Tag Archives: tinkerers

Maker Movement making a mark

With the World Maker Faire just 42 days away, the Maker Movement continues to create headlines across the globe. The drive to customize, create and innovate is becoming a modern mindset adopted by everyone, ranging from students and startups to celebrities and Fortune 500 brands.

“The next industrial revolution is right around the corner, and it’s going to be bigger than the Internet — or so says a growing army of hackers, designers, artists and entrepreneurs.” Writing for USA TodayTyler Wells penned a piece detailing the rise of DIY culture, contributing its emergence to the low-cost, high-imagination level of makerspaces popping up across the country. “These massive fabrication facilities are like a cross between a business incubator and a manufacturing plant, with sprinklings of academia and community spirit thrown in for good measure.”


The convergence of various forces — a growing community, enhanced visualization, new applications, greater access to tools and increased connectivity — is fueling Makers to create gizmos and gadgets never before conceived, many of which are appearing on display at Maker Faire events throughout the world and crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. This new mindset is enabling everyone to embrace their inner tinkerer. Today, the everyday Maker has the ability to turn any ordinary object into an Internet-connected device with platforms, such as littleBits’ recently-unveiled cloudBit kit.

“With the right motivation and time on your hands, you can now go through your own personal industrial revolution in 90 days, and can launch a company or product within those 90 days,” explained TechShop CEO Mark Hatch. Furthering the Techshop CEO’s belief, Gartner’s Jim Tully recently projected that by 2018, nearly 50% of the Internet of Things solutions would be provided by startups which are less than three years old.

The speed at which today’s Maker’s can go from idea to prototype is absolutely thrilling. “The skill level required to produce a usable prototype or usable object has dropped precipitously just in the last five years,” Hatch added. Even more so, the shared makerspace is enabling for innovation to occur at an incredibly low cost. Wells elaborates upon Hatch’s comments around the movement, writing that “most entrepreneurs are able to cut their development costs by 98% through use of a shared space platform.”


Though, it must be said that the Maker Movement would not be garnering so much attention without the loyal and devoted DIY community. Hatch tells USA Today that the Maker Movement was a “community on steroids,” and the devotion to the ideal is something to behold. Of course, this bond between creator and craft will be on full display at next month’s World Maker Faire in New York City.

“The catalog of success stories is proof enough: The Square credit card reader, Pebble smartwatch, Coin all-in-one credit card and the MakerBot 3-D printer all came from makerspaces in different parts of the country.” The thing that makes the Maker Movement a real revolution, not just a passing fad, is the confluence of cheap manufacturing, cultural entrepreneurship and simple economics.

“Collectively, these forces are democratizing innovation,” the USA Today article notes. This convergence has paved the way for a number of Atmel-powered gizmos and gadgets to hit the market, several of which have even been successfully funded on Kickstarter and Indiegogo. In addition, the market has seen the emergence of lesser-known projects, ranging from battery-powered skateboards and low-cost irrigation systems for impoverished farmers to DIY smartphones and 3D printing pens.

But it’s not just about startup costs. Innovation itself is undergoing a fundamental shift, as major corporations like Disney, GE, Ford and even Atmel are now sponsoring Maker Faire events, collaborating with existing makerspaces or building their own to cultivate new ideas. In addition, a number of universities and government agencies are also getting into the action, which was evident by this year’s White House Maker Faire.

To further attempt to ingrain the Maker Movement within society, Noha El-Ghobashy of Fast Company believes the Maker Movement is reenergizing our youth to enter into the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The author writes that newfound “curiosity about how the world works and an appreciation of how determination and excitement can help solve real-world challenges.”

Lo’ and behold, the Maker Movement is clearly beginning to take hold within certain portions of our culture. With a creative and determined mindset, the possibilities for invention are boundless. Mark Hatch concludes that the Maker Movement community is making a serious impact and, “we’ve only just started.”

ATtiny85 operates (fingerprint) garage door opener

A high school sophomore known by the Instructables handle “nodcah” recently designed a DIY fingerprint scanning garage door opener powered by Atmel’s popular ATtiny85 microcontroller (MCU).

Fortunately, the DIY project isn’t limited to just garage doors, allowing Makers and tinkerers to create various types of simple motorized locks by modding the initial Instructables.

Aside from Atmel’s ATtiny85 microcontroller (MCU), key project components include:


Fingerprint scanner and JST connector
  • Serial LCD kit with Atmel’s ATmega328 MCU
PNP transistor
  • Buzzer
  • Speaker wire
  • 3D printed case
  • Copper tape
  • 5V voltage regulator
9V battery and connector
  • SPDT limit switch

“The serial LCD kit sold by Sparkfun comes with an ATmega328 MCU to control the LCD. The ATmega has extra processing power to be used for other tasks besides controlling the LCD. Because of this, we can use it as an Arduino to communicate with the fingerprint scanner, send an ATtiny85 commands, control the LCD and use a buzzer to play tones,” nodcah explained in a detailed Instructables post.

“To prevent the module from running continuously, I’ve added a limit switch to detect when the case is closed. If it’s closed, power will not be supplied to it (saves battery power).”

After gathering the above-mentioned materials, drawing the circuit and assembling the serial LCD kit, nodcah builds the circuit boards, programs the ATmega328 and ATtiny85, configures the fingerprint scanner, writes the sketch and 3D prints a basic case.

“To open the garage door I wired my module to the button that normally opens the garage. Instead of a physical connection being made, the module uses a NPN transistor to ‘press’ the button. The wires should first be measured and cut to size, leaving a little extra wire just to be safe,” nodcah added.

“Then, the hard part: soldering the wires from the button to the FPS module. The wires should next be wrapped with a generous amount of tape. To get the signal from the ATmega outside of the garage to the ATtiny inside the garage, three wires (power, ground and signal) will need to be fed through the wall. On my garage, there was a piece of wood that I just drilled right through.”

Last, but certainly not least, nodcah notes that the module’s built-in enroll feature can be used to open the garage and create personalized messages for each profile.

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