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Research projects with Arduino?

dcuartiellesJuly 1st, 2008

The question keeps popping up: is Arduino used by non-artists and non-geeks? Is Arduino used in e.g. engineering education programs? Or … is Arduino part of a research project?

The fact is that there are many projects out there that use Arduino and related initiatives as quick prototyping tools. Already during 2006, in the early stages of the project, the Casteldefels campus from the Catalunya Polytechnics reported being using Arduino as part of a PhD course in engineering. Dan Steingart post-doc at Berkeley has been using it as a substitute to much more expensive gear, and created Ardustat together with a whole series of software tools dividing the cost of a pretty good galvanometer by a factor 10. We get reports from people using it in very many different fields from medicine to fashion design, including the very relevant open source fabrication of physical goods by the RepRap project.

image copyright by Dan Steingart

image copyright (c) 2007 by Dan Steingart

Dan Steingart, happens to be co-owner of WIT, a wireless sensor company aiming the industrial market. Seems that his love for open source laboratories is shared by that other company –Libelium– that has just launched In one of their posts they explain in depth in a series of videos how to construct you own Squidbee platform out of an Arduino board, the Arduino XBee shield, and a bunch of sensors. Beyond the practical aspects of that instructable, is an international research group with academic researchers and entrepreneurs from Spain, South Africa, and Sweden.

libelium´s Squidbee instructable

image copyright (c) 2008 by Libelium

Next time anybody asks if Arduino is used for anything else than making Art installations and Design projects at university courses, the quick answer is that there are companies and research groups around the world using it, embracing the open tools philosophy, and openly documenting the work they do.

Are you using Arduino as part of a research project? Are you developing products on top of Arduino? We would love to hear about it. Help us promoting your work 🙂 Feel free to post a comment to this article.


10 Responses to “Research projects with Arduino?”

  1. DU Says:

    I don’t know if this counts as a “research project” exactly. Does citizen science/engineering count?

    Anyway, I made a remote temperature sensor. (That link describes the remoteness, links in the post describe the temperature sensing.) When I have other things to measure (i.e. the project I’m actually working on is farther along), I plan to add more sensors the platform and log them as well.

  2. Jason Says:

    I’ve used the Arduino in several projects. Most used the Arduino board for development, but used a custom PCB with Arduino software in the flight versions.

    My Arduino based devices: flew on the 2007 HASP balloon with some SPI and I2C sensors and a VDIP1 datalogger; flew on a student balloon as a servo driver; flew a few (three?) balloons as a cutdown device, with a DTMF decoder and servo driver. Currently in development are the HASP 2008 experiment and a high power rocket parachute deployment system, and an HPR telemetry system is in the brainstorming stage.

    Unfortunately I’ve been busy building and flying, so these aren’t documented on my web site.

    I highly recommend the Arduino for scientific use – the environment is excellent for those who need microcontroller functionality without learning a lot about embedded systems.

  3. robert spitzenpfeil Says:

    Hi fellow tinkerers,

    we use one arduino powered device in our laser lab to read some rotary sensors on an xy-stage burried in some setup. This gets us down to a resolution of a few microns and saved us several kilo $ for a commercial product (ok they have better specs). But as academia is always short on cash, I’m quite sorry I didn’t find out about arduino much earlier. There’s some images on my private page.

  4. Stephen Harrison Says:

    I’ve got a couple of projects going on with the Arduino at present, the simplest I’m part way through writing up is a build indicator to monitor a continuous integration server.

    It’s really simple consisting of some communications with the PC and driving a tricolor red/green led based on the project build status. The Arduino made a great platform to get this done really quickly and easily and it works a treat for spotting a broken build.

  5. RobotGrrl Says:

    Heya there!

    The Arduino rocks! I’m going to be using it in several research projects – for instance I want to set up a humanoid that runs on Arduino (and Processing!). But, there’s only 6 PWMs. So I’ll be researching how to either expand those PWMs or add more on… or I’ll be setting up a neural network between multiple Arduinos and see how it works out!

    Once I figure that out, I want to create a robot that uses Processing with blob detection to move servos, or simply move a robots face. Soon I hope to have two webcams overlayed, on servos, so the depth of field can be adjusted. I’ll keep on adding more onto that, like touch sensors, accelerometers, etc. The robot’s “behaviour” would be probablistic and random.

    I did use the Arduino in a fairly easy research project with my robot Pinky (aka BubbleBoy). I wanted to see how to have 2 axis of movements with servos in a real physical object. It was pretty fun, but I want to implement more sensors into Pinky.

    To keep this comment short, I’m exploring AI and ANN’s with Arduino! It’s way more fun than I would ever have with a PIC, Lego, or Stamp. 😛

  6. Luballo Jacob Says:

    I am doing a proposal to model the difussion of AMT amon Small and Medium Enterprises in the context of developing countries. Development of a prototype using arduino boards is one of the options i am considering. Perhaps soem assistance would come handy from users who have been able to participate in similar projects.

  7. Andrew Ayers Says:

    I’ve been thinking about building a multi-processor arduino setup, using an I2C bus between the arduinos, each using its internal clock (to lower parts count), or alternatively, setting up a single external clock circuit to drive all of the arduinos. A cheap “base model” could be built with four ATMega8 arduinos.

    It would be real fun to use 16 ATMega168/328s, arranged in a 4×4 matrix on a breadboard. Add headers and such to allow the boards to “stack” (and maybe bring out the IO pins).

    Such a system could be used as a parallel processing system-on-a-breadboard, as a small neural network (as RobotGrrl proposed), or as a multi-processor system (if you brought out the I/O lines on each arduino, then you could have one being master, one doing GPIO, one driving a speaker, another driving an LCD, another for a keyboard, etc).

    Atmel also offers their chips in “wafer” format (ie, without packaging) – if you had a fabrication facility at your disposal (who doesn’t, right?), you could conceivably create a “multi-core” arduino. Another possibility would be to break out EagleCAD or similar and design a very large circuit board to populate with a “ton” of QTFP packaged ATMega328 chips.

    Just some thoughts that I would love to see implemented; I wish I had the time to try some of this out (too many other projects and things going on right now).

  8. Dermott McMeel Says:

    A multi-sensory and responsive approach to architecture.

    New Zealand architecture students at the University of Auckland are creating architecture that can respond to its occupants.

    Using Arduino circuit boards and infrared sensors, Sebastian Hamilton and Barrington Gohns in their project ‘Other than Human’ have created an application that can register where occupants are in a space. This information is then passed to a computer running Processing 1.0 that controls the environment and responds to where and how people occupy the space. The architecture has been configured to promote meandering and wandering; this results in a pleasant brightness following people round the room. Lingering is discouraged as it triggers a frenzy of activity from the responsive architecture, and when the occupancy ends the responsive architecture slowly dissipates. This application is combined with a small ‘back-pack’ with integrated vibrating motors, which allows the architecture to touch the occupants.

    One of the designers Sebastian Hamilton says “when we were testing I was wearing the back-pack when the surface responded and an area of brightness moved from my right side and across in front of me and I could literally feel it coming from my right. It was an unexpected experience and a very different way to engage with architecture. ” The other designer Barrington Gohns does not spend too much time discussing potential applications, he is too busy planning the next version. “We want to develop the interface and how the architecture interacts with and touches people. We’d like to have it respond at a personal level using a particular persons own history or activity that exists elsewhere, perhaps on the Internet.” However, they admit there are many possible applications for this technology. As well as promoting and discouraging certain types of activity or behavior, the activation of an environment when and where occupancy occurs has environmental and sustainable implication for architecture and the built environment. It could also be used for responsive signage as well as being deployed for the delivery of locative and specifically targeted advertising.

    Digital Architecture
    Typically reactive and responsive environments are the domain of digital artists or computer scientist. However, they have the potential to exert considerable influence on the built environment. We see suggestions of these technologies in film and Other than Human is a serious investigation asking the question what are the effects of this technology on architectural space and place. Dr McMeel who lecturers in digital design suggests the digital has more influence on architecture than we may at first glance realize. “I choose where to have a coffee based on a good WIFI connection. My RFID access card is more important to my access and experience of this building that the material of the door or the view from my window.” Increasingly we desire flexible spaces and Other than Human is a step towards using digital technology to make it happen by using technology as an architectural tool and not just a hidden service.

  9. greg Says:

    We are an underfunded physics lab at a cal state school, so its hard to buy the nice equipment, but with some intuition using arduino(or other microcontrollers) you can make that nice equipment on the cheap.
    We made a microfluidics set-up using arduino and some pneumatic valves we got off ebay. It works pretty well. a bit harder to make the actual molds, but we use it for all our small fluid amount puming needs.
    I dont use arduino for data input; labview and dedicated test equipment(we have a plethora of oscopes and multimeters and the such) is much easier to use, but arduino is relatively simple to integrate into labview, just a serial connection, so i use it in various ways to actuate things, thermoelectric elements, motors, deliver electroshocks to the others who work there who get too close to my experiments.

  10. dcuartielles Says:

    Hej Greg, thanks for your input!

    If you have any visual documentation of your work I would love to get a chance to look at it and write a longer blog post about it. Please email me/us to team [at] arduino DOT cc

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