March 12, 2017

Skill Sunday: Fixing a Blown Arduino

Although Arduino boards are typically quite robust, things can still go wrong, especially when used by total beginners. One of the most catastrophic problems that can occur is totally burning out the ATmega microcontroller which is the brains of most Arduino boards. Fortunately this scenario doesn’t have to mean the end for your Arduino board and can actually represent a fantastic learning opportunity! With this tutorial from make you can learn how to replace a burnt-out ATmega in your Arduino board and upload the bootloader using an AVR ISP programmer, so that the new ATmega functions just like an Arduino. This sure beats purchasing an entirely new board!

Blown ATmegas can be replaced!

If you are looking for an ICSP AVR programmer look no further than our USBasp! The programmer has a USB interface and allows you to program bootloaders or firmware on a wide range of microcontrollers including the ATmega which is used in Arduino boards. To find out more and to order checkout the following link.  

USBasp

Did you find this Skill Sunday useful? Do you have an idea for next week's skill? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter.

March 11, 2017

Arduino Word Generator

Whilst ATmega microprocessors are fantastic for use in Arduino boards they can also be used on their own, which can simplify projects a lot! One great example of this is a word generator created by duino4projects. The project uses an ATmega168 to generate the words and prints them on a 4 digit-16 segment display. To find out more about this project check out the following link.   

Arduino Word Generator

If you are looking for an standalone ATmega microcontroller checkout our ATmega328P which is the same chip used in our Eleven and EtherTen. Our ATmega328P is perfect for building your only Arduino compatible project directly on a breadboard or custom PCB. For more information and to order checkout the following link.   

ATmega

Inspired to make your own word generator? Let us know in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

March 05, 2017

Skill Sunday: Sound Generation

Regardless of what type of electronics project you are working on you will likely have to provide feedback to your users about the status of the system. Typically this can be done visually using LEDs or small displays. However, another great way to provide user feedback can be through sound. This might be as simple as a quick “beep” to indicate that the fridge door has been left open, or as complex as providing background music for a game! Thankfully adding sound to your projects is actually quite easy! The best way to get started is to checkout the following guide.

Sound

If you're looking for an easy way to add sounds to your own projects check out our sound and buzzer module:

Sound and Buzzer Module

Although you can use the sound and buzzer module to generate sounds, it can also be used as a knock-detector input to sense events and react to them. For more information and to order, please visit the product page.

Have an idea for next week's Skill Sunday? Let us know in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

March 01, 2017

Motion Sensing Water Gun

During the warm Australian summer months there is nothing more refreshing than a water fight! James Cripps's, motion sensor water gun you can make sure you always emerge from these fights victorious. The water gun uses a motion sensor and an Arduino to fire the gun anytime motion is detected. The instructions James provides are very thorough so you should have no problem getting started building your own water gun.

Water Fight

Have you been reading about cool projects like this and would like to understand more? Looking for a great gift?  Checkout our Experimenter's Kit for Arduino:

Experimenter's Kit

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. The kit also includes a great project and instruction booklet, plus access to a supporting web page and software examples. To get started or for more information and to order, checkout the product page.

Already working on  a project you want us to feature in this blog? Let us know in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.  

February 26, 2017

Skill Sunday: Building GPS into your Arduino projects

Adding GPS (Global Positioning System) to an Arduino project can open up many possibilities for location sensitive projects. Using GPS you could easily track where your cat disappears to at night or trigger a specific action when you reach a certain location. Fortunately, adding in GPS functionality to your own project is actually significantly easier than you might imagine. One of the easiest ways is to use the Freetronics GPS Module and to follow the instructions on the following page.  

GPS

Our GPS Module is a compact but very powerful device! Providing accuracy down to 3m and including a battery backup the module is a reliable choice. Indeed, the module connects to an Arduino via a simple serial connection and is fully compatible with existing Arduino libraries. To find out more check out the following link.

GPS Module

To keep up to date with the latest news, projects, product announcements  and to let us know what you think of this project follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

February 19, 2017

Skill Sunday: What is millis()?

If you have been working with Arduino for long enough you may have come across the millis function in example code you have been working with and have probably wondered what it was used for! The simple explanation is that millis returns the number of milliseconds since the Arduino sketch has been running. However, without further clarification it can be unclear how this would be useful! Fortunately John Boxall from Tronixlabs has written a great tutorial which explains the ins and outs of the millis function! Checkout the following link to find out more.

The crystal is an essential part of Arduino timing

Have you been reading about Arduino and would like to understand more? Checkout our Experimenter's Kit for Arduino - as used in many classroom and learning environments:

Experimenter's Kit

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. The kit also includes a great project and instruction booklet, plus access to a supporting web page and software examples. To get started or for more information and to order, check out the product page!

To keep up to date with the latest news, projects, product announcements  and to let us know what you think of this project follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

February 18, 2017

Build Your Own Autonomous Vacuum Cleaner

With this great project from instructables member revrekad you can make a robot which will help you with the cleaning! Revrekad’s vacuum cleaner robot uses an Arduino and a few motors to drive the robot around whilst an old computer fan provides the suction! The great thing about this project is that it is mostly made from easily sourced materials such as cardboard and aluminium cans, so you have no excuse not to get started building your own right away! To find out more about this project check out the following link or the video below.

Robo Vac

 

When you use motors in your Arduino project you will almost certainly need a H-Bridge motor driver. A H-Bridge allows you to easily control the direction of your motors from within your code. Our own Dual Channel H-Bridge Motor Driver Shield is a perfect solution to this problem, allowing you to drive two DC motors or a stepper motor.

H-Bridge

The Dual Channel H-Bridge Motor Driver Shield features PWM control, selectable current limits and a prototyping area to add your own parts. To find out more check out the Dual Channel H-Bridge Motor Driver Shield page.

To keep up to date with the latest news, projects, product announcements  and to let us know what you think of this project follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

February 14, 2017

Tree Climbing Robot

For someone interested in mechatronics, this tree climbing robot would be a great project to attempt. The tree climbing robot uses two segments, one which attaches to the tree and another which continues to climb upwards after which they swap roles, slowly edging the robot up the tree. The result is surprisingly effective and very satisfying to watch! To find out more check out the following link or the video below.  

Tree Climbing Robot

 

When you use motors in your Arduino project you will almost certainly need a H-Bridge motor driver. A H-Bridge allows you to easily control the direction of your motors from within your code. Our own Dual Channel H-Bridge Motor Driver Shield is a perfect solution to this problem, allowing you to drive two DC motors or a stepper motor.

H-Bridge

The Dual Channel H-Bridge Motor Driver Shield features PWM control, selectable current limits and a prototyping area to add your own parts. To find out more check out the Dual Channel H-Bridge Motor Driver Shield page.

To keep up to date with the latest news, projects, product announcements  and to let us know what you think of this project follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

February 13, 2017

Project Showcase: Using Arduino to Repair Pinball Machines

One of the great thing about electronics is that they can be used for millions and millions of different applications. One of the more unique applications of our products that we have come across is from James, a pinball machine repair enthusiast! James has used an Arduino and two of our N-Drive Shields to control all of the lights and action on one of his pinball machines.  

“You should be marketing this to pinball repair people!” - James.

You can checkout some pictures of James’s projects below.

Pinball

Pinball

Our N-Drive Shield provides a great way to control multiple high-current signals using Arduino.

N-Drive Shield

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. The shield incorporates 6 N-channel MOSFETs, each capable of switching up to 60Vdc at 20 Amps, 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 checkout the N-Drive Shield product page.

To keep up to date with the latest news, projects, product announcements  and to let us know what you think of this project showcase follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

February 12, 2017

Skill Sunday: Pulse Width Modulation

Using the digitalWrite() function in Arduino it is very simple to turn an output pin on or off. However, what if we want to alter the speed of a motor or dim an LED? This is where Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) can be really useful. By rapidly switching a signal high and low, and varying the proportion of time that the signal is high we can digitally emulate analog results! To find out more about this very useful function checkout the full tutorial or the helpful diagram and video example below.  

Diagram - PWM

 

Have you been reading about cool projects like this and would like to understand more? Checkout our Experimenter's Kit for Arduino - as used in many classroom and learning environments:

Experimenter's Kit

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. The kit also includes a great project and instruction booklet, plus access to a supporting web page and software examples. To get started or for more information and to order, check out the product page.

To keep up to date with the latest news, projects, product announcements  and to let us know what you think of this weeks Skill Sunday follow us on Facebook and Twitter.