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Having a light on your bike at night is important for safety, but what if those headlights could talk to others sharing the road with you? Well now it can, using the [Bike] Swarm by Alex Berke, Thomas Sanchez, and Kent Larson from the MIT Media Lab.

Their device—or collection of devices—controls a bicycle’s lighting via an Arduino and LED driver, and features an nRF24L01 wireless module to communicate with others in the vicinity. When another rider is encountered, the bikes sync their lights up automatically. 

The team has already designed and fabricated prototypes, then strapped them onto local city bike share program bikes for testing. 

It’s an interesting effect when two bikes pass, but as shown in the video below, things get much more fascinating when a handful of bikes can coordinate both their direction and light pattern.

As bikes navigate city streets after dark, they are often equipped with lights. The lights make the bikes visible to cars or other bikers, and the hazards of traffic less dangerous.

Imagine that as solitary bikes come together, their lights begin to pulsate at the same cadence. The bikers may not know each other, or may only be passing each other briefly, but for the moments they are together, their lights synchronize. The effect is a visually united presence, as groups of bikes illuminate themselves with a gently pulsing, collective light source.

If you’ve ever played with desk toys portraying a beach with liquids that splash around, this project by Lena Strobel, Gabriel Rihaczek and Guillaume Caussarieu takes things up several levels as a surf simulator that you can actually ride on.

The device features two parts — an oil/water wave diorama which sloshes around using a servo actuator and a wooden “surfboard” large enough for a person to stand on.

The board is curved on the bottom enabling for someone to tilt it back and forth with their body movement, while a three-axis accelerometer handles angle measurement. This data is then passed from an onboard Arduino Uno to a second Uno that drives the diorama’s servo via nRF24L01 radio transceivers. 

The result is an actual body-controlled wave motion, and a distraction that looks like a lot more fun than simply pushing a tank around with your finger!

Do you feel a sudden urge of going surfing, but there is no large body of water nearby? Are you scared of deep and turbulent waters? Or are you just to lazy to go outside? Then the Ultra Realistic Surfing Simulator is the perfect solution for you! It allows for a close to reality surfing experience from any place imaginable. As a two part system, motion is sensed by a board and translated into wave motions of an ocean diorama.

You’ve seen self-balancing robots, where a pair of wheels suspend a mass above them in what’s known as an inverted pendulum configuration. As neat as they are, the “Augmented Arthropod” by Grzegorz Lochnicki and Nicolas Kubail Kalousdian puts a new spin on things. 

The structure for the build consists of three platforms separated on threaded rod and a couple of rather standard DC gear motors. Electronics include an Arduino Uno, a BNO055 IMU, and an L298N motor driver. 

Where things get a bit interesting, though, is that the mech is piloted by the movements of an insect placed inside a plastic case using two HC-SR04 ultrasonic sensors. 

Perhaps the most valuable part of the project write-up is the discussion about how it balances via PID, or proportional, integral, and derivative control. 

In the Earth’s atmosphere, a drone can adjust its heading by varying the speed of the propellers, and thus the thrust output of each. If you wanted to land something on a lunar surface, or maneuver a spaceship, the lack of atmosphere means a different technique must be used.

While not going to space (yet), Tom Stanton decided to create a demonstrator for this technique, similar to how the manned Lunar Landing Research Vehicle (LLRV) operated in the 1960s and ’70s. Stanton’s device employs a central electric ducted fan (EDF) to hold the craft up, while three compressed air nozzles provide most of its directional control. 

In action, an RC flight controller’s signals are modified by an Arduino Nano to accommodate this unique control scheme, pulsing out bursts of air via three solenoid valves.

Check out the build and experimental process in the video below, culminating with untethered tests starting at around 17:30.

If you’re a fan of novel timepieces, then you’ll want to check out Christine Thompson’s VFD Alarm Clock.

The device features a USSR-manufactured IV-27V 7-segment tube, capable of displaying 13 numbers or letters via a 24V supply, though the MAX6921 chip used here means that only 10 grids are used.

10 characters, however, are plenty to show time, date, humidity, temperature, and pressure, plus the text “WAKE UP!” when an audible alarm sounds.

The clock runs on an Arduino Mega, along with an RTC module, a keypad, and secondary LCD screen on the back to assist with setting it up.

While most 3D printers deposit melted plastic in carefully controlled positions to build up a physical model, a similar process called “bioprinting” can be accomplished with biological materials. Commercial bioprinters can cost tens of thousands of dollars or more, but as shown here you can make your own using the shell an inexpensive desktop machine. 

In this example, a Monoprice MP Select Mini V2 is stripped down to its bones and motors, subbing in an Arduino Mega and RAMPS 1.4 stepper driver board.

A syringe-like extruder is added to push out custom bioink, and the Z-axis switch mounting and Marlin firmware is modified to accommodate the new device. The homing sequence is modeled in the video below, giving a short snippet of how it works.

Embedded programming using the Arduino IDE has become an important part of STEM education, and while more accessible than ever before, getting started still requires some coding and basic electronics skills. To explore a different paradigm for starting out on this journey, researchers have developed Flowboard to facilitate visual flow-based programming.

This device consists of an iPad Pro and a set of breadboards on either side. Users can arrange electrical components on these breadboards, changing the flow-based program on the screen as needed to perform the desired actions. Custom ‘switchboard’ hardware, along with an Arduino Uno running a modified version of Firmata, communicate with the iPad editor via Bluetooth.

With maker-friendly environments like the Arduino IDE, embedded programming has become an important part of STEM education. But learning embedded programming is still hard, requiring both coding and basic electronics skills. To understand if a different programming paradigm can help, we developed Flowboard, which uses Flow-Based Programming (FBP) rather than the usual imperative programming paradigm. Instead of command sequences, learners assemble processing nodes into a graph through which signals and data flow. Flowboard consists of a visual flow-based editor on an iPad, a hardware frame integrating the iPad, an Arduino board and two breadboards next to the iPad, letting learners connect their visual graphs seamlessly to the input and output electronics. Graph edits take effect immediately, making Flowboard a live coding environment.

Want to learn more? Check out the team’s research paper here

If your kids aren’t thrilled about doing chores, you could resort to a whiteboard, or simply create your own RFID tracking system like maker “alastair-a.” 

His project uses an Arduino Nano, along with an RFID reader and RTC module to track when a job has been completed. The chore is selected using a rotary encoder and displayed on a 16×2 LCD screen. When it’s done, the child who completed it can then scan in with their RFID fob to claim it as his or her own.

While there was initially some cash payment in mind for each task that’s accomplished, the novelty factor of using the system is reportedly so interesting that alastair’s children have entirely forgotten about it. Whether it works this well or not in all cases is an open question, but Arduino code and build info is available here if you’d like to make your own!

If you want to keep your Arduino project or other circuit boards safe from exposure, an electrical box is the traditional choice. But what if you want to apply protection directly to the board?

In the video below, “TheRainHarvester” shows us a novel and inexpensive method for hardening a Nano from short circuits and other minor exposure by simply melting plastic on the top. 

The Nano’s new armor is sourced from a lid that you might find on a coffee or oatmeal container, and after cutting it to size, a “plasti-shell” is fused to the board with a heat gun. The procedure couldn’t be simpler, and appears to provide a good amount of protection for the little board!

Since its invention in 1974, Rubik’s cubes have been entertaining and frustrating those that choose to take on the challenge of aligning their shapes. More recently, however, people have been building algorithms and machinery to do it for them, including Mario Milanesio’s Arduino Rubik Solver, or ARS.

ARS, which was constructed with the help of Milanseio’s students, is comprised of several 3D-printed and laser-cut parts. The device utilizes a series of four stepper motors to rotate the cube, along with two more to pull the grippers back when needed. 

Solving is assisted by the ARS Studio software package, which lets users program in the existing color sequence. It then sends movement commands to an Arduino Uno over serial, which controls the motors via six A4988 Pololu drivers to complete the puzzle.



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