Archive for the ‘Prototyping’ Category

Arduino at school: People Meter

Sunday, September 1st, 2013

classe virtuale 2013

After 13 years, Classe Virtuale project is once again an interesting opportunity for students to experiment a bridge between school and work. “Classe Virtuale” is a partnership between Loccioni and technical educational institutions started in 2001 when the group started offering to young students training periods and internships in the company giving the chance to work on a real project together with very skilled people and technicians. In 2012 they worked on a flow meter and this year the project focused on a similar project called People Meter, using Arduino Uno, wi-fi and rfid modules, and a 3d printer.


Below you can find more information (in italian) about the team, the project and the results!

Designing a replacement for an obsolete Electro Cam control system

Friday, July 19th, 2013

etched prototype

Patrick Griffin is a  maintenance technician working in the plastics industry for the last 20+ years with primary focus being the repair, upkeep, & design of electrical, electronic, automation, and both relay & PLC control logic. He submitted his project to Arduino blog about using Teensy Arduino on a Maac vacuum former:

This story revolves around one of the workhorse machines in the company where I work: a Maac vacuum former. It is a solid, well-designed machine with a solid, well-designed control system that Maac contracted out to the Electro Cam systems group. As with any industrial equipment, as time goes by the OEM develops new products that replace their old stuff, technologies advance, and eventually they start the formal process of obsoleting their older inventory. (more…)

The Mood Lamp recognizes your facial expressions and turns them into light

Sunday, May 19th, 2013

Mood Lamp

The Mood Lamp project by Vittorio Cuculo, is a system using interactions to communicate an emotional state to a physical object and receive back  a coherent response. In particular, through your facial expression you communicate your emotional state to an RGB color lamp . The lamp, at this point, will respond to the interaction by changing the color of the light emitted in accordance with the emotional state inferred.

The aim of the systems is to remove the mediation between human and machine typical of classic interfaces. Among the modes of natural interaction we usually have gestures, gaze tracking and facial expressions. The latter are particularly relevant because they play a fundamental role in nonverbal communication between human beings.

Regarding the man-machine interaction, the ability to recognize and synthesize facial expressions allows the machine to gain more communication skills, on the one hand by interpreting the emotions on the face of a subject, and on the other by translating their communicative intent through an output, such as movement, sound response or color change.

An IKEA lamp becomes a Natural Interaction system which senses human emotional states through facial expression. It uses OpenCV for image processing and analysis to identify emotional state through the movements of face’s fiducial points. The lamp, made with an Arduino Duemilanove, changes its color to represent the user’s current emotion.
In particular, it receives via serial communication, the values of pleasure, arousal and dominance, following the PAD emotional state model, as inferred from the facial expression and changes accordingly the color of the RGB LEDs.

Mood Lamp

Theatrical electronics hero: Ben Peoples

Friday, January 25th, 2013

Ben Working

Ever wondered about the extent of diversity in electronics? Been to a theatre and wondered at the sophistication of the live stage set? Welcome to the world of theatrical electronics. An exclusive inteview with this engineer in Arts – Ben Peoples

Priya: What is theatrical electronics? I always thought that theatres bought standard stuff off the shelves.
Ben: Theatrical electonics is a field of science where we try to rapid prototype electronic items on the stage to make things appear more real. Of course, it is a huge field. With 25 different theatres around the place where I live, my plates are generally full!

P: Interesting! How long have you been associated with electronics to capture such prototyping skills? What are the general tools that you use?
B: I have been prototyping electronics for over 20 years. I have been an ardent user of Arduino for the past 6. I loved the community so much that I even teach it to other people.

P: Oh teach too? Like classes for theatre prototyping? I would like more details on that.

B: (Smiles) Well not much, they are just getting started on how to rapidly put things together and program it using an Arduino to give it an “appearence” of more complex stuff like Time machine on stage.

P: Sounds fun. What are the theatre-specific whacky things that you teach them to build in the workshop? What are the general tools needed to attend your class?
B: I teach them to build Reed-candles, an elevator, wireless fireplace, wireless-dimmer, using Xbee radios for the lighting console and more things like that. I typically teach them inside a theatre wherein they need to bring their own laptops and software. They are seated inside a rehersal space so that they get the exact feel of designing things for a theatre. Other than that, its the usual arduino boards, gear motors, LEDs and of course, loads and loads of scotch tape! (Laughs)

P: Woah! How long does it take for you to teach them these?
B: 2-3 hours to teach math and the basics, 5 hours to explain the basic expriments and seeing them prototype their first objects. So yes, in total, 8 hours.

P: What according to you, is the advantage to pick electronic skill in the field of theatre?
B: There is theatre in colleges, the person could rise up to be a technical director, there is huge demand for lighting design, scenery design and of course in this age of television and movies, every drama theatre wants to stand out and do something extra. I see a huge future for it!

P: Okay one question that intrigues me after all this conversation is how different is theatre electronics from electronic arts?

B: Interesting question! For starters, Electronic Arts is very finished and polished. Theatrical electronics is well.. more raw and duct-taped at the back. They are two entirely different industries.

P: What are the things that interest you other than prototyping and what would be your ideal birthday present?

B: I love Ariel photography. Ideal birthday present is anything photography related. For work, I have to shoot digital, but for art I shoot 100% film, and just love it.

P: Any advice for youngsters?
B: Don’t be afraid to try anything new. Ship early, ship often.

(Ben can be contacted from his blog here. Also he is the author of a very cool book speaking on the same topic and yes, I contacted him via reddit. :P )

Data-logging made simple with Arduino

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

One of the best capabilities provided by Arduino regards its very high modularity, which helps users to quickly translate ideas into physical artifact, as practically demonstrated by Mauro, which shows on his blog how to build a simple data-logger by properly combining different shields. By using few additional components (mainly resistors and buttons) a fully-functional data logger can be easily implemented.

More information can be found here.

[Via: Mauro Alfieri's blog]

[#arduinotour] Matera Report, Prossima Puntata: Reggio Emilia

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

Ecco un piccolo video report della puntata dell’Arduinotour a Matera (c’é anche un set su Flickr). Questa edizione del tour é stata caratterizzata dalla partecipazione di un ragazzo francese (partito dalla Bretagna e volato per un week-end a Matera – Grande Baptiste!) che ha condiviso con noi la sua esprienza di sviluppatore di open energy monitor, un framework open source per la visualizzazione di consumi online, di cui parleremo presto in una intervista ad hoc. (il blog di Arduino ha trattato precedentemente questa storia, vai al post).

Causa maltempo il workshop é stato ospitato presso le Monacelle, un bed & breakfast poco l’ontano dall’Incubatore, all’interno dei Sassi. Un grazie a Sviluppo Basilicata per il supporto e l’aiuto nell’organizzazione dell’evento.

Per chi si stesse chiedendo quando e dove si farà il prossimo workshop #arduinotour, eccovi serviti: Reggio Emilia a fine gennaio (26-27), presso il neonato Fablab ospitato all’interno dello Spazio Gerra.

Se volete portare l’#arduinotour a casa vostra riempite questo form. Se volete spargere il verbo fate il like sulla pagina dell’arduinotour su facebook.

Workshop on “Physical and Wearable Computing”: projects and outcomes

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

Last July 23-27 2012, the workshop on “Physical and Wearable Computing”, organized by SUPSI within the summer school in “Digital Fabrication and Interaction Design”, has took place involving about 20 participants. This workshop has proved to be a very good approach to introduce future makers to the concepts of digital fabrication, prototyping and design of interactive objects.
On the workshop’s homepage, several prototypes and artifacts manufactured during the workshop are presented. Among them, it’s worth to mention Poetry Zoo, a set of laser-cut and RFID-equipped animals that generate poetries, The Sound of a Line, where simple melodies can be performed by using a ball with conductive ink in combination with a special glove, and Superfluo Shoes, a pair of shoes that react based on movement.
The complete list of projects developed during the workshop can be found on its official home page, while a personal view of this experience by Zoe Romano, who has taught at the summer school together with Massimo Banzi, can be found here.

[Via: homepage of the workshop and Zoe Romano's blog]

Labview and Arduino: 3Dmicro Toolkit Arduino Expansion (beta)

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

3D SuperVision Systems is an italian spin-off from “Università Politecnica delle Marche“, whose mission is to design and to develop new solutions for embedded applications.
Few days ago, they published the latest release of 3Dmicro toolkit, a software add-on to NI Labview usable for firmware rapid prototyping on 32-bit PIC microcontrollers, by using Labview’s easy-to-use graphical programming language; along with this, an Arduino-oriented version has been released as well for academic beta testers, which allows users to make use of Arduino’s I/O, ADCs, timers, PWM and serial communication directly from Labview’s interface.


More information can be found here, while interested beta-testers can sign up this application form.
[Via: Automazione Open Source]

UnoJoy – A USB Joystick for Mac, PC, Linux or PS3

Monday, May 14th, 2012

There are people who use the Arduino for some serious electronics related stuff.

Then, there are folks who use it just for fun. Alan Chatham and his team over at UnoJoy have developed a concept for Arduino Uno based USB Controllers.



Here is an excerpt of our interview with Alan:

Me: What made you choose the Arduino Uno as the heart of the controller? There are many development boards available which incorporate an ATmega8U2/16U2 or even 32U2.

Alan: This is easy – everyone loves Arduino!  It comes down to ease of use and reach.  Our primary goal with this project is to make a tool that is both easy to use and accessible.  There’s lots of code out there to make joysticks with other chips, but all the Atmel USB chips are surface-mount, and they all need a whole big toolchain to use. Plus, USB is super-complicated, and we want to encourage people, even non-technical ones, to spend their time thinking up really sweet new ways to play games, not trying to figure out what an HID descriptor is for.  On the reach side of things, Arduino is a perfect platform – even those of us that love our inline assembly and fuse settings tend to have an Arduino around for quick prototyping, and of course, Arduino’s a great platform for students and designers.


Me: Any problems that you faced while developing the prototype?

Alan: I think the biggest challenge we faced was to make it much easier for non-experts to do some more complicated things, like re-flash the ATmega8u2 on the Arduino. Let’s face it, any instructions that open up with ‘First, install XCode’ aren’t exactly user-friendly. In that vein, I put together some simple one-click batch files for installing the appropriate drivers on Windows and OSX, as well as ones for reflashing the ATmega8u2 chip between Arduino and UnoJoy firmwares.  It’s still not as simple as I’d like, so if anyone out there is handy with basic OSX GUI application programming, or the program installation chain on Windows, drop me a line!

In the end, we’re hoping that our code and examples can inspire other designers and builders and gamers to make some really awesome controllers. If they do, I of course encourage them to send their pictures and videos our way, at!

Now, you too can make yourself a USB Joystick/ Gamepad/ Controller by choosing any form of input that the Arduino boards can understand. The source code and all the necessary download files are available at Google Code. Don’t forget to check out the Controller for Gran Turismo:



Thank you Alan for sharing a wonderful project with us.

Pebble was prototyped using Arduino!

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

In the Maker’s own words:

Migicovsky also shared a photo of the first Pebble prototype, below, using an Arduino and some similarly cobbled-together hardware. That was four years ago, he says; now the Pebble team consists of ten people and, currently at $9,737,000 at time of writing and with nine days yet to run, the Kickstarter is well on track to comfortably exceed $10m and maybe even hit closer to $12m before it closes.

The kickstarter campaign grossed a record breaking amount of $10,162,522 with 8 more days to go. For those of you who missed the buzz, the product demo video is here :

Indeed it is every geek’s fantasy watch come alive!