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Mechanical table hockey games, where players are moved back and forth and swing their sticks with a series of knobs, can be a lot of fun; however, could one be automated? As Andrew Khorkin’s robotic build demonstrates, the answer is a definite yes — using an Arduino Mega and a dozen stepper motors to score goals on a human opponent.

The project utilizes an overhead webcam to track the position of the players and puck on the rink, with a computer used for object detection and gameplay. Each player is moved with two steppers, one of which pushes the control rod in and out, while the other twists the player to take shots.

Training the game took six months of work, which really shows in the impressive gameplay seen below.

Capture the flag can be fun, but Karel Bousson has put a new spin on the game that allows you to compete against neighbors over who can keep a single item — a modified tool case — in their possession the longest.

The box contains an Arduino Mega that interfaces with an RFID reader to enable the current owner to scan in, plus a GPS module for location data. Additionally, an LDR sensor can be incorporated to set the brightness of an LED matrix on the outside.

Data passed along to a Raspberry Pi for time of possession tracking via LoRa with The Things Network. This also runs a server that shows game info to others playing, meaning that you’ll have to be very careful to keep it around!

Code for the project is available on GitHub.

Ivan Miranda has come up with a novel method for drawing messages in the sand, using a tread assembly that prints as it travels along the beach.

The robot uses a length of square tubing to connect a pair of half tanks, with 50 SG90 micro servos spaced out on the bottom. As it pulls itself, the motors are controlled with a total of three Arduino Mega boards, intermittently extending into the sand. This creates lines that combine to form individual letters.

You can see the build process in the video below, including his initial trial at around the 11:00 mark. This is actually Miranda’s second attempt at a “beach drawer,” and his first version, which uses a much different technique is seen here.

While almost everyone has a heater of some sort in their home, it’s fairly unlikely that the heat provided by a central heating system such as a furnace is distributed in an efficient way. There’s little reason to heat bedrooms during the day, or a kitchen during the night, but heating systems tend to heat whole living space regardless of the time of day or the amount of use. You can solve this problem, like most problems, with an Arduino.

[Karl]’s build uses a series of radiator valves to control when each room gets heat from a boiler. The valves, with a temperature monitor at each valve, are tied into a central Arduino Mega using alarm wiring. By knowing the time of day and the desired temperature in each room, the Arduino can control when heat is applied to each room and when it is shut off, presumably making the entire system much more efficient. It also has control over the circulating pump and some of the other boiler equipment.

Presumably this type of system could be adapted to a system which uses a furnace and an air handler as well, although it is not quite as straightforward to close vents off using a central unit like this as it is to work with a boiler like [Karl] has. With careful design, though, it could be done. Besides replacing thermostats, we can’t say we’ve ever seen this done before.

Thanks to [SMS] for the tip!

In our day-to-day lives we encounter a wide variety of ambient sounds, and in order to highlight noise pollution, Lucía Garbo decided to make an elegant meter

The device features an outer shell designed in Fusion 360 and 3D-printed, concealing an Arduino Mega, a SparkFun Sound Detector, and associated circuitry inside. Components are neatly connected via a perfboard, which should allow easy modification later.

An LED strip on top shows red, yellow, and green for different thresholds, and an LCD screen and 7-segment display take up the front. Data is also logged for further analysis by an onboard microSD card reader. 

The build, which was actually a school project, took a full year to complete — and came out awesome! 

Have you ever stared up at your ceiling and wondered how to make it a bit more interesting? Well, creator Centas has and decided to bring a piece of the galaxy into his room using a fiber optic star display.

The installation is powered by an Arduino Mega, and features approximately 1,200 points of light along with sound-reactive LED strips around the perimeter.

User interface is handled by a second Arduino and a pair of nRF24L01 transceivers, while PCA9685 boards are implemented to control LED brightness levels. The system can even pulse with music, thanks to an MSQ7EQ chip.

You can see it in action in the video below and find more images over on Imgur. Note that the constellation lines were added in video production for clarity.

This article was written by César Garcia, researcher at La Hora Maker.

This week, we will be exploring the Apollo Ventilator in detail! This project emerged at Makespace Madrid two months ago. It was a response to the first news about the expected lack of ventilators in Spain because of COVID-19.

Several members of the space decided to explore this problem. They joined Telegram groups and started participating in the coronavirus maker forum. In this group, they stumbled upon an initial design shared by a doctor, that would serve as a starting point for the ventilator project.

Credits: Apollo Ventilator (Photo by Apollo Ventilator Team)

To advance the project, a small but active group would join daily at “Makespace Virtual.” This virtual space used open-source video conferencing software Jitsi. Each one of the eight core members would contribute with their expertise in design, engineering, coding, etc. Due to the confinement measures in place, access to the space was quite limited. Everyone decided to work from home and a single person would merge all advances at the make space physically. A few weeks later doctors from La Paz Hospital in Madrid got in touch with the Apollo team, looking for ways to work together on the ventilator.

One of the hardest challenges to overcome was the lack of medical materials. The global demand has disrupted supply chains everywhere! The team had to improvise with the means at their disposal. To regulate the flow of gases, they created a 3D-printed pinch, that would collapse a medical-grade silicone tube in the input. This mechanism is controlled using the same electronics used in 3D printers: an Arduino Mega 2560 board with a RAMPS shield!

Credits: 3D-printed valve pinch (Photo by Apollo Ventilator Team)

In respect of sensors, they decided to go for certified versions that could be sterilized in an autoclave. They looked everywhere without success. A few days later, they got support from a large electronics supplier to provide them an equivalent model suited for children or adults up to 80 kg.

They decided to work on a shared repository to coordinate all the distributed efforts. This attracted new members and talents, doubling in size and sparking new lines of development. The Apollo Ventilator is an open-source project, meaning that new people can learn and create together new features.

Based on their expertise sourcing components, they wanted Apollo to be flexible. Most other certified ventilators are too specific. But they want to become “the Marlin for ventilators!” Marlin is one of the most used firmware in the world to control 3D printers. This software can manage all kinds of boards and adapt to different configurations easily.

In the case of the Apollo Ventilator, the initial setup runs on a single Arduino Mega board. It uses the attached computer as the display. Current code can be configured to use a secondary Arduino board connected by serial port as a display too. As for the interface, there are several alternatives using GTK and QT. It’s also possible to send this data using MQTT, so data from many ventilators can be centralized. Other alternative builds used even regular snorkeling pieces! The Apollo Ventilator aspires to serve as the basis for several new projects and initiatives where off the shelf solutions are not available. Another potential outcome would be low-cost ventilators for veterinary practice or education.

Credits: Apollo Ventilator made out of snorkeling equipment (Photo by Apollo Ventilator Team)

The Apollo Ventilator is currently under development. They plan to expand the tests on lung simulators right now. Next steps would involve working with hospitals and veterinary schools. They will tackle these phases once the medical services are less overwhelmed.

The Apollo Ventilator takes its name from the famous Apollo missions to the moon. They managed to overcome all obstacles to take us where humanity had not been before. This project shares the same goals in regards to open-source ventilators. They are trying to overcome one of the biggest contemporary challenges, the COVID-19 pandemic. 

To learn more about the Apollo Ventilator, you can check out its repository. At this link you can also find an interview (in Spanish) to Javi, Apollo Ventilator’s project leader.

If you’d like to know more about Makespace Madrid, visit their website.

Arduino staff and Arduino community are strongly committed to support projects aimed at fighting and lessening the impact of COVID-19. Arduino products are essential for both R&D and manufacturing purposes related to the global response to Covid-19, in building digital medical devices and manufacturing processes for medical equipment and PPE. However, all prototypes and projects aimed to fight COVID-19 using Arduino open-source electronics and digital fabrication do not create any liability to Arduino (company, community and Arduino staff members). Neither Arduino nor Arduino board, staff members and community will be responsible in any form and to any extent for losses or damages of whatever nature (direct, indirect, consequential, or other) which may arise related to Arduino prototypes, Arduino electronic equipment for critical medical devices, research operations, forum and blog discussions and in general Covid-19 Arduino-based pilot and non pilot projects, independently of the Arduino control on progress or involvement in the research, development, manufacturing and in general implementation phases.

As an enviable senior design project at Kennesaw State University, students Tyler Gragg, Kevin Kamperman, Cody Meier, and Omar Salazar Lima created their own autonomous pinball machine

As seen in the videos below, the table is not only nicely finished with an interesting playfield, but works quite well without human interaction.

The machine’s IO system is actuated using an Arduino Mega, with higher-level controls handled by a computer running the Robot Operating System. While the game can be enjoyed manually, for automatic operation an overhead camera tracks the moving ball and calculates its position. When within tunable “flip zones,” the correct flipper is triggered, (hopefully) flinging the ball forward for more points and mayhem!

When working with Styrofoam, a conventional CNC machine like a router or laser cutter just won’t do. However, as shown in Michael Rechtin’s excellent video below, a hot wire can carve foam like butter, creating custom wings for RC aircraft or whatever else you can dream up.

Rechtin’s build uses a double gantry system to pull the wire in a horizontal and vertical directions. As each is mechanically independent of the other, they can move in tandem, or in a skewed orientation for cutting across both the horizontal and vertical planes.

Control is via an Arduino Mega running Grbl, with a RAMPS 1.4 shield.

As Niklas Roy puts it, “Currently, times are weird.” It’s hard to argue with his sentiment and in order to add a bit more positivity to the world, or at least the area near his Berlin workshop, he created an interactive pen plotter for his window. 

The idea is that while he didn’t know exactly what to say, Roy’s project — aptly named “Please Leave a Message” — allows passersby to create their own uplifting comments for other pedestrians to see over WiFi. 

The device repurposes the mechanical bits of an old but solidly built Aritma Colorgraf plotter, which is now controlled by an Arduino Mega and new driver hardware. People log into the installation’s simply web server through a separate ESP8266 module, which sends text to be printed to the Mega via a serial connection. There’s even an RTC that notes the precise time and date of when each message was written. 

More details can be found on Roy’s website!

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