Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Arduino Due

There is a new kid onthe block and available from teh Make Shed:
"The Arduino Due is the newest member of the Arduino family. It's the first Arduino based on a 32 bit ARM core processor, the Atmel SAM3X8E ARM Cortex-M3 MCU, so it improves on old functionality and adds new as well!
The Arduino Due offers 54 digital input/output pins (of which 12 can be used as PWM outputs, with selectable resolution), 12 analog inputs with 12 bit of resolution, 4 UARTs (hardware serial ports), and two DAC outputs (digital to analog converter), 84 MHz crystal oscillator, two USB connections, a power jack, an ICSP header, a JTAG header, and a reset button.
The Due has two on-board USB ports. A micro-USB which acts as a host allowing you to connect peripherals like mice, keyboards, and smartphones & a USB type A port to use for debugging."
Full details from

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

In the Maker Shed: Getting Started with Compressed Air Rockets Kit

From Makershed "This crowd-wowing kit is simple to build and perfect for individuals, small groups or science classes. We included almost everything you need to get started right away — just add a bicycle pump, tape (masking, duct, electrical and Teflon recommended), two 9v batteries and you are ready to blast these paper and tape rockets hundreds of feet in the air with just a few pumps."
Full details, and a video, from

Makershed is the retail arm of Make magazine. It's a treasure chest of rare parts and interesting kits, I could easily spend hundreds of pounds there, but it isn't what I would call cheap.
This kit is a good example, everything you need is there and you can be confident of getting good results quite quickly, although a more experienced maker could probably make something just as good for far less.
I am sure that if you buy this you won't be disappointed but for those of us in the UK don't forget the ridiculous price we get charged postage and packaging. (Why is it always cheaper to ship from China than the US?

Monday, 19 November 2012

Arduino-Controlled Power Strip

Found Via Make: "Alberto Panu’s ArduPower is a 6-port power strip controlled with an Arduino Uno and ethernet shield. You control and monitor each line via telnet. "
Unfortunately the link to the authors site doesn't want to play ball, so I am  only guessing about what it does from the picture.

My initial thoughts are that this is an interesting product, especially with Christmas just around the corner when being able to control lights, decorations and other gadgets from a PC could be handy. 
Using a old PC or laptop you could sync them to sounds, turn them off automatically at night or even vary the patterns.  Come to think of it you could even allow them to be controlled over the web, although that's something I have never tried .
In the past you could control external devices from a computer using the parallel printer port or serial interface, but I haven't seen one of those on a new PC for years. Most interface projects tend to be USB based, however as this uses Ethernet it is going to have a much further range.
Judging by the authors name, I am guessing that this is not a UK based project, so we would have to design our own enclosure and connections to the mains. Personally this wouldn't bother me, but I am concerned that as Arduino is rightly popular with people who are new to engineering that we cold see some interesting, and potentially lethal, lash ups.
If you are considering trying this project, but have not worked with mains control before, then do yourself a favor and talk to an electrician first. Working with mains looks easy but it can bite, and quite often you won't get a second chance.
For full details (if you are lucky!) go to