Tag Archives: ATmega328P

Create (minty) fresh beats with this open source synth kit

MintySynth is a hackable, Arduino-compatible synthesizer kit that fits neatly inside an Altoids tin.

A few months ago, Andrew Mowry embarked on a side project to devise a pocketable synthesizer/sequencer capable of fitting neatly inside an Altoids tin. The Arduino-compatible kit, aptly named MintySynth, originated with hopes of becoming not only an educational tool but a fun toy for Makers and music enthusiasts alike.


The open source and hackable device comes unassembled, and generally takes anywhere from one to hours to build. It should be noted that some soldering is required. Once complete, MintySynth can be used with its preloaded software or programmed just like an Arduino.

After receiving some feedback on his first design, Mowry upgraded the kit with several revisions including fewer parts, a simplified power supply, a battery life of 150 hours (10X longer than the original), an additional photocell, and the ability to be powered by an FTDI cable when the switch is in the “off” position.

The acoustic instrument-maker by trade, tinkerer by night chose to improve the MintySynth’s software as well with enhanced LED functionality, additional waveforms, the ability to improvise using the light sensor, and a “laser tripwire” mode, which triggers music/sound effects when a beam of light is blocked.

MintySynth’s preloaded software consists of a four voice, 16 step wavetable sequencer that allows you to play around with different instruments while controlling the tempo, swing, keys and scale. Once you’ve created a song, you can enter “live mode,” which enables you to change the pitch and voice of one of the instruments in real-time so you can jam along with the other three instruments. You can even save up to four 16-note songs, relooping them over and over or reloading each one individually for a total of up to 64 notes. If you want to program the synth yourself, however, you’ll need an FTDI cable since there’s no on-board USB.

In terms of hardware, MintySynth is based on the ATmega328P and has auto-reset so you can easily upload sketches just as you would to an Arduino Uno. The kit also features a few resistors and capacitors, five thumbwheels, a 1/8″ audio jack, a 28-pin DIP socket, a six-pin FTDI header, a 16MHz ceramic resonator, two LEDs, a six-pin jumper header, a three-pin MIDI header, five buttons and runs on a pair of AAA batteries.

“MintySynth was designed to be compatible with a variety of Arduino sketches and libraries, and a jumper is used to select audio output on digital pin 3, 6, or 9, so you can use either of the 3 available timers,” Mowry explains.

Intrigued? You can head over to MintySynth’s page or the Adafruit store to get your hands on one. Keep in mind, though, that it does not ship with an Altoids tin, so you’ll have to eat some mints first and then get to work. Fresh breath first, fresh beats after.

StandiT lets you build your own electric standing desk

Not only can this standing desk be controlled by smartphone and voice, it can sense when you’re near and adjust its height accordingly.

As if it wasn’t already common sense, research has found that remaining stationary at your desk all day is bad for your health. Increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, abnormal cholesterol levels and poor posture are among only some of the pitfalls of prolonged sitting. This has led to the emergence of standing desks throughout offices worldwide. And as great as those may be, what about all of the existing ‘dumb’ pieces of furniture?


Taking this into consideration, one Pensacola-based startup has come up with a simple yet elegant solution to the problem. StandiT is a modular, patent-pending system that can take ordinary desks or wooden tabletops and transform them into electric stand-sit desks capable of raising and lowering on your command. Designed with flexibility in mind, the product boasts an extremely easy-to-use interface along with a few different methods of control: a high-res OLED control panel, an accompanying smartphone app, voice control and proximity detection. When ready to get some work done, your desk will sense your presence and will automatically adjust to the right.


What’s more, its accompanying app communicates with the StandiT via Bluetooth and comes complete with a fitness tracking function to show how long you’ve been standing, how many calories you’ve burned, and reminds you when to sit down for a bit. And while resting on your tooch, the system will help to improve your posture, alleviate back pain, and enhance your overall well-being.


The real magic, however, is in its ATmega328P powered, extendable leg system. Each leg, which is made of aircraft-grade aluminium with a brushed anodized finish, can carry up to 100 pounds and ranges from 27” to 44.5” in height. The plug-and-play, Arduino-compatible platform ships in kit form, and takes no more than 15 minutes to assemble. Whether you want to use StandiT’s solid wood top, attach the StandiT legs to your existing desk or simply build your own, it’s never been easier to create a custom workspace.


So, are you ready to improve your work life with an electric desk? Head over to StandiT’s Kickstarter campaign, where its team is currently seeking $15,000. Delivery is slated for April 2016.

The Stepoko is an ATmega328P powered CNC board

The SparkFun Stepoko is an Arduino-compatible, three-axis control board that runs grbl.

SparkFun has just unveiled an entire lineup of CNC products, including a brand new board that can be found at the heart a sleek and bright red desktop router.



The SparkFun Stepoko is an Arduino-compatible, three-axis controller that runs grbl software and is capable of connecting to your computer to accept stepper motor commands. The board’s design and firmware are completely open source and works with Java-based cross platform G-Code sending application to translate commands.

“By just looking at the pictures, this board may look daunting but the simplest installation of the Stepoko consists of just plugging the stepper motors in, connecting it to power and to your computer! To top it off, we’ve designed the SparkFun Stepoko to fit and be secured inside of our Big Red Box as an effective enclosure option after a bit of milling to support the boards connectors and heatsink,” the team writes.

The board itself is broken down into two “hemispheres.” Stepoko’s right side is tasked with supplying power and system control, courtesy of the ATmega328P at its core. SparkFun has broken out all of the pins that are associated with the MCU and power supplies, and has included chart in silkscreen on the back of the board that matches the grbl pin functions to the Arduino pin naming convention. According to its creators, applying 12-30VDC to either the barrel jack or screw terminals (not both) and the Stepoko can supply up to 2.0A. Additionally, there’s a rail of screw terminals that function as limit, probe and e-stop connections.


Meanwhile, the board’s left side features three of the stepper motor drivers for the Stepoko. Each of the three-axis drivers are managed by a DRV8811 IC, which communicates with the ATmega328P via digital control signals that are able to set direction, enable the motor and enact a step. Internally, it has a state machine that matches the states of each motor necessary to get it to perform. Modifying the microstepping control switches on each driver provide you to finely tune each array to your specified likeness. All the work that each stepper motor driver provides is contributed by the grbl software that comes pre-installed with each Stepoko.

“Whether you are using the SparkFun Shapeoko on your own rig or on one our Shapeoko CNC Machine platforms you should be able to utilize this board to its full functionality without breaking a sweat,” the crew adds.


But that’s not all. The Stepoko can be found at the heart of the Shapeoko 3 — a heavy duty desktop CNC machine capable of routing designs in a variety of materials like MDF, wood and even thin aluminum. This device was brought to life in collaboration with Carbide 3D. Intrigued? Head over to SparkFun’s page to get your hands on the Arduino-compatible board and a mill our own.

GeoThings lets you bring your outdoor IoT ideas to life

GeoThings is an ATmega328P based, solar-powered platform for creating outdoor Internet-connected sensors and hardware.

Has an awesome outdoor IoT project ever come to mind yet you were left unsure how to bring that idea to life? Well, one Miami-based startup has developed a powerful platform that will alleviate all the hassle and allow you to seamlessly connect your gadget to the web in no time.


Meet GeoThingsan Arduino-compatible board that comes fully equipped with GPS, solar power and wireless connectivity, enabling you to monitor, control, automate and explore countless things outside all from the comfort of your home, office or even on the go.

Measuring only 1.5” x 1.7” x  0.4” in size and weighing less than an ounce, this super compact board boasts ultra-low power consumption. With an ATmega328P at its core, built-in 2G/3G and GPS with antenna, a USB port for programming and charging, a microSD socket and a 1000mAh battery, all housed inside a rainproof case.

Not only compatible with Arduino, GeoThings supports more than 200 different sensors. And thanks to its solar capabilities, you can run these sensors comfortably without ever worrying about recharging or batteries.


What’s more, you can easily integrate your device with the GeoThings API, as well as develop your own app either using of the platform’s open source libraries or its accompanying app, GeoApp. Simply connect any sensor to the web and observe your data in real-time.

“Our GeoThings Cloud Platform is our online tool that allows you to work with our REST API and mobile apps, interact with IFTTT, etc. It enables you to see your geo data over the web,” the startup notes.

Each GeoThings unit comes preloaded with a global SIM card as well as three months of their basic data plan (1MB/month). Those requiring more data can select an affordable package from one of the platform’s carrier partners.


As to what you can create with GeoThings, the sky is the limit. Some sample use cases already include tracking your pets and receiving a message if they wander off, monitoring your garden soil and turning on the irrigation system when dry, keeping tabs on your swimming pool and activating the filter, as well as securing your car and receiving an alert if tampered with.

“GeoThings works with all outdoor things. Small, almost invisible, solar powered, GPS-powered and mobile chip linked. It easily attaches to cars, trucks, gardens, boats, pets, wildlife, helium balloons, floating devices, waterproof,” the team explains. “Remote travel projects are thrilling and easy. Mountains, wind, pollution, stratosphere, birds, trees, trips, sea, travel… project kits are easy to assemble and launch.”

From analyzing air pollution and radiation to detecting water leaks and traffic congestion, GeoThings does it all. The question is: Are you ready to bring your outdoor IoT idea to life? If so, check out the platform on Kickstarter, where its team is currently seeking $190,000. Delivery is slated for April 2016.

Chalkaat is an augmented reality-based laser cutter

Created at MIT’s Media Lab, Chalkaat is a direct manipulation laser cutter that’s aware of the strokes being drawn on the workpiece. 

Laser cutters are one of the more interesting tools you can have around your home (or professional) shop. Normally, you load what you want to cut or engrave into the unit, place the material to be cut inside of it, start the process, and some time later you hopefully everything has been cut correctly. As amazing as this technology is, the MIT Media Lab decided to take it one step further with their augmented-reality Chalkaat laser cutter system.


This laser cutter setup, using a camera and a projector, allows you to put or even draw an object to be duplicated via laser in the cutting field. The object is then scanned and a representation of it is projected where it will be cut. The camera that originally scanned the image then tracks a red and blue marker, which, allow you to move and resize the now-projected object.

Once things are ready to cut, a homebrewed Arduino (ATmega328P) moves the laser into position via stepper motors, and turns it on at the needed intensity. Although code was available that could take care of some of the control details, for this project the MIT Media Lab decided to write their own firmware for the sake of learning.


Many tend to have a bit of an aversion to making their own “DIY laser” setup, and as noted on their instructions, “Working with lasers is extremely dangerous. A 2W laser can blind you instantly even if looked indirectly. Always wear proper laser safety glasses.” This is a really cool project, but don’t try something like this unless you know what you’re doing and take the proper precautions.

Intrigued? Head over to the team’s project page here, or simply see it in action below!

Light up the night with this LED Burberry skirt

Maker Guido Burger hacked a Burberry skirt with pico-Platinchen to give it a NeoPixels makeover.

A while back, Guido Burger introduced us to his board, the pico-Platinchen. The super small (only 20mm in diameter), Arduino-compatible button features a built-in BNO055 sensor (SAM D20) along with an ATmega328P at its core. Since then, the Maker has found several new and innovative implementations of the technology, particularly around wearables. Remember this ring? How about these smart socks? Adding to that list of projects is his recent hack of a Burberry skirt for Maker Faire Berlin.


For this endeavor, Burger’s goal was to make the electronics easily removable, washable and expandable, while also dramatically reducing the necessary power to run 200 LEDs. He began the process with a CAD design of a fabric frame that would hold the NeoPixel strips in place. In the final project, the skirt’s top layer of fabric was comprised of a laser-cut repeating circle pattern, which allowed just enough light from the LEDs to seep through, giving it a nice blur effect.


The pico-Platinchen enabled the high-end skirt to react to motion with its 9DOF sensor. Aside from that, the Maker decided to add a last-minute BLE module to sense whenever a smartphone or beacon was in close proximity — surely a colorful way to keep an eye on those around you during a night on the town! Normally Berger would operate the controller with a coin-cell battery, but for this wearable chose to go with a pair of AAA batteries instead. This provided the necessary 3V, along with an estimated runtime of four to five hours.

Intrigued? Check it out!

PupPod is a smart dog toy that trains and entertains

Man’s best friend is smart. His toys, not so much… until now. 

For dog owners, do you ever wonder what your pup does when you’re away? Or maybe you do know because you’ve had the experience of coming home to destroyed furniture, garbage strewn on the floor, and… an anxious dog. This destructive behavior has been attributed to separation anxiety in dogs, so what can you do to keep your best friend from feeling lonely? Canine owner and software designer Erick Eidus has a solution.


Meet PupPod, an interactive, self-learning pet toy that helps reduce boredom, anxiety and destructive behavior in dogs, while also helping them learn new skills when you’re out for the day. Eidus had conceived the idea after he started thinking of games from a dog’s perspective and how pet parents could better understand their pet, check in on them and even interact with them when at work. He brought this idea to an Arduino meet-up, and it materialized in just 48 hours. After testing over 250 dogs across five prototypes, the Maker and his team are now ready to make PupPod available to a community of pilot users.


PupPod is a smart platform that is wirelessly connected to a treat dispenser, video camera and an accompanying mobile app. The unit offers a new use of the operant conditioning method by having your dog play multi-level games and earn treat rewards. You can stream live video, make decisions in the game, trigger treats remotely and record videos. You can also review your dog’s progress, monitor and set limits to treat/food rewards, as well as understand what they’re learning all through your own doggy dashboard. Aside from that, the gives you access to a growing PupPod community and a leaderboard so you can compare your four-legged companion to your friends or other dogs of similar age and breed.


Built around the LightBlue Bean (ATmega328P), the PupPod is comprised of three components: an incredibly tough and durable Kong Wobbler to house the toy; a PupPod Hub which includes a 720p HD camera, Bluetooth integration and a RaspberryPi B+ to send data and video to the PupCloud; and a treat dispenser. The platform employs a motion sensor to detect when your dog comes near and emits sounds from an internal speaker to get your dog’s attention. The toy communicates with the PupPod Hub over Wi-Fi and uses an accelerometer to sense motion when it’s touched.

Eidus and his team have just wrapped up a successful Kickstarter campaign, and hope to get the first batch of toys out come February. Interested in one of your own? Check out PupPod’s official page here.