Tag Archives: RGB LED

Maker magic with 3D-printed wands and software spells

SpellTag — which recently made its debut on Kickstarter — is described by its creators as “laser tag LARPing with 3D-printed wands and software spells.” What an experience that sounds like! And to think, we thought Dungeons and Dragons was ahead of its time in the ‘80s.

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With the addition of 3D printing to the LARPing (Live Action Roleplaying for the uninitiated) realm, personal character customization is now at an unprecedented level. Any Maker can channel their inner mage or rogue and produce a staff or amulet that perfectly represents them. Now, toss an Atmel based Arduino inside these devices and real-life roleplaying is possible!

“Think of laser tag, but for mages, sorcerors, witches, and wizards… Think of being able to combine your magical weapon (wand, sword +1, sceptre, staff, you name it) and your health meter (amulet) into your own unique character, and gain experience, new magical skills, and exciting new additions to your gameplay each and every time you play,” a company rep explains.

Using internal sensors and data points, spells can be fired across battlefields and “hit points” (aka health) can be tracked. The more a LARPer uses their device, the more experience and levels their fantasy persona acquires. According to the team behind SpellTag, “Light effects signal the firing of spells, and as you take more hits, your Amulet and Wand will grow dimmer and dimmer. Eventually, upon defeat your wand goes dark from lack of mana or your Amulet goes dark from lack of health and you are knocked unconscious.”

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The team has created rich and flexible hardware by utilizing the highly-popular Arduino platform, which provides a varying level of activity, ranging from spell casting capabilities to gesture controls. This was achieved by incorporating a customized Arduino-compatible shield, a super tiny Atmel based MCU, a Bluetooth radio, accelerometer and an RGB LED display — each of which successfully fit into the 3D-printed wand and amulet prototypes for the game.

The roleplaying scenario is driven by Decorum Decks which communicate with the SpellTag smartphone app. “Decorum Decks are cards with printed patterns that are recognized by the SpellTag App and display secret enchantments, settings features like health fountains, vaults to search, and spells that trigger gameplay for every magic user,” the team writes.

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The ability for players to device their own experiences and inputs allows for truly unique LARPing adventure. And to think, we were wowed by the opportunities 20-sided dice provided back in the day! Each wand equipped with a LoL module can be customized to cast specific spells and be vulnerable to others. In reality, roleplaying has never been so connected. Harry Potter would be jealous of this magical rig!

Interested in this Atmel powered, mythical project? Explore some Maker magic on SpellTag’s official Kickstarter page.

An Uno-based robot chameleon

A Maker by the name of MarkusB recently created a color-changing chameleon robot for his daughter to help illustrate the concept of camouflage.

“My daughter and me continued to study our animal encyclopedia. We found the chameleon,” MarkusB wrote in a blog post describing the project. “I tried to explain [to] her that some species adjust their colors for camouflage in accordance with the vision, but she did not understand, so I built a simple robot chameleon during her afternoon nap.”

The fairly simple circuit includes an Arduino Uno (ATmega328), a TCS3200 color sensor with breakout board, a ping pong ball, resistors and an RGB LED.

The entire build cost a grand total of $10 (excluding the Arduino) and took only two hours to complete. For the next iteration of the robot chameleon, MarkusB will be adding a temperature sensor as a well as a capacitive sensor for touch.

“My daughter is very excited about the little robot chameleon and played a long time with it,” he added. 

”She now understands that some chameleons adjust their colors for camouflage in accordance with [their surroundings] and she learned some names of colors in different languages (German and English).

Interested in learning more about the Uno-based robot chameleon? You can check out MarkusB’s blog post here and HackADay’s write up here.