In case you haven’t noticed, one of the more popular themes for new dev boards is Bluetooth. Slap a Bluetooth 4.0 module on a board, and you really have something: just about every phone out there has it, and the Low Energy label is great for battery-powered Internets of Things.
Most of these boards fall a little short. It’s one thing to throw a Bluetooth module on a board, but building the software to interact with this board is another matter entirely. Revealing Hour Creations is bucking that trend with their Tah board. Basically, it’s your standard Arduino compatible board with a btle module. What they’ve done is add the software for iOS and Android that makes building stuff easy.
Putting Bluetooth on a single board is one thing, but how about putting Bluetooth on everything. SAM Labs showed off their system of things at Maker Faire with LEDs, buttons, fans, motors, sensors, and just about every electrical component you can imagine.
All of these little boards come with a Bluetooth module and a battery. The software for the system is a graphical interface that allows you to draw virtual wires between everything. Connect a button to a LED in the software, and the LED will light up when the button is pressed. Move your mouse around the computer, and the button will turn on a motor when it’s pressed.
There are a few APIs that also come packaged into the programming environment – at the booth, you could open a fridge (filled with cool drinks that didn’t cost five dollars, a surprise for the faire) and it would post a tweet.
There’s a lot more to those fancy radio modules you use with your Arduino projects than meets the eye. Many of them are systems on a chip, complete with their own microcontroller and memory that can control your entire blinking LEDs project. Developing for these radio modules is a bit of a challenge, as the IDEs and compilers cost several thousand dollars. [Tim]‘s entry for the Hackaday Prize looks at one of these Bluetooth LE modules – Texas Instrument’s CC2540 and CC2541 – and puts an embedded BASIC interpreter right on the chip.
[Tim]‘s inspiration for this project came from looking at a few popular devices using the CC254X chip. Many of these included a microcontroller and the added costs, complexity, and power requirements that come along with an additional chip. This radio module could easily run any code an ATMega could, and adding another chip to a product seemed like a terrible waste, and certainly not in the spirit of open hardware and software.
The alternative is writing an interpreter for the CC254X chip. He’s chosen BASIC, but added a little bit of Arduino language syntax to make it even easier to develop on. Having already run through a few successful tests involving SPI, I2C and 1-wire devices, [Tim] has a basic system working, but [Tim] admits it does need a little rework to make it easier to use.
It’s a great project, and personally astonishing that it didn’t make the quarterfinal selection for The Hackaday Prize. [Tim] is still working on his project, though, in a great example of extrinsic motivation; he doesn’t need a trip to space to convince him to build something cool.
You can check out [Tim]‘s two minute concept video below.
Technically, there are two hardware parts were added, to fully demonstrate extra ordinary sensitivity of the VTS project. First one is the BlueTooth module. And second is a tablet, running android. Device that I have, doesn’t support USB host mode (OTG), otherwise I may be fine w/o BT, just transfer a data over USB cable, as it was done in two previous demo video clips. Have to say, it was not easy to represent 3D perspective on a flat screen, and picture below shows what I designed to complete a task:
Don’t think it requires a comments, the tricky part was to create an elliptical grid to show a distance. The number of circles is not limited to 2, I’d think about how to film next demo video, that ‘d show a “volume”.
Jaap de Maat shared with us his final year project called I know what you did last summer, the finale to a two-year-long MA in Information Experience Design of the Royal College of Art. The ingredients are simple (an old electric wheel chair, an Arduino Mega, 12v motor board, Bluetooth slave, wires, blood sweat and tears) and the concept is very actual:
It is physically impossible for the human brain to remember every event from our past in full detail. The default setting is to forget and our memories are constructed based on our current values. In the digital age it has become easier to look back with great accuracy. But this development contains hidden dangers, as those stored recollections can easily be misinterpreted and manipulated. That sobering thought should rule our online behaviour, because the traces we leave behind now will follow us around for ever.
The video of the installation shows how the physical presence of an archive drawer stalking has a real impact on visitors:
That’s the best and most obtuse title you’ll ever see for a Hackaday post, but surprisingly it’s pretty accurate. [Bob] over at the Sector67 hackerspace took part in a 111-day accelerator program in Shenzhen last year to improve his manufacturing skills. He’s just about ready to release his first product, a Bluetooth device that connects to an ice fishing tip-up. The blog for the device recounts the challenges of taking a project from a circuit to a finished product, and illustrates the difference between building something with an Arduino and selling thousands of devices.
The circuit boards for BlueTipz come in panels of eight, but what’s the best way to populate and solder five thousand devices in a reasonably short amount of time? [Bob] hired a few students from the local college to help him out in assembling all these devices. The plastic enclosures were made at a local plastics manufacturer, but the molds were made in China. The manufacturer needed to modify the molds a bit, but after a few days, [Bob] had five thousand enclosures ready to stuff full of electronics.
With the devices assembled, it’s time for programming, and that means building a programmer. [Bob] put all the guts for the device into a plastic box and 3D-printed a mount for the bare BlueTipz board. Put a board on the mount, press a button, and the tech now has a functioning device in his hands.
Besides manufacturing, there’s also a whole lot of testing that went into the design of BlueTipz. Because this is a device for ice fishing—a cold and potentially windy operating environment—[Bob] built a test rig in a freezer. The test rig triggers the device’s sensor, waits two minutes (the amount of time it would take for an ice fisherman to check the tip-up) and resets. They claim the battery life is good for 600 fish, and with this testing rig they were able to verify their calculated battery life with real-world data: without actually catching six hundred fish, of course.
Not only does [Bob] have a good bit of product development under his belt, he was also kind enough to go over the stuff everyday electronic design just doesn’t cover. Developing a product is something you can only learn by doing, and we’re glad [Bob] chose to share his experiences with us.
Here is a very time consuming project that I worked on during last summer: an ARM Cortex M4 based platform with plenty of communication interfaces and on-board peripherals. The particular project for which this board has been developed is not really HaD material (one of my father’s funny ideas) so I’ll only describe the platform itself. The microcontroller used in the project is the ATSAM4E16C from Atmel, which has 1Mbyte of flash and 128Kbytes of SRAM. It integrates an Ethernet MAC, a USB 2.0 Full-speed controller, a sophisticated Analog to Digital Converter and a Digital to Analog Converter (among others).
Here is a list of the different components present on the board so you can get a better idea of what the platform can do: a microphone with its amplifier, a capacitive touch sensor, two unipolar stepper motors controllers, two mosfets, a microSD card connector, a Bluetooth to serial bridge, a linear motor controller and finally a battery retainer for backup power. You can have a look at a simple demonstration video I made, embedded after the break. The firmware was made in C and uses the Atmel Software Framework. The project is obviously open hardware (Kicad) and open software.
If you’re interested in one platform and don’t want spending many hours soldering it, I even made a profitless fundraiser (even though I need a better camera and a better accent!).
Jonathan from Anikken wrote us to show how Andee is more than just a Bluetooth shield. Not only does it allow to wirelessly connect and control the Arduino from any Android phone, but it comes with its own library for the Arduino IDE, to easily customise the smartphone user interface by doing the coding in the Arduino IDE itself without any Android programming.
He then created some action with it producing a Rubber band launcher and a cool video to see how it works:
I got the inspiration to build this rubber band launcher after watching a video of a rubber band gattling gun. I originally intended to build a rubber band gattling gun turret that I can control with my smartphone using stuff that I could find in my home and office.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough materials lying around to get it done. Instead, using whatever I had, I improvised and made a simpler version – the Rubber Band Launcher Mark I. (I’m calling it Mark I because I’m in the process of upgrading this model).
The launcher was built using some plywood, cardboard, cable ties, some screws, two servos, the Arduino Uno, and the Annikken Andee.
He started with a piece of plywood that he found in his office, he cut it up and mounted two servos to it using screws and cable ties : one servo controls the firing of the rubber band, the other controls the up/down movement. He then mounted the machine onto a cardboard box filled it with heavy objects to prevent the launcher from topping over.
You always meet the most interesting people wandering around Maker Faire, but by far the most interesting was Hackaday’s founder, [Phil Torrone] and bubblegum-haired compatriot [Limor] from Adafruit. They were out in full force checking out the sights and gave us the scoop on a new piece of hardware they’re releasing called Bluefruit.
Bluefruit is a very tiny and very cheap Bluetooth module breakout board that allows anyone to take 12 digital inputs and turn them into a Bluetooth HID device. If you’re planning a portable battery-powered arcade controller, just plug in a Bluefruit, set up your keypresses in your software, and rock out.
On board the Blufruit are an FTDI programming connector, 12 input pins, a few power pins, a custom FCC and CE certified CSR Bluetooth module, and that’s about it. If you’re looking for a simple GPIO to Bluetooth adapter without an overwrought Arduino setup, this is the best solution we’ve seen by far. Adafruit is also rocking their own custom firmware for the device, so this will be extremely hacker-friendly.
The price will be $20 and should be available in the Adafruit store in a bit. If you’re looking for an easy way to put a Bluetooth HID controller in your next project, this is the one.
Pictures of the Bluefruit and Adafruit crew below.
nRF24L01+ modules like the one shown above are a great way to send data wirelessly between your projects. They can be found on many websites for less than $1.50
a piece and many libraries exist for them. After having thoroughly looked at the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) specifications, [Dimitry] managed to find a way to broadcast BLE data with an nRF24L01+.
Luckily enough, BLE and nRF24L01+ data packets have the same preambles. However, the latter can’t send more than 32bytes in a packet and can’t hop between frequencies as fast as the BLE specification wants. [Dimitry] found the solution when he discovered that he could send unsolicited advertisements on three specific channels. In the end, considering the 32 bytes the nRF24L01+ can send, you’ll need to use 3 bytes for the CRC, 2 for the packet header, 6 for the MAC address and 5 for devices attributes. This leaves us with 16 bytes of pure data or 14 bytes to split between data and name if you want your project to have one.
The HC-05, a Bluetooth to serial bridge, can be found for around $5 on the internet and therefore may be the cheapest way to add Bluetooth connectivity to your project.
However, its default settings may need to be changed depending on your application. [Hazim] explains a way to enter the HC-05 AT command mode to benefit from the rich set of features that the device can provide. The process is fairly simple as it only consists of maintaining the key pin of the HC-05 high while powering on. The device then boots in AT command mode with a default 38400bits/s speed and listens for all of the AT command set (PDF). As an example [Hazim] provides a sketch allowing you to write the AT commands directly in your favorite terminal.
High-precision air quality monitors are normally very expensive, but Tim Dye of Sonoma Technology is on a mission to change that. He’s been working with Michael Heimbinder and habitatmap.org to create a low-cost sensor system that when designed properly and integrated into a software platforms can provide valid data.
AirCasting is a platform for recording, mapping, and sharing health and environmental data using Arduino and Android. It combines an Arduino with a set of sensors for air quality measurement; temperature, humidity, and carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and particulate matter. The system combines the sensors using an Arduino Uno and then sends the data to an Android app using Bluetooth. The plans are all open for modification, so you can add your own sensors as needed. A heart rate monitor and an LED vest can also be linked to the AirCasting app, providing a complete the system for realtime, wearable feedback of your body’s reaction to the environmental air quality.
There are many DIY air quality measurement projects online, but most of them are not calibrated against known standards or professional equipment. But Dye and his colleagues have tested the AirCasting particulate matter sensors against the same equipment Sonoma Technology uses for precise measurement, and they’ve gotten surprisingly good results. Correctly constructed and deployed, the AirCasting shows promise as a low-cost alternative to complement the expensive high-end air monitors.
AirCasting is a collaboration between many groups: Michael Heimbinder of habitatmap.org manages the project, and Tim Dye of Sonoma Technology consults on design, data evaluation, and field deployment; Dr. Iem Heng and Raymond Yap of the City Tech Mechatronics Technology Center designed and built the hardware; Dr. Andy Zhang designed and built the monitor casings; Valentine Leung designed and built the LED garments, and Brooke Singer has helped guided the project with a mind towards interactivity and public engagement.
The data from your AirCasting air monitor can be uploaded to the AirCasting database, which aggregates data from all AirCasting contributors, or can be sent to your own database and all the code for the project is open source and available through GitHub
The website AirCasting.org provides links to all the software and hardware plans.
On his blog, Miguel presents one of his latest projects:
This project shows the operation of an RGB lamp using a digital LED strip. After activating the bluetooth connection, the user can open the GUI on the PC to control the lamp. The program shows a hue palette divided into 30 rods, one for each LED of the strip.
By clicking & dragging the mouse cursor it is possible to make your own patterns,. To remove a color, the user can simply click on a rod while pressing the spacebar, which switches off the selected LED.
Part list: wooden support, RGB digitally-addressable LED strip, microcontroller (Arduino Pro Mini, for example), Bluetooth or USB wire.
More information on this project can be found on Miguel’s blog, while a brief video about its operation can be found here; the code of the project can be found on Github. The project’s page on Thingiverse can be found here.
Ok this is not a project 100% core Arduino, because it uses custom hardware and only the bootloader of Arduino. But Arduino follows the Open-Hardware philosophy, so we are honoured to share this project that use a bit of Arduino. [chris] , from silverball software, sent us his way to build a game controller , programmed with Arduino software.
Well after a few months of tinkering and several designs I finally have one.
The design is based around the Atmega 328 running the Arduino bootloader. There is a RN42-HID bluetooth module that allows serial communication between it and the microprocessor.
I wanted the device to be fully hackable so I designed it with headers for both the bluetooth module and the Atmega 328 chip. I can reprogram the bluetooth module to run HID keyboard or mouse (or combined), it can iterate as a gamepad, or it can reconfigured to run serial protocol and iterate as a virtual com port.
On the [website] there is full description with lots of pictures, have a look.
[IgorAraujo] has pubblihed another interesting project about robot and Arduino. This time it involves a camera and a bluetooth module.
Appointed to be able to develop a robot communication activity and locomotion guided control with several purposes: conference distance, safety inspection and access to local human presence will unaviable. The intention is to promote environmental inspection, receiving and sending information (image and voice) as well as allow for the visualization of environment and the sensor signals to control the movement of the robot using the Arduino.
As usually, you can find more on his [website] , full post with videos and pictures, thanks for submit again!
LED(Lamp) is an advanced bluetooth lighting system made with arduino, has been realized using a very cheap bluetooth module.
The cool part is the control app for Android device that allows you to control the lighting system.
The firmware for Arduino is open source. The app for android offers: brightness control, color, 8 memories, save favorite color on start.
You can find more on the official [website]