Tag Archives: arduino

Raspberry Pi Makes the Pac-Man Game Go 3D

Some avid gamers of today are not even aware of the video games that flourished in the seventies and the eighties. Those who have a collection of retro games may have given their children time to catch up with the old games. One such classic game from the 1980s, a very addictive one, was the pellet-guzzling arcade game with the name of Pac-Man, from Namco. One of the youngsters, Emanuele Coletta, has come up with a 3-D rendition of Pac-Man.

Emanuele wanted to make something funny, while at the same time learn and apply new technology. He decided to add new twist to the project. Therefore, his 3D-printed robots of the main character and the four ghosts, while replacing the dots in the maze of the original game with lights that turn off as the yellow chomper moved over them.

When playing the video game as a single player, Pac-Man must consume all the Pac-Dots, at the same time avoiding the ghosts, as they each move automatically. However, the 3-D Pac Robot Man works differently. Here, four players each control one of the ghosts. The main character, the Pac-Man, now has to escape from the others without being caught, while the others try to catch it. Therefore, this new 3-D Pac Robot Man is a five-player game.

Emanuele and his partners made the playing board from wood. They laser-cut the various pieces and formed the maze. A number of small boards with LEDs and reed switches then went under the gaming field, and they connected these to an Arduino Mini.

The five characters each had an Arduino Uno board underneath, with the main character holding a magnet under it. They connected each robot to 3d-printed joysticks and an Arduino Nano, which allowed the robots to be moved around in the maze. Each joystick communicates with its robot via radio frequencies at 2.4 GHz.

The Arduino Mini communicates with the Raspberry Pi (RBPi), informing it as the main character moves. The Arduino Mini also knows which reed switch the main character has activated, so it switches off the appropriate LED. Each LED the main character ‘eats’ represents points, an all such information, along with the state of the game, reaches the RBPi.

The RBPi projects the scores and the state of the game on a monitor screen, so all players can keep track. Emanuele says he used and open source library named RXTX and the tutorial Arduino Playground to establish a serial communication between the RBPi and the Arduino. The RBPi also plays the original sounds of the game, which give the whole arrangement a sense of being real. The players challenge each other—whoever is able to catch the main character, wins. If the main character escapes by ‘eating’ all the dots, the main character wins.

Pac-Man was one of the most recognized icons in gaming. The game basically involves eating dots, and amassing points, while avoiding four ghosts—Clyde, Pinky, Inky, and Blinky. With the effort Emanuele and his partners have put in, it has revived one of the most addictive games and turned it into a 3-D marvel.

Driving Motors and Servos with the ZeroPi

If you are looking for a development board for the 3-D printer you are designing, ZeroPi may be the best fit. Suitable for use with the Arduino and the Raspberry Pi (RBPi) single board computers, ZeroPi offers an integrated solution allowing makers to build projects easier and faster.

This miniature board for the Arduino and RBPi is a next generation development kit ideal for maker projects that involve any type of robotic motion control including CNC milling and 3-D printers. According to technical specifications, the ZeroPi runs on an Atmel 32-bit, ARM Cortex M0+ processor the SAMD21J18 operating at 48 MHz. This MCU is fully compatible with the RBPi, the Arduino Zero, and so many more hardware resources that drive robots.

Capabilities of the ZeroPi include driving and controlling 11 micro servos and 8 DC motors simultaneously. Alternatively, you can use ZeroPi to control four stepper motors. The four-channel SLOT module is compatible with the regular DC motor and stepper motor drivers such as the TB6612 DC motor driver and the A4988 or DRV8825 Stepper motor drivers.

According to the team that developed ZeroPi, the board works perfectly for a 3-D printer, acting as its mainboard. Additionally, with the ZeroPi and a web interface, it is possible to control the 3-D printer remotely. The team claims to have successfully ported the Repetier and Marlin firmware to ZeroPi. They have tested the combination on Delta and I3 open source 3-D printers, with success. The combination directly controls the printer without requiring any additional expansion boards. Compared to the Mega2560, ZeroPi is all open-source, cheaper and four times faster. In addition, it is only half the size of the Mega 2560. All board schematics, Repetier and Marlin firmware, and the user manual for the ZeroPi is available on GitHub.

Apart from 3-D printers, you can also use the ZeroPi for driving laser cutters and CNC mills. In fact, it is perfectly possible to use the ZeroPi for developing an all-in-one mainboard suitable for all three. This open-source mainboard can serve the creativity and innovation of an entire community, advancing their ambitions. That makes the ZeroPi useful to several people and projects.

Some key features of the ZeroPi are operating voltage of 3.3 V, 2 UARTs, 35 general-purpose IO pins, 4 analog input pins, 12-bit ADC channels, 1 analog output pin, 10-bit DAC. Other features include external interrupts on any pin except pin 4, 7-mADC current per IO pin, Flash memory of 256 KB, SRAM of 32 KB. The ZeroPi board has dimensions of 73 x 61 mm.

You can program the ZeroPi from the Arduino IDE using example codes available for specific functions such as temperature monitoring and encoder readout. By connecting the ZeroPi to the GPIO connector of the RBPi, it is possible to add further functionality such as controlling the ZeroPi via Bluetooth, wireless control, and tablet. By installing a web interface, it is possible to control the motors and servos remotely. The interface can use Java Script as well.

ARDUINO 101: The Curie-Powered Sensor-Packed Arduino

Intel and Arduino have teamed up to generate a new single board computer, the Arduino 101. Scheduled for market availability in the first quarter of 2016, the Arduino 101 is powered by the Curie module from Intel. Aimed at educating youngsters in the emerging technologies, the SBC is packed with sensors, yet affordably priced.

Arduino 101 has the input and output capabilities of the classic Arduino UNO, but also includes hardware for Bluetooth wireless communication. In addition, Arduino 101 comes with a gyroscope and a 6-axis accelerometer.

Intel and Arduino are promoting their cobranded board for furthering their initiative, Arduino 101 in the Classroom. This is a computer science and design curriculum meant for educating students in the age group 11-14 years in emerging technologies. The Arduino 101 will also be following the hardware configuration of the Curie module. Contestants will be using this board during the upcoming reality television show, America’s Greatest Makers, by the Intel and Turner Broadcasting System.

Those familiar with the Arduino UNO will find Arduino 101 has the same form factor of 70x55x20mm. Differences are an on-board antenna on the bottom right-hand corner of the circuit board and a new main processor. This is the Intel Quark, a low-power 32-bit micro-controller also known as the Curie module. The specialty of this particular Quark is the Bluetooth communication hardware, the gyroscope and the 6-axis accelerometer are on its die.

Users can program the Arduino 101 in the same process they followed for the Arduino UNO. You write your code and compile it with the Arduino IDE, before uploading it to your board. To allow programmers utilize the unique features of the Curie module, Intel is expected to offer special libraries. Initially, Intel had packaged the Curie module in the size of a tiny button and it was supposedly meant for wearable projects. Later, they changed direction towards the Curie-powered Arduino.

Intel is following this go-to-market strategy for its system-on-chips. Intel also packaged an earlier SOC, the Edison. Intel also designed accessory boards for the Edison and Sparkfun produced these boards for Intel. Intel and Arduino had teamed up earlier for the Intel Galileo – the micro-controller board certified by Arduino had Arduino-compatible headers.

The specifications of the Curie indicate it is powered by 1.8V, the popular voltage of a coin-cell battery. However, to power the IO on the Arduino 101 properly, the voltage requirements as dictated by the Arduino ecosystem are at least 3.3V. Limitations imposed by the Arduino 101 design rule out the possibility of a coin-cell battery powering the Curie.

The Curie module also has a 128-node neural network built into it, which users could use for machine-learning applications. However, Intel will not be providing software support for the technology at the time of Arduino 101 launch. They may support it later.

David Cuartielles, the co-founder of Intel’s marketing of Arduino, will be using Arduino 101 in their Creative Technologies in the Classroom or CTC. Earlier, the curriculum used the Arduino UNO for teaching students in a playful way. Now, they will be using the Arduino 101 for teaching basic programming skills in electronics and mechanical design.

Raspberry Pi Alternatives

f you have been using single board computers such as the RBPi or Raspberry Pi and Arduino, you would have certainly found them great as do-it-yourself boards for hacking and for setting up your own design. However, using these boards can bring up a natural curiosity to look at other alternate hacker boards similar in size and functionality to the RBPi.

Listed here are some boards comparable in prices to that of the RBPi, and with community support. They are good for transitioning to low-cost commercial volume manufacturing, while being compatible and easy-to-use.

According to the director of ecosystem and marketing program of Freescale, Steve Nelson, one should look for five important features while selecting an SBC: Simplicity in installation and during operation; Staying power or popularity with users; Stability against regular rebooting or updating; Security of design; and Standards of compatibility irrespective of the manufacturer.

Udoo: Although more expensive compared to RBPi, Udoo offers a unique experience of Linux and Arduino SBC. It runs on an ARM i .MX6 processor from Freescale, has 1GB DDR3 RAM and offers 76 fully available GPIO. Apart from this, it has a Wi-Fi module, one Ethernet RJ45, 3D GPUs for graphics, HDMI and LVDS. Other features include a pair of mini USB and mini OTG, one analog audio and microphone socket and a camera connection. Udoo works on 12V from an external power supply and the board has an external battery connector.

Wandboard: With 0.5GB to 2GB DDR3 RAM, Wandboard is more expensive compared to RBPi and is a unique Arduino and Linux SBC. It sports an HDMI interface, a camera interface, a micro-SD slot, an expansion header, serial port, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, 802.11n, SATA and Gigabit LAN. This board is used in small autonomous Sumo-robots and a cluster with a custom PCI-Express carrier board adapter.

WaRP: Targeted at wearable designs, this not-yet-released Freescale supported board runs on an i.MX 6SoloLite processor based on the Cortex-A9 architecture and Android 4.3 OS. With an E-ink display and wireless charging option, this tiny board has MCU for sensor aggregation, orientation and pedometric functions. Communication interfaces include a Bluetooth wireless module, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi and sports multi-chip packaging with LP-DDR2 and eMMC memories.

RIoTboard: This board also runs on the Freescale I.MX 6Solo processor based on the ARM Cortex A9 architecture. It offers very high performance video processing with HD- and SD-level video decoders and SD-level encoders. The 2D and 3D graphics accelerator are based on OpenGL ES 2.0 with shader. The Freescale Kinetics MCU is an integrated power management chip with 1GByte of 32-bit wide DDR3 running at 800MHz. The board uses 4GB of EMMC Flash and offers support for GNU/Linux and Android along with enhanced expansion capabilities.

Freedom: With ARM Cortex Core and a full tool suite, the Freedom board has up to 256KB of Flash, USB, an LCD Controller, a capacitive touch sensor, a magnetometer, a 3-axis accelerometer, a visible light sensor and a 4-digit 4×8 segment LCD.

Teensy 3.1: This is an extremely tiny board of 1.4×0.7 inches, weighing 3 grams. The ARM Cortex M4 MCU runs at 72 MHz with 256K Flash memory and 64K RAM. It is cheaper than the RBPi.

Start Learning to Program the Arduino

Often, project builders are not sure of what they would like to build with their development boards. This happens mostly for two reasons – one, the user has just been introduced to the board and two, the user is unaware of the methods of interfacing and programming sensors, switches and other components. The second category of users is mostly those new to the world of development and in need of some hand-holding.

A Starter Shield
For these newcomers, Matt Wirth has proposed a Starter Shield for Arduino boards. With the Starter Shield, novices can learn how to interface components such as sensors for building their own interesting projects. Learning involves programming the IO headers of the micro-controller on-board the Arduino. Interestingly, users can do this without any assembly of intricate parts, soldering or wiring.

However, since many users may want to solder their own, Matt Wirth plans to release an optional kit, which will come with an assortment of components that the user will have to solder before starting. These will include potentiometers, multiple LEDs, digital and analog push buttons, temperature sensors and light sensors. To make it easy for beginners, Matt will provide lessons for programming these components, so that users can proceed with their unique creations – light meters, temperature sensor alarms, police lights and siren and many more.

An IoT Relay
For those who already have some experience in building projects with the Arduino, may find Wi-Fi and other home automation projects interesting. Of course, there are several kits available for automating homes, but most are expensive and limited in their functionality. This is where project builders can effectively use Team IoT’s IoT Relay for the Arduino board.
For those interested in home automation, IoT is a favorite subject. However, the relay solution provided by Team IoT is not limited to home automation alone. With the IoT Relay, apart from the Arduino board, users can work with any development board and create interesting project such as making automated feeders for their fish tanks.

On the IoT Relay, four outlets allow connecting to any number of devices. There is also a universal voltage control to handle inputs of 12-120VAC or 3.3-60VDC, protected with a thermal circuit breaker. That allows users to control power safely and not damage their devices. However, the IoT Relay, although inexpensive, does not come with an Arduino board and the users are expected to supply their own.

Makeblock’s mBot
For those beginning to learn to program, code and work with robots, there is nothing better than an educational robot such as Makeblock’s mBot. With STEM or the academic disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics being implemented widely in schools all over the world, Makeblock’s mBot is a learning robot that helps kids with their STEM curriculum.
Featuring the mCore platform of the company, Makeblock’s mBot is based on the open-source Arduino Uno featuring a simpler wiring system. There are no GPIO pins to solder. Instead, the mCore uses RJ25 connectors, color-coded to make it easier to connect other components. Additionally, the board is compatible with Mindstorms’ Lego, other Arduino boards and shields and the Raspberry Pi.

ArdHat for Connecting Raspberry Pi to the Real World

Many users of the tiny, inexpensive, Linux-based single board computer, the Raspberry Pi or RBPi, would like to connect it to the outside world, but do not know how. According to Maker Jonathan Peace, ArdHat is most suitable for connecting the barebones Unix platform to the real world. Therefore, he calls it the “missing link that connects the Raspberry Pi with the real world.”

Onboard the ArdHat is an Arduino-compatible embedded MCU, the ATmega328P. Its specialty is very quick response to all real-time events, allowing the RBPi to take care of the rest of the heavy lifting. HATs or Hardware Attached on Tops are most suitable for the RBPi Model B+. These HATs conform to specified standards and make life easier for users. One significant feature of HATs is an onboard system to allow the RBPi B+ identify the connected HAT and automatically configure its GPIOs and drivers for the plugged-in board.

Real-world systems need low-power operation, real-time performance and environmental protection and awareness, all of which the ArdHat provides. As a super-compact RBPi compatible HAT, the ArdHat enhances and protects the RBPi for applications in the real world, while being accessible to everyone possessing an Arduino.

You can have the ArdHat in four different models – two with long-range radio modules and the other two without the radio. All four are packed with analog sensors, user interface controls, a real-time clock, 5V Arduino shield capability, supply monitoring, a wide operating range of voltages that includes automotive, full power/sleep management and high current outputs for driving peripherals. All these are accessible from the AVR chip on-board the ArdHat or the RBPi.

Those looking for more power can also choose between the ArdHat-W and the ArdHat-I. The first has a 15Km long-range ISM wireless node, while the latter has a 10-DOF inertial measurement unit. Both make the boards ready for IoT right out of the box.

Apart from a flat top design that allows plenty of space for placing a battery or a prototyping board, the ArdHats accept several Arduino shields. Users can also buy an optional high-capacity 1800mAh battery, especially tailored to plug-in directly into the JST standard connector. The whole arrangement fits snugly between the shield headers of the board’s flat top design.

Among the smart power management feature of the ArdHat is a power switch and charge control. That allows the RBPi to run on several types of power supplies, including LiPo batteries to automotive supplies. Therefore, the HAT can simply connect to systems operating on 5V and drive them – smart LEDs, quadcopters and servos.

Other than protecting the RBPi from external power outages and voltage spikes, the TopHat enclosure offers a physical safeguard as well. Made of laser-cut Perspex, the enclosure allows access to pins of the Arduino shield for teaching and experimental purposes. At the same time, the enclosure protects the delicate circuitry of the RBPi circuit board.

The scheduler and applications for the ArdHat are entirely open-source. Using the Arduino IDE, users can modify and update even the preloaded sketch of the real-time software on the ArdHat.