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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.

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.

We’re excited to announce two new wireless connectivity boards to help streamline Internet of Things development, the MKR WiFi 1010 and MKR NB 1500.

The first of the boards is the MKR WiFi 1010, which offers low power consumption and has been designed not only to speed up and simplify the prototyping of WiFi-based IoT applications, but also to be embedded in production IoT applications that require WiFi connectivity. The board is an evolution of the existing Arduino MKR1000, but now comes equipped with an ESP32-based module manufactured by U-blox. This key element delivers 2.4GHz WiFi and Bluetooth communications capability, along with leading RF and power performance: the ESP32 is a highly flexible device that provides adjustable power output, enabling optimal trade-offs between communication range, data rate, and power consumption.

Fully compatible with the Arduino IT cloud, the MKR1010 also offers simple migration from other Arduino boards, and uses open-source WiFi firmware, which makes it easy to reprogram for upgrading or to repair any security flaws. A significant feature is the MKR1010’s two standalone programmable processors – the first based on ARM processor core technology, the second based on a dual-core Espressif IC – making the board a high-performance solution that can distribute its workload across its dual-processor system. Another major feature is the integration of a secure authentication module – Microchip’s ECC508 – which uses crypto authentication to secure TLS network communications and connections.

The second board to be introduced is the MKR NB 1500, which employs the new low-power NB-IoT (narrowband IoT) standard, designed to work over cellular/LTE networks. When combined with the ease of use of the Arduino ecosystem, the MKR1500 becomes an excellent choice for applications in remote areas such as on-field monitoring systems and remote-controlled LTE-enabled modules.

Designed for global deployment, it supports transmissions via AT&T, T-Mobile USA, Telstra, Verizon over the Cat M1/NB1 deployed bands 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 12, 13, 20 and 28. The NB-IoT communications technology makes use of existing LTE cellular networks and delivers significantly faster communications than alternative IoT networks such as LoRa and Sigfox, while also having a low impact on battery consumption. In addition, when compared to typical GSM or 3G cellular connectivity, wake up times and connections are much faster, which enables significant power saving. Importantly, both of the new boards are fully compatible with the Arduino Uno, Mega and existing MKR hardware. Also common to both boards is their MKR footprint, as well as the same wide range of available interfaces, including I2S, I2C, UART and SPI. Both boards also operate at 3.3V and offer input/output options including 22 digital I/Os – 12 with PWM outputs – and seven analog inputs.

“The new boards bring new communication options to satisfy the needs of the most demanding use cases, giving the users one of the widest range of options on the market of certified products,” said Arduino co-founder and CTO Massimo Banzi.

“NB-IoT and CAT M1 are gradually becoming a reality in many countries in the world. With MKR NB 1500 we wanted to create a versatile and standard technology to democratize the access to the new networks, enabling our customers  to take advantage of this big opportunity early on,” said Fabio Violante, CEO of Arduino. “We strongly believe the MKR NB 1500 has all the ingredients to become the go to product for many professional use cases”.

“As far as the MKR 1010 is concerned, we had the opportunity to learn a lot from all the WiFi products that we had on the market for several years. Based on customers’ feedback we thought it was now time to release a new ultra reliable board that was suitable for a variety of use cases that were difficult to support with other products,” added Fabio Violante. “The other aspect that we love about the products is that the firmware of the WiFi part is developed by us and open-source, opening new opportunity for continuous improvements and contributions from the community.”

Both the MKR WiFi 1010 and the MKR NB 1500 will be available on the Arduino online store starting in June 2018.

We’re excited to announce the Arduino Engineering Kit, the first product released as a result of our new partnership with MathWorks, to reinforce the importance of Arduino at the university level in the fields of engineering, Internet of Things, and robotics.

The Arduino Engineering Kit, which will be available for purchase starting today on the Arduino online store, consists of three cutting-edge, Arduino-based projects and will teach students how to build modern electronic devices – challenging them intellectually and helping them develop physical engineering skills that will better prepare them to enter the commercial market following graduation. In addition to the hardware, after registering online, students and educators will have access to a dedicated e-learning platform and other learning materials. The kit also includes a one-year individual license for MATLAB and Simulink, providing the user with hands-on experience in system modeling and embedded algorithm development.

Following the global success of Arduino CTC 101, a program tailored for upper secondary schools, the Arduino Engineering Kit enables college students and educators to incorporate core engineering concepts like control systems, inertial sensing, signal and imaging processing, and robotics with the support of MATLAB and Simulink programming. These software packages are the base of industry-standard tools for algorithm development, system modeling, and simulation, all of which will be required in their future careers.

Each Arduino Engineering Kit comes with a durable and stackable plastic toolbox for easy storage and years of reuse. Inside the box is an Arduino MKR1000 board, several customized parts, and a complete set of electrical and mechanical components needed to assemble all three projects:

  • Self-Balancing Motorcycle: This motorcycle will maneuver on its own on various terrains and remain upright using a flywheel for balance.
  • Mobile Rover: This vehicle can navigate between given reference points, move objects with a forklift, and much more.
  • Whiteboard Drawing Robot: This amazing robot can take a drawing it’s given and replicate it on a whiteboard.

“We designed the Arduino Engineering Kit the way we would have liked to have learned mechatronics, control algorithms, state machines, and complex sensing when we were in our first years of engineering school: in a fun and challenging way,” said David Cuartielles, Arduino co-founder and Arduino Education CTO. “It’s all about hands-on activities built on top of well-grounded theoretical concepts. But more importantly, after finishing the basic materials, there’s plenty of flexibility to experiment, for the students to deviate and test their engineering creativity.”

https://youtu.be/pymRl7FCV0A

There have been countless clocks made using Arduino boards, but you’ve likely never seen anything quite like this display. It features four Nixie tubes that alternate between the time, temperature, pressure, and relative humidity, in addition to a clock-like hand as a secondary indication of atmospheric pressure. That is interesting in itself, but to top it off, the synchroscope display housing used is actually recycled from a nuclear power plant!

An Arduino Mega coordinates data from the sensors and an RTC module to control the Nixie tubes via driver ICs, along with a micro servo to move the pressure indicator. Power for the electronics is provided by three separate transformers in order to accommodate the tubes. 

The clock displays the time from the top of the minute to 15 sec in, and then displays the temperature (F), then back to time until the bottom of the minute (30 sec.), then it displays atmospheric pressure (mm Hg), then back to time until 45 sec into the minute and displays relative humidity. Upon reaching 60 sec. it increments the time and repeats the cycle. The BMP280 has a very poor temperature sensing capability and is not nearly as accurate as a DS18B20 waterproof temperature sensor that I used in another project of mine. I may just swap this out. Also I had a nice mesh cage around the sensors to protect them from damage and this too led to inaccurate results so I modified that as well. The indicator arrow is scaled for the low and highest pressures found in my state. the indicator arrow does a good job of showing changes in the pressure when a storm or clear skies are developing.

A full write-up on the build can be found here and the Arduino code in this repository.

Norbert Heinz, aka “HomoFaciens,” is no stranger to making versions of modern-day equipment in unusual ways, but what about the way that this equipment is actually powered? It’s not something that we normally consider if an AC adapter is nearby; you simply plug it into the wall and “free” power flows to your device.

Heinz’s project, however, runs processing systems including an Arduino Uno, a Raspberry Pi, and a SIMATIC IOT2020 using not wall power or even a battery, but via chemical energy converted by himself through a hand crank, along with a model airplane engine. The setup uses geared DC motors acting as generators, while the eye-opening results are displayed on a 16×2 LCD screen.

Check out the video below and the project’s write-up to see how its done. And by all means, make sure you do your experiments in a well-ventilated area if you’re going to use a combustion engine!

Batik is a fabric decoration technique where wax is applied by hand to cloth that is then died, leaving behind beautiful patterns. While interesting, doing this manually is time-consuming and requires quite a bit of skill to properly execute. In a new take on this traditional technique, makers Olivia De Gouveia and Eugenia Morpurgo decided to make a machine to create wax patterns automatically.

What they came up with is a gantry-style robot that moves molten wax over a surface using a tempeature-controlled pen, with the help of an Arduino Mega with a RAMPS 1.4 shield. In theory, the device allows for an infinite printing area, and can be used to draw decorative patterns or even cutting paths for clothing. 

More information is available on GitHub and on the Digital Wax Print website!



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