Tag Archives: ATSAM3X8E

7Bot is a desktop robot arm that can see, think and learn

This desktop robot can play chess, tic-tac-toe and ping pong against a human.

While industrial robots may not be anything new, a vast majority of them can start at $50,000, not to mention require an engineering background to program it. But what if there was a much smaller, IRB 2400-like unit that packed the same punch as its counterparts for a fraction of the cost? That’s the idea behind 7Bot, a desktop robot arm that can see, think and learn.


Designed with aspirations of making robots more accessible for everyone, 7Bot boasts an aluminum body with six high-torque servos and an optimized control algorithm for enhanced accuracy, stability and agility. Its creators tell us that the arm is embedded with an Arduino Due (SAM3X8E).

But that’s not all. 7Bot is equipped with artificial intelligence and will learn as it goes. Looking for someone to play chess against? Need some help doing your homework? Whatever it is, this robotic arm is up for the task! Using the team’s computer vision sample codes, you can adjust the parameters to build an automated assembly line right on your desk. And should you have two 7Bot arms, you can combine them to make your very own humanoid.


In terms of controlling the arm, any common human interactive device will do the trick. This includes everything from a traditional PC mouse to a keyboard, as well as gestures using Leap Motion and Kinect sensors. Additionally, custom built servos with feedback enable you to teach the robotic arm to accomplish tasks without coding.

“You can simply drag each joint of the robot to a serious of desired way points. The movements will be recorded, and could be replayed in an optimized path. Using teaching mode, you can easily guide your 7Bot arm performing some tasks,” the team writes. “With our embedded inverse-kinematics algorithm, the 7Bot arm can be precisely controlled using coordinates. And we have made web controlling application by using a Raspberry Pi as the host and with real-time feedback.”

They have also provided 3D visualization software for programing, which allows you to manipulate the arm intuitively. With this application, you can set and read the position of each joint separately with a real-time graphic interface and then interact with the 3D model using a mouse and keyboard.

“The robot can follow the movement in real-time. Or on the other side, you can perform simulation first, and generate way-point with the software, and then download the optimized moving path to your 7Bot arm. This is well suited for many algorithms that need lots of iterations in simulation, like reinforcement learning. You can get rid of any low-level coding for the robot.”

As for coding, 7Bot is compatible with Scratch, while more advanced developers have access to a wide range of open source APIs in C and C++.


7Bot is super flexible and can impressively mimic a real human limb. But just in case six degrees of freedom aren’t enough, you can always add a sliding mechanism to gain a seventh. Or, for a roving robot, simply throw it on an omni-directional mobile platform and roll around on its four Mecanum wheels.

The arm comes with a number of accessories too, such as a 3D-printed, dual-finger claw or an air vacuum gripper that can pick up and hold any two-pound object with a smooth exterior. It’s also super easy to be controlled with two digital signals. Meaning, you can use your Arduino, Raspberry Pi or any other microcontrollers.

Interested? Head over to its Kickstarter page, where the 7Bot crew is currently seeking $50,000. Delivery is slated for January 2016.

Alligator Board is a next-gen, ATSAM3X8E-based 3D printer controller

Could the Alligator be the most advanced 3D printing board ever developed? 

Over the last couple of years, the DIY community has experienced a proliferation of RepRap 3D printers. As the possible number of machines continues to grow, as does the need for more open-source control boards — many of which built around Atmel | SMART and AVR microcontrollers.


Adding to the growing list of 3D printer electronics is a new Indiegogo project from a Perugia, Italy startup. First seen back at Maker Faire Rome 2014, the Alligator Board was designed to serve as a complete and reliable solution for those seeking RepRap 3D printer control modules. It is based on the Atmel | SMART ATSAM3X8EA, which represents a big step towards greater computing power, compared to existing solutions driven by 8-bit MCUs. This product is well-suited for any standard 3D printer, particularly Delta models requiring more complex data computation.

The Alligator features both the native USB interface of the ARM Cortex-M3 MCU as well as a USB to UART interface. Beyond that, the control board comes with a 10/100 Ethernet interface, capable of running a web server and any kind of Internet-based application. Alligator boasts the ability to adjust the current of its motors via firmware, thereby enabling three axes to work in perfect harmony.


What’s more, the combination of its adjustable microstep size up to 1/32 and the performance of the 32-bit ARM processor ensure high-resolution prints with any architecture. Pending all goes to plan, the board will come with several expansion pack options as well, such as the Piggy Module Lite (allows for one additional extruder), the Piggy Module Plus (allows for the addition of up to three more extruders), and the Thermocouple Module. The Alligator can also be connected directly to a Raspberry Pi unit.

Other notable features include:

  • External 32Mbit Flash memory (in addition to the 64Kbit EEPROM)
  • 12-24Vdc power supply input
  • 4x stepper motor driver, running at 1/16 or 1/32 microcstep (up to 2.5A firmware configurable current and no trimmer)
  • 6x end-stop input compatible with both mechanical and optical/magnetic solution
  • High current hot-end heater driver output (high-current connector)
  • High current bed heater driver output (high-current connector)
  • 2x precision analog input for temperature measurement with RTD (compatible with external adapter for thermocouple)
  • 2x external FAN output with PWM speed control
  • USB to virtual COM port interface (microUSB connector)
  • Native USB port (microUSB connector)
  • microSD Slot
  • 10/100 Ethernet port with unique MAC address pre-programmed chip
  • Expansion connector with 3 UART or 6 GPIO with firmware selectable +3V3/+5V logic levels
  • 26pin Raspberry Pi-compatible expansion connector
  • 3x generic PWM open drain output for general porpouse application


Interested? Head over to its official Indiegogo page, where the team is currently seeking €10,000. Initial shipments are expected to begin in June 2015.

Elemental is the world’s first pressure controlled 3D printer

Designed by the crew at Australia-based startup Hardcotton, Elemental is the world’s first pressure controlled stereolithography (SLA) 3D printer.


Powered by an Atmel | SMART ATSAM3X8E Cortex-M3 MCU, Elemental is destined to become one of the latest and greatest innovations in the consumer space thanks to its unique spin on 3D printing. The machine uses a patent-pending pressurization system to present a dynamic approach to once-traditional desktop SLA printing.

Whereas a vast majority of traditional devices rely upon a mechanical process to move a build platform away from the source of print production after each layer is printed, Elemental increases the volume of resin above the build platform. Once only found in low-end FDM machines, Makers will now be able to affordably create parts of complex geometries and intricate details necessary for professional grade design.

“We thought about what you need from a 3D printer before we thought about what we would develop,” a company rep writes.

By utilizing its pressure control technology, Elemental’s laser system can cure a layer of resin in a more accurate, efficient and quiet manner. According to Hardcotton, the first layer is cured onto the surface of the removable build platform in the center of the vat. The pressure control system enables the flow of material from one of the control chambers into the build chamber, thereby increasing the level of the resin by a certain, precise and extremely fine amount. The laser system then sets the next layer of resin to further create the object. This process is repeated until the object is completed.

“Pressure control provides an extremely high level of accuracy in printing layer upon layer during the print process,” the team explains. Impressively, 3DPrint.com notes that the entire process is extremely silent with no Z-axis movement, with no additional support needed, as the resin surrounding the printed object provides all the support required.


The Elemental features a build area of up to 200mm x 200mm x 200mm, Z control accurate to 1 micron, 24-bit XY control resolution (variable through software), a 405nm laser, along with a stand-alone SDcard and Bluetooth functionality.

Hardcotton CEO Scott Pobihun says the Elemental fills the gap between low-end hobbyist machines with limited resolution and expensive high-end printers.

“There are many low-end 3D printers on the market that don’t have the capability to truly produce the high quality prints you’re looking to achieve. And those high-end printers that are able to produce high resolution prints are complex to configure and use, as well as being expensive.”

Interested in learning more about this ATSAM3X8E based device? Head on over to its official page here.

Sintratec unveils the world’s first desktop laser sintering 3D printer

Swiss startup Sintratec has officially taken to Indiegogo to unveil its new desktop SLS 3D printer, the world’s first of its kind.


Earlier this year, Sintratec had announced that they were developing a new SLS 3D printer that would be priced in the ballpark of $5,000. Now, the startup has launched a crowdfunding initiative around their new device, whose early bird model will set you back just $4,000 — an amazing price when compared to similar printers. With the Sintratec 3D printer campaign up and running, the team hopes to sell about 60 ready-to-assemble units.


Based on an Atmel ATSAM3X8E, the SLS 3D printer will feature a build volume of 130x130x130mm, along with a 500W optical heater, a 2300mW, a 1200W heating coil and a chamber temperature of 150°C. In addition to the 32-bit Atmel | SMART MCU that comes packed with the startup’s own custom firmware, the Sintratec electronics will enable a wide-range of functionality including the ability to:

  • Drive each of the motors necessary for printing, as well as the scanner system and the laser.
  • Control the powder surface temperature using an optical heating system with infrared sensor feedback.
  • Command the chamber temperature using the heating coil with thermistor feedback
  • Run a composite-device mode via USB for communication with the Sintratec software. (At the same time, an SD-card on the electronics board is accessible to users as a mass storage device. For instance, you can store print-jobs on the SDcard for later use with different computers. Not to mention, once you have started a print, you can disconnect the USB.)


For those unfamiliar with selective laser sintering (SLS), this form of 3D printing uses a laser as the power source to solidify and bind a powdered material (typically metal) together by aiming the laser automatically at points in space defined by the required 3D model a user would like to create. In addition, unlike common 3D printers, this method does not require support structures.


As a result, Sintratec uses unsintered powder to build new layers on top of one another, which enables a Maker to print overhands, stacked objects, undercuts, hollow shapes and more — all with no additional support.

The desktop unit will print objects in a nylon called PA12 and can produce both functional prototypes and end products, including designs with moving parts.

Even better, the team writes, they are “actually printing with the same quality powder used by machines which cost over $200,000. It is extremely durable, strong and at the same time flexible enough to prevent brittleness. Because the powder is sintered together, the final parts have a high mechanical load capacity in all directions and are not suffering from the weak bond between layers as is the case with filament printed parts.”


Testament to the tremendous demand for the innovative machine, the team has garnered a number of awards such as 1st place (among 250 startups) at this year’s Swiss UpStart Challenge as well as an honorary mention by MAKE: Magazine as a printer to watch in 2015.

Those interested in learning more or backing this incredibly unique printer can head over to its official Indiegogo page here. With weeks remaining in the campaign, and having already attained 65% of its pledge goal, let’s just say we are quite optimistic! If all goes to plan, the team expects to begin shipping the first batch of machines mid-summer 2015.

Creating a virtual touchscreen with Arduino

Maker Anatoly Kuzmenko has a passion for experimenting with his Atmel-based Arduino boards and various signal processing projects. For his latest venture, he tasked an Arduino Due (ATSAM3X8E) to interpret hand gestures into on-screen drawings.

Using four HC-SR04 ultrasonic sensors, the Arduino and a computer running Linux, Anatoly was able to transform his 3D gestures into 2D drawings. He notes that the scanning capabilities of his system reaches about three meters and the ultrasonic sensors have been modified to broadcast an analog signal at 40 kHz.


Though Kuzmenko encountered a few initial issues when testing his device, he soon found his gestures needed to be more deliberate in order for the unit to register them. For this first experiment’s purpose, the Maker’s device only could “lock in” on one object (a pen), therefore the Arduino could not identify both objects on the same sphere. Though, that is something he changed with the second iteration of the virtual touchscreen.

The second build allowed for the sensing of multiple objects in 3D space. With this build, he had to use larger objects to account for the sensors increased workload.

You can view Kuzmenko’s two build videos below, both accompanied by some sweet tunes!

1st build:

2nd build:

For a more detailed breakdown on the Maker’s Virtual touchscreen project, you can head over to his blog.