The Arduino has gone from an interesting concept to one of the most common tools for a budding hacker. We've covered everything from the origin of the Arduino to plans to build your own arduino. Modifying arduinos is also a common occurrence. Arduino sketches have become an expected inclusion in documentation much to the annoyance of those who had to do everything from scratch before its existence.

We have tutorials on how to do all kinds of things with an arduino, like making a lock for your door, or automating systems. We’ve seen practical arduino projects as well as jokes involving arduinos in some way.

Lego Robot Plays Games For You As You Sleep


[Uli Kilian] — best known for solving 100 Rubik’s cubes during the 2011 London Marathon — got addicted to a free iPad game called Jurassic Park builder. Being the efficient man he is, he soon realized the game could be automated — after all, you just have to tap on dinosaurs every few minutes to earn in-game currency…

He’s using a Lego Technic set with an old iPad, and an Arduino connected to a Windows laptop. Wheels roll the iPad back and forth as the robot plays the game. The “finger” of the robot is wrapped in tin-foil and connected to a ground pin to simulate a human finger for the iPad. The article doesn’t explain how it works, but by looking at the robot it appears to just randomly tap away back and forth across the screen — which we guess works for this game?

He hasn’t played with Lego since he was 8, and only just learned about the Arduino a few weeks prior to building this. As a 3D artist he was intrigued to do something in the real-world — nice!

[Thanks Aurelio and William!]

Fixing Apple TV’s Terrible UI


Despite Apple’s unfailing dedication to UI, they still sometimes manage to put out some stinkers. The latest of these is the ‘keyboard’ for the search interface in the Apple TV. It’s an alphabetical keyboard, laid out in a square with the obvious frustration that goes along with that terrible idea. [Lasse] was frustrated with this design and realized searching anything with the Apple TV IR remote is a pain. His solution was to build his own version of the Apple TV remote with a web interface, powered by an Arduino.

Inspired by the Apple Remote Arduino Shield we featured a few years ago, [Lasse] stuck an IR LED int the pins of Arduino with an Ethernet shield, current limiting resistors be damned. The web UI is the innovative part of this build. He’s hosting a simple website on the Arduino that allows him to type – with a real keyboard – a search query into the website, and have the Arduino take care of moving the Apple TV cursor around to select each letter.

The web UI has all the features found on the Apple TV remote, including the swipe gestures, and has a really slick brushed metal texture to boot. You can check out the video of [Lasse]‘s project typing text into an Apple TV hilariously fast below.

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Desktop Sized Tamagotchi Is Even Harder to Ignore

desktop tamagotchi

[Vadim] was feeling a bit bored at work one day and dreamed up this rather odd project. He had a spare LED matrix handy, and thought, “I should build a giant Tamagotchi…” and so he did.

In case you’re not aware, Tamagotchi’s were digital pets introduced in the late 90′s. You had to feed them, play with them and even train them — attempting to teach the responsibility of having a real pet. It was a bit of a fad, and to be honest, they were really quite annoying — but that didn’t stop [Vadim] wanting to make his own!

He’s using an ATmega328P with the Arduino boot loader at the heart of this project. The LED matrix is made of a group of four 8×8 LED modules with four shift registers (74HC595) and two Darlington transistor arrays to take the current — This is because the 256 LEDs need to be multiplexed down to 32 IO’s (16 rows + 16 columns).

Once the hardware was all done, he started coding — he’s actually coded the entire game from scratch, and while it’s not that complex it’s still an impressive amount of effort that went into this desktop sized Tamagotchi!

To see it in action, stick around after the break.

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Reach Out and Touch Your Next Project with Long Range RC Controller


Long range wireless control of a project is always a challenge. [Mike] and his team were looking to extend the range of their current RC setup for a UAV project, and decided on a pair of Arduino mini’s and somewhat expensive Digi Xtend 900Mhz modems to do the trick. With a range of 40 miles, the 1 watt transceivers provide fantastic range. And paired with the all too familiar Arduino, you’ve got yourself an easy long range link.

[Mike] set the transmitter up so it can plug directly into any RC controller training port, decoding the incoming signal and converting it into a serial data package for transmitting. While they don’t provide the range of other RF transmitters we’ve seen, the 40 mile range of the modem’s are more than enough for most projects, including High Altitude Balloon missions.

The code for the Arduino transmitter and receiver sides is available at their github. Though there is no built-in error correction in the code, they have not had any issues.  Unfortunately, a schematic was not provided, but you should be able to get enough information from the images and datasheets to construct a working link.


An Exceptional BASIC Computer


Since [Dan] has started using microcontrollers, he’s been absolutely fascinated by the fact these chips are essentially low performance computers. Once he caught wind of TinyBASIC, he decided he would have a go at creating a simple, tiny computer that’s very simple to the old, tiny, 8-bit computers of yore.

The computer is built on an Arduino shield, using TinyBASIC, the TVout library, and the PS/2 keyboard library. After piecing together a little bit of code, the Arduino IDE alerted [Dan] to the fact the TVout and PS/2 libraries were incompatible with each other. This inspired [Dan] to use the ATMega328P as a coprocessor running the TVout library, and using the capacious ATMega1284P as the home of TinyBASIC and the PS/2 library.

A circuit was put together in Fritzing using minimal components, and a PCB milled out of copper board. After the board was tinned, [Dan] had a beautiful minimalist retro computer with nearly 14kB of RAM free and an RCA display.

Future versions of the build will probably be based around the Arduino Mega, allowing for a TV resolution of 720×480. Also on tap are an SD card slot, LEDs, pots, and possibly even headers for I2C and SPI.

Using SIMMs to Add Some Extra RAM on your Arduino UNO


A Single In-line Memory Module (SIMM) is a type of memory module containing Random Access Memory (RAM) which was used in computers from the early 1980s to the late 1990s (think 386, 486, Macintoshs, Atari STE…). [Rafael] just made a little library that allows you to interface these modules to the Atmega328p-based Arduino UNO in order to gain some memory space. His work was actually based on the great Linux on the 8bit ATMEGA168 hack from [Dmitry Grinberg] but some tweaks were required to make it work with [Rapfael]‘s SIMM but also to port it to the Arduino platform. The 30-pin SIMM shown above is capable of storing up to (hold on to your chairs…) 16MB but due to limited amount of available IOs on the Atmega328p only 256KB can be used. Our guess it that an SPI / I2C IO extender could lift this limitation. A quick (shaky) video is embedded after the break.

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Serial Monitor Without a PC


A serial monitor is an easy way to debug your projects. As we step through code, it’s nice to see a “Hey! I’m working, moving to next thing!” across the monitor, and not so nice to see nothing – the result of a bug that needs debugging. This has always meant needing a PC loaded with your favorite serial terminal program close at hand.

Most of the time this is not an issue, because the PC is used to compile the code and program the project at hand. But what if you’re in the field, with a mission of fixing a headless system, and in need a serial monitor? Why lug around your PC when you can make your own External Serial Monitor!

[ARPix] built this fully functional serial monitor based on an Atmega328 and a 102 x 64 LCD display. While it doesn’t have a keyboard port like this microcontroller based serial terminal, tact switches allow access to the user interface to start and stop the reading and set the baud rate. The Atmega328 has 2K of SRAM, which is needed for the project. Apparently, 1K was not enough to handle all the data. All code, schematics and a very well done parts layout are available, making this sure to be your next weekend project!