Tag Archives: Arduino

Hacking a rotary phone into a recorder and playback machine


Rotary X turns an old-school device into a modern-day question and answer machine.


For you youngsters out there, touch tone phones were an interesting piece of technology that used a rotary dial to create a certain number of on-off pulses. This told the phone company what phone number you, literally, dialed. Though this technology was phased out beginning in the 1960s, these resilient devices could still be found many years later. They can also be purchased and turned into something else. As Maker Lizzy Brooks puts it, “Like a lot of analog technology, rotary phones operate with a series of high/low switches that can easily be wired into an Arduino for programming adventures.”

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In this case, Brooks is referring to her Rotary X question and answer machine. The guts of this phone are hooked up to an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) which interfaces with a hidden PC to state questions and record responses, controlled by the pulses generated by the rotary dial. Or, as the video below puts it, it’s “magic.”

In addition to wiring the dial and hook switch up to the Arduino, Brooks had to create a new electromagnet for the ringer by simply wrapping insulated wire around the bolt that held the orignal magnet. The microphone and speaker in the phone’s headset were replaced with a microphone scavenged from an earbud set, and a headphone speaker. Brooks notes that, although she used a PC, one could probably use an Arduino audio shield and forgo the PC altogether.

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Looking ahead, the Maker is also hoping to add a sensor so it can ring whenever someone approaches, and to connect to the Internet so that it can react to various API data (like ring as you receive a tweet).

If you’d like to try something like this yourself, the Rotary X Arduino and Processing files are available online, and more info on wiring these old phones can be found on Andrew Stella’s “audio_maelstrom” blog.

 

This automated typewriter takes dictation


See what happens when a Maker adds voice recognition to her old Smith Corona. 


Long before the days of laptops and tablets, there existed a thing called “the typewriter” much like the Smith Corona owned by YouTuber Zip Zaps. For decades, this device was a fixture in offices throughout the world along with its respective secretary donning a headset. These employees would listen to recordings on tiny micro-casettes and proceed to turn their bosses’ spoken words into print.

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No question that the times have changed, but rather than discard her obsolete piece of equipment, Zip Zaps decided to automate the process of converting dictation into words. The Maker notes that she made it a point to interface with the typewriter in a way that a user typically would. In other words, hitting the keys from above and using the return arm to advance a new line.

To accomplish this, she retrofitted her Smith Corona with 24 servos powered by a Pololu servo controller, a Big Easy Driver board and an Arduino. Half of those servos are responsible for moving a small actuator down onto the keys, while the second half move the others above the correct row of the keyboard. Beyond that, the carriage return lever is actuated by a stepper motor, linear rail and giant plastic lever.

The entire system is controlled by a little code she wrote herself, while the speech-to-text conversion is handled by Windows’ built-in voice recognition. As impressive as this may sound, you’ve got to see it in action!

[h/t Hackaday]

 

Coolest dorm room of all-time?


Inspired by Derek Low’s Berkeley Ridiculously Automated Dorm, one undergrad at Rice University decided to add some smarts to his room as well.


During his freshman year at UC Berkeley, which as you could tell by the old tunes of Justin Bieber tunes in the video below dates back to 2012, Derek Low set out to create the most ridiculously automated dorm room in the school ever. After working diligently on the project for three months and shelling out several hundred dollars, BRAD (the Berkeley Ridiculously Automated Dorm) came to fruition. The student outfitted his living quarters with remote-controlled lighting, music and curtains, voice activation, as well as a number of other features like a low-light ‘romance mode’ and a ‘party mode’ complete with a fog machine, strobe lights and disco ball.

The now four-year-old project recently inspired another college student to pursue something similar. Rice University undergrad Jordan Pole built a modular system — aptly dubbed RRAD — employing three NRF24L0+ transceivers, two Arduino Nanos (ATmega328) and a Raspberry Pi. The setup consisted of three different types of nodes: actuation (for switching relays and solenoids), sensory (for measuring and reporting room brightness, temperature and motion), and hub (for hosting the control panel, recording room data, providing an external interface for live updates and coordinating information between the other two nodes). What’s more, the hub also allows Poles to manage things throughout his dorm using an Android phone with Tasker.

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To no surprise, this neat project went on to become a quarterfinalist in last year’s Hackaday Prize. Since then, Poles has been developing an improved automation system, equipped with voice recognition. You can read all about it here.

Mirrored pyramid creates mirages in the desert


Changes in the temperature and light cause this tower’s nine tiers to morph.


As reported on WIRED, “For a few days in October, a ziggurat of mirrored boxes stood in Dasht-e Kavir, a desert in central Iran. The sculpture contained sensors, gears, and an Arduino processor that sensed changes in the temperature and the light, which caused the tower’s nine tiers to spin independently.” The resulting views of the desert, seen simultaneously from each mirrored surface, are beautiful and ominous at the same time.

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This ziggurat was constructed by Italian designer Gugo Torelli and Iranian artist Shirin Abedinirad. As shown on the project’s Flickr page, they used an Arduino Mega (ATmega2560), along with five motor shields to control a total of nine stepper motors. The frame and gears were constructed out of wood, before the exterior was covered in a reflective surface.

If you want to see this tower yourself, there are plans to take this tower to New York City, which would make it accessible for many more people. According to Abedinirad’s site, “When installed in a city location it reacts with different animation patterns to the audience interaction, when placed in a natural environment its movement are changing depending on the weather conditions.” It would seem that city observers may see a different behavior out of the tower, but hopefully it will still be incredible!

[Image: Gugo Torelli and Shirin Abedinirad]

Maximo is an Arduino-driven, 5-axis robotic arm


This affordable, easy-to-assemble arm will let you learn a thing or two about robotics.


Whether you’re a novice Maker or a well-seasoned engineer, Maximo is a new five-axis robotic arm perfect for your desktop. The brainchild of Montreal-based startup InnoTechnixMaximo boasts a laser-cut acrylic body and a wide range of applications.

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The arm itself is driven by an Arduino board and servo shield. Maximo provides many add-on options like motion sensors, webcams, LED lighting and wheels to make it mobile. Beyond that, the board offers Bluetooth compatibility which opens up a realm of interesting possibilities including wireless control from your PC. The possibilities are simply endless.

Maximo comes with Robotic Studio software, which enhances what you’re able to do with the arm executing complex automations that would otherwise be impossible to do manually. Robotic Studio enables you to move the robot with a game controller and perform different series of recorded steps. You can even connect up to 10 robots at the same time in Robotic Studio to create amazing automations.

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Another advantage of Maximo’s design is the head of the arm, which can be removed and switched with other modules in seconds. Although each kit includes a standard claw, this can be swapped out for a more sophisticated gripper that can grab (smaller and rounder) objects by applying balanced pressure as well as a palletizer head, which is miniature reproduction of the ones found in factories and warehouses. Plus, there’s a pen-holder module that allows various items to be placed on Maximo’s head, including writing utensils, laser pointers and drumsticks, for drawing, painting, playing music and more.

Interested? Head over to Maximo’s Kickstarter campaign, where the InnoTechnix crew is currently seeking $18,044. The kit will ship with a black and clear acrylic body, a set of screws, nuts and standoffs, six high-torque servo motors, a bearing base, an Arduino with servo shield, wiring, USB cable and a power supply. You will also receive the standard gripper head module, align with a Robotic Studio license and the easy-to-follow assembly manual. Delivery is slated July 2016.

 

An Arduino MPPT solar charger shield


This Maker decided to build his own MPPT (maximum point of power tracking) charge controller.


Lukas was asked by a friend for help on a solar project. Inspired by an Instructables article, this friend wanted to make (or inspire someone else to make) a system to charge a battery to provide power in his garden. Charging a battery might seem like a simple task, but the a panel’s varying voltage output levels present a challenge. If this voltage spikes at too high of a level, there is a risk of damaging the battery.

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If this over-voltage condition were constant, a DC-DC converter, commonly known as a “buck converter” would be well-suited to make the needed voltage conversion. However, since it’s not constant, a “switching converter” would have to be used. Normally a switching converter cycles much faster than an Arduino would be able to handle, but since voltage levels change relatively slowly in this instance, an Arduino’s speed would be quite sufficient. Since this slower speed minimizes switching losses, it would actually be an advantage.

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The project is well-documented here, including available design files. Once this neat converter was built, the second step was to test it out. Lukas reports that it does its job with an efficiency of over 95% in the voltage range of interest. He plans to talk about the software involved next, so hopefully we will get to see the entire charging station come together soon!

CowTech Ciclop is a $100 3D laser scanner


Makers can produce high-quality scans for a fraction of the cost of other machines.


Those who’ve ever wanted to copy a three-dimensional object without shelling out an arm and a leg for a professional-grade machine are in luck. That’s because Maker Jason Smith has developed an open source, RepRap 3D scanner. The best part? It’ll cost you less than $100.

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According to its creator, the CowTech Ciclop boasts “a large scan volume, a simple yet elegant design, and a disruptive price point that blows any other laser scanner out of the water.” Inspired by the BQ Ciclop, this unit’s frame is comprised of sleek laser-cut acrylic and plastic components that users can easily fabricate themselves. Smith has also shrunken down the scanner’s footprint so it can be reproduced on even the smallest of printers.

“We wanted to make sure our product was usable for anyone who owns a 3D printer, so we meticulously designed our parts for a print bed volume of only 115mm x 110mm x 65mm (4.5 x 4.3 x 2.6in) so they can be produced on even the smallest of printers,” Smith adds.

Unlike some other DIY gadgets available today, the CowTech Ciclop is a scanner that employs two red line lasers, a camera and a rotating turntable. Not only can Makers create the CowTech Ciclop’s parts on their own 3D printer in any color and resolution, they can assemble the device in under 30 minutes. Once constructed, they can then take any item they wish to replicate, set it on the 200mm laser cut acrylic turntable, and begin the scanning process.

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At this time, two redline lasers flash on the object as the turntable makes a complete revolution. A camera detects the location of each of the lines and stores them as points in the 3D space. A cloud of points is generated after the scan is complete, replicating the surface of the object with up to 0.5mm precision. That point cloud could then be utilized as a standalone or converted into a program like Meshlab and Cloudcompare.

As you would expect, the low-cost CowTech Ciclop kit has an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) for its brain, an Arduino shield for controlling a NEMA 17 stepper motor, a USB cord and a 1.5A power supply.

Sound like the DIY scanner you’ve been looking for? Head over to the CowTech Ciclop’s Kickstarter campaign, where the team is currently seeking $10,000. Delivery is slated for April 2016.

 

This Arduino-powered machine turns tweets into cocktails


Who knew you could get drunk on data? 


You’ve most likely read a tweet, you’ve probably even heard a tweet aloud, but chances are you’ve never tasted a tweet. But that may all soon change, because Clément Gault and Koi Koi Design have developed Data Cocktail, an Arduino-powered machine that whips up cocktails based on, you guessed it, Twitter activity.

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Data Cocktail works by scouring the web for the five latest posts mentioning keywords that are linked to available ingredients, represented by differently colored bulbs. (The system will accept either words, hashtags and mentions.) These messages are then used to define the composition of the drink and fill the glass accordingly. The result is an original, crowdsourced concoction whose recipe can be printed out.

“If you’re wondering whether a tweet about Santa Claus in Winnipeg, Canada can take part in generating a cocktail in Nantes, we say yes! Data Cocktail is a machine but it doesn’t exclude a minimum of politeness,” its creators reveal. “Once the cocktail mix is realized, Data Cocktail will thank the tweeters who have, without knowing it, helped at realizing it.”

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Its creators reveal that they can easily change the keywords, ingredients and proportions to suit specific events. Meaning, the robotic bartender can make drinks based on everything from election coverage (whether you’re experiencing a Trumpertantrum or feeling the Bern) to what’s trending at any particular moment.

In terms of software, Data Cocktail uses the Processing and Arduino programming languages. A first application, developed in Processing, pilots the device. The requests are performed using the Twitter4J library, while the app processes the data and commands the robotic gadget.

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As for its electronics, Data Cocktail is comprised of a robot, solenoid valves and LEDs. The robot is built around a modified Pololu Zumo chassis with a motor shield, a Bluetooth module and an Arduino Pro (ATmega328). Meanwhile, the valves and lights are controlled by an Arduino Due (SAM3X8E) connected via USB.

Intrigued? Head over to the project’s page here, or watch it in action below.

Dad builds a talking and transforming birthday cake for his son


Maker Russell Munro created an Optimus Prime cake that actually transforms.


While Jeff Highsmith may have been the unofficial Maker dad of the year in 2014 with his impressive mission control desk, it looks like we just found 2015’s undisputed champion. That’s because Russell Munro recently created the ultimate birthday cake for his six-year-old son: a talking Optimus Prime cake that actually transforms.

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According to Munro, the animated cake consists of a 3D-printed skeleton: a chest, thighs, arms and lower legs. The thighs and the chest are the only animatronic pieces, as the lower legs remain in place to support all of the movement. Metal fishing wire is wound up by a stepper motor which pulls the chassis to a standing position. A pair of arms pop out from the chest once the robot is fully upright.

The entire operation is controlled by an Arduino, along with an EasyDriver from SparkFun, a 2A DC motor driver and an MP3 player module. The platform for the cake is made from 8mm MDF.

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With the help of his wife, the chocolate mud cake was then baked around the mechanism and ultimately topped off with an amazing icing job. Safe to say, this Maker will probably be receiving countless invites to birthday parties in the very near future. Intrigued? Read all about the build on his log, as well as his latest writeup in MAKE: Magazine.

And now sans the cake…

Take a trip down ‘Memory Lane’ with this artistic project


A mind-blowing series of sculptures and audio-visual works by Félix Luque Sánchez and Iñigo Bilbao.


According to its creators Félix Luque Sánchez and Iñigo Bilbao, Memory Lane “consists of a series of sculptures and audio-visual works reproducing relevant places to the childhood of the two authors.” Through a process of 3D scanning and rendering, these places are subtly changed; some elements are enhanced, while others seem to fade away. This depiction aims to show that our memories are not “a mere depiction of actual places but of distorted and glorified memories.”

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The sand rock and landscape portion of this exhibit consists of a rock that was scanned, then reproduced using a CNC milling machine, as seen in the second video below. This reproduction was then levitated using magnets, and made to traverse in front of two screens, displaying the previously-recorded scan. To complete the experience, noise from the electromagnets holding the “rock” in place is enhanced and played to the audience.

Besides the named artists, several other people helped with this installation, including designer Damien Gernay, Arduino programmer Vincent Evrard, and mechanical designer Julien Maire. The smoothness of the levitation, especially when combined with a lateral movement is quite impressive. For an idea of how something like this could be done, check out this Arduino-powered suspension device!

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