Category Archives: Gadgets

Learning about micro-controllers using the Minipov

If you are interested in learning about micro controllers and building your own projects then I would recommend the MiniPOV kit from Adafruit Industries.  This is a kit and will need to be assembled so if you do not have a soldering iron you will need to borrow one.  From this you will learn to build kits and solder, program a AVR micro-controller, and control some LED‘s.

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Developing android applications

I have just published an application on the android marketplace, you can scan the bar code or click here to install it.  This application was created as a training exercise so is not very complicated.  The application will convert miles per gallon (imperial) to litres per 100kms.

The whole android development process is well documented on the internet and if you have java experience you are off to a flying start.  There is very little required to get started and the only cost is a $25 registration fee if you wish to publish on the android market (this is not required for developing).

I have used Linux and Windows to test the developers kit and it works fine on both.  It also runs on macs but I haven’t tested this personally.

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Repairs worth trying, iPhone and Car Keys (update: XBOX360)


Image by Andrew Burgess via Flickr

Update: XBOX360 repair

I don’t own and XBOX360 but a friend had an issue with 3 red lights flashing on the front of the unit.  After a small time searching the web it appears that this is a huge problem with XBOX360’s.  This fix involves replacing spring clamps for the heat sinks with screws and then overheating the unit.  I was pretty skeptical but there was a lot of references on the web.

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Making noise with the Arduino

I have been pretty busy lately with some other projects which I will post later but I did find this very simple project for the Arduino on the Adafruit website.  It uses a photoresistor and a piezo buzzer and a very short piece of code.  It is easy to build and easy to modify.  If you are new to electronics it is a great way to see these components in action.

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Arduino and Kinect Controlled Car

Un Arduino Diecimila

Image via Wikipedia

Gaurav Manek has put together a great project mixing several technologies. He has a radio controlled car interfaced with an Arduino and this can be controlled from an iPad or using a Kinect. He has given some details on how he achieved this including some source code for anybody that wants to have a go. Go to to see it in action. The first half of the clip is for the iPad the second is for the Kinect.

Arduino and seven segment display

I found some seven segment displays and decided to connect one of them to the Arduino. This was easily done by tracing the pins using a multi-meter and then placing a 220 ohm resistor to ground. A very simple piece of code then counts from one to three. You can see from the code that it is simply setting pins high or low. Continue reading

Arduino – Adding ethernet shield

The Arduino is truly a fabulous piece of kit if you are new to the world of micro controllers.  There are hundreds of examples of hardware projects on the web along with the source code that drives them.  My latest project involved the use of an ethernet shield which allows the Arduino communicate with your LAN and therefore the internet.  I can now control my flashing LED‘s remotely (actually my test involved being over 15 miles away) using a web browser.  Still early days I know but a quick search on Google will give you some ideas of the possibilities.  Next step I think is to add a sensor and read some values.  A simple circuit should be able to read temperature or  a PIR detector from an alarm system would allow me to remotely check if somebody is in a room.

Academics, Enthusiasts to Get Kinect SDK

Microsoft have just announced they are about to release a SDK for the Kinect.  There is already a large community out there developing fascinating applications for the Kinect using drivers and API’s developed by the community.  This announcement can only make this scene bigger.  You can read the full press release after the break.

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Arduino first project

I finally got to plug in my Arduino Mega 2560 micro controller.  Everything worked after I ran the sample application.  I extended this slightly to blink three leds on a breadboard.  Simple beginning I know but we all have to start somewhere.  The IDE which is downloaded from the Arduino website will run on a variety of operating systems, I am using 64 bit Ubuntu Linux but it ran equally well on Windows.