Tag Archives: Arduino shield

VGADuino is an Arduino VGA graphic shield

This small graphic card shield lets you connect your Arduino boards to any kind of TV or monitor with RGB or AV ports. 

If you’re like Masih Vahida, the thought of having a large color display connected to your Arduino to show values, text and other information on the screen has certainly passed through your mind. With hopes of making this a reality for developers and hobbyists alike, the electronics engineer has created what he calls VGADuino. It’s a small graphic card shield that enables you to expand your Arduino project to any TV and monitor with RGB or AV ports


The shield fits nicely on an Uno (ATmega328) and is compatible with the Arduino IDE as well as any Arduino boards using pins VCC, GND, RX and TX. Moreover, it offers Arduino VGA (DB15) and AV composite ports to link to the display.

“The screen resolution is 640×480 VGA. It has 17 text lines and one text scrolling line. Each line can show up to 27 characters and the scroller line can show up to 60 characters,” Vahida explains.


“You can change the colors from your code and easily can show your text where ever you want on screen. The device support standard ASCII codes for English, Persian and Arabic fonts.”

Interested? Head over to its official Kickstarter campaign, where Vahida has already surpassed his $1,000 goal. With a price tag of only $29, the units are expected to begin shipping in October 2015.

Building a 3D-printed, Arduino-powered telescope at home

The Open Space Agency is currently developing a range of open source automated robotic observatories.

The Open Space Agency is hoping to do the same for space as the OpenROV has done for underwater exploration. But instead of navigating the deep blue sea with low-cost robots, the latest initiative wants to use powerful telescopes that can be built right from home.


In order to make this a reality, the OSA has devised what they call ARO, or the Automated Robotic Observatory, which will enable Makers and amateur astronomers to contribute to citizen science projects for a significantly cheaper cost than more profesional-grade equipment. As part of the initiative, the group has created a prototype for their open source, 3D-printable telescope named the Ultrascope.

At the moment, the Ultrascope has two versions in the works: one with a 3.5” mirror, another with an 8” mirror. Once completed, both of their design files and control software will be released under an open license. The telescope, which can be made for roughly $300, is driven by simple robotics, and captures celestial images using a smartphone’s high-megapixel camera. On top of that, the OSA has also developed an Arduino shield for controlling the telescope.


How the telescope works is pretty straightforward: A laptop finds a known location in space (such as the ISS) and forwards its whearabouts to Ultrascope’s Arduino shield to move its motors. After the telescope positions itself, the smartphone starts snapping images and sends them to the cloud for post-processing. The team hopes users will one day build up a library of shared pictures online.

“This dream would have been almost impossible just 24 months ago. The levels of precision required for a maker-made scientific quality scope would have resulted in compounding errors conspiring to make observations frustrating for aspiring citizen scientists. However, the emergence of low-cost 3D printers and laser-cutting, paired with microcontroller platforms such as Arduino and Lumia 1020 — with its 41 Megapixel CCD — mean that a project such as this is now eminently possible,” the OSA explains.

Creating a candy-grabbing machine‬‏ with Arduino and 1Sheeld

Relive your old-school arcade memories with this claw crane-inspired project.

Jeez, just think of how much of your parent’s money you spent as a kid in those candy or stuffed toy-grabbing machines? You know, the ones where you put a quarter in and maneuvered a joystick in hopes of snatching a piece of junk that cost less than the amount of coins you inserted. Ah, the memories.


Well, what if you were able to reminisce about those good ol’ days by creating a gadget of your own? That’s exactly what Mahmoud Tolba of Egyptian startup Integreight has done. The engineer was looking to do something enjoyable and a little out of the ordinary for Maker Faire Cairo using 1Sheeld — an ATmega162 powered Arduino shield that connects to an Android mobile app enabling its users to take advantage of various smartphone features like its display, gyroscope, accelerometer, magnetometer, GSM, Wi-Fi and GPS. In this case, Tolba employed the 1Sheeld to steer a mechanical claw with his handheld device.

While we recall seeing this project earlier this summer and chatting with the Integreight team in our booth back at Maker Faire Bay Area, it took a recent Popular Science to trigger our memory. And boy, are we’re glad it did!

Back in the day, the crane machines consisted of a printed circuit board, a power supply, a currency detector, a credit/timer display, a wiring harness, a bridge assembly, a joystick and a claw, of course. Meanwhile, the cabinet was usually constructed of MDF (though some were made of aluminum alloy) and an acrylic window.


Inspired by the retro design, Tolba crafted his innovative candy grabber with SolidWorks, and built the machine’s body out of aluminum bars, plywood and transparent acrylic sheets. An Arduino Mega (ATmega2560) is tasked with controlling the claw, which is made of acrylic pieces held together by screws. To operate, players can input commands to the Arduino through the 1Sheeld Gamepad Shield’s smartphone interface.

“I used Gamepad Shield which is a GUI on my smartphone which has some buttons like PlayStation joystick and connected to Arduino through Bluetooth and I used it control the motors of my machine to catch a candy then put it in the box at the bottom left corner,” Tolba explains.


The accompanying mobile application connects to the shield via Bluetooth, so when any button from the gamepad is pressed, it sends the data over to the 1Sheeld, while the Arduino controls the DC motors through a relay board. On top of that, a seven-segment display counts down from 60 seconds. And just like the original units that were a fixture at nearly every arcade, diner and bowling alley, when the counter hits zero, a sound bit will emit from the smartphone indicated that the game is over.

The project was a hit during Maker Faire Ciaro and since then has generated quite a bit of attention on Instructables. This isn’t his first treat-based project either; in fact, he has devised a clever DIY vending machine as well. You can check out both creations here.

MOVI can add voice control to your Arduino projects

MOVI is an offline speech recognizer and voice synthesizer shield that adds voice control functionality to any Arduino project.

As popular as the easy-to-use Arduino has become throughout the Maker community, incorporating voice commands into these projects certainly comes with its fair share of challenges. In an effort to make this as seamless as possible, one startup out of Berkeley, California startup has developed a standalone speech recognition and synthesizer shield with full sentence capability.


The brainchild of Audeme, MOVI (which stands for “My Own Voice Interface”) is a plug-and-play solution that enables users to connect the shield to their Arduino or compatible board, add on an optional speaker and be on their way. The unit provides an alternative to buttons, remote controls and smartphones by allowing Makers to use full-sentence voice commands for tasks, whether that’s turning devices on and off, entering alarm codes or carrying on programmed conversations with projects. Impressively, MOVI will respond in the same manner to the same sentences, no matter who is speaking to it.


Whereas a majority of the voice recognition systems found in today’s consumer devices use cloud-based databases to understand what someone is saying, MOVI is equipped with a 2GB on-board dictionary of up to 200 customizable English phrases. What’s more, Audeme ensures user privacy as it does not connect to the Internet or an external PC, and can be employed as an off-the-grid solution. All of the processing is done on its 1GHz ARM-based processor.

Aside from sentences, Makers can interact naturally with their gizmos and gadgets by creating full dialogs using the built-in male or female voice synthesizer. In a quiet environment, Makers can even talk to their shield from up to 12 feet away, or should they find themselves in a noisy setting, they can throw on a pair of headset microphones.


MOVI is a true Arduino shield, in that it is completely stackable and all of its connections come from the header pins. Not only that, but the device has a programmable call sign, meaning that users can personalize how to refer to the device depending on the task at hand.

“The default call sign is ‘MOVI,’ but you can change it to ‘Computer,’ ‘Hello’ or anything you can think of! You can also turn it off and MOVI can just listen to any sound,” the team explains.

Are you looking to replace your digital entry keypad with speech or play old-school video games with a voice interface? If so, you’re in luck. Audeme has already surpassed its $12,000 goal on Kickstarter, and is expected to begin shipping the MOVI shields early next year.

Bridge Shield is a common shield for Arduino Uno, Mega and Raspberry Pi

This new Kickstarter project is looking to bridge the gap between the Raspberry Pi and Arduino worlds.

As Makers, it is practically inevitable that you will encounter some sort of issue during a project, whether it’s multiple voltage levels or an excess of adapters and regulators, something is bound to happen. And to no surprise, the fan-favorite Arduino and Raspberry Pi continue to be employed in countless automation gadgets; however, sometimes these two can’t play nice, which can only add to the headaches. The problem? Each of the processors have different shields, and require varying voltage levels in order to operate. With this in mind, the Armtronix team has set out to solve this conundrum with their aptly named Bridge Shield.


“We realized that in many instances, we require some basic add-ons… these clutter your board and make it difficult to debug. Not just this, you even need to take care of the mounting of these boards,” a company rep explains.

Fortunately, the new shield has been designed to bridge the gap between the Pi and Arduino via motor drivers, a real-time clock, a few sensors, an IMU, as well as a two-cell 7.4V Li-ion battery charger. What’s more, the Bridge Shield is compatible with most of the stackable Arduino Uno (ATmega328), Arduino Mega (ATmega2560) and Raspberry Pi shields out there today.


Using the Bridge Shield, Makers can easily build an array of projects. Possibilities include everything from an Internet-connected teleoperated robot, to a self-balancing droid, to a DIY drone, to a battery-backed wireless camera, to even a home automation system that controls the lights, fans and appliances.

Based on a versatile ATtiny85 MCU with an Arduino bootloader, the shield packs a number of useful features. Among those are a 10-DOF IMU, a dual-bridge motor driver, an eight servo motor driver, a temperature sensor, an IR sensor for wireless control, on-board voltage regulators (5V/3A and 3.3V/1A), level-shfitng for SPI, I2C and UART between the two boards, a USB-to-UART converter, and headers for both ESP8266 Wi-Fi and HC-05 Bluetooth modules.


“By combining both Arduino and Raspberry Pi, the applications [that Makers] can achieve are unlimited and beyond imagination. It is up to you how you can use our board to build tinkered projects which are fun and innovative,” the team writes.

In true open-source fashion, its creators plan on releasing their code on Github in the coming days. Pending a successful crowdfunding campaign, they will also look to further develop application examples, enhance its flexibility and devise a downloadable custom image for the Pi with Bridge Shield.

Meanwhile, backers can choose from two separate kits, one for starters and another for sensor-laden designs. The first includes everything a Maker could possibly need for their next project, such as a breadboard, RFID and LCD modules, a relay, a keyboard, servos and motor driver, LEDs and so on; the latter packs similar items along with some of the most basic sensors, like a buzzer, a heart beat monitor, rotary encoder and a microphone.


Interested? Hurry over to its official Kickstarter campaign, where the Armtronix team is currently seeking $4,100. Shipment is expected to begin in November 2015.

The CryptoShield is a dedicated security peripheral for the Arduino

This shield adds specialized ICs that will allow you to implement a hardware security layer to your Arduino project.

With the insecurity of connected devices called into question time and time again, wouldn’t it be nice to take comfort in knowing that your latest IoT gadget was secure? A facet in which many Makers may overlook, Josh Datko has made it his mission to find a better way to safeguard those designs — all without hindering the contagious and uplifting DIY spirit. You may recall his recent collaboration with SparkFun, the CrytpoCapewhich debuted last year. This cape was a dedicated security daughterboard for the BeagleBone that easily added encryption and authentication options to a project.


Well now, Datko has returned with his latest and greatest innovation — the CryptoShield. Just like its cousin, the shield is a dedicated security peripheral, but for the highly-popualar Arduino platform instead. It adds specialized ICs that perform various cryptographic operations that will allow users to implement a hardware security layer to their Arduino project.

“It also is a nice device for those performing embedded security research. Needless to say this is a great product for those of you who are interested in computer security,” SparkFun notes.


Each CryptoShield is packed with a slew of hardware on-board, including a real-time clock (RTC) module to keep accurate time, a Trusted Platform Module (AT97SC3204) for RSA encryption/decryption and signing in the hardware, an AES-128 encrypted EEPROM (ATAES132), an ATSHA204 authentication chip that performs SHA-256 and HMAC-256, and an ATECC108 that handles the Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm (ECDSA). Unlike its older cousin, though, the prototyping portion of this unit has been reduced. However, for what it may have lost, it has surely gained in other areas. For one, the CryptoShield now features an RFID socket that works best with a ID-12LA module.

“Each shield will need to have headers soldered on once you receive it. We prefer to give you the choice of soldering on stackable or non-stackable headers, whatever fits best for you project. The only other items you will need to get the CryptoCape fully functional are a dev board that supports the Arduino R3 form-factor and a CR1225 coin cell battery,” SparkFun adds.


We should also point out that, at the moment, the CryptoShield can only be shipped within the United States. And just like with the CryptoCape, a portion of every sale is given back to SparkFun’s hacker-in-residence Josh Datko for continued development of new and exciting cryptographic tools, such as this one.

Intrigued? Hurry over to SparkFun’s official page here. We’ll have more insight from Datko himself in the coming days!

EasyPlug Air is a wireless sensor shield for your Arduino

Makers can now wirelessly connect their Arduino in less than a minute.

Last year, InXus Interactive launched a crowdfunding campaign for its versatile sensor shield for Arduino units, which enabled Makers to connect a plethora of sensors to their board in just seconds. The campaign for the aptly named EasyPlug was successfully funded, garnering well over double its initial goal. Now, several months later, the Irvine, California-based startup has returned to Kickstarter with what they call the EasyPlug Air, a wireless spawn of its original shield.


“In the months ensuing delivery of EasyPlug, it became painfully obvious that people wanted wireless. So, we listened to the people and here we are,” the team writes.

According to a company rep, the EasyPlug Air can wirelessly connect to any Atmel based Arduino in less than a minute. Whether a Maker is looking to remotely control their board with a banana or track when someone comes in and out of their house, the Air is hoping to make that possible.


How it works is simple. A user selects a sensor, plugs it into a receiver and progresses with their project. Each sensor plug on the receiver is labeled with a corresponding number (0-5). This number refers to the analog pin on the Arduino. That way, when a Maker connects a sound sensor into sensor plug #1, for example, the board will automatically start reading sensor data on analog channel one.

EasyPlug Air comes in two different models: MegaMote and MiniMote. The first version is comprised of a receiver shield, a wireless sensor hub with six sensor inputs, a rechargeable battery, sensors, sensor connection cables and a recharge cable; while the latter packs all of the same components except that it boasts three smaller wireless sensor hubs with two sensor inputs on each.


Makers can choose from an assortment of easy-to-use sensors for just about anything, each of which are optimized for performance, feature six unique colored cables and provide onboard circuit protection. Currently, sensors include pushbutton, light, turn, motion, magnet, sound, capacitive touch and force. What’s more, the Create Sensor is designed for those seeking to connect their own sensors to the original EasyPlug or VERVE. As the company notes, “We’ve picked the most useful and fun sensors for you and we’re adding more all the time, so you should be able to find a sensor to fit your needs.”


Key wireless shield specs:

  • Onboard LEDs
  • No extra code (Uses the standard “analogRead(pin#)” command)
  • Stackable with other shields
  • No soldering required
  • Communication through 2.4GHz ISM band

Notable wireless transmitter specs:

  • 50 meter range
  • 1kHz sample rate
  • 14mA peak current draw @ 3.3V
  • 6 analog sensor inputs
  • Rechargeable battery via microUSB cable
  • Compatible with ever-growing list of inXus sensors

Interested in learning more? You can check out the project’s official Kickstarter page, where InXus Interactive is seeking $20,000.

CoPiino is a credit card-sized adapter board that combines both Arduino and Pi

A new shield is bringing together the dynamic duo of Arduino and Raspberry Pi.

Maker Steven Spence has recently unveiled the CoPiino, an ATmega1284 based adapter board for the Raspberry Pi that enables remote editing and uploading of Arduino sketches using a web browser. The symbiotic, credit card-sized shield combines the connectivity of the Pi with the real-time performance of the on-board AVR MCU.


CoPiino is not only designed to cooperate with Raspberry Pi and interface to Arduino shields, but is compatible with official shield libraries as well, such as the the Motor Shield, Proto Shield, Voice Shield, LCD Shield, among a number of others.


Users can access the CoPiino app running on the Pi with a web browser to edit and upload new sketches, before transferring sensor data from the CoPiino to the Pi for display by the Apache Web Server. This is then stored by the MySQL server running on the Pi.


The adapter board can be programmed through any Internet-enabled device, including a PC, tablet or smartphone. Direct ISP flashing makes the use of a bootloader obsolete, which saves memory space, eases the upgrade process, and doesn’t block serial communication channels. The “HAT-like” shield is also equipped with an external battery pack and a USB Wi-Fi dongle, thereby becoming an ideal companion for mobile platforms that can be updated instantaneously. This enables Makers to create a number of projects, like self-balancing or roving Wi-Fi robots.


Using the CoPiino, users can join local Wi-Fi networks, create Wi-Fi access points, or affix a USB or Pi camera onto the platform to stream a first-person-view to any connected device. Intrigued? You can learn all about the CoPiino on its official page here.


Dr.Duino is like a doctor for your Arduino projects

Dr.Duino — which recently completed a successful Kickstarter campaign — is a fully-equipped breakout board for testing all features of the Arduino platform. Created by Long Island-based Innovative Electronic Solutions LLC, the newly-launched device enables developers using the popular board to have a genuine fixture for testing their Atmel based designs. Think of it as a shield for your shields!


“Do you love Arduino development but dread testing your hardware because there is no easy way to attach things like your meter, oscilloscope or probes?” asks Guido Bonelli, President and Founder of Innovative Electronic Solutions.

Designed with the hobbyist and DIYer in mind, Dr.Duino features easy access to all pins including ground and source voltages, while a built-in siren with volume control easily identifies high- or low-voltage condition. The Dr.Duino also boasts four push-button switches, which can be be tied to active-high and active-low probes, and provides six 10K potentiometers fed directly into the analog input pins with jumper sockets that are easy to grab and are on standard 0.1-inch centers.


Bonelli says he invented Dr.Duino because there was nothing on the market like it available for purchase. “I was tired of disassembling my stacked Arduino boards every time I needed to test something which was in between layers.”

Now, users can simply position the Dr.Duino between their shields and utilize the jumper sockets to break the connection between both shields without needing to take apart their stack time and time again.


The “world’s first test fixture for the Arduino platform” delivers everything a developer needs to debug, troubleshoot and validate their projects quickly and easily. The new device brings every pin on the [Atmel poweredArduino to a header, in addition to providing test points, an onboard RS232 interface, and a pass-through capability that allows test signals to pass to other Arduino board layers or to be intercepted and routed to one of the POTs, switches or LEDs.


The Dr.Duno’s reset switch offers quick, convenient board restarts. There are four ground points along with four 5.0V and 3.3V test points, all of which are extra-large and color-coded. The device also comes with RS-232 support in addition to Vref, Vin and extra I/O points.


“The Dr. Duino makes debugging your Arduino projects super fast,” a company rep writes. The unique design of Dr.Duino places all of its testing pins around an open middle which gives an unobstructed view of the board under it; resultantly, making probing of any and all signals easy.

At the moment, Dr.Duino only works with Arduino Uno (ATmega328) and other compatible boards. “Given all of the various vendors providing Arduino boards, there is no way possible to have tested each and every variant,” Bonelli explains.

“If you’ve ever been struck in the middle of the night by your next invention but didn’t have hardware on hand, you can use Dr.Duino and start writing your application code within milliseconds utilizing common hardware needed in almost any design. Just plug your Dr.Duino into an Arduino and start writing code!”

And today, we’ve received word that the Dr.Duino is now available for pre-order! Those interested in learning more can head on over to its official page here.


Ultrascope is a 3D-printed automated observatory

Microsoft has partnered with The Open Space Agency (OSA) to build the very first 3D-printed telescope or automated robotic observatory. Standing just one meter tall, the Ultrascope harnesses the power of a Nokia Lumia 1020 phone to bring a DIY microscope to the masses.


The Open Space Agency are the geniuses behind this galaxy exploring tool and describe it as an, “Automated Robotic Observatory that would allow amateur astronomers to contribute to citizen science projects for a radically reduced cost.”


Through web connectivity provided by the internal Arduino shield, the Ultrascope is provided a known location in space (in beta tests, the International Space Station has been used), and then captures images of the defined point. The Arduino singlehandedly interprets the coordinates of the given space location and moves the motors within the Ultrascope to survey the area. After the telescope positions itself, the 1020 starts snapping images and sends them to the cloud for post-processing.


The OSA is currently working with Microsoft to develop a user-friendly mobile application for the device, but you should be able to get your hands on this DIY device in the near future. According to Nokia’s official site, “The Ultrascope is currently in beta testing and 3D plans will be downloadable from the OSA website, which can be 3D printed, laser-cut and assembled in the home. Over the next 12-18 months increasingly sophisticated models will be released, enabling enthusiasts to peer ever deeper into the stars.”

Stay up-to-date with the Ultrascope’s latest developments by following along with their Twitter feed and homepage.