May 22, 2015

Moving time-lapse photography made easy with a Raspberry Pi

Time-lapse photography is a simple and fun way to record the activity of a particular area over time, and is useful for monitoring plant growth, movement of people and objects, creating art and just having fun. However a new dimension to the exposures can be created if the camera can also move small small distances between exposures along a particular axis - and thus moving time-lapse is created.

One excellent example of a moving time-lapse device has been documented by Instructables member telonics who shows us to use a camera-equipped Raspberry Pi and move it along a rope with a stepper motor. The software on the Pi can determine the exposure length, period between exposures and shuttle itself along the line when requried. Then it's up to the end user to combine the images into a short movie with video editing software - that can result with interesting output such as the video below:

Furthermore the project continues by mounting the device on a small model railway wagon, with the track on an incline and the stepper motor winding the device up or down the slope by collecting or releasing a thin line. A truly fascinating device which you can recreate yourself, so to start 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 for a neat way to add external circuitry to your Raspberry Pi model A+, B+ or 2 model B then check out our new PiBreak Plus Raspberry Pi Prototyping 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!

 

May 20, 2015

Make your own Arduino-powered Centrifuge

As more people become interested in science, testing and chemistry in general - there becomes a need to access more complex equipment for various tasks, however this can often be outside the reach of many people who need one. However with some time and effort, various devices can be made and one example is this neat centrifuge by Instructables member orlov127.

For the uninitiated, a centrifuge is "... a machine with a rapidly rotating container that applies centrifugal force to its contents, typically to separate fluids of different densities (e.g., cream from milk) or liquids from solids" (thanks Wikipedia), and basically a device that can spin a test tube or two around at a very high speed - and with this example at around 30,000 RPM.

This home-made unit uses an Arduino to control a repurposed Dremel hand tool, which provides the hardware to rotate at such a high speed. A 3D printer is used to create the tube holder, and the enclosure is laser-cut for neatness. The Arduino can be used to control the speed and also duration of each session.

This is a great example of what can be made with some time and imagination, so visit the project Instructable page to learn how. And for more, we're on twitter, facebook and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well. 

 If you are new to Arduino and looking to make your own centrifuge, join in with our range of Arduino-compatible hardwareprototyping shields and module range. A great start is the Freetronics Eleven, the Arduino Uno-compatible board with onboard prototyping space:

May 19, 2015

Build an Arduino-powered Rubik's Cube game

As part of a university course, David Sharfi and fellow group members were tasked with creating an electronic device, and resulted with a great example of an electronics "Rubik's Cube" game. This involves a large number of LEDs all driven by the Arduino via shift registers, which sounds complex but with some planning is quite simple.

By using nine LEDs on each face of the cube the state of play can easily be understood, and buttons on all faces of the cube are used to "move" the cube's pieces in either axis. Check out the following video for a demonstration:

This is an incredibly imaginative and interesting project, and along with the Arduino sketch David's group have also provided the schematic and details required to make the PCBs to reproduce your own game. For more information visit the project's Instructable page. And for more, we're on facebook, twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

If you're interested in this project, or building your own RGB LED cube - check out our 4x4x4 RGB LED Cube Kit:

 

It's easy to construct and use, and with an onboard Arduino-compatible board the cube can be used to display all sorts of data or create visual effects. It's easily controlled via simple text commands via the USB port - or write your own Arduino sketch. It's incredibly customisable and there's so much more. For more information and to order, visit the CUBE4 page

May 18, 2015

Build an inexpensive Spirometer with Arduino

We never cease to be amazed at the range of interesting test equipment you can make with an Arduino, and another great example has been documented by Instructables member MariaL7 who shows us how to make a Spirometer. For the uninitated, this is a device to measure the volume of air that passes through a tube or cylinder which has a fixed diameter.

The Spirometer uses a Honeywell differential pressure sensor, which in itself is an interesting device that measures the difference in air pressure between two areas, and uses this data to calculate the air flow. Then with some maths which have been explained in the tutorial, the volume of air flowing through the tube can be determined and displayed with an inexpensive LCD shield:

You can learn more about this interesting project from the Instructable page. 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.

April 18, 2015

Easily create graphics for the Freetronics Dot Matrix Display with MS Excel

Using our range of LED Dot Matrix Displays is easy thanks to our Arduino library and included interfacing hardware, however creating customised graphics has involved combinations of line and pixel control commands to achieve the desired output.

However this process has just become infinitely easier thanks to Freetronics forum member jedihermit whose Microsoft Excel macro can be used to easily draw images, with each LED being represented by a cell in the spreadsheet.

Once you have drawn your image in Excel - the required code for your Arduino sketch is created and can be copied from a tab in the Excel sheet. You then simply copy this code into your own sketch to control the DMD with your creation.

This is a fantastic piece of Excel work - so to download the Excel file and discuss this project further, please visit the Freetronics forum. And for more, we're on facebookGoogle+, and twitter - so follow us for news and product updates as well. 

As used in the example mentioned above, check out our Freetronics Dot Matrix Displays. They're simple to use, yet very bright for indoor and outdoor situations. Available in various colours, the 32 x 16 LED matrix can display text and graphics quite easily - and can be daisy-chained together for extended displays. For more information, see our range of Dot Matrix Displays here

May 09, 2015

Experimenting with Windows IoT on Raspberry Pi

Since the release of the Raspberry Pi 2 Model B, Microsoft has been promoting the use of their new Windows IoT core operating system which runs on the faster Pi. If this new operating system from the software giant is of interest, Microsoft have been publishing various guides on how to get started with hardware and software, starting with basic GPIO use. 

The coding platform used is Microsoft Visual studio and written in C#, and by examining the offered code you can grasp the intricacies of this new development platform for the Raspberry Pi. It is followed by others that build on the knowledge such as working with shift registers, I2C and more. 

So to get started with this and other Windows IoT core projects with your Raspberry Pi visit hackster.io. 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 Raspberry Pi model A+, B+ or 2 model B then check out our new PiBreak Plus Raspberry Pi Prototyping 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!

May 10, 2015

Remotely control 9V LEGO trains with Arduino and Infra-red

 Next in the series of ongoing tutorials for the beginner from the Arduino LEGO Trains YouTube channel is a neat explanation of how to add infra-red remote control to a 9V LEGO train system. This builds upon an earlier explanation of using an L298-based motor controller with an Arduino. 

Although the latest evolution of LEGO trains use infra-red remote control, the receiver is in the train and for larger layouts requires tracking by the user for control, whereas this system allows the user to stay in one place for control. Enjoy the following video for an interesting demonstration of what is possible:

Even if you're not interested in trains, this offers you the framework to add IR control to any Arduino-based project. For more interesting LEGO train videos, subscribe to their YouTube channel. And for more, we're on twitter, facebook and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well. 

If you found the project above interesting - but not sure how to start with Arduino, then the best way to learn is with our Experimenter's Kit for Arduino:

The package includes a wide variety of parts, sensors and modules including: a servo motor, lights, buttons, switches, sound, sensors, breadboard, wires and more. Furthermore a Freetronics Eleven Arduino-compatible board is included to make this an extensive hobby experimenter, inventor and starter kit. However we don't leave you alone to figure it all out, included is a great project and instruction booklet, plus access to a supporting web page and software examples. In other words - this is everything you need to get started for a fun range of electronics and Arduino related projects! So to get started or for more information and to order, check out the product page.

 

May 08, 2015

Mozzi - a sound synthesis library for Arduino

Generally speaking the Arduino platfom hasn't been known for its ability to create quality audio, however it is possible with the right software. A neat example of this has been created by Tim Barrass whose "Mozzi" Arduino library allows for various sound effects that are much more pleasant than a typical beep.

Audio output is via a PWM-enabled digital output pin, and can then be fed to a simple amplifier circuit or a PC for capturing. For an example of what is possible, check out the following video:

Kudos to Tim for sharing such a neat audio library, which you can download from his github page. And for more, we're on twitter, facebook and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well. 

 If you are new to Arduino and looking to make your own catapult, join in with our range of Arduino-compatible hardwareprototyping shields and module range. A great start is the Freetronics Eleven, the Arduino Uno-compatible board with onboard prototyping space:

May 07, 2015

Announcing Freetronics library integration with Arduino IDE v1.6.4

Over the last few months the Arduino team has increased the speed and feature updates of the IDE (Integrated Development Environment) that is used by the majority of Arduino and compatible board users to enter and upload our sketches to the hardware. The Arduino IDE is a neat and easy to use tool which is ideal for beginners to the world of programming.

And since the introduciton of the later versions, culminating with the current v1.6.4 - installing libraries for various devices has become much easier thanks to the Library Manager. Here at Freetronics we're really excited about this as we are working towards having all of our own Arduino libraries made available to Arduino IDE users. To install or keep up with the latest versions, simply run the Arduino IDE, and open the Library Manager from the Sketch>Include Library>Manage Libraries... option.

After a moment the Library Manager window will appear, at which point you can enter "Freetronics" into the search box - which will result with the current libraries we have available for direct download and install, for example:

We're continuing to add more libraries, however you can also find them from our product pages or github repositories. And if you ever need help with these or anything else, let us know in the Freetronics customer support forum. And for more, we're on twitter, facebook and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

If you have heard about the Arduino development platform and wanted to learn more -  you can't go past reading a copy of "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.

May 06, 2015

Build an Arduino-controlled Interactive Mood Lamp

As an way of demonstrating how colour can be used to represent information about the environment around us, Franklin Marsh has created an interactive mood lamp which is controlled with an Arduino. Data and input can be captured from a variety of sensors and devices - such as direct controls such as a potentiometer or analogue joystick, data from real-time clocks and temperature sensors... or anything else you have an interest in.

The information from the attached devices can  then be used to drive an RGB LED to create various colours. However in this instance a much more powerful 10W version is used - controlled by high-power transitors. This is then ideal for mounting inside lamp shades or fixtures - which results in with a device you can happily display to others. Franklin demonstrates his project in the following video:

To learn more about this great lamp projeect, visit Franklin's Instructable page. And for more, we're on twitter, facebook and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

Need to control up to six high-current signals from your Arduino? Save time and space with our N-Drive Shield for Arduino:

With the N-Drive Shield you can directly control up to 6 separate high-power loads such as high-intensity LEDs, lamps, motors, and relays. Incorporates 6 N-channel MOSFETs, each capable of switching up to 60Vdc at 20 Amps. That's enough to drive massive loads such as 30W and 60W RGB LEDs capable of burning your eyeballs right out of year head!

Each MOSFET is connected to an Arduino pin with PWM capability, so you can vary the power delivered to each load individually. For much more information, tutorial and to order - check out the N-Drive product page.