Tag Archives: Makers

Protect your chickens with this automatic door

Philip Verbeek has developed an automated, ATtiny84-powered door system to protect his chickens against fox at night. 

As anyone who has a chicken coop knows, fox will not hesitate to go after your fowl for its next meal. In fact, a single red fox has been known to wipe out entire flocks in a single raid. These predators are not just relentless, but they are also patient and very smart. They will find all the cracks, openings, and weak points in your chicken runs and use those as entry points.


Knowing this, engineer Philip Verbeek decided to create an automatic door system to protect his chickens against the fox at night using an ATtiny84. The door position itself is dependent of the daylight intensity, and door will automatically close at sunset and then reopen at sunrise. (Due to their natural biorhythms, chickens will always go inside at dusk.)

A user can manually set the light value at which the system should trigger. This can simply be done by turning the potentiometer with a screwdriver. In Verbeek’s case, light intensity was measured by an LDR. This sensor should be activated for more than five minutes to start the system, thereby preventing it from being involuntarily actuated by somebody walking by.


The time for door closing is set by a timer and the door is lifted until an limit switch is pressed. This way, the system has a reference point.

“At the moment, I developed the system further into one casing (black box principle). So it is much more solid, easy to install and up and running in no time. The advantage over already existing kind of systems is that it is relatively inexpensive and adaptable to your own requirements,” Verbeek explains.

Need a new way to protect your coop? Check out the automatic door here, and see it in action below.


This Maker built his own robot drinking buddy

Bot-toms up!

Let’s face it, there’s no fun in drinking alone. This is what inspired South Korean Maker Eunchan Park to develop a robot that can literally go shot for shot with him, albeit never actually consuming the alcohol. Although he may not be able to chat like some of your best buds, the slick device can accompany you if you feel like throwing back a few when no one else is around.


While there have been plenty of bots capable of preparing and mixing cocktails for you in the past, we’re not sure if we’ve ever seen one that actually drinks with you instead. Not only can the aptly named Robot Drinky cheers your glass, his cheeks emit a red light with every chug and he can even signal for a refill as well.

The idea for such a companion was conceived after experiencing a lonely holiday a few years back. As Park explains:

On Christmas in 2012, I drank Soju (Korean alcohol) alone because I had no girlfriend at that time. Drinking alone was definitely terrible! So I couldn’t drink anymore.
Lastly, I put an extra glass in front of me and poured Soju into it. And then, I cheered by myself with the glass of Soju, as though there was someone in front of me. Surprisingly, after that, the taste became totally to be changed!!!!!! WOW!!!

So, I could finally find the secret of taste of alcohol totally depends on existence of partner. This is why I made this robot.

There’s no word yet on whether the Maker has any future plans for Drinky, but we wouldn’t be surprised to find it on Kickstarter or at a CES in the near future. See him in action below!

This doormat welcomes guests with Star Wars tunes

StarMAT is an interactive doormat that detects a footstep and plays Star Wars tunes and phrases.

If you’ve ever dreamed of marching through a door to the sounds of Star Wars, you’re in luck. That’s because Maker Rohit Gupta has devised an interactive doormat that plays random audio clips from the film upon entering his room.


To coincide with the recent release of the latest box office hit, the DIY doormat detects a footstep using capacitive sensing and then emits either an iconic song (like the opening theme or Imperial March) or a famous phrase from the saga.

The current setup is temporarily breadboarded, and consists of an Arduino with an MP3 shield connected to a pair of desktop USB speakers. Meanwhile, there’s a capacitive wire loop hidden beneath the mat and a self-calibrating capacitive sensor tuned to the mat size wire. Once someone steps onto the mat, the sensor triggers the Arduino to sound the audio bit, which is stored on an SD card.

Ready for a doormat from a galaxy far, far away? Head over to the project’s page here, or see it in action above!


This machine plots the phantom Sandy Island

The New Velocity is an Arduino-based project that plots the phantom Sandy Island digitally. 

In 1876, the ship Velocity reported observing a series of sandy islands. As the practice of the day was to leave any potential navigational hazards on charts, these islands that are now officially “nonexistent” survived into the digital age and were not officially “undiscovered” until 2012. This seems like an interesting phenomenon in our age when it often seems that with satellites, and GPS information, we should at least know an accurate layout of the earth.


Luiz Zanotello of the University of the Arts Bremen created The New Velocity machine to explore this cartographic anomaly in the digital age. Black sand is poured onto a rotating platform, creating a miniature “island” on a table. A sensor is moved up and down in sinusoidal pattern, simulating the observation conditions of the original ship. This data on this false island is then recorded and put in a publicly-available dataset.


Per the project’s homepage, “Each set of datasets evidences the presence of an islet within the island’s range, and archives its survey readings on the islet’s coastline, water depth surroundings, topographical elevation and geotagged content.” Although the moral implications of digitally reviving a phantom island is an open question, as seen in the video below, the device is well-made and would look great as an art exhibit.


This project was brought to life using an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) to handle motion and sensor data, working alongside a Raspberry Pi 2 for visual and mapping control.

[h/t Creative Applications]

Rewind: 27 STEM kits from 2015

These STEM toys from 2015 are helping to inspire the next generation of Makers.

STEM education has been a growing venture in schools across the country, with even the President himself making it a priority to encourage students as young as grade-school to pursue the science, technology, engineering and math disciplines. After all, these fields are changing the world rapidly within the areas of innovation, economic growth and employment. But let’s face it; these subjects don’t come easy to everyone, so how do we instill STEM in kids?

With this in mind, many startups have sought out new and exciting ways to entice the younger generation to explore their creativity and develop an interest in hands-on learning. Testament to that, here are several products from 2015 looking to inspire the next generation of Makers.

littleBits Gizmos & Gadgets


The Gizmos & Gadgets Kit is the ultimate invention toolbox, complete with motors, wheels, lights , switches, servos, buzzers and even the tools to build a remote control.



Jewelbots are programmable friendship bracelets that teach girls the basics of coding.



Thimble is a monthly subscription service that delivers fun electronic projects with guided tutorials and a helpful community.

Touch Board Starter Kit


Bare Conductive’s Touch Board Starter Kit contains everything you need to transform surfaces, objects or spaces into sensors.

Makey Makey GO


Small enough to fit on your keychain, backpack or bracelet, Makey Makey GO turns everyday objects into touchpads and combines them with the Internet. Say hello to the world’s first invention kit.



RePhone from Seeed Studio allows Makers to create a phone themselves in minutes and hack a new way to communicate with things.



mBot is an all-in-one, Arduino-compatible robot that supports wireless communication and employs Scratch 2.0-like coding.



Ringo is a miniature digital pet robot equipped with an accelerometer, a gyrosocope, six RGB LEDs, as well as sound and communication sensors.



Wink is an Arduino-driven robot designed to help transition students from graphical programming to more powerful written code languages. It’s also the sibling of the aforementioned Ringo.



Kano is a computer and coding kit for all ages that’s as simple as LEGO, powered by Raspberry Pi.

Primo Cubetto


Primo Cubetto is a smart wooden robot designed to teach kids the basics of coding away from the screen.



Petduino puts a DIY twist on the old-school Tamagotchi.



STEMI is a hexapod that can be built right at home and controlled via smartphone.



mCookies are quarter-sized, stackable modules from Microduino that enable young Makers to bring their LEGO projects to life.



Modulo is a set of tiny modular circuit boards that takes the hassle out of electronics.

The Crafty Robot


The Crafty Robot is a paper toy unlike any other — plug it into a USB port for 30 seconds, unplug it and you’ve got a moving robot.



Kamigami is an origami-style robot you can construct and program by yourself. Each one can be configured with a unique set of behaviors and characteristics through a drag-and-drop interface.



Phiro is a LEGO-compatible robotics toy that children can play with, code and innovate in various ways.



With Quirkbot, young Makers can devise and configure quirky robots (hence its name), blinking outfits and weird sounding creatures out of regular drinking straws.



Cannybots are LEGO-compatible, smart toy cars that introduce kids to the worlds of robotics, programming and 3D printing.



3DRacers is a Mario Kart-like indoor racing game that lets anyone design and 3D print their own car.

Volta Flyer


Volta Flyer is the world’s first DIY airplane kit that is solely powered by the sun.



Roby is a 3D-printed robotic machine that not only drives on four wheels, but can walk on two. If it falls, it can even pick itself up again with its pair of arms.

O Watch


O Watch is a DIY smartwatch for a kid, by a kid.



LocoRobo is a cute, inexpensive robot capable of being wirelessly programmed.



KamiBot is a programmable, smartphone-controlled paper robot.

Pixel Pals


Pixel Pals are easy-to-build, fun educational kits that grow from a project to a friend you can program.

Fiat Lux


Fiat Lux is an Arduino-compatible kit specifically designed for unique wearable projects.



AZIBOt is an open source, 3D-printed robot kit for STEM education in Africa.

This may be the techiest Christmas sweater ever

Be the talk of your next holiday party with this epic sweater.

Got an old, ugly sweater hanging in your closet? Or just an old one in general? Well, now you can breathe new life into the out-of-date garment with the help of a few MCUs and LEDs.


That’s exactly what UK-based Makerspace fizzPOP along with electronics retailer Maplin has done. The wearable — which they’re calling the “techiest Christmas jumper ever” — is equipped with an Adafruit FLORA (ATmega32U4), an Arduino Uno (ATmega328), an Arduino Mega (ATmega2560), four 8×8 LED matrices, as well a bunch of NeoPixels and NeoPixel Minis. It also features a portable 10,000mAh power bank and a pair of electret microphone amplifiers so it can react to those Yuletide jingles.


As you can see in the video below, the RGB matrices allow for some pretty cool graphics to come across the front of the sweater, including a tree, snow, a bird and even some text for the ultimate holiday greeting. And who’s to say that it has to stop at Christmas? With a bit of programming, you can transform your boring pullover or turtleneck into an epic New Year or Hanukah outfit.

Want one of your own? You’re in luck because fizzPOP has put together a nice little tutorial video. If you loved this, then you may want to check out Adafruit’s recent NeoPixel Matrix Snowflake Sweatertoo.

Rewind: 2015 is the year the Maker Movement went mainstream

Look ma, I’m on TV!

Just in case you needed any more proof that the Maker Movement has gone mainstream, here’s a quick look at five times Atmel-based projects got some TV love this year.

Jimmy Fallon


An Arduino Uno (ATmega328) was the unexpected guest on “The Tonight Show” in April when 14-year-old Sahar Khashayar had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to show off her project, the Wildfire Warning System, during Jimmy’s “GE Fallenventions” segment.

Conan O’Brien


The project Conan was referring to was none other than Simone Giertz’s infamous Wake-Up Machine that has attracted millions upon millions of views over the last few weeks. Not a fan of the morning, the always innovative (and hilarious) Maker decided to build an alarm mechanism that would literally slap her in the face with a rubber arm until she got out of bed. To achieve this, she picked apart an ordinary alarm clock, wired it to an Arduino Uno (ATmega328), and controlled a 165rpm brushless DC motor through a relay. We’ll have to wait and see if Giertz gets the invite to demonstrate it live!

Shark Tank


Not only are startups launching their products on crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, a few have even taken their chances in the “Shark Tank.” Like for example, sisters Melissa and Lavanya Jawaharlal, who together founded STEM Center USA with hopes of inspiring the next generation of engineers. The dynamic duo ended up closing a $200,000 deal with QVC’s Lori Greiner for their robotics education concept, but not before attracting interest from Silicon Valley venture capitalist Chris Sacca.

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah


Actress Lupita Nyong’o recently appeared on “The Daily Show” to talk about the highly-anticipated release of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. But it was her color-flicking dress that stole the spotlight. Created by Zac Posen in collaboration Google’s Made With Code initiative, the garment was embedded with over 500 programmable LEDs underneath a top layer of fabric, which sparkled as Nyong’o was welcomed by Trevor Noah. If you recall, the partnership between the designer and Google was announced at New York’s Fashion Week back in September, where the Adafruit FLORA (ATmega32U4)-powered dress was first modeled at Posen’s runway show.

The Ellen Show


According to The New York TimesWall Street JournalUSA Today and TIME, the littleBits Gizmos and Gadgets Kit was one of the year’s top gifts. It was so popular that it even made a cameo on “The Ellen Show” on December 18th, when Ellen and her sidekick Andy Zenor debuted their own drawing robot. Even better, the entire crowd went home with the DIY set!