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Have you ever wanted to roll your own pinball machine? It’s one of those kinds of builds where it’s easy to go off the deep end. But if you’re just getting your feet wet and want to mess around with different playfield configurations, start with something like [joesinstructables]’ Arduino Laser Pinball.

It’s made from meccano pieces attached with standoffs, so the targets are easy to rearrange on the playfield. [joesinstructables] wanted to use rollover switches in the targets, but found that ping pong balls are much too light to actuate them. Instead, each of the targets uses a tripwire made from a laser pointing at a photocell. When the ping pong ball enters the target, it breaks the beam. This triggers a solenoid to eject the ball and put it back into play. It also triggers an off-field solenoid to ring a standard front-desk-type bell one to three times depending on the target’s difficulty setting.

The flippers use solenoids to pull the outside ends of levers made from meccano, which causes the inside ends to push the ball up and away from the drain. Once in a while a flipper will get stuck, which you can see in the demo video after the break. An earlier version featured an LCD screen to show the score, but [joesinstructables] can’t get it to work for this version. Can you help? And do you think a bouncy ball would actuate a rollover switch?

This isn’t the first pinball machine we’ve covered. It’s not even the first one we’ve covered that’s made out of meccano. Here’s an entire Hacklet devoted to ’em. And remember when an Arduino made an old table great again?


Filed under: Arduino Hacks

After considering building a square word clock, Maker Roald Hendriks and his sister came up with something a bit more unique!

Clocks, being decorative, useful and easily hackable, have been targets for creative types, likely from when they were first invented. You’d think maybe all ideas for new clocks have been exhausted. Fortunately, human ingenuity never seems to run dry, and this latest device tells time using Arduino Uno-controlled LEDs.

Outer numbers on the modified IKEA PUGG wall clock illuminate to indicate the hour, while words on the inside represent the minutes. These minutes are literally spelled out in Dutch phrases reveal the particular time, but if you don’t speak the language, the position of the LEDs should give you some clue as to what is going on.

You can read more about the project on its website, and watch a demo below!

[LDX] first noticed the odd sounds coming out of his ceiling fan, regularly, on the hour and half-hour. Then he noticed that the lights were flickering as well. Figuring something was up, he built a logging power-line monitor to see if he could decode the shadowy signals and figure out what cryptic messages were being transmitted over the power lines. Naturally, he suspected the Illuminati were behind it.

Even if you’re not prone to flights of fancy, you might want to keep track of your power line because it can serve as an accurate long-run timebase for projects, or because it can tell you something about the overall health of the grid.

3696681480306491308[LDX]’s circuit is as simple as can be. A 10 V AC transformer reduces the mains power down to something reasonable. A resistive divider chops this down further to the range that an Arduino can handle, and then another voltage divider biases the signal to the Arduino’s ADC midpoint. The plus-minus 10 V signal thus swings between 0 and 5 V, just.

SPOILERS! After confirming that there was a higher-frequency wiggle superimposed on top of the power-line frequency, he contacted the folks at his power company in Denver. The system is called Decabit and it’s used to control street lights, hot water boilers, and other public infrastructure that might want to be coordinated to run when power is cheap or when it gets dark. The PDF that he links to explains it all, so you can take your tinfoil hat right back off.
But we still think it’s a fun project to look into the power lines. Who knows what other people will find? CON-spiracy!


Filed under: Arduino Hacks

Love eating lunch, but hate making it? Good news, an automated machine may soon be able to take care of the task for you. Meet Sandwich-o-Matic, a voice-controlled, robotic sandwich-building station.

The project–which was created during a thirty-six hour hackathon by the team of Clive Chan, Colin Daly, Alex Foley and Wilson Wu–is based on an Arduino and a Photon. A rotating dispenser is driven by a series of servos, while a DC motor is responsible for a toaster-lifting mechanism. The backend is running Node.js, hosted on AWS, and the Google Cloud Platform handles the voice-to-text features.

The Sandwich-o-Matic accepts both voice and NFC requests. Simply place your order by saying the ingredients, or tapping their respective images on an accompanying menu. The device will then begin crafting your lunch from scratch.

The Makers hope to even develop a future version, which will include more topping and condiment options as well as a more streamlined voice-to-sandwich process. You can read more about the project on Devpost and its GitHub page.

If you simply want to have a drink now and then, building your own automated distillery probably isn’t the easiest way to obtain alcohol. As shown in this Instructables post, however, it can be done. On the other hand, if you create your own “NanoStillery,” you’ll have to contend with possible legal and safety issues while running the process… and of course, the risks of actually using the product.

Though the writeup appears quite good, with three control panels, custom mechanical components and a nicely-welded frame, it’s likely not a good project to attempt without a bit of engineering experience!

There are three panel boxes in the NanoStillery™, the main panel is driven by an Arduino Mega and the secondary one houses an Adafruit Feather GPRS board for transmitting data to the interweb. The third box has a large 12V power supply and a bank of relays in it.

The main control panel receives information from the various sensors in the system—temperatures, pressure and alcohol vapor levels and controls various valves, pump and the boiler heater via the relays. It then communicates with the Adafruit Feather via the I2C bus which then sends the data to a database where it is accessed from this webpage.

The GPRS module could very well have been bolted into the main control panel, but, for one, I had run out of room and secondly, I wanted the module to be removable so that it could be used for other projects in the future. Getting the two ‘machines’ to communicate with each other effectively was quite challenging. It was OK if the numbers were just simple small integers, but as soon as more complex ‘floats’ were involved, some serious number crunching code had to be developed.

Want to learn more? You can find all the necessary information on NanoStillery, including its code, over on Instructables.

If you simply want to have a drink now and then, building your own automated distillery probably isn’t the easiest way to obtain alcohol. As shown in this Instructables post, however, it can be done. On the other hand, if you create your own “NanoStillery,” you’ll have to contend with possible legal and safety issues while running the process… and of course, the risks of actually using the product.

Though the writeup appears quite good, with three control panels, custom mechanical components and a nicely-welded frame, it’s likely not a good project to attempt without a bit of engineering experience!

There are three panel boxes in the NanoStillery™, the main panel is driven by an Arduino Mega and the secondary one houses an Adafruit Feather GPRS board for transmitting data to the interweb. The third box has a large 12V power supply and a bank of relays in it.

The main control panel receives information from the various sensors in the system—temperatures, pressure and alcohol vapor levels and controls various valves, pump and the boiler heater via the relays. It then communicates with the Adafruit Feather via the I2C bus which then sends the data to a database where it is accessed from this webpage.

The GPRS module could very well have been bolted into the main control panel, but, for one, I had run out of room and secondly, I wanted the module to be removable so that it could be used for other projects in the future. Getting the two ‘machines’ to communicate with each other effectively was quite challenging. It was OK if the numbers were just simple small integers, but as soon as more complex ‘floats’ were involved, some serious number crunching code had to be developed.

Want to learn more? You can find all the necessary information on NanoStillery, including its code, over on Instructables.

The Rex800 looks like a dinosaur Terminator, a terrifying proposition, and perhaps a great merchandising opportunity!

YouTuber “RobitFactory” is in the process of creating a 1/10 replica of the “Sue” dinosaur skeleton, now featured at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. What he has at the moment is a rough frame made out of tubing, as well as a metallic gray head with glowing red eyes.

The video takes us through the build process, along with some of RobitFactory’s future plans which include voice-activation. It’s an ambitious project, and in preparation for upgrades, he’s switched out the Arduino Uno used originally for a Mega board, and installed a Molex connector on the head so it can be easily disconnected. It will be exciting to see where this build goes!

Intrigued? Be sure to check out the RobitFactory’s YouTube page.

The Rex800 looks like a dinosaur Terminator, a terrifying proposition, and perhaps a great merchandising opportunity!

YouTuber “RobitFactory” is in the process of creating a 1/10 replica of the “Sue” dinosaur skeleton, now featured at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. What he has at the moment is a rough frame made out of tubing, as well as a metallic gray head with glowing red eyes.

The video takes us through the build process, along with some of RobitFactory’s future plans which include voice-activation. It’s an ambitious project, and in preparation for upgrades, he’s switched out the Arduino Uno used originally for a Mega board, and installed a Molex connector on the head so it can be easily disconnected. It will be exciting to see where this build goes!

Intrigued? Be sure to check out the RobitFactory’s YouTube page.

All my sequences for this year are sitting at
https://www.adebenham.com/lights/xLights-2016/
If you wish to use them on your own display you will probably need my xlights_rgbeffect.xml to import them properly.

There are videos for them all now on Youtube and on facebook/

Everything is awesome:


xLights sequence download
Edited music download

Christmas parody mashup


xLights sequence download
Edited music download

Star Wars funk (thanks to loganc):


xLights sequence download
Edited music download

Carol of the Bells:


xLights sequence download
Edited music download

Let it Snow (thanks to loganc again):


xLights sequence download
Edited music download

Light of Christmas:


xLights sequence download
Edited music download

What does the Fox say:


xLights sequence download
Edited music download

Pokemon Theme song:


xLights sequence download
Edited music download

Technical Details

For those that are interested this is all controlled by two Sandevices E682’s and an Advatek Pixlite4 sitting in large plastic tubs.

All the sequences were created in xLights running on Linux – and the show is controlled by FPP running on a Raspberry Pi

[Marcelo Maximiano’s] son had a school project. He and a team of students built “The Pyramid’s Secret“–an electronic board game using the Arduino Nano. [Marcelo] helped with the electronics, but the result is impressive and a great example of packaging an Arduino project. You can see a video of the game, below.

In addition to the processor, the game uses a WT5001M02 MP3 player (along with an audio amplifier) to produce music and voices. There’s also a rotary encoder, an LCD, a EEPROM (to hold the quiz questions and answers), and an LED driver. There’s also a bunch of LEDs, switches, and a wire maze that requires the player to navigate without bumping into the wire (think 2D Operation).

In addition to the code and hardware diagrams, there is a PDF file on GitHub describing more about the game. It is in Portuguese, though, so most of us will probably need a little translation help. However, a Brazillian site did have an English post about the game, which might be a good place to start.

You might not want to replicate the game, but it is a great example of how much an Arduino can do with some simple externals devices and some attention to packaging.

Sadly, most of our projects look more like this game (no offense to that hacker). Projects like this are way more likely to spark young people’s interest than a blinking LED or a capacitor meter. If you are more in the mood for arcade play, you can also check out Arduinocade.


Filed under: Arduino Hacks


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