Tag Archives: Make (magazine)

This ‘useless IoT device’ prints out Reddit’s Shower Thoughts

With the press of a button, Thinking Man produces a random amusing thought from Reddit’s popular subreddit Shower Thoughts. 

If you’ve never seen it, the subreddit /r/Showerthoughts is full of brilliant, concise and often hilarious insights that come to mind while, you guessed it, showering. Amidst all of that lathering and rinsing, our brains wander. The question is, what do you think about during your most vulnerable moments?


Cognizant of this, the crew at MAKE: Magazine have developed a “totally useless and ridiculous desk toy” that prints out snippets from Reddit’s infamous feed. With one press of a button, the aptly named Thinking Man generates a random amusing thought from its onboard thermal printer, which is downloaded from the social network via Wi-Fi. The result is an objet d’art (or “work of art”) that can surprise you with its cleverness.

Aside from its thermal printer, this Internet of Useless Things project combines an Arduino Mega (ATmega2560), an ESP8266 module and a plastic mannequin head. (You can see how to program the ‘duino, wire the boards, work with code and power up the device referring to its in-depth writeup here.)


“Because the entire response from Reddit is too large for the Arduino to store in memory, the microcontroller has to pick out the relevant data as it is received. The included source code does just that, and can be adapted to read data from anywhere on the Internet or your home network,” MAKE: explains.

With a little tweaking, you can configure your own Thinking Man to produce jokes, or even more useful tidbits such as to-do lists, headlines, weather reports and class schedules. The possibilities are endless. Intrigued? Then head over to MAKE:’s entire write up here, or watch the team’s weekend project video below!

35 GIFs that perfectly express your feelings about Maker Faire

Happy Maker Week! 

With Maker Week now underway, Atmel is getting ready to take center stage at the Maker Faire New York on September 26-27th. Undoubtedly, this year will yet again be amazing as an expected 830+ Makers and 85,000+ attendees head to the New York Hall of Science to see the latest DIY gizmos and gadgets, as well as AVR Man in the flesh.

Once again a Silversmith Sponsor of the event, Atmel will be shining the spotlight on Arduino and a range of other Maker Movement-driven startups. Among the names you will find inside our booth include Arduboy, Keyboardio, Qtechknow, Microduino, Modulo, Zippy Robotics and Bosch. If you’re lucky, you might even be able to walk away with an Arduino shield and adapter board, along with some other flair.

Ah… there’s just so much to show and tell! And with the final countdown to Maker Faire on, what better way to capture and convey all those emotions than with these GIFs?

When you realize that Maker Faire is only days away.


When you wake up on the morning of the show.


When you get stuck in traffic en route to the New York Hall of Science.


When you spot the faire grounds entrance in the distance.


When you finally make it through the ticket line and entry gate.


When Arduino announces a new Atmel powered board.


When you see a 3D printer in action for the very first time.


When someone stops by your demo.


When people can’t stop talking about your project.


When you are given free sample kits.


When you realize there’s just so much to see. Where to even begin?


When you spot Massimo Banzi.


When… wait a minute… is that AVR Man?


When you come across a life-sized game of Mouse Trap.


When you proudly show off your new swag.


When you see a fellow Maker dressed in Steampunk.


When you’re inspired to go launch a Kickstarter campaign.


When you appear in MAKE: Magazine.


When you receive an Editor’s Choice Ribbon.


When you realize the end of the day is near.


When you remember there’s still Sunday.


When you’re surprised by the heat of a 69-foot-tall fire-breathing dragon.


When you can’t take your eyes off of the Coke Zero and Mentos demo.


When you arrive at the unbelievably long line for lunch.


When you can’t pronounce a project’s name.


When you prepare to do battle in the Game of Drones.


When you control an object with your mind.


When you learn a eight-year-old was the mastermind behind that project.


When the “State of Arduino” address is about to begin.


When you meet new Maker friends.


When the Power Racing Series brings your Mario Kart dream to life.


When a panel discussion sparks your curiosity.


When you find out that an Atmel chip is inside that gadget.


When you realize that Maker Faire is really coming to an end.


When you finally get home after an eventful weekend of making.


See you all in New York! For those unable to attend, don’t fret. Simply follow @Atmel on Twitter for all the latest happenings from the Faire. We’ll even be streaming some of it live to you via Periscope Fairescope!

Maker creates his own Pixar lamp robot

Having a bad day? Luci the lamp robot can help cheer you up! 

Sitting at your desk for hours on end can get lonely, especially for those who work from home or spend quite a bit of time inside their dorm rooms. Sometimes all you need is a friend — or a robotic lamp that could be straight from a Pixar flick.


Inspired by the animated short “Luxo Jr.,” Maker Jochen Alt decided to create one of his own named Luci. While she may not be able to hop around like the character, she sure does share many of the same attributes and has one heck of a personality. First spotted by MAKE: Magazinethe lamp is controlled by an ODROID-U3 running Ubuntu Linux with computer vision using OpenCV and Boost. This software takes care of the facial recognition and trajectory computations.

Meanwhile, Luci’s servo-driven movements are controlled by no other than an ATmega328P. The ODROID control board also has a self-made Arduino shield on top. The AVR chip handles the PWM output for the servos, switches the relays and regulates the voltage for the servos to provide smooth movement for its initial position.


Luci’s frame is comprised of birch wood along, several brass axes and 20 ball bearings. The Maker designed a 3D model of the head with TurboCAD, which were later printed in ABS. Alt tells MAKE: that there are springs to help off-load some of the weight. The servos are tasked with driving the rotating base, as well as extending and contracting the upper and lower struts. There’s also an additional servo embedded inside Luci’s head to help with turning.

The robotic accessory works by first scanning her environment until detecting a face. Just like you, Luci can express a variety of feelings and then react accordingly. For instance, she’ll move back quickly when surprised, put her head down if she finds herself being shy, or nod if she’s in agreement with you.

Intrigued? See Luci in action below!

Building an automated camera rig for panoramic photos

MAKE: shows us how to create an electronic camera rig for taking high-resolution panoramic photos.

There’s nothing quite like a panoramic photo to capture some of the world’s most breathtaking landscapes. Unfortunately, not every camera can take them on their own, let alone at all. Just think about how difficult it is to master one on your iPhone! That’s why one Maker has come up with a motorized solution to the problem. In a recent tutorial for MAKE: Magazine, Jason Poel Smith decided to build an automated pan-tilt rig that would enable him to snap high-res panorama pictures using any cheap point-and-shoot camera.


The remote-controlled rig itself is comprised of three aluminum plates, three servo motors, an Arduino, four AA batteries, and the camera, of course. The servo motors are connected to the microcontroller, and are tasked with controlling the pan, tilt and shutter. The Arduino handles the positioning of the camera, which enables it to automatically turn and take pictures at set intervals. Meanwhile, the metal frames hold all the parts together and allow you to mount everything onto a tripod.


“The rig should move to the starting position. Then it will take a picture and turn slightly to the side. Once the camera has completed a full horizontal pan, the tilt servo will raise the camera slightly and the system will again take pictures panning across the area,” Smith writes.


Once the process is complete, the Maker says that you should have a grid of pictures that cover a wide area. These photos can then be stitched together in Photoshop, or another free program, to create a single high-resolution panoramic image.

Interested in one of your own? Check out the automatic photo rig’s step-by-step guide on MAKE: here.

Artist creates a touch-controlled, sci-fi instrument with Arduino

By touching the installation at various points, users can different sounds. These sounds then generate changes in the projection.

New media artist Balam Soto is no rookie when it comes to mesmerizing musical instruments. Take Exp.Inst.Moon, for example. The interactive installation — which we saw on display at the Westport Maker Faire in Connecticut — incorporates projection and sound generated by a wireless box comprised of wood, plexiglass, an Arduino Mega (ATmega2560) and other electronic components.


By touching the experimental instrument’s copper tape sensors at various points, participants are able to create a range of sound effects, which in turn, produce changes in the projection.

“[The project] is an analysis of the social and cultural adoption of tangible user interface. Globally, touch devices are increasingly common; people understand how to use them,” Soto writes. “Exp.ins.X analyzes this new technology and makes use of this new common understanding to fuse sound and visuals into realtime interactivity.”


Most recently, Soto has added another project to the family. This one, dubbed Exp.Inst.Rain, features many of the same electronics and principles as his earlier installations, along with some additional input from the Maker community. By tapping the capacitive touch sensors atop each cylindrical piece of plexiglass, users can make varying sounds, which once again changes the projection in real-time.

An Arduino Mega embedded beneath the crystal-like columns serves as the brains of the operation, which runs custom software acting as a bridge between the instrument and the MIDI program, and links to an iPad via an open sound control interface network. Exp.Inst.Rain has a full octave (12 notes), three different sound modes and knobs to bend the pitch, MAKE: shares.

Safe to say, we’re looking forward to seeing the latest iteration firsthand at the World Maker Faire in New York. Until then, you can watch it in action below!

[Images: MAKE]

16 knives and one meat cleaver come together to perform a Bee Gees hit

Finally, an Arduino project that even Edward Scissorhands would love.

We’ve seen some pretty astonishing musical masterpieces over the years, and this recent project from Neil Mendoza may take the cake. That’s because the British artist, who now resides in Los Angeles, has put together what is perhaps the greatest and strangest rendition of the Bee Gees hit “Stayin’ Alive” that we’ve ever heard using 16 knives and a meat cleaver.


Mendoza notes that the knives were purchased from a local dollar store, and the grinding of cutlery emits a form of percussion by banging and rubbing together various objects, including a triangle chime and bells. When combined, they generate a rather unique rendition of the 1977 jam.

All of the instruments are driven by an Arduino running an Arduino Oscillator program. The music was arranged in Logic, output through a USB to MIDI cable, and then read by the Atmel based board via a MIDI circuit. Two of the instruments actually rely on stepper motors for sound, stepping them at the frequency of whatever note they’re playing.


A Jacob’s Ladder — suspended between two knives — utilizes a relay to control a 12,000V neon sign transformer, while three other pieces like the cleaver are activated by MOSFETs connected to solenoids and car door lock actuators.

“I really enjoy taking objects out of context and making them do slightly absurd things,” Mendoza tells MAKE: Magazine. “Knives have lots of meaning attached to them, both from their role as weapons and as cooking implements, so they seemed like great objects to play with.”

Going hands-on with the now-on-sale Arduino Zero

It’s official! Makers in the U.S. can now buy the 32-bit Arduino board online. 

In addition to a number of other announcements during his Maker Faire Bay Area “State of Arduino” address, Massimo Banzi had finally revealed the dates for the highly-anticipated Zero board to a standing-room only crowd. In fact, MAKE: Magazine would even go on to call it “one of the biggest pieces of news” from this year’s show and tell.


And now available (as of June 15th) for purchase within the United States, here’s a quick refresher on the 32-bit Arduino unit that is bound to become a Maker hit over the summer. While its form factor may share that of the Leonardo, 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.

It’s also worth mentioning that the latest device offers users the ability to easily talk to the cloud, thanks to an increase in bits and clock cycles to deal with what’s coming in and going out. This allows Makers to bring their wildest (and smartest) Internet of Things projects to life. As the Wizard of Make Bob Martin explains, “You can do this with an 8-bit microcontroller, but sometimes with data streams, it’s like drinking from a firehose.”


Key hardware specs include 256KB of Flash, 32KB SRAM in a TQFP package and a clock speed of 48MHz. In comparison, the 8-bit Leonardo (ATmega32U4) comes with only 32KB of Flash, 2.5KB of SRAM and merely runs at 16MHz. One its other notable features is the Atmel Embedded Debugger (EDBG), which provides a full debug interface without the need for any supplemental hardware. EDBG supports a virtual COM port that can be used for device programming and traditional Arduino bootloader functionality, and is entirely compatible with Atmel Studio to give users the ability to import their sketches directly and do source-level debugging.

The Zero sports six analog and 14 digital pins, all of which except for the Rx/Tx pins can also serve as PWM pins. Meanwhile, the analog pins have a 12-bit ADC instead of the Leonardo’s 10-bit ADC, significantly improving analog resolution. Though the new board does not have EEPROM, it does support 16KB by emulation. In other words, Arduino sketches relying upon this feature will still run without any hiccups.


Upon receiving the board, a user may notice that that Zero’s silk includes an additional graphic element: the Genuino logo. (For those who may not know, Genuino — meaning “genuine” in Italian — is Arduino’s global sister brand.)

“We added the Genuino logo to the Arduino Zero to stress its authenticity, and to make it easier for the Arduino community to spot original boards. We are going to include this logo to all genuine Arduino boards from now on,” the crew says.


In tandem with its debut on the Arduino U.S. online store, the team has unveiled the Arduino IDE 1.6.5 with a bunch of enhancements as well as support for the Zero. This version of the incredibly popular IDE will keep the serial monitor open while uploading, an “Open Recent” menu that shows the last five opened sketches and a new modern editor, among many other improved elements.

Interested? Head over to the Zero’s official page here, where the board is currently going for $49.90. As you wait for its arrival, watch below as the Wizard of Make gives MAKE’s Alasdair Allan a hands-on demonstration.

Maker hacks a Sphero into a mini Star Wars BB-8

Well, it didn’t take too long before a Star Wars fan created his own working BB-8 droid.

By now, it’s a safe assumption that many of you have already seen the initial trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. If so, then you, like countless others, have probably fallen in love with BB-8 — a cute robot that was unveiled during both the teaser and an onstage presentation at the Star Wars Celebration. If you haven’t, then what are you waiting for?


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 one of his own. The Maker was able to accomplish this feat by sawing an AVR powered Sphero 1.0 in half with a hacksaw, using polyurethane foam surfaced with spackle for its head, and adding a neodymium magnet disc to connect the two. From there, the only other thing left was to don its exterior with an empire-approved paint job.


Not only did Poulsen complete the project it in a day, he can also drive his BB-8 via Bluetooth using his smartphone’s Sphero app. While the droid may be remote-controlled, the Maker says it does note that it indeed has a mind of its own. Since the newly-attached head will cause an unbalance to the Sphero’s built-in gyroscopes, BB-8 will only be able to travel in one direction unless you give it a helpful push.


“Because it’s now more top-heavy and tends to lean, the gyroscope will try to correct the lean, and it will keep on rolling in whatever direction it’s pushed,” Poulsen notes.

Don’t lie, you know you love this BB-8. If you want one of your own, head over to the Maker’s step-by-step guide on MAKE: Magazine and get making! While not too much has been said around Sphero’s involvement in the actual BB-8’s creation, Lucasfilm’s president Kathleen Kennedy did mention the Boulder, Colorado-based startup in a recent Fortune Magazine interview.

Wear your heart on your sleeve with the Beatband

This blinking wearable device combines a pulse sensor with a DIY Arduino.

As showcased on MAKE MagazineMakerBlock has devised a simple pulse-blinking indicator that enables a user to display their heartbeat when performing nearly any activity imaginable using a DIY Arduino microcontroller.


With the implementation of a MintDuino (ATmega328P + Arduino bootloader), MakerBlock has tasked a pulse sensor to trigger a set of green glowing LEDs. The entire unit fits within a mint tin (hence its name) and can be easily slipped into a specified sleeve for comfortable wearing.


Many would assume a neoprene sleeve would be ideal for this project, but MakerBlock recommends the NXE ActiveSleeve which is comprised of a stretchy material that allows the blinking lights to shine through. What good is an LED pulse display if onlookers can’t see your beating heart, right?


MakerBlock writes about a minor change to the MintDuino, “For this build we want to transfer it to perfboard so it’ll fit snugly in the mint tin and the armband sleeve.” Its creators go on to caution fellow Makers, “Don’t solder the green LED to the perfboard. You’ll replace this component with jumper wires connecting to your 5 red LEDs on the lid.”

Once soldered, wired and worn, this project has a multitude of uses. It can provide a visual representation of your feelings while working out, watching a movie, or even meditating. Now, go show off those emotions!

Reading propane levels with ATmega328 and Wi-Fi

Want to know how much propane is left? There’s an app for that! 

Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer grilling season. And with a number of picnics and late-night barbecues planned in the coming weeks, nothing is worse than throwing a nicely marinated steak or a pack of burgers onto the grill only to find out that your tank is out of propane. Fortunately, Makers Frank Vigilante and Brendan Glunz have devised a simple solution that can keep you informed as to how much gas is left in an easier, more efficient manner.


Initially designed for MAKE: Magazine‘s Pitch Your Prototype competition and a recent entry in the 2015 Hackaday Prize, the DIY device dubbed ProReg works by attaching to any standard brass valve between a propane tank and grill where it measures the internal pressure within the cylindrical container. From there, it sends the data to an accompanying mobile app, which provides grillers with a visualized fuel gauge on their phone in real-time.

In order to first bring the idea to life, the Maker duo connected a digital pressure sensor to an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) which they set up to transmit readings to the custom app via Bluetooth. In their next iteration, they chose to use Wi-Fi using an Adafruit CC3000 to relay the readings instead. Still scratching their heads heading into a their third and most recent version, Vigilante and Glunz decided to try employing a custom circuit board with an ATmega328 and an ESP8266 module to take the gas tank system to the next level.


Currently a work in progress, the Makers hope their end product will also switch to sleep mode when the grill is not in use, include “leak detection capabilities,” and most importantly, conform to all regulatory standards. Who knows? Perhaps, we will see the device on Kickstarter one day…

“Our approach to measuring propane usage is completely different than other solutions because a remotely located central database will receive and analyze the sensor readings and output the fuel level to the user’s smart phone. We would utilize the proceeds of this challenge to aid in the development of the database, mobile app, and hardware,” its creators explain.

Interested? You can read all about the project on MAKE’s official write-up here, or watch its video demo below.