Tracking the 17 year cicadas with an Arduino

Prepare for the coming swarmageddon with an excellent introduction to Arduino.

If you live in the Northeast USA, you probably know that the 17 year cicadas with soon emerge from the ground to serenade you with their surprisingly annoying mating calls. If are not lucky enough *cough* to live in the path of what has been called “swarmageddon”, the video will catch you up on the basics.

Radiolab, a podcast and public radio show, has put together an easy-to-follow set of instructions on how to build a soil thermometer with an Arduino and some basic parts. They even have the code ready for use. The cicadas emerge when the soil 8″ below the surface reaches 64º F (18º C). After the building the kit and measuring the soil temperature where you live, upload the result and your location on their site to help track the great emergence.

Via Hack a Day


Taylor Gilbert is a proponent of creative technology including Arduino, Processing, and repurposed hardware. Follow him @taylor_gilbert

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Custom circuit boards with an Othermill CNC mill

Easily make circuit boards, jewelry, and other detailed objects with this new desktop CNC.

There are a lot of options for CNC mills right now (and I mean a lot), but it’s rare to see one with the precision necessary to mill a custom circuit board. Finding one at a reasonable cost is simply unheard of.

The Othermill from Otherfab fills that need nicely. With it you can quickly and easily mill any circuit board your heart desires. Now all of your projects can have circuits seamlessly integrated into the design. Since it is compatible with any 1/8″ bit (like a dremel), it can also be used for a variety of other applications from jewelry to precisely machined mechanical parts.

Currently raising funds on Kickstarter, the Othermill started at $1000 for early adopters.
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Botanicus Interacticus turns living plants into highly responsive interfaces

A new approach to digital interaction through . . . plants?

Using a single wire placed in the soil, Botanicus Interacticus transforms a living plant into a sophisticated interface. Unlike earlier methods that only identify contact, Botanicus Interacticus uses Touché sensing technology to allow for a range of precise and engaging interactions.

Botanicus Interacticus enables us to use gestures as sliding the fingers on the stem of the orchid, detecting touch and grasp locations of a bamboo, tracking proximity between a human and a plant, and estimating the amount of touch contact leading to a rich amount of interaction possibilities.

Botanicus Interacticus is being developed at Disney Research by Ivan Poupyrev in collaboration with Philipp Schoessler, Jonas Loh/Studio NAND, and Munehiko Sato. Be sure to watch the two videos after the jump to learn about the project.
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NASA launches three smartphone satellites into orbit

Consumer hardware and open source software help build a $3500 satellite.

NASA recently put three nanosatellites powered by Google HTC Nexus One smartphones into orbit. Dubbed PhoneSats, they are about the size of a coffee mug. The satellites are intended to demonstrate how the rapidly decreasing cost and increasing power of off the shelf hardware and open source software can be used for a new generation of accessible, low-cost space research.
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Tap your foot to set a beat with drum effects using Arduino

You tap your foot, Arduino does the rest.

Beat Feet was concieved, designed, and prototyped in four days by a team participating in MIT Media Labs Design Innovation workshop at PESIT Bangalore. The project uses a sensor attached to the bottom of a shoe to control the tempo of MIDI drum affects. The idea is to allow musicians to add and control a background rhythm while continuing to play their instrument (presumably not a drum).
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A soft circuit textile interface using Arduino

The Nama, a textile-based instrument.

The Nama Instrument is a textile-based interface that uses a Lilypad Arduino and 5 Lilypad Accelerometers to wirelessly control custom software. The project was made by Luiz Zanotello for his BA graduation project in Design from Universidade Estadual Paulista, Brazil.

The software shown in the video demonstrations generate music and animation based on how the instrument is handled, but Zanotello proposes that input from the Nama could be used for other applications as well.
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3D Printed Headphones

Hi-Fi goes Low-fi for some DIY audio gear

Having previously applied some 3D printed augmentation to Apple’s famous little earbuds, Paris-based designer Jean-Christophe Karich has once again turned his talents to the mysteries of portable audio products.

The proposition is simple. How would you go about producing a fully functional pair of audio headphones, without using any commercially manufactured parts? In this research project, only the wire, solder and magnets have been supplied – everything else can be printed on a standard 3D printer.   (more…)

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A 3D printed, Raspberry Pi-powered, remote control snow blower

The Snow Droid X, in progress.

Technically speaking, winter is over, but someone forgot to tell the weather around here. If we’re going to keep having winter, we might as well enjoy it in true maker fashion with a Rasberry Pi-powered snow blower from Kris Kortright.

Unlike projects intended for use in the mild climate of a living room, the “Snow Droid” is designed to endure the slightly less hospitable environment of winter and all that entails. The camera and servos are all special watertight models, and the 3D printed head of the snow blower (shown in green) is designed to have water, wind, and impact resistance.

The first picture after the jump shows the unmodified Snapper 24″ Snow Blower used as the starting point of the project. The rest show details of the head and control system (being tested with an Arduino). As of the last update, this project was still in process, but we will certainly be keeping an eye on it.
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Opensource Craft Camera

Build your own DIY Arduino camera!

The Craft Camera is a collaboration by Coralie Gourguechon, electronics engineer Stéphane Delbruel, Graphic Designer Laura Messaglio, and maker-space Tetalab.
The project is based on the theme Low-Tech Vs. Hi-Tech, in response to in-built obselence in many consumer products to limit the product life-span to encourage consumers to continually upgrade. Rather,  the materials used and accessibility of open source design encourages Craft Camera users to repair and upgrade the camera themselves rather. (more…)

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Cases and enclosures for the Raspberry Pi computer

Ponoko-made products from Fabien Royer and Bertrand Le Roy of Nwazet

Nwazet develops and sells a range of unique electronic kits, parts, and components. Recently, the company has been focused on creating new products for the Raspberry Pi.

As it says in the Raspberry Pi FAQ, “The Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized computer that plugs into your TV and a keyboard.”

Nwazet founders Fabien Royer and Bertrand Le Roy started experimenting with the Raspberry Pi late last year “and we just fell in love with it” Fabien tells me. “We felt that the educational goals of the foundation were very much aligned with our own, and we appreciated the sheer versatility of the product which sits in a sweet spot between bare-metal microcontrollers and full blown computers.”

For many of their Raspberry Pi products, they use Ponoko’s laser cutting service as a “quick, cost-effective means of creating custom project enclosures without investing in our own laser cutter.”

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