, while also be able to choose to receive an alert on their smartphone or their Apple Watch. Sips of both water and Soylent (powdered meal replacement) are accurately tracked with a push of a button and registered into FitBit.

Based on an Arduino Micro (ATmega32U4), the cap features a flow meter and a Bluetooth module tasked with the pairing of devices and wireless communication of the collected data. It also boasts a battery for power, which is rechargeable via a USB port.

“Yes, competition is good. But I have killer features, such as FitBit integration and Soylent mode that others are not offering. I also hold provisional patents on these innovations. A defensive position is my only intention. I want my product to continue serving those who enjoy using it,” Ben shares with regards to the competitive marketplace.


Admittedly, the SmartCap is not market-ready. Currently in prototype form, the Maker is looking to beef up development for the next iteration of the project. This includes shrinking down its form factor, custom PCB etching and CAD design, along with the help of some 3D-printed parts. Intrigued? Head over to SmartCap’s Kickstarter page, where Ben is seeking $45,000 to make this all possible.

HACKberry is an open source, 3D-printed bionic hand

This 3D-printable bionic limb is controlled by a smartphone, powered by camera batteries and based on an Arduino. 

If you sit back and reflect over the past couple of years, it’s truly remarkable how far the world of prosthetics has come thanks to recent advancements in 3D printing and open hardware. These artificial limbs have transcended well beyond the heavy, plastic and metal pieces of yesteryear into lightweight, sci-fi-like accessories that can be easily constructed and controlled in ways never before imagined.


Aside from providing these body-adorned gadgets with futuristic capabilities, what makes the sleek and futuristic prosthetics even more appealing are their price tags — a fraction of the cost of its older and commercial counterparts. With aspirations of accelerating development and increasing accessibility, Japan-based startup exiii has developed an open source bionic hand that is built around an Arduino Micro (ATmega32U4) and myoelectric sensors, uses a smartphone as the brains of its operation and relies upon camera batteries for power. Named HACKberrymost of the device is comprised of 3D-printed components that can be taken apart and swapped out whenever necessary.

“HACKberry is a practical model for daily use created through the cooperation of actual users. Hackberries, which are a species of trees included in the elm family, grow many branches,” exiii writes. “Our goal is to develop an artificial arm that would become the platform upon which developers and artificial arm users from all over the world are able to build as they wish.
The name represents our vision to ‘hack’ at problems, grow branches of joy that reach out to users and enable their ideas and efforts to bear fruit (‘berries’).”


While its newest model may not be ready for sale yet, the limb only took $300 to create. The latest iteration boasts a number improvements compared to its more expensive (and not open source) sibling, the Handoii, which includes a more flexible wrist for various movements, a smaller palm to make it attractive for women to wear, and enhanced compatibility to an assortment of camera batteries. Impressively, what really sets HACKberry apart is that its ductile fingers that can even differentiate between grasping and picking up based on the object, whether that’s turning the page of a magazine, grabbing some nail polish or even tying one’s shoelaces.


Want to learn more? exiii has made all of its files available on GitHub page. This includes printing and source codes for software, as well as all the data for its hand, sensor and battery boards. In the meantime, you can see HACKberry in action below!

This interactive dress is inspired by autumn trees

Fall is an interactive garment that mimics nature’s responsive systems. 

In what would appear to be a costume straight out of a Lady Gaga or Katy Perry music video, Fall is an interactive dress that is inspired by nature’s seasonal occurrence of trees losing their leaves. The brainchild of Birce Özkan, the Maker specifically designed her foliage-colored piece to mimic the b uilt-in system of trees as they shed their leaves as a result of surrounding environmental factors.

“My thesis project was evolved around the questions, What if when the temperature got hot suddenly, our clothes would start to break apart in response? What if they had the skill to behave depending on the surrounding conditions? What if garments had the ability to sense the environment just like living organisms? Those questions let me find the purpose for my thesis,” Özkan explains.


“In the fall, as the days shorten, and the temperature gets colder, the trees, without the light they need to sustain their chlorophyll, shed their leaves to keep their energy to survive for the winter ahead. This process was the inspiration for creating my garment’s mechanism. To prepare for the fall of leaves, trees activate ‘scissor cells’ that split to create a bumping layer that forces the leaves out of place, destabilizing them so that they fall,” the Maker writes.

This process led Özkan to devise her own garment’s mechanism by using light from a simulated environment that would activate the outfit’s embedded Arduino Micro (ATmega32U4), Adafruit Lux Sensor and four servo motors. The lesser the light, the faster the servo motors move, which in turn, causes the leaves to fall. These servos are attached to steel wires, housed inside clear tubes at the back of the dress.


“At the site of each hole, I attached the leaves by melting wax onto steel wires. When there is less light, the servos start to speed up and pull the steel wire. When the thread is pulled sideways, the leaf hits the side of the tube’s hole which breaks the wax. In that way, the mechanism makes leaves fall down,” she adds.

In true DIY fashion (no pun intended), the color palette for the ensemble was made to emulate that of autumn, while its fabric was laser cut into stylized leaf shapes, spray painted and eventually attached to a cotton base.


“I strongly believe that Fall can influence the fashion world to become more dynamic and to increase the way clothes can react to the world around them. I want clothing to have more responsiveness to the environment, so that instead of people always change their clothes, the clothes can sometimes change themselves.”

Want to see Özkan’s work in action? Watch the video below, and head over to the Maker’s official page to discover how she is converging both fashion and technology in an extremely unique way. Hat tip to our friends over at Adafruit for coming across this project!