Category Archives: electronics

Touchy-Feely Lamp with Arduino Starter Kit Tutorial Video

In his 8th tutorial video, Massiomo Banzi explains how to build a touch sensitive lamp, by using the electronics parts from his Arduino Starter Kit, which is available on RS Components (see my Arduino Starter Kit unboxing article). Banzi also explains how to use libraries within your own Arduino development project, in order to speed up development of Arduino program code. External Arduino libraries are available for many different purposes and since the Arduino community is larger than any other maker and DIY electronics community there are a plenty different libraries available for free.

Did you ever wondered what’s inside a low-cost digital camera?

kahn academy explains what's inside a low-cost digital camera

The Kahn Academy shows in a step-by-step process what’s inside a low-cost digital camera and why these cheap cameras are providing such a bad quality. Through this tutorial video each of the electronics components of a digital camera is shown and explained in detail. Components such as the CMOS chip, CPU as well as the digital memory and their purpose within the image capturing process are explained. A really useful video tutorial if you would like to know what’s inside your camera without opening your own ūüôā

Swarm of Robots that team up with Air-Drones and solve Problems

“Spatially Targeted Communication and Self-Assembly,” a work by Nithin Mathews, Anders Lyhne Christensen, Rehan O’Grady, and Marco Dorigo, from Universite Libre de Bruxelles and Instituto Universitario de Lisboa, was presented at IROS 2012 in Vilamoura, Portugal. The video shows their research on swarm robots that team up even with a flying AR-Drone, in order to fulfill combined tasks together. A really nice aspect is that the drones working together as a group are highlighted by using different light colors. As the ground drones are not able to scan large areas, they are directly cooperating with the flying AR-drone to get a detailed overview on the sourounding area. You can find details on this work on Spacially Targeted Communication and Self-Assembly within their recent paper.

Build a magic Crystal Ball with Arduino Starter Kit

In this weeks episode of Massiomo Banzi’s official Arduino tutorials he shows us how to build a magic crystal ball by using his recently released Arduino Educational Starter Kit (The Arduino Starter Kit). Banzi’s¬†electronic version of a Magic 8 Ball is built by using an LCD screen and a tilt sensor. Everytime the user is shaking the tilt sensor, the Magic 8 Ball will return a randomly generated answer.

Onyx Smartphone with e-Ink Display

Onyx e-Ink Android Smartphone

Onyx e-Ink Android Smartphone, image source: blog.the-ebook-reader.com

The Chinese company Onyx, which is mainly known by their Onyx-Boox ebook readers, announced these days to publish an Android smartphone that integrates an e-Ink touch display. To use e-Ink displays has several advantages as well as some major negative aspects too. As many e-Ink based ebook readers already proved, e-Ink displays offer great readability in direct sunlight. The perfect contrast of e-Ink displays is not comparable with traditional displays. Also the fact that e-Ink displays can show and persist scenes over days without using energy is a really cool feature that helps to run the Onyx smartphone for at least a week without reloading. Negative aspects of e-Ink displays are the low update frequencies and very reduced color capabilities at best, which makes it hard or even impossible to use e-Inks for multimedia applications. This Onyx phone is definitely not the best choice for multimedia evangelists but it could prove a valuable design for outdoor purposes, passionate e-book readers, travelers or elderly people with debility of sight.

Arduino Tutorial Video: How to design a motorized Pinwheel

In his latest Arduino tutorial video, Massimo Banzi explains how to control a motorized pinwheel without damaging your Arduino board. As DC motors can generate power spikes, that can damage electronic circuits, Massimo Banzi explains how to use a diode to overcome this issue. A DC motor works at a higher voltage than the Arduino. This means that it requires more current that an Arduino pin can provide. Within this video tutorial Massimo will also explain how to provide enough current to drive the DC motor.

Philips Hue Connected Light Bulbs

Philips and Apple’s ambilight technology appeared on the market already some years ago and despite it’s incredible cool design Philips and Apple are going a little bit further by introducing Hue light bulbs. Hue light bulbs are directly connected and can be controlled by your mobile iPhone or iPad. The user is able to create light settings based on favourite photos, or to choose from expert light recipes to help you relax or concentrate, or even set timers to help you wake up and pace your day. According to it’s direct control and its flexible lighning settings there will surely be countless application possibilities for this new Philips Hue bulbs in a makers home. All you need to start connecting your home’s lightning scenes is to buy a Philips Apple Hue Starter Kit which comes with a bridge and three bulbs and costs 199$ within the Apple store.

Philips Apple Hue Light

A Maker’s Dream: Unboxing the new Arduino Education Starter Kit

Today, i received one of the first samples of the new Arduino Educational Starter Kits by RS and i have to admit that beside it’s cool design this educational starter kit is one of the most exiting collections of electronics i have ever tested. It comes in combination with an Arduino Projects Book that gives a detailed description of each Arduino experiment on more than 170 pages. For each project,¬†Massimo Banzi, co-founder of Arduino gives an online video instruction, in which he explains the details. The tutorials start from the very beginning, how to set up your Arduino development environment and explain in simple incremental steps how to build more complex examples, that include all kinds of sensors, motors and even a LCD display (all part of the Arduino Starter Kit).

Unboxing my new Arduino Starter Kit

The entire Arduino Starter kit really contains an impressive collection of electronic components and all parts you need to start immediately. It consists of following major parts:

  • Arduino Projects Book
  • Arduino UNO Board
  • USB Cable
  • Breadboard
  • Wooden base
  • Jumper Wires
  • Photoresistor
  • Temperature sensor
  • Tilt sensor
  • LCD screen 16×2 characters
  • Lots of LEDs
  • DC Motor
  • Servo Motor
  • Piezo
  • H-bridge motor driver
  • Optocouplers
  • Transistors
  • Capacitors
  • Diodes and resistors
  • Poti
  • Buttons

Here are some pictures i took during the unboxing of the Arduino Starter Kit.

Connect an Arduino to a $7 Bluetooth Serial Module

Today, i connected my Arduino Uno board to a really cheap Bluetooth serial module ($7 at ebay) in order to communicate with my Android smartphone (tribute to Massimo Banzi for this fantastic piece of engineering, see a tutorial video about starting with Arduino). The image below shows my $7 Bluetooth serial module. It offers 4 pinouts (5V, Ground, RX and TX), that you have to connect with the right pins on your Arduino Uno board. No additional electronic parts are necessary.

Cheap Bluetooth Serial Module for Arduino

So if you have already written a simple Arduino Blink program (equivalent to a typical HelloWorld program), it should be an easy task to connect your Bluetooth serial module to your Arduino Uno board.

You will need to identify the 5V and Ground Arduino pins on your Arduino, in order to provide the power source for activating your Bluetooth serial module. Connect the Bluetooth module’s RX pin to the Arduino’s TX pin. Connect the Bluetooth module’s TX pin with the Arduino’s RX pin.

Connect Arduino to Bluetooth serial module

After connecting the Bluetooth serial module with your Arduino you are able to pair the Bluetooth module with any Bluetooth enabled device. Use ‘1234’ as pairing key.

Parallel Computing Platform for Makers

Within the last year, economically priced Hardware platforms especially targeted to Makers appeared, such as Arduino (8bit Microcontroller platform dedicated to physical computing) or Raspberry Pi (full multimedia enabled 32bit CPU).

Now the Startup Adapteva plans to develop a basic open source platform for prallel computing. Adapteva calls the project Parallella Project, which represents a hardware platform with a proprietary Epiphany-CPU that supports from 16 up to 6 parallel RISC CPUs cores. Two Cortex-A9 cores are responsible for management tasks.
Adapteva just started a Kickstarter pledge in order to reach a budget of $750.000, in order to produce and ship the hardware.