DIY category

Turn Your Fidget Spinner Into A Vision Display

Fidget spinner became a popular toy earlier in 2017. Most of us have one or at least have tried it. Consists of a bearing surrounded by a three-lobed flat structure, it can spin along its axis with a little effort.

Makers and hardware hackers always try to employ different tools to make innovative ideas. Some of those makers hacked a fidget spinner to display custom text while it is rotating. The concept is using a vector of LEDs and turn them on and off at each degree according to the required text. Then, when it rotates very fast our eyes will see the full text as it is displayed together.

At this project on HackadaySean Hodgins created a fidget-shape PCB that fits into the spinner. It consists of an 8-LED vector, a 32-bit microcontroller, an 8-bit shift register, and other electronics parts. It is powered by three 3.6 LiPo cell batteries and can be connected with PC through a micro USB connector.

Component needed for this project:

The total cost is about $20 for all parts, and here is the bill of materials. Also the design of the fidget is available for 3D printing for both the body and the caps. In addition, the microcontroller can be programmed simply with Arduino IDE.

Since this project is fully open source, all resources and files are available for download. The github repository includes the CAD files, firmware code and libraries, PCB design, and some pictures.

Although it is a brilliant project, similar projects had been developed before and had started  funding campaigns. But unfortunately, they weren’t successful and didn’t reach their fund goal.

Finally, if you like this idea you can make it by yourself with the help of this video, which describes how to make it and how it works:

A Compact Camera Using Raspberry Pi A+ And Adafruit TFT Display

PiJuice at instructables.com designed an interesting compact camera project with raspberry pi. Raspberry Pi A+ is used in this project as it is the cheapest and smallest available Raspberry Pi. The real challenge in this kind of portable Pi projects is powering the Raspberry Pi. This issue is solved using PiJuice—an all in one battery module for the Raspberry Pi.

Required Parts

Required parts to make Raspberry Pi compact camera
Required parts to make Raspberry Pi compact camera

Set Up The Raspberry Pi

Download the latest version of the Raspbian image from the Raspberry Pi Website and burn it on your blank SD card. You can use win32DiskImager or your favorite software to get the job done. Now, you need to install the drivers for the TFT screen by running the DIY installer script, explained on the Adafruit page. Connect the TFT to the Raspberry Pi, attach the PiJuice with a charged battery, and switch it on. Your screen now should display boot up messages.

Connect The Camera

Insert the ribbon cable of your camera module properly ensuring that the blue side of the ribbon is facing away from the HDMI port. Now, go to the terminal and type the following command,

sudo raspi-config

Enable the camera in the menu and then reboot the Pi. The camera should work properly after a successful reboot. To test the camera, enter the following command:

raspistill -o pic.jpg

This will take a snap and save it in the /home/pi directory.

Connect A Push Button

You need a push button to simulate a shutter action. Locate the pin 17 on the GPIO breakout on the top of the TFT screen. Now, solder two wires to the terminals of the push button. You can either solder a right angle header to the pin 17 or you can directly solder one wire from push button to that pin. There is a pad labeled WP on the board. It is actually connected to the ground. Solder another wire from the push button to this pad.

Install And Test The PiCam Software

To install the software, the Raspberry Pi must be connected to the internet. Enter the commands given below to download and install PiCam.

sudo apt-get install git-core
sudo mkdir PiCam
cd /PiCam
git clone git://github.com/pijuice/PiCam.git

Once the software has been downloaded, navigate to the PiCam directory using the command:

cd /picam

You can run it by typing the command:

sudo python picam.py

Now, you can take pictures by simply pressing the push button. Once the button is pressed the picture will be taken. Once the captured image gets loaded, your photograph will be displayed.

Taking photograph with Raspberry Pi compact camera
Taking photograph with Raspberry Pi compact camera

Conclusion

Your Raspberry Pi camera is ready now. If you want to make it even more compact as well as portable, grab the official laser-cut compact camera case from the Kickstarter page by pre-ordering a Maker Kit. You can also build your own simple chassis for housing the camera.

Edgefx Kits, Get Your DIY Project Kit Now!

Aiming to bridge the gap between the academics and industry in electronics, communication and electrical sectors, Edgefx Technologies was born at 2012 as an online store for project solutions.

Edgefx provides practical skill building solutions to the engineering students in the form of Do It Yourself (DIY) project kits. These kits support wide areas of electronics and communication, and also the latest trends like IoT, Android, Arduino, Raspberry Pi and many more.

Edgefx kits are easy to use and self-explanatory. They come with hardware and training material in the form of extensive audio-visuals and can be purchased online.

The company has grown to have a very strong focus on customer service, quality and morale of the staff and most of all, a passion for what we do. And although we’re a team of almost 30 right now, nothing about us is corporate. We don’t have multiple tiers of hierarchy. The vast majority of our employees work on the front lines, taking care of our customers or shipping items out of the Edgefx Fulfillment Centers.

The website contains more than 200 projects in about 15 different categories. Kits prices range from Rs. 1500 to Rs. 50000 (~ $23 to $750). In addition to the project kits, Edgefx also conducts practical workshops in colleges and schools.

School students, starting from 8 years old, can opt for school electronic projects that empowering them to innovate. It includes three basic level STEM kits and one intermediate level kit. All of these kits are edutainment and fun, with real time applications using latest technologies, and also can create multiple experiments.

Each basic kit has a three project inside, these projects are:

  • Security protection for museum items
  • Touch controlled fan
  • Touch me not LED warning
  • Bike theft alarm
  • Upside down  indicator for fragile item
  • Toll gate auto light LED
  • Security area protecting alarm
  • Auto door opening motor
  • Human detection under debries

The intermediate kit is an Arduino project kit. This project is designed for digital sensors solder-less Arduino projects on breadboard. It will light flasher of different color light on single LED each time on sensing finger swipe with the help of IR obstacle sensor. Also, the project makes different unique sounds on sensing each time.

Beginners Arduino Project Kit

So, if you are searching for some project kits you have to visit the Edgefx store, explore the kits to find the project you want to make and then order it. In the end, don’t forget to share with us your experience once you buy and use the kit!

Cell Phone Can Make Calls Without a Battery

Vamsi Talla at the University of Washington in Seattle build a mobile phone that can rely only on energy that it could harvest from its surroundings. Imagine if you can send SMS or make a call when you are out of battery. That’s what’s the team trying to achieve.

Ambient light can be turned into a trickle of electricity with solar panels or photodiodes. Radio-frequency TV and Wi-Fi broadcasts can be converted into energy using an antenna. A hybrid system using both technologies might generate a few tens of microwatts.

Cell Phone Can Make Calls Without a Battery – [Link]

Raspberry Pi Twitter

Post Tweets With Your Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi is famous for its great computing strength and ability to run the Linux operating system. In today’s tutorial, you’ll learn how to make your Raspberry Pi tweet. You can add extra features to this project to post tweets autonomously if any specific event occurs. Let’s get started.

Required Parts

You’ll need following parts to make this project.

  • Raspberry Pi running Raspbian OS (Any model)
  • USB Mouse
  • USB Keyboard
  • HDMI Compatible Monitor
  • HDMI Cable
  • USB power supply for Raspberry (5V 2A)
  • Working Internet Connection

Create App In Twitter

You need to create an app in Twitter so that Raspberry Pi can use to make tweets on your behalf. Go here to make a twitter app. The Raspberry Pi will require following parameters to make tweets:

  • Consumer Key (API Key)
  • Consumer Secret (API Secret)
  • Access Token
  • Access Token Secret

You can find all these details from your app.

Creating An App In Twitter
Creating An App In Twitter

Store Keys In Raspberry Pi

In this step, you need to create a python file in your Raspberry Pi and store all the Keys and Tokens there. Create a file named keys.py in your working folder with all information in it.

consumer_key = "Place your consumer key here"
consumer_secret = "Place your consumer secret key here"
access_token = "Place the access token here"
access_token_secret = "place the access token secret here"
Get Access Keys And Access Tokens From App
Get Access Keys And Access Tokens From App

Now, save the file and go the nex step of this tutorial.

Install Twython

Well, what is Twython actually? Twython is the premier Python library providing an easy way to access the Twitter data. It’s been tested by companies, educational institutions and individuals alike. This amazing library will make our job a lot easier and the code much shorter. To install the Twython library, follow the given steps:

 sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get upgrade
 sudo apt-get install python-setuptools
 sudo easy_install pip
 sudo pip install twython
 sudo pip install requests
 sudo pip install requests-oauthlib

pip is required to install Twython, so it’s installed in 3rd step. But if you already have pip installed, just ignore that step.

Write The Python Script & Run It

Open a file in your working directory in your Raspberry Pi and rename it to twitter.py. Make sure that it is in the same directory wit previously created keys.py file. Now, copy-paste the following code using any editor or IDE:

import sys

from twython import Twython
from keys import (
 consumer_key,
 consumer_secret,
 access_token,
 access_token_secret
)
twitter = Twython(
 consumer_key,
 consumer_secret,
 access_token,
 access_token_secret
)
message = "My first tweet using Rapberry Pi! Yeh!"
twitter.update_status(status=message)
print("Raspberry Pi successfully tweeted: %s " % message)

Pretty simple, isn’t it? Actually, the Twython library performs lots of tasks behind the screen keeping the code surprisingly small.

Now, save the file and open terminal in your raspberry pi. Write the following command and hit the Enter key to run this Python script:

python twitter.py

That’s all. Now you can see that is your Raspberry Pi is tweeting successfully.

Arduino-based GSM mobile

Lightweight GSM Mobile With Arduino UNO and Nextion Display

Avishek Hardin at Arduino Project Hub designed a lightweight mobile using a GSM module, an Arduino UNO, and a Nextion touch screen display. The lightweight mobile has the following features:

  • Make calls
  • Receive calls
  • Send SMS
  • Receive SMS
  • Delete SMS

In this project, he uses a GSM SIM900A module to establish the cellular communication. The GSM SIM900A is an all-in-one cellular module that lets you add voice, SMS, and data to embedded projects. It works on frequencies 900/1800MHz and uses the RS232 standard to communicate with MCUs. Baud rate of this module is adjustable from 9600 to 115200 through specific AT Commands.

This GSM mobile features a Nextion touch display to take input from the user and visualize the GUI. Its easy-to-use configuration software (Nextion Editor) allows you to design your own interfaces using GUI commands. All GUI data is stored in Nextion display instead of the master MCU. Thus, lots of program space in MCUs can be saved efficiently and it makes the development procedure effortless. The Nextion displays communicate with microcontrollers over UART which is supported by a wide range of MCUs.

Required Parts

Required pats for this project
Required parts for this project

Required Tools

Connection

Connect the Nextion display and the GSM module with your Arduino using following instructions:

  • Nextion +5V to Arduino VDD_5v.
  • Nextion RX to Arduino pin 11
  • Nextion Tx to Arduino pin 10
  • Nextion GND to Arduino GND_0v.
  • GSM Rx to Arduino pin 1
  • GSM TX to Arduino pin 0
  • GSM GND to Arduino GND_0v.
Wiring Diagram
Wiring Diagram of Arduino-based GSM mobile

Program The Nextion Display

First of all, you need to design an HMI file using Nextion Editor. This editor allows you to design the interfaces using plug-and-play components like text, button, progress bar, pictures, gauge, checkbox, radio box, and much more. You can set codes and properties for each of these components later.

Design GUI using Nextion Editor
Design GUI using Nextion Editor

In this project, 8 different pages are used to design the GUI. All the icons used are easily available on the internet. Icons are resized and modified using an open source tool paint.net. Touch events like press and release are also covered when components are touched. More information on Nextion display commands can be found on this wiki page.

Designing dial pad using Nextion Editor
Designing dial pad using Nextion Editor

Steps To Upload

  • Load the .HMI file into the editor. Link to the Github repository is here.
  • Compile the .HMI file (just under the menu bar).
  • Go to File > Open build folder > Copy the .tft file > Paste into SD card. Note: make sure the SD card is formatted to FAT32.
  • Once copied, insert the SD card into the Nextion display and then turn the power on.
  • Wait for the .tft to upload.
  • Power off the Nextion, securely remove the SD card and then again power on the display.
  • Now you should see your new interfaces on the Nextion Display.

Program The Arduino

The Arduino is the brain of this project. It takes input from the Nextion display, sends commands to GSM module to create the cellular connection, and shows information on the display. This project does not use any Nextion library due to lack of documentations and difficulties to understand. Moving on without using libraries seems tough but it is really not.

The code can be found on the Github repositorySimply download it and upload to the Arduino board using the Arduino IDE. If you are using some other board than Arduino UNO, then don’t forget to select that specific board in Arduino IDE before uploading.

Editing the Arduino sketch
Editing the Arduino sketch
compile and upload the sketch using Arduino IDE
compile and upload the sketch using Arduino IDE

Open the Serial Monitor, you should see the AT command log for each event triggered from the Nextion Display.

Serial Monitor shows the AT command log
Serial Monitor shows the AT command log

Important Note

By default, the GSM module has an SMS buffer size of 20. Unfortunately, this Arduino-based mobile cannot display all the 20 messages at once on the Nextion display as it gives a buffer overflow while compiling the Nextion code. Hence, the Nextion display is programmed to show maximum 10 messages at once. If 10 or more SMS are present on the GSM buffer, the Low memory warning icon will be displayed on the Nextion display.

SMS log showing received messages on Nextion display
SMS log showing received messages on Nextion display

Video

Watch the demonstration video to understand how this Arduino-based lightweight GSMmobile works.

 

Household Power Consumption IoT Meter with Anti-theft Feature

BSP Embed published a video demonstrating a new project to build a connected device to measure the power consumption of household instruments.

The presenter relied in his project on the feature of having a blinking led in modern power meters where each blink means that 1 KWh is consumed.

The device features the following:

HLK-PM01
HLK-PM01

The concept behind this project is straightforward. A wire from the blinking LED of the power meter is connected to an interrupt pin from ESP8266 to count blinks (KWh) and then upload it to ThingsSpeak IoT platform to present data live online and to analyze it later.

To detect tampering, he used ACS712 AC current sensor module and connected its output (analog output) to an ADC input from ESP8266; If data from the sensor shows power consumption while no blinking form the LED is detected then a theft warning status will be issued.

The firmware, written in Arduino C, can be downloaded from Github.

Source: Embedded Lab

ZeroPhone, A Raspberry Pi-Based Open Source Smartphone

Raspberry Pi is one of the most helpful innovations in the hardware industry. It has helped beginners and children learn programming and allowed the makers to develop powerful and cheap DIY projects. “ZeroPhone” is a new DIY smartphone that is built based on Raspberry Pi and cost about only $50.

ZeroPhone is an open source, Linux-powered smartphone, that has no carrier locks, bloated apps, or data mining. It is user-friendly and will have the typical features of a phone, but with more advanced features. It also can be modified and repaired easily.

The phone is built using widely available components, and its open source hardware and software  will give you as much control over your phone as possible.

ZeroPhone can be used for calling and SMS, SSH, pen testing, and experimenting in addition to all basic functions like calendar, phonebook, music player, and web browser. As it is a linux-based phone, you can run ARM compatible programs. SDK will be provided so you can then develop your own apps.

Features & Specifications

  • Based on Raspberry Pi Zero, ESP8266 and Arduino
  • Has Wi-Fi, HDMI, full-size USB and a 3.5 mm jack (Bluetooth as an option)
  • 2G GSM connectivity (3G coming soon)
  • 128 x 64 1.3” OLED screen
  • GSM/Wi-Fi/microphone hardware switch option
  • RGB LED and vibromotor
  • Uses of Extension Ports:
    • IR receiver/transmitter
    • Additional displays and buttons
    • 5 MP / 8 MP Pi Camera
    • Extended batteries
    • Various sensors, both analog and digital
    • Wireless radios for IoT
    • GPS, Ethernet and MicroSD expansion
    • …and much more.

The OS of ZerPhone is Raspbian Linux, which is currently based on Debian Jessie. This is because it is suitable for all functions, and will still be upgradable in the future. The user interface (controlling screen and buttons) is written in Python.

Compared with other open-source phones, ZeroPhone, as the maker said, is the only one uses affordable parts which are available on eBay, and its software will be always updated if the phone’s development will stop.

To make your ZeroPhone you will need:

  • Pi Zero
  • SIM800 modules
  • ESP8266-12E
  • Two-layer PCBs (two 4x10cm boards, one 4x6cm board)
  • ATMega328P
  • LCD screen
  • Battery
  • TP4056 battery charger
  • Buttons for keypad
  • 2.54 headers

More details about this project is available on its hackaday page, in addition to the project description and frequently asked questions.

Master Your Arduino Skills With Arduino Playground Book

Are you an experienced maker who are looking for more advanced Arduino skills to get?

Warren Andrews, an experienced engineer and journalist, wrote a new book that walks makers through building 10 outside-the-box projects, helping them advance their engineering and electronics know-how. With this book, makers will delve more deeply into hardware design, electronics, and programming.

The “Arduino Playground: Geeky Projects for the Curious Maker” book is published by the Geek book publisher, No Starch Press. Projects inside the book provide a way to build new things that vary between practical and fun.

Content of the book

The book has 11 chapters, the first one is a warm up, it contains a quick guide to get the Arduino ready, prepare the IDE and try some sketches, making DIY PCBs, and using SOICs. Each chapter of the other 10 chapters is a project chapter that starts with listing the required tools, components, and software, followed by detailed instructions of the build containing all sketches and board templates. There are also author’s design notes, which are sure to provide inspiration for your own inventions.

  • Chapter 0: Setting Up and Useful Skills
  • Chapter 1: The Reaction-Time Machine
    A reaction-time game that leverages the Arduino’s real-time capabilities
  • Chapter 2: An Automated Agitator for PCB Etching
    A tool for etching your own printed circuit boards
  • Chapter 3: The Regulated Power Supply
    A regulated, variable-voltage power supply
  • Chapter 4: A Watch Winder
    A kinetic wristwatch winder decked out with LEDs
  • Chapter 5: The Garage Sentry Parking Assistant
    A garage parking assistant that blinks when your vehicle is perfectly parked
  • Chapter 6: The Battery Saver
    A battery saver that prevents accidental discharge
  • Chapter 7: A Custom pH Meter
  • A practical and colorful pH meter
  • Chapter 8: Two Ballistic Chronographs
    A ballistic chronograph that can measure the muzzle velocity of BB, Airsoft, and pellet guns
  • Chapter 9: The Square-Wave Generator
    A square-wave generator
  • Chapter 10: The Chromatic Thermometer
    A thermometer that tells the temperature using a sequence of colored LEDs

Reviews

“Arduino Playground is not for the faint of heart. Unless the faint of heart person plans to build a pacemaker with Arduino!” —ScienceBlogs

“This is a book designed for Arduino enthusiasts who’ve mastered the basics, conquered the soldering iron, and programmed a robot or two. Warren Andrews shows you how to keep your hardware hands busy.” —I Programmer

The book is available for $30 on No Starch Press and Amazon. You can view the detailed table of contents and the index, and also you can download Chapter 4: A Watch Winder, and the sketches, templates, and PCB files used in this book.

10km ESP32 WiFi Using Directional Antenna

[Jeija] was playing with some ESP32s and in true hacker fashion, he wondered how far he could pull them apart and still get data flowing. His video answer to that question covers the Friis equation and has a lot of good examples of using the equation, decibels, and even a practical example that covers about 10km. You can see the video below.

Of course, to get that kind of range you need a directional antenna. To avoid violating regulations that control transmit power, he’s using the antenna on the receiving end. That also means he had to hack the ESP32 WiFi stack to make the device listen only on one side. The hack involves putting the device in promiscuous mode and only monitoring the signals being sent. You can find the code involved on GitHub (complete with a rickrolling application).

Of course, antennas are nothing new–look at all the Pringle can antennas we’ve seen in the past. However, the use of a long range receive-only module is interesting and we can see this technique having applications to remote drone video or telemetry and — of course — wardriving. If you don’t have a big boss antenna lying around, you might try some duct tape. If you want a more detailed refresher on decibels, we did that last month.

Source: Hackaday