New shield available for the Weather Station Receiver project

Wed, Apr 27 2011: Filed under

The Weather Station Receiver project (which is also a great basis for receiving data from a bunch of other devices) is now even simpler to implement. Freetronics have released version 3 of their Receiver Shield, and it's now available in both 433MHz and 315MHz versions.

The new layout has the RXB6 module lying flat on the left end of the shield, allowing other shields to be stacked on top. More details at:

Video created using the Time Lapse Camera Controller project

Mon, Oct 4 2010: Filed under Projects

Posted by Jonathan Oxer

Reader Jacob Ried constructed the Time Lapse Camera Controller project from the book and used it to create a cool video of his yard.

Time Lapse (Using Practical Arduino Circuit) from Jacob Ried on Vimeo.

Nice work, Jacob!

Online Thermometer project updated

Sun, Oct 3 2010: Filed under

Posted by Jonathan Oxer

The Online Thermometer project is a great demonstration of using Arduino to connect sensors to a network and make them accessible online, but it was based on a version of the Seeed Studio Ethernet shield that is no longer in production. Many people have asked me how they can modify that project to make it work with an Ethernet shield based on the popular Wiznet W5100 chipset, which includes the official Arduino Ethernet shield and also the new Freetronics Ethernet Shield with PoE Support.

So I've created a modified version of the sketch using the very cool Webduino library, and the details are written up on the Freetronics site. Check it out:

Freetronics TwentyTen is here

Wed, Jun 16 2010: Filed under Cool Stuff

Posted by Jonathan Oxer

It's kinda old news now but I totally forgot to post about the Freetronics TwentyTen! Things have been so busy that I haven't been updating the Practical Arduino site as often as I should, so sorry about that.

So without further ado, here it is: our version of the Arduino Duemilanove, but with a bunch of improvements applied.

Freetronics TwentyTen

The basic philosophy we followed when designing the TwentyTen (which is named in homage to the Arduino Duemilanove, which means "2009" in Italian) was that we wanted to stay true to the original spirit of the Duemilanove while fixing a few things that bugged us about it. Our little thought-experiment was "what would we want the successor to the Duemilanove to look like?"

I could write a heap more about it, but it's already well written up on the Freetronics site so please check it out there!

Talking Poker Timer

Wed, Jun 16 2010: Filed under Cool Stuff

Posted by Jonathan Oxer

Practical Arduino reader Pat James has used the Speech Synthesizer project in a creative way: he's linked it to a timer for tracking poker game rounds. He and his buddies have a weekly Texas Hold 'Em tournament with 20 minute limit per round, and they needed a way to keep track of how long each round has taken.

See more on Pat's blog.

Weather Station Receiver shield now available from Freetronics

Mon, May 31 2010: Filed under

Posted by Jonathan Oxer

The Weather Station Receiver project has been crazy-popular, and now you can buy a pre-assembled 433MHz Receiver Shield from Freetronics so you don't even have to build the circuit yourself. Just plug it in, load the sketch into your Arduino, and away you go.

Even better, the Freetronics version of the shield uses an RXB6 module instead of the RXB1 that we used in the original project.

The RXB6 is a multi-mode module with better sensitivity than the RXB1, and by loading different firmware it can operate in different ways. The Freetronics shields are fitted with an RXB6 running on firmware that makes it behave in the same way as an RXB1 so it remains fully compatible with the original design while giving the advantage of greater sensitivity.

Check them out: Freetronics 433MHz Receiver Shield for Arduino.

Modelling river systems with Arduino water flow gauge

Tue, May 4 2010: Filed under Cool Stuff

Posted by Jonathan Oxer

Yet another spin-off I could never have predicted is a group in Illinois who have used the water flow gauge project in a river-system simulator. This is uber-cool:

As Steve Gough mentions in the blog post "Open source science tools at LLRD", river simulators normally require use of US$600 flow gauges and being able to do the same thing for about $75 with an Arduino and a few other parts is a big deal. Check out their excellent work at

Joystick shield for Arduino MAME controller

Tue, Apr 27 2010: Filed under Projects

Posted by Jonathan Oxer

I have a Google Alert set on the term "Practical Arduino", and it often finds me very cool things that people have done using projects described in the book. One of those tidbits was this:

I don't know anything much about it other than what's shown on that page, but from what I can deduce it's the circuit from the Virtual USB Keyboard project converted into a nice PCB with a bunch of buttons included for controlling games running under the arcade machine emulator MAME. I love seeing stuff like this, so if you've created anything based on things you've learnt from Practical Arduino please send me an email and tell me all about it! 

Weather Station Receiver project modified for La Crosse TX4U

Fri, Apr 9 2010: Filed under Projects

Posted by Jonathan Oxer

When whittling down the list of projects for Practical Arduino I never expected the Weather Station Receiver project to be one that gained so much attention. To be honest I was dubious about whether enough people would build it to justify its inclusion, but felt that even if it wasn't built very often it was still worthwhile as an example of how to do signal timing analysis and bitstream decoding. I'm glad we put it in, because it seems to be one of the more popular projects!

Reader Kelsey Jordahl contacted me yesterday with details of a modified version that reads data from a La Crosse TX4U system, using the circuit from Practical Arduino but with modified software to deal with the different data format.

Kelsey's system logs the data and generates nice-looking graphs that are displayed online. For more information (including the modified source code) check out:

Oh yeah, and this is probably a good time to mention that Freetronics is now stocking fully pre-assembled Arduino shields for the Weather Station Receiver project. The very first one was sold and shipped to a reader in Queensland, Australia, yesterday morning.

The shield implements exactly the same circuit as shown in Practical Arduino, but with a dedicated PCB design rather than using a protoshield. There's more info on the 433MHz Receiver Shield for Arduino page at the Freetronics site. 

Arduino shield standards

Fri, Feb 26 2010: Filed under News

Posted by Jonathan Oxer

A few weeks ago I wrote about Andrew Oke's efforts at standardizing comms for Arduino shields, which many people have since told me is a great idea. Andrew has now written up his guidelines and put it up on his website, so if you're doing any shield design I highly recommend you check it out:

Arduino Shield Design Standards

Andrew's guidelines are oriented around making sure shields are stackable by keeping them physically low and also using comms that don't make shields mutually exclusive. I've written in the past (and ranted a bit in video blogs) about other rules I think all shield designers should observe, such as marking pin use on the overlay. Hopefully we'll see more shields start to observe these sorts of Best Practice guidelines - many already do, but an awful lot don't. Including many of my early attempts, but at least I'm getting better! 

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