Fixing a Blown Arduino

Posted on March 22nd, 2017

Although Arduino boards are typically quite robust, things can still go wrong, especially when used by total beginners. One of the most catastrophic problems that can occur is totally burning out the ATmega microcontroller which is the brains of most Arduino boards. Fortunately this scenario doesn’t have to mean the end for your Arduino board and can actually represent a fantastic learning opportunity! With this tutorial from make you can learn how to replace a burnt-out ATmega in your Arduino board and upload the bootloader using an AVR ISP programmer, so that the new ATmega functions just like an Arduino. This sure beats purchasing an entirely new board!

Blown ATmegas can be replaced!

If you are looking for an ICSP AVR programmer look no further than the Freetronics USBasp! The programmer has a USB interface and allows you to program bootloaders or firmware on a wide range of microcontrollers including the ATmega which is used in Arduino boards. To find out more and to order checkout the following link.

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Arduino Word Generator

Posted on March 15th, 2017

Whilst ATmega microprocessors are fantastic for use in Arduino boards they can also be used on their own, which can simplify projects a lot! One great example of this is a word generator created by duino4projects. The project uses an ATmega168 to generate the words and prints them on a 4 digit-16 segment display. To find out more about this project check out the following link.

Arduino Word Generator

If you are looking for an standalone ATmega microcontroller checkout the Freetronics ATmega328P which is the same chip used in our Eleven and EtherTen. The ATmega328P is perfect for building your only Arduino compatible project directly on a breadboard or custom PCB. For more information and to order checkout the following link.

ATmega

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Sound Generation

Posted on March 11th, 2017

Regardless of what type of electronics project you are working on you will likely have to provide feedback to your users about the status of the system. Typically this can be done visually using LEDs or small displays. However, another great way to provide user feedback can be through sound. This might be as simple as a quick “beep” to indicate that the fridge door has been left open, or as complex as providing background music for a game! Thankfully adding sound to your projects is actually quite easy! The best way to get started is to checkout the following guide.

Sound

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Motion Sensing Water Gun

Posted on March 6th, 2017

During the warm Australian summer months there is nothing more refreshing than a water fight! James Cripps’s, motion sensor water gun you can make sure you always emerge from these fights victorious. The water gun uses a motion sensor and an Arduino to fire the gun anytime motion is detected. The instructions James provides are very thorough so you should have no problem getting started building your own water gun.

Water Fight

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Building GPS into your Arduino projects

Posted on February 28th, 2017

Adding GPS (Global Positioning System) to an Arduino project can open up many possibilities for location sensitive projects. Using GPS you could easily track where your cat disappears to at night or trigger a specific action when you reach a certain location. Fortunately, adding in GPS functionality to your own project is actually significantly easier than you might imagine. One of the easiest ways is to use the Freetronics GPS Module and to follow the instructions on the following page.

GPS

The Freetronics GPS Module is a compact but very powerful device! Providing accuracy down to 3m and including a battery backup the module is a reliable choice. Indeed, the module connects to an Arduino via a simple serial connection and is fully compatible with existing Arduino libraries. To find out more check out the following link.

 

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What is millis()?

Posted on February 25th, 2017

If you have been working with Arduino for long enough you may have come across the millis function example code you have been working with and have probably wondered what it was used for! The simple explanation is that millis returns the number of milliseconds since the Arduino sketch has been running. However, without further clarification it can be unclear how this would be useful! Fortunately John Boxall from Tronixlabs has written a great tutorial which explains the ins and outs of the millis function! Checkout the following link to find out more.

The crystal is an essential part of Arduino timing

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Build Your Own Autonomous Vacuum Cleaner

Posted on February 20th, 2017

With this great project from instructables member revrekad you can make a robot which will help you with the cleaning! Revrekad’s vacuum cleaner robot uses an Arduino and a few motors to drive the robot around whilst an old computer fan provides the suction! The great thing about this project is that it is mostly made from easily sourced materials such as cardboard and aluminium cans, so you have no excuse not to get started building your own right away! To find out more about this project check out the following link or the video below.

Robo Vac

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Repairing Pinball Machines with Arduino!

Posted on February 17th, 2017

One of the great thing about electronics is that they can be used for millions and millions of different applications. Recently we came across James, a pinball machine repair enthusiast! James has used an Arduino and two freetronics N-Drive Shields to control all of the lights and action on one of his pinball machines.  You can checkout some pictures of James’s projects below.

Pinball

Pinball

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Arduino Pulse Width Modulation

Posted on February 16th, 2017

Using the digitalWrite() function in Arduino it is very simple to turn an output pin on or off. However, what if we want to alter the speed of a motor or dim an LED? This is where Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) can be really useful. By rapidly switching a signal high and low, and varying the proportion of time that the signal is high we can digitally emulate analog results! To find out more about this very useful function checkout the full tutorial or the helpful diagram and video example below.

Diagram - PWM

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Tree Climbing Robot

Posted on February 12th, 2017

For someone interested in mechatronics, this tree climbing robot would be a great project to attempt. The tree climbing robot uses two segments, one which attaches to the tree and another which continues to climb upwards after which they swap roles, slowly edging the robot up the tree. The result is surprisingly effective and very satisfying to watch! To find out more check out the following link or the video below.

Tree Climbing Robot

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