Feb 2014: If I didn’t have enough hobbies already… I’ve just gotten myself into the world of quadcopters and flying. I’ve never flown before. My RC experience is limited to 4 wheels on the ground. Navigating with 2 sticks and learning the world of yaw, elevation, pitch and throttle has become my next challenge. I’ve wanted to learn how to fly for some time, so here we go..
I’m not going to re-create the wheel as credit goes to the folks over at marginallyclever.com for putting together a great build log of the DIY Betamax Quadcopter. In a nutshell, for less than $300 you can build a very capable quad that should give you plenty of fun and also provide the ability to mount some small and light equipment. There’s also lots of optional add-ons like GPS that will make the quad smart and more easy to use. It also uses Arduino-compatible MultiWii which is software that runs on the NanoWii to allow you to control your quad (or other RC machines).
After spending nearly 3 hours scouring the Web trying to find a way to configure my JY-MCU HC-06 Bluetooth module. There are a lot of great tutorials out there. Many of them refer to setting the key pin HIGH, or a combination of LOW then HIGH while powering on the module. However, none of these approaches worked for the unit I have. Read on to see how it can be done. Oddly, I found the answer in the DX discussion forums related to this module. Here’s the thread. Read on for how I managed to get it working.
Wifi Bot Control is an Android app that allows you to remotely control a robot (or other device) via WiFi. You can also (optional) view a video stream from an IP camera mounted to the robot. WiFi Bot Control also provides up to 8 additional customizable command buttons that allow you to perform additional tasks on your robot / device. You could use these commands to initiate other activities such as enabling/disabling sensors, moving other servos / arms / picking something up, turning a LED on/off etc. With the provided sample sketch, you can customize the robot to do what you want. WiFi Bot Control can be downloaded on Google Play and is compatible with most versions of Android and most device sizes from phones to tablets.
Glow Control is an Android app that couples to an Arduino-based controller over Bluetooth allowing for control of various tasks including Landscape / Patio LED lights. You can either schedule the zones to turn on / off within a time range, or use a light sensor to trigger them when it gets dark. It also offers up to 4 additional customizable buttons that allow you to add functionality. You could use it to control garage doors, sprinklers, etc. The sky’s the limit since you can customize the controller and Arduino sketch to your needs. Under the hood Glow Control simply sends commands over Bluetooth to an Arduino controller. If you are a maker, then you can use this app to control pretty much anything you can imagine. For my project, I am using it to control 2 LED zones on my new patio. Glo Control is available on Google Play.
BT Bot Control is an Android application that allows you to remotely control a micro controller-based robot using Bluetooth (i.e. Arduino). It also allows you to (optionally) view a video stream from an IPCamera mounted to your robot. This could be any type wireless IP camera or phone that has the ability to broadcast a video stream/images to the web. Example Foscam, Ai-Cam etc. If you are looking to control your robot over WiFi, check out WiFi Bot Control.
As a parent of 2 children and an obsession with cramming my hobbies in whenever I can, I decided to devise a means to remotely monitor my CNC (a ShapeOko) and also provide the ability for me to remotely shut it down if things go arwy during a milling session. I picked up a Foscam FI8918W IPCam at a ‘car boot’ sale (I love that name) when I was visting in England this past summer. For 5 quid nonetheless! I don’t think the folks selling it had any idea what it was worth. When asking the woman the standard “does it work” question, I knew I was going to get it regardless of my knowing that there was a good chance it would not work. Well, my luck prevailed, as the unit worked flawlessly with the exception that the smell of smoke was embedded in the plastic (would hate to see the previous owners lungs!). Yuk. Oh, and I also had to pickup a North American plug adapter – for all about$2 from DX.
My original plan was to pickup up an Arduino Network shield and use the camera to watch the CNC via custom webpage using streaming video and then, with some buttons, call the Arduino to trigger a servo to hit the Esc key on the CNC keyboard (which in turn would trigger Mach3 to shut down the CNC). There were a few problems with this. 1) I have to wait for the Network shield to come from China (about a month or so), and I did not want to run a lengthy network cable from my router in the basement into the garage. An Arduino WiFi shield was also out of the question as they are costly.
Then it hit me.. The Foscam has the ability to remotely trigger the IR LEDs to go on or off. I managed to trace the signal wire to a wire on the mainboard that goes HI (1.5V) when the IR LEDs are on, and LOW (0v) when off. Voila! Tapping this signal then bringing it out to an ATTiny85 with a bit of simple code, I could control a servo connected to the keyboard.. So, onto the Arduino IDE, and out came the soldering iron. A few hours later, here we are.
I had the chance to play with some new components – namely the Adafruit Monochrome 128×32 OLED display and the Adafruit UP501 66 channel GPS receiver. As I was pondering ideas of what to build, I thought that it would be neat to be alerted when approaching a red light camera. In my local area (Southern Ontario), there are currently about a hundred or so of these cameras around the GTA. However, it appears that new legislation may see this number grow much larger. This is more of a proof of concept project to me than it is useful as, a) I don’t intend on trying to run any red lights, and b) there are only about 1 or 2 of them within the area. However, it was fun to build and tweak to make it useful. Read on…
I’m a sucker for not conforming to status quo when it comes to my toys.. This includes my new Nissan (2012) Juke. In this mod, I added a set of LED light strips to the tail lights with a twist – I wanted to also monitor and react to braking to enhance the effect. I decided to go with an ATTiny85 using the Arduino core. It only needed 1 input from the 12V brake power and 1 PWM output to control a MOSFET which in turn powered the LED light strip @ 12V. I built one controller per tail light. Check out the video to see it in action:
I’ve been involved in microcontrollers for some time – but of the LEGO Mindstorms flavour (and BASIC Stamp to a lesser extent). Lately, I’ve jumped on the Arduino bandwagon. I’ve always had the natural nack to fix pretty much anything that has batteries or a plug running out of it. As the Arduino revolution has picked up dramatically over the past few years, so to has my desire to do DIY projects around the house. At some point in the future, we plan a kitchen reno. Part of that reno will the addition of under-cabinet LED lighting. Since that is far off, but I also had the need for better lighting in my office, I figured this would be a great time to proto something for the kitchen upgrade, while making something functional for the office. So, here it is..