Arduino Rules at Maker Faire New York

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How many microcontrollers do you count?
Arduino might as well exploded all over last weekend's Maker Faire in New York City, because it was everywhere. There was a whole new tent dedicated to it, four panels to just explain what it was, and more manufacturers than I knew even existed. It’s Arduino Fever!

So take a minute to get up to speed with the Arduino microcontroller, then join us as we look at some ridiculously amazing Arduino creations.

Make Yourself an Arduino Lie Detector

It’s easier to make than you think. Julio Terra and Mustafa Bagdatli of NYU’s ITP Program put one together using an Arduino microcontroller, breadboard, 4 LEDs, a few wires, some resistors, and finger contacts made of some silver jewelry stitched to Velcro and soldered to wires.

The typical lie detector we see in movies and TV shows, with the finger glove and wires drawing lines over a rolling page, works by sending a small current through your finger. The needles move based on how much of that current is conducted through your sweaty skin, because everyone constantly sweats even if you don’t notice.

This particular homemade lie detector skips the needles and uses the LEDs to tell when you are lying. All you have to do is wire it up correctly and upload the software, courtesy of Julio Terra. The Arduino lie detector, like a “real" one, should be taken with a grain of salt because it is hypersensitive and is more liable to pick up embarrassment, rather than tell the difference between a true statement and a lie.

New Connected Flavors of Arduino

Arduino boards are great microcontrollers on their own, but if you wanted to add any sort of connectivity to an Arduino, you need to buy a shield. Shields are essentially board expansion packs (to borrow a gaming term) that add functionality. However, a few chipmakers are developing their own flavors of Arduino with built-in connectivity.

A Nanode board connected with Ethernet and equipped with a transmitter.

Across the pond in the UK, Nanode has been making a name for itself with its Arduino variant that has built-in Web connectivity. While it’s connected to a network, the board can be loaded with software remotely and it can also automatically pull updated versions of its software. The Nanode can support a few more additions, like extra memory on its underside and a wireless transmitter that it can use to send data.

The BluePanel board.

A smaller outfit called Teho Labs showed off its BluePanel Arduino boards, which connected to an Android device over Bluetooth. For this particular demo Teho Labs had six microcontrollers connected to a single RF slave that synced to their Android BluePanel app. From the app I could move a servo, switch on a lamp, or check the room’s temperature.

The Arduino Trade Show

Weblock’s spread of LED arrays and chips.

The Arduino tent was a new edition to Maker Faire, and inside you could find nearly a dozen small chip developers. ChipKIT specializes in the first 32-bit microcontrollers. Wetterott builds touchscreen interfaces and WLAN shields for Arduino. Telefonica has GSM shield components that add phone services to Arduino, allowing it to receive texts and make calls. The Weblock desk had a small cache of LED arrays, and Jeelabs has just about any component you would want.

What would you do with an Arduino board? Leave a comment with your project ideas.

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