Tag Archives: Brian Benchoff

Building a speaking ultrasonic distance sensor

A Maker by the name of Klaus recently built a “speaking distance sensor” to help him park his car.

According to the HackADay crew, the platform is built around an Atmel-based Arduino Uno (ATmega328), an HC-SR04 ultrasonic distance sensor and Adafruit’s Wave Shield.

“Originally, this parking/distance sensor used a small TFT to display the distance to an object, but after a few revisions, Klaus redesigned the device to speak the current distance, courtesy of an SD card and a soothing female voice,” explained HackADay’s Brian Benchoff.

“Right now, the voice is set up to speak the distance from an object to the sensor from 10 cm to 1 m in 5cm increments. This isn’t the limit of the sensor, though, and the device can be easily reconfigured to sense a distance up to four meters.”

Currently, the board lacks an on-board amplifier/speaker, although adding a small amplifier (courtesy of Adafruit) should be sufficiently loud to be heard inside the noisiest parking lots and out in the street.

Interested in learning more about building an Atmel-based speaking ultrasonic distance sensor? You can check out the project’s official page here.

DIY thermal imaging with the Arduino Nano

Many of us have undoubtedly coveted thermal imaging cameras at least once, especially after watching a sci-fi movie or two.

As HackADay’s Brian Benchoff notes, thermal imaging cameras can be an invaluable and practical tool if you are trying to figure just where your latest electronics project will explode/implode next, or attempting to locate a near invisible (and annoying) crack in a glass window.

Fortunately, a Maker by the name of Kaptein QK recently came up with an inexpensive and relatively easy method of making your own thermal imaging camera.

“Kaptein based his camera off of a non-contact IR temperature gun. This device is useful for spot checking temperatures, but can’t produce an IR image like it’s $1000 cousins,” explained Benchoff.

“By taking the thermopile out of this temperature gun, adding an op-amp, an A/D converter, and connecting it to an Arduino Nano (ATmega328) with pan and tilt servos, Kaptein was able to slowly scan the thermopile over a scene and generate an image.”

Although Kaptein’s DIY camera works quite well at this stage, the Maker will likely make additional improvements to the platform in the future.

“[For example], getting rid of the servos and moving to mirrors would hopefully speed everything up, [while] replacing the 8-bit grayscale display with colors would give a vastly improved dynamic range,” Benchoff added.

Interested in learning more about building a DIY thermal imaging with an Atmel-based Arduino Nano? You can check out Kaptein’s forum post here for additional details.

Improvising a logic analyzer with an ATtiny2313

Joonas Pihlajamaa wasn’t having much luck debugging his PS/2 keyboard interface. Wishing he had a dedicated logic analyzer, Joonas ultimately decided to combine an ATtiny2313, breadboard and FTDI for unlimited-length logic capturing with a PC.

As the HackADay crew notes, the ATtiny2313-based logic analyzer is capable of capturing at 50+ kHz, more than enough for a PS/2 port.

“The 2313 has eight input ports on one side of the chip, making attaching the right logic line to the right port a cinch. The highs and lows on each logic line are sent to a computer over the FTDI chip, converted into OLS format and piped into Open Sniffer to make some fancy graphs,” explained HackADay’s Brian Benchoff. “Joonas was able to capture PS/2 signals with his logic sniffer, so we’ll call this project a success.”

As previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, Atmel’s high-performance, low-power 8-bit AVR RISC-based ATtiny2313 microcontroller boasts 2KB ISP flash memory, 128B ISP EEPROM, 128B internal SRAM, universal serial interface (USI), full duplex UART and debugWIRE for on-chip debugging.

The ATtiny2313 also supports a throughput of 20 MIPS at 20 MHz, operating between 2.7-5.5 volts. By executing powerful instructions in a single clock cycle, the MCU achieves throughputs approaching 1 MIPS per MHz – neatly balancing power consumption and processing speed.

Interested in learning more about Atmel’s extensive lineup of versatile tinyAVRs? You can check out our complete device breakdown here.