Tag Archives: arduino

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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You take care of a pet eyeball in this bizarre video game

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“Avant-garde” is a French term that translates literally to “advance guard,” as in the vanguard that leads an army into battle. In the arts, the term describes people or works that are experimental and push the boundaries of their medium. Emily Velasco, of the Emily’s Electric Oddities YouTube channel, used an Arduino Nano to build a bizarre video game and “avant-garde” is the best way to describe it.

This handheld device runs a video game that charges players with the care of a pet eyeball. A CRT (cathode-ray tube) screen displays that eyeball in beautifully low-res monochrome graphics. An Arduino generates the composite video signal for the CRT screen using the TVout Arduino library. The Nano, CRT screen, and controls are housed within a retro-style enclosure that Velasco made out of an old motor controller case and a custom walnut wood face plate.

The only user input controls are a joystick and a button. The player can move the joystick to direct the eyeball’s gaze and push the button to make it blink. The eye’s pupil even reacts to the ambient light in the room, which the Arduino monitors through a light sensor. The game doesn’t have a goal in the traditional sense. The player isn’t given any quests or objectives. Their only job is to control the eyeball. Velasco described her creation as “the worst fake video game,” but we prefer to say that it is avant-garde and that the masses simply won’t understand its genius.

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This YouTuber created an Arduino-powered Luxo Jr.

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YouTuber Allyson decided she wanted a real-life version of the Pixar lamp mascot, and actually made one in the video below. Her version uses a servo to raise the modified Luxo lamp up and down via the elbow joint, and another two servos to pan and tilt the shade like a wrist.

The device is controlled by an Arduino Uno, along with a compact vision system. This allows the lamp assembly to move in pre-defined paths and even track objects. The new setup now employs an LED inside of a ping pong ball as the bulb. This can be turned on and off as a “clapper” through a sound sensor.

It looks like a lot of fun so far, and perhaps we’ll see it develop further in the future!

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