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Author Archives: Cooking Hacks

  • IoT & Cloud - Weekly Recap

    Posted on April 17, 2015 by Cooking Hacks

    This week in Libelium, our main Cloud Partners and Distributors have come to our headquarters to participate in our first IoT Cloud Week. The aim of this meetings was to provide specialized Cloud training for distributors. Find out more here.

    Following this week's theme we have been searching for cloud related hacks and projects. Here's what we have found.

    Cloud-Enabling a Bathroom Scale

    Summer is getting closer and we all want to watch our weight. Darryl Tan shared a pretty cool hack that could help you out. He came across a scale with a wireless (infrared) display that can be detached, so you can see your weight on it.

    Darryl had some experience with IR signals so he used a 38kHz IR receiver and a 38kHz IR receiver and a logic analyzer and found out it was encoding the data by pulse distance coding. To decode the data he captured the waveform of several amounts of weight and exported the values until it looked like increasing hexadecimal numbers, then he figured out how the weight was represented and the bytes corresponding to the status and checksum.


    Then it was time to connect it to the cloud to be able to plot the data. He used a Raspberry Pi and wrote a Python script to monitor the IR receiver. The script checks the status byte to send the data (weight and time) to the Google Docs Spreadsheet. He added a small LED to indicate when the data has been saved.

    Don't forget to visit Darryl's blog.

    Posted on Adafruit.

    Solar tracker

    This is an Internet Cloud connected Solar Tracker. This project came up after the need to automate the irrigation of a vegetable garden. The objective was for the garden to be kind of self-sufficient, so a solar panel for tracking means the garden can water itself when it needs to. On the other hand, to make the tracker efficient it had to be inexpensive.

    The project is built around a wooden two-axis platform, wooden gears and re-used curtain pole. It includes a 90 Watt solar panel, a rechargeable battery, accelerometer, magnetometer and stepper motors. It is connected to the Cloud via WiFi, and the system is controlled by an Electric Imp.

    Find out more in Instructables about this multi-themed project.

    Cloud Based Smart Water Meter

    You probably know about the severe drought California is facing at this moment. Here's something that can be helpful to avoid wasting water: Team H20 built and programmed a smart water meter to track the amount of water you use at home. They 3D printed some custom parts and used a servo, an Ultrasonic Sensor and an Intel Edison to control the system.

    This project allows to read water flow to send the data to the cloud (Microsoft Azure). They also developed an app that shows the data to the user in order to make a more responsible use of water.


    Here at Cooking Hacks we also have our own Arduino-based platform for water monitoring: Open Aquarium. It is designed to automate the control and maintenance tasks in fish tanks and ponds. It can detect water level and leakage and measure temperature, pH or Conductivity. It also includes several actuators: fish feeder, heater, LED lamp and water pump.

    On the other hand, we have the Waspmote solution provided by Libelilum: Smart Water. It is a wireless sensor platform for water quality monitoring. Oriented to Smart Cities, it enables to measure multiple parameters (pH, turbidity, temperature...). and features autonomous nodes that connect to the Cloud for real-time control.

    See a comparative review.

    Check these IoT related hacks.

    This post was posted in Weekly Hacks Recap

    and was tagged with Arduino, Communication, Raspberry Pi, Waspmote

  • Arduino LED Lamp Controlled with RFID Tags

    Posted on April 15, 2015 by Cooking Hacks

    RGB LED Lamp

    This is another project made by the Cooking Hacks Team. To develop this project we reused an old desk lamp. They are useful and everybody needs one but, to be honest, they can be a little boring.

    So we thought of somehow making it a bit more entertaining and we added several colors and a contactless way of choosing between them.

    It is a RGB LED Lamp controlled with RFID tags. Making use of several cards (or tags) you can choose the color of the lamp: red, blue, green, white or random.

    This time, the mind behind the project is Marcos, from the R&D department in Cooking Hacks.

    What is RFID?

    RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification. This term includes technologies that use electromagnetic fields to automatically identify and track tags attached to objects.

    An RFID system consists of a reader (transceiver) and a tag (transponder). The tag usually contains a chip and an antenna: the info to identify a person or an object is stored in the chip and the antenna allows the chip to transfer the identification data to a reader.

    The reader creates an electromagnetic field through its antenna, and when the tag is placed close enough to receive the signal it responds by sending back the info stored in its chip. Then the reader is able to process the information sent by the tag and transmit it to a computer program.

    Recycling the old lamp

    First thing we did was to look at what we had in our hands. We opened the lamp to see if we could use anything but, since we are building everything around an Arduino Uno and LED strips, there wasn't really much we could take advantage of.

    We ended up getting rid of all the electronics inside and we just made use of the lamp casing. In order to make all the different colors we are using RGB LED strips so we had to remove the bulb too.

    What's Inside?

    So what's inside?

    The lighting is made with an RGB LED strip. This kind of LEDs actually have three different LED packed inside, one red, one green and one blue. By mixing up the light and brightness of each one of them you can obtain any color you want. For example, to make a white light we have to turn on all three LEDs with the same intensity, and, if we turn off the blue LED, mixing just red and green, we would have a yellow light.

    As we said before, we replaced the bulb with a couple of LED strips that are glued to the lamp and connected through the lamp's arm to the Arduino board. The LED strip have for pins: one for each color (red, green and blue) and one for power (12V). The blue, red and green cables are plugged into the pins number 9, 10 and 11 of the Arduino, and the power pin is plugged into the Vin.

    RGB LED Strip

    We removed the power cable too, and instead we used a 12V AC Adapter. This voltage is needed for the LED Stripes, and is available on the Vin pin.

    The wireless identification is made with our RFID 13.56 MHz Module (XBee Socket). This module allows to read and write different cards. The reader antenna is glued to the casing, under the lamp's base, so it can easily read the tags. It has an Xbee Socket, that means it can't be plugged directly to the Arduino Board.

    RGB LED Lamp

    To do so the module is connected to a Communication Shield. This shield allows to use XBee or our Bluetooth and RFID modules. The Communication shield is then attached to the Arduino board.

    Five 13.56 MHz cards are used to choose the color of the lamp. You can re-write this cards to change the stored information, so we assigned to each card a unique identification. That way, whenever you place one over the reader, the card automatically sends the data stored in its chip and the reader transmits the info to the Arduino Board. Depending on which card we are using it lights up a different color. One card is used to choose a random and changing color. It keeps that color until it detects another valid card.

    You can see the LED Lamp working on this video:

    Give it a go

    This project was developed following our RFID 13.56 MHz Tutorial. We are glad to share the code with you:

    if (state == 0)              // if so, we can be sure that we read correctly one UID
          // search if the read card is inside the data base
          card = search(vCards, _UID, nCards); 
         if (card != -1) {                    // if so, this is one of OUR cards
           Serial.print("\r\n  Card number ");
           Serial.print(" identified. Access granted.");
           hits[card]++;                      // add one more hit for the read card
           if (card == 0){
            digitalWrite(9,HIGH);             //azul
            digitalWrite(10,LOW);             //rojo
            digitalWrite(11,HIGH);            //verde

    You can download the complete code here.

    Check more CH Team Hacks, for instance this Resistor Cutting Robot.

    This post was posted in CH Team Hacks

    and was tagged with Arduino, RFID

  • Internet of Things - Weekly Recap

    Posted on April 10, 2015 by Cooking Hacks

    Yesterday was the Internet of Things Day, and this week we have searched for hacks and projects that will surely get you interested and bring you closer to the IoT world.
    IoT Enabler

    IoT Enabler

    The IoT is basically any device you can imagine (sensors, home appliances, cars) that collects and receives data and is connected to the Internet.

    First thing you may think when approaching this topic is that it has to be expensive or complicated. But nothing further from the truth: here you have an example of how easily you can read temperature and humidity and send it to the Internet.

    This project is build around a ESP8266 WiFi module and it reads the temperature and humidity with a DHT11 sensor. It has a 3.3V voltage regulator and a 5V relay. You can power the board through a 5V power socket or via USB cable. This standalone board can send environmental data through a WiFi network and at the same time can control a relay with the input received.

    Read about this on Instructables.

    Automatic Garage Door Opener

    Here's an example of home improvement with the IoT: Jamie built a garage door opener connected to Internet. He based this project on Arduino and developed an Android app to open and close the door, to see if it's open or not and even to crack it open.

    Garage Door Opener

    It uses an ATMega328 in the circuit board and an Arduino Ethernet shield to connect it to the home network. A reed switch and a magnet are installed in the door and connected to the board to detect when the door is open. The garage opener is wired to the circuit so the board can open and close it.

    Find out more about it on this well documented tutorial.
    Posted on Hackaday.

    Waspmote Products

    Networked Flower Pot

    This project was developed last summer in the “Networked Embedded Systems” course at TU Berlin.

    It is based on Waspmote, Libelium's solution for the Internet of Things, and simulates a wireless irrigation system in a greenhouse.

    A group of three nodes are connected via Xbee 868. One node is used for sensing soil moisture, temperature, humidity and luminosity. Another actuator node controls
    a valve to supply irrigation and a third control node is in charge of computing the user input.

    The user can either select a specified time to water or a desired soil moisture range. When the plant is too dry, it is automatically watered until the preset moisture value is reached or for a selected time.

    This post was posted in Weekly Hacks Recap

    and was tagged with Arduino, Waspmote

  • A Little History of the Maker Faire

    Posted on April 9, 2015 by Cooking Hacks

    Last week we made a little summary about every Maker Faire in April to keep you posted about what you can find in them. Now, we thought you might like to know a little bit more about Maker Faire History and how it all started.

    Make Magazine

    Maker Faire is an event created by Make Magazine in 2006. Make is a bimonthly magazine which covers subjects related to do it yourself (DIY) projects involving electronics, computers, science, home crafts or art and design. It was founded in 2005 by Dale Dougherty, inspired by the tinkerer spirit from the mid-20th century and reflected in magazines like Popular Mechanics. This kind of publications helped people to learn new skills and talk about their hobbies, and werethe seed for what years later would become the maker movement.

    It launched its first issue in January 2005 targeting readers interested in making things on their own. The magazine focuses on step-by-step projects, but it also includes reviews of books and tools or a teaching section, The Skill Builder, which covers different topics like welding, electronics, robotics or woodworking techniques.

    It has a digital edition that gives you free access to projects, articles, news, videos and blogs.

    Get Tickets to Maker Faire Today!

    Maker Faire – Bay Area

    Just a year after the magazine was published, Maker Faire held its first edition on April 22 – 23, 2006, at the San Mateo County Event Center in California.

    It has since grown in scale and has expanded through the US and later around the world. Over the next years a couple of Maker Faires were held in Austin and two more in Detroit. In 2010 New York joined in and have organized the World Maker Faire for five editions. These Flagship Faires (Bay Area and New York) are by far the largest events: last year 215,000 people attended.

    In 2014 there were a total of 14 Featured Maker Faires and 119 Mini Maker Faires (smaller and independently produced) in cities from the US, China, Japan, Spain, Italy, Norway, etc.

    Bay Area Maker Faire 2015 Web Badge In their own words, it is the Greatest Show and Tell on Earth—a family-friendly festival of invention, creativity and resourcefulness, and a celebration of the Maker movement. The event was launched as a response to the increasing community of makers and hobbyists willing to learn and share in hands-on activities. It included workshops, DIY competitions and demonstrations in six exposition pavilions and over 100 exhibiting makers.

    But it is not exclusive for people experienced in electronics or engineering, it is open to newbies and children and covers science, art, performance and craft. For instance, on the last edition of the Maker Faire Bay Area you could enjoy performances like the Tesla Coil Music from ArcAttack (video below) or the Life-Sized Mousetrap.

    Mr Dougherty has said about theFaires: “It's a pretty simple formula, one based entirely on talking to people who make things, seeing those people do, and nurturing the diversity of ideas that come together in a community space.”

    We'll be posting more info on the Maker Faire Bay Area on the next weeks.

    This post was posted in Maker Events

    and was tagged with 3D Printing, Arduino, makers, robots

  • Next Thursday, April 9th, is IoT Day

    Posted on April 6, 2015 by Cooking Hacks

    The fifth annual Internet of Things day will take place next April 9th. But what is the IoT?

    The Internet of Things

    IoT is a concept regarding the connection of objects to the Internet. This objects or things can be anything from a person or animal to any kind of machine or device, embedded with electronics and sensors and with the capability of transferring data over a network. Each object has a unique identifier and is able to operate within the Internet infrastructure without human interaction.

    An example of this object could be a parking sensor that detects a free spot and wirelessly transmits the data so drivers can check this info on a cellphone, or a pH sensor to remote monitor water quality.

    Open hardware platforms like Arduino or Raspberry Pi, along with open source software, gave a decisive boost to the IoT and have contributed to create a community of developers.

    Find out more here.

    The IoT Day

    This day is intended to be a celebration where the Internet of Things Community get together to share their experience and knowledge. Started in 2011 as an annual meeting point where you can learn about the latest technologies and attend to conferences on security, innovation, applications or data management and privacy. Watch these pictures from past IoT Days.

    It's a meeting open to anybody willing to participate, from engineers and entrepreneurs to designers or amateurs regardless of your experience on this matter. You can participate in this world-wide event by visiting one of the many places where you will find lectures, workshops or demos (last year there were events in 18 countries). You can also create and organize an event yourself, check these map and list with every event for this day.

    IoT Day 2015 Events

    IoT Live

    Can't get to an IoT venue this year? Don't worry, IoT Live gives you the chance of following online discussions featuring participants from the Global IoT Community. In the second edition of this virtual conference you can watch demo sessions of products and platforms, and enjoy talks and keynotes sessions from leading companies.

    IoT Day 2015 Live

    This live sessions start off in Europe at 13:30 CEST (7:30 EDT) and goes throughout the day, last session finishing on the west coast of North America at 23:15 CEST (5:15 EDT).

    Waspmote Products


    Waspmote is Libelium's solution for the Internet of Things.

    It is an open source wireless platform designed to monitor your environment and focused on autonomy and low consumption. Its horizontal and modular approach is ideal to collect data through the sensors plugged into the different accessory sensor shields (Smart Cities, Agriculture, Smart Metering, Gases). You can connect to any Cloud Platform, using a wide range of wireless technologies.

    Check all the Waspmote products here.

    This post was posted in Maker Events

    and was tagged with Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Waspmote

  • April Maker Events Schedule

    Posted on April 1, 2015 by Cooking Hacks

    Spring has come and with it nice weather and plenty of maker related events. Makers find a place in this venues to show their projects, share knowledge and interact with the community, and it's open not only to technical fields like science and engineering but also to art or performance. You can learn about the latest technologies on the maker and DIY worlds and enjoy everything that the maker world has to offer. These are friendly and family gatherings of tech enthusiasts, last year around half of the attendees to the New York and Bay Area faires were first timers and lots of children were present too.

    Maker Faire was created by Make Magazine to “celebrate arts, crafts, engineering, science projects and the Do-It-Yourself mindset”. The first edition was held in April 2006 in the Bay Area (California) and has since grown to a week-long celebration and expanded to every part of the world. Last year 215,000 people attended the venues in New York and Bay Area and a total of 119 Mini Maker Faires were held around the world from Tokyo to Rome.

    We thought you might like to keep up to date with every event so, in case you want to come to one, we are listing every Maker Faire in April.

    Upcoming events in April

    By the end of the month New Castle will be hosting the Maker Faire UK (April 25 & 26). This kind of events are produced in collaboration with Maker Faire and are the largest ones after the Flagship Faires (Bay Area and NY). They last for a weekend and this year New Castle is already celebrating its sixth edition, being one of the oldest faires in Europe. Makers from every part of the UK will be attending this fair and, apart from the usual hacks and projects, you will be able to see amazing performances like The Human Machine from Johnny White or art pieces like the Osmosis Machine from Adrian Pritchard.

    Early in the month we have four Mini Maker Faires. These are independently produced by local communities and, despite being smaller in scale than the Maker Faires they hold the vision and keep the spirit of the original celebration but they usually last for a single day.

    The first one is Kent State (OH) on April 10. The very next day Saint-Malo in France and Greater Newark (NJ) are celebrating their second edition. This same weekend, in California, Fresno is already facing its third edition.

    Next weekend, April 18 & 19, Greenbelt (MD) and Tyler (TX) will be holding their second edition. We have a first timer in Martinsville (VA) and, in Europe, Edinburgh (Scotland) will meet for the third time and Göteborg (Sweden) joins in organizing their first Mini Faire.

    Last weekend of the month, apart from the large Maker Faire in New Castle, we have three other Mini Faires. A couple of veterans (4th edition) in Westport (CT) and Burlington (NC), both on Saturday 25th, and here in Spain we will enjoy the first Mini Maker Faire in Madrid.

    Find an event in this map with every Maker Faire.

    Check out our visits to past Maker Faires: Rome, New York and Bay Area.

    This post was posted in Maker Events

  • Arduino Resistor Cutting Robot - CH Team Hacks

    Posted on March 31, 2015 by Cooking Hacks

    Today we bring you a project built by Pablo (surely you remember Pablo, don't you?), who works in the production department of Libelium. They go through a lot of resistor tapes every day in this department and they have to cut them manually with scissors so they can handle them more comfortably. This certainly takes a little bit of time and effort and he thought there had to be a way of making this easier and faster.

    And what better way than Arduino?

    Searching for a solution he came up with a resistor cutting robot controlled, obviously, by Arduino. He built his own robot based on the prototype made at Oomlout. This was an open source project, so, if you want to give it a go yourself, you can download the design files for the housing here.

    Arduino Resistor Cutting Robot

    He used a cnc machine to cut the wood fiberboard to assemble the housing for the robot and to make every part in the machine.

    To load the resistors there is a groove that is approximately as wide as the resistors tape, so it keeps the tape centered at every moment.

    A stepper motor controls a set of rollers and gears to move the resistor tape forward and then it stops after a preset number of steps. You can choose how many pieces you want in your tape by setting up the specific number of steps that the motor has to turn.

    After the set group of resistors have moved past the blades the stepper motor stops, and two servos control a pair of box-cutter blades to slice both sides of the tape. Servos can be precisely controlled and positioned so they're perfect for this purpose: the blades move down and, in the end, outwards to slice both sides of the tape, providing this way a more maneuverable strip.

    Check the video!

    You can see the Arduino Resistor Cutting Robot in action in this video.

    OK, I like it. Where is the code?

    The robot is controlled by an Arduino Uno Board and an A4988 driver is needed for the stepper motor.

    We are happy to share the code with all of you, our fellow readers.

    MegaServo Servos[MAX_SERVOS] ;
    #define SPEED 12000			// Speed for the stepper motor delay
    #define SERVO_PIN            5		// Pins for the servos
    #define SERVO2_PIN           6
    int steps = 13;				// Pins for the stepper motor
    int gyre = 9;
    int units = 220;			// Number of steps for 10 resistors

    Download the complete code here.

    You can check more CH Team Hacks, for example this realtime GPS+GPRS tracking of vehicles using Arduino.

    This post was posted in CH Team Hacks

    and was tagged with Arduino, resistors, servos, stepper motors

  • Arduino Day - Weekly Recap

    Posted on March 27, 2015 by Cooking Hacks

    So tomorrow is Arduino Day, ten years already! To celebrate this event we bring you some Arduino hacks that will surely help you through this day to have the best time possible.

    Arduino Digital Magnetic Compass

    You should know by now there's a lot of Arduino Day events scheduled for tomorrow. Maybe you're not really sure how to get to one. This first project is ideal for you: a digital magnetic compass developed with Arduino that will guide you around.

    M. Vasilakis build his own circuit, based on Arduino, using a HMC5883L sensor board and an ATmega328p.

    The HMC5883L is a triple-axis digital magnetometer designed to detect magnetic force. It communicates through I2C and it's important to keep it on a flat surface and parallel to the ground.

    Arduino Digital Magnetic Compass

    It uses an old Nokia 5110 display to plot the data and a couple of push buttons to select the type of visualization and to turn on the display LEDs.

    Posted on Instructables.

    Watch it on YouTube.

    Be a good host: Automatic Tea Maker

    Maybe you are helping to organize an Arduino Day event and you want to make a good impression. This project is perfect for such an occasion: an automatic tea maker.

    Automatic Tea Maker

    The enclosure and the parts that clip on the cup and do the tea dipping are all 3D printed . It is powered via USB cable and controlled with an Arduino Mini and a servo.

    It includes a potentiometer to select the time you need for your tea and a 16x2 LCD to visualize it (it also gives you advice on the most appropriate kind of tea for a selected time). It has a start button and a speaker to warn you when your tea is ready.

    Find out more here.

    Pet Feeder

    Are you going to be out all day tomorrow? If you have a pet you surely know the consequences it may have. Don't worry, the Croccolino Pet Feeder is the solution.

    Arduino Pet Feeder

    This project is a little bit more complicated than the usual but it has everything you need. It is built around an Arduino Yun and it allows you to select up to 8 scheduled feeds a day and the quantity for each feed. It shows the water and food levels in a Nokia 5110 display and you can adjust the time and scheduling with a panel of buttons.You can even record your voice to call your pet to eat with an amplified speaker and it has an integrated web server.

    The list of materials, apart from the plywood to make the enclosure, is huge: an Arduino Yun, a microSD card, two weight cells, a SD 1820 audio module, etc.

    Check out the complete project, it's really worth the effort.

    You can read more Arduino hacks here.

    This post was posted in Weekly Hacks Recap

    and was tagged with Arduino

  • A new update on e-Wheelchair project using e-Health Sensor Platform

    Posted on March 25, 2015 by Cooking Hacks

    The e-Wheelchair project

    For almost a year now we have been following and supporting the e-Wheelchair project by Philip Case. You will certainly remember this amazing project in which Phil, aka “The Captain”, is developing a mind-controlled wheelchair using Neurosky products, Vuzix smart glasses, Mindwave Mobile and the Mindflex EEG and implementing Cooking Hacks e-Health Sensor Platform for body monitoring (e-Wheelchair project part1part2).

    What's new?

    The e-Wheelchair has a logo: Phil and his wife have designed a logo and a slogan. It's inspired by the glasses and the mind controlling the wheelchair. The slogan reads: “Power on your mind, move to freedom... ”. Hopefully it will help to bring the project to light and to stand out now that he's starting to promote it.

    Power on your mind, move to freedom...
    Power on your mind, move to freedom...

    Ups & Downs and Go Fund Me campaign

    Sarah Bennett, who is helping Phil and writing about him on her blog Tech and Toast, started a Go Fund Me page in order to collect everything necessary for the e-Wheelchair. Phil uses a Panasonic Toughbook because of its rugged design and shock protection but unfortunately somebody stole it while he was undergoing surgery. This Toughbook is essential for him since he only has use of one hand. Another drawback on this courageous journey was that last month Phil fell while getting into the chair. He hurt his back and has to have surgery again.

    Phil wearing his glasses

    But it's not all bad news, of course. Last thing we know is that the laptop has been funded by Vuzix, a technology firm that's supporting Phil, and the project keeps moving forward. He is using the Vuzix M100 smart glasses that he won in a competition. These glasses are controlled by voice and gesture and give you the functionality of a smartphone so it's very helpful to enhance the user experience. They also support native Android Apps so the e-Health Sensor Platform application is displayed on the glasses for real time view.

    More good news: Phil has now a Prusa i3 printer. A 3D printer is important because he can make himself the housings for the wheelchair and any customized parts he needs instead of having to buy them all.

    Another improvement to the wheelchair is the add-on kit. Now the project becomes portable and that way more affordable for people that don't want to buy a new wheelchair or don't have the funds.

    The e-Health Sensor Platform Expansion Box

    As we said before, the e-Wheelchair includes the e-Health Sensor Shield to monitor vital signs such as Airflow, Galvanic Skin Response or ECG.

    Complete eWheelchair and sensors

    Phil has designed and built an Expansion Box for the e-Health Platform. It's in a special built housing, covered in liquid rubber and waterproof. He included a display to visualize the data. The shield is powered by renewable energy through solar panels and a pair of dynamos.

    He also incorporated an additional part so that only the user or medical professionals can view it, since data protection is now a priority.

    The e-Health Sensor Platform has been extended in lengths so that patients can move from the e-Wheelchair to their bed and still be connected for monitoring Body Position, Airflow (Sleep Apnea), ECG, Body Temperature, SPO2 and Blood Pressure.

    The next stage Phil is looking into is to make the Blood Glucose system wireless. He is going to use a CGM device (Continuous Glucose Monitoring) with transmitter and receiver connected to the e-Health Platform in order to display the data on the Expansion Box, the M100 SmartGlasses and sent it to the cloud for either a doctor o carer to have access to. All of this focusing on protecting people's personal and confidential details.

    After these intense months Phil keeps working hard and carries on with his project. What started as a small plan is getting bigger and bigger. Now he's looking at exhibiting it as much as possible.

    We will be following up Phil's work and keep you posted about the e-Wheelchair progress.

    This post was posted in Customer Hacks, General

    and was tagged with Arduino, e-Health, GPS, IR

  • The 12 Maker Hacks Challenge - Getting Used to the Environment

    Posted on March 23, 2015 by Cooking Hacks

    A while ago Javier, our Digital Marketing Manager, accepted the challenge of becoming a maker. He committed to following 12 useful practical examples that a newbie starting from scratch could try to become good maker.

    After much struggle at the beginning he kind of put it off for the time being, but never truly retired. This time Alejandro, the new guy, has come to the rescue and is here to help him out. So after a few months he has decided to resume the challenge and this time he is determined to succeed.

    Alejandro explains to Javier some basic ideas about Arduino

    So, where were we?

    Back then Alejandro decided that the first thing he should do was to get used to the Arduino IDE and environment, and after that to know the main components in the complete Arduino Starter Kit. The idea is to give him a background so he can get going with his first designs. For this we will need an Arduino compatible board, the Arduino software (IDE) and a USB (A-to-B) cable to plug it to the computer.

    But what is Arduino anyway? Javier might think. Arduino is an open-hardware platform based on a microcontroller board and easy-to-use software used to write your code and upload it to the board. It is basically a board you can program to control different actuators (motors, lights, etc) while reading sensors connected to it (temperature, pressure, motion). Practically any sensor can be connected to the board – a photocell, a temperature sensor, a motion sensor – and you can program the microcontroller to perform different actions with the actuators plugged to the digital outputs.

    It was developed as an educational tool so students could try out their projects and ideas on a pretty affordable board, making it user-friendly for everybody. To program the board you have to use the Integrated Development Environment (IDE) of Arduino.

    Arduino IDE

    This IDE makes use of a Processing-based language which is very easy to learn for somebody with a basic C/C++ knowledge. Even if you don't have any programming experience you can learn the basics very quickly.

    Your written program in Arduino is called sketch, and you can write it, debug it and upload it on the board with the IDE.

    So first thing you have to do is to install the Arduino IDE in order to write your first sketch.

    To do so you have to download it from the official website ( choosing the suitable OS you are using (Linux, Windows or Mac OS). Follow up the instructions for setting up the Arduino software and connecting it to the board. Last version is the Arduino 1.6.1 and it works fine with any Arduino board.

    Arduino IDE

    As you can see it's a very straightforward and clear environment. There is a text editor where you can write your code: the setup function contains the code that runs only once at the beginning and the loop function which contains the program itself that runs over and over. The sketch is saved with the file extension .ino. A message area gives you info when you save and export and displays errors. You can see on the console information about the environment, like error messages when you verify your code. We will be learning more about this when we write our first sketch. The bottom right-hand corner informs you of the board and serial port you are using.

    On top of the tab you have five menus available (File, Edit, Sketch, Tools and Help) and several useful icons:

    Verify: Checks your code for errors
    Upload: Compiles your program and uploads it to your board
    New: Opens a new sketch
    Open: Opens a menu with every sketch in your sketchbook
    Save: Saves your sketch
    Serial Monitor: opens the serial monitor.
    Starter Kit

    Maybe that's enough about the IDE for now. Apart from the board and the IDE you will need something else to carry out any project you have in mind. So we thought Javier might need to know a little bit more about every component in the Arduino Starter Kit.

    Arduino Starter Kit

    This kit includes an Arduino Board and some basic components for you to set off in the maker world. You can assemble very simple circuitry that will help you to know and handle the IDE and to understand every functionality in the board :

    • Arduino UNO Rev.3: this board should be more than enough to start off. It has 14 digital I/O (6 PWM outputs) and 6 analog inputs, a USB connection, a power jack, an ICSP header and a reset button.
    • A USB cable in the kit to plug your board into the computer so you can upload your code (this cable also powers your board).
    • A clear breadboard: It has 2 power buses, 10 rows and 30 columns. You will put your circuit together on this board very easily.
    • Jumper cables (4 lengths): these wires are perfect for prototyping and very easy to plug into the breadboard.
    • 30 Resistors (470 / 1K / 10k): these components are used to limit the current in your circuit. Their value is color-coded.
    • 4 Variable resistors (1K / 100K): these three terminal resistors are called potentiometers. It has a rotating knob that gives you a variable resistance. Later this will be very helpful to use as an analog input.
    • 5 Push Buttons: a push button allows you to connect two parts of a circuit when you press it.
    • 1 LDR sensor: this is a light dependent resistor. Its resistance changes depending on the amount of light, being very high when it's dark and very low with intense light. It doesn't give you very precise data but it allows you to detect if it's dark or not.
    • 1 NTC Temperature Sensor: it is a resistor whose value decreases significantly when temperature raises.
    • LEDs (10 Red / 10 Green): these are light-emitting diodes. When a suitable voltage is applied to the diode it emits light.
    • 1 6AA Clip Battery: if you don't want your Arduino to be powered via USB, you can use a external power supply through the power jack or in this case connect the leads of the battery clip to the GND and Vin pins. The recommended range for external supply is 7 to 12 Volts.

    Now, all this should be plenty for this first challenge. The starter kit contains everything you need to carry out your earliest projects: you will be able to read some magnitude in an input (temperature, light) and then do something depending on its value or use your push buttons to control some LEDs.

    We will be talking about all this in the next few weeks when we will try to teach Javier to complete his first full project: he will give it a go to the “Hello World” of Arduino, blink an LED.

    We'll keep you posted about his progress.

    This post was posted in Makers Hacks Challenge

    and was tagged with Arduino

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