Private Sketches for Arduino Cloud

via Arduino Blog

You can now have private sketches in Arduino Cloud

Private sketches are now available as part of your Arduino Cloud. It’s a new option that provides you with more control over how you share sketches, and who can view them.

Sharing Sketches From Arduino Cloud

As you probably already know, you can easily share sketches that you’ve created in your Arduino Cloud. This includes auto generated IoT Cloud sketches as you add new devices and variables.

It’s a great feature that gives you a lot of options for working directly from your Arduino Cloud. The community is all about open-source, and sharing is a big part of that. 

You might want to let other developers use and improve on your sketches. Or Maybe you want to make it public so you can get support or advice.

You could download the sketch’s .ino file and share the it manually. But then it’s in danger of becoming a versioning headache. Which one is the current version, and which one had which change in it? Suddenly you’re tripping over email chains and getting pulled into the event horizon of versioning black holes.

But if you share it from your Arduino Cloud instead, everyone’s looking at the same version. If you make a change, that change is instantly reflected across the board. It even allows you to embed the sketch anywhere you want in an iframe (forums, blogs, websites, etc), and people don’t need an Arduino Cloud account to view it.

Sharing sketches is a very cool feature of Arduino Cloud.

Making Arduino Cloud Sketches Private

Don’t worry, of course. Just like Google Docs, the URL is complex enough that no one’s ever going to guess it. If you don’t share it, no one’s going to find it. So you can feel safe and secure that your sketches are entirely private if you haven’t shared the URL.

But what if you have shared it previously, and want to make your code private again? That’s where this new feature comes to the rescue.

You now have much more control over the sharing settings of all your Arduino Cloud sketches. You can set one to private, even if it’s already been shared. No one will be able to view it, even if you previously gave them the URL.

How to make private sketches in Arduino Cloud

To change a sketch’s accessibility, just open it up in the Web Editor.

Click the options button (three dots next to the board selection at the top) followed by the “Share Sketch…” option.

Where previously you only saw the sharing URL and iframe embedding code, you now have two options. Set it to “Private,” and only you can see the sketch, regardless as to whether it’s been shared. Set it to “Public,” and everyone can see it again (assuming they have the URL).

If you switch a sketch from private back to public, the old URL that you shared will work once again. Also, any existing sketches will remain public until you change them using the new private sketches feature.

As always, we’d love to hear your feedback on this (and any other) Arduino Cloud feature, so let us know on social media, the forum, or right here in the comments.

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‘Epigone drone’ pays homage to NASA’s Mars Helicopter | The MagPi #107

via Raspberry Pi

Inspired by NASA’s attempt to launch a helicopter on Mars, one maker made an Earth-bound one of her own. And she tells Rosie Hattersley all about it in the latest issue of The MagPi Magazine, out now.

Epigone drone hero
To avoid being swiped by the drone’s rotors, the Raspberry Pi 4, which uses NASA’s especially written F Prime code for telemetry, had to be positioned very carefully

Like millions of us, in April Avra Saslow watched with bated breath as NASA’s Perseverance rover touched down on the surface of Mars. 

Like most of us, Avra knew all about the other ground-breaking feat being trialled alongside Perseverance: a helicopter launch called Ingenuity, that was to be the first flight on another planet – “a fairly lofty goal”, says Avra, since “the atmosphere on Mars is 60 times less dense than Earth’s.” 

With experience of Raspberry Pi-based creations, Avra was keen to emulate Ingenuity back here on earth.

Project maker holding their creation
Avra’s videographer colleague lent her the drone that enables Epigone to achieve lift-off

NASA chose to use open-source products and use commercially available parts for its helicopter build. It just so happened that Avra had recently begun working at SparkFun, a Colorado-based reseller that sells the very same Garmin LIDAR-Lite v3 laser altimeter that NASA’s helicopter is based on. “It’s a compact optical distance measurement sensor that gives the helicopter ‘eyes’ to see how far it hovers above ground,” Avra explains.

NASA posted the Ingenuity helicopter’s open-source autonomous space-flight software, written specifically for use with Raspberry Pi, on GitHub. Avra took all this as a sign she “just had to experiment with the same technology they sent to Mars.”

F Prime and shine

Her plan was to see whether she could get GPS and lidar working within NASA’s framework, “and then take the sensors up on a drone and see how it all performed in the air.” Helpfully, NASA’s GitHub post included a detailed F Prime tutorial based around Raspberry Pi. Avra says understanding and using F Prime (F´) was the hardest part of her Epigone drone project. “It’s a beast to take on from an electronics enthusiast standpoint,” she says. Even so, she emphatically encourages others to explore and the opportunity  to make use of NASA’s code.

epigone drone front view
NASA recognises that Raspberry Pi offers a way to “dip your toe in embedded systems,” says Avra, and “encourages the idea that Linux can run on two planets in the solar system”

Raspberry Pi 4 brain

The Epigone Drone is built around Raspberry Pi 4 Model B; Garmin’s LIDAR-Lite v4, which connects to a Qwiic breakout board and has a laser rather than an LED; a battery pack; and a DJI Mini 2 drone borrowed from a videographer colleague. Having seen how small the drone was, Avra realised 3D-printing an enclosure case would make everything far too heavy. As it was, positioning the Epigone onto its host drone was challenging enough: the drone’s rotors passed worryingly close to the project’s Raspberry Pi, even when precisely positioned in the centre of the drone’s back. The drone has its own sensors to allow for controlled navigation, which meant Avra’s design had to diverge from NASA’s and have its lidar ‘eyes’ on its side rather than underneath.

Although her version piggybacks on an existing drone, Avra was amazed when her Epigone creation took flight:

“I honestly thought [it] would be too heavy to achieve lift, but what do ya know, it flew! It went up maybe 30 ft and we were able to check the sensors by moving it close and far from the SparkFun HQ [where she works].”

While the drone’s battery depleted in “a matter of minutes” due to its additional load, the Epigone worked well and could be deployed to map small areas of land such as elevation changes in a garden, Avra suggests.

The MagPi #107 out NOW!

MagPi 107 cover

You can grab the brand-new issue right now from the Raspberry Pi Press store, or via our app on Android or iOS. You can also pick it up from supermarkets and newsagents. There’s also a free PDF you can download.

The post ‘Epigone drone’ pays homage to NASA’s Mars Helicopter | The MagPi #107 appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

The SparkFun RTK Express is Shipping!

via SparkFun: Commerce Blog

Great news, everyone: the SparkFun RTK Express is now shipping! That means if you ordered one between Tuesday, June 1st, and Friday, June 18th, you should (hopefully) be receiving it in the next few days! We do still have some extras built up but we expect them to sell out soon. So, if you haven't picked up your own RTK Express, now might be a good time.

SparkFun RTK Express

SparkFun RTK Express


WIth the official release of the SparkFun RTK Express, we wanted to make sure you were also aware of the new guide we wrote for it! The RTK Express is your one-stop shop for high precision geolocation and surveying needs. For basic users, it’s incredibly easy to get up and running and for advanced users, the RTK Express is a flexible and powerful tool. The RTK Express is a fully enclosed, preprogrammed device. There are very few things to worry about or configure but we cover all of the basics in the tutorial below.


SparkFun RTK Express Hookup Guide

June 21, 2021

Learn how to use the enclosed RTK Express product to achieve millimeter level geospatial coordinates.

By connecting your phone to the RTK Express over Bluetooth, your phone can act as the radio link to provide correction data as well as receive the NMEA output from the device. It’s how $10,000 surveying devices have been operating for the past decade - we just made it easier, smaller, and a lot less expensive.

GNSS RTK is an incredible feat of engineering that has been made easy to use by powerful GNSS receivers such as the ZED-F9P by u-blox (the receiver inside RTK Express). The process of setting up an RTK system will be covered in this tutorial, but if you want to know more about RTK here are some good tutorials to brush up on:

What is GPS RTK?

Learn about the latest generation of GPS and GNSS receivers to get 14mm positional accuracy!

Getting Started with U-Center for u-blox

Learn the tips and tricks to use the u-blox software tool to configure your GPS receiver.

Setting up a Rover Base RTK System

Getting GNSS RTCM correction data from a base to a rover is easy with a serial telemetry radio! We'll show you how to get your high precision RTK GNSS system setup and running.

How to Build a DIY GNSS Reference Station

Learn how to affix a GNSS antenna, use PPP to get its ECEF coordinates and then broadcast your own RTCM data over the internet and cellular using NTRIP to increase rover reception to 10km!

Let us know in the comments below what you plan on using your new RTK Express for. Is there a project or idea you want to implement it is? Let us know, we are excited to hear from you!

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Two Arduinos are used to control this DIY three-axis CNC plottee

via Arduino Blog

We’ve seen a number of homemade CNC machines throughout the years, but Tuenhidiy’s build — made from some discarded materials — is no less impressive. This unique CNC plotter features a frame cleverly constructed out of two wooden wine boxes, which appear to be the perfect size with space for an Y-axis bed and an upright structure that actuates X movements. For the Z component, a pen is lifted using parts from a recycled CD player drive.

Electronics-wise, the project is also quite interesting as it employs servos rather than steppers for its X and Y axes. Actuation is handled by an Arduino Uno with pre-installed GRBL firmware and a CNC shield, which sends commands to an Arduino Mega running custom firmware. The Mega — plus a custom adapter board and an L293D shield — takes care of PID control for the motors.

More details on the machine can be found in Tuenhidiy’s write-up, and you can see it demonstrated in the video below.

The post Two Arduinos are used to control this DIY three-axis CNC plottee appeared first on Arduino Blog.

Raspberry Pi Zero makes a xylophone play itself

via Raspberry Pi

When maker Stéphane (aka HalStar) set about building this self-playing xylophone, their goal was to learn more about robotics, and to get hands-on with some mechanical parts they had never used before, in this case solenoids.

They also wanted to experiment with Raspberry Pi to build something that reflected their love of music. This automated instrument, capable of playing hundreds of MIDI files, fits the brief.

Let me introduce you to Stéphane’s self-playing xylophone

Two factors constrained the design: Stéphane wanted to be able to do it all using parts from the local DIY store, and to use as many regular modules as possible. So, no breadboard or wires everywhere, and no custom PCB. Just something simple to assemble and neat.

This extra video goes into more detail about the build process


Raspberry Pi Zero WH is the teeny tiny brain of the self-playing xylophone. And its maker’s build details video very helpfully labels all the parts, where they sit, and what’s connected to what.

self playing xylophone hardware
There we are (#4) working away to make the xylophone play

These three buttons select the tracks, set the tempo, and set the mode. Choose between playing all loaded tracks or just one. You can also decide whether you want all tracks to play on repeat in a loop, or stop after your selections have played through. A two-inch LCD screen shows you what’s going on.

self playing xylophone track selection buttons
Twist and click to choose your settings

The right notes

While there are thousands of MIDI files freely available online, very few of them could actually be played by the xylophone. With only 32 notes, the instrument is limited in what it can play without losing any notes. Also, even when a MIDI file uses just 32 consecutive notes, they might not be the same range of 32 notes as the xylophone has, so you need to transpose. Stéphane developed a tool in Python to filter out 32-note tunes from thousands of MIDI files and automatically transpose them so the xylophone can play them. And, yes, everything you need to copy this filtering and transposing function is on GitHub.

self playing xylophone hero
In all its glory

Now, Stéphane says that whenever friends or family visit their home, they’re curious and impressed to see this strange instrument play by itself. Sadly, we are not among Stéphane’s family or friends; fortunately, though, this project has an entire YouTube playlist, so we can still have a look and a listen to see it in action up close.

Wait, isn’t that a glockenspiel?

We know it’s technically a glockenspiel. Stéphane acknowledges it is technically a glockenspiel. But we are firm fans of their going down the xylophone route, because way more people know what one of those is. If you’re interested, the difference between a xylophone and the glockenspiel is the material used for the bars. A xylophone has wooden bars, whereas glockenspiel bars are metal.

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Arduino rocks babies to sleep, gives parents a break

via Arduino Blog

If there is one thing for which babies are infamous, it is their complete inability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Rocking cradles can help them drift off, but they require a parent’s attention. Modern motorized rockers solve that issue, but they can be expensive. That’s why Peter Turczak used an Arduino to build an electromechanical rocker mechanism for cribs.

Turczak kept the costs down on this project by using 3D printer parts. The frame, which attaches beneath an existing crib, was constructed from aluminum extrusion. The frame is in two parts and the top half slides on linear rails with bearings. A NEMA 23 stepper motor pushes the top half of the frame back and forth using a ball screw. Two reed switches act as end stops so that the motor doesn’t grind.

An Arduino Nano board controls the motor through a TMC5160 stepper driver module. The code is still in progress, but Turczak plans to program the machine to mimic a conventional rocker. It will start at by sliding the crib side to side at the full range and then reduce the speed over time until it comes to a stop. This project may have taken a lot of work, but hopefully it will help Turczak’s baby nod off to sleep so that he can get his own sleep.  

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