Although an Arduino can be a great way to provide computing power for a mobile robot platform, you’ll need a variety of other electronics and mechanical components to get it going. In his write-up, computer science student Niels Post outlines how he constructed a robot that travels via two stepper motors, along with casters to keep it upright. The round chassis is 3D-printed and runs on three rechargeable 18650 batteries.
The platform is based on an Arduino Due, with stepper drivers and a custom PCB to take care of the wiring. The robot has no sensors or navigation aids onboard, but instead relies on an nRF24L01+ module to communicate with a Raspberry Pi that hosts the web interface for control and livestream viewing. This setup employs a webcam to sense and direct the robot through its environment using printed markers.
Over-the-air (or OTA) programming is a very useful feature in all those cases where your devices are located in places that are not easily accessible. For example, you built a weather station using the Oplá IoT Kit, situated it on your rooftop, and started monitoring the weather from an IoT Cloud dashboard. That’s great until you find a bug or want to modify something and have to climb on your roof with a laptop to do so. Here’s where OTA becomes handy.
If you have connected an Arduino Nano 33 IoT or a MKR WiFi 1010 to the Arduino IoT Cloud, you can now update the sketch using a wireless connection from the web.
How it works
To use OTA, you need to do two things: enable a device and create a Thing.
To enable a device, you need to connect a board to the IoT Cloud and update the firmware. Just plug the device into the USB, go to the Device tab, and click Add Device. A wizard will guide you through the process — at the end, your board will be available as a target for the upload over-the-air and you will be able to update the sketch remotely!
A Thing is a component that manages the dialogue between the cloud and the physical device thanks to a dedicated library (the Arduino Connection Handler), and stores the data into the cloud. Creating a Thing is simple: just select the voice from the IoT Cloud’s main menu, configure the variables that you want to exchange with the device, and pair the board that you have just enabled.
Devices that can be updated via OTA will appear in the dropdown list of all updatable devices in the online editors of Create — the full Web Editor and the new Sketch Editor have been introduced in the Thing configuration page to make minor changes to the code.
This Sketch Editor is one of the innovations that we have introduced in the IoT Cloud with two objectives in mind:
1. Help those who are learning to program with Arduino follow the tutorials of IoT projects, such as those included in the Oplà IoT Kit.
2. Allow users to quickly make small changes to the sketch, which do not require access to libraries or more sophisticated editing functions.
If you want to know more about OTA and the redesign of the IoT Cloud, we have prepared a couple of detailed tutorials that will walk you through the exploration of the new features.
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We’ve all see Christmas ornaments shaped like a ball – interesting, but a bit passive. Will Donaldson, however, has created an amazing enhancement for these “orbaments,” adding a rheoscopic fluid inside that shows turbulent swirling patterns as it moves.
The fluid is simply tap water and food coloring, plus the special rheoscopic concentrate that contains an array of light reflecting particles. To maintain a state or turbulence, Donaldson affixed a small drone-style motor to the hanger assembly on top of each orb using hot glue.
Motors were inserted with propellers attached, which were bent to fit inside. To vary the speed of the turbulence, Donaldson added an Arduino Nano, along with an L293 driver, using the analogWrite() function for PWM control.
As an exhibit at the Phaneo Science Center in Wolfsburg, Germany, Niklas Roy and Felix Figus created a remotely-operated storytelling machine dubbed “Smart Fairy Tale.”
When initiated, a little red ball rolls down the apparatus’ transparent tubing, triggering different interactions based on the interruption of light sensors along its path. 25 Arduino Nanos are used to control each individual animatronic part of the “story,” making the code manageable and allowing the overall installation to still work if there’s a malfunction in one section.
To start the Smart Fairy Tale, people can log on to its Raspberry Pi server, where they can also change how it works. Animations were designed with the help of donated toys, inspirational drawings from kids, and the participation of artist Wolfgang Kowar – a truly public art exhibit!
You’ve probably seen an example of the “useless box,” or “useless machine,” which when switched on does nothing except open up to turn itself back off again. This one by creator Alex Pikkert adds a few new tricks, giving it a bit of a mood, and not one but two switches and fingers!
When switched on, the device uses a micro servo to open the box. The correct finger then extends under the power of one of the other two servos to turn the particular switch you flipped off again.
To help give it “attitude,” the Arduino Uno-controlled unit employs a pair of ID1820 sound boards that let it squawk out giggles and other noises as it seems to become increasingly annoyed over time. Tri-color LEDs can also flash angrily next to the switches, and there’s an as-yet unused passive infrared sensor, potentially usable for further automated hijinks.
When creator mattb_138’s parents were cleaning out their house, he came across an old cassette player and decided to upgrade it with MP3 capabilities and an RFID interface.
The newly-enhanced device uses an Arduino Nano for control, along with a DFPlayer Mini module to play songs stored on a microSD card. An RC522 reader enables him to select tracks based on RFID cards, printed with their appropriate album art.
The cassette player’s internals are kept largely stock, using a potentiometer to adjust the volume of the original speakers. Two buttons are also implemented with long and short press functionality, allowing for pause/play, skip, shuffle, and selection between A/B “side” of each card.