Tag Archives: Arduino Pro Mini

Make an automatic ice fishing jig

An automated spin pike decoy for DIY ice fishing.

If you’ve spent most of your life in a relatively warm climate, chances are you think of ice fishing as sitting inside a shack with a line through a hole in the ice, waiting for a fish to bite. Although this type of fishing is certainly done in northern climates, its more violet cousin, spear fishing, is also accomplished using a jig to attract actual fish to the “spearing zone.”


The exciting part of this would seem to be actually “catching” the fish, and making the jig bounce around is likely quite boring. Naturally, this problem is best solved using an Atmel-based development board, an Arduino Pro Mini (ATmega328) in this case, to automatically control the jig via a small hobby servo.

The fishing setup featured on JigBuddy.com is a relatively simple build, and should cost around $50 for the parts. A potentiometer controls the jig’s speed, while an on/off switch powers the Arduino board directly, saving complication over using it as an input.

Though a relatively easy build, there is some project box cutting involved, so if you care more about catching fish than finishing an interesting project, that’s also an option to buy one for just under $90 plus shipping and handling. Perhaps your machine could also be used as a cat toy during the summer!



Watch this 3D-printed sculpture create an optical illusion

Math and art come together to blow your mind.

A group of German Makers have developed an animated, kinetic sculpture that produces a controlled 3D zoetrope optical illusion. Flux was designed to play with the eye’s perception of space and depth without using any sort of strobe or camera. Simply turn it on and watch it ‘deform.’


As you can see in the video below, a 3D-printed hemisphere rotates at a certain speed while emitting a specific light frequency based on the Fibonacci sequence. (For those unfamiliar with this sequence, it begins with zero then one, and each subsequent number is the sum of the previous two.)


Inside the device lies an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) that controls the motor speed by checking the actual speed with a Hall sensor and an Arduino Mini that shutters its 20W LED 48 times per second.

Be prepared to have your mind blown…

This tennis racquet grunts like Sharapova (and others) when you swing it

A racquet that makes quite the racket.

Conventional wisdom says that tennis players grunt because it helps them apply the maximal force when they strike the ball. However, don’t be fooled, these noises are totally unnecessary and downright annoying. In fact, there are top names in the game like Maria Sharapova whose screams routinely top 100 decibels. This has led many, including the legendary Martina Navratilova, to call into question whether or not the behavior is actually a form of cheating.


Cognizant of this, Maker Seiya Kobayashi has come up with a hilarious solution for this problem: a racquet that does the grunting for you. You simply select one of four notable noisemakers — Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal — and the aptly named Grunting Racket will take care of the rest.


This allows you to focus on your footwork and hitting the ball, while the combination of an Arduino Pro Mini (ATmega328), an accelerometer and speaker emits the obnoxious sounds. Additional components include a LiPo battery, an Adafruit Audio FX Sound Board and a button on the grip that lets you choose the player. These electronics are all housed inside the racquet’s handle. Kobayashi employed both Arduino and Processing sketches along the way to prototype his idea.

How it works is fairly simple: When a value from the accelerometer exceeds a particular threshold, the sound board will play one of the four tones. You can see (and hear) it action below!

[s/o to fellow tennis players Artie Beavis and David Scheltema]

Adding more range and LEDs to an electric longboard

This Maker added more battery, more range and LED underlighting to his electric longboard. 

Boosted boards are electric skateboards that when used by Andrew Rossignol got about seven miles of range out of the box. This worked great when he lived in New York City, but after moving to Silicon Valley, Rossignol needed more range to reach his office, now 10 miles away.


Naturally, the Maker didn’t accept this limitation and added 288Wh of high-discharge lithium-ion batteries to the 99Wh of batteries that came with the board. With this extra power, he was able to travel over 13 miles on his first ride, ending with a “fuel gauge” that still read 20%.

This would have been impressive enough, especially given his great explanation of his battery choice and wiring scheme, but he didn’t stop there. Instead, he decided to add LED lighting controlled by an Arduino Pro Mini (ATmega328) in the form of programmable strips. These were attached to the sides and front of his board.


For the color, he came up with what he calls “Boosted Orange” to match his board, also known “#FF1900” in more specific terms. For now he only has one animation programmed for the strips, but has plans to make more, and is even considering adding an inertial measurement unit. This would allow the board to sense motion and sync the lighting accordingly. That certainly sounds like an amazing effect, so hopefully he’ll be able to make that modification!


Intrigued? You can check out Rossignol’s project here.

Optimizing crop irrigation with Arduino

To optimize crop yield, this group of Makers developed an Arduino-based irrigation system that uses sensors and a weather station.

As part of a recent hackathon in Madrid, one team of Makers created a grid system to optimize crop field irrigation through an array of soil moisture sensors and a weather station.


Crop Squares (inspired by alien crop circles) was initially conceived as a way to make the irrigation process both sustainable and efficient by continuously reading and sending sensor data. However, the ultimate goal is that that one day, the system can implemented in developing countries and rural areas with scarce resources.

For its prototype, the group employed an Arduino Pro Mini (ATmega328) along with moisture sensors in potted plants to detect moisture levels, and a Raspberry Pi was used to garner weather data for the area under surveillance. Meanwhile, data was wirelessly transmitted through an ESP8266 Wi-Fi module. As a way to show off its automated potential, an Arduino Leonardo (ATmega32U4) was tasked with reading another moisture probe and activating a servo motor that pushed up a water bottle to perform the irrigation process, whenever levels dipped below a predefined threshold.


The project features a graphical touchscreen user interface running Dizmo software that shows a map of the field along with collected sensor measurements. Rectangles assigned to each soil sensor change their colors (green, yellow and red) depending on moisture levels. According to its creators, the display could even share weather station results for that area in real-time.

On the backend, the Makers compiled Node.js runtime and installed the Node-RED workflow tool to deliver sensor information via the IBM Bluemix IoTF MQTT Broker. They also wrote Python scripts based on Adafruit’s libraries to read data from the weather station sensors and broadcast them through MQTT.


Intrigued? Check out their entire project here.

This smartwatch strap turns hand gestures into commands

Carnegie Mellon University’s Human Computer Interaction Institute has come up with a way to translate hand movements into commands for your smarwatch.

Most smartwatches today have tiny touchscreens, which aren’t always the easiest things to navigate. As a way to make browsing menus, answering calls and reading messages more intuitive, a team of researchers from Carnegie Mellon’s Human Computer Interaction Institute have developed a prototype gesture-sensing strap that can see inside a wearer’s arm and track the movements of their muscles. While it may still be a while before such a product is commercially available, Chris Harrison and Yang Zhang are well on their way to making it a reality.


The concept is based on electrical impedance tomography (EIT), a technique commonly found throughout medical and industrial settings. However, these devices are large, expensive and cumbersome to wear. What you will notice is that Harrison and Zhang’s unit, named Tomois exponentially smaller and less invasive, allowing it to be integrated into consumer electronics typically worn your wrist, like a smartwatch strap.

A simple EIT setup involves one emitter that sends out a high-frequency AC signal captured by a receiver. This data can be used to calculate the impedance between the electrodes and interpreted as desired. Multiplying and multiplexing the number of emitters and receivers can produce many path combinations and subsequently generate a two-dimensional map of an object — or in this case, the muscles inside a user’s wrist. With enough measurements gathered, an image of inside the arm can be mapped and analyzed in a way that’s quite similar to PET and CT scans.


To test their theory, the researchers built a prototype band with eight electrodes that each send a small electrical signal through the wearer’s arm, and then capture its strength coming out the other side. An Arduino Pro Mini (ATmega328) was interfaced with a bio-impedance sensing board, and transmitted the calculated impedance to a laptop over Bluetooth.

Although the images generated by Tomo are pretty low-res, they are still able to provide enough detail for a machine learning program to distinguish between a wide variety of hand and finger gestures being performed, such as swiping, pinching, giving a thumbs up, or our favorite, the Spider-Man.

As a proof-of-concept, Harrison and Zhang modded a Samsung Gear watch to demonstrate how Tomo can augment interactions with nothing more than hand movements. For example, envision being able to sift through a list of messages, and grasping to open one or stretching your fingers to close it. Or picture answering the phone by doing nothing more than clenching your fist and dismissing an incoming call with a flick of the hand. Pretty cool, right?

Intrigued? Head over to the project’s paper here, or see it in action below!