Tag Archives: ATmega328P

SensorTape is a sensor network in the form factor of masking tape

Sensor deployment made as simple as cutting and attaching strips of tape.

Developed by students from MIT Media Lab’s Responsive Environments group, SensorTape is a sensor network in the form factor of masking tape. Inspired by the emergence of modular platforms throughout the Maker community, it consists of interconnected and programmable sensor nodes on a flexible electronics substrate. In other words, it’s pretty much a roll of circuits that can be cut, rejoined and affixed to various surfaces.


And what’s even cooler is that it’s a completely self-aware network, capable of feeling itself bend and twist. It can automatically determine the location of each of its nodes and the length of the tape, as it is cut and reattached.

As the neighboring nodes talk to one another, they can use their information to assemble an accurate, real-time 3D model of their assumed shape. Tapes with different sensors can also be connected for mixed functionality.

SensorTape’s architecture is made up of daisy-chained slave nodes and a master. The master is concerned with coordinating the communication and shuttling data to a computer, while each slave node features an ATmega328P, three on-board sensors (an ambient light sensor, an accelerometer, and a time-of-flight distance sensor), two voltage regulators and LEDs. The master contains the same AVR MCU, as well as serial-to-USB converter and a Bluetooth transceiver. The tape can be clipped to the master without soldering using a flexible circuit connector.


In terms of communication protocol, the team chose a combination of I²C and peer-to-peer serial. Whereas I²C supports most of the data transmissions from the master to slave, addresses are ‘assigned dynamically’ over peer-to-peer serial. This enables a fast transfer rate of 100 KHz via I²C with a protocol initialization sequence that accommodates chains of various lengths, up to 128 units long. (For testing, the MIT Media Lab crew developed a 2.3-meter prototype with 66 sensor nodes.)

Aside from its hardware, SensorTape has black lines that instruct where it’s okay to cut and break the circuits using a pair of scissors. As you can see in the image above, this can be either in a straight line or on a diagonal, which allows you to piece together the tape into 2D shapes just as you would when forming a picture frame.

Although still in its infancy, sample use cases of SensorTape include everything from posture-monitoring wearables to inventory tracking to home activity sensing. What’s more, the team has created an intuitive graphical interface for programming the futuristic tape, and it’s all Arduino-friendly so Makers will surely love getting their hands on it and letting their imaginations run wild. You read all about the project in the MIT group’s paper, as well as on Fast Company.

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!

The RedStick is a USB board with an ATmega328P at its core

The SparkFun RedStick is a production version of the BadgerStick, a board you’ve probably seen at a recent tradeshow inside the BadgerHack Badge. 

Last year, the SparkFun crew developed the BadgerStick as a fun and interactive way for Makers to learn about soldering and engaging with various boards at trade tradeshows. Now, the team has refined the BadgerStick into something they’re calling the SparkFun RedStick!


At the heart of the new device is an ATmega328P running at 16MHz. Makers will take comfort in knowing that the RedStick is packed with many cool features, including the Arduino Uno’s Optiboot bootloader, its compact form factor, FTDI and the ability to be plugged directly into a computer’s USB port (no FTDI board or USB cable required).

What’s more, the board can be programmed using the Arduino IDE. Simply insert the board, select “Arduino Uno” from the menu and you’re ready to upload code. The RedStick boasts 14 digital I/O pins with six PWM pins, eight analog inputs, UART, SPI, I2C and external interrupts.


The SparkFun RedStick can be juiced up over USB or through its power input (which supports a JST connector). Additionally, an onboard boost regulator provides 5V to the ‘328P from an input range of 2 to 6V. While the RedStick does not included a battery charger, it can be powered over a single-cell LiPo or even a pair of AA batteries.

Intrigued? Head over to its official page, where you’ll find an in-depth overview of the board.

Humans can now be bioluminescent with this LED implant

The Northstar V1 is the latest device biohackers are implanting under their skin.

There are wearables… and then there are embeddables. The latter is technology you can’t necessarily take off because it’s implanted in your body under the skin. This seems extreme for most people, but not for a group biohackers who recently implanted a coin-sized LED device in their hands.


The Northstar V1 is the latest subdermal technology implant created by Grindhouse Wetware, a Pittsburgh-based collective comprised of biohackers and grinders. For those unfamiliar with the term, grinders are people who are part human, part machine and they share the mission of “augmenting humanity using safe, affordable, open source technology.”

The Northstar is a module with five red LEDs that light up for 10 seconds when activated by a magnet, illuminating the user’s skin. While a light up implantable doesn’t sound too appealing and worth cutting up your hand for, co-founder Tim Cannon says the Northstar is designed to show that things can be inserted safely and be usable under the skin.


The Northstar is coated with Parylene, which is employed in biotech to prevent the body’s rejection of the device. At the heart of it is an ATmega28P. A limitation to the unit, however, is its power. The implant runs on a CR2325 lithium coin cell and is not rechargeable. However, the Grindhouse team believes this simple gadget will pave the way for a more advance and functional Northstar V2 that will be rechargeable, have gesture recognition, Bluetooth capabilities and even deliver biometric data.

At the moment, V1 is purely for aesthetic purposes and has gained interest from the body modification community as a way to backlight body art. If you’re interested in becoming a cyborg, visit Cannon and the Grindhouse Wetware’s website.

[Images: Ryan O’Shea/Grindhouse Wetware]

Change the color of your shoes with your smartphone

Can’t find the perfect shoes for your outfit? No worries! This pair can change colors in seconds. 

Have you ever spent hours looking for shoes to match an outfit, only to never arrive at a decision? Well, French company Eram, digital agency Phoceis and startup BlueGriot may have come up with a solution… or sole-ution! That’s because the collaboration has developed a lineup of smart footwear, appropriately named #CHOOSE.


An earlier model consisted of an open toe sandal driven by an Arduino Micro (ATmega32U4), while the latest iteration — which we had the chance to see firsthand at CES 2016 — is a fashionable white low-top powered by a LightBlue Bean (ATmega328P). With an accompanying smartphone app, users can now change the color of their footwear to match their attire in a matter of a few seconds.

All the electronics are housed inside the sole. Communication is handled through Bluetooth, while optical fiber and an LED are tasked with illuminating different hues. There’s even a battery in each shoe, which can be refueled when placed on an induction-charging mat.


What’s more, the app even features a color scanner that enables a wearer to truly match the shoe to any outfit, a handbag or whatever other accessory. While clearly still in its early stages, could such footwear become the future of industry? After all, it’s only a matter of time before smart clothing becomes mainstream.

The good news is that you won’t have to wait too long to get your hands on some, as the company hopes to have them on sale by the end of the year. They’ll likely be priced somewhere in the ballpark of $150 to $200.


Riots is a plug-and-play wireless network of sensors and controllers

The Riots family is a low-cost, minimalistic and Arduino-compatible solution for remote sensing, monitoring and controlling your environment.

It all began when propellerhead Samuli Stenudd fearlessly went to battle against the jumble of wires. He could not fathom how cumbersome and laborious it was to create a useful device out of a kit or components, nor why he had to always physically connect a wire to it in order to program updates. As any engineer would, he decided to roll up his sleeves and tackle these problems head-on. Stenudd set out to devise a new way to easily monitor his environment and smart gadgets in an inexpensive, effective and minimalistic manner. And so, Riots was born.


The Riots family consists of a “Mama” and several “Babies.” An individual Mama is the gateway to the Internet and can manage hundreds of uniquely tasked Babies, which are interconnected within a mesh network. These nodes can also communicate with one another without any external control.

Thus far, fully-functional prototypes include sensors for temperature, pressure, light and motion, capacitive touch buttons, DC control and USB connectors.


To get started, simply attach the Babies wherever desired. Connect the Mama to the Internet and add each node to your account. From there, you can remotely link, manage, monitor and even reprogram new tasks for all family members.

For example, say you wanted to keep tabs on the humidity level inside your bathroom. Place a Riots Air on the wall and another inside the vent, and hook the Mama up to the web. These Babies could then collect and visualize real-time information on your smartphone. Other applications include recording energy consumption, tracking belongings, ensuring doors are locked, and even being informed when a loved one arrives home, among many other things right from your Internet-enabled device.


At the heart of every unit lies a Riots Core, which is equipped with an ATmega328P, an RGB LED and an nRF24L01+ radio module. The real magic doesn’t happen, however, until it is joined with a Riots Base to make it an actual Riots Product. The mesh network itself is completely expandable, and the Riots family is entirely open source and Arduino-compatible.

Programming and data are globally accessible via the Riots Cloud or locally through private wireless networks. The Riots Cloud stores data from all the deployed Riots Products, provides management features and a basic user interface. Beyond that, remote development, over the air updates and debugging of individual Riots Products can be done through the cloud as well.


Looking for an easy, affordable and open source IoT solution? Head over to its page on Kickstarter, where Stenudd and the Riots Instruments team are currently seeking $30,000. Delivery is expected to get underway in May 2016.


Maker creates tiny RC flamethrower

A tiny radio-controlled flamethrower… what can go wrong?

It goes without saying that nothing good can come of a tiny radio-controlled flame thrower, so it’s probably not the best idea to build one. Yet, we couldn’t help but share a recent project from “MAKE-log,” who has done just that.


Admittedly, its creator does warn operating the 13cm x 4cm x 8cm device at your own risk. The RC Flamethrower is fueled by a 35ml deodorant spray. A micro servo pushes down the can’s lever and actuates its valve, while a SparkFun Spark Gap Igniter (no longer available) helps generate the spark and deterministically spit out flames.

The remote is in the form of a Microsoft joystick, which is equipped with an an MCU, an RF transmitter and an LED to denote that radio transmission is taking place.


Meanwhile, the flamethrower itself is based on an ATmega328P and features a transceiver, a DC/DC boost converter for supplying 5V, two Li-ion 11mAh batteries in parallel, a pair of 5-bit RGBs and a Li-ion charger set to 300A. The SparkFun igniter is connected directly to the the Li-ion battery via MOSFET.

That all said, MAKE-log’s compact build does boast several safety interlocks and dons an informative interface. A 128 x 64 OLED display shows the flamethrower’s burn time and remaining battery levels, while a two LEDs and a mini 5V buzzer emit visual and audible warnings for the user. Red indicates fire mode, flashing blue lights suggest a loss of signal.

YOU SHOULD NOT recreate this on your own. We repeat, you SHOULD NOT recreate this on your own. However, MAKE-log provides a detailed breakdown of the build below, and shares the AVR-GCC code for the joystick here.