Gyroscope Level Is Digital

A spirit level, you know the kind of level with a little bubble in a tube of fluid, is a basic construction tool. [DesignBuildDestroy] took an Arduino, a gyroscope chip, and an OLED, and made a 3D printed level with no bubble, but it does have a nice digital display.

It is funny when you realize that at one time a gyroscope was a high tech item reserved for missiles and aircraft. Now you can grab a six-axis sensor for pennies. Even, better, the code used in the project can offload the Arduino for a lot of processing.

Initially, the device lived on a breadboard, which is always a good idea to get the kinks out of things. Thanks to the OLED, the Arduino can calibrate itself without a PC and do other tricks. The display is easy to read, but we thought there should be a mode that shows a little bubble made with an O character. Seems like that would be a fun rainy day project. We did like the automatic screen rotation, though.

We’ve seen a nice level done with a Raspberry Pi before. If you need something smaller, how about something the size of a dime?

33 thoughts on “Gyroscope Level Is Digital

  1. Great idea, love the execution!

    If it’s going to be used on a worksite, it might be nice to accept NiMH cells instead of bare LiPos.

    I like using AA/AAA holders because you can use NiMH when the device might get serious physical shocks, or the AA LiPos with 1.5V buck converters and microUSB charge ports if you don’t want the headache of charging NiMH cells properly. But to be fair, 2-3 cells is less convenient than one.

        1. And that’s what’s being used here.

          So the “he’s not using the gyro” complaints are in error. As is “he’s not using the accelerometer”. It’s using both!

          But also point taken. Al should have maybe written IMU and been done with it.

  2. Great idea, but misses the point. Let me make a comparison with digital calipers: How do you differentiate them from classical calipers? The digital calipers only are more exact with a working battery. :)

    1. Yes indeed. My digital calipers are all in the bottom of a junk box now, and I use only dial calipers these days. They always work!!

      But I admire the nice hefty 18650 cell in this build.

  3. very nice project, an well executed!
    Have you done a check of the accuracy? (over the whole range of 90 degrees). Judging from the performance of digital scales one can expect good results.
    A classical spirit level has an unbeaten accuracy at 0 and 90 degrees (since centuries!), for other angles you nedd a divided circle of the corresponding accuracy. In this sense your solution is really superior to a simple spirit level.

  4. What about accuracy? A long traditional spirit level have an insane accuracy and no part of my house is straight measured with one of those. They also do the same job without batteries… Just saying…

    1. a typewriter also works on pure muscle power, but i don’t see much of those around anymore ;) I do get the point though, a digital version is not automatically better than the good old analogue version, but just designing and building stuff is a lot of fun. Plus it offers possibilities that the batteryless versions don’t have, like working in the dark, adding a memory button or reading out loud for visually impaired,

      1. You tend not to use a lot of typex with spirit levels. Maybe that’s why?
        I actually dont wat to use a hammer in the dark, or a spirit level for that matter.
        And: Batteries are always empty when you want to use a digital calipers.
        But a nice build anyway. Not everything has to be revolutionary. :)

        1. The new inductive absolute positioning ones are not too expensive($50), and the battery is good for 7 years or something crazy like that.

          You never have to zero them, so the off button actually turns it off, it’s not staying awake all the time to look for changes.

    2. For longer distances, lasers can be useful. Get the beam low enough, and it leaves a trace on the surface being measured. Dips become shadows, bumps create bright spots (with shadows behind them).

      1. Based on most core dump listings I’ve seen, a 5000 page octal core dump listing would have about one thousand 8’s and 9’s. Without further instruction, sand assuming most core dumps I’ve seen, I’d expect the “new guy” to circle all page numbers containing the 8’s and 9’s to be circled… just saying. /s

  5. I have some of my grandfathers (and maybe my great-grandfathers) bubble levels thay may be 100 years old by now (which I used regularly around the house). Perhaps a digial “add on” to keep the old and the new together may get the best of both worlds.

  6. Looking at his schematic, I believe the power on/off switch should be between the BMS output and the input to the dc boost converter, not at the output of the latter. The way it’s connected the DC boost converter is always on, so there’s some power usage (although small).

  7. “It is funny when you realize that at one time a gyroscope was a high tech item reserved for missiles and aircraft. Now you can grab a six-axis sensor for pennies. ”

    Any limits? Just in case, you know, I might want to launch a missile.

  8. Hello. A good project. But I have a problem with him. Very often, when turned on, it writes “IMU FAIL”. And when it turns on, it freezes after a few seconds… I tried arduino nano and pro mini. That’s not what helps… Help please

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