Archive | June 2012

DIY Envato sale notification system with Freetronics equipment

The team from dtbaker who sell their wares over the Envato system have developed an outstanding new sale notification system. Using a Freetronics EtherTen, a Power-over-Ethernet midspan injector, our DMD board and some crafty code – each new sale is notified with a beep and display message over the DMD. For example:


Note that you can run the DMD directly from the EtherTen board if you don’t need to run at full brightness – and as shown in the video above it’s fine for indoor use. Using the midspan injector saves having to have a power supply for the hardware at the point of installation, so the only cable required is the Ethernet run. This is a great example of Arduino, power-over-Ethernet and using our equipment. For more informaiton, visit this Envato page

If you have created something interesting with Freetronics products and would like to feature it here, email us via info at freetronics dot com, or post the details on our Freetronics forum Project Showcase

Build a “Sneak Thief” Game of Skill with Arduino

Mike Cook has published another simple and fun project that you can build around an Arduino board – his “Sneak Thief” game. It uses an infra-red sensor to detect changes in light around an object that can be “stolen”. If you can remove the object slowly enough the alarm will not sound, however if you do it too quickly, the light level changes abruptly and the alarm sounds. For example:


This is a great example of a project for beginners or to entertain and educate younger people. It can be easily built around a standard Arduino-compatible board, such as ourFreetronics Eleven – the Arduino Uno-compatible with onboard prototyping area. 

To get started, visit Mike’s detailed website

Create an Arduino-based LED Status Whiteboard

After watching several futuristic movies, Will Bradley decided to build his own device that allowed computer visualisation of various forms of data. He has turned this idea into a successful project using an Internet-connected Arduino board, a whiteboard and a lot of LEDs. As you know an Arduino can easily control LEDs based on various parameters, and therefore the whiteboard can be customised almost anything using the LEDs. For example:

The benefit of using a glass finish allows the use of whiteboard markers to caption each LED with the required notation. And then it can be changed when required with a damp rag and a new Arduino sketch. To get started with your own display board, consider our range of Arduino-compatible hardware including the Freetronics EtherMega – the Mega2560-compatible with microSD socket, onboard Ethernet and optional PoE:

For more information, inspiration, hardware design and the code – visit Will’s site

Arduino-based Pandora Radio Display

Using an Arduino board, LCD display and some simple code you can capture song information from the Pandora Internet radio service and display it on an LCD module. Often when listening to Pandora you may have the control screen covered by other software, and then miss out on the name of a song you were interested in. Therefore this project can solve that problem.

To make it happen a PHP script captures the required data and via a Chrome script sends the data to the serial port which is captured by the Arduino and then displayed. To make your own version is very simple – just use our Freetronics Eleven Arduino Uno-compatible board and an LCD Keypad shield:

To get started with your own version, check out the project page here.

Use a laser pointer and LED matrix as an input device

Eiji Hayashi has used a property of LEDs and used this knowledge to create a form of input using a laser pointer and an LED matrix. He explains that by reverse-biasing LEDs you can measure the brightness they’re exposed to – and therefore if a laser pointer is aimed at the LED. So Eiji has put this to use and created a form of input that can also be used for gaming purposes. 


Well done Eiji. Remember when working with laser pointers to ensure the beam doesn’t shine or reflect into someone’s eyes. To get started with your own embedded Arduino project, consider our Freetronics LeoStick – one of the smallest Arduino-compatibles with onboard USB, RGB LED and piezo:

For more information on Eiji Hayashi’s matrix project, visit his website

DIY Arduino-based Digital Thermometer

Sometimes we get  carried away with complex projects, and neglect the simple and useful items that can be created in our Arduino ecosystem. One of these is weather monitoring – almost everyone is concerned with the temperature and so on. John Dimo thought so to and built a simple, neat and effective Arduino thermometer which is quite presentable:

John used a DS18B20 sensor for his example, and you can too with our TEMP: temperature module with the same sensor:

Combined with our range of Arduino-compatible hardwaresensor modules and display options, you’re well on your way. So to get started check our John’s blog, and ourtemperature sensor tutorials

Display a twitter feed without a PC

For the paranoid twitter enthusiasts – this is the project for you. Instead of dedicating a browser page and possibly a PC just for twitter, instead make your own display using simple Arduino-based hardware. To build this project would take less than an hour, and then you can get back to work with the display in the corner of your eye:

To reproduce this, all you need is an Ethernet-enabled Arduino board, an LCD module and a housing. At Freetronics we’ve got that covered with our EtherTen – the Arduino-Uno compatible with onboard Ethernet, microSD socket and optional PoE:

Then slot in our LCD Keypad shield, and you’re set:

So to get started, find the instructions and Arduino sketch here

Build a huge animated LED Matrix Display with Freetronics DMDs

Once again, Chris Debenham has taken a Freetronics product a made something amazingly useful – a giant dot-matrix display using not one or two… but six of our DMD display units. Mounted on a simple frame, the huge matrix looks great and performs smoothly using Chris’ Arduino library and code. And it is driven with only one Arduino-compatible board!


Kudos to Chris for his work and sharing it with us. It’s great what you can do with one of our DMD display units – let alone six. 

If you have created something interesting with Freetronics products and would like to feature it here, email us via info at freetronics dot com, or post the details on our Freetronics forum Project Showcase

Improving Arduino to PC Interactions with MegunoLink

Although you can log data from an Arduino-based system to a microSD card (possible with our EtherTen and EtherMega boards) – when the volume of data being logged is large, or you need real-time analysis a new piece of software called MegunoLink may be of interest. It has six primary functions, including plotting data from the serial line to a graph:

as well as logging data to a text file, interfacing between Atmel AVRStudio as an alternative to the Arduino IDE, a graphical interface for avr-dude, an advanced serial port monitor, and a clever interactive serial protocol simulator. MegunoLink is a simple, yet useful piece of software that is documented well and free to download. If you find it useful a donation should be made to the supplier. For more information, visit theMegunoLink product pages


Real-time object tracking via GPS and mobile data with Arduino

The Indianapolis Museum of Art had a resident artist that wished to be locatable at any time, so their designers turned to the Arduino world to solve their problem. Using a simple GPS receiver shield, a GSM cellular shield and an Arduino board, they created a device that sent the GPS coordinates of the artist over the GSM GPRS network to a networked PC running a Python script which can map the artist in question:

At first such a project may seem difficult, however the designers have thankfully published all the required Arduino and PC-side code and project details for your perusal. For a complete description and instructions, visit the IMA blog page. To get started with your own Arduino project – you can’t go past our Freetronics Eleven. It’s a fully Arduino-Uno compatible with onboard prototyping area, curved edges and visible LEDs: