Archive for the ‘Featured’ Category

Control with your smart devices by staring and gesturing

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

As part of a recent Microsoft HoloLens hackathon in San Francisco, Maker Ian Sterling developed a new app that interacts with you smart home via augmented reality. The proof of concept, dubbed “IoTxMR,” allows a user to simply glance at a gadget and control it through gestures.

As you can see in the video below, IoTxMR enables Sterling to connect various Android and Arduino-based devices with the HoloLens to create a customized interdependent network. It also features a mixed reality experience called “virtual zen mode,” complete with calming sounds and light orbs in his surrounding environment.

During a recent interview with Digital Trends, Sterling revealed:

The primary goal of the app is to provide a 3D spatial UI for cross-platform devices — Android Music Player app and Arduino-controlled fan and light — and to interact with them using gaze and gesture control.

The connectivity between Arduino and a mixed reality device is something which holds a huge amount of creative opportunity for developers to create some very exciting applications — be it [Internet of Things], robotics, or other sensor data visualization. Besides this, our app features some fun ways to connect devices. Our demo featured a connection between a music player and a light in order to set a certain mood in your home.

Although just a demo, IoTxMR does highlight the endless possibilities that AR platforms like HoloLens offer in the not-too-distant future.

The Floppotron is back with the Pokémon theme song

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

A few weeks ago, we heard Pawel Zadrozniak’s computer hardware orchestra perform a cover of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Now, the Floppotron is back–this time with its own geeky rendition of the Pokémon theme song.

The Floppotron is comprised of 64 repurposed floppy disk drives, eight hard disks, and two scanners. Every column of floppy drives is connected to an 8-channel controller based on ATmega16 MCU. The higher the volume, the more drives are playing.

Meanwhile, the eight hard disks with a pair of 4-channel controllers act as percussion. The sound generated depends on the driving speed–the higher the frequency, the greater the pitch. Hard disks use a magnet and a coil to tilt the head. When voltage is supplied for long enough, the head speeds up and hits the bound making the “drum” sound.

To drive the coils, Zadrozniak says he employed a pair of push-pull outputs built using discrete SMD MOSFETs. Most of the tunes are made by the two scanners, both of which are connected to Arduino devices. Data is received over UART (USB-UART) and buffers messages to keep the music in time.

The host application is written in Python 2.7 and parses the language that is used to write note sequences and arrange tracks that go to a specific controller. You can read more about the Floppotron here, or just listen to the Pokémon anthem below!

VW builds an incredible Internet-connected RC track

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

When the Golf GTI and the Jetta GLI were born, Volkswagen packed both with turbocharged engines, precision performance, and a whole lot of vroom. But aside from their stylish exteriors, a rivalry between the vehicles was forged. And, what better way to settle this rivalry than with a massive RC car race on a custom, Tron-like track?

As part of their “Rival Road: GTI vs. GLI” virtual experience, Volkswagen built a giant 1,800 square-foot track equipped with illuminated walls, low-polygon-looking mountains, and nine Arduino-powered obstacles (connected to a laser-etched control panel) that are activated by viewers on Twitch. These barriers include everything from a turntable that spins the cars around, to whack-a-mole-style pillars that pop up randomly, to rumble strips.

From July 26-27th, fans can tune in to the live stream to support their favorite team and vote on the obstacles that’ll be raised from the track to thwart opponents. The RC Golf GTI and Jetta GLI vehicles will be operated by professional RC drivers Tanner Foust and Scott Speed.

Pretty sweet, right? Jalopnik had the chance to get a firsthand look at the project, where Volkswagen showed off everything from how it was made to how it works.

Spinphony turns cycling into music

Friday, July 22nd, 2016

Spinphony is a bike installation that was built in collaboration with 72andSunny‘s Google team and their Made with Code initiative, with hopes of inspiring teenage girls to take an interest in coding.

As its name would suggest, the project combines spinning (indoor cycling) and music with each bike representing a different instrument stem of a song.

For instance, bike one controls drums, bike two might control bass and so on. The way we made it all come together was to have the volume of each stem depend on the speed at which the bike was being pedaled (i.e. the slower the RPM the quieter the stem of the song and vice versa). This is where Arduino came into play.

The prototype is based on an Arduino Uno and uses two magnets, a reed switch, RPM values, and MIDI to produce some spincredible sounds. You can see it in action below!


This DIY stepper motor clock is weird yet wonderful

Friday, July 22nd, 2016

Just when you thought you’ve seen every possible kind of Arduino-driven clock, another one emerges. This “DIY strange-looking” device takes the form of a wheel with times written on it, which is rotated using an Arduino Micro and a 5V stepper motor. And while it may not be the most accurate timekeeper out there, it’s an excellent way for Makers to explore electronics, programming, and even geometry.

Unlike most clocks that have either two or three hands going around a 12-hour face, 17-year-old Instructables user “Electronics for Everyone” chose a fixed pointer to denote the time in 10-minute intervals instead.

The idea behind the clock is a circle with a circumfrence of 72cm that ticks at 1cm every 10 minutes, which means every 72 ticks will equal 12 hours…

You can find an entire breakdown of the build, along with its measurements and code, on its project page here.

Prototyping a smart bulb with JavaScript, Arduino + PubNub

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

In this video, our friends at PubNub are going to create a smart home network that builds upon their previous Johnny Five tutorial. They again hack an Arduino Uno using JavaScript, but this time to create the simplest smart bulb. Because by “smart bulb,” we really just mean an LED.

The tutorial was developed by Tomomi Imura from PubNub and also uses Johnny-Five. No, not the robot from the movie Short Circuit. It is an open-source JavaScript robotics framework that lets you program an Arduino with Node.js. The bulb itself is remotely controlled via a web portal. (more…)

This Arduino machine will sort your Skittles by color

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

Do you just really hate yellow Skittles? Only love the red ones? Well, why waste your time sorting them out yourself when an automated machine can do it for you? As part of a recent tutorial, Dejan Nedelkovski has built what we calls the “Arduino Color Sorter” using a TCS3200 color sensor, two hobbyist servo motors, and an Arduino Nano. (more…)

Turn your old cellphone into a smartwatch

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

Do you have an old cellphone lying around somewhere? Don’t know what to do with it? Time to blow off that dust and convert the ‘dumb’ device into a smartwatch! This is exactly what Tinkernut has done. The DIY wearable not only tells time, but connects wirelessly to a smartphone over Bluetooth and notifies its user of incoming calls and messages via light and vibration.

The build itself uses an LCD screen and vibrating motor from a Nokia 1100 along with an Arduino Pro Mini to drive the system. A 3.7V 1100mAh rechargeable battery powers the gadget. All the electronics are soldered together to a perfboard, and housed inside a 3D-printed case. (more…)

Getting Started with Johnny-Five for IoT

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016

Interested in the world of hardware hacking, but feeling left out because you just don’t have the time to learn another language? Or maybe you aren’t comfortable using Sketch to program? Have no fear, you can easily use JavaScript to program boards like Arduino and Genuino. Yes, just JavaScript!

In this series of video, PubNub’s Tomomi Imura shows you how to start hacking an Arduino with Node.js using Johnny-Five, a JavaScript Robotics Framework.

Part one of this tutorial covers:

  1. Setting up a board.
  2. Building the Hello World of hardware, a LED blink.
  3. Writing your Johnny-Five code to make it blink programmatically.

Enjoy the tutorial!


Lawn Da Vinci is an open-source, remote-controlled lawn mower

Monday, July 18th, 2016

Inspired by the one seen in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, Blake Hodgson has built a remote-controlled lawn mower of his own dubbed ”Lawn Da Vinci.”

The robotic machine’s frame is made from angle iron and steel, while its wheels and motors were taken from a mobility scooter. Power is supplied by a pair of 12V car batteries wired in series, and it’s driven across the yard with an RC airplane remote. (more…)