Tag Archives: DIY Project

Create a color-changing sweatshirt with a potentiometer and GEMMA

Stay warm while looking cool! 

While we’ve covered a number of Becky Stern’s slick wearable creations in recent months, the timeliness of this one couldn’t be better for our friends in the Northeast as they battle these bitter cold months. Thanks to her latest tutorial, Makers can now easily create their own color-changing NeoPixel hoodie using a soft potentiometer, conductive thread, some tiny LEDs and an Adafruit GEMMA (ATtiny85).


Conductive thread is used to connect the potentiometer to the wearable platform board, which is sewn to the zipper on the front of the sweatshirt. This allows for the use of the drawstring to perform a sliding action. The sensor’s ribbon was divided in half, leaving two pieces: one for the pull tab, the other to slide along.


“The yarn in the sensor has a high resistance that GEMMA can measure with its analog input. The charm moves along its length, changing the amount of yarn connected to the input,” Stern explains.

Stern notes that a Maker could also couple a temperature control action of zipping/unzipping the hoodie with the LED color-changing effect. However, for simplicity sake of the demonstration, she decided to keep them separate.


With a simple Arduino sketch and stitching of the NeoPixels tasked with altering colors, you’re just about ready to go. The code uses the changing value of the slide sensor to adjust the blinking speed of GEMMA’s onboard LED. Slide the sensor and watch the LED blink faster or slower.

Before completing the project, a Maker must cut a small hole in the upper inside edge of the hoodie’s front pocket, and thread through a JST extension wire for the AAA battery pack. Store the batteries inside the pocket, and run the extension cable up through the front facing to plug into GEMMA’s JST port. And, voila!


Ready to give your hoodie some special effects for a cold winter night? You can find an entire step-by-step breakdown of the build here. Meanwhile, you can also check out some of Stern’s most wow-worthy wearables here.

Domo arigato, ATtiny13 drives Mr. Roboto!

When it comes to Halloween, of course parents can head on down to their nearest party store to find a Disney or superhero costume; however, many find it much more enjoyable (and cost-effective) to create their own homebrewed getups. After his son decided to be a robot for the long-awaited evening of trick-or-treating, a Maker by the name of Michael did just that and built one in its entirety.


Sure, a little gray spray paint and a dryer vent hose makes for a decent costume, but adding some cool electronics certainly takes it to the next level! Subsequently, Michael turned to an Atmel ATtiny13 MCU to drive a pair of 74HC595 shift registers that light up LEDs randomly.



The 30-odd lines of coding utilize the random() function to shift high or low values to the shift registers. After a brief pause, the cycle continues and a new pattern of LEDs light up. Another perk? The electronics embedded within the robot can easily be transferred to another theme… think Buzz Lightyear! The possibilities span from infinity to beyond!

Check out the video of Michael’s intergalactic robot son below…

Interested in a DIY costume of your own for this weekend’s festivities? Head over to the full project page here.


Build your own GPS pet tracker with TinyDuino

If you’re a pet owner, then you know that there is no worse feeling than losing your beloved animal. If you’re a pet owner, then you also may find yourself wondering from time to time as to what they do all day. Fortunately, this DIY GPS collar will not only allow you track the whereabouts of your cat remotely, but can log its GPS coordinates as well. Meaning, you can download its location whenever you feel like doing a some pet-snooping.


Recently published on MAKE Magazine, Ken Burns shared his GPS cat-tracking collar, built around the ATmega328P based TinyDuino platform. The system is powered by a small, lightweight battery and equipped with a fairly “power-hungry” GPS and microSD card, each of which are enclosed inside an old Tic Tac container.

According to Burns, a small slot was cut into the case in order to allow the cat collar to slide through and the GPS module to sit on the back of a cat’s neck, optimizing antenna reception.


In terms of software, the Maker notes that he used an Arduino sketch running on the TinyDuino, which captured the raw data from the device and writes it to a text file on the microSD card.



“Pop out the microSD, put it in your computer, and you can open up the file in a program like Google Earth and see exactly where your cat was during the day, complete with timestamps.”

Do you have a furry friend at home who could benefit from this DIY collar? You can find the Maker’s step-by-step tutorial on MAKE here.

Video: Crafting an Arduino-powered Halloween UFO

If you’re not a fan of Halloween and are frightened by the mere thought of aliens, we recommend that you don’t visit the house of Maker Andrew Wyatt this October 31st. The Maker has crafted a pretty impressive DIY UFO project using cardboard, tape, tinfoil, 8mm of diffused Adafruit NeoPixels and an Arduino Micro (ATmega32u4).

And wait, there’s more!

This Arduino kaleidoscope is far out, dude!

Nearly every kid had a kaleidoscope in their hands at some point during their childhood. The brilliant display was mesmerizing! Still today, the colorful churning designs are a delight to any onlooker’s eye. Jose Daniel Herrera has devised his own kaleidoscope, with a Maker twist of course, that can be displayed on any wall in your home.


Herrera’s relatively simple design centers around a series of addressable LED strips. He cut down a string of 60 LEDs to sets of five and fixed them onto a circular piece of PVC, before planting a layer of diffusing Plexiglass over the top to achieve the desired appearance of the LEDs.

Caleidoscopio con Arduino y tiras de leds

With the LEDs linked to an Arduino Nano (ATmega328), Herrera has the ability to install various lighting patterns to fit his needs. Whether it’s a frantic dance party or a calming nightlight for a baby’s room, any light arrangement is now possible. The code for this project can be found on the Maker’s blog here.

All in all, this is a fairly straightforward DIY project that can provide a nifty lift to any room in your house. The ease of assembly makes this an ideal endeavor for those just getting acquainted with Arduino and DIY builds.

For more sensational designs, you can always head over to our Bits & Pieces archives where you’ll find plenty of spectacular Arduino powered projects.

Playing NES in a cartridge

Reddit was taken by storm over the weekend when Maker Daniel Hankewycz revealed this retro gaming project. The Maker has adapted a vintage Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) cartridge to contain all of the necessary components to be a functioning NES console.


Daniel got the original idea to build a console within a cartridge from Kotomi, but decided to put his own spin on the project. Using a vintage console and an ATmega168 MCU, Daniel has developed a fully-functional console that is a true blast from the past.

The video above will explain the inner workings of Daniel’s ingenious project. In this version of the build, he explains that he selected an Arduino so that he could still use the classic NES controllers. You can find his full Instructables tutorial at this link.

What is next for Daniel? He has ideas for a portable NES unit as well as a build based around an Atari 2600. No matter what he has planned next, we will be ready to share his next technostalgic creation. Now go save that princess!

Making decisions with ATtiny85

A Maker by the name Vicor8o5 was frequently finding himself struggling with important decisions. Instead of toiling over making the right choice, he chose to turn to technology to help him out. He devised this clever tool to aid him in the daily decision making process.


To fix his issue, Victor8o5 set out to make the Decision Box, which makes as its name suggests, makes decisions for you by either showing a green or a red light. Outlined in a recent Instructables post, the Maker started with a small wooden cube and hollowed out a space for the technological components in the center. He wired his circuit, including a red/green light and an ATtiny85.


The code uploaded to the ATtiny85 uses a random function to produce either a red or green light. After running a test of 80 random decisions, Victor8o5 ended up with 44 reds and 36 greens. Even though that sounds like an elementary school math problem, it’s a solid distribution for this handy device!

The next time you find yourself stuck on ordering grande or venti coffee at Starbucks, head over to his original Instructables post to learn how you can make your own device.



DIY spaceship bedroom is a young Maker’s dream

All dads are terrific, but this one is just out of the world amazing. After devising a Mission Control Desk for his older son a few months ago, Maker dad Jeff Highsmith decided to compliment his earlier creation with a spaceship for his younger son’s room using Atmel-based Arduino boards.


According to MAKE Magazine, the spaceship features a control panel “full of interesting displays and whiz-bang space sounds” along with a joystick capable of controlling lights and sounds for the engine and thrusters. The payload bay has a motorized hatch and contains a robot arm that can be remotely operated over video feed to deploy payloads like toy satellites. Headsets provide an audio link between the spacecraft and Mission Control in the other room, so Highsmith’s sons can practice collaborating on their space missions. The room is equipped with LED lights, real switches and inputs that not only flash but trigger sound effects. To add to the NASA-like simulator, Highsmith even included a bass shaker in the floor so his sons could actually feel the rocket taking off.


To really give the project the NASA effect, Highsmith added a few space shuttle features such as the payload bay with a robotic arm. Using the remote video screen and remote controller mounted on the the control panel in the crew compartment, the “astronaut” can control the arm to deploy or retrieve payloads, the Maker dad notes. The power supplies for the control panel and LCDs also rest in the payload bay, in addition to the Raspberry Pi and Arduino for the joystick.


“The main engine’s nozzle houses the audio mixer and bass amplifier. On the bottom of the nozzle, I mounted a strand of GE Color Effects LED Christmas lights. I programmed an Arduino to control the strand, whipping up a simple color-changing pattern that resembles the flames of a rocket. This Arduino also controls the red LEDs in each of my thrusters. Command of the engine lights and and thruster lights is done through a USB joystick. I programmed a Raspberry Pi to read the joystick. The Pi maps the different axes of the joystick to different directions, and commands the Arduino to light the appropriate LEDs at a brightness commensurate with how far the joystick is pushed in each of the directions. The Pi also plays rocket sounds through the ship’s sound system, with the sound volume tied to the severity of the motion. In other words, if you push the joystick a little bit, you’ll get a dim light and a soft sound. As you move the stick further in that direction, the light gets brighter and the sound gets louder.”

Highsmith describes in the video below how the sequences programmed into the desk and ship are meant to spark imaginative not competitive play, and says he hopes the work he put into the setup will inspire his sons to be Makers as well.

To see the entire step-by-step breakdown of this project, soar on over to MAKE’s writeup here.

Never be late again with the S.M.A.R.T. Alarm Clock

This DIY Internet-connected alarm clock automatically sets itself based on your calendar. 

Have you ever slept through a crucial meeting, missed a flight or showed up late to an exam due to a faulty alarm? Fear no more as the S.M.A.R.T (Setup for Meetings, Appointments, Reminders, and Tasks) Alarm Clock is here to solve all of your problems! Designed by Adafruit’s Tony DiCola and recently featured on MAKE: Magazine, the connected DIY alarm clock sought out to provide users with the ability to enjoy a more restful sleep knowing they’ve solved the nightmare of regulating their alarms.


The S.M.A.R.T. Alarm Clock uses the dual processor-based Arduino Yún. While one processor runs an embedded version of Linux and is connected to the Internet via Wi-Fi or Ethernet, the other processor utilizes the same chip as the Arduino Leonardo (ATmega32U4), thereby enabling the Yún to work with most Arduino shields and accessories.

By using the Arduino Yún, the bedside gadget can talk to complex web services with the Linux processor, and interface with hardware — an LCD touchscreen — on the second processor. The DIY device can sync with your Google Calendar, contacts and e-mail through the Temboo platform, an Arduino-friendly development tool that streamlines access to a variety of web services.

In addition to having both a Google and Temboo account and the Yún with a power adapter, the project calls for a microSD card, a TFT touchscreen Arduino shield, and a USB speaker. The TFT shield is tasked with displaying the clock interface, while the USB speaker sounds that alarm.

The advantage to a device like the S.M.A.R.T. Alarm Clock is that you no longer have to stress about making sure your alarms are correctly set for AM or PM, or are designated for certain days of the week. The clock’s web communication, facilitated by Temboo, assures that you will never miss a beat (or a meeting!) again. The homemade gadget can even pleasantly (or unpleasantly) wake you up to your own MP3 when receiving an important e-mail from a co-worker or relative.

If you want to follow along with the device’s full tutorial and create your own S.M.A.R.T. Clock, simply head on over to MAKE.

Creating an infinity mirror clock with Arduino

In a recent Instructables post, a Maker going by the name “Dushu” has developed his own version of the infinity mirror that we previously covered on Bits & Pieces. Embodying true DIY spirit, Dushu put his own stamp on the project, as his rendition also functions as a clock!


Gaining inspiration from another Maker’s infinity mirror project, Dushu decided to develop his own by putting a unique spin on the concept. His design not only functions as a clock, but using an IR sensor and an [Atmel basedArduino, it can turn off whenever someone approaches allowing it to function as a conventional mirror.

Dushu’s materials list consisted of:

  • A standalone Arduino
  • RTC Module – DS1302
  • LM2596 step down adjustable power supply module 1.3V-35V:
  • 1m 60LEDs/M Addressable RGB LED Strip (WS2812B):
  • HC-05 Bluetooth module
  • IR proximity sensor
  • 4 IR LEDs; 1 IR LED detector:
  • Touchpad
  • 9V – 2A adaptor
  • CP2102 USB-to-TTL


Once the code enabling the colors of the clock’s hands to be programmed was created, Dushu started to assemble his project. After the components were fitted, Dushu proceeded to troubleshoot his creation, as there were some issues with the powering of the LED strips. He found that it was essential to add “a night mode to the clock, so that the power supplies and LEDs can cool down at night — and hopefully prolong their life.”

You can view the infinity mirror clock in action above, or check out Dushu’s entire Instructables post here if you want to take on the project yourself. If this device piqued your interest, feel free to browse the Bits & Pieces archive of other Arduino-powered creations.