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If you need another idea for how to creatively diffuse LED lighting, then look no further than the “Light Me Up!” project by Hyewon Shin, Eunjeong Ko, and Junsung Yi. 

Their setup uses 312 3D-printed and laser-cut light triangles, each of which contains a trio of RGB LEDs. Users select the desired light by pressing the triangles themselves, via buttons concealed beneath the main assembly. Several Arduino boards are used to control the massive structure.

With such an involved triangular display, a number of interesting 3D-like shapes and even words can be created by users. Alternatively, smaller triangle arrangements can also be constructed using the same build concepts. 

This project has several triangles that form a hexagonal shape. So you can create stereoscopic patterns according to how you design light! Just press each piece and various colors will be gradated, and when the color you want comes out, just hit the hand you pressed and it will continue to shine beautifully with the color you wanted!

Check out its triangular luminescence in the videos below!

Apparently not satisfied with a single PC monitor, aviation enthusiast Ryan H came up with his own custom, 3D-printable cockpit setup for the Garmin G1000 avionics suite. Designed around the X-Plane 11 flight simulator, the system uses a 12.1” LCD panel for flight data along with several additional inputs, all controlled by an Arduino Mega running SimVim firmware.

The auxiliary display/input assemblies interface with the Arduino, enabling it to handle 32 tactile switches plus one standard and five dual rotary encoders via five CD74HC4067 16-channel multiplexers.

Build cost is around $250 per screen. 3D-print files and other information are available on Thingiverse

Bob Clagett likes making holiday decorations. This year, however, he wanted to create something that didn’t just look nice, but was also interactive. What he came up with is a giant Christmas tree that is actually a video game!

His tree-shaped matrix uses seven rows of RGB LEDs attached to the top of the structure to drop simulated snowflakes, represented by white lights. The player moves a dot on the bottom right and left to dodge these falling flakes via a pair of large arcade-style buttons. When the controlling Arduino Mega sees that the player’s position is the same as a snowflake, the game ends.

As Clagett’s community can attest, the project looks like a lot of fun! Code for the build is available on GitHub.

To make our Christmas tree game light up in the way that we intend, we have to be able to control each LED in an entire strand of lights. Traditional lights just have power run to colored bulbs, which blink or stay lit all together. We found a strand of individually addressable LEDs that are made for outdoor use. This means that each light has a small circuit board attached to each bulb that will receive power and a data signal from a micro-controller. I’m using an Arduino as the micro-controller to send out a signal to each specific light among the many strands.

Our game is very simple, there is a “player” that is restrained to the lowest level of lights in our tree-shaped matrix. That “player” can move left or right to avoid falling “snow.” When the game is played, the player will move while white “snow” lights fall randomly from the top of the tree-shaped matrix. If the “player” and the “snow” occupy the same space on the matrix in the arduino code, you lose. When the game isn’t being played, I used a simple LED flash library to create a Christmasy-looking color series that flashes until someone activates the game.

Now that the game code is working, the lights are blinking appropriately, and the control buttons are moving the “player” around, it’s time to make it look like a tree. To do this, Josh and I drilled holes at even space along some thin PVC material and fed in the lights. Covering those light boards with ping pong balls will help diffuse the LED light and give the whole tree a polished and clean look. These seven LED light boards are then connected to a hub at the top of a 10-foot metal pole. To keep the pole firmly planted on the ground, I poured a bucket of concrete and fixed a pole holder into it.

When Amir Avni made a busy board for his then-one-year-old daughter, he left a variety of buttons and switches unconnected. While these were still likely interesting at the time, now that she’s two, he’s added an Arduino Mega-controlled 32×64 LED panel to the rig, taking advantage of these formerly unused input devices.

The busy board images are changed using four potentiometers positioned above it, which select two icons that are each displayed on half the screen. It can also act as a drawing board when the first one is set to its maximum value.

Below that, more potentiometers and some switches are implemented for further image control, along with a power switch to cut things off when playtime is done.

While you may know on some level that an Arduino can help you make music, you probably haven’t seen as good an implementation as this MIDI controller by Switch & Lever. 

The device features a numeric pad for note input, which can also be used as a drum pad, and a variety of knobs and even a joystick for modifying the beats. Controls are housed inside a beautiful laser-cut, glued, and finished wooden enclosure.

An Arduino Mega (with its 54 digital IO and 16 analog pins) is used to accommodate the inputs, and data is passed on to a digital audio workstation, or DAW, to produce actual sound. 

Code and circuit diagrams are available here if you want to build one, though your setup can be customized however you like!

Nerf guns can be a lot of fun, but what if you want your launcher to shoot 10 projectiles simultaneously? Is so, then look no further than James Bruton’s custom blaster.

His 3D-printed project employs two BLDC-powered rollers to accelerate cartridges of 10 darts each, and allows for quick reloading via a clever manual locking mechanism. The device holds five magazines, for total of 50 darts.

When loaded, an arcade-style button fires the darts, pushing them into the rollers at the same time using a couple of servo motors. Everything is powered by a six-cell 24V LiPo battery, while an Arduino Mega is used for control, and to track which cartridge is in place, enabling the operator to concentrate on getting shots downrange!

Researchers at the University of Waterloo in Canada have developed a novel hand-based input technique called Tip-Tap that amazingly requires no batteries. 

The wearable device uses a series of three custom RFID tags on both the thumb and index finger with half an antenna on each digit. When the fingertips are touched together, a signal is sent to the computer indicating where the thumb and index finger intersect, which is mapped as a position on a 2D grid.

Usability experiments were carried out using an Arduino Mega, with both on-screen visual feedback and without. Possible applications could include the medical field, where Tip-Tap can be added to disposable gloves enabling surgeons to access a laptop without dictating inputs to an assistant or sterilization issues.

We describe Tip-Tap, a wearable input technique that can be implemented without batteries using a custom RFID tag. It recognizes 2-dimensional discrete touch events by sensing the intersection between two arrays of contact points: one array along the index fingertip and the other along the thumb tip. A formative study identifies locations on the index finger that are reachable by different parts of the thumb tip, and the results determine the pattern of contacts points used for the technique. Using a reconfigurable 3×3 evaluation device, a second study shows eyes-free accuracy is 86% after a very short period, and adding bumpy or magnetic passive haptic feedback to contacts is not necessary. Finally, two battery-free prototypes using a new RFID tag design demonstrates how Tip-Tap can be implemented in a glove or tattoo form factor.

Maker ‘pashiran’ purchased a music box which could be programmed with punch cards, but soon found that actually creating tunes this way by hand was exhausting. His solution was to automate the process, designing a fixture to punch the cards for him!

His new auto-programmer acts as a simple CNC machine, using stepper motors to roll cards into place and then move the punch head perpendicular to this motion to produce the correct note. The holes are punched out over and over with a DC motor, before being removed to play a beautiful tune on the mechanical music box. Computing power is provided by an Arduino Mega, while the user interface consists of an LCD display and an encoder. 

You can listen to 250 notes worth of “Be Our Guest” below, plus find more details on the project here.

Convex regular icosahedrons contain 30 edges and 12 vertices. This makes for an interesting math problem, but as demonstrated by this project out of the LVL1 hackerspace in Louisville, Kentucky, its geometry also presents an excellent target for a massive number of LEDs.

Their build, in fact, consists of 708 programmable LEDs arranged facing inward on the edges and doubled over on each vertex support. These supports lead to a central stainless steel ball, reflecting a massive amount of light to the surrounding area. 

Everything is controlled by an Arduino Mega, along with an Uno-style prototyping shield, and power is provided by a massive 5V 60A supply unit.

When using a virtual reality (VR) system, you may need to flip a switch, touch a button, etc., which can be represented by a carefully coordinated series of pixels in front of your eyes. As a physical alternative — or augmentation — researchers at the National Chiao Tung University in Hsinchu, Taiwan have developed a system of interchangeable physical control panels, called FaceWidgets, that reside on the backside of head-mounted unit itself.

When a wearer places their palm near their face (and headset), this is sensed and an on-screen canvas appears depending on the application. They can then manipulate these widgets both physically and in the virtual world to control the experience. 

Physical interactions are detected with the help of an Arduino Mega and the facial control pad even extends and retracts for optimal usage via a motor shield and stepper motors.

We present FaceWidgets, a device integrated with the backside of a head-mounted display (HMD) that enables tangible interactions using physical controls. To allow for near range-to-eye interactions, our first study suggested displaying the virtual widgets at 20 cm from the eye positions, which is 9 cm from the HMD backside. We propose two novel interactions, widget canvas and palm-facing gesture, that can help users avoid double vision and allow them to access the interface as needed. Our second study showed that displaying a hand reference improved performance of face widgets interactions. We developed two applications of FaceWidgets, a fixed-layout 360 video player and a contextual input for smart home control. Finally, we compared four hand visualizations against the two applications in an exploratory study. Participants considered the transparent hand as the most suitable and responded positively to our system.



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