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Stecchino demo by the creator

Self-described “Inventor Dad” [pepelepoisson]’s project is called Stecchino (English translation link here) and it’s an Arduino-based physical balancing game that aims to be intuitive to use and play for all ages. Using the Stecchino (‘toothpick’ in Italian) consists of balancing the device on your hand and trying to keep it upright for as long as possible. The LED strip fills up as time passes, and it keeps records of high scores. It was specifically designed to be instantly understood and simple to use by people of all ages, and we think it has succeeded in this brilliantly.

To sense orientation and movement, Stecchino uses an MPU-6050 gyro and accelerometer board. An RGB LED strip gives feedback, and it includes a small li-po cell and charger board for easy recharging via USB. The enclosure is made from a few layers of laser-cut and laser-engraved material that also holds the components in place. The WS2828B LED strip used is technically a 5 V unit, but [pepelepoisson] found that feeding them direct from the 3.7 V cell works just fine; it’s not until the cell drops to about three volts that things start to glitch out. All source code and design files are on GitHub.

Games are great, and the wonderful options available to people today allow for all kinds of interesting experimentation like a blind version of tag, or putting new twists on old classics like testing speed instead of strength.

If you have a good sense of balance, you can ride a unicycle or get on TV doing tricks with ladders. We don’t know if [Hanna Yatco] has a good sense of balance or not, but we do know her Arduino does. Her build uses the ubiquitous HC-SR04 SONAR sensor and a servo.

This is a great use for a servo since a standard servo motor without modifications only moves through part of a circle, and that’s all that’s needed for this project. A PID algorithm measures the distance to the ball and raises or lowers a beam to try to get the ball to the center.

Servos like this usually operate in radio control vehicles and they are very easy to drive. A pot coupled to the shaft generates a pulse that the servo internally compares to a pulse from the microcontroller. If the pulse is wider than the reference pulse, the motor drives in one direction. If the pulse is narrower than the reference, the motor operates in the other direction. Just how much it drives depends on how much difference there is between the two pulses. When the pulses match, the servo motor stops moving. This pulse arrangement is very simple to drive from a logic output on an Arduino or other microcontrollers.

The build details are a bit sparse, but you can see in the video the general layout, and she links to a similar project that inspired this one if you are looking for more details.

You can do the same trick in two dimensions if you prefer. Or perhaps you’d like to try using a time of flight sensor, instead.


Filed under: Arduino Hacks


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