Tag Archives: ATmega168

8-bit turkey, anyone?

Most people prefer their Thanksgiving turkey stuffed. Well, engineers like it embedded.

Who’s ready for the IoT? The Internet of Turkeys, that is. As everything around us becomes connected, engineers have seemingly found countless ways to embed technology into once-ordinary objects to make them smart. And well, Collin Cunningham has proven that there really is nothing that can’t be enhanced with the help of an Arduino, not even poultry. Introducing the 8-bit TurkeyShield.

Open source 8 bit turkey accelerometer readings

Several years ago, the Maker decided to embellish the holiday centerpiece by stuffing it with a plethora of technology. This included an Arduino Duemilanove (ATmega168), a potentiometer for user input, an accelerometer for knowing its bearings, a compass so it’s always facing due north, a lithium backpack for power and mobility, as well as an LCD screen. He even went as far as wiring on a TouchShield Stealth (ATmega645) for output.

Open source 8 bit turkey putting in touchshield

“I’m always looking out for new ways to add more shields and components to my Arduino, and this felt like a natural (and festive) experiment, so I gave it a shot,” Cunningham explains.

He also threw on a knob for toggling (admittedly this didn’t work) and a button, which enables him to know exactly when the turkey is ready to eat. Now, he can easily monitor vital orientation data with the help of the LCD display.

Open source 8 bit turkey with knob all the way in

In true Maker spirit, Cunningham has made his project open source and has outlined his entire build here. Gobble gobble!

A $10 USB charger can record your keystrokes wirelessly

A security researcher has developed a USB wall charger that can eavesdrop on nearly every Microsoft keyboard.

Although we shared this discreet hack from Samy Kamkar back in January, a recent tweet from Lifehacker triggered our memory and we just had to share again! KeySweeper is an Arduino-based keylogger for Microsoft wireless keyboards (which use a proprietary 2.4GHz RF protocol) that is cleverly camouflaged as a functioning USB wall charger. The stealthy ATmega328 driven device can sniff, decrypt, log and report back all keystrokes — saving users both locally and online.


Keystrokes are then relayed back to the KeySweeper operator over the Internet via an optional GSM chip, or can be stored on a flash chip and delivered wirelessly when a secondary KeySweeper comes within range of the target KeySweeper. In fact, the well-known hardware hacker suggests that an effective reach of KeySweeper is that of a typical Bluetooth device, but could be extended using a low-noise amplifier. A web-based tool enables the live keystroke monitoring.


Users can set up SMS alerts that are triggered when certain keystrokes in the form of words, usernames or URLS are being typed, e.g. “bank” or heck, even “www.atmel.com.” (*Shameless SEO plug.*) If KeySweeper is removed from AC power, it will give off the impression that it is shut off; however, the inconspicuous gadget continues to operate covertly using an internal battery that is automatically recharged upon reconnecting to AC power.

As you are well aware, wireless keyboards have become a popular option for users wanting to connect to a laptop. Kamkar said he picked Microsoft’s keyboards after going into Best Buy and seeing which models seemed to be the most prevalent. Such units often encrypt their data before sending it wirelessly, but Kamkar claims to have discovered multiple bugs that make it easy to decrypt. While the researcher hasn’t tested the device on every Microsoft keyboard, he does believe that due to given their similarities, they will all be affected.

The KeySweeper project builds on previous work from Travis Goodspeed, Thorsten Schröder and Max Moser around the megaAVR controlled KeyKeriki.


Kamkar says the cost for KeySweeper can range anywhere from $10 to $80, depending on the operation and its necessary functions. Aside from the Arduino Pro Mini that he selected for its size, other components include:

  • nRF24L01+ 2.4GHz RF chip which communicates using GFSK over 2.4GHz
  • AC USB charger for converting AC power to 5v DC.
  • (Optional) A SPI Serial Flash chip can be used to store keystrokes on.
  • (Optional) Adafruit FONA which allows you to use a 2G SIM card to send/receive SMS, phone calls, and use the Internet directly from the device.
  • (Optional, if using FONA) The FONA requires a mini-SIM card — not a micro SIM.
  • (Optional, if using FONA): The FONA provides on-board LiPo/LiOn battery recharging, and while KeySweeper is connected to AC power, the battery will be kept charged, but is required nonetheless.


It should be noted that the hacker does say a Teensy MCU can be used in place of the ‘duino. As for the software, the primary code is installed on the microcontroller, while the web-based backend uses jQuery and PHP to log all keystrokes and provide an interface for live monitoring of target keyboards. KeySweeper’s source code and schematic are available on GitHub.

Intrigued? You can access the entire build on Kamkar’s official page.

These Halloween projects are full of tricks and treats

Happy Hallow-uino!

Let’s face it, Halloween is arguably one of, if not, the best night to be a Maker — a celebration full of carving, candy, costumes, and of course, some creative decorations. To pay homage to All Hallows’ Eve, we’ve decided to compile a list of a few tricks, which are surely a treat to see!

Talkin’ Skeleton

Tired of having to greet those trick-or-treaters personally? With an Arduino Duemilanove (ATmega168) for a brain, this talking skeleton will take care of all that mumbo jumbo for you, with a variety of your own prerecorded phrases. Muahahahaha!

Terrifyin’ Demon Costume

A monster mash-up of animated LED backpacks and a wave shield voice changer creates a rather terrifying, electronic demon mask.

Findin’ Out Whose the Fairest of Them All

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest scariest one of them all? This wall-mounted installation plays animations based on input from various sensors and features four characters — with each character responding to the sensor inputs with its own personality. There’s even a photo booth feature as well.

Knockin’ on the Box

Simply knock on this ATtiny45 embedded box and it’ll knock back. If you tap on it a special number of times, it’ll play a secret tune, too!

Rulin’ a Bunch of Scarecrow Minions

Having already become quite the ‘ween must-see in his town, Maker Ryan Hughes decided to up his creative game by making a display of scarecrow minions lorded over by Pumpkin King.

Droppin’ Spiders

Spook those coming to your doorstep by dropping fake spider whenever someone comes near. Using an Arduino Uno (ATmega328), a ping sensor and a few servos, this automated mechanism will sense when a trick-or-treater approaches and release the eight-legged prop accordingly.

Textin’ Pumpkins

Add some interactivity to your haunted house by devising a Twilio-based web app that changes the color of pumpkins using an Arduino and a few LED strips. As a bonus, Maker Jarod Reyes included a power-switch to turn on a fog machine and also added a little eerie jazz music when trick-or-treaters texted “chaos” to the app.

Playin’ Some Pumpktris

As its name would suggest, Pumpktris is a fully playable version of Tetris built into a pumpkin with 128 LEDs for the display and the stem serving as a game controller.

Creepin’ Out Guests With Skully

This super simple yet creepy skull is attached to a single servo with LEDs in its eyes. Placed on the ground and masked with a net, this decoration will surely catch a couple of guests off guard.

Trickin’ Guests

Trick or treat? Ben Harben’s Halloween gadget comprised of an Arduino, a Nerf gun, a Gatorade bottle water reservoir and a coat hanger-turned-corkscrew makes either a matter of possibility.

Dishin’ Out Treats Automatically

Admit it, waiting around to dish out candy can get a bit boring. Just like everything else, why not automate it? This candy dispenser — equipped with an Arduino, X10 and Twilio — utilizes a pair of servos to both open the chute and mix the contents. What’s more, the contraption can be controlled via smartphone or SMS.

Skippin’ the Candy Bowl

Instead of putting out a candy bowl on your porch, this nifty, Arduino Leonardo (ATmega32U4)-driven vending machine will disperse the Halloween sweets without you ever having to leave the couch. (See it in action here.)


Trippin’ the Alarm

Fill your decorated room with smoke, then challenge haunted house goers to navigate the LASER Maze without tripping the ATmega168 driven alarm.

Snappin’ Selfies With Zombies

This Maker’s build employed a molded silicone arm, a custom steel mount to clip to an office partition and a vibration sensor hooked up to an Arduino. Once the arm is slapped, a photo is taken via an IR LED and passed to an Eye-Fi card in the camera. The pic is then put into a Dropbox folder and an IFTTT recipe tweets it.


Fire-Breathin’ Jack-o-Lantern

Let’s just say: Kids, don’t try this one at home. We repeat: Kids, or adults for that matter, don’t try this at home! One Maker decided to create a fire-breathing jack-o-lantern using an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) and a sonar proximity sensor to detect distances. As you can see, this wasn’t safe enough place on the doorstep.

Gettin’ Mystical With Gemma

Looking to stir up some fear with your Halloween getup? Adafruit’s Becky Stern has you covered. She has crafted a mystical hood equipped with LED eyes, which is perfect for your next Jawa, Black Mage, or Orko costume. The interactive garment features a Gemma (ATtiny85) that causes two NeoPixel Jewels to slowly fade on and off for the full spooktacular eye effect.

Trappin’ Candy Thieves

Don’t you just hate it when trick-or-treaters take all of your candy? This year, you can stop that! Keep those treat thieves away by using an Arduino to detect when someone has their hand in the candy bowl, and use a solenoid to shoot silly string at those gluttonous visitors!

Lightin’ Up Your House

Shelby Merrick has adorned his home with a light show that would certainly impress Clark Griswold, that’s for sure!  The Maker designed special ATXmega8E5 based controller (dubbed FloodBrain) that switches a set of 12 flood RGBs to achieve the desired effects seen below.

Bringin’ Splatterhouse to Life

Clay Cowgill is dead-icated to Halloween, so much so that he made his own Splatterhouse arcade cabinet. Aside from a lot of little details on the outside, the Maker added some circuitry inside that triggers real world effects based on in-game variables.

Soarin’ UFO Style

If you’re not a fan of Halloween and are frightened by the mere thought of aliens, we recommend that you don’t visit this house on October 31st. One Maker has crafted a pretty impressive DIY UFO project using cardboard, tape, tinfoil, 8mm of diffused Adafruit NeoPixels and an Arduino Micro (ATmega32u4).

Controllin’ Zombie Dolls With Arduino

Umm… This. Is. Creepy.

Poppin’ Out of the Ground

Speaking of zombies, this Arduino-powered prop features a motion-activated, pivoting head along with corresponding sound effects and some smoke machine goodness.

Flyin’ Ghosts Around the Neighborhood

Thanks to this dressed up quadcopter, Casper won’t be the only ghost you’ll see flying through the night sky.

Visitin’ the Haunted Mansion

Those who’ve ever been to Disney World’s Haunted Mansion can now bring some of that magic home to their front yard this Halloween… with the help of an Arduino Uno (ATmega328).

Blinkin’ Eyes of Doom

Looking for an interactive way to dress up the walkway while spooking some trick-or-treaters? These randomly-changing, multi-colored and ATtiny85 powered eyes should do the trick.

Tunell Monitor stops filament feeding problems

This upgrade can save prints that would otherwise be lost to a filament jam, tangle or empty spool.

We’ve all been there — you’re just about to finish 3D printing an object and the machine runs out of filament; your filament gets stuck because the spool was loaded incorrectly; or your hot-end gets jammed due to accumulation in the nozzles. When these problems occur, the job is usually lost due to air-prints.


Looking to put an end to such scenarios, the ToyBuilder Labs crew and Aaron Tunell have developed what they call the Tunell 3D Printer Filament Monitor. This device will spot a filament feeding problem right as it happens and pause the machine so that you can fix it immediately, instead of having to throw a partial print away. For long-running prints, this indispensable add-on will pay for itself in no time.


The Tunell Monitor uses a mechanical 24 PPR (positions-per-revolution) encoder to detect filament travel as you print. If the filament stops moving for longer than the (adjustable) timeout period, a fault signal is sent to your printer.

Beyond that, the device features a connection point for an external pause button and an alarm/relay/signaling LED, as well as FlashForge Creator, Wanhao Duplicator, and MakerBot Replicator with a four-pin latching cable. Powered by an ATmega168 MCU, the Tunell Monitor is Arduino programmable via an ISP hardware programmer, like the AVRISP mkII. It is compatible with a number of MakerBot printers running the Sailfish firmware upgrade, in addition to Marlin-based units with an available end-stop and expansion I/O pin, and other printer controllers that support external pause signaling.


Tired of wasted print jobs? Check out the Tunell Monitor on ToyBuilder Lab’s official site here.

OrbMi is reinventing the answering machine

OrbMi lets you stay in touch with those that matter to you the most.

Take a look around you. Whether you’re in a coffee shop, at work or even sitting in class, chances are nearly everyone has a smartphone in hand. Instead of actually conversing with their voice, more times than not their excitement, emotion and words are being replaced by an “LOL,” “<3” or some sort of emoji. Sad but true, gone are the days when people would use landlines. As the number of ditched landlines and social IM services continue to rise, so does the number of meaningful messages. Well aware of this change, Florida-based startup Retropreneur Labs has set to reverse this trend by reinventing the age-old answering machine for today’s mobile-centric world.


Howeverunlike the antiquated answering machine, OrbMi is not for missed calls — it’s for the voice messages people aren’t getting or sending, but should. The personal voice messaging system is designed to provide your closest friends and family a more convenient way to both send and receive comments, so your daily routine isn’t disrupted by unwanted texts and emails, nor will you have to scroll through hundreds of phone contacts. Plus, this should prove to be useful for those living in different time zones or find themselves working opposite schedules. 

“At its heart, it’s about better communication at the perfect time, every time. It allows us to share more freely and openly with our loved ones without inconvenience or disruption. With OrbMi, it’s ALWAYS a good time to call,” its co-founders Kelly Dyer and Andrew Ruppar explain. The duo had conceived the idea after challenging themselves to conceptualize a smart gadget that would change how people interact through technology.


Not only does its companion app make voice messaging relevant again, the OrbMi is different from other voice messaging alternatives, as it allows you to control your network of people who you can “Orb” or who can “Orb” you — also known as your “Orbit.”

With an ATmega168 at its core, the hardware device features a single button interface that enables you to play your messages. From the mobile app, just send a color and voice message to anyone in your Orbit. This message is received on the Orb and illuminates a soft color glow to indicate a new message is available. Once the receiver is at their Orb and ready to listen, they simply tap the top and the new memo is emitted through a built-in speaker. Not unlike the answering machines of yesterday, you can skip and repeat through your saved messages as well. What’s more, the Orb works by connecting to your home or office Wi-Fi network and doubles as a multi-port USB charging hub for your smartphones and tablets.


“Mobile devices allow us to communicate efficiently, but not sometimes not effectively. No matter how convenient our mobile lifestyles, we can’t lose our ability to communicate through voice, especially when sending meaningful messages.” Dyer adds.

So whether you’re a grandparent, a spouse, a college student, or a soldier overseas, OrbMi is ideal for anyone —  regardless of age, location and technical proficiency. Intrigued? Head over to its official Kickstarter page, where the Retropreneur Labs team is currently seeking $75,000. The app is available for both iOS and Android, with one for the Apple Watch app in the works. The first batch of units is expected to begin shipping in March 2016.

Building an estimated time of arrival device with littleBits

The Honest ETA device lets your housemate know when you’re likely to arrive home.

You’ve all been there: You tell your spouse that you’re on your way home, when in actuality you’ve yet to leave the office. As part of a recent collaboration between littleBits and Popular Science, one new project is looking to put an end to missed dinner dates, late arrivals and the altogether annoying habit of never being home when you said you’d be! In other words, no more “Honey, where are you?” messages.


The aptly named Honest ETA Device was created to let a housemate — whether that’s a parent, a significant other or a college roomie — know when you are on the way home, and more importantly, likely to arrive. The cloud-connected progress meter tracks your whereabouts by reading your smartphone’s location and then displays it on a bargraph module inside the house.

Honest ETA employs a GPS-enabled mobile device, coupled with some IFTTT recipes, the cloudBit and a bargraph to show your proximity. IFTTT recipes are set up using a location channel, tasked with triggering when you enter or exit a pre-set radius.

Given that there are five LEDs on the bargraph, the littleBits team programed five radii, each with recipes related to entry and exit. This allows you to keep tabs on someone as they come and go. Upon leaving the office (or the gym, class, or wherever else you may be), your smartphone will notify the cloudBit as you start to make your way home by illuminating the LEDs on the bargraph. The LEDs will continue to light up the closer that you get.


The project is also equipped with an MP3 player (ATmega168) and speaker, so that you can play a song of your choice when you’re only minutes away. If you happen to make it home first, however, an IFTTT SMS recipe will enable you send a text to your housemate with the press of a button, letting them know that you have indeed made it back safely.

On top of that, littleBits shares a nifty little idea to round out the design. Why not turn the circuit into an interactive wall piece that both displays your progress and holds your wallet? Using just a small hinged platform that sits directly on top of the button, the act of placing your wallet inside the case will automatically press the button, thereby sending a text message. Its creators note that you can add some acrylic edge lighting to the bargraph for nice visual effect, too.


Sound like a project you can benefit from? Hurry over to littleBits’ official page to get started. There, you will find a detailed step-by-step breakdown to help you bring your own ETA device to life, or simply watch the video tutorial below!

This DIY monitor helps prevent UV-caused skin damage

A Maker has developed a UV monitor based around an ambient light sensor, an ATmega168 and a 3V battery. 

Summer is quickly approaching. That means weekends at the beach, all day picnics and more time doing chores around the house. This also means more time spent outdoors and the inevitable bout with sunburn. Sure, those rays and extra vitamin D always make us feel and look good in the short, but that love isn’t a two-way street. Aside from painful, bright red arm and face, long-term unprotected exposure to sun can cause wrinkles, age spots, and potentially lead to benign and cancerous skin lesions down the road. As a way to keep us all a bit more mindful of potential epidermis damage, one Maker by the name “matrixwide” has developed a UV monitor based around an SI1132 light sensor, an ATmega168 MCU and a 3V CR2032 battery. 


A recent entry in this year’s Hackaday Prize, the aptly named Sunburn Monitor employs a sound-based interface that emits beeping signal settings indicating skin types (ranging from pale white to dark brown) and the use of sunscreen (none to SPF 45). As the Maker notes, this is to save power and reduce the cost of a display, especially since the monitor will often be outdoors in bright sunlight where only reflective displays would be usable.

“SI1132 was chosen as it produces a ‘calibrated’ UV index and takes up very little space. The ATmega168 was chosen as a cheap uC with hardware I2C support which is supported by the Arduino environment,” matrixwide writes. This, of course, enables a broad range of users to easily modify the code as they see fit in the IDE.


As for power management, the system relies primarily on either deep sleep via hardware interrupt or watchdog timer interrupt for sleep-wake-sleep monitoring cycles. One of the Sunburn Monitor’s P-MOSFETS is tasked with controlling the power to the UV sensor, while another handles reverse-polarity protection.

Though the board’s current form factor (1.95” x 2.02”) represents a balance between ease of assembly and wearability, future iterations will be shrunken down to allow for remote sensor. For that version, the Maker says that he plans on implementing an UV photodiode and a tinyAVR instead.

Interested? You can check out the project’s entire log on Hackaday.io here.