Tag Archives: MEGA

Video: Arduino Mega drives single-wheel Jackal

Nick Thatcher has debuted the Jackal, a slick one-wheeled self balancing vehicle (unicycle) equipped with a single 19-inch motorcycle wheel.

The Jackal – powered by a 24v 450w geared unite motor – is controlled with the help of an Atmel-based Arduino Mega (ATmega2560 MCU) that maintains the cycle’s balance.

“The Arduino Mega REV3 takes the data from the inertial measurement unit IMU (gyro), does some number crunching and then spits out PWM signals in the direction of the motor controller,” Thatcher explained.

Aside from the Atmel-based Arduino Mega, key project components include:

  • IMU (gyro)
  • SyRen 50 motor controller
  • Two 12v 12ah lead acid batteries (slated for upgrade)
  • PVC
  • Chain drive

The Jackal is capable of achieving a top speed of 20mph, with enough torque to climb all but the steepest of all hills.

According to Thatcher, the Jackal builds on a previous project dubbed “The Raptor,” adding speed, style and a proper wheel.

Interested in learning more? You can check out The Jackal’s official page here.

Retro gaming DuinoCube goes live on Kickstarter

Developed by Simon Que, DuinoCube is described as a portable platform that allows Makers and gamers to develop their own retro titles using the popular open-source Arduino environment.

Essentially, DuinoCube comprises two shields: GFX (audio and graphics) and the Atmel-based UI (file system, extra memory, on-board controller chip). Currently, DuinoCube is compatible with the Arduino Uno, Mega and Esplora.

“When you combine a GFX shield and UI shield with an Arduino board, you get a DuinoCube. The UI Shield goes on top of the Arduino and the GFX Shield goes on top of the UI Shield,” Que explained in a recent Kickstarter post.

“With DuinoCube, your Arduino becomes a retro gaming system with the capabilities of classic game systems like the SNES and Gameboy Advance. DuinoCube is highly portable so you can show your friends the games you’ve made.”

Key platform technical specs include:


320×240 VGA graphics (higher resolutions expected soon).
  • 256 independent objects (sprites).
  • 4 independent tiled layers.
  • 18-bit color in four palettes, each with 256 colors.
  • Hardware scrolling.
  • Hardware collision detection.
  • Stereo audio output.
  • MicroSD card file system.
  • USB gamepad support.

Powered by Atmel’s ATmega328P microcontroller, the UI shield for the Uno/Mega is equipped with an SD card, extra RAM, USB host and controller chip.

Similarly, the UI shield for the Esplora features Atmel’s ATmega328P, SD card, extra RAM, controller chip and Uno-style headers.

“The UI Shields can [also] be used as a generic file system, or as a USB host controller for the Arduino Uno/Mega version,” Que confirmed. “[Plus], the GFX Shield can be used as a generic FPGA shield [by] reprogramming the FPGA with an Altera USB Blaster cable.”

Interested in learning more? You can check out DuinoCube’s official Kickstarter page here.

Video: ArdaSol monitors this photovoltaic plant

Heinz Pieren’s ArdaSol was recently featured on the official Arduino blog. This innovative platform is designed to monitor energy production and consumption of a domestic photovoltaic plant.

ArdaSol can be broken down into three primary components. The first – known as ArdaSol Display – is built around an Atmel-based Arduino Mega board (ATmega2560 MCU) and tasked with collecting data, as well as relaying information to a remote server.

Next up is the Energy Monitor, which is powered by an an Atmel-based Arduino Uno (ATmega328 MCU). This component measures consumption, displays energy values and relays data to the ArdaSol display.

Last, but certainly not least, the Remote PVI Interface is based on a (second) Arduino Uno. The PVI is equipped with an RS485 interface connected to the ArdaSol remote, effectively acting as a gateway to the ArdaSol Display.

“It converts the requests, with a radio signal to the PVI and vice versa,” Pieren added.

Interested in learning more? You can check out Pieren’s official ArdaSol page here and the original Arduino blog post here.

ATmega168 MCU powers energy-saving thermostat

Earlier this month, Bits & Pieces took a closer look at a smart thermostat in the Netherlands powered by an Arduino Mega 2560 (ATmega2560 MCU), as well as a three-zone thermostat built around an Atmel-based Arduino Uno (ATmega328).

Today, we’re going to get up close and personal with a thermostat equipped with a stand-alone Atmel ATmega168 AVR micrcontroller that was built to regulate Andrian’s boiler.

“After a few minutes, the [boiler] warms the water enough so that the water temp exceeds the thermostat limit. The thermostat changes state and drives an electric valve to move the water from the boiler to the radiators. The electric valve is slow and takes a few minutes to make a full turn,” Andrian wrote in a recent blog post.

“While the water is moving from the boiler to the radiators, circularly cool water is coming back from the radiators. Τhe water temp in the boiler is getting cooler and after a few minutes falls under the thermostat’s limit. The thermostat changes state and stops the valve from driving the water to radiators. This happens again and again until [all the] water in the radiators is warm. ”

To prevent this issue – opening and closing the electric valve in minimal increments – Andrian designed a thermostat capable of delaying the sample points. More specifically, it monitors the boiler temp, driving the electric valve only when the overall water temp exceeds the thermostat limit. Subsequently, the device waits half an hour or more before once again checking the water temperature.

Key project specs include:


One LM7805 regulator and two capacitors (simple power supply design)
Rotary/push-button switch (menu selection and configuration)
Two relays driving external electric valves
  • HD4780 LCD display

“The main MCU is the [Atmel] 8-bit AVR ATmega168, with a buzzer [alerting] the user for a button press or a limit exceeded,” Andrian explained.


“[Meanwhile], two LM35 temp sensors one internal and one external measure the ambient and pipe – boiler temp. You [will] also notice a 32.768Khz crystal, used to implement a real time clock which [tracks] real time delays.”

Interested in learning more about Andrian’s AVR-thermostat? You can check out the project’s official page here.

Universal Proto-Shield connects your Arduino boards

Created by Max & Duane Galactic Enterprises, the Universal Screw-Block Proto-Shield System for Arduino is designed to securely connect various Atmel-based Arduino boards to the outside world.

Supported boards currently include the Uno, Due, Leonardo and Mega.

“The great thing about Arduino boards is that they are so easy to interface to the outside world – to monitor the state of sensors and to control actuators and make things happen. As part of this, you often need to add a few components or circuits of your own, and the best way to do this is by means of a prototyping (proto) shield,” a company rep explained in a recent Kickstarter post.

“Unfortunately, most proto-shields don’t make it particularly easy to actually connect wires to and from the outside world. The Universal Screw-Block Proto-Shield System for Arduino (and chipKIT counterparts) addresses this issue by means of its easy-to-use screw-block terminals.”

Indeed, the platform features two boards as shown below. More specifically, the Master Board on the left works with Arduino Uno and Leonardo, with the Due and Mega requiring the Expansion Board on the right.

“If you are anything like us, you will have a number of Arduino-based projects on the go at the same time. Depending on your mood, you might start working on one, then swap over to another, and swap back again later. The real hassle comes when you have to unplug lots of external sensors and actuators and other devices,” the rep added.

“This is where the Universal Screw-Block Proto-Shield System for Arduino is worth its weight in gold. If you create each project on its own Proto-Shield, then you can use a single Arduino – all you have to do is quickly and easily swap your Proto-Shields in and out… [In addition], the Universal Screw-Block Proto-Shield System for Arduino allows I2C-based Uno shields to work with the other types of Arduino.”

Interested in learning more? You can check out the project’s official Kickstarter page here.

Day 1: Atmel @ Embedded World (Part 1)

Atmel kicked off Day 1 of Embedded World with a media event on the train between Munich and Nuremberg.

It wasn’t long before Atmel’s booth, located in Hall 4A/4A-220, was also jam-packed with industry insiders, analysts and journalists who came to check out our recently launched products and extensive lineup of interactive demos.

To be sure, Atmel announced a slew of new products at the show including a SAMA5D3 Xplained board with Newwark element14, 6 new 4k-16k Flash devices for its flagship AVR Mega MCU family, an expanded SAM D Cortex M0+ portfolio, SmartConnect for the IoT, a low-power LIN System Basis Chip (SBC) and two new maXTouch touchscreen controllers.

In addition, Atmel announced the winners of its AVR Hero Design Contest: Sumit Grover, Juan Luis Gonzalez, Rahul Karr and Pamungkas Sumasta, who received the grand prize for his AVR-Arduino Inertial Mobile Phone Unit.

Tomorrow, Atmel’s low-power MCU Expert Bob Martin is scheduled to present “Differentiating and Optimizing for Static and Active Microcontroller Modes” during the hands-on workshop: “Applying Optimizing Techniques for Ultra-low Power Microcontrollers” (Class 07, Wednesday, February 26). In this 9:00 am – 5:00 pm CET day-long session, Martin will be presenting at 9:15 am CET. So be sure to stay tuned for more updates from Bits & Pieces! Note: Part two of this series can be viewed here.

Arduino Mega drives custom ECU for diesel engines

Sven and Juho are working to perfect a custom ECU (electronic control unit) for diesel engines using an Atmel-based Arduino Mega (ATmega1280).

“[Hobbyists often] take the engine from a newer car with a modern direct injected diesel engine, with all the cables, sensors and motor controller and adapt it to their beloved old car. A ‘new’ electronically controlled engine is used to replace the old worn out engine – and with that follows better power, less pollution and way better fuel economy,” the duo told Zoe Romano of the official Arduino blog.

“[However], this takes time and is a complex project. You have to adapt the [cables], install the ECU (the motor controller) and must be sure that all the peripheral sensors sitting all around the engine is brought over to the new car and is working. You might also have to adapt the instrument cluster behind the steering wheel to make all the warning lights and gauges to work again.”

Fortunately, there is a viable alternative to the above-mentioned process. Indeed, the duo’s Arduino-powered controller is more than capable of managing the engine with pre-existing (engine) sensors.

“By doing this, the motor swap is reduced to a weekend project and everything in the [vehicle] is working as it was before,” the two added.

“No instruments modification, no need for external valves and sensors, no adapted cables. Just the Arduino.”

Sven and Juho have managed to implement partial functionality for the project, including:

  • Integrated control map editor
  • Diagnostic trouble code (DTC) memory
  • Fuel map (RPM vs. TPS)
  • Boost map (MAP vs RPM)
  • Torque limiter map (MAP vs RPM)
  • VNT / WG control map (IQ vs RPM)
  • Pump advance map (IQ vs RPM)
  • Cold start and idle map (RPM vs. Temperature)

Future functionality is slated to include:

PID based idle stabilization
  • EGT sensor support
  • Fuel trim maps for compensation intake air temp or fuel temp
  • HDK actuator support
  • Cruise control
  • Traction control
  • Optimized EEPROM structure

Interested in learning more? You can check out the project’s official page here and Zoe Romano’s Arduino write up here.

More RAM with the Teensy++ 2.0

So, you’ve decided to use the Atmel-powered Teensy++ 2.0 (AT90USB1286) in your latest Maker project.

Want to know how you can access more memory? 

Well, you’re in luck, because xxxajk recently came up with a library that allows the use of significant RAM expansion with the Teensy++ 2.0.

As HackADay’s Brian Benchoff notes, xxxajk’s latest library is actually a port of XMEM2, an earlier project that added RAM expansion and multitasking to the Arduino Mega (ATmega1280). 

As expected, XMEM2 works with Rugged Circuits QuadRAM and MegaRAM expansions for the Arduino Mega as well as Andy Brown‘s 512 SRAM expansion.

“Up to 255 banks of memory are available and with the supported hardware, the Teensy can address up to 512kB of RAM,” Benchoff explained. 

”XMEM2 also features a preemptive multitasking with up to 16 tasks, the ability to pipe messages between tasks and all the fun of malloc().”

Interested in learning more? You can check out xxxajk/xmem2 on Github here, QuadRAM here, MegaRAM here and the 512 SRAM expansion here.

Video: Mega + Uno drives this 8X8X8 cube invader

Anred Zynch recently debuted a massively slick 8x8x8 LED cube — configured as a Space Invaders style game with a Playstation 1 controller.

According to Hackaday’s James Hobson, the cube is powered by an Arduino Mega (ATmega2560) which is tasked with driving the 512-LED array. 

Meanwhile, an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) is responsible for generating sound effects during gameplay.

Aside from the two Atmel based Arduino boards, key cube components include:

  • 512x LEDs
  • 10x Silver plated wire 0.8mm for sinkers and LED grid
  • 2x Breadboard 160×100 H25PR160 (sinkers)
  • 1x 100 Ohm resistor
  • 1x Speaker 8 Ohm
  • 2x resistor between 1,5 K and 47 K
  • 1x switch 2 or 3-positions
  • 1x or 2x 10K ohm resistor

Zynch’s cube — recently surfaced on Instructables — was reportedly inspired by a number of cube projects, including Chr’s and yes, the Borg cube by Das-Labour.

Interested in learning more? You can find additional information, along with a full parts breakdown on the project’s official page here.

Designing a “living lamp” with an Arduino Mega

Dutch design student Trieuvy Luu has created a “living lamp” known as Junior. Erika Rae of Core77 describes Junior as a whimsical lamp that depends on your breath to keep his energy up.

“By breathing toward the lamp, Junior lights up—literally and figuratively—into the perfect playful midday distraction,” she explains.

“Junior detects the warmth in your breath and pulls energy from it to interact with your movements. The lamp’s main goal is to remind users to take moments throughout their busy days to breathe and interact with an object in a more natural and intuitive way.”

After a few minutes, the lamp builds up enough energy to track a user’s
 movements for short period of time and stay lit for a couple of hours.

According to Luu, the inspiration for Junior was found in the simple everyday act.

“The idea of giving your energy away is inspired from yoga and meditation breathing exercises,” he says. “When Junior absorbs your energy, you can see it go through his body. Just like when you inhale deeply and the oxygen is traveling all the way through your body.”

The lamp is powered an Atmel-based Arduino Mega (ATmega1280) paired with OpenCV facetracking. Additional project components include three servos, camera, microphone, temperature sensor and 6 LED strips.