Don’t you just hate it when dev boards have some annoying little quirk that makes them harder to use than they should be? Take the ESP32-CAM, a board that started appearing on the market in early 2019. On paper, the thing is amazing: an ESP32 with support for a camera and an SD card, all for less than $10. The trouble is that programming it can be a bit of a pain, requiring extra equipment and a spare finger.
Not being one to take such challenges lying down, [Bitluni] has come up with a nice programming board for the ESP32-CAM that you might want to check out. The problem stems from the lack of a USB port on the ESP32-CAM. That design decision leaves users in need of a USB-to-serial adapter that has to be wired to the GPIO pins of the camera board so that programs can be uploaded from the Arduino IDE when the reset button is pressed. None of that is terribly complex, but it is inconvenient. His solution is called cam-prog, and it takes care of not only the USB conversion but also resetting the board. It does that by simply power cycling the camera, allowing sketches to be uploaded via USB. It looks to be a pretty handy board, which will be available on his Tindie store.
To demonstrate the add-on, he programmed his ESP32-CAM and connected it to his enormous ping pong ball video wall. The video quality is about what you’d expect from a 1,200 pixel display at 40 mm per pixel, but it’s still pretty smooth – smooth enough to make his interpretive dance moves in the last few minutes of the video pretty interesting.
Continue reading “Add-On Makes ESP32 Camera Board Easier To Program”
Well that didn’t take long. We just heard last week about the Sony inviting firmware hacks for their SmartWatch and here’s an early example. This image above is an animation running on the watch. It was written as an Arduino sketch which runs on a custom firmware image. [Veqtor] wrote the sketch, which is just a couple of nested loops drawing lines and circles. The real hack is in the firmware itself.
[Veqtor] took part in a workshop (translated) put on by [David Cuartielles] which invited attendees to try their Arduino coding skills on his firmware hack for the watch. It implements an Android parser, but the development is in very early stages. Right now there’s zero information in his readme file. But the root directory of the repo has a huge todo list. Dig through it and see if you can fork his code to help lend a hand.
Learn more about the SmartWatch firmware from the original announcement.
Continue reading “Sony SmartWatch Running Arduino Sketches”
[Giacomo] finds that every once in awhile, he needs to flash a sketch to an Arduino while on the go. While he doesn’t always carry his laptop with him, he almost certainly has his Zipit Z2 on hand. He prefers to use the Zipit because it’s tiny, it uses Debian, has built-in WiFi, and can run for about 5 hours before requiring a recharge. The only shortcoming is that the device lacks a serial port.
Following instructions we featured last year he added a serial port to his device, then built a small converter cable that allows him to connect it to virtually any Arduino. He says it only takes a moment to get avrdude up and running on the Zipit via apt-get, and once that’s done, he is in business. He wrote a short script that saves him from entering the flash command over and over, so the process couldn’t be simpler.
He does mention that since the Zipit does not have a DTR line, Arduino resetting must be done manually. For the convenience of flashing sketches from the palm of our hand, we can deal with that.
Check out the video below for a quick demonstration of his setup.
Continue reading “Flashing Arduinos With A Zipit”
What do you get when you mix a simple X/Y plotter, a Flyback transformer, and an unhealthy disregard for safety? Possibly the worlds most dangerous jumbo Etch a Sketch! [Kalboon] started off by making an imprecise X/Y movement device, similar to a CNC machine setup, but with less emphasis on precision. This rig is powered by some commonly salvagable materials, including an old scanner, a remote control car, and some hobby servos. We like this approach because most of these materials could be scrounged from a parts bin, surplus sale, or craigslist for little to no actual cost. The flyback transformer comes from an old TV or monitor, though if you have
common sense safety concerns, we would recommend just mounting a dry erase marker and a dry erase board to substitute out the high voltage bits. For people wanting a low cost introduction project to making a CNC or Makerbot style build, this isn’t a bad place to start.
SketchChair is a piece of software that takes the engineer out of engineering furniture. In a child’s-dream-come-true you draw the outlines you’d like to have, add some legs, and the software pops out a design ready to be laser-cut. The finishing touch of adding palm fiber and felt produces what we imagine is a moderately comfortable place to sit. Now the hard part will be convincing your spouse that you should spend the money building an industrial grade laser cutter because of all the money you’ll save on furniture.
We’re still holding out for furniture that is 3d-printed from rock to match our Flintstone’s motif.
Oh, and as always, video after the break.
Continue reading “Rapid Furniture Prototyping”
[ladyada] has a freshly-published and amazingly thorough tutorial on passive infrared (PIR) motion sensors. Most often seen in security floodlights and automatic doors, in creative hands these sensors can be put to other uses—cat flaps, camera triggers and purely artistic applications—as you’ll see in several demo projects and videos. For the curious, the tutorial provides a good amount of background theory on how PIR sensors work, along with the associated fresnel lens optics. And for those who just want to get hacking, most PIR sensors (like the one above) come in a simple-to-interface module containing all the support hardware and providing a simple digital output; the article wraps up with one such example.