Author Archives: Arduino Team

Oplà IoT Kit Gets Italian, Spanish, German and French Translations

via Arduino Blog

A big part of the Oplà IoT Kit’s value comes from its online content. When you get the kit, one of the first tasks is to visit opla.arduino.cc, where a host of awesome resources are available.

And now it’s expanding on its usefulness by adding four new languages to the content.

Let’s Talk About the Oplà

The Oplà IoT Kit is a very powerful and fully featured learning tool. It’s also got everything an experienced maker needs for a connected project, of course, but if you’re new to Arduino the Oplà is a fantastic introduction.

The kit is supported by its very own website, which offers getting started guides for the bundled MKR IoT Carrier and for Arduino Cloud. The entire kit is all about building IoT projects, so the Cloud is an essential part of that, and it’s important to learn your way around it just as much as the hardware and sensors.

Project guides include a host of great ways to learn about the Oplà IoT Kit, from remote controlled lights to weather stations, security alarms and even a solar system tracker. So it’s easy to see how this online resource ramps up the usability of the kit significantly.

The good news is that it’s now even more useful, thanks to a range of new translations. French, German, Spanish and Italian speaking users can switch the entire Oplà site’s content into their native language. There’s a selector button in the top right corner of the screen that changes all the posts into your preferred language.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on it, especially from makers who speak these newly added languages natively. Anything we can do to improve, just let us know. In the meantime, grab your Oplà IoT Kit and dive into all that delicious multilingual content!

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1960s stereo console modernized with an Arduino

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The aphorism that “they don’t build them like they used to” is especially true of the consumer electronics industry. Most manufacturers today design their product to last only a few years — or with outright planned obsolescence. But mid-century stereo consoles were a different story and resembled high-end furniture that would last. Sherman Banks has a Penncrest stereo console from that era, but its electronics were failing. So he used an Arduino to modernize the unit while retaining the vintage appearance.

This particular console had an AM/stereo FM radio receiver and a built-in phonograph turntable. Unfortunately, the aging electronic components were unreliable and lacked good sound quality. The console itself, however, was in fantastic shape. So Banks wanted to keep it looking as original as possible, but with modern electronics and all of the features they offer. He replaced the radio with a Denon DRA-800H stereo receiver that offered inputs for a turntable and SiriusXM receiver, as well as Bluetooth streaming and Ethernet connections. He also replaced the turntable with a new Denon DP-29F.

Those would have worked just fine, but he wanted the original controls to work. For that, Banks used an Arduino Mega 2560 board. It reads the inputs from potentiometer knobs for volume, radio tuning, input selection, and so on. It then passes that information over to the stereo receiver through an Ethernet Shield. The stereo accepts network commands to change the radio station, inputs, and other important functions. It also outputs that information, which let Banks set the dial to the appropriate position. The Arduino receives the station number and then uses a stepper motor with a leadscrew and block to move the dial indicator back and forth to the correct position.

Now Banks has a stereo console that looks completely vintage, but which offers all of the modern quality and convenience that he could want.

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This insane kinetic clock robot flips itself into position

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Displaying the time these days is trivial — you could do it with any Arduino board and a simple four-digit seven-segment display. But as humans, we crave novelty and it isn’t uncommon to see a clock that is more art than a practical timekeeping device. That is true of AKUROBATTO, which is an insane kinetic clock robot that flips itself into position.

AKUROBATTO consists of a skateboard deck-shaped platform and a motorized robot. The robot acts like the hands of an analog clock, with two arms joined by a pivot joint. One can tell the time by judging the relative angular positions of the two arms. That sounds straightforward, but it gets more interesting when you realize that the pivot point between the two arms is not hard-mounted. So to change the angle between the arms, the robot must lock itself into place on the platform and then flip around.

It achieves that movement using two geared stepper motors and two clever servo-driven locking mechanisms. The latter let the robot latch onto the platform in one of two locations. Two Arduino Mini boards control the movement and monitor the angle through an AS5600 rotary encoder sensor. The Arduinos communicate with each other using a pair of nRF24L01 radio transceivers.

But the mechanical design is what truly sets AKUROBATTO apart. Its structure is 3D-printed, but it utilizes an ingenious system of locking rings and GT2 timing belts to transfer torque for movement. It is difficult to even comprehend without seeing the movement for yourself, which is exactly as kinetic art should be.

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Sorting beads the easy way

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If you want to measure the blueness of an object, you can shine a pure blue light at it and then measure the reflected light intensity with a photodiode. Do the same for red and green light, and you can get an RGB color value. Conversely, you can shine a white light at an object and use three photodiodes with the appropriate color filters to calculate your RGB levels. This bead sorter, built by Redditor Dumjim, relies on these principles to organize large quantities of beads.

This machine sorts the kinds of beads used for beadwork crafting. Those may come in individual containers, but they soon end up mixed up. But now, Dumjim can quickly and easily sort those beads by color. It utilizes a 3D-printed frame and mechanisms, which Dumjim designed in Autodesk Inventor CAD software.

The brain of the machine is an Arduino Uno, which inspects each bead using a color sensor that operates with white light with filtered photodiodes. A unique servo-driven mechanism feeds beads from a hopper down to the sensor. Based on the color values, it uses a second servo-driven mechanism to drop the beads down a chute and into separate containers. These same principles would work for sorting uniform objects of any kind by color, but it is especially suited to the tiny beads that frustrate crafters.

You can see it in action here!

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This clever conductive ink printer lets anyone sketch a circuit with ease

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The creation of conductive ink has enabled anyone with a brush to sit down and sketch out an entire circuit on a wide variety of surfaces, although this process comes with a few large drawbacks. Compared to digital fabrication techniques, such as designing and manufacturing PCBs, the drawn traces are often inconsistent and messy, leading to unsightly and unreliable circuits. To fix this problem, a team from Saarland University in Saarbrücken, Germany came up with an intelligent handheld printer called Print-A-Sketch that can automatically correct user errors while also providing a wide range of tools for drawing incredible designs on anything.

The unit is based around an Arduino Mega 2560, which collects movement data from an optical motion sensor and uses it to make small adjustments. From there, the piezoelectric printhead utilizes changes in current to control a matrix of ink-laying dots that can deposit ink at a steady pace depending on how fast the user is moving the device. Finally, a wide-angle RGB camera module, OLED screen, and joystick allow for a user to interact with the printer.

Apart from merely drawing straight lines on a page, the printer can also deposit custom shapes, continue printing a line that had been drawn previously, and even scan components on-the-fly to print their footprints. All of these capabilities can be combined to create devices such as smart yoga mats, capacitive controls, and even flexible sensors across a wide range of surfaces.

For more details on the Print-A-Sketch, you can read the team’s paper here and watch its demo video below!

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DIY adapter turns a Psion Organiser II into a USB display

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The Psion Organiser I, released in 1984, was a pocket computer — the kind of device that would soon fit the description of a PDA (personal digital assistant). Its successor, the Psion Organiser II, was similar and included a tactile keyboard, a small LCD screen, a processor, and memory, so users could write and run programs. James Stanley created an Arduino-based adapter for the Psion Organiser II that turns it into a USB display.

The Psion Oganiser II had three peripheral ports. Two were for “datapaks,” which were expansion modules (including UV-erasable EPROM). The third is for a communications cable. Unfortunately, it is hard to find a CommsLink cable today. So Stanley created his own adapter. But this came with a challenge: two-way serial communication with the Psion Organiser II’s CPU requires precise timing. Without dedicated hardware built for this serial protocol, communication is difficult for even modern microcontrollers to handle in software. And one-way communication can interfere with the datapaks and cause issues. 

Stanley’s solution was very clever. He connected an Arduino Nano board’s digital IO pins to the CPU’s “port 2” data bus through 510 ohm resistors. Those resistors fit into a goldilocks where the Arduino can pull the data lines high or low, but only if that doesn’t contradict communication between the datapaks and the CPU. So datapak communication will take priority. If no communication is occurring between the datapaks and CPU, the Arduino can send data directly to the CPU. In practice, as machine code sent through the Arduino’s serial port that will display a desired text string on the Psion Organiser II’s LCD screen.

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