Controlling A Robotic Arm By Gestures Using Kinect Sensor & Arduino

B.Avinash and J.Karthikeyan had developed a robotic arm that mimic their moves using a Kinect sensor with MATLAB Simulink and an Arduino. The arm was built based on servo motors that replicate the right arm shoulder, elbow and hand movements.

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ic568992The Kinect sensor is a horizontal bar of motion sensing input devices which enable users to control and interact with their computers through a natural user interface using gestures and spoken commands.

The sensor consists of a RGB camera, depth sensor, and multi-array microphone running proprietary software. It provides full-body 3D motion capture, facial recognition, and voice recognition capabilities.

MATLAB Simulink is a graphical programming environment for modeling, simulating and analyzing multidomain dynamic systems. It supports simulation, automatic code generation, and continuous test and verification of embedded systems.

Simulink is developed by Mathworks, and it offers integration with MATLAB environment, enabling developers to incorporate MATLAB algorithms into models and export simulation results for further analysis. Simulink is widely used in automatic control and digital signal processing for multidomain simulation and Model-Based Design.

To build a similar gesture-controlled arm you need these components:

Thanks to Simulink support for Kinect, the computer collects data from the connected kinect device and translates them into servo angles in MATLAB. These angles are sent to the servos through the arduino via TTL device, resulting movement of the arm with a slight delay.

TTL - Arduino & Arduino - Servo Connection Schematic
TTL – Arduino & Arduino – Servo Connection Schematic
Simulink Model
Simulink Model

This project has been chosen in the week’s (29/10/2016) Pick of the Week during Matlab Simulink Hardware Challenge 2016, and it also had won the 4th place in “MATLAB International Simulink Hardware Challenge 2016“.

Arduino code, other files and resources are reachable at this instructable and this hackster.io page.

122 GHz On-chip Radar

Silicon technology has made tremendous progress towards ever higher device cut-off frequencies. Nowadays all RF components for mm-Wave sensing applications up to 120 GHz can be realized.
Silicon Radar is a german company that designs and delivers Millimetre Wave Integrated Circuits (MMICs) on a technologically advanced level, manufactured in affordable Silicon-Germanium-Technology (SiGe). It has just introduced new development kits using GHz CMOS radar MMICs, which are built using SiGe or SiGe:C from IHP.

Silicon Radar participated in the European Commission 7th Framework Success project,  to develop ways to mass produce silicon mm-Wave SoCs at low cost – with STMicro, IHP, Evatronix, Selmic, Hightec, Bosch, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and the University of Toronto.

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The development kits are:

assy_easyradarkit_270EasyRadar is for evaluating all of the firm’s TX/RX radar chips, and is “great for beginners and pros who want to start development and tweak system parameters”, said Silicon Radar.

EasyRadar features:

  • programmable FMCW parameters
  • signal processing
  • target recognition
  • web-based GUI
  • USB or wireless LAN communication with PC

The kit includes:

  • 122 GHz radar front end (see photo above)
  • 24 GHz radar front end (see lower photo)
  • controller board
  • baseband board with WiFi
  • lens for 122 GHz

You can download the user guide and the protocol description

simpleradar_270SimpleRadar is available to evaluate the firm’s 122 GHz radar front end.

It has the same functionality as the EasyRadar but is smaller (40 x 40mm), and can be used as a Wi-Fi-enabled radar sensor with integrated target recognition.

It has the following features:

  • programmable FMCW parameters
  • signal processing
  • target recognition
  • web-based GUI
  • USB communication with PC or over wireless LAN

You can check its user guide and the protocol description

“We offer high frequency circuits for radar solutions, phased-array-systems and wireless communications, for both custom specific ASIC design and supply of standard circuits in frequency range from 10GHz X-band up to 200GHz and above,” said the firm.

Possible applications using the kits are:

  • distance sensing applications such as industrial sensing (distance, speed, material characterisation),
  • public and private safety (motion detectors, even behind wall paper),
  • automotive (wheel suspension measurement, pedestrian safety),
  • replacement of cheap ultrasonic sensors (distance measurement)

For more details, you can download the full package. Since it is password-protected, you have to contact the company to gain access.

DueProLogic – USB-CPLD Development System

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The DueProLogic is a complete FPGA Development System designed to easily get the user started learning and creating projects.

The DueProLogic makes programmable logic easy with an all inclusive development platform. It includes an Altera Cyclone IV FPGA, on board programming, four megabit configuration flash, and an SD connector for add on memory. You can create your HDL code, program it into the flash and interact with the hardware via a Windows PC.

DueProLogic – USB-CPLD Development System – [Link]

Environmental data display on an RGB matrix panel

In this tutorial, I have described how to use a 16×32 RGB matrix panel with Arduino Uno for colorful display of environmental data captured locally using Bosch BME280 sensor. BME280 is a fully integrated environmental unit from Bosch that combines sensors for pressure, humidity, and temperature in a tiny 8-pin metal-lid LGA package. The RGB LED matrix panel consists of 512 bright RGB LEDs arranged in 16 rows and 32 columns. The row and column driver circuits are built on the back side of the matrix panel. The data and control signal pins are accessible through a HUB75 (8×2 IDC) connector. It requires 12 digital I/O pins of Arduino Uno for full color control. The display panel also comes with a RGB connector shield for Arduino Uno and necessary cables for easy wiring between the RGB panel and the Arduino board.

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16×32 RGB LED matrix panel

The connector shield also features the DS1307 RTC chip on board along with a CR1220 coin-cell battery holder. The I2C pins of the DS1307 chip are pre-wired to A4 and A5 pins of the shield. The BME280 is also I2C compatible and uses the same pins for data and clock. I have written a firmware for Arduino to read temperature, humidity, and pressure data from BME280, and time and date from DS1307 chip, and display all these data on the RGB panel with different color and some animation. You can find rest of the details here.

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RGB connector shield consists of DS1307 RTC on board

 

12$ 30MHz signal generator using Arduino

A signal generator is an electronic device that generates electronic signals and waveforms. These electronic signals are either repeating or non-repeating as per the requirements and field of applications. It is generally used in designing, testing, troubleshooting and repairing electronic devices. A signal generator can generate various kinds of waveforms. Most common are the sine wave, square wave, sawtooth wave and triangular wave.

This instructable shows a full guide on how to make a 30 MHz signal generator for 12$, using an Arduino and an AD9850 DDS synthesizer module. The circuit is pretty simple and small enough to fit in your pocket. Kedar Nimbalkar, the author of the instructable, says:

A precession signal generator is very easy and affordable to make using an Arduino and DDS synthesizer (ad9850) . It’s World’s first smallest portable signal generator.

You can make decent 0 -30 MHZ frequency Signal generator only in 12$ .

30 MHz signal generator using Arduino
30 MHz signal generator using Arduino

Parts List:

1. Arduino Pro mini
2.AD9850 (DDS Synthesizer)
3.16×2 LCD Display ( Hitachi HD 44780 )
4.Rotary Encoder
5. CP2102 (or any USB to serial converter)

I think you are familiar with all of the above items except the AD9850 (DDS Synthesizer). First of all, you need to know what does DDS stand for.

Direct Digital Synthesizer Block Diagram
Direct Digital Synthesizer Block Diagram

 

Direct digital synthesizer (DDS) is a type of frequency synthesizer used for creating arbitrary waveforms from a single, fixed-frequency reference clock. A basic Direct Digital Synthesizer consists of a frequency reference, a numerically controlled oscillator (NCO) and a digital-to-analog converter (DAC).

 

AD9850 (DDS Synthesizer):

The AD9850 is a highly integrated device that uses advanced DDS technology coupled with an internal high-speed, high-performance D/A converter and comparator to form a digitally programmable frequency synthesizer and clock generator function. When referenced to an accurate clock source, the AD9850 generates a spectrally pure, analog output sine wave. In a nutshell, AD9850 works on DDS (direct digital synthesis ) which can generate analog waveforms with digital input.
Read the datasheet to learn more.
The AD9850 DDS Module signal generator
The AD9850 DDS Module

Circuit Diagram of Signal Generator:

The circuit diagram is very simple. You can make it on a breadboard, or just solder components end to end to make it more compact.

Signal Generator Circuit Diagram
Arduino Based Signal Generator Circuit Diagram

The Arduino sends digital signals to AD9850 and the module generates analog output Sine wave. The display, which is connected to Arduino, shows output frequency and step increment/decrement value. The rotary encoder is for changing frequency. Though the AD9850 module can generate up to 40 MHz frequency, but after 30 MHz the output frequency becomes unstable. So in this circuit, the maximum frequency is limited to 30 MHz.

You can make a decent 0-30 MHz frequency signal generator for only 12$ . If you are pro “overclocker”, then 40 MHz in same price .

The signal generator runs on 5 Volt power supply and current should not exceed 270mA.

Arduino Sketch:

The Arduino code is HERE.

Output:

Output Response of Arduino Based Signal Generator
Output Response of Arduino Based Signal Generator

Watch the video which demonstrates the 12$ signal generator.

Ultralow Power Transistors Function for Years Without Batteries

Researchers at Cambridge University have just achieved a spectacular breakthrough in electronics design. They have developed new ultralow power transistors that could function for months or even years without a battery. These transistors look for energy from the environment around, thus reducing the amount of power used.

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Dr Sungsik Lee, one of the researchers at the Department of Engineering says, “if we were to draw energy from a typical AA battery based on this design, it would last for a billion years.” The new design could be produced in low temperatures and they are versatile enough to be printed on materials like glass, paper, and plastic.

Basically, transistors are semiconductor devices that function like a faucet. Turn a transistor on and the electricity flows,  turn it off and the flow stops. When a transistor is off however, some electric current could still flow through, just like a leaky faucet. This current, which is called a near-off-state, was exploited by the engineers to power the new transistors.

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schematicThe researchers developed a thin-film transistor (TFT) from In-Ga-Zn-O (indium-gallium-zinc-oxide) thin films. To make the material less conductive, the films were fabricated to avoid oxygen vacancies. Eventually, they achieved a new design that operates in near the OFF state at low supply voltages (<1 volt) and ultralow power (<1 nanowatt).

The transistor’s design also utilizes a ‘non-desirable’ characteristic, namely the ‘Schottky barrier’ to create smaller transistors. Transistors today cannot be manufactured into smaller sizes since the smaller a transistor gets, the more its electrodes influence each other, causing a non-functioning transistor.The use of the Schottky barrier in the new design creates seal between the electrodes that make them work independently from each other.

“We’re challenging conventional perception of how a transistor should be,” said Professor Arokia Nathan of Cambridge’s Department of Engineering, the paper’s co-author. “We’ve found that these Schottky barriers, which most engineers try to avoid, actually have the ideal characteristics for the type of ultralow power applications we’re looking at, such as wearable or implantable electronics for health monitoring.”

According to Arokia Nathan of Cambridge’s Department of Engineering, the second author of the paper, this new design can see use in various sensor interfaces and wearable devices that require only a low amount of power to run. Professor Gehan Amaratunga, Head of the Electronics, Power and Energy Conversion Group at Cambridge’s Engineering Department sees its use in more autonomous electronics that can harness energy from their environments similar to a bacteria.

As electronic devices become more compact and powerful, conventional methods for manufacturing electrical components simply won’t do. This unconventional way will not only consume minimum power but it also will open up new avenues for system design for the Internet of Things and ultralow power applications.

This research was introduced as a research paper in Science magazine on October 2016. More details are available here  “Subthreshold Schottky-barrier thin-film transistors with ultralow power and high intrinsic gain”.

Two New Orange Pi IoT Boards

Shenzhen Xunlong Orange Pi boards are low price boards and have huge support on communities such as Armbian, but two new Orange Pi boards might make the company even more relevant in the development board space.

First, the company has released the tiny, and hopefully ultra cheap, Orange Pi Zero board with Allwinner H2+ processor and 256MB/512MB DDR3 SDRAM. It’s an open-source 48 mm × 46mm single-board computer that can run Android 4.4, Ubuntu, and Debian.

orangepizero_info

Orange Pi Zero is similar to NanoPi NEO board but with difference in the processor and both Ethernet and wireless connectivity. It comes with these hardware specifications:

  • CPU: H2 Quad-core Cortex-A7 H.265/HEVC 1080P.
  • GPU: Mali400MP2 GPU @600MHz, Supports OpenGL ES 2.0
  • Memory (SDRAM): 256MB/512MB DDR3 SDRAM (shared with GPU)
  • Onboard Storage: Or Flash(2MB Default not posted)
  • Onboard Network: 10/100M Ethernet RJ45 POE is default off.
  • Onboard WIFI: XR819, IEEE 802.11 b/g/n
  • Audio Input: MIC
  • Video Outputs: Supports external board via 13 pins
  • Power Source: USB OTG can supply power
  • USB 2.0 Ports: Only One USB 2.0 HOST, one USB 2.0 OTG
  • Buttons: Power Button
  • Low-level peripherals: 26 Pins Header, compatible with Raspberry Pi B+, 13 Pins Header, with 2x USB, IR pin, AUDIO (MIC, AV)
  • LED: Power led & Status led
  • Key: POWER
  • Supported OS: Android, Lubuntu, Debian, Raspbian

Linaro has announced that an Orange Pi i96 board is coming soon. It is a good choice for making smart gadgets, robots, or drones with wireless capabilities on cheap development board.

The board has features not found on competitive boards. It won’t be based on any Allwinner processors however, but instead it features an RDA Micro Cortex-A5 processor with 256 MB on-chip RAM, 512 MB on-chip NAND flash, a microSD card, two USB 2.0 ports, a CSI camera connector, and WiFi 802.11 b/g/n connectivity.

“We can’t wait to see what developers are going do with this in the areas of vision and recognition systems and robotics,” said George Grey, CEO of Linaro.

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The Orange Pi i96 also has a camera interface, which is important to give computer vision to robots and drones. The board is based on specifications set by 96boards, an organization encouraging the development of ARM-based board computers. The exact shipment date for Orange Pi i96 is not yet available.

“Linaro is also encouraging the development of other IoT boards. In the near future, there will be billions of IoT devices collecting and sending information, and more boards will be used to support this growing ecosystem”, Grey said.

Source: CNXSoftware

Plotclock with a DS3231 Real Time Clock and an Arduino UNO

educ8s.tv uploaded a new video. This time is a plotter clock using DS3231 and Arduino.

Hey guys, I am Nick and welcome to educ8s.tv a channel that is all about DIY electronics projects with Arduino, Raspberry Pi, ESP8266 and other popular boards. Today we are going to build this Plot Clock, a device that does not use a display to tell the time, but it writes the time using a whiteboard marker. Let’s see it in action. Every minute, it erases the previous time, so it has a clear surface to write on, and then it writes the current time with the marker. Impressive isn’t it? The brains of this project is an Arduino Uno. I am also using a DS3231 Real Time clock module in order to keep the time. Let’s now see how to build this project.

Plotclock with a DS3231 Real Time Clock and an Arduino UNO [Link]

AT89SXX Development Board

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Our AT89Sxx Development Board provides a very simple and cost effective prototyping platform.  The compact design provides connection to all the pins of the microcontroller for the user.

Features

  • Prototyping solution available for 40-pin AT89xx series microcontroller from ATMEL
  • All the four ports available to the user via standard 10 pin box header with supply of 5 VDC for interfacing circuits
  • ISP (In circuit Serial Programming) connector available for chips with ISP support
  • 11.0592 MHz crystal on board
  • Pull-up resistor network for Port 0 of the microcontroller
  • UART level shifter MAX232 IC, on board for easy connection of the board to the RS232 devices
  • Jumper selectable connection available for connecting the UART level Shifter to the port pins
  • On board voltage regulator available for sourcing regulated 5V @ up to 1A voltage to the board and connecting circuit
  • Power-On LED indicator
  • AUX Power source of 5 VDC available on a PBT connector for sourcing DC supply to interfacing circuits
  • Four mounting holes of 3.2 mm each
  • PCB dimensions 74 mm x 97 mm

AT89SXX Development Board – [Link]

Nanobots Fight Cancerous Cells

Researchers from Polytechnique Montréal, Université de Montréal and McGill University have just achieved a spectacular breakthrough in cancer research. They have developed new nanorobotic agents capable of navigating through the bloodstream to administer a drug with precision.

Professor Sylvain Martel is holder of the Canada Research Chair in Medical Nanorobotics and the Director of the nanorobotics laboratory at Polytechnique Montreal, where he studies medical applications of nanotechnology. Martel and his team have demonstrated major progress with a new technology that could revolutionize cancer treatment by using guided micro-transporters to deliver drugs. Thus cancerous cells can be locally targeted and then stop their growth.

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This breakthrough in cancer-fighting research would ditch chemotherapy for nanorobots that fight cancer inside the human body. This research was published in the prestigious journal Nature Nanotechnology in an article titled “Magneto-aerotactic bacteria deliver drug-containing nanoliposomes to tumour hypoxic regions.” The article notes the results of the research done on mice, which were successfully administered nanorobotic agents into colorectal tumours.

“These legions of nanorobotic agents were actually composed of more than 100 million flagellated bacteria — and therefore self-propelled — and loaded with drugs that moved by taking the most direct path between the drug’s injection point and the area of the body to cure,” explains Professor Martel “The drug’s propelling force was enough to travel efficiently and enter deep inside the tumours.”

When they enter a tumour, the nanorobotic agents can detect in a wholly autonomous fashion the oxygen-depleted tumour areas, known as hypoxic zones, and deliver the drug to them. This hypoxic zone is created by the substantial consumption of oxygen by rapidly proliferative tumour cells. Hypoxic zones are known to be resistant to most therapies, including radiotherapy. But gaining access to tumours by taking paths as minute as a red blood cell and crossing complex physiological micro-environments does not come without challenges. So Professor Martel and his team used nanotechnology to do it.

Scanning electron microscopy images of unloaded Magneto-aerotactic(MC-1) bacteria (Left) and when loading it with the drug (right)
Scanning electron microscopy images of unloaded Magneto-aerotactic(MC-1) bacteria (Left) and when loading it with the drug (right)

To move around, bacteria used by Professor Martel’s team rely on two natural systems; a kind of compass created by the synthesis of a chain of magnetic nanoparticles allows them to move in the direction of a magnetic field, while a sensor measuring oxygen concentration enables them to reach and remain in the tumour active regions. By harnessing these two transportation systems and by exposing the bacteria to a computer-controlled magnetic field, researchers showed that these bacteria could perfectly replicate artificial nanorobots of the future designed for this kind of task.

“These results represent a novel therapeutic avenue for patients with hard-to-treat cancers, once the approach has been validated in human trials,” says co-author Nicole Beauchemin, a professor of Biochemistry, Medicine and Oncology at McGill and researcher at the Rosalind and Morris Goodman Cancer Research Centre.

An interview with Professor Martel with RT America to explain how the nanorobots are better at targeting cancer cells than current cancer treatments.

This work was supported by many research centers and consortiums in Canada such as the Consortium québécois sur la découverte du médicament (Québec consortium for drug discovery – CQDM), the Canada Research Chairs, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Research Chair in Nanorobotics of Polytechnique Montréal.

To overcome some limitations of the previous approach, professor Martel has been leading a new research that uses the Particle Swarm Optimization (PSO) algorithm to increase the number of dimensions in the search space and to optimize targeting cancer cells in blood. This research took part at 2016 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems recently on October.

Besides replacing the toxic chemotherapy that has plenty of harmful side effects on the entire human body, this research will not only open doors for new inventions and applications, but it also will pave the way for inventing new medical, imaging and diagnostic agents.

You can find more details, videos and photos in this media kit from Université de Montréal. You can also check this TEDx talk by Professor Martel about using nanotechnology in healing cancer.