April 16, 2014

Using Arduino to automate iPad game-playing

And now for something completely different - Uli Kilian has used the Arduino platform to automate the paying of the iPad game "Jurassic Park". Although this may seem like a fruitless pursuit, success in the game requries a high level of interaction - or paying for in-app purchases.

Thus Uli's device is programmed to press the required areas on the iPad screen to simulate user input. The system is created from LEGO Technics parts, and deftly moves and touches the iPad as shown in the following video:

So if you're really into these sorts of games, a system such as Uli's could be run overnight to help your play move forward. For more information, visit the article on Wired. 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.

April 16, 2014

Program ATtiny85s from a Raspberry Pi

After wanting to get into AVR programming - but not wanting to buy a dedicated programmer, Instructables member prb3333 came up with a solution based on the Raspberry Pi. The software side is simple, as the required toolchain and drivers for the SPI bus can be downloaded. The hardware can simply be connected to the GPIO pins of the Pi board, or fitted to a neat prototyping shield with an IC socket. 

Just remember that the Raspberry Pi is a 3.3V board - in case you're doing some in-circuit programming. For complete instructions, visit the project's 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 a more permanent way to mount circuitry to your Raspberry Pi, check out our new PiBreak - the prototyping board for the 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

April 16, 2014

An Arduino-powered robotic camera dolly system

After receiving a set of parts for the Actobotics build system, Instructables staff member Randy Sarafan turned to the Arduino development platform to bring it to life. In his example Randy created a neat dolly system for cameras that can be controlled from a small touch screen. The system uses two Arduino boards, however they can communicate with each other via the I2C bus for full integration.

Furthermore by using two boards the device can travel along and tilt or pan the camera at the same time, which can offer some great photographic time-lapse or video effects - as shown in the following video:

A fascinating project, and also an interesting framework for dual Arduino systems. For complete details, 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 into starting with Arduino and robotics, such as controlling a stepper motor (or DC motors) from your Arduino or compatible, check out our new HBRIDGE: DC/stepper motor shield. Based around the powerful Allegro A4954 H-bridge driver IC you can control two DC motors with complete ease, or one bipolar stepper motor. With connections for external power management, a complete beginners' guide and documentation - motor control couldn't be any easier. For more information and to order, visit the HBRIDGE: page

April 15, 2014

Build a wearable Arduino-powered message board

Before heading off to a robot festival, Matt Roy came up with a clever wearable message board device that's easy to build and quite fun. It's based on an Arduino-compatible circuit on some prototyping board and uses the typical MAX7219/LED matrix combination for a display unit. Once completed you can have a variety of text scroll across the display, or create your animations as shown in the following video:

Furthermore by adding Bluetooth it's possible to create a simple Android app to send the required text or commands from a smartphone for more interactive control. Either way, visit the project Instructable page to get started. And for more, we're on facebookGoogle+, and twitter - so follow us for news and product updates as well.

Need a tiny Arduino-compatible for use with your own projects? Then check out out our LeoStick. It's the Arduino Leonardo-compatible board that's cheaper and smaller than the original:

 Apart from being one of the smallest Arduino-compatibles on the market with USB, it also has an onboard RGB LED and piezo which can be used a knock sensor and various tune and sound effects. Plus you can add extra circuitry with the matching protostick! For more information and to order, click here.

April 15, 2014

Ardomotic - the open-source interactive web interface for Arduino

The process of creating Arduino-based automation systems is generally something tackled with great enthusiasm and a large amount of time, however with varying levels of success. This is why we're excited to learn about a new automation system called "Ardomotic" - and even though it's still in beta stage, it shows a lot of promise.

Ardomotic is a graphical interface for an Ethernet-enabled Arduino Mega or compatible board (such as our EtherMega), and allows the user to create automated systems that can turn device on or off, blink them, work with real time and timers, allow control via infra-red and much more. And just like the Arduino the Ardomotic system is open-source, so you can customise it even further if required. The creators introduce the system in the following video:

To learn more about Ardomotic, visit the website. And for more, we're on facebookGoogle+, and twitter - so follow us for news and product updates as well.

If you're enjoying working with Arduino projects but find the Uno-sized boards somewhat constricting - it's time to move up to the Freetronics EtherMega:

Quite simple the EtherMega is the fully-loaded Arduino-compatible board on the market today. Apart from being completely Arduino Mega2560-compatible, it includes full Ethernet interface, a microSD card socket, full USB interface, optional Power-over-Ethernet support and still has a circuit prototyping area with extra I2C interface pins. So if your project is breaking the limits, upgrade to the EtherMega today. 

April 14, 2014

Making an Arduino-controlled replica vintage sign

Vintage neon and other merchandising signage can be quite expensive it found in working condition, however with a little effort you can reproduce your own version with an Arduino and a small amount of external circuitry.

One example of this is demonstrated by the "pscmpf", who uses Arduino-controlled solid-state relays to switch in and out bulbs which are fitted to a wooden arrow. The end result - once decorated appropriately - could fit into any 1950s scene or be used for all sorts of signage applications, and is demonstrated in the video below:

You can find information about this project on the creator's website. And  for more, we're on twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well. 

If you're looking for a simple way to control many relays from your Arduino, without using up all your digital I/O pins - check out our RELAY8: driver shield:

So what is the RELAY8:? It's an Arduino shield that allows you to drive up to 8 relays from your Arduino using just 2 I/O pins with this shield. It communicates with your board using I2C, so you can even stack several shields together to drive 16, 24, or more outputs! Includes back-EMF protection and works with a wide range of relays. Perfect for home automation projects! For more information and to order, click here

April 14, 2014

Build a desktop "Tamagotchi" with Arduino

After looking at an LED matrix, Instructables member Syst3mX recalled the classic hand-held virtual pet of the 1990s - the Tamagotchi. So after a little research and design work, they've created a desktop replica based around an Arduino-compatible circuit and LED matrix modules. 

The replica operates in a similar manner to the original, and requires the owner to feed, entertain, medicate and generally keep an eye on the home-made pet. However hopefully the efforts are rewarded with the use of some clever screen displays, as shown in the following video:

An interesting look back at an almost-forgotten fad of the 1990s, and a cool project as well. You can find complete details in the project Instructable. And for more, we're on facebookGoogle+, and twitter - so follow us for news and product updates as well. 

If you're wanting to make your own Arduino-compatible projects without a typical board, you'll need an ATmega328P MCUs with Arduino Uno bootloader:

This is the same Atmel AVR ATmega328P microcontroller used in the official Arduino Uno, as well as our ElevenEtherTenUSBDroid, and other boards. Perfect for building your own Arduino-compatible project directly on a breadboard or on a custom PCB, or for replacing the MCU in an existing board. Comes with the Arduino Uno bootloader pre-installed. Better still, it even has a special label stuck on top with details of the pinout, so you don't even need to look up the datasheet when connecting it up in your project! For more information and to order, click here!

April 11, 2014

Hacking laser distance measurement tools with Arduino

Now and again you come across commercially-available devices which are surprisingly easy to interface with an Arduino. One example of this has been demonstrated by Andrew Fuller, who shows how to extract the data from a Uni-T distance measuring device.

It turns out that the device has a simple serial output at 115200 bps, allowing connection to almost any device with a serial input - including an Arduino. With some research people have created code to interpret and work with the data for other purposes such as logging or adding different displays.

The project could still be classed as experimental, however the theory is quite interesting - so visit Andrew's website to learn more. 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.

April 11, 2014

Build a Biopunk Arduino Watch

Smart watches were all the rage a few months ago, however you can make your own using an Arduino-compatible board and customise the output to suit your own requirements. Enthusiast Matthew Garten has done just that with his Biopunk Watch powered by Arduino.

Apart from using a typical small Arduino-compatible board, real-time clock IC and an OLED display for output, a variety of external sensors can be connected and their data displayed on the screen - including a temperature sensor, ultrasonic distance sensor, or whatever you need. Furthermore the user interface is provided by a small trackball that's embedded into the wrist-strap. Matthew takes us through his project in the following video:

A fantastic example of what can be done with the Arduino development platform, and you can find all the details in the project Instructable. And for more, we're on facebookGoogle+, and twitter - so follow us for news and product updates as well.

Need an OLED for your projects? Check out our 128x128 pixel OLED Module. With a diagonal size of 1.5" and 16,384 colours to select from, so almost anything is possible. Furthermore there's a microSD card socket, and removable tabs on each side which can hold LEDs and buttons:

And using the module is made simple - we have tutorials and drivers for both the Arduino and Raspberry Pi platforms - great for experimenters or those who use both systems. Furthermore, check out the forum where members are already creating modified drivers to rapidly increase the display speed. For more information including our Quickstart guides - and of course to order - visit the OLED Module product page

April 10, 2014

Use a VT220 terminal unit with a Raspberry Pi

Those of us of a certain age will (fondly) remember logging in to various computing systems through a VT220 terminal or similar unit to check email, bash out code in vi or perhaps had some fun with Zork. For some fun and nostalgia Steve Longhurst has found a new use for a terminal by using it as an interface for his Raspberry Pi.

There are two ways of doing so, and one of which is via serial use two GPIO pins and a 5~3.3V level converter circuit. The software side can be easily handled with GNU screen, with which you have a neat 20th-century terminal for your Pi. 

A quick search of ebay shows a few terminals are still out there, so if you're into retro-computing - check out Steve's interesting website. And for more, we're on facebookGoogle+, and twitter - so follow us for news and product updates as well.

If you're going to interface older 5V hardware with boards that run on 3.3V such as a Raspberry Pi or Arduino Due - you'll need to interface  the GPIO pins with different voltages. When you're faced with this situation - don't panic! Make sure you have some of our LEVEL: bidirectional 5V-3.3V level converters in stock. For more information and to order, click here.