July 24, 2014

Reverse-geocaching with Arduino

For a fun gift that relives memories of places in personal history, Theo Meyer has worked with previous examples and built his own geocaching box. For the uninitiated this is a device that needs to be taken to various locations, and once the journey has completed the box can be opened to reveal a gift or suprise of some sort.

In theory it may sound complex, however with the use of an Arduino, GPS module and a large battery it's quite easy. The sketch checks that required GPS coordinates have been received, and then controls a servo or solenoid to release the latch in the box.

This is a fun project that can be made by beginners and experts alike, so for details including the sketch and hardware schematic - log into the Arduino forum. And for more, we're on facebooktwitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

If you're looking to learn how to use an Arduino with GPS receivers, servos and and much more, you can't go past "Arduino Workshop -  A Hands-On Introduction with 65 Projects” by John Boxall.

Arduino Workshop takes the reader from having zero knowledge about the Arduino platform, electronics and programming and leaves them with the know-how and instructions on everything from blinking an LED, to robotics, wireless data, cellular communications, motor control, sensors, Internet connected systems and more. For more information including a sample chapter and table of contents, visit the book page.

July 24, 2014

Add an "Unwashed Hands" alarm to a bathroom with Arduino

If people at your location are having problems following normal procedures with regards to using the water closet, an interesting and humouros solution by the DIY Hacks website. They've created an alarm that checks that three actions have been completed, and if not a bright matrix of LEDs flashes with an appropriate warning.

Two piezo sensors are used to detect hte actions - the first detects vibration caused by water flowing through a pipe to the cistern, and another detects water flow to the hand basin. Then a reed switch and magnet indicates to the Arduino that the door has been opened. Thus if sensor two (the hand basin) hasn't detected water flow - the alarm appears. A demonstration is shown in the following video:

A great project to use as a joke or for more serious purposes - and all the detaila are in the Instructable page. And for more, we're on facebook, twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well. 

If you're interested in detecting vibrations or working with making sounds and tunes for various reasons, we have a neat little SOUND: sound and buzzer module:

It can be used as a noise-maker driven by your microcontroller for audible feedback of events, and it can also be used as a knock-detector input to sense events and react to them. Includes a built-in 1M resistor to allow the piezo element to detect shocks. For more information and to order, please visit the product page here

July 23, 2014

Hacking old rackmount equipment displays with Arduino

Over time hackers and others come across older electrical equipment which may be completely outdated, such as control panels, test equipment and so on. However there can often be some fun life left in these - not for the original purpose but the functions within.

An interesting example of this has been demonstrated by Evan on his blog, who has repurposed the front display from an old video processor device. The digits are driven with a classic BCD to 7 segment converter IC which can easily be controlled by an Arduino. With a little investigation Evan managed to control the display and also read the buttons - and thus the device lives again and a simple numeric input/output device:

So next time you see something that's past the use-by date, think again and have some fun tearing it apart. For more information on Evan's hack, check out his interesting website. And for more, we're on facebookGoogle+, and twitter - so follow us for news and product updates as well.

If you need to add external hardware or devices to your next Arduino project, you'll need a protoshield to mount the external circuitry. In doing so, consider our range of ProtoShields. From the tiny LeoStick to the Mega we have a wide range to suit your application.

July 23, 2014

ROBOTSHOP - our new Freetronics reseller for the United States, Canada and the European Union

We're really excited to announce another new reseller of Freetronics products - Robotshop.

Robotshop are e a multi-national supplier of all things robotics and have an incredible range of robots, parts, kit, domestic robots through to UAVs and exoskeletens. Robotshop have online stores for the United States, Canada and the European Union - reducing delivery time for those after Freetronics products down to a few days. Furthermore customers in the EU will no longer have to worry about import duty or slow inbound Customs inspection times.

Visit out distributor page for a complete list of Freetronics resellers, and if you're interested in becoming a reseller please email support@freetronics.com. And for more, we're on facebooktwitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

July 23, 2014

Mr Hobbyelectronics reviews the Freetronics EtherTen

Now and again we see our products "out in the wild", and another example has been reviewed by a popular video blogger My Hobbyelectronics - who checks our our EtherTen 100% Arduino Uno-compatible board with Ethernet, microSD card socket and more.

In his video Nick shows just how easy it is to control an Arduino-connected device from a web browser, and you can literally have it working in under five minutes. Check out the following video to see what we mean:

Kudos to Nick for another interesting video. For this and other interesting videos related to the Arduino, Raspberry Pi and technology world - subscribe to Mr Hobbyelectonics' YouTube channel. And for more, we're on facebooktwitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

Have you used a Freetronics product and shown the world? If so - we'd love to hear about it - please email support at freetronics.com or show off in the Project Showcase!

July 22, 2014

Build a Raspberry Pi-powered bird box camera

What started as a simple school project has morphed into an interesting example of what can be done with a Raspberry Pi - and in this case a birdbox camera. The purpose is to monitor the activity of the resident bird (or birds) and makes use of some clever software to make monitoring easy. The hardware is a typical Raspberry Pi setup with an infra-red camera, IR illuminator and a hacked power-over-Ethernet solution to make powering the system more conveinent.

The Pi can either serve up a live streaming video feed of the box, or detect motion and send snapshots back to Dropbox for remote viewing. Even if you're not interested in birdkeeping at all, the project is an excellent example of a remote monitoring and image capture device.

For more details and notes, visit the birdbox project page. And for more, we're on facebookGoogle+, and twitter - so follow us for news and product updates as well.

Every day we find more uses for our PiBreak board - the great way to mount circuitry to your Raspberry Pi. It provides labelled breakout pins for all GPIOs, a large prototyping area with solder pads, and power rails for easy power connection:

Furthermore the PiBreak also includes mounting hardware to firmly attach it to your Raspberry Pi using a nut, bolt, and spacer - and is compatible with all revisions of both model A and B Raspberry Pi computers. For more information about our new PiBreak board, our Getting Started guide, and to order - visit the product page.

July 22, 2014

Make your own robotic arm with a 3D printer and Arduino

If you have access to a 3D printer there's a whole new world of fun and devices you can create, and one example of this has been demonstrated by staff from Instructables with their robotic arm. Using four servos and controlled by an Arduino with a customised control panel, the arm can rotate, lift up and down along with a claw.

It's a lot of fun, and the individual pieces are designed so the arm could snap together once they have been printed. The motion is quite fluid and opens up possibilties of experimenting with artificial intelligence and robot control. A quick demonstration of the process is shown in the following video:

For all the details including the design files and electronics, visit the project Instructable page. And for more, we're on facebookGoogle+, and twitter - so follow us for news and product updates as well.

If you're looking for an Arduino Uno-compatible board for various projects, choose what tens of thousands of others have done and use our Freetronics Eleven - the Arduino-Uno compatible with low-profile USB socket, onboard prototyping space and easy to view LEDs: 

July 21, 2014

Make a laser-cut gear clock with Arduino

It's time for another interesting clock project, and in this instalment we have a gear clock by Instructables member bpwagner. A gear clock displays the time by rotating two large geared wheels, one larger than the other. The hours and minutes are marked on each gear, and the time is read by reading the numbers that are over the zero degree point of the gears.

Each wheel is driven by a continuous-rotation stepper motor via an Arduino and a real-time clock IC. This allows for a relatively precise movement which can be relied upon instead of ending up as a decoration. Making your own version can be accimplished by designing the required gears and this process has been explained with using Inkscape open-source software.

We're always happy to see original clock designs, and you can read more about the gear clock from the Instructable page.And for more, we're on facebooktwitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

The most important part of any clock project is the inclusion of an accurate real-time clock IC. Here at Freetronics we have the Maxim DS3232 real-time clock IC module:

Apart from keeping accurate time for years due to the temperature-controlled oscillator and having a tiny coin-cell for backup, it is very simple to connect to your Arduino project. A driver library allows your program to easily set or read the time and date. Perfect for clock projects, dataloggers or anything that needs to know the date and time. Furthermore it contains a digital thermometer and 236 bytes of non-volatile memory to store user settings and other data. For more information, check out the module page here.

July 18, 2014

Add interactive electronic control to a Labyrinth game with Arduino

Labyrinth games are a lot of fun, and can be a challenge when trying to move the ball around the maze against the clock, or perhaps during the motions of a party. However they're also a prime candidate for hacking, and Instructables member tripletray has demonstrated a great version of this.

The game in question has a heavy-duty servo to rotate each axis of the board, which are controlled via a Wii Nunchuk-style controller via an Arduino. Furthermore a solenoid is used to control the flow of new game balls to the centre of the maze.

It's an interesting experiment in creating interactive remote-control devices, and with little effort other input devices could be used such as an accelerometer or joystick module. For more information including the Arduino sketch - visit the project Instructable page. And for more, we're on facebookGoogle+, and twitter - so follow us for news and product updates as well. 

 Have you been reading about Arduino and would like to understand more so you can work with projects like the example above, but not sure where to start? Then order one of our Experimenter's Kit for Arduino: 

The package includes a wide variety of parts, sensors and modules including: a servo motor, lights, buttons, switches, sound, sensors, breadboard, wires and more. Furthermore a Freetronics Eleven Arduino-compatible board is included to make this an extensive hobby experimenter, inventor and starter kit. 

However we don't leave you alone to figure it all out, included is a great project and instruction booklet, plus access to a supporting web page and software examples. In other words - this is everything you need to get started for a fun range of electronics and Arduino related projects! So to get started or for more information and to order, check out the product page.

July 17, 2014

Visualising and understanding signals from the Freetronics MIC: Sound Input Module

One of the more popular items in our range of modules is the MIC: Microphone Sound Input module, which is ideal for capturing sound and converting it into analogue signals and also the sound pressure level. Lately there has been some discussion about the difference between the output from the microphone and it's relationship to the SPL level, and how they can differ.

Angus from Freetronics has publsihed a new video to answer these questions and more, by demonstrating the two outputs and explaining the background and more with the use of a DSO to display the results. It's an interesting video and we hope will answer your questions as to how our MIC: module can be harnessed:

For more information about the MIC: module, visit the product page or discuss in our support forum. And for more, we're on facebook, twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well. 

To test audio sampling yourself you can make an easy start with our Freetronics MIC: microphone and sound module

The MIC: contains an integrated dual signal amplifier converts the sound to separate channels for pulse / frequency measurement, and sound volume (pressure) level. Designed to connect straight to an Arduino compatible microcontroller, Analog to Digital converter, or many other circuits. For more information and to order click here