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Farmers have long been known for their ingenuity, able to accomplish urgent repairs with whatever is on hand. Now with the help of an Arduino, maker “rscholten” has even figured out how to automate his chicken coop.

The device uses an Uno and a real-time clock module to schedule his automated coop door’s movement, while a servo and linkage system physically flips the door open and closed. A solenoid then locks the door in place when not in motion so that the servo doesn’t have to constantly maintain a position. 

User interface is provided by a 7-segment LED, along with dials to set the current time and when it should be opened and closed. As shown in the video below, the coop can also be activated with a keyfob style remote when needed.

I built this automatic chicken door to save me the twice daily task of opening and closing the door in the morning and evening. Chickens are great providers of eggs, manure and entertainment, but getting up early to let them out the coop – especially in winter – was drudgery. And then making sure I was home in time to close them in really restricted my freedom to come home late.

Chickens follow a daily routine of returning to a coop around sunset and waking up around sunrise. The times they go in and out is not exact and is influenced on the weather of the day and ambient light. Should a chicken be seen to be too late to enter after the door closed, the door can be remotely opened then closed. The door can be closed during the day should the owner need to stop broody chickens from entering.

As sunrise and sunset times vary throughout the year and depend on the latitude, any door controller needs to track the time of day, the day of the year and know the latitude of the location. This requirement can be accomplished with software or a sun tracker, but in this design uses manually adjustable open and close time settings to keep things simpler.

This week, Arduino announced a lot of new hardware including an exceptionally interesting FPGA development board aimed at anyone wanting to dip their toes into the seas of VHDL and developing with programmable logic. We think it’s the most interesting bit of hardware Arduino has released since their original dev board, and everyone is wondering what the hardware actually is, and what it can do.

This weekend at Maker Faire Bay Area, Arduino was out giving demos for all their wares, and yes, the Arduino MKR Vidor 4000 was on hand, being shown off in a working demo. We have a release date and a price. It’ll be out next month (June 2018) for about $60 USD.

But what about the hardware, and what can it do? From the original press releases, we couldn’t even tell how many LUTs this FPGA had. There were a lot of questions about the Mini PCIe connectors, and we didn’t know how this FPGA would be useful for high-performance computation like decoding video streams. Now we have the answers.

The FPGA on board the Arduino Vidor is an Altera Cyclone 10CL016. This chip has 16k logic elements, and 504 kB memory block. This is on the low end of Altera’s FPGA lineup, but it’s still no slouch. In the demo video below, it’s shown decoding video and identifying QR codes in real time. That’s pretty good for what is effectively a My First FPGA™ board.

Also on board the Vidor is a SAMD21 Cortex-M0+ microcontroller and a uBlox module housing an ESP-32 WiFi and Bluetooth module. This is a really great set of chips, and if you’re looking to get into FPGA development, this might just be the board for you. We haven’t yet seen the graphic editor that will be used to work with IP for the FPGA (for those who don’t care to write their own VHDL or Verilog), but we’re looking forward to the unveiling of that new software.

Today ahead of the Bay Area Maker Faire, Arduino has announced a bevy of new boards that bring modern features and modern chips to the Arduino ecosystem.

Most ambitious of these new offerings is a board that combines a fast ARM microcontroller, WiFi, Bluetooth, and an FPGA. All this is wrapped in a package that provides Mini HDMI out and pins for a PCIe-Express slot. They’re calling it the Arduino MKR Vidor 4000.

Bringing an FPGA to the Arduino ecosystem is on the list of the most interesting advances in DIY electronics in recent memory, and there’s a lot to unpack here. FPGA development boards aren’t new. You can find crates of them hidden in the storage closet of any University’s electronics lab. If you want to buy an FPGA dev board, the Terasic DE10 is a good starter bundle, the iCEstick has an Open Source toolchain, and this one has pink soldermask. With the release of the MKR Vidor, the goal for Arduino isn’t just to release a board with an FPGA; the goal is to release a tool that allows anyone to use an FPGA.

The key to democratizing FPGA development is Arduino’s work with the Arduino Create ecosystem. Arduino Create is the company’s online IDE that gives everyone the ability to share projects and upload code with Over-the-Air updates. The MKR Vidor will launch with integration to the Arduino Create ecosystem that includes a visual editor to work with the pre-compiled IP for the FPGA. That’s not to say you can’t just plug your own VHDL into this board and get it working; that’s still possible. But Arduino would like to create a system where anyone can move blocks of IP around with a tool that’s easy for beginners.

A Facelift for the Uno WiFi

First up is the brand new Arduino Uno WiFi. While there have been other boards bearing the name ‘Arduino Uno WiFi’ over the years, a lot has changed in the world of tiny radio modules and 8-bit microcontrollers over the past few years. The new Arduino Uno WiFi is powered by a new 8-bit AVR, the ATMega4809. The ATMega4809 is a new part announced just a few months ago, and is just about what you would expect from the next-generation 8-bit Arduino; it runs at 20MHz, has 48 kB of Flash, 6 kB of SRAM, and it comes in a 48-pin package. The ATMega4809 is taking a few lattices of silicon out of Microchip’s playbook and adds Custom Configurable Logic. The CCL in the new ATMega is a peripheral that is kinda, sorta like a CPLD on chip. If you’ve ever had something that could be more easily done with logic gates than software, the CCL is the tool for the job.

But a new 8-bit microcontroller doesn’t make a WiFi-enabled Arduino. The wireless power behind the new Arduino comes from a custom ESP-32 based module from u-blox. There’s also a tiny crypto chip (Microchip’s ATECC508A) so the Uno WiFi will work with AWS. The Arduino Uno WiFi will be available this June.

But this isn’t the only announcement from the Arduino org today. They’ve been hard at work on some killer features for a while now, and now they’re finally ready for release. What’s the big news? Debuggers. Real debuggers for the Arduino that are easy to use. There are also new boards aimed at Arduino’s IoT strategy.

The Future of Arduino

As you would expect in the world of embedded development, the future is IoT. Last week, Arduino announced the release of two new boards, the MKR WiFi 1010 and the MKR NB 1500. The MKR WiFi 1010 features a SAMD21 Cortex-M0+ microcontroller and a u-blox module (again featuring an ESP-32) giving the board WiFi. The MKR NB 1500 is designed for cellular networks and features the same SAMD21 Cortex-M0+ microcontroller found in the MKR WiFi 1010, but also adds a u-blox cellular module that will connect to LTE networks using Narrowband IoT, but the module does also support Cat M1 networks.

But IoT isn’t the only thing Arduino has been working on. On the leadup to the World Maker Faire this weekend, I had the opportunity to speak with Fabio Violante, CEO of Arduino, and Massimo Banzi, Co-founder of Arduino, and what I heard was remarkable. There’s going to be an update to the Arduino IDE soon, and real debugging is coming to the Arduino ecosystem. This is a significant development in Arduino’s software efforts, and when Fabio was appointed CEO last July, this was the first thing he wanted to do.

Also on deck for upcoming bits of hardware is a slow upgrade from ARM Cortex-M0 parts to Cortex-M4 parts. While this change isn’t exactly overdue, it is a direct result of the ever-increasing power of available microcontrollers. The reason for this change is the growing need for more compute power on embedded platforms, and simply the fact that more powerful chips are cheaper now.

Massimo, Fabio, and the rest of the Arduino team will be showing off their latest wares at Maker Faire Bay Area this weekend, and we will be posting updates. The FPGA Arduino — the MKR Vidor 4000 — will be on display running a computer vision demo, and there will, of course, be fancy new boards on hand. We’ll be posting updates so keep your eye on Hackaday!

We’re excited to kick off Maker Faire Bay Area by expanding our IoT lineup with two new boards: the MKR Vidor 4000 and the Uno WiFi Rev 2.

The MKR Vidor 4000 is the first-ever Arduino based on an FPGA chip, equipped with a SAM D21 microcontroller, a u-blox Nina W102 WiFi module, and an ECC508 crypto chip for secure connection to local networks and the Internet. MKR Vidor 4000 is the latest addition to the MKR family, designed for a wide range of IoT applications, with its distinctive form factor and substantial computational power for high performance. The board will be coupled with an innovative development environment, which aims to democratize and radically simplify access to the world of FPGAs.

“The new MKR Vidor 4000 will finally make FPGA accessible to makers and innovators,” said Massimo Banzi, Arduino co-founder. “And we are looking forward to changing the game yet again.”

“Maker Faire Bay Area is always an unparalleled opportunity to interact with the Arduino community and makers,” added Fabio Violante, Arduino CEO. “This year I’m extremely excited about the launch of the most flexible Arduino ever, the MKR Vidor 4000 and the development environment vision around it. With this new product we aim at putting in the hands of professionals, makers and educators the electronic equivalent of a resourceful Swiss Knife to bring their creativity to the next level. The applications are countless.”

Co-developed with Microchip, the Uno WiFi Rev 2 is built around the new ATmega4809, u-blox Nina W102 WiFi module, and an integrated IMU. The Uno WiFi will make it even easier to deploy products that need connectivity using the classic Arduino form factor, and is ideal for emerging IoT industries such as automotive, agriculture, consumer electronics, smart home, and wearables. Among its other features, the ATmega4809 provides 6KB of RAM, 48KB of Flash, three UARTS, Core Independent Peripherals (CIPs), and an integrated high-speed ADC. Combined with Microchip’s ECC608 crypto chip on the Uno board, the microcontroller also provides hardware-based security for connecting projects to the cloud including AWS and Google.

“As we grow, partner and invest, we will fuel the vast IoT and software markets across the industry,” said Banzi. “Inspiring the Arduino community with easy to deploy solutions that enable our users to have access to larger both flash and RAM memory for more demanding IoT projects.”

“Arduino aims at supporting professional developers, makers and educators during the entire lifecycle of IoT product development, from the initial learning phases to mass deployment,” noted Violante. “Being based on the popular AVR technology, but on steroids, and with an enhanced WiFi connectivity, the UNO WiFi Rev 2 is a big step forward for all users that want to leverage the vast ecosystem of shields and libraries available for the traditional UNO form factor, in connected use cases.”

Those heading to Maker Faire this weekend are invited to attend Massimo Banzi’s semi-annual ‘State of Arduino’ talk, where you can learn more about our latest developments including the MKR Vidor 4000, Uno WiFi Rev2, and our Arduino Day releases.

Both the MKR Vidor 4000 and Uno WiFi Rev2 will be available on the Arduino online store at the end of June.

If you need a way to restrict access to power tools to only authorized users, Casey Horton’s magnetic card reader setup, shown in the video below, looks like a great solution. 

When you swipe the correct card through a reader mounted on an 8”x8”x4” electrical enclosure, the Arduino Uno inside turns on power to the equipment via a relay.

The system uses a USB host shield to interface with the reader, and a datalogger shield to handle file manipulation and record who swipes in at what time. Admin mode is accessed by holding the device’s single button by swiping the correct card, at which time another magnetic card can be swiped and added. 

Full instructions and code is available here.

As seen here, “Annaane!” has come up with what could form the guts of a very interesting escape room puzzle. 

Her build features four RFID card readers, which cause an Arduino Uno to release a door lock or other device via a 5V relay, only when the corresponding tags are arranged correctly.

From the looks of the video below, the design is very much a prototype, but could easily be morphed into an arrangement to frustrate and entertain participants. As noted, the project uses all but the TX and RX pins on the Uno, but this could be expanded by using a Mega or an I2C port expander. 

Code for the system can be found on GitHub.

There are few scenes in life more moving than the moment the solder paste melts as the component slides smoothly into place. We’re willing to bet the only reason you don’t have a reflow oven is the cost. Why wouldn’t you want one? Fortunately, the vastly cheaper DIY route has become a whole lot easier since the birth of the Reflowduino – an open source controller for reflow ovens.

This Hackaday Prize entry by [Timothy Woo] provides a super quick way to create your own reflow setup, using any cheap means of heating you have lying around. [Tim] uses a toaster oven he paid $21 for, but anything with a suitable thermal mass will do. The hardware of the Reflowduino is all open source and has been very well documented – both on the main hackaday.io page and over on the project’s GitHub.

The board itself is built around the ATMega32u4 and sports an integrated MAX31855 thermocouple interface (for the all-important PID control), LiPo battery charging, a buzzer for alerting you when input is needed, and Bluetooth. Why Bluetooth? An Android app has been developed for easy control of the Reflowduino, and will even graph the temperature profile.

When it comes to controlling the toaster oven/miscellaneous heat source, a “sidekick” board is available, with a solid state relay hooked up to a mains plug. This makes it a breeze to setup any mains appliance for Arduino control.

We actually covered the Reflowduino last year, but since then [Tim] has also created the Reflowduino32 – a backpack for the DOIT ESP32 dev board. There’s also an Indiegogo campaign now, and some new software as well.

If a toaster oven still doesn’t feel hacky enough for you, we’ve got reflowing with hair straighteners, and even car headlights.

In just a few days, the Arduino team will once again be attending Maker Faire Bay AreaThose heading to San Mateo on May 18-20th will want to swing by our booth, where we are partnering with Microchip, inside the Electronics Pavilion (Zone 2). 

We have also been preparing a series of demos that showcase the latest Arduino products announced during Arduino Day, including the new MKR WiFi1010, MKR NB 1500, and Arduino Engineering Kit.

As is tradition, Massimo Banzi will take Center Stage on Saturday at 12:30pm PT for The State of Arduino

We look forward to seeing you this weekend in Zone 2! For more information on the program and venue, be sure to check out the Maker Faire website

If you’re the kind of person who has friends, and/or leaves the confines of the basement from time to time, we hear that these “Escape Rooms” are all the rage. Basically you get locked into a room with a couple other people and have to solve various problems and puzzles until you’ve finally made enough progress that they let you out. Which actually sounds a lot like the working conditions here at Hackaday HQ, except they occasionally slip some pizza rolls under the door for us which is nice.

Whichever side you find yourself on in one of these lighthearted hostage situations, knowledge of this multi-tag RFID lock created by [Annaane] may come in handy. By connecting multiple MFRC522 RFID readers to an Arduino Uno, she’s come up with a method of triggering a device (like an electronic door lock) only when the appropriate combination of RFID tags have been arranged. With a little imagination, this allows for some very complex puzzle scenarios which are sure to keep your prisoners enthralled until you can lower the lotion down to them.

Her code allows you to configure the type and number of RFID cards required to trigger one of the Arduino’s digital pins, which usually would be connected to a relay to fire off whatever device you want. The Arduino sketch is also setup to give “hints” to the player by way of a status LED: fast blinking let’s you know the tag scanned is wrong, and slow blinking means you don’t have enough scanned in yet.

The video after the break shows some highlights of the build, as well as a quick demonstration of how both the RFID “combination” and manual override can be used to trigger the attached relay.

Hackers do love RFID. Using them for physical access control is a fairly common project around these parts, and we’ve even seen similar setups for the digital realm.

If you are just starting out in electronics, you need tools. But it is hard to build all your tools. Even though we see a lot of soldering station builds, you really ought to have a soldering iron to build the station. It is hard to troubleshoot a multimeter you just built if you don’t have a multimeter. However, a capacitance meter is a handy piece of gear, relatively simple to build, and you should be able to get it working without an existing capacitance meter. [gavinlyonsrepo] presents a simple design using an Arduino, an OLED display, and a few components.

The principle of operation is classic. On one range, the Arduino charges the capacitor through one resistor and discharges it through another while timing the operation. The amount of time taken corresponds to the capacitance.

The other range doesn’t use external components but relies on the internal resistance of the Arduino and the stray capacitance in the chip and the board. Because these parameters vary, you’ll need to calibrate the device with a capacitor of known value.

This is one of those projects that would have been more complicated before microcontrollers. With an Arduino or similar device, though, it is pretty straightforward.

We looked at a project that explores the second method in depth quite some time ago. We’ve seen some similar meters in the past you might enjoy.



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