Maker Night Arduino Intro


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A brief introduction to Arduino and physical computing, given as a lightning talk at Maker Night in Liverpool

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  • The Arduino boards are at the vanguard of this experimentation and movement into physical computing and the “Internet of Things”. It’s an open-source hardware and software project to provide an easy way into connecting motors, lights, switches, all sorts of things in the real world to the digital one.
  • It’s really easy to extend the capabilities of your Arduino board just by plugging in one of many “shields” – add on boards that add ethernet, or a screen, or an easy way to hook up motors, or...
  • This project was done by Tinker London, when they worked with the students of St. Paul’s School to produce a machine to let you visualize google search results in a physical bar chart. See for full details
  • Botanicalls is a plant for the geek who doesn’t have green fingers. Two probes in the soil let the Arduino check how moist the soil is, and the plant then tweets when it needs to be watered or sends tweets of thanks when you remember to water it.
  • The Lilypad is a specialized Arduino board which is designed to be used easily in wearable computing projects. It makes it easy to sew conductive thread to makes the connections to the board and wire up circuits to LEDs, accelerometers or strain sensors... Visit to find out lots more about people playing with the intersection of fashion and computing.
  • Electro-luminescent wire is flexible wire that lights up when you pass a high-frequency electric current through it. These guys overlaid lots of different pieces of EL wire, each in the shape of a different number onto the back of a jacket…
  • And when it’s all put together – the vest picks up the speed of the bike from a bike computer and displays it on the EL wire, so surrounding travellers have more visibility of the cyclist and how fast they are travelling. See for more details
  • This was a project that I did with FACT – we installed some air quality sensors onto the roof terrace garden and then output the data to the web using Pachube.
  • Twacky Races was a project I did for FACT’s Art of Digital conference last year. Each attendee had an RFID tag on their conference badge and they were split into teams. They worked out which team they were on, and unlocked scavenger hunt clues by swiping their badge over an RFID reader connected to a computer. Then when they found the scavenger hunt locations they swiped their tag to unlock the part from that location – swiping their tag at an old record player caused the turntable to rotate and give them an Arduino; an old PC case had been turned into a vending machine with spiral dispensing mechanism to give some wires, LEDs, and battery; and another old record deck had been turned into a number of locked compartments which revealed a radio-controlled car chassis. At the end of the day each team built a hacked radio-controlled car which then drag-raced based on how much the teams had been tweeting.
  • This is a project from Alex who runs Tinker London. You buy the lamp and “baby” lamps as a set, and then give the small ones to friends and loved ones who live far away. The little lamps copy the state of the big lamp, so when you turn your lamp on, the ones you’ve given out turn on too...
  • ...this lets your loved ones have a background awareness of the cycles and rhythms of your life, even though you’re apart. And if you have small lamps of theirs then you get to find out a bit more about what they’re up to.
  • John McKerrell, founder of local (Liverpool) startup MapMe.At built this clock. MapMe.At provides ways for people to track their location, so John added an Arduino, ethernet shield and stepper motor to this old clock so it can then query the MapMe.At website to find out where he and his wife are. It then shows their location – Home, Work, Travelling, etc. – on the clock so that whoever is home can see where the other is.
  • The BBC R&D team spent some time with Tinker London recently to use the Arduino as a platform for prototyping and experimentation into remote controls. This particular example uses the old Guess Who game board, but rather than people’s faces, the cards show genres of TV programmes or programmes themselves. The aim is to help groups of people, such as a family, to collaboratively decide what to watch. Each person takes it in turn to choose a criteria – “no sports programmes” for example – and when that card is knocked down the system will illuminate little LEDs next to the other cards that match that criteria and should also be closed. When one programme remains, the system searches iPlayer and queues up the latest available episode of that show to be watched. See for all the details of their prototyping
  • This was a project that Stuart Childs and Oli Wood built at the first Howduino hack-weekend in Newcastle. They took a load of ping-pong balls, hot-glued an LED into each one and the wired them up to an Arduino to make a low-resolution but very cool display.
  • This uses a piezo-electric sensor to spot whenever the wearer’s baby kicks, and then sends a message to twitter so that the wearer’s husband could get a sense of his baby’s activity.
  • Baker Tweet makes it easy for the bakers at a bakery in London to tweet about what has just come out of the oven. Just spin the dial to the relevant item, and then hit the button to send the tweet. Lets nearby fans on twitter find out when stuff is at its freshest
  • A playful take on a clock from Tinker London. It knows the time, and so adjusts itself to whatever light source is provided so that the shadow falls in the right place.
  • Liverpool-based art collective the Kazimier produce some amazing events – part theatre, part gig, part club, and often use Arduinos to provide additional interactivity and more amazing installations. This is a piece from a recent event. When attendees entered the room containing the Spinning Fortunagraph they were met by one of the Kazimier who told them the tale of how he’d inherited this amazing machine. He wasn’t quite sure how it all worked, but if they chose a tarot card and placed it in this slot then he could tell their fortune. It’s a beautifully made machine and the technology that makes it come alive is completely hidden away. The tarot card contains an RFID tag so that the different ones can be recognised, and then a rotary encoder connected to an Arduino works out the speed that the machine is spinning and communicates with a PC running the projector so that the graphics on top can be matched to the movement. See the video at
  • Bubblino, the twitter-watching, bubble-blowing Arduino bot who seems to upstage me wherever I go :-)
  • Maker Night Arduino Intro

    1. 1. Maker Night Adrian McEwen - Arduino, Hardware Hacking and Physical Computing
    2. 2. You can interact with my talk. Twitter about it and include #makernight or @bubblino in your tweet Adrian McEwen -
    3. 3. Arduino Adrian McEwen -
    4. 4. Shields, sensors Adrian McEwen -
    5. 5. What can you do with it? Adrian McEwen -
    6. 6. Tinker’s Centograph Adrian McEwen - Video credit:
    7. 7. Botanicalls Adrian McEwen - Photo credit:
    8. 8. Wearables and Lilypad Adrian McEwen - Photo credit:
    9. 9. Arduino + Electro-luminescent Wire Adrian McEwen - Photo credit:
    10. 10. = SpeedVest Adrian McEwen - Photo credit:
    11. 11. FACT AIRduino Adrian McEwen -
    12. 12. Twacky Races Adrian McEwen -
    13. 13. Goodnight Lamp Adrian McEwen - Photo credit:
    14. 14. Goodnight Lamp Adrian McEwen - Photo credit:
    15. 15. MapMe.At Clock Adrian McEwen - Photo credit: mcknut/3585018568/
    16. 16. BBC R&D’s Remote Experiments Adrian McEwen - Photo credit:
    17. 17. Ping-pong Ball LED Display Adrian McEwen - Photo credit:
    18. 18. Kickbee Adrian McEwen - Photo credit:
    19. 19. Bakertweet Adrian McEwen -
    20. 20. Sine Sole Soleo Adrian McEwen - Photo credit:
    21. 21. The Kazimier’s Fortunagraph Adrian McEwen - Video credit:
    22. 22. Bubblino Adrian McEwen - Photo credit:
    23. 23. Thank You. Any Questions? <ul><li>MCQN Ltd website: </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Or email </li></ul><ul><li>My Personal Blog: </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Or on twitter I’m @amcewen </li></ul>Adrian McEwen -