If you want a light-up dance floor for your next wedding or other special event, you can rent one; however, that can be quite expensive. On the other hand, you and your hacker friends can always build one. How hard can that be?
Turns out, very hard. While it may be simple to get one translucent panel to illuminate with LEDs, this 17-square-foot interactive dance floor used 64 panels with four lighting cells in each, for a total of 256 lighting arrays and 7,680 RGBs arranged as 2,560 addressable pixels.
Even with some advanced tools like a pick-and-place machine for PCB manufacturing, as well as a laser cutter, it still took volunteers many hours over the course of 11 months to get it working. LED control is accomplished via a Teensy 3.1, while 256 pressure switches under the surface are read by an Arduino Mega.
You can see more details of the impressive project in the video below (including a round of multi-player Dance Dance Revolution) and a few more technical details in AvBrand’s write-up here.
Tadej Strah, a freshman at Gimnazija Vic in Slovenia, made a motorized gimbal using only $60 worth of parts.
After joining a photo and film club at his university, Strah was inspired by a member with cerebral palsy to build an inexpensive gimbal to keep a small camera level. His project uses an MPU-6050 sensor to detect motion, and an Arduino Mega to process this data and control the device’s two servos. The setup includes a handle from an angle grinder, while the servos are mounted on bent pieces of metal, helping keep the cost down.
Strah believes that with a few upgrades, such as a smaller battery, Bluetooth connectivity, and a 3D-printed frame, it should be able to provide many of the features of those available for $500 or more. Hopefully we’ll see this design become even better in the future!
Until then, you can follow along with Strah’s progress, and perhaps another iteration of his gimbal, on his YouTube channel.
Silencing a smartphone at night isn’t difficult, but if you have a landline, Arduino can help!
Before computer hacking/modding became accessible, the next best thing was to creatively explore the phone system via custom electronics. Though this pursuit, known as “phone phreaking,” has largely gone away, some people still have landlines. As “MolecularD” shows in this Instructables writeup, with a few components you can creatively trick your phone into not ringing on your end, while appearing to the caller to simply ring and ring as if no one is home.
In order to make it much more useful, MolecularD hooked up an Arduino Mega with a real-time clock module to turn the device on and off depending on the time of day. Now calls from phone solicitors, or “IRS agents” at 4 in the morning can be eliminated automatically. As noted, this may or may not be legal where you live, so attempt it at your own risk!
Using a couple Arduinos, a team of Makers at a recent McHacks 24-hour hackathon developed a speech-to-sign language automaton.
Alex Foley, along with Clive Chan, Colin Daly, and Wilson Wu, wanted to make a tool to help with translation between oral and sign languages. What they came up with was an amazing animatronic setup that can listen to speech via a computer interface, and then translate it into sign language.
This device takes the form of two 3D-printed hands, which are controlled by servos and a pair Arduino Unos. In addition to speech translation, the setup can sense hand motions using Leap Motion’s API, allowing it to mirror a person’s gestures.
After he’d just finished a project using RGB LEDs, Imgur user nolobot’s brother mentioned he needed a new computer desk. Most people would probably just let their brother buy one, others would make something out of wood, but nolobot instead decided to create something truly amazing using more than 1,200 WS2812 RGB LED modules, an Arduino Mega, aluminum extrusion, and translucent polycarbonate.
The Mega controls these LEDs with the FastLED library, which are sandwiched between a base piece of plywood and a strip of polycarbonate using custom spacers. This diffuses the light nicely, allowing for beautiful light animations directly on the desk’s surface.
In what is perhaps the most Arduino boards used together, 130 Arduino Nanos, (plus an Arduino Mega), 130 RFID readers, and 750 RGB LEDs power this interactive crossword puzzle.
As you might suspect, bringing a giant crossword puzzle to life was lot of work. If you’d like to know how much, you can see the process laid out in the video below. Like many great hacks, this project starts out with a lot of prep, making sure the mechanical pieces go together as they should. Everything is then wired and programmed, and on day six, it finally goes out the door, destined for the National Museum in Warsaw, Poland.
Each letter has an RFID tag. Under the table are custom made circuits with Arduino Nano, RFID reader, and WS2812B. There is 130 of those circuits and the are connected by I2C interface together to Arduino Mega 2560, which is the main brain. So basically, the table recognizes letters and takes proper actions.
When there is no letter: LED are dimmed white
When letter is good: LED are green
When letter is bad: LED are red
When whole word is completed: LED play colorful animation
The main controller (Arduino Mega) communicates with a PC via RS-232. This PC plays special graphic visualization on the wall. When the whole crossword is completed, the whole table begins doing disco + sound effects.