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A Super Nintendo that has trouble showing sprites doesn’t make for a very good game system. As it turns out, Super Mario World is a lot less fun when the titular hero is invisible. So it’s no surprise that [jwotto] ended up tossing this partially functional SNES into the parts bin a few years back.

But he recently came up with a project that may actually benefit from its unusual graphical issues; turning the glitched console into a circuit bent video synthesizer. The system was already displaying corrupted visuals, so [jwotto] figured he’d just help things along by poking around inside and identifying pins that created interesting visual effects when shorted out.

Installing the new electronics into the SNES.

Once he mapped out the pins, he wired them all up to a transistor switching board that he’d come up with for a previous project. That would let an Arduino short out the pins on command while still keeping the microcontroller relatively isolated from the SNES. Then it was just a matter of writing some code that would fire off the transistors based on MIDI input.

The end result is a SNES that creates visual glitches along with the music, which [jwotto] can hook up to a projector when he does live shows. A particularly neat feature is that each game responds in its own way, so he can swap out the cartridge to show completely different visuals without having to change any of the MIDI sequencing.

A project like this serves as a nice introduction to both circuit bending and MIDI hacking for anyone looking to get their digital feet wet, and should pair nicely with the MIDI Game Boy Advance.

[Thanks to Irregular Shed for the tip.]

While some keyboards provide media keys or even knobs to adjust your overall computer sound up and down, often what you really want is the ability to tune program volumes separately. To make this extremely easy, SNR Tech Bytes has come up with a beautifully-designed controller, which runs on the MKR ZERO.

The device features five encoders to individually tune the master volume, Discord, Chrome, gaming, and Spotify, with the help of software on the PC itself. Encoder button mutes each channel as needed, using NeoPixels below to indicate each status.

The build is based on the deej volume mixer, and more specifics on this version are available on GitHub.

Clean water is one of our most precious resources, but identifying sources of pollution often means expensive equipment. This can also mean taking multiple water quality readings and somehow aggregating them together to be easily usable. As a solution to both problems, Andrei Florian has developed WaterAid — which was recently named a finalist in this year’s Hackaday Prize.

WaterAid consists of a measurement unit that senses water pH, turbidity, and temperature, as well as atmospheric temperature and humidity. Data is relayed to the system’s backend via a cellular connection, using an onboard MKR GSM 1400. Collected information from one or more devices is then displayed on a Soracom Lagoon dashboard for water monitoring from anywhere in the world!

Not only can a fleet of WaterAids be used to continuously track a river, lake, or any other body of water, but individuals looking to get immediate feedback on quality can utilize the portable tool’s NeoPixel ring for color-coded judgement.

More details on the low-cost and scalable project can be found in Florian’s log here.

Would you like your own industrial robot arm, but don’t have tens of thousands of dollars to spend? You could instead build Giovanni Lerda’s KAUDA, a five-axis device that uses under 800g of PLA, an Arduino Mega, and other off-the-shelf parts.

KAUDA utilizes servos to actuate the two wrist joints, along with a NEMA 17 motor for the elbow. A single stepper rotates the base in the horizontal direction, while dual steppers provide lifting force at this joint.

The gripper is a three-fingered linkage assembly, controlled by a small DC motor. The arm’s construction is outlined on its official website, and instructions can be found in Lerda’s write-up here. As seen in the video below, KAUDA looks great and appears to work quite well!

Optical media normally contains information in the form of 1s and 0s that are much too small to be seen by the human eye. This can make understanding their operation less than straightforward. To solve this problem, Jon Bumstead constructed an Arduino Nano-controlled player that uses wooden discs, with holes and solid sections large enough to clearly show what’s going on.

The discs spin under power from a DC motor, while a stationary laser/sensor pair keeps track of its rotation via repeating holes. A second laser assembly moves in and out on the disc using a stepper motor to read data, returning short messages like “don’t panic” on the LED matrix screen below.

Instead of being based on light interference like CD players, the device I built plays wooden discs with holes and “non-holes” (as I refer to them in this instructable) that either pass or block a laser beam. These holes and non-holes correspond to 1’s and 0’s in binary data that code a text message, like song lyrics or a quote. The binary information is read off the disc, stored on an Arduino, and decoded to display the text message on an LED matrix on the front of the device. As the data is being read, the LED matrix is populated to visualize the binary information. When a high bit is read, a MIDI note is also played. The music produced may sound random, but it symbolizes a series of 1’s and 0’s that actually holds meaningful information.

The wooden disc player I created can only hold about 700bits (<0.1kB) because of how large the holes are in the disc. Therefore, the messages that can be stored are short. For reference, a CD can hold around 700MB of information, which is about 10 million times more information than the wooden discs I made. The whole project helps imagine the scale of information storage on CDs (an already dated storage device) and how the digital information is read and decoded into something meaningful to humans.

This week we are launching our  Arduino Explore IoT Kit, which allows high school and college students to take their first steps in building connected devices. Educators can make a complex subject simple – explore the Internet of Things right now with Arduino Education. 

Aimed at the beginner,  there is a complete set of easy to follow online projects providing students with a  gateway into the digital world of connected objects and how people work together.

The kit comes complete with a complimentary 12 months subscription to the Arduino Create Maker plan, meaning it’s quicker and easier than ever to learn how to monitor, manage and control devices using the cloud – with the new Arduino IoT Cloud Remote app you can now do this ‘on the go’ via your mobile.

We recently spoke to Sara Willner-Giwerc, (a PhD candidate at Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts, US) about her amazing work using the Internet of Things in education – helping to show just how useful the new Explore IoT Kit will be.

“By leveraging the Internet of Things, students are able to build more powerful systems that are no longer limited to only the resources they physically possess. This technological capability presents a cool opportunity for students to experience how they can be more powerful when they connect and collaborate with others than they can be on their own. “

“Especially now, in this time of social distancing and remote learning, the ability to communicate with devices that aren’t physically near us has become even more essential than it was previously. I’m really excited about the idea of using IoT to help students think about designing for more global systems.” 

Read the full article about Sara here

Here’s what a student had to say about the new Explore IoT Kit, when he got the chance to try out an advanced version:

“I would describe it as a very beginner-friendly way to get started with the Internet of Things, and a kit that you will be able to expand upon with your own ideas and components.”

“…the getting started section got me really excited to actually get started because it inspired all these thought streams of what I could potentially create with the kit.” Oliver Kempel – Danish High School Student 

The kit features 10 activities for students to develop a complete understanding of IoT:

  • Using the IoT Cloud and connected devices: Control physical objects, such as a displays or lights, remotely with the Arduino IoT Cloud
  • Collecting, processing, and storing data: Store data locally, wirelessly, and remotely for analysis and backup
  • Graphing and visualizing data and understanding its meaning: Use different tools and techniques to graph data and interpret the information collected
  • Serial communication, APIs, JSON, and web servers: Learn the essentials of how APIs (application programming interfaces) work, how to access remote web servers, and how to store the incoming data in JSON objects to create devices that can access all sorts of data from all over the world, and display it locally
  • Network security considerations: Understand how software developers protect devices and information from unauthorized access
  • Different sensors and how to use them: Investigate the environment using temperature, humidity, and light sensors, collect data about movement using an accelerometer, pressure, and motion sensors, take care of your plants by following the data from moisture and light sensors
  • Actuators and how to use them: Use lights, sound, display, and relays: electronic components used to activate high power devices, to visualize data, and control external devices

The Explore IoT Kit is available to buy now from our Education Partners locally or from the Arduino Store for only €99 / $114.

N.B. In addition to the Explore IoT Kit,  a second kit the “Oplà IoT Kit” will also be coming soon, targeting makers and professionals alike who are after an out-of-the-box IoT experience. The Oplà IoT Kit will enable users to instantly add connectivity to devices for the home and workplace – available to buy from early October onwards.

If you want to build your own first-person view RC rover for some backyard exploration, this design by “MoreMorris” is a great place to start.

The tank-esque vehicle features a 3D-printed frame, including print-in-place tracks, and is able to traverse rough terrain as seen in the video below. Meanwhile, a servo-mounted FPV camera on top allows it to look left and right without swinging the body around.

Inside the vehicle, an Arduino Uno board controls its two motors with the help of an L298N driver module. User interface consists of a Nano-based remote, while communication is handled via a pair of nRF21L01 radio transceivers.

Plenty of additional project info is available in MoreMorris’s write-up.

Oh, sure, there have been a few cube-shaped PCs over the years, like the G4 and the NeXT cube. But can they really be called cubes when the display and the inputs were all external? We think not.

[ikeji] doesn’t think so either, and has created a cube PC that puts them all to shame. Every input and output is within the cube, including our favorite part — the 48-key ortholinear keyboard, which covers two sides of the cube and must be typed on vertically. (If you’ve ever had wrist pain from typing, you’ll understand why anyone would want to do that.) You can see a gif of [ikeji] typing on it after the break.

Inside the 3D printed cube is a Raspberry Pi 4 and a 5″ LCD. There’s also an Arduino Pro Micro for the keyboard matrix, which is really two 4×6 matrices — one for each half. There’s a 6cm fan to keep things cool, and one panel is devoted to a grille for heat output. Another panel is devoted to vertically mounting the microcontrollers and extending the USB ports.

Don’t type on me or my son ever again.

When we first looked at this project, we thought the tiny cube was a companion macro pad that could be stored inside the main cube. It’s really a test cube for trying everything out, which we think is a great idea and does not preclude its use as a macro pad one of these days. [ikeji] already has plenty of plans for the future, like cassette support, an internal printer, and a battery, among other things. We can’t wait to see the next iteration.

We love a good cyberdeck around here, and it’s interesting to see all the things people are using them for. Here’s a cyberduck that quacks in Python and CircuitPython.

According to Michael Gardi, although you can find numerous stunning Turing machine implementations on the Internet, their complexity tends to detract from the simplicity of what a Turing machine actually does. In order to easily show how they work, he decided to create a demonstrator with the actual calculations handled by an Arduino Mega.

The console, dubbed TMD-1, displays a “tape” state on the top of the device using eight servo-controlled flip tiles that write 1s or 0s, while a series of lighted arrows indicate the program’s position. On the bottom surface, users can program instructions with magnetic tiles, and read the current machine state via LEDs.

It’s a slick design — as seen in the short demo clip below — and more details on the build can be found in Gardi’s tutorial.

Moritz v. Sivers recently got into river surfing, which unfortunately leaves him with less time for other hobbies, like making electronics projects. The solution, of course, was to create a teched out surfboard.

His build features an array of WS2812B LEDs embedded into the sides of the board, controlled by an Arduino Nano housed in a Tupperware box strapped to the back.

The device also includes an MPU-6050 inertial measurement unit, allowing the unit to react to Sivers’ movements through the water. Left and right turns, standing, pumping the board, and surfing straight all have their own animations.

A demonstration can be seen below, along with shots of it in action at night, on the Eibach river in Munich, Germany. It looks brilliant, and like a lot of fun!



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