Tag Archives: Arduino

Alright, so you may not find this lipstick robot inside a Sephora anytime soon

Let’s just be glad it wasn’t eyeliner.

A robotic arm can wake Simone Giertz up, brush her teeth, feed her breakfast, and now, it can even put on her lipstick before a night on the town… well, sort of.


In an experiment that was simply an “afternoon impulse,” the Swedish YouTuber and tech enthusiast decided to program her infamous uArm and give it a tube of red lipstick. The ATmega328-powered robotic device then proceeded to apply the makeup, regardless of where it thought Giertz’s mouth was. The results were, as expected, not so pretty.

Good news beauticians, your jobs are still safe!

Watch some fish steer their own tanks 

These two projects give ‘Go Fish’ a much more literal meaning.

Oh, boy! This is gonna be good, I can tell.” 


Sure, we may still be a few years away from ubiquitous autonomous cars, but what about the world’s first driverless vehicle for fish? Believe it or not, this is actually something that several folks have sought to make a reality.

First, there’s Dutch design group Studio Diip who back in 2014 modded an existing tank with wheels and sensors that enabled its inhabitant to operate the vehicle by swimming in a specific direction. According to its creators, the aptly dubbed Fish on Wheels was “an attempt to liberate fish all over the world.”


A transparent tank is equipped with a webcam positioned above the water, a battery-powered Beagleboard-XM and an Arduino-controlled robotic car. The camera tracks the fish’s movement using the contrast between the fish and the bottom of the tank. Meanwhile, little Nemo’s position inside the tank is then employed to send commands to the Arduino to steer the gadget in that direction. The whole device is completely standalone.

“Up until now driving vehicles has been limited to mankind only, but now your pet fish can also put the pedal to the metal,” the team writes.

Interestingly enough, Studio Diip weren’t the only ones hoping to “encourage more development in enhanced pet mobility.” Maker Adam Ben-Dror recently trained his Siamese fighting fish (named José) to not only jump out of the water to get food on command, but to follow his hand as he circles it around the outside of the bowl.


Knowing that José is more than a mindless creature with just three-second memory, Ben-Dror decided his fish should have more freedom to swim around more than just the confines of its 1.5-foot-wide tank. That is what led the Maker to create the Abovemarine, a vehicle that allows his pet — or any other fish — to roam around and interact with its fellow land dwellers.

The Abovemarine is equipped with an Arduino and a camera that tracks José’s movement in real-time, while a computer running OpenCV processes the directional information and actuates the mobile tank’s three omni wheels.

This Roomba sucks up dirt to the Jaws theme song

Maker Marcel Varallo doesn’t just vacuum, he goes to war against the dust mite.

Lucky for those who hate sweeping and vacuuming floors, there are robotic devices that can take care of these tedious tasks for us. And although Roombas do a fairly decent job in cleaning our homes, like with most things, it could do better. This is why Marcel Varallo decided to upgrade his iRobot 530 Series into a dust mite-battling vehicle that he calls Doomba.


Ever since the Roomba made its debut, hackers have loved getting their hands on the bots and modifying them to suit other purposes. Initially, Varallo simply wanted to “jazz up the default speed” of his roving gadget, but why stop there? He proceeded to make a few more modifications, such as mounting a webcam to the front and adding a UE Boombox that emits the iconic Jaws theme and the Flight of the Valkyries as it sucks up its prey.

A Raspberry Pi with Wi-Fi enables webcam hosting, remote triggering of tasks and schedule management, while wireless control is handled through a PS2 receiver dongle and an Arduino Nano (ATmega328). Varallo even included a capacitor bank to prevent brownouts from the Doomba’s SPI port.

“By the end of all this it had blown out to something much bigger than I intended and was more work than I would have liked,” the Maker admits. Those wishing to mod their own robotic vacuum should check out Varallo’s detailed project page.



Maker creates his own barebones Arduino for $5

Don’t have $25 to spend on an Uno? Piece together your own board instead.

When it comes to the Maker community, Arduino has become the go-to board for anyone looking to bring a project to life. Despite its popularity and ease of use, Instructables user Gursimran Singh asks, “Why spend $25?” Rather than having to dig into his wallet, the DIYer decided to create his own barebones version.


The build starts out with a fairly involved bill of materials, including an ATmega328P to power the board’s logic, as well as another AVR chip to handle serial communication. These components are then combined to make a board based on the Beeduino DIY Arduino with a built-in programmer and serial interface. Interestingly, the Beeduino costs a claimed $6, while the Singh’s Gduino comes in a dollar less. Perhaps one estimate is off, or the Gduino author has cheaper part suppliers.

Either way, both projects are impressive, and good resources if you want to attempt to devise your own Arduino-like MCU. Both guides feature a section on how the board was etched, drilled, and components soldered to it. Though it has to be really cool to see something like this come together, the process seems somewhat time-intensive. $25 might be a reasonable price to pay for something already assembled depending on your project goals.


On the other hand, if you want to truly build a quadcopter from scratch, you could construct your own board and use it as an Arduino Uno quadcopter flight controller!

Become a DIY pinball machine wizard

This Maker was able to recreate an arcade classic using commercially available parts and an Arduino Mega.

Pinball machines might not be a common sight in America anymore, but if you’re nostalgic about these ancestors of video games, chances are you’ve thought about owning one yourself. Since you’re reading this blog, there’s also a good chance you’ve thought about building one!


Bob Blomquist decided to go from thinking about it to actually constructing his own using commercially available parts, including an Arduino Mega (ATmega2560). As you might suspect, as shown at 9:10 in the video below, even a relatively simple table like this requires a massive amount of wiring.

Blomquist’s project features several interesting techniques, including the use of an off-the-shelf voltage divider too step down the 24 volt power used with the “pop bumpers.” This allowed the bumpers to be powered by 24 volts, while this output is reduced to 5 volts for Arduino input. In this case, the circuit tended to leak current, so an analog input was employed to filter out false signals.


The voltage divider is a very useful concept in electronics, and more information on building one of these yourself can be found here.

Besides showing off a few electronics tricks, this detailed video also reveals all kinds of interesting components used in a standard pinball table. They are quite interesting in their normal use, and for that matter, some of them could certainly be repurposed for other Maker projects!

Creating a new LEGO TECHNIC interface

This hackerspace swapped out the Apple II for an Arduino and a touchscreen.

Readers that were born in the 1980s or early 1990s may remember something called “LEGO TECHNIC.” These were advanced LEGO components that, along with other interesting mechanical parts, could be electrically driven and even controlled with an Apple II computer.


The LVL1 Hackerspace in Louisville was fortunate enough to receive a set as a donation, including the 70455 interface module. Unfortunately, the space did not have a working Apple II to interface with it, so a member decided to “simply” make an Arduino interface for the device instead.


Going from donation to interface completion took several years, but the first step was to open up the box. Although looking inside things is generally a good thing to try when hacking unknown equipment, this proved unnecessary since it was already documented and available online. Based on research, an Arduino shield was then created to interface the Arduino outputs with the LEGO control box.

After everything was wired, code was written to control it, and thus the TECHNIC components. A touchscreen was added to complete the build as seen in the video below.

Although certainly an interesting exercise in resurrecting “ancient” technology, another alternative would likely have been to directly power the light and motor using a motor shield. Then again, what fun would that be?

Get back at annoying neighbors with this Arduino stereo system

This system will automatically blast loud music whenever your neighbors are too loud. 

Unfortunately, you don’t get to choose your neighbors. However, what can choose is how you put up with them. Take YouTuber “Jamil,” for example, who decided to take a more passive-aggressive (and rather genius) approach for dealing with the obnoxious folks next door.


As you can see in the video below, the Maker built an Arduino-controlled stereo that automatically blasts annoying music right back at them. The system consists of a microphone that detects when the nearby residents plays loud tunes, which triggers a CD player that emits a snippet of The Baha Men’s “Who Let the Dogs Out?”

Do you have a neighbor who you can’t stand? Feel free to seek revenge just like Jamal, but this time, go ahead and pick any overplayed annoying song you’d like.

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…

Building a power switch for Chromecast

This Maker built a power switch for his Google Chromecast with the help of an ATtiny85, Bluetooth and Tasker.

The Google Chromecast device is a neat media player that simply plugs into your TV to play media. One thing it doesn’t have, though, is a way to turn it off remotely. This might not be a problem for most people, but Ilias Giechaskel was using it as an input for a computer monitor which didn’t have a “remote off” function. It did, however, have the ability to go to sleep when no input was received, so turning off the Chromecast would serve a useful function in his setup.


Gichaskel decided to accomplish this task with “hardware that he already had available,” and opted for an ATtiny85 with its small physical footprint and number of I/O pins to control everything. He also used a Bluetooth chip for communication with his smartphone. The module receives an “on” or “off” command from the phone, then the ATtiny switches power to the Chromecast appropriately.

Originally, this setup meant that the user had to manually turn Bluetooth on, connect it to the Arduino, send the appropriate commands, then turn Bluetooth off. Doing all of this manually wasn’t what Giechaskel had in mind, so he wrote a Tasker plugin which takes care of this for him.


Of course, this isn’t Giechaskel’s only ATtiny85 hack. Be sure to check out how he replaced the guts of a bathroom scale using one!

Watch a robot solve a Rubik’s Cube in one second

This Arduino-driven robot will unfix a Rubik’s Cube before you could even finish reading this sentence.  

Last November, 14-year-old Lucas Etter set a new world record for the fastest time to solve a Rubik’s Cube, becoming the first person to ever break the five-second barrier for unravel the iconic 3 x 3 x 3 puzzle. As impressive as that may be, nothing may compare to this duo’s latest project. That’s because software engineers Jay Flatland and Paul Rose have devised an automated mechanism that can crack it in just over a second.


With an Atmel chip at its heart, the system is comprised of stepper motors, some 3D-printed parts and four webcams all connected to a Linux-based computer. The software engineers used the Kociemba algorithm to solve the puzzle, and have modified the Rubik’s Cube by drilling four holes into the middle of each of its six sides so the robot could manipulate it. Since the robot needs the cameras in order to function, the webcams are covered with a piece of paper until the cube is properly scrambled.

The team is now in the process of applying for the Guinness World Record. Pending all goes to plan, the robot will crush the current record holder’s time of 3.253 seconds.