Archive for the ‘research’ Category

Monitoring falcons with intelligent nests

Monday, June 24th, 2013

horus - falcon

The Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni) is a small falcon at the center of HORUS, a project aiming to develop a system for automatic real-time monitoring of colonial falcons at Doñana Biological Station, a public Research Institute in Spain.

The falcons breed in nest-boxes on the window sills which the  research team converted into “smart nest-boxes”: they have sensors to identify the falcons entering the box using RFID tags, but also cameras and other equipment controlled by and Arduino Mega.

 

Horus project

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Project feature: Accessing YQL from Arduino

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

The ethernet shield opens up lot of possibilities for Arduino. One of which has been explored by Sudar. He has found a way to make YQL calls and even parse the JSON response using Arduino and Ethernet shield.

So what is YQL?

YQL stands for Yahoo Query Language. It is an expressive SQL-like language that lets you query, filter, and join data across Web services. You can read more about YQL from the Yahoo Developer network page.

Checkout the tutorial and the source code at his blog hardwarefun.com.

He is a Research Engineer at Yahoo Research Labs India, by profession, and a hardware hacker by passion. More of his projects can be found here.

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]

Arduino based Milling Machine

Monday, June 25th, 2012

This is a working model of an Arduino based Milling Machine created using FischerTechnik. For those of you who are unaware of FischerTechnik, it is similar to the LEGOTM Building Blocks.

milling-machine

A group of four Mechanical Engineering students at the Delft University of Technology (Netherlands) created this project as part of their Mechatronics class in their Second year of Bachelor of Sciences (B.Sc.) Program.

Laurens Valk, one of the creators, explains the essence of Arduino in the project:

“The system uses the Adafruit motor shield to run two stepper motors, and the Sparkfun EasyDriver for the third stepper motor. The Arduino runs code that listens to Matlab commands over USB. We expanded that code a little to make it possible to add the third stepper motor and some other commands. Most of the actual code was programmed in Matlab, with the Arduino as the interface between computer and motors/sensors.”

We had a little chat with Laurens. Here is the excerpt:

 

When did you first hear about Arduino, and when did you first start using it?
I’ve seen a lot of Arduino projects over the years, but this was the first time we used it in a project. Personally, I usually build robots with MINDSTORMS NXT, but this felt like a good opportunity to combine mechanical work (the printer hardware) with real electronics (Arduino).
How did you end up making a Milling Machine/ 3D Printer for your project?

We chose to come up with our own design challenge and decided not to do the standard exercise. Initially we thought about making a (2D) plotter or scanner. Then quickly we started thinking about the same things, except in 3D. One of the projects that inspired us was the LEGO Milling Machine by Arthur Sacek. Both a scanner and printer would still be doable in 3D, but the time was limited, so we settled with the printer idea.

All construction had to be done in one workweek for logistical reasons. To make sure we were able to finish in time, we prepared much of the electronics and software outside the lab. We finished just in time, but unfortunately we could do only one complete print before we had to take it apart. Not surprisingly, it was very exciting to wait for the result of the one and only complete test run. We couldn’t see the result until we used the vacuum cleaner to remove the dust.

Here is a video showing the working of this machine. [And the Vacuum Cleaner Laurens is talking about]:

This gives an Insight into the many feats that an Arduino can accomplish.

 

Space experiments for everyone: the ArduSat project

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

ArduSat, which stands for “Arduino satellite”, is a recently kickstarted project that aims at developing an open platform usable to emulate space scientists:

Once launched, the ArduSat will be the first open platform allowing the general public to design and run their own space-based applications, games and experiments, steer the onboard cameras to take pictures on-demand, and even broadcast personalized messages back to Earth.

ArduSat will be equipped with several sensors (such as cameras, gyros, accelerometers, GPS and more) packed inside a small cube (the side will be approximately 10 cm long) that can be accessed through a set of Arduinos.

Once in orbit, the ArduSat will be accessible from the ground to flash the required firmware for the experiments and for getting back all the collected information. People interested in performing space experiments will have access to a ground replica of ArduSat explotable to test and debug their code before the actual deployment.

The project is very ambitious, and it is expected that such an open accessible space platform will have a considerable impact on how simple space experiments will be carried out in the forthcoming years, in the case of fundraising success.

You may find the Kickstarter page of the project here.

[Via: Hack A Day and Kickstarter]

XOrduino: an Arduino-compatible board for the OLPC XO laptop

Friday, June 15th, 2012

Dr. Scott Ananian, from the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project, conceived an Arduino Leonardo-compatible board especially designed for the OLPC XO laptop, with the goal to cut down its price as much as possible, to foster its adoption even in developing countries. From Scott’s blog:

The board uses mostly through-hole parts, with one exception, and there are only 20 required components for the basic Arduino functionality, costing about $5 (from digikey, quantity 100). It is reasonable for local labor or even older kids to assemble by hand.

The board, named XOrduino, is open hardware (schematics and pcb files can be found on github), and can be directly plugged into the XO’s USB ports, which allowed Scott to save the money required for the USB connector. Moreover, its design has been inspired by other open hardware projects, such as SparkFun’s ATmega32U4 breakout board and SparkFun’s Scratch Sensor Board-compatible PicoBoard.

Scott designed also a second board, which is even cheaper than the first one, called XO Stick:

It’s based on the AVR Stick using the ATtiny85 processor and costs only $1/student. It’s not quite as user-friendly as the Arduino-compatible board, but it can also be used to teach simple lessons in embedded electronics.

A longer description can be found here, while detailed release notes can be found on github.

It’s very exciting to see how open technologies, such as open hardware and open source software, contribute to the way education and creativity can take place around the world, especially regarding their promotion in developing countries.

[Via: Ossblog, OLPC blog, Scott Ananian's blog]

Some advances in aerial vehicles: bat-inspired smart wings

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

Researchers from Centro de Automática y Robótica (Universidad Politécnica de Madrid) and from Brown University carried out a very deep research about the specific behavior of bat flight, whose ultimate goal is to replicate the capabilities of bat’s wings by means of an ad-hoc designed micro aerial vehicle (MAV).

From the home page of the project:

[...] this research is oriented towards the development of a biological inspired bat robot platform, that allows to reproduce the amazing maneuverability of these flying mammals. The highly maneuverability is achieved by reproducing the flapping and morphing capabilities of their wing-skeleton structure. This structure is composed by several joints and a membrane that generates the required lift forces to fly.

To mimmic the muscular system that moves the joints of the wing-bones, Shape Memory Alloys (SMA) NiTi wires are used as artificial-muscles. Several challenges in controlling this SMA-based actuation system are regarded in this research.

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Touché with Arduino

Friday, June 1st, 2012

Touché is a capacitive-sensing technology, developed by Walt Disney Research, which aims at providing touch and gesture sensitivity to a great variety of objects. From this research paper:

The technology is  scalable, i.e., the same sensor is equally effective for a pencil, a doorknob, a mobile phone or a table. Gesture recognition also scales with objects: a Touché enhanced doorknob can capture the configuration of fingers touching it, while a table can track the posture of the entire user.
The technique behind Touché is known as Swept Frequency Capacitive Sensing (SFCS): at a glance, by monitoring the capacitive response of an object over a specific range of frequencies (instead of a single one), it is possible to infer about its interaction with the outside world.
In his blog, Dzl describes his personal approach toward the development of a system capable to emulate Touché’s behavior with Arduino. Currently, the project is still in a early stage, but improvements and further developments are expected soon.
More information can be found here.
[Via: Geekphysical blog and Dzl's blog]
UPDATE 2012-06-02: you can now try out how to make it yourself following this instructable.

 

MAKEmatics – Mathematics for Makers

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

Makers need to familiarize themselves with the core concepts and the theory involved in creating applications such as Motion Sensing and Face Tracking. As the technology is churning out new hardware day and night, DIYers need to work hard to keep up and always be in touch with the latest technology around them.

For example, anyone working with Accelerometers/ Gyroscopes or Inertial Measurement Units needs to understand the theory of Vectors, Force, Gravity and be able to work out complex mathematical problems. They may easily get an Arduino Board and an Accelerometer Breakout or an IMU Board and use a library instead of writing their own code but to truly understand the theory behind it; how the device actually works, is not for the faint of heart.

 

One such problem is the Face Tracking Application. Unless you know the real theory behind how the Algorithm actually works, you can only wonder about that robot which follows its master. Greg Borenstein had an idea of creating a website dedicated to this issue. Makematics – Math for Makers.

 

In an introductory post, Greg writes:

” I hope to show that a normal programmer with no special academic training can grapple with these areas of research and find a way in to understanding them. And as I go I aim to create material that will help others do the same. If I can do it, there’s no reason you can’t.”

More and more people should step forward and create or compile a good amount of research data to help fellow makers and DIYers in solving complex mathematical problems.

Survey of the open-source hardware community

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

I’ve been helping Catarina Mota and others put together this open-source hardware survey. It’s an attempt to better understand who we are as a community and how/why we develop and use open-source hardware. We’d love to hear about your experiences with open-source hardware!

The survey will be up until April 15, and the aggregate results will be made publicly available in the form of a report consisting of graphics, percentages, and anonymized quotes. By publishing your (anonymous) responses, we hope to provide the public with insights into the practices and experiences of the people involved in open-source hardware.

Fill out the survey here.