AutoStrap is a self-tightening strap that’s like something out of Back to the Future

via Arduino Blog

For wearable devices, attaching them to an arm or leg can be an annoying process since the straps used often have complicated tightening/locking mechanisms. This is what inspired one Instructables user who goes by The Puma to create the AutoStrap, a self-tightening strap system for wearable electronics similar to Marty McFly’s power-lacing shoes in Back to the Future.

The AutoStrap works by using a 3D-printed arm that is loaded with a spring and is actuated with a stepper motor. In order to check if the device is fully tightened around one’s arm, the spring contains 1K Ohm resistor within that goes from the rated resistance down to zero when the end is reached. This value, in turn, tells the Arduino Uno that a home point has been reached and to stop, where a button press can then reverse the process.

Besides being a quick way to attach wearable devices for fitness or VR tracking, the AutoStrap also has potential to become an assistive device for those who might not be able to use traditional attachment mechanisms. To read more about this project, you can visit its write-up here on Instructables and watch its demo video below.

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Precision Meets Customization Meets…You! Meet the MicroMod GNSS Carrier Board!

via SparkFun: Commerce Blog

As you can probably tell with the last few product releases, we're really excited about all things geospatial. One of our larger recent product releases, the new SparkFun MicroMod GNSS Carrier Board, exemplifies everything that is so revolutionary in that space right now. This board, equipped with the ZED-F9P chip from u-blox, sits at the convergence of highly-precise and highly-configurable. Plus, being a MicroMod board, it is part of a highly-customizable ecosystem that makes it easy to utilize different processors depending on your specific project needs.

SparkFun MicroMod GNSS Carrier Board (ZED-F9P)

SparkFun MicroMod GNSS Carrier Board (ZED-F9P)

GPS-17722
$324.95

Overview of the board

The ZED-F9P chip on the SparkFun MicroMod GNSS Carrier Board is a top-of-the-line module for high accuracy GNSS and GPS location solutions, including RTK, capable of 10mm, three-dimensional accuracy. With this board you will be able to know where your (or any object's) X, Y, and Z location is, roughly within the width of your fingernail! The ZED-F9P is unique in that it is capable of both rover and base station operations. Utilizing the M.2 and Qwiic connectors, no soldering is required to connect it to the rest of your system. However, we still broke out 0.1"-spaced pins in case you prefer to use a breadboard to attach additional peripherals.

To properly utilize this kind of module, you'll want to use an antenna that can get a clear view of the sky. It will need to be one that is robust enough to be outside, has long cable, and has an SMA connector.

The Taoglas AA.200 MagmaX2 Multiband GNSS Magnetic Mount Antenna is a good choice for the job. It can access most major constellations including GPS (L1/L2/L5), GLONASS (G1/G2/G5), Galileo(E1/E5a/E5b) and BeiDou(B1/B2). The AA.200 antenna is an active multiband GNSS magnetic mount antenna that exhibits excellent gain and good radiation pattern stability. The combination of these elements help ensure the best possible positional accuracy for systems where RTK is enabled and disabled.

MagmaX2 Active Multiband GNSS Magnetic Mount Antenna - AA.200

MagmaX2 Active Multiband GNSS Magnetic Mount Antenna - AA.200

GPS-17108
$77.95

Lastly, you'll need to pick up a processor board of your choosing; you can use our comparison chart to decide, or try a few out!

SparkFun MicroMod Artemis Processor

SparkFun MicroMod Artemis Processor

DEV-16401
$14.95
SparkFun MicroMod Teensy Processor

SparkFun MicroMod Teensy Processor

DEV-16402
$19.95
2
SparkFun MicroMod ESP32 Processor

SparkFun MicroMod ESP32 Processor

WRL-16781
$16.95
SparkFun MicroMod RP2040 Processor

SparkFun MicroMod RP2040 Processor

DEV-17720
$11.95
SparkFun MicroMod SAMD51 Processor

SparkFun MicroMod SAMD51 Processor

DEV-16791
$18.95
SparkFun MicroMod nRF52840 Processor

SparkFun MicroMod nRF52840 Processor

WRL-16984
$19.95
SparkFun MicroMod STM32 Processor

SparkFun MicroMod STM32 Processor

DEV-17713
$14.95

As usual, we produced a product showcase that goes through the board specs and capabilities in depth. We also included a more complete understanding of the many different GNSS technologies that the ZED-F9P chip utilizes, as well as different software platforms to make full use of the module.

The showcase highlights all the satellite constellations the ZED-F9P can communicate with!

How to configure using u-center

For any board based on u-blox chip, using u-center, a Windows free software tool, is an easy way to configure your receiver. We have a robust beginner tutorial on connecting your receiver with u-center through configuring your COM port and baudrates. Make sure that your antenna has a clear view of the sky, and once you're connected you'll see a breadth of data appear.

u-center dashboard
The u-center main dashboard

There are two things to note in the next screenshot - firstly, that the receiver is acquiring data from multinational satellite constellations, meaning it is a proper GNSS tool. You can see on the right hand side that is communicating with GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, and BeiDou satellites. You can also see, in the second screenshot, that the module sis communicating with 25 satellite units at the moment, so it is gathering a lot of information. The other thing to note, is that without any correction data, the module is within 2 meters of accuracy. We have a tutorial on using NTRIP to stream correction data to your device using both u-center and other platforms.

accuracy without NTRIP
Without any correction data, the ZED-F9P module is still within 2 meters of accuracy!

SVs
Not only is the module receiving data from 25 SVs, but they are from each of the international satellite constellations.


There are multiple menus to utilize within u-center, one of which is the maps menu. By using Google Maps Static API, you can visualize the module spatially, as well as add speed vectors and scales. You'll need to add billing information to your Google Developer profile for the API to work properly.

google map
Go to Tools -> Preferences -> Access Tokens to add your Static Google API key.

There's also preferences for creating a Google Earth Server that will track in real time where your module is.


A key use case for a receiver as precise as this one is the ability to geofence, or create a boundary for the module's location. If the module leaves that boundary, then the user is notified that it has left that radius. U-center makes it easy to set this tool up. Within the configuration menu, you can set the latitude and longitude of the location, as well as radius that will serve as the boundary. Then, in the messages menu, under NAV, you'll be able to track whether the module is inside or outside of that radius you set up.

setup geofence
Within u-center, it's easy to set a boundary for geofencing.

test geofence
You can watch if your module is inside or outside of your designated geofence!


U-center is a dense but extremely useful program for utilizing your GNSS receiver to it's full potential. There's tons more information not included in this blog, like logging data into a database, utilizing camera view, and so much more. If you're interested in these features, check out the in-depth user guide, or comment below on what parts of the software you'd like us to dig into to help you with your projects. In the meantime, put that brand new MicroMod GNSS Carrier Board to good use, and track where it is (and isn't) at all times. Happy Hacking!

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Arduino Week 2022: Call for speakers

via Arduino Blog

Arduino Week 2022

This year, Arduino Day is becoming Arduino Week. Taking place on 21-26 March, 2022, we’ll have more talks, events and presentations than ever before.

Naturally you can expect the usual excitement from the annual Arduino festival. From makers to education and industry, we’ll be bringing you the biggest and the best Arduino has to offer. But there’s also a strong focus on community for the first week-long event. And that means we want to hear from you.

If you have a talk, idea, presentation or project you want to share, please click the button below to tell us all about it.

What Kinds of Talks Are We Looking For?

First and foremost, we don’t want to stifle your creativity. If you’ve got a great idea for something that you think the Arduino community would enjoy, now’s the time to share it. Makers, teachers, students, inventors, coders, influencers, pioneers, entrepreneurs, CEOs, industry, leaders, community groups; anyone and everyone is invited to join us and add to the Arduino Week celebrations.

There might be a project you’ve built that you’d like to showcase. Or maybe you’ve been running an extracurricular program that helps people to learn about Arduino or electronics that you want to tell the world about. Did you pick up your first Arduino board during lockdown and do something cool with it? Tell us!

It doesn’t have to be epic, either. If you’ve got a top tip about project building, coding or using Arduino that you’d love to share, let us know about it! No talk is too big, too small or too unusual to join in with Arduino Week. If it helps, entertains or showcases the community, we want to include it.

We’re here to help flesh out your ideas, too. So don’t worry if there’s something you’d love to bring to Arduino Week but aren’t quite sure how to make it happen. Get in touch, and let’s talk about how you can get involved.

This is going to be the biggest celebration of Arduino ever undertaken. So it’s the perfect way to demonstrate your skills, meet the global community, and get inspired for the next decade of awesome electronics projects.

Ready to join in? Click below to fill out the form, and you could be the star of the show during the 2022 Arduino Week! 

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Calling all young creators: Get ready for Coolest Projects Global 2022

via Raspberry Pi

It’s time to start your countdown! Young people from all over the world will soon be invited to share their digital creations at Coolest Projects Global 2022, our world-leading online technology showcase event for young creators. In mid-February, project registration opens for a new and improved, online-only experience.

A group of young women present a robot buggy they have built.

Through Coolest Projects Global, young creators can register their digital projects to share them with the world, represent their country, get some free swag, and maybe even win recognition from our special judges. And the best thing: Coolest Projects participants join a global community of awesome young tech creators who celebrate each other’s accomplishments.

A group of Coolest Projects participants from all over the world wave their flags.

Here’s what you should know about Coolest Projects Global

  • Coolest Projects Global is free and open to young creators up to 18 years old, working independently or in teams of up to 5 creators.
  • Creators of all skill levels are encouraged to participate. Coolest Projects is for young people who are beginners, or advanced, or anything in between.
  • Project registration opens on 14 February and stays open until 11 May.
A girl presenting a digital making project
  • Projects can be registered in the following categories: Scratch, games, web, mobile apps, hardware, and advanced programming.
  • Judges will evaluate projects based on their coolness, complexity, design, usability, and presentation.
  • Coolest Projects Global is a completely free event for all participants, and it’s entirely online.

What’s new in 2022?

Coolest Projects is celebrating its TENTH YEAR of shining a light on young creators, so we have an extra special showcase lined up in 2022. All of these enhancements are the result of incredibly helpful feedback that past creators have shared. Here’s a sneak peek at what you can look forward to:

  • Creators will receive project feedback from the judges after the celebration event in June. The celebration will be streamed live online in early June. Stay tuned for more details as the event gets closer.
  • Creators will be eligible to receive limited-edition digital and physical swag.
  • Creators will be able to categorise their project into topics such as health, environment, community, art, and more.
  • Creators who have projects selected as favourites by the special judges will receive a commemorative medal.
Two siblings presenting their digital making project at a Coolest Projects showcase

What do young people say is so cool about Coolest Projects?

We asked past creators what they think makes Coolest Projects so cool, and here’s what they had to say:

  • “The freedom we had to create whatever we want!”
  • “We can get inspiration from sharing our ideas about real-life situations.”
  • “Seeing all the different ideas people had and how they went about doing their projects.”
  • “The opportunity to let the creativity flow and participate at a global level.”

Last year, creators showcased all kinds of projects, such as an earthquake early warning device, a fun math game made with Scratch, a squirrel detection system, and a website about cybersecurity. Don’t forget, Coolest Projects is for creators who are beginners, advanced, and everything in between.

A boy participating in Coolest Projects shows off his tech project together with an adult.

Next steps

Project registration opens on 14 February, but creators can start making their projects now. For inspiration, check out last year’s project gallery and then sign up to receive email updates so that you don’t miss a thing about Coolest Projects. We have many more exciting details coming in the next weeks and months, so stay tuned.

Until next time… be cool.

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Plot designs onto cups with CylinDraw

via Arduino Blog

Most plotters are planar, meaning they move in a single plane — though they often have the ability to move the tool up and down in the third axis. But if you convert one axis of the drawing plane into rotation, you get cylindrical plotting. That is how the rotary axis on a CNC machine works. If the tool moves in a third axis, you can even do conical plots. That’s exactly how CylinDraw makes it possible to plot directly onto cups and glasses.

CylinDraw is an open source “cup-specific” plotter and engraver. It is a 2.5 axis machine with a rotary axis, similar to the famous EggBot egg plotter. Except instead of drawing onto the elliptical (in cross section) surface of an egg, CylinDraw plots onto the straight or sloped surface of cups, bottles, and similar objects. By equipping a Dremel or other rotary tool, you can also engrave onto a surface instead of drawing. If you do draw, the software also lets you swap pens to get a full color palette.

An Arduino Nano board controls CylinDraw’s operation, including the stepper motors that rotate the cup and move the tool along the X axis. The frame and many of the parts, including the lathe-inspired chuck, are 3D-printed. But it is the software that really differentiates CylinDraw from similar plotters. With this software, you can automatically convert images into G-code toolpaths for the Arduino to follow for plotting.

CylinDraw is currently available as a DIY hardware kit on Etsy if you want to build one for yourself.

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AIfES releases exciting new version of TinyML library for Arduino

via Arduino Blog

Last July AIfES (Artificial Intelligence for Embedded Systems) from the Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems (IMS) was launched. This open source solution makes it possible to run, and even train, artificial neural networks (ANN) on almost any hardware, including the Arduino UNO. 

The team hasn’t stopped work on this exciting machine learning platform, and an update just landed that you’ll definitely want to check out.

The new AIfES-Express API

AIfES-Express is an alternative, simplified API that’s integrated directly into the library. The new features allow you to run and train a feed-forward neural network (FNN) with only a few lines of code.

Q7 weight quantization

This update enables the simple Q7 (8-bit) quantization of the weights of a trained FNN. This significantly reduces the memory required. And depending where it’s being deployed, it brings a significant increase in speed along with it.

This is especially true for controllers without FPU (Floating Point Unit). The quantization can be handled directly in AIfES® (and AIfES-Express) on the controller, PC, or wherever you’re using it. There are even example Python scripts to perform the quantization directly in Keras or PyTorch. The quantized weights can then be used in AIfES®.

Advanced Arm CMSIS integration

AIfES® now provides the option to use the Arm CMSIS (DSP and NN) library for a faster runtime.

New examples to help you get building

A simple gesture recognition application can be trained on-device for different Arduino boards, including:

You can play tic-tac-toe against a microcontroller, with a pre-trained net that’s practically impossible to defeat. There are F32 and quantized Q7 versions to try. The Q7 version even runs on the Arduino UNO. The AIfES® team do issue a warning that it can be demoralizing to repeatedly lose against an 8-bit controller!

This Portenta H7 example is particularly impressive. It shows you how to train in the background on one core, while using the other to run a completely different task. In the example, the M7 core of the Portenta H7 can even give the M4 core a task to train an FNN. The optimized weights can then be used by the M7 to perform the FNN with no delay, due to the training.

Here’s a link to the GitHub repository so you can give this a go yourself.

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