Tag Archives: XBee

CNC router goes xPRO with Atmel’s ATmega328

Spark Concepts has debuted the CNC xPRO on Kickstarter, a versatile platform powered by Atmel’s ATmega328 microcontroller (MCU).

The CNC xPRO can be used to drive:

  • Four-axis CNC Mill
  • Three-axis CNC Mill with dual drive motors
  • Laser cutter with XY, auto focus and rotary attachment
  • Plasma cutter
  • Pick and place for SMD components
  • Wireless robotics

The GRBL compatible CNC xPRO can be powered via an ATX PSU or a dedicated 12V/24V two wire power supply. The board is also capable of driving four motors with DRV8825 Stepper Drivers at 2.5A (peak) with 1.75A (RMS) and up to 1/32 microstepping.

“One driver is capable of cloning X,Y, or Z or being run as an independent axis, [with] hardware support offered for both USB and wireless operation (XBee, WiFly, or RN42-XV),” a Spark Concepts rep explained.

“In addition, there are 12V and 5V outputs for powering peripherals (fans, pumps, vacuums), [allowing Makers and engineers] to quickly connect Stepper Motors and limit switches with 3.5mm screw terminals.”

Meanwhile, an expansion port supports future upgrades, such as a handheld jog controller and integrated spindle speed control.

“The CNC xPRO ships fully assembled and ready to connect (except for those opting for the bare board). All you need to do is screw down your motor leads and limit switches, plug in your ATX supply (or 12V/24V supply) and computer. You can also add a kill, pause/stop, resume and abort switches,” the rep noted.

“To add Bluetooth wireless, simply plug the RN42-XV into the xPRO and pair it with your computers Bluetooth. When paired correctly, this creates a virtual serial port over Bluetooth linking the computer to the xPRO.”

Interested in learning more? You can check out the CNC xPRO on Kickstarter here.

1:1 with Quin Etnyre of Qtechknow

It’s without question that 13-year-old CEO and whizkid, Quin Etnyre, has already become quite an accomplished Maker changing the world – one Atmel powered Arduino board at a time.

During Maker Faire Bay Area 2014, Quin hosted the “QTechKnow Olympics” robotic challenge featuring Arduino, XBee and FuzzBots.

Quin was also presented with the Maker Faire Editor’s Choice award for his Atmel-based demos and projects.

So what does Quin want to be when he grows up? An educator, user experience designer and electrical engineer.

You can read more about Quin the Maker here, the FuzzBot on Instructables and visit his official website here.

Automating smart window blinds with an Arduino Fio

Bithead recently embarked on a journey to replace a pair of defunct residential shades with motorized window blinds. After researching and deciding on a specific brand, Bithead got to work building a digital bridge to interface the blinds with his home automation system.

“I wanted to make the device small and wireless. I had an extra Arduino Fio (Atmel ATmega328P) left over from an earlier project, so decided to use that as the base of my solution,” Bithead explained in a detailed blog post.

“Next, I purchased an Xbee S6B to allow the Fio to participate on the house WiFi network.  Finally, I purchased some 3V Reed Relays from Meder Electronics.”

On the software side, Bithead wrote a quick app to send command to the Fio, going through at least three major iterations before hitting on a stable version. He also coded an HTML5 interface that allows him to manually override the blinds from any mobile device connected to the house WiFi.

“I used slider controls in the app to set the height of the blinds which makes the app more intuitive,” he continued.

“In addition to a manual control option, I also added some functionality to allow the app to control the blinds autonomously.”

Basic rules include:


At sunrise, raise the blinds to let in light
  • At sunset, lower the blinds to provide privacy
  • If the room gets too warm, lower the blinds to 50% to provide some shade
  • When the room returns to a target temperature, raise the blinds again to let light in
  • When the house is unoccupied, lower the blinds for privacy

“I already have a sunlight sensor configured to trigger the interior stair lights.  I also already have a temperature sensor in each room and house occupancy sensors, so writing the rules was a simple matter of tapping into those database tables and grabbing the current state to determine if the blinds should move,” he added.

Interested in learning more? You can check out HackADay’s write up here and Bithead’s official blog post here.

Building an Atmel based wireless MIDI floor piano

Jianan Li and a team of Makers recently designed a wireless MIDI floor piano for Duke University’s Hackathon. According to the Hackaday crew, a DIY Pressure Plate for a haunted Halloween house featured on the popular website served as the initial inspiration for the wireless MIDI floor piano.

“Having only 24 hours to compete in the Hackathon, they had to choose something that was fairly easy to build out of cheap materials, and quick to assemble. This was just the ticket,” explained Hackaday’s James Hobson.

“The piano features 25 of the aluminum foil pressure plates, whose state are read by the [Atmel-based] Arduino Mega. This is then transmitted by an XBee radio to an Arduino Uno (ATmega328), which acts as the receiver for the laptop that processes the signals. They even added a remote control using Atmel’s ATtiny85 to allow for octave and instrument changes – it uses an XBee to communicate back to the Uno.”

Unsurprisingly, the above-mentioned pressure-sensitive wireless floor project isn’t the first that we’ve seen powered by Atmel microcontrollers (MCUs). Indeed, earlier this year, Sean Voisen and his team at Adobe were asked to build “something new” for the Children’s Creativity Museum in San Francisco.

By August, a digital-physical environment for kids called “Sense It” was up and running. With a 14′x8′ touch-enabled LED wall and a 14′x12′ pressure-sensitive floor, the platform can best be described as a place for kids to run, jump, play and create in a world of ‘extra large’ digital experiences. Sense It is built around a system of pressure-sensitive resistors placed under MDF panels, comprising a total of twenty-one 2′x4′ tiles, each one including 8 pressure-sensitive resistors and an ATtiny84 based platform.

Interested in learning more? Additional information about SenseIt can be found here, while the wireless MIDI floor piano project page is available here.