March 04, 2015

Make an Arduino-controlled time lapse camera dolly

Using an Arduino or compatible to control a camera for the purposes of time lapse photography isn't that new, however combined with other hardware all sorts of options can be created. One interesting example is a time lapse camera dolly - whic is a small robotic wheeled device that can not only control camera exposures over time, but also move itself between shots.

This has been documented by Instructables member Inevitablecraftslab who has created a small dolly which is propelled via a continuous rotation servo. This allows for easy control by the Arduino and some interesting effects, such as time lapse photography of a flower opening, and chaning the angle of the exposure after each movement.

To learn more about this, visit the project's Instructable page. And for more, we're on facebookGoogle+, and twitter - so follow us for news and product updates as well.

 If you're looking into starting with Arduino and motor control, such as controlling a DC motor (or stepper motor) from your Arduino or compatible, check out our HBRIDGE: DC/stepper motor shield. Based around the powerful Allegro A4954 H-bridge driver IC you can control two DC motors with complete ease, or one bipolar stepper motor. With connections for external power management, a complete beginners' guide and documentation - motor control couldn't be any easier. For more information and to order, visit the HBRIDGE: page

March 04, 2015

Build your own functional "Sonic Screwdriver"

Electronics enthusiasts who are also "Dr Who" fans will love this new project by Instructables member Honus who has created their own version of the Time Lord's sonic screwdriver based around an Arduino-compatible and some excellent handiwork.

And apart from looking great, the screwdriver is also quite interactive - and apart from various lighting effects it can also log temperature and humidity to a microSD card inside the unit itself.

This is a great project, and well worth investigating from the Instructable page. And for more, we're on facebook, twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

Looking for a small Arduino-compatible board to embed in various projects? Then consider the Freetronics LeoStick - It's the Arduino Leonardo-compatible board that's cheaper and smaller than the original:

 Apart from being one of the smallest Arduino-compatibles on the market with USB, it also has an onboard RGB LED and piezo which can be used a knock sensor and various tune and sound effects. Plus you can add extra circuitry with the matching protostick! For more information and to order, click here.

March 03, 2015

Controlling LEGO Power Function trains and models with Raspberry Pi

The later LEGO trains and Technic examples are controlled via the "Power Functions" system, which is in effect a simple infra-red remote control for the user and an IR receiver connected to the motor unit in the train or model. Thanks to the relatively simple nature of the IR signal used and the open-nature of LEGO's documentation - it's easy to reverse-engineer it and create your own controllers.

Alan Nishioka has done just that, by deconstructng a PF remote control, and analysing the signal using a digital storage oscilloscope. With this data he's created a Raspberry Pi-controlled IR transmitter that can be the basis for all manner of Pi-controlled LEGO trains or Technic models. Furthermore with the addition of a Bluetooth LE module, the battery charge can be monitored and reported back to the system when low.

This is a great example of how consumer toys can be modified for even great control, so visit Alan's interesting website to get started. And for more, we're on facebookGoogle+, and twitter - so follow us for news and product updates as well.

If you're looking for a neat way to add external circuitry to your new Raspberry Pi model A+, B+ or 2 model B then check out our new PiBreak Plus Raspberry PiPrototyping Board:

This is a great way to add your own electronic components, circuitry, sensors or other devices to your Raspberry Pi model A+, B+ or 2 Model B - any of the current Raspberry Pis with a 40 pin GPIO header. The PiBreak Plus also includes a GPIO female header to solder yourself, and a pair of nuts, bolts, washers and spacers to ensure a a great fit.

And in the Freetronics fashion we've used a quality gold-plated (ENIG) PCB for durability, brought out all the power rails along with the GPIO next to the prototyping area to make adding circuits a breeze. Furthermore the pinouts are labelled on both the top and bottom of the PCB to save time referencing the right GPIO pins. For more information and to order - visit the PiBreak plus page now!

March 03, 2015

Using a Bluetooth-equipped PC as a bridge between Android and Arduino

Now that the free MIT App Inventor for Android has increased in popularity, more people are making their own Android apps to control Arduino and compatibles via serial text commands. However if you don't have a Bluetooth adaptor for your Arduino, another method is to use a Bluetooth-equipped PC and connect the Arduino via USB to the PC.

This procedure has been demonstrated by Instructables member bhaskar4n who shows how this can be done with a python application running on the host PC. The serial text received by the PC's Bluetooth transceiver is processed by the python app and then send to the Arduino via the USB cable. It's a long way of solving the problem, however it works.

For more information, visit the tutorial's Instructable page. And for more, we're on facebookGoogle+, and twitter - so follow us for news and product updates as well.

However if you'd prefer to have direct Android to Arduino communication - you'll need a Bluetooth device for your Arduino projects, and to meet this need we've released our new Freetronics Bluetooth Shield:


We've made it simple to use - the Bluetooth Shield acts as a serial link between the other Bluetooth device. Furthermore there's a wide range of jumpers allowing you to select which digital pins to use for data transfer, increasing compatibility with other shields. And with our Quick Start guide it's easier than ever.

Our Bluetooth Shield for Arduino is now in stock and ready to ship, so for more information and to order - visit the shield's product page.

March 02, 2015

The Arduino-powered "Thinking Man" that prints Internet thoughts

And now for something different comes the "Thinking Man" that prints thoughts from the Internet. No, the Internet isn't thinking on its own (well, perhaps not just yet) but instead this project takes posts from a reddit page and prints them using an inexpensive thermal printer.

The system uses an Arduino that has WiFi access thanks to an ESP8266 SoC module, which then grabs a post from reddit when turned on - and sends it to the printer. Although this can be thought of as a somewhat irrelevant project - it's actually quite a good example of how to scrape data from a website and capture it for local output.

For more details including the Arduino sketchm, visit Dylan Rush's website.

And for more, we're on facebookGoogle+, and twitter - so follow us for news and product updates as well.

If you're starting out with ESP8266 WiFi serial modules, save time and eliminate risk by using our new ESP-01 WiFi Module shield for Arduino:

Our new shield has a socket that's perfect for the ESP-01 module, and addresses all the needs of the ESP8266 - such as:

  • 3.3V regulator dedicated to the module to ensure sufficient current capacity
  • Logic level shifters on TX/RX lines: compatible with both 3.3V and 5V Arduino models
  • Selectable TX/RX pins: use D0/D1 for hardware serial, or D2 - D7 for software serial
  • CH_PD pin on ESP-01 module pre-biased for correct operation mode
  • Extra ESP-01 pins broken out for your own connections
  • Prototyping area with 5V and GND rails
  • All Arduino headers broken out for easy connections
  • Stacking R3-style Arduino headers including the ICSP header

So don't fiddle with jumper wires or sub-standard power supplies - order your the Freetronics ESP-01 WiFi Module Shield today. They're in stock right now but selling fast for only $14 including GST.

March 01, 2015

Build a PC to telescope interface with Arduino

Stargazers will often use a telescope to get closer to their desired subject, and returning to the same area can be a challenge - however recent innovations in telescope design have included motorised control with external devices through an "ST-4" port on the telescope.

This port can also be controlled with an Arduino and a small amount of external circuitry for PC-based control, and this has been demonstrated by Kévin Ferrare whose simple Arduino-based solution acts as a bridge between PC control software and the telescope. The degrees of movement can be controlled by an Arduino sketch or directly via the serial monitor and thus PC software. A demonstration is shown in the following video:

For details on how to make your own version, please visit Kevin's Google Code page. And for more, we're on facebookGoogle+, and twitter - so follow us for news and product updates as well.

If you're looking to learn about Arduino development platform and how it interacts with external devices, you can't go past "Arduino Workshop -  A Hands-On Introduction with 65 Projects” by John Boxall.

Arduino Workshop takes the reader from having zero knowledge about the Arduino platform, electronics and programming and leaves them with the know-how and instructions on everything from blinking an LED, to robotics, wireless data, cellular communications, motor control, sensors, Internet connected systems and more. For more information including a sample chapter and table of contents, visit the book page.

February 24, 2015

Make an LCD Display System for Linux Appliances

If you're interested in a simple statistical display for your Sophos UTM appliance or other Linux server, then the following project by Arduino forum member pazu will be of interest. This can be used to display CPU load, network throughput, system uptime and more.

Doing so is quite simple, the hardware requires an LCD to an Ethernet-enabled Arduino board which is then patched in to the local area-network. The software side of the project uses a script on the server which sends a simple HTTP request with system statistics to the Arduino which then displays them on the LCD, for example:

For more information, the code and discussion visit the Arduino forum. And for more, we're on facebook, twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

When putting together your next Internet-enabled Arduino project - save time, space and money with the Freetronics EtherTen. Apart from being fully Arduino Uno-compatible, it has onboard Ethernet, microSD socket, full USB interface (so you don't need a costly FTDI cable just to upload a sketch!) and supports optional Power-over-Ethernet.

February 27, 2015

Add web control to model railways with Raspberry Pi

With a combination of a Raspberry Pi and an Arduino-compatible board you can create all sorts of network-controlled hardware thanks to the Pi's ease of connectivity and the Arduino's ability to work with various electronics. An interestinge example of this has been demosntrated by Dexter Industries who explain how to control model railway points (switches for our American friends) with a Raspberry Pi and Arduino-compatible add-on board.

The software involved is a combination of python and an apache server on the Raspberry Pi, which control the Arduino-compatible that controls the points via a relay control board. This is a great framework for adding more control options, and could be the foundation of a complete control board via HTML for your layout or other device. A quick demonstration is shown in the following video:

For complete details, visit the project's Instructable page. And for more, we're on facebookGoogle+, and twitter - so follow us for news and product updates as well.

For projects that require interaction between an Arduino and a Raspberry Pi you can save time and space by using our new PiLeven board:

The PiLeven is an Arduino-compatible board based on the Arduino Uno, but with a few changes. Obviously it's a bit of a strange shape! The PiLeven fits right on top of a Raspberry Pi (either model B or B+) using the Raspberry Pi expansion headers.

The PiLeven also has a high-current switchmode power supply, so you can plug in anything from 7V to 18Vdc using the standard 2.1mm jack. The PiLeven can power the Raspberry Pi, so you don't need a regulated 5V USB connection anymore.

Serial communications on the PiLeven is linked through to the Raspberry Pi, so your Pi can upload new sketches straight to the PiLeven or send/receive data and commands. We've included level shifters so the 3.3V Pi can talk safely to the 5V PiLeven. And you can plug standard Arduino shields right into the PiLeven, giving your Raspberry Pi access to the huge range of shields already available. For more information about the PiLeven, including our tutorials - and to order yours today, visit the PiLeven webpage.

February 25, 2015

Add remote-control to your car's HVAC with Arduino

Nobody likes getting into a hot car on a summer day, or a cold one in winter - so slowly car manufacturers are adding remote control systems via WiFi and smartphones to enable such levels of control (for example the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV). However if you're not up for a new car but would like a similar facility - you can do so with an Arduino

This has been demosntrated by Arduino forum member MuttDriver who successfully hacked into the HVAC (Heat Ventilation Air Conditioning) controls to enable them to be controlled by an Arduino. By adding a GSM shield, the Arduino can be controlled via SMS and thus the heater. Furthermore they've also added a temperature/humidity sensor, car voltmeter and more so this data can be retrieved remotely. The Arduino and other circuitry was fitted to a spare DIN socket in the dashboard, for example:


More functions could also be added, such as GPS tracking or a remote-lockout or shutdown device. Either way, visit the Arduino forum post for more details and discussion. And for more, we're on facebookGoogle+, and twitter - so follow us for news and product updates as well.

If you need to add external hardware or devices to your next Arduino project, you'll need a protoshield to mount the external circuitry. In doing so, consider our range of ProtoShields. From the tiny LeoStick to the Mega we have a wide range to suit your application.

February 25, 2015

Experimenting with graphics co-processors for Arduino

After spending time reverse-engineering various TFT LCD displays from mobile phones and other devices, Andy Brown developed methods of controlling them with an Arduino. However thanks to the number of pixels, colour depth and pure CPU power required to create an interactive large display - the results were somewhat lacking. Until now.

Andy has instead developed his own graphics coprocessor unit, based around a 32-bit STM32F0 micrcontroller. This has the faster CPU speed to drive the larger displays, and interfaces with the Arduino via the I2C bus. This is an amazing and neat solution - freeing up all the usual GPIO pins, while giving access to larger LCD displays for the Arduino.

The entire project both hardware and software is explained very well, even to the point of overclocking the STM32F0. Check out the following video for a demonstration of an Arduino-driven screen in action:

For more details on this project, visit Andy's excellent website. And for more, we're on facebook, twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

If you're looking for a neat display for an Arduino or Raspberry Pi, check out our 128x128 pixel OLED Module. With a diagonal size of 1.5" and 16,384 colours to select from, a microSD card socket, and removable tabs on each side which can hold LEDs and buttons:

And using the module is made simple - we have tutorials and drivers for both the Arduino and Raspberry Pi platforms - great for experimenters or those who use both systems.

Furthermore, check out the forum where members are already creating modified drivers to rapidly increase the display speed. For more information including our Quickstart guides - and of course to order - visit the OLED Module product page.