Tag Archives: cloudBit

Building an estimated time of arrival device with littleBits

The Honest ETA device lets your housemate know when you’re likely to arrive home.

You’ve all been there: You tell your spouse that you’re on your way home, when in actuality you’ve yet to leave the office. As part of a recent collaboration between littleBits and Popular Science, one new project is looking to put an end to missed dinner dates, late arrivals and the altogether annoying habit of never being home when you said you’d be! In other words, no more “Honey, where are you?” messages.


The aptly named Honest ETA Device was created to let a housemate — whether that’s a parent, a significant other or a college roomie — know when you are on the way home, and more importantly, likely to arrive. The cloud-connected progress meter tracks your whereabouts by reading your smartphone’s location and then displays it on a bargraph module inside the house.

Honest ETA employs a GPS-enabled mobile device, coupled with some IFTTT recipes, the cloudBit and a bargraph to show your proximity. IFTTT recipes are set up using a location channel, tasked with triggering when you enter or exit a pre-set radius.

Given that there are five LEDs on the bargraph, the littleBits team programed five radii, each with recipes related to entry and exit. This allows you to keep tabs on someone as they come and go. Upon leaving the office (or the gym, class, or wherever else you may be), your smartphone will notify the cloudBit as you start to make your way home by illuminating the LEDs on the bargraph. The LEDs will continue to light up the closer that you get.


The project is also equipped with an MP3 player (ATmega168) and speaker, so that you can play a song of your choice when you’re only minutes away. If you happen to make it home first, however, an IFTTT SMS recipe will enable you send a text to your housemate with the press of a button, letting them know that you have indeed made it back safely.

On top of that, littleBits shares a nifty little idea to round out the design. Why not turn the circuit into an interactive wall piece that both displays your progress and holds your wallet? Using just a small hinged platform that sits directly on top of the button, the act of placing your wallet inside the case will automatically press the button, thereby sending a text message. Its creators note that you can add some acrylic edge lighting to the bargraph for nice visual effect, too.


Sound like a project you can benefit from? Hurry over to littleBits’ official page to get started. There, you will find a detailed step-by-step breakdown to help you bring your own ETA device to life, or simply watch the video tutorial below!

Keep tabs on your coinage with this littleBits connected bank

Just a ‘littleBit’ of saving can go a long way!

As part of a future lab course at Parsons The New School for Design, a group of Makers have created an Internet-connected container — which they have ‘coined’ Smart Bank — that uses an Arduino and cloudBit module to remotely keep tabs on the total amount of money deposited.


How it works is pretty simple. When a quarter is inserted into the bank, a flex sensor will bend, sending an input signal into the Arduino (ATmega32U4). On the output side of the Arduino, the Number module (ATmega168) instantly increments, the speaker begins to emit a “big bong” tune, and the cloudBit is activated. Through an IFTTT.com recipe, a line is added to a spreadsheet in Google Drive, wile a few formulas within the sheet tally how many line items have been added and multiply that number by 0.25 to derive at a total.


Much cooler than that old-school piggy bank, don’t you think? Want to make one of your own? Get started by heading to littleBits’ official project page here, and seeing it in action below.

This littleBits device alerts roommates to stop hogging the bathroom

“Time’s Up” was designed to solve an age-old problem that has plagued roommates, siblings and spouses for years. 

Have you ever been in a rush to get up and out in the morning only to find one of your roommates hogging the bathroom for too long? Thanks to Makers Mu-Ti Huang, Douglas Tran and Yun Zhou, you may soon be able to use a little device that will serve as a friendly reminder for the occupiers.


The aptly-named Time’s Up system is comprised of a littleBits cloudBit, an Arduino module (ATmega32U4), an IR transmitter (ATtiny25), an MP3 player (ATmega168), an AC converter, a bright LED, as well as some wire and USB power adapter.


By using a cloudBit module, the user is able to wirelessly express their discontent to whoever is in the bathroom by pressing a button on their smartphone. This triggers the device to begin playing an annoying song to alert the person that he or she has been in there for way too long. When the song stops, the DIY system turns off the bathroom lights.

Does this situation sound all too familiar? Then you’ll want to check out the entire project on littleBits here.

This littleBits frame changes based on your gym habits

A piece of art that gets more beautiful when you “do good.” 

With the new year officially underway, it’s a safe assumption that many, if not all, of you had exercising among their resolutions. However, truth be told, actually getting up and going to the gym isn’t as easy. That’s why Maker Natasha Dzurny has created a simple mechanism in the form of a picture frame to help keep her routine going.


Aptly dubbed Smart Artthe project uses the power of littleBits cloud and Arduino (ATmega32U4) modules to know the last time she has been to the gym and how long it’s been since then. If she’s completed a workout recently, the art reveals a colorful rainbow over a beach. However, if she hasn’t exercised in three days, a storm rolls into the piece.


Using IFTTT, Dzurny set the trigger as her smartphone and entered the location of her gym. She then configured the action as the output of her littleBits cloud module. The Arduino listens for the signal from the cloud module, and begins the counter. In the event that too much time passes, the Arduino activates the servo motor (ATtiny25), thereby changing the sky’s backdrop.


Smart Art is also equipped with a button, so the Maker can trigger it manually if she happens to squeeze a workout in somewhere other than her regular gym, as well as a long LED that lights up when either trigger is activated.

Interested in a similar gadget of your own? Check out the project’s official littleBits page here to get started.

This IFTTT surfboard clock shows wave height

This simple, cloud-connected surfboard clock displays the wave height in Newport, Rhode Island.

If you’ve ever seen a surfing movie like Maverick, then you know experienced surfers will tell you that the best time to catch a wave is generally in the morning. But before doing so, they must tune-in to reports to hear about the swell. And, while most folks in New England could only dream of hitting the beach, soaking up rays and hanging ten at the moment, self-proclaimed culture hacker Zachary McCune has designed a slick cloud-connected display that reports the height of waves right from home. After all, summer isn’t that far away.


The appropriately-named Tide Machine is a simple clock-like device that uses IFTTT to collect Surfline reports and sends the data to a built-in cloudBit and servo littleBits module (ATtiny25). Aesthetically, the project is merely a small box with the numbers 1-4 and a surfboard as a dial, which provides updates on the tide heights every five minutes. Depending on the waves for that particular day, the dial will move and point to the corresponding number to indicate tide heights.

The time-lapse video below shows the build from beginning to end, while a how-to log of the Tide Machine can be found here. Surf’s up, Makers!