Tag Archives: Maker Faire Trondheim

Hacking bus stops Maker style

To promote this year’s Trondheim Maker Faire, HK reklamebyrå, Norwegian Creations and Trondheim Makers “hacked” two bus stops in the heart of the city. Rather than go with old-fashioned poster signage, the group of Makers wanted to do something a bit more special. With only one week of preparation and a very limited budget, we had to use what we had in our drawers.

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I’m not sure if the city of Trondheim, ATB (the bus company) or Clear Channel knew what they allowed us to do, but each of them said “yes” without any other reservations other than, of course, that we had to return the bus stops to a state normality upon completion.

Aasmund doing some accurate measurements for Øyvind.

Aasmund doing some accurate measurements for Øyvind.

As with any Maker project, there were problems to overcome. The first challenge we experienced was how to get stable AC electricity. The outlets in the poster boxes are on the same system as the street light; as a result, there’s only electricity when it’s dark outside. This was certainly a bad thing if you want to have it up and running during daytime, or even evenings because of the long Norwegian summer days. So, we actually got the keys to the boxes that contain all the network and electricity for the real-time timetable system used by the bus company.

Preparing the plywood and electronics at the Fix Makerspace in Trondheim.

Preparing the plywood and electronics at the Fix Makerspace in Trondheim.

The first bus stop we started working on was the one with a retro game. Our first plan was let people play Super Mario Bros, but we soon realized that it would be difficult for the player to control the game, as we wanted to use a MaKey MaKey and aluminum foil tape on the glass for game controls. We did not find a easy way to combine directional buttons with the A and B buttons, since one hand had to be in contact with ground all the time. Given the limited time, we elected to use another game, where you just needed one button a time: Pac Man.

Just some cobblestone and cables...

Just some cobblestone and cables…

In short, the incredibly innovated Pac Man bus stop consisted of a pre-cut sheet of plywood with an old computer screen, a Raspberry Pi with the retro game installed, as well as a MaKey MaKey controlled by aluminum foil tape on the glass front of the poster box. We did not give the players the opportunity to leave the game.

camera.vflip = True

camera.vflip = True

The other bus stop, we decided to transform into a photo booth using a Raspberry Pi, a PiCam and a MaKey MaKey, which we didn’t have. Without any place to get a MaKey Makey in Trondheim, and an inadequate amount of time to order online, we turned an Atmel Xplained Mini into a MaKey MaKey-ish controller.

The Xplained Mini that saved the day!

The Xplained Mini that saved the day!

Our first plan was to upload all the pictures from the bus stop photo booth directly onto our webpage; however, since the bus stop was located downtown and was open to the public, we needed some kind of moderation. The pictures were sent from the Raspberry Pi to an email address.

All the codes for the photo booth bus stop could be downloaded from Maker Faire Trondheim’s website.

All in all, this was a fun thing to do — both for us who were working with the project and for all those who played Pac Man and took selfies at the bus stop. As we imagined, there were even some commuters who chose to continue playing instead of hopping aboard the bus!

Atmel @ Maker Faire Trondheim

It’s official! Trondheim, home of AVR architecture, has officially hopped onboard the Maker Movement train and is going full steam ahead. This year, the region has seen the emergence of Makerspaces, coworking spaces and of course, its first Maker Faire. The inaugural Maker Faire Trondhiem kicked off in the heart of the city on August 29-30th, smack dab in the middle of Trondheim’s town square. Over 70 projects were on display, a majority of which powered by Atmel microcontrollers (MCUs).

From cycles and contraptions to swarming robots and invisible mosquitos, this year’s event had it all. Reporting for MAKE Magazine, Alasdair Allan highlighted some of these Atmel based creations, among a number of others, that generated some buzz from attendees.

Now, here’s a look back at the event in photos.

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As one Maker Faire comes to an end, another is set to begin. Don’t forget to join the Atmel team in Queens later this month for the 5th Annual World Maker Faire. Undoubtedly, this year will be amazing as an expected 750+ 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 put the spotlight on Arduino and Arduino-related projects. See you soon!

The robotic troika of Atmel summer interns in Trondheim

Troika: A Russian word for a group of three, and also a pretty good Norwegian chocolate bar.

It’s a safe assumption that most of us have had some sort of experience with summer jobs throughout our years as students. It’s also quite likely that some of us remember these jobs as full of sweat and manual work at a construction site, on a farm or in some kind of warehouse; however, not all summer jobs have to be this way. Today, I received a piece of mail from some of the summer interns at Atmel Trondheim, and from the sounds of it, they have some pretty cool things going on!

The Line Follower

A line follower is a machine equipped with some sort of light-sensitive sensors that follows a line — either a black line on a white surface or vica versa.

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“This project utilizes two Light Dependent Resistors (LDRs) to detect the amount of reflected light from two Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs). The chassis is made of cardboard and the whole robot is made without any soldering. The idea behind this robot was to introduce some intelligence to a robot in an easy and inexpensive way,” explains Magne Normann, one of the summer interns at Atmel.

The Avoidance Robot

This is an obstacle avoidance-type robot based around the Atmel Abot. All that’s required to build this kind of robot is a platform, two motors/servos, some wires and a distance sensor. However, this particular project has got an additional servo. The ultrasonic sensor is mounted on a servo in front of the robot, and as the servo rotates, the sensor measures the distances in its envorionment and uses this information to choose a path between any obstacles.

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The Atmel Tank

Have you ever seen one of those USB rocket launchers and wondered if they’re hackable? Well, they are.

“We got our hands on a USB missile launcher, disassembled it, did a reversed engineering and modified it. Then we added Bluetooth connectivity, put it on an Atmel Abot and made an app for it. The app does have both one and two-player modes; one player controls both the vehicle and the turret, and two-player mode where one player controls the car, while another controls the turret,” Magne shares.  

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“Up until now the only way to interface with an USB rocket launcher had been through the complicated USB protocol. Unfortunately not many microcontrollers support this feature. We therefore decided to hack the rocket launcher down to the old school way, so we could control it with simple GPIOs. We opened the launcher up and discovered the unused footprint for a microcontroller. Apparently, initial design was based on using a microcontroller, but somewhere along the way someone decided to go with a die instead. This left the microcontroller pads unused and available for us to use. All we had to do was probe the signals for each command, disconnect the die from the circuit paths and solder our own wires to the microcontroller pads. This way we could use the existing H-bridges and switches without any additional hardware required.”

Magne notes that the tank is currently bringing havoc to the Atmel department located at Tiller, Norway. Interested in seeing it for yourself? The tank will be on display, along with several other Atmel-based projects, at Maker Faire Trondheim scheduled for August 29-30th. Maker Faire attendees will also have the opportunity to compete for the title of Maker Faire’s “Best Tank Commander.”