Tag Archives: AVR

This mask helps you track your sleep and wake up more naturally

REMzen’s intelligent mask is like a sleep lab that you can bring home.

Did you know that more than 70 million Americans suffer from diagnosable sleep illness? And making matters worse, this statistic increases every year with the proliferation of more and more sleep disruptors in our lives. That’s because, up until the advent of artificial lighting, the sun was the primary source of lighting. This, of course, meant that people spent their nights in much darker settings.


But thanks to today’s mobile gizmos and gadgets, much our evenings are now illuminated. Blue wavelengths, which are beneficial during daylight hours because they boost attention, reaction times and mood, seem to be the most disruptive in the evening. And the proliferation of electronics with screens, as well as energy-efficient lighting, continues to increase our exposure to blue wavelengths, especially after sundown, thereby causing a disruption to our internal clocks.

As a way to help solve this problem, Oregon startup REMzen has developed a solution that they call RZ|X1an intelligent sleep mask that doesn’t just help ease you into lucidity and track your slumbers but serves as an alarm clock as well. The RZ|X1 wakes you up naturally using spectral light therapy, at just the right moment in your sleep cycle to minimize grogginess and sleep inertia. In other words, it provides your body with the missing link to the sun, so you can reap the benefits of a properly regulated sleep cycle.


Additionally, the  RZ|X1 monitors the quality of your sleep through REM-cycle analysis. While there are other wearable products on the market today that measure the length of shut-eye, this mask goes well beyond that by keeping tabs on many of the same biological signals that are studied in professional labs. This data is then sent to whichever computer is synced to the device.

With full access to your raw and processed sleep data, wearers can easily discover how to get the best possible sleep and run their own algorithms, and in conjunction with the smart alarm, be awoken on the right side of the bed every day — no more morning misery!


Based on an ATmega32U4 MCU, the RZ|X1 is powered by a fully-rechargeable battery and features a graphical user interface for setting the alarm and viewing sleep analysis. Sound like something you’d like to have at night? Check out REMzen’s CrowdSupply page, where the team is currently seeking $15,000. The first batch of masks are expected to begin shipping in October 2015.

OWOW launches a new breed of musical instruments

OWOW’s MIDI controllers empower everyone to make digital music in a fun and intuitive way.

Dutch design company OWOW has developed what they describe as a new breed of five musical instruments, each of which come in two different versions: an affordable bare circuit board and another housed in a high-end aluminum case. Both will link to any software and function as MIDI controllers.


You may recall The Netherlands-based crew from their recent project dubbed Booty Drum. A collaboration with Danish audio studio AIAIA, the team employed an Arduino and a set of accelerometers to record the shaking of one’s derriere and translate it into some slick beats. Now, the crew has returned with another impressive musical marvel.

As eluded to above, the small MIDI controllers come in two forms. First, the CRD model is a credit card-sized, barebones circuit board without a protective shell, while its encased DVC sibling resembles that of a much more finished product. As one would imagine, the basic version is a bit cheaper than the latter but does include 3D files for a compatible case should a Maker want to craft their own.


“Many music producers make their sounds with just a mouse and keyboard. We believe music shouldn’t be like programming code where you drown in the endless possibilities of your software. We made instruments that allow you to play your music on the computer instead of coding it, bringing back that unique human touch in your sound,” the team explains.

And so, OWOW’s latest lineup of sensors perform music based on the motions and drawings of its user to create unique beats and sounds in a much more intuitive, natural manner. Each of the instruments are “smartly built, but stupidly simple,” appealing to everyone from beginners to well-seasoned professionals. The devices, which work as MIDI controllers and are driven by ATmega32U4 MCUs, are compatible with nearly every kind of software (like Ableton, Fruity Loops, Logic, GargeBand, Reason and countless others) and automatically link with a computer or tablet without the need for drivers.


As for the family of instruments, these include:

  • Wob controls sounds and effects by moving the user’s hand closer or further away from the sensor, instantly creating sound through motion.
  • Wiggle assigns effects to three rotational axes and gives the users fingertips total musical control.
  • Drum triggers samples and sounds through air drumming, while sensitivity can be adjusted to match the strength of the beating.
  • Pads are comprised of four pressure sensitive drum pads in a super portable form factor.
  • Scan is a scanner that follows over a drawing and translates it into a unique piece of music.


“Our musical instruments empower you to create digital music with the same intuition, passion and fun as traditional instruments, but the benefits of working with your computer,” OWOW adds.

As the Maker Movement continues to take shape, a growing number of DIYers have creatively sought out new and exciting ways to produce music. Whether it’s tapping your upper thigh on the bus ride home from work, dipping some chicken nuggets into sauce during dinner or doing a little twerking in the club, the possibilities are truly endless. As to what’s next… your guess is as good as ours.

Want to become the next Timbaland and Pharrell? Head over to the project’s official Kickstarter page, where OWOW is currently seeking $55,568. Shipment is expected to get underway in February 2016.

My Driving Pal lets you keep tabs on the things that matter most

Get ready for the Internet of Important Things!

Created by Shahram Rezaei, My Driving Pal (MDP) is a multi-purpose solution that allows users to keep tabs on a variety of facets in their everyday life, whether that’s a child, a bike or a vehicle.


The system is comprised of a credit card-sized device, an accompanying mobile app that wirelessly communicates over Bluetooth Low Energy and a backend server. Built around an AVR MCU, the gadget packs a GNSS receiver, a cellular modem, an accelerometer, a temperature sensor, a 1500mAh lithium-ion battery, a SIM Card and a mini-USB connector — all housed inside a 3D-printed case.

Whenever the MDP unit and its paired smartphone are within the maximum range approximately 50 feet of one another, the MDP tracks the item and the device goes into idle mode. The data remains on the smartphone and is not transmitted to the MDP server. However, once the thing being monitored goes beyond the designated area, the MDP’s built-in GNSS receiver and cellular modem are activated. From there, the user receives a push notification.


Beyond merely offering location-based services, the MDP can even forward a user alerts regarding the temperature inside of their car, which can come in handy for those with a child or pet. That being said, there is an assortment of other uses for the all-in-one system, ranging from identifying the whereabouts of pets, keeping an eye on older loved ones suffering from Alzheimer’s in danger of wandering off, or locating a drone that has gone astray. What’s more, the device can also be helpful in simply recording and logging distances on a road trip, biking or leisurely stroll.


The MDP server runs on the Amazon EC2 cloud. While an iOS version of the mobile app is already available, Rezaei notes that a beta version for Android is currently in development.

Intrigued? Head over to its official Kickstarter page, where the team is seeking $35,000. At the time of its campaign, My Driving Pal comes in a variety of colors — white, green, blue, yellow and pink — and begins shipping in November 2015.

IAR Systems adds powerful code analysis possibilities for 8-bit AVR developers

New version of IAR Embedded Workbench for AVR introduces static code analysis and stack usage analysis.

IAR Systems has unveiled version 6.60 of its IAR Embedded Workbench for AVR microcontrollers. The update extends code analysis possibilities with the integration of static code analysis tools and stack usage analysis.


The latest version of IAR Embedded Workbench for AVR adds support for IAR Systems’ static analysis add-on product C-STAT. Completely integrated within the IAR Embedded Workbench IDE, C-STAT can perform numerous checks for compliance with rules as defined by the coding standards MISRA C:2004, MISRA C++:2008 and MISRA C:2012, as well as rules based on CWE (the Common Weakness Enumeration) and CERT C/C++. By using static analysis, developers can identify errors such as memory leaks, access violations, arithmetic errors, and array and string overruns at an early stage to ensure code quality and minimize the impact of errors on the finished product and on the project timeline.

Additionally, the version 6.60 introduces stack usage analysis. Seeing as though the stack is a fundamental property of an embedded application, setting it up properly is essential for ensuring the application’s stability and reliability. However, calculating the stack space is notoriously difficult for all but the smallest of systems. This challenging task can be greatly simplified by granting access to information around the worst case maximum stack depth of the application. Enabling stack usage analysis in IAR Embedded Workbench provides just that, adding listings of the maximum stack depth for each call graph root to the linker map file. The analysis process can be customized to take into account such constructs as calls via function pointers and recursion.


”The new functionality in IAR Embedded Workbench provides great advantages for our customers,” explains Steve Pancoast, Atmel VP of Software Applications, Tools and Development. “Developers can leverage the new analysis possibilities to improve the quality of their code, as well as streamline their development process. Atmel’s strong partnership with IAR Systems gives our customers access to world-leading tools across our entire range of AVR and Atmel | SMART ARM-based microcontrollers and microprocessors.”

IAR Embedded Workbench for AVR is a complete set of high-performance C/C++ tools featuring world-leading code optimizations creating compact, fast performing code. Version 6.60 also features parallel build, which will surely have a major impact on expediting development. Now, the user can optionally set the compiler to run in several processes simultaneously, which can significantly reduce compiler times.

Rewind: A look back at some of the original Arduino prototypes

While the shapes, colors and sizes of the earliest Arduinos may have varied, one thing has remained the same: Atmel at its heart.

During Memorial Day weekend, the first Arduino to be made in the U.S. was hand built by Limor Fried alongside Massimo Banzi in Adafruit’s New York City headquarters. The initial board off the production line — which seems appropriate to have been an Uno (meaning “one” in Italian) — comes just a few days after Banzi’s announcement at Maker Faire Bay Area of the company’s manufacturing partnership with Adafruit, the availability of the highly-anticipated Zero, as well as the launch of its new sister brand Genuino.


With the theme of “firsts” in mind, we couldn’t help but reflect upon the earlier years of Arduino and some of its prototypes. And upon conducting some research, we stumbled upon a photo album showcasing many of them. While their sizes, colors and shapes may have varied, one thing remained constant: they all had an Atmel chip at its heart. (As you can see, many of which powered by an ATmega8-16PU.)

So without further ado, let’s take a trip down memory lane.

Arduino Prototype 0

At this time, the board was still called

At the time, the board was called “Programma 2005” as an evolution of the “Programma 2003.” (Source: M. Banzi)

Arduino Extreme v1

First version of the SMD Arduino. Only 200 of these boards were produced. (Source: M. Banzi)

The first version of the SMD Arduino. Only 200 of these boards were produced. (Source: M. Banzi)

Arduino Bluetooth Prototype

The first prototype of the Arduino Bluetooth unit. The is module was never easy enough to use for beginner Makers, so only a couple were ever manufactured. (Source: M. Banzi)

The first prototype of the Arduino Bluetooth unit. The module was never easy enough to use for beginner Makers, and as a result, only a couple were ever manufactured. (Source: M. Banzi)

Custom Arduino Board – Lamp Controller

This custom Arduino features an iPod-like wheel sensor, an SMD Arduino, on-board RGB LEDs and three DSI outputs. (Source: M. Banzi)

This custom Arduino features an iPod-like wheel sensor, an SMD Arduino, on-board RGB LEDs and three DSI outputs. (Source: M. Banzi)

Arduino Prototype 1

There it is: The first useable prototype ever created. As you can see, it was still called

There it is: The first useable prototype ever created. As you can see, back then it was called “Wiring Lite” and used as a low-cost module for wiring users. (Source: M. Banzi)

Arduino Extreme v2

The second iteration of the Arduino USB board. (Source: M. Banzi)

The second iteration of the Arduino USB board. (Source: M. Banzi)

Arduino Ethernet Prototype

(Source: M. Banzi)

(Source: M. Banzi)

Arduino Bluetooth Proto 4

The pre-production prototype of the Arduino Bluetooth module. (Source: M. Banzi)

The pre-production prototype of the Arduino Bluetooth module. (Source: M. Banzi)

Arduino NG

Revision C of the Arduino NG did not have a built-in LED on pin 13. Instead, it featured two small unused solder pads near the labels

Revision C of the Arduino NG did not have a built-in LED on pin 13. Instead, it featured two small unused solder pads near the labels “GND” and “13.” (Source: M. Banzi)

Arduino Ethernet and PoE Prototype

(Source: M. Banzi)

In the album, this board was labeled “Secret Prototype.” Not longer after, Massimo would go on to spill the beans in its comment section. (Source: M. Banzi)

Arduino Zero

The Zero boasts an Atmel | SMART SAM D21 ARM Cortex-M0+ core, enabling the board to run much faster and pack more of a punch than its 8-bit counterparts.

The Zero boasts an Atmel | SMART SAM D21 ARM Cortex-M0+ core, enabling the board to run much faster and pack more of a punch than its 8-bit counterparts.

Want more? You can browse through the entire photo album here.

Build a walking robot with credit cards and an ATmega328

Unlike some POS terminals, this robot takes Visa, Mastercard and Discover.

Writing for MAKE: Magazine, Jeremy Cook has revealed another way that your credit card may wander off other than pickpocketing, of course. The brainchild of Maker “Roger’s Home,” Monster Chan is a wallet-sized, AVR based robot that is actually capable of walking away on its own.


The body of the DIY device is comprised of two expired credit cards along with a set of electronic components. An ultrasonic sensor attached to a servo is employed as its head and tasked with navigating the terrain with its paperclip legs.


Between the pair of plastic pieces lie an Arduino-compatible VISduino Uno board (ATmega328) and a sensor shield serving as its brains, a battery box for its power supply, an IR sensor for remote commands and six servos.


A set of middle servos seem to handle the movement and turning of the budget-friendly robot, as it makes its way left and right and propels itself forward with the aid of its other legs.


If somehow your credit cards vanish, not to worry. Cook jokes, “It looks like it would be very hard to use in a reader.” You can see it in action below!

OSM is an AVR-based, open-source LED microlight

OSM is an easy-to-use, open-source, reprogrammable microlight with endless possibilities. 

Created by Pasadena, California startup Quantum HEX, OSM is an open-source microlight ideal for various wearable projects. Built around a versatile ATmega328P, the OSM is packed with with a micro-USB port, a three-axis accelerometer with custom features, several I/O connectors, a WS2812 addressable LED strip, as well as unmatched sensitivity.


The microlight is ready for use right out of the box and comes pre-loaded with 10 modes including many old-school favorites like BPM heartbeat, rainbow chaser and 3D morph. What’s more, its creator Ramiro Montes De Oca reveals that Makers can continually update their light on the fly with some basic coding.

“Once you save a setup you can save it as a file and send it to all your friends — they just need to copy and paste it onto their chip. We’re building a developer community so that you can learn (as well as trade) from one another. Our code will be posted up for free, and you’ll be able to post up your own code as well,” De Oca explains.


The OSM (no accelerometer) and the OSM-xyz (with accelerometer) are not your typical microlights. Unlike others available today, users can easily employ the USB port to upload new programs — meaning, there’s never a need to go buy new lights.  Boasting incredible speed capacity and memory, a Maker can burn up to five different lights on one OSM, as each head has its own color palette, presets and modes. This makes it a clear choice for wearable projects, like gloves, which require illuminations on each finger.


Being 100% reprogrammable OSM, a user simply connects the microlight to a computer (Mac, Linux or Windows) via a OSM Programmer, which serves as its interface. The OSM Programmer is a redesign of the popular Arduino2Serial adapter, connecting the reset line to the USB shield.

“Using the micro-USB shield to set low the reset input makes the Micro-USB an alternative communication option to serial communication with an external serial programmer,” De Oca adds. “This is a serial adapter modified to plug into a micro-USB programmer. A USB-to-serial adapter can be plugged on the communication ports of the OSM as alternative.”


Programs can be downloaded from its website and then uploaded directly to any OSM in its original format with Arduino IDE. Given the open-source nature of its NEO 1.0 application, a Maker can modify and expand every aspect of the program in copy and paste-like fashion. What’s nice is that, as soon as a user is done with one OSM, they upload the same code to each of the others.

Sounds like a bright idea, right? Head over to it official Kickstarter page, where the De Oca and the rest of the Quantum HEX team are currently seeking $25,000. Shipment is expected to start in July 2015.

ARbot lets you have virtual tank battles and robot races anywhere

This projects lets you partake in virtual tank-like battles of up to 64 players throughout your office, house or pretty much anywhere.

Created by Denis Kurilchik and the Roboboom team, the ARbot project consists of a spherical robot and a mobile app that bridges the gap between real and virtual worlds, allowing users to partake in tank-like battles of up to 64 players throughout their office, at home, at school or pretty much anywhere they want.


Not just an ordinary radio-controlled toy, the ARbot is comprised of two hemispherical wheels that operate in unison using a shifted center of gravity to overcome any number of obstacles. The multi-directional bot houses an AVR based system board along with an electric motor, and is charged via micro-USB. The battery itself typically lasts anywhere between one to three hours in active mode, which is plenty for some lunch or coffee break fun.

Meanwhile, an accompanying app (available in iOS, Android and Windows) connects with the robot over Bluetooth, enabling some friendly competition. The program currently features two game modes: single-player and multi-player. As its name would suggest, multi-player lets users do battle against other ARbot owners — whether that’s during lunch, in between classes, after work, or downstairs in the basement.


Regardless of the mode, ARbot strives to blur the lines between a user’s real and augmented reality worlds. Meaning, that living room or office floor suddenly transforms into a battlefield with shoes, bags and sofas becoming barriers. Multi-player mode, however, requires at least two robots to be controlled via the ARtank app. These devices are then paired, so that all competitors view the same images on their screens.

So whether it’s for a teenager or simply a child at heart, this project makes for an entertaining and interactive gadget for anyone. Aside from tanks, the ARbot can also be used as a remote-controlled racing vehicle capable of reaching speeds of approximately three feet per second.


Avaialble in white, green, purple, pink, yellow and black, there’s an ARbot that suits every style. Those looking for an even more durable, modern-looking gizmo — and are willing to shell out some serious cash — may also want to check out the team’s special carbon edition, equipped with wireless charging. In the future, the team has plans of integrating the robot with wearables, such as Google Glass, to provide a greater immersive experience.

Sound like something for you? Head over to the ARbot project’s official Indiegogo page, where the team is currently seeking $32,000. Shipment is expected to kick off in January 2016.

15 Maker projects to celebrate Star Wars Day

May the 4th be with you, Makers!

As an engineer, or any geek for that matter, there’s just something in our DNA that requires us to become a die-hard Star Wars fan. And while many of us may pay homage to the George Lucas franchise on a regular basis, May 4th has emerged over the years as a full-fledged “unofficial” holiday — especially with the advent of the Internet, social media and other grassroots celebrations. Plus, the occasion couldn’t come at a better time as we eagerly await the upcoming trilogy.

According to its origin story recognized by Lucasfilm, and as legend has it, the phrase was first used on May 4, 1979 — the day Margaret Thatcher took office as UK prime minister. The Conservative party allegedly placed an ad in the London Evening News which read, “May the Fourth Be With You, Maggie. Congratulations.” Since then, movie buffs from all over the world have come together to honor everyone’s favorite space saga set in a galaxy far, far away.

Some things go together like peanut butter and jelly. Star Wars and the DIY crowd is one of them. From Makers rigging their own R2-D2s to hacking their own BB-8 droids to 3D printing their own lightsabers, we’ve highlighted some memorable out-of-this-world projects.

Playing the Imperial March with a 3D printer

While you’ve likely already created your very own Imperial Army of miniature Stormtroopers with a 3D printer, many of you probably haven’t rigged that same machine to play their anthem. Reddit user “silviustro” decided to trick his Printrbot Simple Metal into performing quite a spectacular rendition of the theme song by converting a MIDI file into a G-code that the device could easily understand.

Hacking a Sphero into a mini BB-8

When industrial designer Christian Poulsen first laid eyes on the adorable ball rolling around, it didn’t take long before he realized that he needed to build a BB-8 of his own. And what better way to accomplish that feat than by employing an AVR powered Sphero 1.0. The Maker divided the rolling robot with a hacksaw, used polyurethane foam surfaced with spackle for its head and added a neodymium magnet disc to connect the two halves. From there, the only other thing left was to don its exterior with an empire-approved paint job.

Wearing a Chewbacca coat with Arduino Lilypad

Winters can be brutal. Having to wear multiple layers to keep warm can be annoying. However, if you’re going to have to do so, you might as well do it in style. That’s why a Maker by the name of “Malarky” developed a Chewbacca coat that sounds the saga’s infamous tune whenever its collar is flipped up and turns off when put back down. The wearable piece is based on an Arduino Lilypad (ATmega328) along with a light sensor, a small LiPo battery, a few feet of conductive thread and a LilyPad buzzer that serves as its speaker.

Flying a TIE Interceptor drone

As a followup to his Millenium Falcon project that went viral, French RC hobbyist “Olivier C” crafted yet another quadcopter — this one inspired by the TIE Interceptor from Episode VI – Return of the Jedi. The build, which the Maker says took just about 15 hours to complete, actually consists of a light, foam insulate shell placed over a custom-built, ATmega2560 powered drone. In the end, Olivier had removed the transmitter, GPS system and GoPro camera from the copter to achieve its authentic look, while at least 14 propellers were sacrificed for the cause by the time it was done.

Decorating the walls with ‘Art’ Vader

The brainchild of Christopher Connell, this ambient Darth Vader poster can wirelessly react to music playing in a room with various LED color-changing effects. Comprised of chrome and black paint, flooring underlayment and some other traditional art supplies, the 4’ x 5’ piece is embedded with an Arduino Uno (ATmega328), a sound impact sensor, three MOSFETs, three 220k Ohm resistors, an LED strip, a pair of mini breadboards and a 12V battery pack.

Making a 3D-printed crossguard lightsaber

While countless 3D printable lightsabers may have already been available for download online, France-based Le FabShop figured it was time to make one that would be completely customizable. And so, the team devised their own modular system that opens the door to hundreds of lightsaber configurations from Yoda’s to Darth Maul’s to the latest “crossguard” design.

Shooting a full-size LEGO replica of Han Solo’s blaster

Julius von Brunk has pieced together a full-size replica of Han Solo’s iconic blaster using nothing but 400-plus LEGO bricks and an Arduino Uno (ATmega328). The slick gadget is equipped with a fully-functional trigger that sets off the DL-44’s lights and sounds, which of course are made possible with the Arduino.

Slipping into a DIY Stormtrooper mask

As part of last year’s Star Wars Day festivities, John Edgar Park of DisneyToon Studios designed a Stormtrooper helmet music box. Dubbed the Imperial Melody Discharger, the Maker’s creation was based on an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) with a prototyping shield, some soldered cable interconnects, a piezo buzzer and a Pololu Pushbutton Power Switch for power management. To perfect his build, Park programmed the Uno with a small sketch that instructed the board to wait for a button press, open the right half then the left half of the mask, play the Imperial March theme on the piezo buzzer and close the two mask halves.

Constructing a holocron thumb drive


Up until now, most of us Star Wars fans could only stare wistfully at the holocron rendered on our HDTV screens. Fortunately, NoMuse has meticulously created an ATtiny85 based holocron thumb drive replica for the masses. Housed in a laser-cut acrylic shell fitted with translucent plastic and laminated the diffused panels, the Maker added some LED lighting effects and a LiPo battery for power. And to throw in some extra interaction, he included capacitance sensing to transform the entire top surface of the device into a button.

Controlling devices with modded EEG Star Wars toys


Electroencephalography toys, such as the Star Wars Force Trainer, record the electrical activity along a wearer’s scalp. What’s more, turns out they’re not only inexpensive, they’re super easy to hack, too. A few years ago, Instructables engineer “Frenzy” was able to take some code from Frontier Nerds and use an old Arduino Diecimila (ATmega168) to read the output of the EEG toy on his computer. From there, the rig could be used to make a mind-controlled musical instrument, a wearable TV remote, or even let a user surf the web with their thoughts.

Rolling a blinky Death Star


Many may argue that the Death Star is one of, if not, the coolest super weapons to ever spawn from human fantasy. So, in true Maker/movie buff fashion, creative technologist Simone Giertz whipped up a plush version that compensates for its smaller radius by playing the Imperial March theme and illuminating in a green LED when rolled. The project itself employed a LightBlue Bean (ATmega328P), an LED, a piezzo buzzer, two resistors and a pair of AA batteries — all sewn into the toy.

Navigating the skies in a Stormtrooper hoverbike

Want to ride into work like a Stormtrooper? While hoverbikes may not be ready for your daily commute just yet, thanks to UK-based Malloy Aeronautics, we’re now closer than ever. After successfully completing its Kickstarter campaign last year, the firm has debuted a one-third sized version of its design to help fund the full-sized prototype. The 1.15 meter-long mini replica can carry payloads of around 1.5kg and weighs in at 2.2kg unladen. While in the sky, the ATmega32U4 powered drone can not only be commanded remotely, but can follow predetermined flight paths automatically as well. Meanwhile, the mini-hoverbike also comes equipped with a third-scaled, 3D-printed humanoid ‘pilot’ complete with a space on its head specifically-designed for a GoPro camera. Impressively, the futuristic prototype has the potential to travel up to 92 miles or for about 45 minutes on a single tank of fuel, with a 3,048-meter maximum altitude and a top speed of around 45 MPH.

Modding an R2-D2 with Arduino

Thomas Hatley removed the inner electronics of the highly-popular Hasbro toy, and replaced with an Arduino Mega (ATmega1280) in addition to a custom PCB in its back to help drive the motors embedded within the droid. Ultimately, this enabled the droid to spin its head and its extremities. The R6 is juiced up with a 6V battery, while a 5V regulator provides the connection up to the Arduino in its brain.

3D printing a R6 droid

James Bruton 3D-printed a slick R6 robot using his Luzlbot machine. Packed with an Arduino Uno (ATmega328), some Adafruit NeoPixels and a number of other electronics like a standard transmitter and receiver, the astromech droid is capable of driving around at various speeds, emitting LED lights and producing other Star Wars-eqsue effects. The Maker used standard R/C car electronic speed controllers to drive the wheels and an L298 Dual H-bridge board to drive the head. The servos are mixed using the Uno, while two batteries are tasked with powering the lights and animatronics.

Getting support from a Star Wars theremin bra

Just when you thought you’ve seen every project possible, one Instructables member “caitlinsdad” comes up with an undergarment that generates R2-D2 beep-boop noises whenever anybody comes close. The bra is packed with several LEDs, an Adafruit FLORA (ATmega32U4), a photocell detector and an ultrasonic range sensor. The wearable is designed to react like a theremin, so the sound varies based how the proximity of others

KADE miniConsole+ is an open source device for retro gaming

Connect retro controllers to this open source device to enjoy plug-and-play gaming across a number of old-school systems. 

Many may argue that today’s video games with their realistic graphics are far superior than those of a much blockier, 8-bit era. However, any gamer born in the ‘80s may beg to differ. Let’s face it, there was just something about pulling out that cartridge, blowing into it, slipping it back in, and then powering up the system for a night of Mario Bros. Pair that with those unforgettable chiptunes and the clickety-clack of a controller, and you’re brought right back to your childhood.


Well, for those wishing to spark up some nostalgia, the KADE miniConsole+ is for you. Developed by the Maker trio of Jon Wilson, Kevin Mackett and Bruno Freitas, the versatile device was created to connect old-school gamepads and controllers to a wide variety of computers and consoles through plug-and-play detection. miniConsole+ is not only easy to use, but works right out of the box — in other words, no programming necessary. Just insert a controller of your choosing into one end of its shiny black aluminum case and the gaming system into the other, and you’re good to go.

The miniConsole+ lets users take a trip down memory lane by playing all of their favorite games as they were designed to be played and with their original controllers, ranging from Nintendo NES to Sega Genesis to Atari 2600 — through an optional add-on board. Meanwhile, users can connect non-USB systems like the PS1 and PS2 via RJ45, or wirelessly pair a Wiimote controller for Wii and Wii U games.

“We supply all of the adapter cables you need to connect up your favourite controllers and consoles to the miniConsole+ and we’ll also provide instruction and open source DIY options for the makers out there,” the team notes. “All gamepad (input) cables connect via the DB15 port. System (output) cables connect to either USB (type B) port or the RJ45 port.”


“The Playstation 2 is the best selling console of all time. In our extensive testing, the KADE team has finetuned the Playstation (PSX) output on miniConsole+ so that it works with popular converter cables. This allows you to connect the miniConsole+ device to the Xbox 360, Dreamcast and many other consoles.”

What’s more, its creators reveal that the miniConsole+ was designed with three distinct user types in mind. First, there’s the right-out-of-the-box-ready sort of person, who can get started without any programming knowledge required. Next, there’s the tinkerer who is able to plug their gadget into a Mac or Linux computer, reconfigure, update and add controls through a simple UI. Finally, there’s the die-hard Maker, who can tear it all apart and retrofit the unit into any project, whether that’s an arcade console or even a fight stick for those wishing to spark up some Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter nostalgia.


In addition, miniConsole+ comes with open source software that permits those wishing to modify their gamepads to do so with what the team calls “The Mapper.” This program gives a tinkerer the ability to manage their configurations all in one place, (rather than having to customize each and every emulator that they are running) and then verify updated mappings using the built-in gamepad tester.

If KADE sounds familiar, that’s because the team had first launched a Kickstarter campaign for its miniArcade back in 2013. At the time, the open source arcade interface was based on a Minimus AVR (AT90USB162) and aspired to make it super simple for users to connect arcade controls to their consoles and PCs of yesteryear. Following the tremendous success of its debut, the Makers went back to the drawing board, where after a number or revisions, redesigns and prototypes, now have a ready-for-market miniConsole+. Once again, the latest iteration is built around on Atmel AVR MCU, this time an ATmega32U4.


What’s nice is that the miniConsole+ can be extended with a choice of digital and analog expansion boards, making it easy for a user to wire up to their own custom arcade controls. Take for instance, team member Kevin Mackett, who devised a slick fight stick that could be connected to any supported system via its RJ45 and USB outputs. Then, there’s a Maker who whipped up a classic NES themed bar top, equipped with a pair of controller ports and its accompanying gamepads. As you can tell, the possibilities are endless.


Sound like something you’d love to own? We figured. Head over to the project’s official Kickstarter page, where the team is currently seeking £2,345.