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You are stuck at home quarantined and you want to do some Arduino projects. The problem is you don’t have all the cool devices you want to use. Sure, you can order them, but the stores are slow shipping things that aren’t essential these days. If you want to get a headstart while you are waiting for the postman, check out Wokwi’s Playground. For example, you can write code to drive a virtual NeoPixel 16×16 matrix. There’s even example code to get you started.

There are quite a few other choices in the playground including Charlieplexed LEDs, a keypad, and an LCD. There are also challenges. For example, in the traffic light challenge, you are given code that uses a task scheduler library to implement a traffic light. You have to add a turn signal to the code.

In addition to LEDs in various configurations, the site has some serial bus components, an LCD, a keypad, and a NeoPixel strip. There are also a few tools including an EasyEDA to KiCad converter and a way to share sourcecode similar to Pastebin.

Of course, simulations only get you so far, but the site is a fun way to play with some different I/O devices. It would be very nice if you could compose for the different components together, but you could work your code in sections, if necessary. You can do similar things with TinkerCad circuits. If you want to install software, there’s a simulator for you, too.

Kaleb Clark really enjoys flight simulators, but when attempting to fly a helicopter, a normal keyboard or even a joystick isn’t quite optimal for controlling its vertical movement. Real helicopters use a lever assembly called a collective to adjust downward thrust, and he decided to build his own with an Arduino Micro and GPIO expander.

To read the main lever action, he’s using a gear and encoder setup, which allows him to lift and descent in a much more natural way than afforded normal computer controls. There’s also has a bunch of buttons attached that can be programmed for various actions as needed. 

Game interface is taken care of by the Micro’s ATmega32U4 chip, giving it HID functionality as an auxiliary input device.

Timepieces are cool no matter how simplistic or granular they are. Sometimes its nice not to know exactly what time it is down to the second, and most of the really beautiful clocks are simple as can be. If you didn’t know this was a clock, it would still be fascinating to watch the bearings race around the face.

This clock takes design cues from the Story clock, a visual revolution in counting down time which uses magnetic levitation to move a single bearing around the face exactly once over a duration of any length as set by the user. As a clock, it’s not very useful, so there’s a digital readout that still doesn’t justify the $800 price tag.

[tomatoskins] designed a DIY version that’s far more elegant. It has two ball bearings that move around the surface against hidden magnets — an hour ball and a minute ball. Inside there’s a pair of 3D-printed ring gears that are each driven by a stepper motor and controlled with an Arduino Nano and a real-time clock module. The body is made of plywood reclaimed from a bed frame, and [tomatoskins] added a walnut veneer for timeless class.

In addition to the code, STLs, and CAD files that birthed the STLs, [tomatoskins] has a juicy 3D-printing tip to offer. The gears had to be printed in interlocked pieces, but these seams can be sealed with a solution of acetone and plastic from supports and failed prints.

If you dig minimalism but think this clock is a bit too vague to read, here’s a huge digital clock made from small analog clocks.

After picking up a free arcade machine, YouTuber “Another Maker” has naturally been considering what to do with it. One of the more interesting components included is the 1/5/10/20 U.S. dollar bill acceptor, which he outlines in the video below.

The cash reader is powered by a 12V supply, and “emulates” quarter inputs to the machine by sending multiple signals for each bill. Meaning, a dollar would be output as four quarters, five times that for a five dollar bill, and so on. This functionality is shown at the end of the clip on an Arduino Mega with an LCD keypad shield. The machine also has a 5V input, which can activated by an Arduino to make it flash LEDs and reject all bills when “business is closed.”

The code that enables it to read the device can be found on GitHub. And in case you’re wondering what Another Maker ended up building…

Combating COVID-19 Conference: A Collaborative Arduino Community Initiative will take place today, April 2nd starting at 5pm CEST.

The online event will be streamed via Zoom. From 5:00 to 5:30pm, there will be only one streaming channel (LINK HERE). After that, we’ll break out into two different rooms (LINK TO ZOOM ROOM 1, LINK TO ZOOM ROOM 2).

There are different ways to participate: presenting an Arduino-based solution to tackle COVID-19 (the call for projects is now closed), supporting other community projects, providing expert advice, or asking the Arduino team for some support.

This conference schedule is as follows:

5:00 – 5:30pm CEST – Plenary Introductory Session – LINK TO ZOOM ROOM 1

  • David Cuartielles, “The Arduino Community Response to the COVID-19 Outbreak.”
  • Robert Read (, “Open Source Hardware for the Emergency”

5:30 – 7:00pm CEST – Session 1: Arduino-Based Ventilators and Medical Devices

7:00 – 8:30pm CEST – Session 2: Legal and Technological Challenges

There are different channels to join the discussion with the Arduino team and community:

Giovanni Carrera has created a capable power monitor, dubbed the ArduINA226, using an Arduino Nano and an INA226 IC. 

This chip measures the current and voltage, and calculates power, which is then read by the Arduino board and sent to an LCD display. The unit also features a micro SD card for storage and later analysis, letting you track stats such as energy consumption over time.

Nearly any sort of Arduino board can be used for this setup, but the Nano was chosen as it makes things nice and compact and has an included USB adapter. The electronics are mounted on a PCB and housed in a professional-looking enclosure. 

A full schematic for the ArduINA226 is available in Carrera’s project write-up, along with code if you’d like to make your own.

With the current coronavirus situation, we’ve been encouraged to wash our hands regularly for 20 seconds – or approximately how long it takes you to hum “Happy Birthday” from beginning to end twice. That sounds easy enough, but do you really do this every time? What you need is some sort of automatic timer, perhaps with a dial gauge for easy visual reference. 

As it just so happens, Gautam Bose and Lucas Ochoa built such a device with an Arduino Uno. The aptly named Wash-A-Lot-Bot detects a person’s hands in front of it via an ultrasonic sensor, then ticks a dial timer from 0 to 20 (or rather 20 to DONE!) using a micro servo. 

This simple setup can be made with little more than scissors and tape, making it a great way to learn about Arduino and programming while you’re stuck indoors.

In ridiculous times, it can help to play ridiculous instruments such as the slide whistle to keep your bristles in check. But since spittle is more than a little bit dangerous these days, it pays to come up with alternative ways to play away the days during lockdown life.

Thanks to some clever Arduino-driven automation, [Gurpreet] can maintain a safe distance from his slide whistle while interacting with it. Slide whistles need two things — air coming in from the top, and actuation at the business end. The blowing force now comes from a focused fan like the ones that cool your printed plastic as soon as the hot end extrudes it. A stepper motor moves the slide up and down using a printed rack and pinion.

Here’s a smooth touch — [Gurpreet] added a micro servo to block and unblock the sound hole with a cardboard flap to make the notes more distinct. Check out the build video after the break, which includes a music video for “My Heart Will Go On”, aka the theme from Titanic. It’s almost like the ship herself is playing it on the steam whistles from the great beyond.

Speaking of, did you hear about the effort to raise and restore the remains of her radio room?

Looking to sterilize something? Give it a good blast of the old UV-C. Ultraviolet radiation in the shortest wavelength band breaks down DNA and RNA, so it’s a great way to kill off any nasties that are lurking. But how much UV-C are you using? [Akiba] at Hackerfarm has come up with the NukeMeter, a meter that measures the output of their UV-C sterilizer the NukeBox. It is built around a $2.50 sensor and a $3 Arduino.

The NukeMeter is built around a GUVA-S12SD UV sensor breakout board. This sensor is really designed for UV-A detection, but a quick look at the spec sheet revealed that it is sensitive to UV across all of the bands. So, it can be used as a UV-C sensor if you know how sensitive it is to this particular frequency band.

However, the sensor is not that sensitive to UV-C light, so [Akiba] had to do a bit of minor surgery on the circuitry that surrounds the sensor to tweak the output. The sensor was designed to measure relatively low levels of UV light (such as sunlight), and now they are blasting it with a shedload of radiation, so they have to effectively disable one of the op-amps that normally scales the output up, which involves replacing a couple of resistors. That’s a bit of a pain to do with surface mount components, but it is doable with a steady hand and a small tip soldering iron.

Next, an Arduino takes the voltage output of the sensor and converts it into a light level. The mathematics of how this works are all well detailed in the post, but it isn’t complicated, and the source code is here.

Using this, [Akiba] was able to measure how the lights performed, how quickly they warmed up and how much the light level varies along the length of the fluorescent tube.

One caveat to bear in mind here: [Akiba] designed this to measure the output of the low-pressure mercury vapor lamps they are using at Hackerfarm, which output a very narrow frequency band, peaking at 250 nM. This design would not work for a more broadband output or for one which mixed UV-C with UV-A and UV-B. For that, you would need a more sophisticated design that would probably cost more than $5.

SAFETY NOTE: Don’t mess with UV-C light sources unless you have a good idea of what you are doing and are sure that the light is contained, e.g. in a sealed box, maybe with interlocks. Remember that you also rely on DNA, and inadvertently zapping your own DNA can cause all sorts of unpleasantness.  

We once saw a Romeo and Juliet production where the two families were modern-day mob families with 3-piece suits and pistols. If they made King Richard III set in this week, the famous line might be: “Hand sanitizer, hand sanitizer, my kingdom for hand sanitizer!” Even if you have a supply stashed in your prepper cache, you have to touch the bottle so you could cross-contaminate with other users. Public places often have automatic dispensers to combat this, and now you can too. [Just Barran] shows the device in a video, you can see below.

Sourcing parts for projects is sometimes a problem, but right now we are betting the hand sanitizer will be the hardest component. Of course, the Internet is ripe with homemade brews that may or may not be effective based on beer, grain alcohol, or a variety of other base materials.

[Barran] has a big junk box. so he snagged an Arduino and an ultrasonic sensor. The part that is a little tricky is pulling down the pump. The basic idea is to use a servo motor to pull some fishing line. To engage the bottle, there is a small bit of plastic from a notebook cover and the fishing line goes to both sides of it. One side of the fishing line is fixed and the other is what the servo pulls.

We might have used a solenoid to push the button, but we like the servo method for its simplicity. In the end, it does look like it works well. Changing the bottle out probably requires a little surgery since there is a screw holding the plastic bracket in and you might have to update the fishing line lengths. That might be an impediment for a commercial project, but for your own use, it doesn’t seem like it would be a problem.

Fishing line is more useful than you might think. We’ve even seen it used as belts in 3D printers.

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