Tag Archives: Arduino Micro

Sole Searching is taking the pedestrian experience a step further

Developed by a group of UC-Berkeley students for their Critical Making course, Sole Searching is a shoe that reacts to the invisible space through which we all move.


Powered by an Arduino Micro (ATmega32U4), the next-gen sneaker acts as a wireless detector, picking up the signals that pass through the “hertzian” layer of our environment, while displaying the names of nearby devices.


In what would appear to be something out of a sci-fi flick, the DIY wearable visualizes a multitude of radio waves that surround us, all while keeping us connected to our friends, jobs, and the world at large. The information broadcasted across these waves is typically so undetectable that we often times forget that it even exists in the public domain.

The project — which was recently featured on Hackster.io brings the “invisible” front and center through the use of an LCD screen embedded in the shoe, revealing information specific to that time and place. After all, radio waves are present just about everywhere we go. This ATmega32U4 based concept is a passive yet playful way to interact with the layer of space

Interested? Head on over to the Hackster.io’s step-by-step breakdown and get started on a whole new pedestrian experience.

Youbionic will let you 3D print your own prosthetic hand

While we have seen some pretty amazing 3D-printed prosthetics in recent weeks, including the likes of Iron Man and Wolverine, none may be as impressive as the Youbionic hand. Developed by Italian designer Federico Ciccarese, the white plastic hand is equipped with multi-colored wires attached to an electronic switchboard, powered by an Arduino Micro (ATmega32U4).


Going one step further than the average prosthetic, the hand works through a series of sensors and actuator motors, controlled by the Arduino board. By attaching electrodes to the muscles of the remaining part of an amputee’s arm, the device is capable of reading impulses and then translating them into commands to drive the motors — albeit a 3D-printed plastic hand.


As the Maker tells Digital Trendsthe electrical impulses differ in strength, which leads to various contractions and movements — lower impulses result in smaller movements, higher impulses in larger ones.

“Youbionic is a device made to just simplify people’s lives while also enabling them to reduce the feeling of embarrassment that sometimes occurs when showing a prosthesis,” explained Ciccarese. “I tried to make it as pleasing to the eye as possible while also focusing on making its movements as natural as possible.”

In a series of demo videos below, you can see how the fully-functioning prototype turns on the hand and clenches into a first, while index finger and the thumb form a circle, as if holding an object. Why is this such an incredible feat? These movements are often times taken for granted moves for granted; however, for those who have without hands, fingers or mobility, these simple actions are unattainable.

Ciccarese says he elected to use standard components like the ATmega32U4 based processor, servos and sensors as it “makes the project more flexible and affordable to the final user. We were particularly impressed by the quality of these systems and we are more convinced than ever to continue down this path.”


The initial prototype will be able to execute the main holds necessary to perform life’s essential tasks, from opening a doorknob to holding a pen. While still a work in progress, the Maker one day envisions amputees being able to upgrade the hardware and software of their limbs in the same manner as we update our smartphones. For instance, if an update to the Arduino software becomes available that’ll make fingers open or grip faster, simply download the code.


While the DIY electronics behind this project are eye-opening, the true game-changer of the design is its manufacturing simplicity. Though the current proof-of-concept has been devised using selective laser sintering of nylon, Ciccarese believes the next generation of Youbionic hands will be built using FDM-based 3D printers. At the moment, the hand is still a work-in-progress made entirely out of plastic, but Youbionic is expected to add rubber to the design to help make movements like pinching and gripping easier.

According to its creator, Youbionic customers will one day be able to easily and cheaply construct their hand pieces themselves thanks to the accessibility and open source nature of [Atmel based] 3D printers and Arduino boards. Whereas most prosthetic hands cost upwards of $50,000, Youbionics will only be a mere fraction of the cost.

Interested in learning more about the 3D-printed project? Head here to get a true grip on how Makers are truly changing the world — one project at a time!

This 3D-printed, pencil-legged robot can draw

As we’ve seen many times before, the emergence 3D printing has paved for the way for uber-creative, super-easy robotics. The increased accessibility to 3D printers — including the Atmel powered RepRap or MakerBot Replicator 2 — are streamlining both prototyping and production as recently demonstrated by a Maker named Randy.


Randy, who not only runs the Instructables Design Studio but is the creator of the Goodmorning Underwear, has created a 3D-printed pencil robot capable of walking on four legs, all within 48 hours.

“This idea to have a walker bot that shifted its front center of balance is one that I have had for a few years. However, implementing it with off the shelf parts always proved rather tricky and prevented me from really trying. Yet, when I realized that this could be done quickly and easily with 3D printing, I was able to finally create this robot in about two days,” Randy writes.


In order to bring this much-thought-about idea to life, Randy elected to use an Arduino Micro (ATmega32u4), two servos, a few pencils, a 9V battery, and of course, his Afinia H480 3D printer. The Maker also notes that those wishing to think outside the box can even sharpen the pencils to transform this little fellow into a drawing bot.

As Randy’s step-by-step breakdown reveals, this project is relatively easy to replicate — which is great ‘cause this walker bot makes for one heck of a show-and-tell toy!



Video: Crafting an Arduino-powered Halloween UFO

If you’re not a fan of Halloween and are frightened by the mere thought of aliens, we recommend that you don’t visit the house of Maker Andrew Wyatt this October 31st. The Maker has crafted a pretty impressive DIY UFO project using cardboard, tape, tinfoil, 8mm of diffused Adafruit NeoPixels and an Arduino Micro (ATmega32u4).

And wait, there’s more!

Night Sun is an Arduino-powered interactive audiovisual installation

Night Sun is an interactive audiovisual installation which tells a story with the turn of a music box handle, powered by an ATmega32U4 MCU.

After originally being commissioned by Nottingham City Council to produce its Night Sun for Light Night —  an event which transforms the city into a playground and gallery — Richard Birkin noticed that recorded music on its own wouldn’t work. “There’s so much noise in a city that you switch off, paying little or no attention to the sounds around you,” the Maker told The Guardian.

As a result, Birkin devised an idea which would require an observer to activate and interact with the music in some way to become involved with the piece. Outside a dark shop window, a toy music box was mounted on a wooden plinth.

In order to bring his idea to life, the Maker commissioned an Arduino Micro (ATmega32u4) to control the installation. The Arduino was instructed to send a ‘play’ command to a computer when it sensed the touch of a passerby. Once the wired music box handle was turned, the window would light up. A pre-recorded sound would then send a signal to the computer and begin playing… and just like that, the story unfolds.

The project was a collaboration of Birkin along with Arduino master Adrian McEwan, photographer Dan Wheeler, and writer Emma Lannie.

“Rather than combine the music, story and photos in video form, I used Jplayer and HTML to create a book-shaped projection. As the music plays in Jplayer, there are triggers at different points in time,” Birkin explained. “These triggers correspond to page elements that are made visible when their time comes, fading in or appearing suddenly depending on the urgency of the words. The photos are set as backgrounds that change with each stanza.”


The Maker says he preferred developing his creation this way, as it enables him to easily change the appearance of the installation depending on the aspect ratio of the projection surface. It also means that Night Sun works on the web and as an app (which you could read more about here).

Interested in learning more? You can find an entire breakdown of the Night Sun build on Birkin’s blog. Wanting to see more Atmel based audiovisual installations? You’re in luck. Browse through our archives on the topic here.

SatNOGS brings a global network of ground stations to reality

Named a finalist in the Hackaday Prize contest, the SatNOGS project was developed by team of 10 Makers led by Pierros Papadeas in an attempt to design a global open-source network of ground stations. The Maker hopes to enable communication with the thousands of satellites already in orbit.


Described by Papadeas as a modular and scalable stack for satellite ground station implementation, the open-source SatNOGS is based entirely on open standards, while providing interoperability with existing and future subsystems.

“A Global Management Network is the key part of our stack, connecting multiple observers with multiple ground stations enabling tracking and monitoring of satellites from multiple locations around the world. The data gathered will be publicly accessible through the network website,” Papadeas notes.


SatNOGS details the construction and deployment of a complete ground station for satellites, which incorporates four distinct platforms:

SatNOGS Network: The team’s observations, scheduling and discovery server
SatNOGS DB: The team’s crowdsourced suggestions transponder info website
SatNOGS Client: The embedded system that receives the scheduled operation from the network, records an observation and sends it back
SatNOGS Ground Station: The actual ground station instrumentation with tracker, antennas, LNAs and connected to client


The innovative factor about these ground station antennas will be that they are built entirely from common products. No space-age technology will be required to communicate with the satellites that are floating through the cosmos.


In true open-source form, the electronics are controlled by a pair of stepper motor drivers and an Arduino Micro (ATmega32u4).

All in all, this revolutionary project provides “a community-based approach on ground station development,” while seeking “a solution for massive automation of operator-less ground stations based on open standards.”

If you ask us, an out-of-this-world idea deserves an old-of-this-world prize! Those interested in learning more can visit the SatNOGS official site, or follow along on Hackaday.

UPDATE: SatNOGS has officially been crowned the winner of the Hackaday Prize! Congrats guys!




Students design a hybrid exploration robot with Arduino

A team of mechanical engineering students at the University of Pennsylvania has developed a search and rescue robot that overcomes many limitations seen in many modern designs using an ATmega32U4 based Arduino unit. The Hybrid Exploration Robot for Air and Land Deployment (H.E.R.A.L.D.) combines a quadroter and a robotic snake to enable movement both through and over obstacles while also surveying them from the skies.


With guidance from their professor, Dr. Mark Yim, the team set out to build a search and rescue robot that would “be able to traverse uneven and unstable terrain, avoid damaging obstacles and fit through narrow spaces.” All while being able to communicate with the user and be light enough for the average human to carry. Also, with saving lives a major goal, the robot needed to possess the ability to move at a speed that would not hinder the search and rescue process.

The team integrated the two robotic designs to limit the flaws of each individual construct. While quadrotors are known to have short battery life, the team’s system “allows for the quadrotor to be carried by two snakes while not in use, providing increased battery life without sacrificing mobility.” The snake itself would also be limited as to what kind of terrain it could climb, therefore the quadrotor is equipped to carry the snake over large obstacles or debris.


In order achieve this high degree of maneuverability, the snake was designed with seven degrees of freedom: two vertically actuated (pitch) servos, two horizontally actuated (yaw) servos, and three drive motors. As its creators reveal, these motors are incorporated into a mainly 3D-printed design that aims to optimize structural integrity while minimizing weight.

“Integrated treads on the wheel rims prevent excessive slip and provide edge-catching capability for obstacle clearance. The servo coupling arm acts as a bracket between the two steering actuators while providing a docking interface between the snake and quadrotor.”

A custom-made PCB, designed in Eagle, commands the snake via an Arduino Micro (ATmega32U4) and wirelessly communicates to the user over XBee radio. As for software, the team writes, “On each snake robot, we have an Arduino microcontroller running custom-written software in C++.” The team further details, “This low-level embedded software takes motor commands from a serial packet and outputs to the snake’s motors.”


The quadrotor itself runs on ArduPilot, an open-source Arduino-based system for operating DIY flying vehicles. After tweaking a few aspects of the software, the team was able to get their desired flight time of approximately 20 minutes. Using a series of magnets, the quadrotor can also carry the snakes for up to 10 minutes.

The team will continue to further develop the search and rescue implementations for the H.E.R.A.L.D. but this combination proves that we have barely scratched the surface of robotic design possibilities. Interested in learning more? The UPenn students’ entire project breakdown can be found here.

Vegard Wollan reflects on AVR and Arduino

In this segment of my chat with Vegard Wollan, the co-inventor of the AVR explores the symmetry between the highly-popular microcontroller and the Arduino development board.

Personally, one of the great moments was when Vegard revealed that the entire AVR product line was meant from the start to be easy-to-use. This began with the instruction set, the architecture and continues to this day with things like Atmel Studio 6 integrated development environment (IDE), Atmel Spaces collaborative workspace, and Atmel Gallery, the place where you can find thousands of code samples and tutorials.


Vegard Wollan gestures to the AVR schematics as he explains to Paul Rako how ease of use was a primary design goal from the start.

So it is only natural that Arduino was built on this foundation to make their great ecosystem of development boards and their wonderful IDE. You can see Vegard truly appreciates and respects how Massimo Banzi made the entry into AVR programming even easier for both technical and non-technical folks alike.

Today, AVR 8-bit MCUs (as well as Atmel 32-bit ARM®-based MCUs) power a variety of Arduino’s easy-to-use boards including:

  • Arduino Uno: The most “standard” board currently available, the Uno is based on the ATmega328
  • Arduino Yún: The Yún is a microcontroller board based on the ATmega32u4 (datasheet) and the Atheros AR9331.
  • Arduino Nano: The Nano is a small, complete, and breadboard-friendly board based on the ATmega328.
  • Arduino Mega 2560: The version of the Mega released with the Uno, this version features the ATmega2560, which has twice the memory, and uses the ATmega 8U2 for USB-to-serial communication.
  • Arduino Leonardo: Based on the ATmega32u4, the Leonardo is a low-cost Arduino board, featuring the same shape and connectors as the Uno board but with a simpler circuit.
  • Arduino Micro: The Micro is based on the ATmega32u4, developed in conjunction with Adafruit.
  • Arduino Esplora: Derived from the Arduino Leonardo, the Esplora is a ready-to-use, easy-to-hold controller based on the ATmega32u4.
  • Arduino LilyPad: Powered by an ATmega32u4, the LilyPad is designed for wearables and e-textiles, allowing for the board to be sewn into fabric and similarly mounted power supplies, sensors and actuators with conductive thread.
  • Arduino Due: Based on an Atmel ARM Cortex®-M3 processor-based MCU — also known as the SAM3 MCU — the Due board is ideal for home automation projects and can run up to 96MHz.
  • Arduino Wi-Fi Shield: Built for Wi-Fi applications, the Arduino Wi-Fi shield is powered by the Atmel AVR UC3 MCU and an H&D wireless module, and provides developers a powerful Wi-Fi interface.
  • Arduino Zero: The board is powered by an Atmel SAM D21 MCU, which features a 32-bit ARM Cortex® M0+ core.

If you haven’t had the chance to tune-in to all of Vegard’s 1:1 interviews with the Atmel Analog Aficionado, you can check ’em out here.

Arduino-Flush Less saves more

Amid water concerns growing in his native California, a Maker by the name of TVMiller directed his water saving attention towards the bathroom. TVMiller devised the modest Arduino-Flush Less to provide minimum water levels for bathroom functionality.


The Flush Less gives toilets options it never possessed before. Depending on the user’s restroom needs, the device can provide the minimum amount of water necessary to flush it all away. Choosing between the simplistic “Flush” or “Deuce” can save up to two gallons a day per Flush Less user. If a mere 1,825 hackers installed a Flush Less system, it could lead to over 1 million gallons of water being saved a year! Now that’s what we call ‘making’ a difference!

Over at his initial Hackaday log, TVMiller provides some witty insight into how this project came together. The brains behind the device are based around an Arduino Micro (ATmega32u4) that monitors the water levels and dispenses the necessary amounts to keep the toilet flowing for the user’s current requirements.


For those with sanitary concerns, the lavatory invention even includes a smartphone app, which puts the control of the toilet directly in the hands of the user.

To learn more about how you can join in on TVMiller’s effort to conserve water and change the way we think about the toilet, head over to his entertaining blog.

3D printing your own virtual reality headset

It is without question that Oculus Rift has become the gold standard of the VR headset market; however, for those where a Rift headset is a bit out of reach, you can always devise your own in true Maker fashion. Noa Ruiz over at Adafruit has published a complete tutorial detailing how to do just that — create your own virtual reality headset with the help of some 3D printing and old-fashioned ingenuity.


To complement an instructional video, Ruiz’s comprehensive guide features a full materials list as well as an extensive breakdown of each step throughout the development process. “In this project we’re building a wearable HD monitor. This is great for anyone looking to make their own a personal display,” the Maker wrote in his introduction.

The design of the DIY VR headset is similar to that of the VR2GO mobile viewer, including a 5.6″ display. The main components of the headset consist of a four-piece design that “keeps secured with machine screws.” The Arduino Micro (ATmega32u4) and 9 DOF are mounted to the back frame with four screws, while a pair of aspheric lenses are mounted inside the frame panel. When mounting the monitor to the Arduino board, Noa compels fellow Makers to, “remember you can choose which way the (HDMI + Power) wires will connect into the monitor, either from the top or from the bottom.”


As for the 3D printing portion of the project, Ruiz has made the STLs readily available for download so that you can quickly load them up into the printer and be on your way.

Writing for Hackaday, Matt Terndrup notes that “it would be interesting to see if this design in the future can eliminate the wires and make this into a portable unit. Regardless of which, this project does a fantastic job at showing what it takes to create a homemade virtual reality device. And as you can see from the product list after the break, the price of the project fits under the $350 DK2 amount, helping to save some money while still providing a fun and educational experience.”

If you are interested in following Noa’s guide and creating your own VR headset, you can see the full guide over at Adafruit. For more innovative 3D printed designs, take a look at our archives here at Bits & Pieces.