Tag Archives: Arduino nano

Maker creates his own hand crank generator

This 3D-printed, Arduino-based generator is capable of producing 30W of power.

Have you been wondering what to do with your 3D printer for the next 250 hours? If so, you can make this hand crank generator from Norwegian designer Even Erichsen. The generator is capable of producing 30W of power, so even though it looks amazing, it wouldn’t be the right choice for an off-the-grid power supply.


According to Erichsen, his original goal for this project “was to generate electricity to boil water for food and disinfection,” but realized that one “would have to work the generator for quite some time to boil even a small amount of water.”

Taking this one step further, if his 3D printer used around 100W on average, this would mean that it would take about 830 hours, or nearly 35 days, of cranking to generate enough electricity to replicate itself.


When the crank is turned, as seen in the video below, printed gears multiply the rotational speed, spinning 96 neodymium magnets to generate electricity. An Arduino Nano (ATmega328) measures power output via a nicely made circuit board.

The device itself features 60 3D-printed parts, which called for two 3D printers in order to complete the job: an Ultimaker for the bigger parts, a Makerbot Replicator for the smaller ones. The designer says that, “Until I release a set of instructions, consider this a work of art,” and it really is quite nicely finished. You can find more info on this build on its Thingiverse page, or on JUSTPRESSPRINT with a really cool interactive 3D model.

Maker rebuilds a pizza oven with Arduino

Who needs delivery when you can create your own pizza oven?

If you come across a broken pizza oven that you’d really enjoy using, but the control system is broken, what are you to do? If you’re imgur user “maschlue” — or hopefully many of the readers of this blog — the answer is to retrofit it with Arduino guts!


This build starts out with a mechanically sound pizza oven with just one “little” problem, the temperature regulation didn’t work properly. When turned on, the coils stayed on constantly, so it would seem that the pizza would either be badly undercooked or burned. Fortunately, maschlue didn’t give up, and installed two new thermocouples in the oven with an Arduino Nano (ATmega328) for control.


The oven was first gutted, stripping away much of the original wiring and even the back insulation. The new thermocouples were then installed, and the insulation was replaced. After the replacement, the new circuit — including relays, the Arduino, potentiometers for temperature control, and a Nokia 5110 display unit — were installed in its place.


Once the new electronics were implemented, a beautiful faceplace sourced from Schaeffer AG was installed. Switches and lights were recycled, and along with new knobs and the Nokia display, the end product “Doctor Thunder Cook” looks really great. The resulting pizza looks quite tasty as well!

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.

Save yourself from procrastination with this lock box

This anti-procastination box is perfect for those who are a little too obsessed with their smartphones and need to be productive.

Technology, it seems, has advanced past the point of only being there to help us. It now helps, then takes back by wasting our time watching cat videos or checking Facebook for the fourth time in the last minute. If you need to get something done, Alexis “DigitalJunky” Matelin has a solution: his Arduino-based timed lock box.


With his box, you simply place the phone inside, set a timer for when you’d like to be disconnected from the little screen, then get to work on what needs to get done. Interestingly, Matelin was inspired by the parts available, not necessarily his need for peace and quiet. According to him, “I had a spare segment display and wondered about what I could make out of it. Hence was born the idea of the anti-procrastination box.”

Besides the display, the custom-cut box features an Arduino Nano (ATmega328), buttons, wire and various other electrical bits. Physically, locking is accomplished with a solenoid and a small piece of modeling clay for it to rest against, securing the lid.


The final result looks quite clean, and surely something like this could be more useful than the typical hack. As clever as this lock box is, we wouldn’t be surprised to see someone ripping it open if the urge for a digital fix gets too strong to resist!

[h/t Hackaday]

Building a robotic switch to automate your air conditioner

This Maker created an Arduino-powered, servo-based device to turn his AC unit on and off. 

If you want to control AC power with an Arduino or other platform, the simplest way is (normally) to use a relay. In Tyler Bletsch’s case, he moved into a new office with a manually-controlled air conditioning unit. As he puts it, “I’m not going to put up with a hot office in the morning, nor will I let the unit blow cold air all night and weekend when nobody’s around. Instead, I will build some crap.”


Well said. Since it’s generally a good idea to keep office equipment unmodified, this “crap” took the form of an Arduino Nano (ATmega328)-controlled servo to physically turn the switch on and off — as seen in the video below. This could, we suppose, be considered to be a very complicated form of a physical relay.

An interesting feature is that, since the horn swings out of the way when not in use, you can flip the switch manually “like a barbarian.” According to Bletsch, the bracket allows control of any U.S. standard wall switch. Because of this flexibility, you should be able to use this technique to control nearly anything, though it usually makes many folks uneasy to automatically power things when they’re not around.

Additionally, the interface consisted of a few tactile buttons and an OLED screen, which displays information like the day and time. In terms of software, he used the Time Library for real-time clock logic, the Adafruit GFX Library to show pixels, and the Native Servo Library to run the servo.

If you’d like to make your own, the Maker has made the code available on GitHub and the 3D-printable files on accessible on Thingiverse.

13-year-old Maker builds his own pair of smart glasses

Pedosa Glass is a pair of DIY smart glasses — powered by Arduino and built by a 13-year-old app developer.

Hong Kong resident, app developer and 13-year-old Jordan Fung has, according to him, developed “the coolest project [he has] ever made.” This new project, dubbed Pedosa Glassis essentially a smart glasses attachment powered by an Arduino Nano (ATmega328) that shows him data and control information via a tiny FLCoS (Fast Liquid Crystal on Silicon) display.


As of now, the display has three buttons that can select one of two apps or go to an “about” page. Though it might not have all the bells and whistles of Google Glass, the two apps, a timer and a flashlight could be quite useful in real life. Fung admits that the timer could be a bit more accurate, but the small LED flashlight looks quite bright.

Menu and data display are accomplished using an Arduino TV output library running on the Nano. This seems to work well for his application, even though the resolution is limited to 120 x 96 pixels and displays in black and white.


This device is currently in a prototype state, and Fung plans to eventually make a 3D-printed case for it to hide the electronics. Another improvement would be to get rid of the USB power cable in exchange for a battery. Beyond that, further enhancements include Bluetooth connectivity and more applications. In true Maker spirit, the 13-year-old is asking for suggestions on this or anything else people think he should added to his build.

Feeling InspEYEred? Fung has made the project’s instructions, though limited, available on his Instructables page. Or, you can see what it’s all about in the video below.

Hack an aux input into your old ride to play your favorite MP3 jams

This Maker hacked the stereo in his 2007 Volvo V70 and successfully added his own AUX input. 

Karl Hagström wondered why his 2007 Volvo didn’t have an AUX (AKA line-in) input on its head unit. As he puts it, “2007 was before the big era of smartphones, but everyone owned a couple of dirt cheap MP3 players and iPod was a big thing.” I’ve personally often wondered why my 2006 automobile has “DVD audio” capability, but lacks this far more useful and much simpler input method.

2015-11-03 23.33.15

Unlike me, however, Swedish engineer Hagström decided to do something about this deficit, using an Arduino Nano clone (ATmega328) and several other components. This allowed him to run an AUX connector into the eight-pin connectors on the back of the head unit. The hack itself reportedly cost him less than five dollars, unlike the 80-dollar off-the-shelf solution.

The trick to this setup (and the reason for the Arduino) is that the CD changer input that the AUX goes into can’t be selected unless it is actually connected to the changer, which gives the head unit an initialization routine. Once the Arduino simulates this, it’s just a matter of connecting the left and right audio channels plus ground into the correct socket and pins.


If you accomplish this hack yourself, you can pipe all of your favorite Limp Bizkit and No Doubt songs from your SanDisk MP3 player into your car — all without even using a cassette adapter! Check out the Maker’s entire project here.

1:1 interview with Hackaday Prize finalist Eric William

Did you know that 80% of the 2015 Hackaday Prize finalists are powered by Atmel? With only days left until we learn which project will walk away with this year’s crown, we recently sat down with each of the potential winners to get to know them better. 

Confined spaces can be a dangerous part of rescue work, especially for miners and firemen. Not only do they have to worry about walls caving in and trapping people, but hazardous gasses. And while there are several expensive robotic devices out there that can take gas sensors deep into these tight areas ahead of rescuers, Eric William has come up with a much cheaper, more efficient alternative to remotely sniff the air before entering. The Maker has developed a $30 gas sensor “grenade” using a basic Arduino and a few other components, which is capable of analyzing the environment and reporting its levels with real voice output.


Atmel: What is the Gas Sensor for Emergency Workers?

Eric William: It is a simple gas sensor which monitors for smoke, liquefied petroleum gas (propane, butane, etc.) and carbon monoxide. It is made to be thrown into any unknown or potentially dangerous area before human entry and it relays the gas levels back to the user located at a safe distance via radio frequency. The levels are then broadcasted as human voice in English so anyone can understand the conditions/risks in the area.

Atmel: How did you come to the idea for the Gas Sensor? Moreover, what inspired you to enter the contest with your project?

EW: For several years, I was responsible for the safe work and rescue (if needed) of approximately 18 employees working in industrial equipment. We used industry standard air monitors, which like almost all models, are designed to be worn by the user. This made it quite difficult to measure the conditions in an area before a person enters that area. We resorted to suspending them via string, etc. I wanted a unit which could be tossed into the area from a distance or dropped from above into any area — but one simply did not exist.

This year when I created the basic prototype I happened to see the Hackaday contest on social media on the very night I tested the first voice transmission. I thought it would be a great way to get the open source project out to the world as the timing was perfect.

Atmel: In line with the Hackaday Prize’s theme, how are you hoping the sensor changes the world? What’s the mission?

EW: My hope is that anyone, anywhere can take the design, code and instructions to easily reproduce the sensor themselves.  Areas of the world without access to the industrial versions (they are quite costly at $1,000 or more) could utilize these to add at least some layer of protection. Since they can be recreated at a minimum of cost, perhaps a cost-effective mass produced version can be developed, and existing companies can take the concept and fill this gap within their own product line. Regardless of who supplies it, I think having it available to the world will potentially save lives.


Atmel: What’s different about the Gas Sensor? What’s your vision for this “grenade” in the next five years? What/who would you hope will pick up the project and use it?

EW: I know of no existing air monitor which can be deployed by the user into any area and receive the results from a safe distance whereby removing all exposure to the unknown risks. All existing ones I have used require the user to see an LCD screen and hear the audio alert (beeper) within the device. The price to reproduce this project is so low (under USD $30 is no problem) they could simply be disposable if mass produced.

In the upcoming years, I envision the project could be improved with additional sensors for oxygen and hydrogen sulfide. This would give it more functionality than most commercial ones already in use today.

My hope would be that people in far more industries could then use this simple device. In my mind, I could see it expand from industrial applications to anyone entering an unknown areas. As the cost could be very low, almost any employee could carry one and toss it into any area before entering if there is a chance of an unsafe atmosphere. This could span all industries with confined spaces (almost all industrial installations), mining, utility workers, emergency responders of all types, city workers, HVAC (heating ventilation & air conditioning), inspectors, hydro workers, telephone workers… this list goes on and on.

Atmel: As we know, the Maker Movement has opened the door for everyone from hobbyists to tech enthusiasts to hardcore engineers to tinker around. What’s your personal background?

EW: I have been an electronics hobbyist since a very young age. In my professional career, I came from 10 years in the automotive repair industry where I did all types of repair but specialized in diagnostics. I left the industry for a career in alternative energy. After some time performing repairs and maintenance on industrial wind turbines, I was put in charge of the maintenance of a large industrial wind farm. After several years I left this role for a position in technical support specializing in the software operating systems and diagnostics.


Atmel: What are some of the core pieces of hardware embedded?

EW: At its core, the ATmega328 (Arduino Nano) does the work. Beyond that, there is only and MQ2 gas sensor, a battery and a small ASK transmitter.

Atmel: What hardware products or projects are you also building at the moment?

EW: I have too many! 🙂 I am doing ongoing work on an Arduino-based satellite project designed to share the basic cubesat concept and enable anyone to recreate a basic satellite facsimile at home. I plan some upcoming improvements and changes to my Arduino/human brain interface which operates a 3D-printed robotic arm.

I am most excited, however, about a project I am building which is an easily portable educational classroom that can be used anywhere in the world. It is completely standalone and requires no conventional utilities such as hydro or communication access. It should allow anyone, anywhere access to basic educational tools as well as more advanced technology based learning and development.

All my projects are shared open source on my YouTube channel, in addition to on my website.

Atmel: Why pick Atmel (and Arduino) chips?

EW: The price and availability makes them truly amazing devices. The community behind them makes it easy for anyone to create just about any project with almost zero experience. The sheer amount of freely available code and information already published makes just about any design or project a possibility for anyone.


Atmel: What advice would you offer other Makers when getting into hardware and embarking on a new project?

EW: Just dive in. Get a few basic components, like the Arduino boards, and make something you are interested in. Everyone starts with blinking an LED but after that build what you want — don’t just follow a book of projects. Google for the answers to problems you encounter (you will be astounded at how many times your exact question has already been answered). Ask questions in forums and share your projects back with the world so others may benefit.

Atmel: Any plans to launch a startup and perhaps even take to Kickstarter/Indiegogo?

EW: Not for this project- it is free for the world. I have a couple ideas I think I may someday try crowdfunding, but for now I enjoy just releasing them open-source so all can take them forward.

Atmel: And… if you win, are you heading to space or taking the cash?!

EW: Although a trip to space has long been a dream of mine, I just got married a few months ago so I think I may be in hot water if I didn’t take the cash! [Laughs] With the money I may just be able to take this project (perhaps others) to production. That would be nice.

Atmel: Anything else you want to tell us and our followers?

EW: Thank you to Atmel, Hackaday and all those who have supported the 2015 prize entries as well as open source projects in general. You are all amazing!

Don’t miss our other interviews with fellow HaD Prize finalists Chris Low and OpenBionics!

Maker mods a Wii remote into an autofocus laser

While it may not be a Glowforge, this Wiimote hack is pretty slick. 

Chances are that it’s been quite a while since the last time you played Mario tennis or went bowling on your Nintendo Wii. But as we’ve seen with other obsolete devices, there’s no reason to throw it away! In fact, the Wiimote’s unique design lends itself to several innovative projects, like one from Maker Martin Raynsford who has retrofitted the handheld controller into a fully-functional laser cutter.


Raynsford and the Just Add Sharks crew were inspired by the newly-revealed Glowforge 3D laser printer’s ability to autofocus as the head travels along complex curves during cuts and engraves. And so, they employed the Wiimote’s built-in infrared camera to refocus the laser based on the height of the material.

“The hardware automatically identifies these points and feeds back XY positions through a Bluetoth connection. The cutting laser on a laser cutter is an infrared beam, as it cuts through the surface of the material there is a moment where it is reflected off the material and the Wiimote is able to detect the location of the cut,” Raynsford writes. “The location data is fed back to a laptop and by comparing this point against the initial ‘in focus’ point we’re able to detect if the Z-axis needs to move up or down and by how much.”

The optical camera is calibrated to a ‘zero’ point the first time it sees the laser cut. The offset between the current dot position and the zero position is then converted into Z-height adjustments. A laptop sends the data to an Arduino Nano (ATmega328) that is connected between the laser cutter’s on-board controller and the Z-axis stepper motor driver. This gives it the ability to remain in focus throughout the duration of a cut.

“Our laser cutter moves the whole bed up and down to adjust the focal height. There is a lot of mass to move and it gains momentum so it isn’t able to adjust the Z-axis as fast as required. This is why it’s so noisy as it tries to keep up with the requested position,” Raynsford adds.

It should be noted, however, that there are a few drawbacks in the DIY laser cutter when compared to more professional-grade units. For one, the remote’s camera is only able to detect light sources 60 times a second, thereby causing a bit of a lag in the time that it changes height and the actual movement. What’s more, an increased mass on the cutting head prevents the machine from reaching its top speed of 50mm/second, and even if it could, the response time from the system would not be fast enough to cope with changes that quickly.

Conversely, the good news is that many of us have a Nintendo Wii collecting dust somewhere. The project itself was written using C# and Brian Peeks Wiimote Lib, which made hooking up the Wiimote as simple as a few lines of code. Perhaps this will offer a second lease on life for the gaming console!

Intrigued? See it in action above, or check out the Maker’s project page here.

This tape gun lets you sketch room-size furniture in minutes

Protopiper is a computer-aided, handheld fabrication device that allows you to sketch room-sized objects at actual scale.

Let’s face it, trying to decide whether or not a piece of furniture will actually fit in your living room can be quite the hassle. For those times where a tape measure will just not suffice, one team from the Human Computer Interaction Lab at the Hasso-Plattner-Institut has arrived at an innovative (and perhaps better) solution. Meet ProtoPipera modded tape gun that enables users to quickly create full-scale models of any object and determine right then and there whether or not it’ll properly fit inside a home.


Whereas a 3D printer can produce a prototype of something in hours, ProtoPiper will let you get a sense of what you’re dealing with in a matter of minutes. That’s because it can forgo paying attention to small details. The gadget delivers an open framework similar to the wireframe models on 3D modeling software — only these are capable of taking up a physical space in full scale. Instead of layers of melted plastic, it turns rolls of adhesive tape into strong yet lightweight plastic tubes that act as building blocks for the room-size mockups.

As crazy it may sound, it seems like a pretty darn good idea. The device itself is practically an assembly line all on its own. Tape is drawn from the roll, shaped into a tube and results in a surprisingly somewhat sturdy 3D structure. The good news is that you’ll know immediately if a particular end table will be too snug between the sofa and wall, and visualize how it might look with other furniture. The bad news is that you can’t skimp out on the purchase, as the prototype support your weight!


In terms of electronics, the tape gun is equipped with a four-digit display, an extrude and cut button, an on/off switch, a tool selection dial, servo motors, and an Arduino Nano (ATmega328) to control all of the extrusion, heating and cutting. It’s powered by a single 11.1V LiPo battery.

What’s more, ProtoPiper can be used to devise simple mechanisms that serve a little more function. For instance, the team has even managed to assemble a prototype of a collapsing umbrella, which although may not keep the rain away from anyone’s head, does allow designers to perfect its form and dimensions before paying for a more finished product.

Intrigued? Put aside that tape measure and check out ProtoPiper here.