Tag Archives: Mega

1960s stereo console modernized with an Arduino

via Arduino Blog

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 clever conductive ink printer lets anyone sketch a circuit with ease

via Arduino Blog

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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Spinning gyroscope “boat” stabilization

via Arduino Blog

When you use a “gyroscope” in Arduino and robotics projects, generally this means a small IMU that leverages several methods of sensing to tell how a device is moving. However, physical gyroscopes are able to employ a spinning disk stay upright mechanically. Could one be combined with advanced electronics to stabilize a robot or other craft?

James Bruton answers this question in the video below, going from a “bare” gyroscope, to an unpowered gimbal, and finally to a simulated boat. This utilizes a powered gimbal for stabilization that’s tilted in one axis by a DYNAMIXEL servo. Angle is measured using an Arduino Pro Mini along with an MPU-6050 IMU, and the gyroscope is controlled by an Arduino Mega.

You can check out the progression of this fun experiment in the video below, and find code/CAD info on GitHub.

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This arm-mounted contraption provides guidance in VR

via Arduino Blog

Virtual reality (VR) technology has improved dramatically in recent years and there are now a number of VR headsets on the market that provide high-quality visual immersion. But VR systems still struggle to stimulate our other senses. When you can’t feel the virtual objects that you can see, the immersion falls apart. That’s why an international team of researchers has developed GuideBand, which is an arm-mounted contraption that physically guides players within VR.

This device looks a bit like an external fixation apparatus for securing broken bones. It straps onto the user’s arm and has three motors controlled by an Arduino Mega via TB6612FNG motor drivers. The first motor moves the device’s gantry radially around the user’s arm. The second motor adjusts the angle of attack, offset perpendicularly from the forearm. The third motor acts as a winch and pulls a cable attached to a strap on the user’s arm.

The unique layout of GuideBand lets it impart the feeling of pulling onto the user’s forearm, like a parent tugging their child through a grocery store. That guidance could correspond directly to action in the virtual world, such as an NPC (Non-Player Character) pulling the player out of the way of danger. Or it can provide more subtle direction, like a game tutorial demonstrating how the player should move to interact with a virtual object.

As with many other VR haptic feedback systems, GuideBand is highly experimental and we don’t expect to see it on the market anytime soon. But it is still an interesting solution to a specific problem with virtual reality.

You can read the team’s published paper here.

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The Hacksmith team made a Mandalorian jetpack using Arduino

via Arduino Blog

Almost all of us have thought “That thing looks pretty cool, I wish I could build one of my one” while watching a movie or TV show. In the latest Hacksmith video, the team set out to do just that – construct a jetpack that looks nearly identical to the one seen in The Mandalorian

The team began by cutting out several pieces of stainless steel with their CNC plasma cutter and then added some precise bends to form the shell. Because jetpack technology has not progressed enough to where people can fly with sleek packs, they had to settle with producing a couple of bright flames. This was accomplished by using the same techniques as their flamethrower build, as a propane tank provides fuel whose flow is regulated by a solenoid connected to an Arduino Mega with a custom PCB shield on top. 

The nozzles themselves can be actuated on a gimbal mechanism through a set of two servo motors that rotate in the X and Y axes. After adding a weathered look to the surface and placing the electronics into the jetpack, it was time to test it. The pack attaches to a harness via a set of bolts and wing nuts, and as seen in their YouTube below, the results are quite close to the show. For more information, be sure to read the Hacksmith’s write-up over on Maker.io

It goes without saying, but please do not try to recreate this at home.

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Arduino-controlled Rubik’s cube chandelier solves itself

via Arduino Blog

Rubik’s cubes have been mystifying and frustrating people for more than 40 years now. According to Forbes, 450 million Rubik’s cubes had been sold by 2020. But based on our very scientific estimates, only a small fraction of those have been solved. To avoid that difficulty, Stuart Gorman gave his Rubik’s cube chandelier the ability to unscramble itself.

This large 3D-printed chandelier looks exactly like the iconic cube, except that each section is lit by LEDs instead of covered with a sticker. Those are WS2812B individually-addressable RGB LEDs controlled by an Arduino Mega board. People usually choose the Mega when they need a lot of I/O pins, but in this case Gorman picked the Mega because it has lots of RAM to work with. That RAM is necessary for handling the complexity of the Arduino code that the lamp is running.

The lamp has a few different LED effects modes, which are selectable through a smartphone app that connects to the Arduino via a Bluetooth module. Static colors can be set to each face or it can flash random colors. But the exciting modes replicate traditional Rubik’s cube play. The first starts with a solved cube and then endlessly rotates random faces, like most people do when they attempt to solve a Rubik’s cube. The second mode will actually solve the cube, which it does by playing the first mode in reverse. This chandelier looks fantastic and is a lot of fun to watch in action.

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