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This thing right here might be the coolest desk toy since Newton’s Cradle. It’s [Stephen Co]’s latest installment in a line of mesmerizing, zodiac-themed art lamps that started with the water-dancing Aquarius.  All at once, it demonstrates standing waves, persistence of vision, and the stroboscopic effect. And the best part? You can stick your finger in it.

This intriguing lamp is designed to illustrate Pisces, that mythological pair of fish bound by string that represent Aphrodite and her son Eros’ escape from the clutches of Typhon. Here’s what is happening: two 5V DC motors, one running in reverse, are rotating a string at high speeds. The strobing LEDs turn the string into an array of optical illusions depending on the strobing rate, which is controlled with a potentiometer. A second pot sweeps through eleven preset patterns that vary the colors and visual effect. And of course, poking the string will cause interesting interruptions.

The stroboscopic effect hinges on the choice of LED. Those old standby 2812s don’t have a high enough max refresh rate, so [Stephen] sprung for APA102Cs, aka DotStars. Everything is controlled with an Arduino Nano clone. [Stephen] has an active Kickstarter campaign going for Pisces, and one of the rewards is the code and STL files. On the IO page for Pisces, [Stephen] walks us through the cost vs. consumer pricing breakdown.

We love all kinds of lamps around here, from the super-useful to the super-animated.

We are excited to announce a new partnership with Chirp, a London-based company on a mission to simplify connectivity using sound. Chirp’s machine-to-machine communications software enables any device with a loudspeaker or microphone to exchange data via inaudible sound waves. 

Starting today, our Chirp integration will allow Arduino-powered projects to send and receive data wirelessly over sound waves, using just microphones and loudspeakers. Thanks to some compatible libraries included in the official Arduino Library Manager and in the Arduino Create — as well as further comprehensive documentation, tutorials and technical support — it will be easy for anyone to add data-over-sound capabilities to their Arduino projects.

Our new Nano 33 BLE Sense board, with a DSP-optimised Arm Cortex-M4 processor, will be the first board in the Arduino range with the power to transmit and receive Chirp audio signals leveraging the board’s microphone as a receiver. From now on, the Chirp SDK for Arduino will support the following boards in send-only mode: Arduino MKR Zero, Arduino MKR Vidor 4000, Arduino MKR Fox 1200, Arduino MKR WAN 1300, Arduino MKR WiFi 1010, Arduino MKR GSM 1400, Arduino MKR NB 1500 and the Arduino Nano 33 IoT.

Creative applications of Arduino and Chirp include, but certainly are not limited to:

  • Triggering events from YouTube audio
  • Securely unlocking a smart lock with sound 
  • Sending Wi-Fi credentials to bring offline devices onto a Wi-Fi network
  • Having a remote control that only interacts with the gadgets in the same room as you

Connectivity is a fundamental asset for our users, as the demands of IoT uptake require devices to communicate information seamlessly and with minimal impact for the end user. Chirp’s data-over-sound solution equips our boards with robust data transmission, helping us to deliver enhanced user experiences whilst increasing the capabilities of our hardware at scale,” said Massimo Banzi, Arduino co-founder.  

“Sound is prevailing as a highly effective and versatile means of seamless data transmission, presenting developers with a simple to use, software-defined solution which can connect devices. Working with Arduino to extend the integration of data-over-sound across its impressive range of boards will not only increase the reach of Chirp’s technology, but provide many more developers with an accessible and easily integrated connectivity solution to help them drive their projects forward in all purposes and environments. We can’t wait to see what the Arduino community builds,” commented James Nesfield, Chirp CEO. 

To learn how to send data with sound with an Arduino Nano 33 BLE Sense and Chirp, check out this tutorial and visit Chirp website here


Even if you wouldn’t describe yourself as a history buff, you’re likely familiar with the Enigma machine from World War II. This early electromechanical encryption device was used extensively by Nazi Germany to confound Allied attempts to eavesdrop on their communications, and the incredible effort put in by cryptologists such as Alan Turing to crack the coded messages it created before the end of the War has been the inspiration for several books and movies. But did you know that there were actually several offshoots of the “standard” Enigma?

For their entry into the 2019 Hackaday Prize, [Arduino Enigma] is looking to shine a little light on one of these unusual variants, the Enigma Z30. This “Baby Enigma” was intended for situations where only numerical data needed to be encoded. Looking a bit like a mechanical calculator, it dropped the German QWERTZ keyboard, and instead had ten buttons and ten lights numbered 0 through 9. If all you needed to do was send off numerical codes, the Z30 was a (relatively) small and lightweight alternative for the full Enigma machine.

Creating an open source hardware simulator of the Z30 posses a rather unique challenge. While you can’t exactly order the standard Enigma from Digi-Key, there are at least enough surviving examples that they’ve been thoroughly documented. But nobody even knew the Z30 existed until 2004, and even then, it wasn’t until 2015 that a surviving unit was actually discovered in Stockholm.

Of course, [Arduino Enigma] does have some experience with such matters. By modifying the work that was already done for full-scale Enigma simulation on the Arduino, it only took a few hours to design a custom PCB to hold an Arduino Nano, ten buttons with matching LEDs, and of course the hardware necessary for the iconic rotors along the top.

The Z30 simulator looks like it will make a fantastic desk toy and a great way to help visualize how the full-scale Enigma machine worked. With parts for the first prototypes already on order, it shouldn’t be too long before we get our first good look at this very unique historical recreation.

Even if you wouldn’t describe yourself as a history buff, you’re likely familiar with the Enigma machine from World War II. This early electromechanical encryption device was used extensively by Nazi Germany to confound Allied attempts to eavesdrop on their communications, and the incredible effort put in by cryptologists such as Alan Turing to crack the coded messages it created before the end of the War has been the inspiration for several books and movies. But did you know that there were actually several offshoots of the “standard” Enigma?

For their entry into the 2019 Hackaday Prize, [Arduino Enigma] is looking to shine a little light on one of these unusual variants, the Enigma Z30. This “Baby Enigma” was intended for situations where only numerical data needed to be encoded. Looking a bit like a mechanical calculator, it dropped the German QWERTZ keyboard, and instead had ten buttons and ten lights numbered 0 through 9. If all you needed to do was send off numerical codes, the Z30 was a (relatively) small and lightweight alternative for the full Enigma machine.

Creating an open source hardware simulator of the Z30 posses a rather unique challenge. While you can’t exactly order the standard Enigma from Digi-Key, there are at least enough surviving examples that they’ve been thoroughly documented. But nobody even knew the Z30 existed until 2004, and even then, it wasn’t until 2015 that a surviving unit was actually discovered in Stockholm.

Of course, [Arduino Enigma] does have some experience with such matters. By modifying the work that was already done for full-scale Enigma simulation on the Arduino, it only took a few hours to design a custom PCB to hold an Arduino Nano, ten buttons with matching LEDs, and of course the hardware necessary for the iconic rotors along the top.

The Z30 simulator looks like it will make a fantastic desk toy and a great way to help visualize how the full-scale Enigma machine worked. With parts for the first prototypes already on order, it shouldn’t be too long before we get our first good look at this very unique historical recreation.

There’s nothing quite as annoying as duplicated effort. Having to jump through the same hoops over and over again is a perfect way to burn yourself out, and might even keep you from tackling the project that’s been floating around in the back of your mind. [Alain Mauer] found that he’d build enough Arduino gadgets that were similar enough he could save himself some time by creating a standardized piece of hardware that he can load his code du jour on.

He’s come to call this device the Arduino Nano QP (which stands for Quick Project), and now it’s part of the 2019 Hackaday Prize. [Alain] doesn’t promise that it’s the perfect fit for everything, but estimates around 85% of the simple Arduino projects that he’s come up with could be realized on QP. This is thanks to the screw terminals on the bottom of the device which let you easily hook up any hardware that’s not already on the board.

The QP board itself has the ubiquitous 16×2 character LCD display (complete with contrast control trimmer), seven tactile buttons arranged in a vaguely Game Boy style layout, and of course a spot to solder on your Arduino Nano. All of which is protected by a very slick laser cut acrylic case, complete with retained buttons and etched labels.

We’ve seen no shortage of handheld Arduino devices, but we have to admit, something about the utilitarian nature of this one has us intrigued. We wouldn’t mind having one of these laying around the lab next time we want to do a quick test.

Arduino has announced a new line of Nano boards that will begin shipping next month. From the design, to the chips and features on the board, to the price, there’s a lot that is new here. I stopped by their booth at Maker Faire Bay Area for a look at the hardware.

Immediately noticeable is the new design for the pins on either side of the board, which has transitioned from through-hole to a castellated through-hole hybrid. The boards can be ordered with or without pin headers soldered in place. If you get them without, you can reflow these nano boards as modules on a larger PCB design. Recommended footprints are not yet available but I’m told they will be published soon.

The most basic model in this lineup is the “Nano Every”, a 5V board with the ATmega4809 at its center. This brings 48 KB of flash and 6 KB of RAM to the party, running at 20 Mhz. A really nice touch is the inclusion of power regulation that turns up to 21 V of input into the regulated 5 V for the chip, with the added bonus of sourcing up to 1 A for external components through the 5 V pin on one of the headers. For the hackers out there, you can choose to inject your unregulated power through the VIN line, or the USB header.

All of this is a really nice upgrade to the previously available Nano design, with the $9.90 price tag making it a really desirable board for your 8-bit microcontroller needs. The one critique that comes to my mind is that the pins are labeled nicely on the bottom silk screen, but I would also have liked to see these labels on the top layer. When used in a breadboard, or soldered to another PCB, pin labels will be hidden.

The rest of the Nano family center around more powerful chips. As mentioned above, the “Nano Every” board runs an 8-bit chip at 5 V, but the three different “Nano 33” boards have 32-bit chips running at 3.3 V. There’s an “IoT” version with an Arm Cortex-M0+ SAMD21 processor, 6-axis IMU, plus a uBlox NINA-W10 modules which is an ESP32-based board for WiFi, Bluetooth, and cryptography features. MSRP on this board is $18.

The “Nano 33 BLE” and “Nano 33 BLE Sense” boards both do away with the SAMD21 chip and utilize the Nordic nRF52480 which is part of the uBlox NINA-B306 modules and provide Bluetooth connectivity. At $19, the BLE flavor gets you a 9-axis accelerometer. For an additional ten bucks, the “BLE Sense” adds a slew of sensors: pressure, humidity, digital proximity, ambient light, gesture sensor, and a microphone. Pre-orders for these two are slated to begin shipping this July.

The new Arduino Nano designs bring a lot of power to a small footprint. I have to wonder if Arduino is looking to compete with ESP32 modules. The castellated edges on ESP32 modules have allowed them to pop up in all kinds of development boards and other products. The new Nano design continues the legacy of Arduino boards being prototype friendly, but adds the ability to include the boards in a product design based on surface mount assembly.

It wouldn’t be a Maker Faire Bay Area without some exciting announcements!

A New Nano Family

Designed with makers in mind, the new Nano represents a small, powerful and affordable solution for everyday projects. Retaining Arduino’s quality and reliability, they make it easier than ever to turn your project ideas into reality. They are compatible with classic Arduino boards, have low energy consumption, and are equipped with more powerful processors.

The family is comprised of four different boards:

Arduino Nano Every – perfect for everyday projects. (Pre-order here with headers or here without headers)

Arduino Nano 33 IoT – small, secure, and Internet-connected. (Pre-order here with headers or here without headers)

Arduino Nano 33 BLE – small, low-power, and Bluetooth-connected. (Pre-order here with headers or here without headers)

Arduino Nano BLE Sense – small, low-power, and Bluetooth-connected with a wide range of on-board sensors. (Pre-order here with headers or here without headers)

“The new Nanos are for those millions of makers who love using the Arduino IDE for its simplicity and open source aspect, but just want a great value, small and powerful board they can trust for their compact projects,” commented Massimo Banzi. “With prices from as low as $9.90 for the Nano Every, this family fills that gap in the Arduino range, providing makers with the Arduino quality they deserve for those everyday projects.”

Arduino SIM

Connect the Arduino IoT Cloud to the world around you! 10MB free data for up to 90 days (5MB per month for $1.50 USD thereafter).

Arduino SIM is the new cellular connectivity service for the Arduino IoT Cloud. The SIM aims to offer the simplest path to cellular IoT device development in an environment familiar to millions. The cellular service, provided by Arm Pelion Connectivity Management, has a global roaming profile meaning a single Arduino SIM can be used in over 100 countries worldwide with one simple data plan. Compatible with the MKR GSM 1400 board, it is ideal for connected devices on the go. Arduino SIM is currently only available in the US — more information can be found here.

If you’re coming along to the faire, remember to bring along your MKR GSM 1400 board and we’ll give you a free SIM to try out!

Arduino Certification Program: Arduino Fundamentals

The Arduino Certification Program (ACP) is an Arduino initiative to officially certify Arduino users at different levels and confirm their expertise in key areas. Arduino Fundamentals, representing the first level of the ACP, is now available in the U.S. — access to the exam can be purchased either in combination with the Arduino Starter Kit or as a standalone exam.  

But Wait, There’s More!

If you’ll be in San Mateo, don’t miss Massimo Banzi’s ‘State of Arduino’ talk on Saturday at 2pm PT on the Center Stage, where he will reveal more news and updates!

Anansi in African folktale is a trickster and god of stories, usually taking physical form of a spider. Anansi’s adventures through oral tradition have adapted to the situation of people telling those stories, everything ranging from unseasonable weather to living a life in slavery. How might Anansi adapt to the twenty-first century? [odd_jayy] imagined the form of a cyborg spider, and created Asi the robot companion to perch on his shoulder. Anyone who desire their own are invited to visit Asi’s project page.

Asi was inspired by [Alex Glow]’s Archimedes, who also has a project page for anyone to build their own. According to [Alex] at Superconference 2018, she knew of several who have done so, some with their own individual customization. [odd_jayy] loved the idea of a robot companion perched on his shoulder but decided to draw from a different pool of cultural folklore for Asi. Accompanying him to various events like Sparklecon 2019, Asi is always a crowd pleaser wherever they go.

Like every project ever undertaken, there is no shortage of ideas for Asi’s future and [odd_jayy] listed some of them in an interview with [Alex]. (Video after the break.) Adding sound localization components will let Asi face whoever’s speaking nearby. Mechanical articulation for legs would allow more dynamic behaviors while perched, but if the motors are powerful enough, Asi can walk on a surface when not perched. It’s always great to see open source projects inspire even more projects, and watch them as they all evolve in skill and capability. If they all become independently mobile, we’ll need clarification when discussing the average velocity of an unladen folklore robot companion: African or European folklore?

Arduino boards are used in a wide—massive even—variety of projects. Sometimes, however, all you need is something to give your project the ability to blink an LED, sound an alarm, or accomplish some other simple task. 

For this purpose, maker Jeremy S. Cook has developed a sort of standard method for using these devices, with a 4-position DIP switch soldered to inputs D9-D12, and a double-CR2032 battery pack attached with shrink wrap.

This standardization makes for a very compact setup that can be implemented in a project very quickly. The configuration also highlights the use of “INPUT_PULLUP” in Arduino code, with switches wired to ground. Cook’s technique avoids floating inputs without the need for external resistors.

It’s wasn’t so long ago that RC transmitters, at least ones worth owning, were expensive pieces of gear. Even more recently than that, the idea of an RC transmitter running an open source firmware would have been considered a pipe dream. Yet today buying cheap imported transmitters and flashing a community developed firmware (if it didn’t come with it pre-installed to begin with) is common place. It’s not much of a stretch to say we’re currently in the “Golden Age” of hobby RC transmitters.

But what if even cheap hardware running customizable software isn’t enough? What if you want to take it to the next level? In that case, [Electronoobs] has an Arduino powered RC transmitter with your name on it. But this is no scrap of protoboard with a couple of cheap joysticks on it, though he has made one of those too. The goal of this build was for it to look and perform as professional as possible while remaining within the hobbyist’s capabilities. The final product probably won’t be winning any design awards, but it’s still an impressive demonstration of what the individual hacker and maker can pull off today with the incredible technology we have access to.

So what goes into this homebrew radio control system? Inside the back panel [Electronoobs] mounted the batteries, charging module, and the voltage regulator which steps the battery voltage down to the 3.3 V required to drive the rest of the transmitter’s electronics. On the flip side there’s an Arduino Nano, an NRF24 module, and an OLED display. Finally we have an assortment of switches, buttons, potentiometers, and two very nice looking JH-D202X-R2 joysticks for user input.

As you might have guessed, building your own transmitter means building your own receiver as well. Unfortunately you won’t be able to bind your existing RC vehicles to this radio, but since the receiver side is no more complicated than another Arduino Nano and NRF24 module, it shouldn’t be hard to adapt them if you were so inclined.

Low-cost consumer RC transmitters can be something of a mixed bag. There are some surprisingly decent options out there, but it’s not a huge surprise that hackers are interested in just spinning up their own versions either.



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