Twilio launches a new SIM card and narrowband dev kit for IoT developers

Twilio is hosting its Signal developer conference in San Francisco this week. Yesterday was all about bots and taking payments over the phone; today is all about IoT. The company is launching two new (but related) products today that will make it easier for IoT developers to connect their devices. The first is the Global […]

Twilio is hosting its Signal developer conference in San Francisco this week. Yesterday was all about bots and taking payments over the phone; today is all about IoT. The company is launching two new (but related) products today that will make it easier for IoT developers to connect their devices. The first is the Global Super SIM that offers global connectivity management through the networks of Twilio’s partners. The second is Twilio Narrowband, which, in cooperation with T-Mobile, offers a full software and hardware kit for building low-bandwidth IoT solutions and the narrowband network to connect them.

Twilio also announced that it is expanding its wireless network partnerships with the addition of Singtel, Telefonica and Three Group. Unsurprisingly, those are also the partners that make the company’s Super SIM project possible.

The Super SIM, which is currently in private preview and will launch in public beta in the spring of 2019, provides developers with a global network that lets them deploy and manage their IoT devices anywhere (assuming there is a cell connection or other internet connectivity, of course). The Super SIM gives developers the ability to choose the network they want to use or to let Twilio pick the defaults based on the local networks.

Twilio Narrowband is a slightly different solution. Its focus right now is on the U.S., where T-Mobile rolled out its Narrowband IoT network earlier this year. As the name implies, this is about connecting low-bandwidth devices that only need to send out small data packets like timestamps, GPS coordinates or status updates. Twilio Narrowband sits on top of this, using Twilio’s Programmable Wireless and SIM card. It then adds an IoT developer kit with an Arduino-based development board and the standard Grove sensors on top of that, as well as a T-Mobile-certified hardware module for connecting to the narrowband network. To program that all, Twilio is launching an SDK for handling network registrations and optimizing the communication between the devices and the cloud.

The narrowband service will launch as a beta in early 2019 and offer three pricing plans: a developer plan for $2/month, an annual production plan for $10/year or $5/year at scale, and a five-year plan for $8/year or $4/year at scale.

15 Great Arduino Projects for Beginners

arduino-projects

Completing an Arduino project gives you a sense of satisfaction like no other. It can be, however, difficult to know where to start. Luckily there are many ways to get started. Here are 15 beginner Arduino projects to get you going! A note on required equipment: For the sake of brevity, items that are usually included in Arduino starter kits aren’t included in the overviews provided here. Any other required components will be listed in the project description. 1. Make a Buzz Wire Game With an Arduino You will need: 1 x Small Arduino compatible buzzer 1 x Old metal…

Read the full article: 15 Great Arduino Projects for Beginners

arduino-projects

Completing an Arduino project gives you a sense of satisfaction like no other. It can be, however, difficult to know where to start. Luckily there are many ways to get started. Here are 15 beginner Arduino projects to get you going!

A note on required equipment: For the sake of brevity, items that are usually included in Arduino starter kits aren’t included in the overviews provided here. Any other required components will be listed in the project description.

1. Make a Buzz Wire Game With an Arduino

You will need:

  • 1 x Small Arduino compatible buzzer
  • 1 x Old metal coat hanger.

This build combines a classic carnival game with simple electronics and code. Using cheap components and a little DIY craft, the Arduino Buzz Wire Game is a fantastic project to work on with children.

2. Arduino MIDI Controller

You will need:

  • 1 x 5-pin DIN female Socket
  • 1 x MIDI cable
  • 1 x MIDI interface or MIDI capable device

Any musician who is familiar with MIDI controllers knows how powerful they can be. Did you know that you can use an Arduino to make a DIY controller? Even if you’ve never used one, this is a perfect way to get started, rather than buy an expensive keyboard or controller.

The project uses a free MIDI code library and simple components. It’s beginner friendly, and has the potential to be improved over time, until you have a fully featured custom MIDI controller!

3. Control Your Arduino With Python

If you already know Python, you can learn about Arduino hardware without learning a new language. This project is especially useful for people just starting out, as Python is a beginner-friendly language. The code side of this project is straightforward, and requires no components at all, just an Arduino board!

4. Arduino Game Controller

You will need:

The only thing cooler than making your own games is making your own game controller.

This custom Arduino game controller project covers both building your own hardware, and step-by-step coding of a simple game.

5. Arduino RFID Smart Lock

You will need:

  • 1 x Logic-level N channel Mosfet
  • 1 x MFRC522 module
  • 1 x 12v Solenoid
  • 1 x 12v Power supply

This Arduino smart locking system looks complicated. But due to a cheap and easy-to-use RFID reader, it’s more straightforward than you’d think.

This project uses a few parts that may be new to you. Rather than starting from scratch, the code is modified from existing examples. This is an excellent introduction to multi-component devices with real practical uses.

6. Simple Arduino Alarm System

You will need:

  • 1 x Ultrasonic “ping” sensor
  • 1 x Piezo buzzer
  • 1 x LED strip light

A simple alarm system that uses a motion sensor to detect movement, LEDs flash and a high-pitched warning tone is emitted when an intruder is detected.

While it’s not exactly proper home protection, it does offer a perfect solution to protect small spaces. Ideal for keeping an eye your snack drawer!

7. Traffic Light Controller

traffic-light-with-switch

This project is a great introduction to Arduino programming. The traffic light controller uses a red, yellow, and green LED to re-create a traffic light on your breadboard. It’s an easy way to get hands-on with writing and editing code. As a bonus, all the required components should be included in your starter kit.

8. Companion Cube Mood Lamp

You will need:

  • Square glass jar or bottle
  • Hard-drying clear glue
  • Gray and red modeling clay
  • White candle

Remember the video game Portal? In this project, a Portal-themed mood lamp uses a square glass jar to create a color-shifting display that looks incredible. Creating the lamp is a great DIY project for beginners. The wiring and code are relatively simple, and you’ll end up with a striking DIY creation!

9. Arduino-Powered Temperature Controller

temperature-controller-box

You will need:

  • Temperature sensor, such as the TMP36
  • Relay or RC plug switches
  • Screw terminals
  • Box to trap the heat
  • Heating/cooling element, or incandescent bulb with fixture (or both)

Using just an Arduino and a few parts you can create a temperature control device instead of paying for a commercial model. Not only is this an excellent beginner level project, but it has real-world applications!

10. Recreate the Arcade Classic “Pong”

You will need:

  • An Arduino compatible OLED screen

Coding a retro game is great programming practice. Pong is a classic, and there are two ways you can play it on your Arduino. You can code the game from scratch, and play on an inexpensive OLED screen.

11. “The TV Devil” Arduino Prank Remote

You will need:

  • IR transmitter LED, such as TIL38
  • IR receiver, such as TSOP382

An Arduino along with an IR(infrared) transmitter and receiver can cause some innocent chaos. Bombarding any IR controlled device with IR signals makes them act as if they have a life of their own.

In this project you’ll learn how to build a remote control using an Arduino and some IR components. The result is assured to drive anyone nearby mad!

12. Make Your Own Ambilight

You will need:

  • 10A 5V power supply
  • WS2812B LED strip

Originally developed for Philips TVs, the Ambilight features ambient lighting that reacts to the images on your television screen. It’s not too difficult to recreate the Ambilight for any screen. Cheap addressable LEDs cut the cost of this impressive looking build, and at the time of writing the component list for this project has dropped much lower than the $60 guide cost.

13. Arduino-Powered Laser Turret

You will need:

  • 2 servos
  • Laser module
  • Piezo buzzer
  • Metal wire and cable ties

While there aren’t many practical reasons for building an Arduino-powered laser turret, that shouldn’t stop you! The code in this project is easily extendable and allows you to customize your turret’s movement. This is an excellent introduction to using servos with Arduino boards, the building blocks of robotics!

14. Pulsating LED Cube

You will need:

  • 64 LEDs
  • Craft wire
  • Component wire
  • Crocodile clips
  • Scrap wood
  • Drill

If you are looking for something beautiful to build, the pulsating LED cube is a perfect choice. Controlled from a single Arduino via multiplexing, it is still easy enough for beginners to make. This project is also excellent soldering practice, which is one of the essential beginner’s electronics skills you need to know.

15. Weekend Project: Build a Giant LED Pixel Display

You will need:

  • 10-meter strip of LED pixels
  • 5V 10A power supply
  • Thick wire
  • Ikea RIBBA photo frame
  • Glass frosting spray
  • White paint

The LED pixel display uses strands of LEDs to create vibrant patterns, text, or even animated GIFs that you can frame, and hang right on your wall. The build relies on external software, called Glediator (free) that allows you complete LED matrix control, and the ability to create live or pre-recorded mixes of your LED animations.

Endless Possibilities With These DIY Arduino Projects

Most simple Arduino projects use few components and teach you the basics of DIY hardware. The best way to get familiar is to follow beginner tutorials like these.

Once you feel confident, why not move on to something more significant like automating your home!

Read the full article: 15 Great Arduino Projects for Beginners

The 7 Best Robotic Arm Kits Under $100

robotic-arms

In the 1980s, there was Armatron. It was the robotic arm toy offered by Tandy electronics that started it all. Today, it’s a whole new world. You can control robotic arm kits with an Arduino, programming it via USB, or even with a hydraulic remote. While many robotic arm kits are expensive, you don’t have to spend a fortune to have some fun. The following robotic arm kits will cost you less than $100 (on Amazon, at least). The Best Arduino Robotic Arms The Arduino is probably the single most popular programmable controllers used by makers around the world. Robotics…

Read the full article: The 7 Best Robotic Arm Kits Under $100

robotic-arms

In the 1980s, there was Armatron. It was the robotic arm toy offered by Tandy electronics that started it all. Today, it’s a whole new world.

You can control robotic arm kits with an Arduino, programming it via USB, or even with a hydraulic remote. While many robotic arm kits are expensive, you don’t have to spend a fortune to have some fun.

The following robotic arm kits will cost you less than $100 (on Amazon, at least).

The Best Arduino Robotic Arms

The Arduino is probably the single most popular programmable controllers used by makers around the world. Robotics is also one of the most popular projects for Arduino enthusiasts. So it stands to reason that Arduino-controlled robotic arm kits would also be popular.

1. SunFounder DIY Robotic Arm Kit

sunfounder robotic arm kit

SunFounder DIY Robotic Arm kit 4-Axis Servo Control Rollarm with Wired Controller for Arduino Uno R3 SunFounder DIY Robotic Arm kit 4-Axis Servo Control Rollarm with Wired Controller for Arduino Uno R3 Buy Now At Amazon $75.99

You’ll find that most SunFounder robotics products are rated well on Amazon. The SunFounder 4-Axis DIY Robotic Arm Kit is no exception.

If you’re looking to learn robotic control with your Android, this robotic arm is a must-have. Works with open source MCU Arduino UNO.

You can use the four potentiometers on the control panel to manipulate all four axes. Or you could get a bit more advanced and send commands to the arm from your Arduino. This is done via a USB cable and the Arduino serial port.

It’s a “smart” robot in that you can “teach” it to perform a series of up to 100 movements at one time. Once programmed, the arm will repeat those movements as often as you like.

  • Axis: Four
  • Controls: Control panel (potentiometers), Arduino, or via PC (with LabVIEW)
  • Axis Control: Individual servos
  • Power: Two 18650 batteries (not included)
  • Price Range: Under $100

2. ArmUno 2.0 MeArm

armuno robotic arm kit

ArmUno 2.0 MeArm and Arduino Compatible DIY Robot Arm Kit With MeCon Motion Control Software and Arduino Source Code Via Download Link ArmUno 2.0 MeArm and Arduino Compatible DIY Robot Arm Kit With MeCon Motion Control Software and Arduino Source Code Via Download Link Buy Now At Amazon $36.99

The ArmUno 2.0 MeArm robotic arm kit is Arduino or Raspberry Pi compatible, and even includes free downloadable software you can start using right away.

This is a four-axis arm with four controlling servos. You can also use the Windows-compatible software to control the robot and teach it movements. It’s promoted as coming with laser-cut pieces, but some reviewers noted it feels a little flimsy. However, the price is very competitive considering it comes with all the software you need.

Make sure you have an Arduino or Raspberry Pi before you order because you need one for the robot to work! Assemble it in no time with just a screwdriver. Review the wiring schematics and source code at the Microbotlabs website before you buy so you know you have everything you need.

  • Axis: Four
  • Controls: Control via Arduino or Raspberry Pi, and includes Windows-based control software
  • Axis Control: Individual servos
  • Power: four AA batteries to power Arduino (not included)
  • Price Range: Under $50

The Best Hydraulic Robotic Arms

If you really want to try something different, consider building a hydraulic robotic arm kit. These kits are perfect for learning about hydraulic controls, and are easy enough for kids to assemble.

3. OWI Hydraulic Robotic Arm Edge Kit

owi hydraulic robotic arm kit

OWI Hydraulic Arm Edge Kit OWI Hydraulic Arm Edge Kit Buy Now At Amazon $33.27

Forget about batteries and servos. This OWI Hydraulic Robotic arm kit is fully powered by water. It also comes with more axes of movement than most others in this price range.

You can command up six axes of movement. This includes the wrist in two directions, base rotation, shoulder motion, and a vertical/horizontal reach. It includes a lever control system to control the hydraulics on every axis.

This arm comes with 229 parts, so is recommended for ages 12 and up. It’s a very simple but effective way to teach children (and adults!) about the power of hydraulics, and comes with easy to follow instructions.

  • Axis: Five
  • Controls: Five levers, one for each axis
  • Axis Control: Individual hydraulic cylinder
  • Power: Water
  • Price Range: Under $100

The Best Programmable Robotic Arms

Want to take your robotics skills to the next level? Try assembling and programming a robotic arm kit that comes with a micro-controller built in. The kits below come ready to be programmed.

4. LewanSoul Arbit Robot Car Kit

lewansoul robotic car kit

LewanSoul Armbit Programmable Smart Wooden Robot Car Kit Line Tracking, Avoid Obstacle, Transfer Robot Steam Education(Unassembled) LewanSoul Armbit Programmable Smart Wooden Robot Car Kit Line Tracking, Avoid Obstacle, Transfer Robot Steam Education(Unassembled) Buy Now At Amazon $99.99

Most programmable arm kits that have as many sensors and features as this one typically cost well over $100. However, since this one is entirely made of wood, it reduces the cost significantly.

If you’re more interested in learning about the electronics and robotics anyway, then the LewanSoul Arbit Robot Car Kit is a great trade-off.

This robot car-arm comes with a Micro:bit controller that you can program using the web-based JavaScript Graphical Compiler. It comes with a Bluetooth module, an LED matrix, accelerometer, electronic compass, and even a thermometer! It’s Bluetooth-enabled, so you can control the robot car-arm with your Android or iOS device.

  • Axis: Three
  • Controls: Five levers, one for each axis
  • Axis Control: Programming the Micro:bit controller
  • Power: Two 3.7V lithium batteries
  • Price Range: Under $100

5. OWI-535 Robotic Arm Edge

owi-programmable-robotic-arm

OWI INCORPORATED OWI-535 Robotic Arm Edge 187 Piece Kit, 1.5" OWI INCORPORATED OWI-535 Robotic Arm Edge 187 Piece Kit, 1.5" Buy Now At Amazon $51.99

OWI is well known for making high-quality, durable robotic kits like these.

This 187-piece, five-axis OWI robotic arm kit includes a gripper, and 120 degree wrist motion. You can also program the 300 degree elbow range, base rotation, and 180 degree base motion. It even includes a search light on the gripper (for all those objects you need to lift in the dark).

The arm kit comes with a wired remote control unit, to manipulate the robot arm.

Note: To program the unit to perform a series of automated motions, purchase the USB Interface and software. This increases the price but still remains under $100.

  • Axis: Five
  • Controls: Wired remote, programmable with USB Interface add-on
  • Axis Control: Individual servos
  • Power: Four D-cell batteries
  • Price Range: Under $100

The Best Robotic Arms for Kids

Use these robotic arm kits to introduce robotics to kids!

6. HEXBUG VEX Motorized Robotic Arm

vex robotic arm kit

HEXBUG VEX Motorized Robotic Arm HEXBUG VEX Motorized Robotic Arm Buy Now At Amazon $51.78

The HEXBUG VEX robotic arm is intended mostly for getting kids hooked on building robotics. It provides a LEGO-like building experience. But it does offer a four-axis range of motion at one-speed only.

It comes with a four-switch wired remote to control all four servos. Note that some reviewers mentioned that the unit is made of a plastic that the servos are strong enough to bend.

Since the robotic arm built can also be made into two other configurations, a chopper and a scorpion. It’s like getting three build kits in one! For the young “maker” in your family, it’s a perfect starting point.

  • Axis: Four
  • Controls: Wired remote
  • Axis Control: Individual servos
  • Power: Three C/LR batteries (not included)
  • Price Range: Under $100

7. UBTECH: Jimu Builderbots Kit

ubtech-robotic-arm

UBTECH Builderbots Kit Interactive Robotic Building Block System (303 Piece), 8" x 6" UBTECH Builderbots Kit Interactive Robotic Building Block System (303 Piece), 8" x 6" Buy Now At Amazon $78.00

Like the Hexbug kit, this UBTECH Builderbots robotic arm kit is geared toward teaching kids about robotics and programming.

This is a 357-piece robotic kit that includes an infrared sensor, an LED, and four servo motors. You can control the robot by programming it with proprietary drag-and-drop “Blockly” code via the iOS or Android JIMU robot app.

  • Axis: Four
  • Controls: Programmable via mobile device
  • Axis Control: Individual servos
  • Power: Single Lithium ion battery (included)
  • Price Range: Under $100

Robotic Arm Kits Are Just the Start

If you’re new to robotics and you’d like a fun project that’ll teach you the basics, all of these robotic arm kits are ideal. For adults, the Arduino-compatible kits will also let you get your feet wet in the microcontroller programming world.

While you’re at it, download our Arduino beginner’s guide, and once you’re ready, you can buy a robotic arm kit and really go to town with it.

Read the full article: The 7 Best Robotic Arm Kits Under $100

How to Make Your Own Wi-Fi Connected Button With ESP8266

make-wifi-button

The Internet of Things has vast DIY potential. With enough know-how and a few cheap components, you could build a complex system of connected devices. Sometimes, however, you want something simple. No bells or whistles, just a button that performs a single task. You might already be familiar with something like this if you’ve ever used an Amazon Dash button to reorder everyday household items. Today we will make a Wi-Fi enabled button using a NodeMCU, and program it to use IFTTT to do… well, anything! Written instructions following the video, if you prefer. What You’ll Need You will need:…

Read the full article: How to Make Your Own Wi-Fi Connected Button With ESP8266

make-wifi-button

The Internet of Things has vast DIY potential. With enough know-how and a few cheap components, you could build a complex system of connected devices.

Sometimes, however, you want something simple. No bells or whistles, just a button that performs a single task. You might already be familiar with something like this if you’ve ever used an Amazon Dash button to reorder everyday household items.

Today we will make a Wi-Fi enabled button using a NodeMCU, and program it to use IFTTT to do… well, anything! Written instructions following the video, if you prefer.

What You’ll Need

Wi-Fi Button Parts Needed

You will need:

  • 1 x NodeMCU (ESP8266) board, available for $2-3 on AliExpress
  • 1 x Pushbutton
  • 1 x LED (optional)
  • 1 x 220 Ohm resistor (optional)
  • Breadboard and hookup wires
  • Micro USB for programming
  • Computer with the Arduino IDE installed

Apart from the NodeMCU, you should be able to find most of these parts in any Arduino starter kit. This tutorial will assume you are using the optional LED and resistor, but they are not essential.

Step 1: Setting Up the Circuit

The hardware setup is very simple for this project. Set up your board according to this diagram.

NodeMCU Wi-Fi button Fritzing diagram

The purple wire attaches pin D0 to one side of the button. The green wire connects the other side of the button to the RST pin. The blue wire runs from pin D1 to the resistor and LED. The negative leg of the LED attaches to the GND pin of the NodeMCU.

When the breadboard is set up it should look something like this:

NodeMCU Wifi button circuit setup

If you are wondering how I’ve got my LED going to the ground pin using just those tiny bits of cable, our quick breadboard crash course should help clear it up! Check your setup and attach your NodeMCU to the computer via USB.

Step 2: Setting Up the IDE

Before getting on with coding, you need to make some preparations. If you haven’t already, set up the Arduino IDE to recognize your NodeMCU board. You can add it to your boards list via File > Preferences.

arduino board manager URLS

You can find a more detailed explanation of this step in our NodeMCU introduction article.

Two libraries are required for this project. Navigate to Sketch > Include Library > Manage Libraries. Search for ESP8266WIFI by Ivan Grokhotkov and install it. This library is written for making Wi-Fi connections with the NodeMCU board.

Arduino IDE Library Manager
Next search for the IFTTTWebhook by John Romkey and install the latest version. This library is designed to simplify the process of sending webhooks to IFTTT.

That’s all the preparation we need, lets code!

How the Code Will Work

We’ll use the ESP8266WIFI library to establish a Wi-Fi connection. The IFTTTWebhooks library makes a request to IFTTT—in this case, to post to Twitter. Then, instruct the NodeMCU board to sleep when not in use to save power.

When the button is pressed, it will link the D0 and RST pins. This resets the board, and the process happens again.

Most of the code in this tutorial is simple enough for beginners. That said, if you are starting out, you’ll find it a lot easier to understand after following our Arduino beginners guide.

This tutorial goes through the code in chunks to help with understanding. If you want to get straight to business, you can find the complete code at Pastebin. Note that you will still need to fill in your Wi-Fi and IFTTT credentials in this code for it to function!

Step 3: Testing Deep Sleep

To begin, we’ll create a simple test to show how deep sleep works. Open a new sketch in the Arduino IDE. Enter the following two code chunks.

#include <IFTTTWebhook.h>
#include <ESP8266WiFi.h>

#define ledPin 5 
#define wakePin 16
#define ssid "YOUR_WIFI_SSID"
#define password "YOUR_WIFI_PASSWORD"
#define IFTTT_API_KEY "IFTTT_KEY_GOES_HERE"
#define IFTTT_EVENT_NAME "IFTTT_EVENT_NAME_HERE"

Here, we include our libraries, along with defining a few variables we will need in our sketch. You’ll notice that the ledPin and wakePin are numbered differently here compared to the Fritzing diagram above. The NodeMCU has a different pinout to Arduino boards. This is not a problem though, due to this handy diagram:

NodeMCU__v1.0_pinout

Now create a setup function:

void setup() {
  Serial.begin(115200);
  while(!Serial) { 
  }
  Serial.println(" ");// print an empty line before and after Button Press  	
  Serial.println("Button Pressed");
  Serial.println(" ");// print an empty line  
  ESP.deepSleep(wakePin); 
}

Here, we set up our serial port, and use a while loop to wait until it begins. Since this code will trigger after pressing the reset button, we print “Button Pressed” to the serial monitor. Then, we tell the NodeMCU to go into deep sleep until the button connecting the wakePin to the RST pin is pressed.

Finally, for testing, add this to your loop() method:

void loop(){
  //if deep sleep is working, this code will never run.
  Serial.println("This shouldn't get printed");
}

Usually, Arduino sketches run the loop function continuously after setup. Since we send the board to sleep before setup ends, the loop never runs.

Save your sketch and upload it to the board. Open the serial monitor and you should see “Button Pressed.” Every time the button triggers, the board resets and the message prints again. It works!

Button Pressed Serial Monitor Test

A Note About the Serial Monitor

You may have noticed some nonsense characters in the serial monitor during some of your projects. This is usually due to not setting the serial monitor to the same baud rate as the Serial.begin(XXXX) rate.

Many guides suggest starting the serial connection at a baud rate of 115200 for a project like this. I tried many combinations, and they all had varying degrees of gibberish before and after serial messages. According to various forum posts, this could be down to a faulty board or software compatibility issue. As it doesn’t affect the project too badly, I’m choosing to pretend it’s not happening.

If you are having issues with the serial monitor, try different baud rates and see which works best for you.

Step 4: Connecting to Wi-Fi

Now create a function for connecting to your Wi-Fi network.

void connectToWifi() {
  Serial.print("Connecting to: SSID NAME"); //uncomment next line to show SSID name
  //Serial.print(ssid); 
  WiFi.begin(ssid, password);  
  Serial.println(" ");// print an empty line
  Serial.print("Attempting to connect: ");

  //try to connect for 10 seconds
  int i = 10;
  while(WiFi.status() != WL_CONNECTED && i >=0) {
    delay(1000);
    Serial.print(i);
    Serial.print(", ");
    i--;
  }
  Serial.println(" ");// print an empty line

  //print connection result
  if(WiFi.status() == WL_CONNECTED){
    Serial.print("Connected."); 
    Serial.println(" ");// print an empty line
    Serial.print("NodeMCU ip address: "); 
    Serial.println(WiFi.localIP());
  }
  else {
    Serial.println("Connection failed - check your credentials or connection");
  }
}

This method attempts to connect to your network ten times with a second in between. Success or failure of connection prints to the serial monitor.

Step 5: Calling the Connection Method

Right now, the connectToWifi() is never called. Add a call to your setup function between the “Button Pressed” message and sending the board to sleep.

connectToWifi();

In case you are wondering where this fits, it should look like this:

Where connectToWifi() fits
At the top of the sketch replace the ssid and password variables with your Wi-Fi credentials. Save your sketch and upload to the board.

Now when the board boots it will attempt to connect to your Wi-Fi network, before returning to the setup function. Now, lets set up the IFTTT integration.

Step 6: Setting Up IFTTT Integration

IFTTT allows integration with a vast array of web services. We used it in our Wi-Fi PC tower LED tutorial to send an alert whenever a new email is received. Today we’ll be using it to send a tweet at the press of a button.

Navigate to the My Applets page, and select New Applet

Click on +this and connect to Webhooks. Select “Receive a web request” and name your event. Keep it simple! Note down the event name, you’ll need to add it to your NodeMCU code later. Click “Create Trigger”.

Web Request with IFTTT Webhooks
Now select +that. Search for the Twitter service and connect to it—you will need to authorize it to post to your Twitter account. Select “Post a tweet” and choose your message.

IFTTT - Send Tweet
The next screen will ask you to review the applet. Click finish. That’s it!

Step 7: Adding IFTTT Credentials to the Code

Back in the Arduino IDE you will need to add your IFTTT API key and event name to your defined variables. To find the API key, navigate to My Applets and select Webhooks under the Services tab. Select Documentation to access your key.

Copy the key, and event name into your code, replacing the temporary names set up for them.

#define IFTTT_API_KEY "IFTTT_KEY_GOES_HERE"
#define IFTTT_EVENT_NAME "IFTTT_EVENT_NAME_HERE"

Note, the inverted commas have to stay, only replace the text.

Between calling the connectToWifi() and sending the board to sleep, create an instance of the IFTTTWebhook library object. The LED signals task completion before deep sleep begins again.

//just connected to Wi-Fi
IFTTTWebhook hook(IFTTT_API_KEY, IFTTT_EVENT_NAME);
hook.trigger();

pinMode(ledPin, OUTPUT);
digitalWrite(ledPin, HIGH);   
delay(200);              
digitalWrite(ledPin, LOW); 
//now sending board to sleep

Calling trigger on the hook object fires off the IFTTT applet, and should post to your Twitter account. Save your sketch and upload it. You now should have a fully functional tweeting button.

Working Wi-Fi Button Gif

If it doesn’t seem to be working, check through your code and credentials carefully for mistakes. If you really get stuck, get the full code from above and compare it to your own.

Done! How Could You Improve It Further?

This is a basic version of a Wi-Fi button, but there are many ways it could be improved. For simplicity, the USB connection is used for power here. A battery would make it entirely mobile, and a case holding the circuit would be the perfect beginner 3D printing project.

Despite using deep sleep, you may find a battery would run out quite quickly. There are many Arduino power saving tips that help in these type of projects. While more difficult than this tutorial, if you made your own power-conscious Arduino from scratch, a battery-powered Wi-Fi button could last for months!

This project would make the perfect for a remote for smart home applications. There are already a considerable amount of home automation applets available on IFTTT. Once you’ve got the basics down, you can use almost any sensor or switch to trigger practically any service you can imagine.

Image Credit: Vadmary/Depositphotos

Read the full article: How to Make Your Own Wi-Fi Connected Button With ESP8266

5 Awesome Ways to Use a Camera With Your Arduino

arduino-camera-diy

When building a camera from scratch, an Arduino board might not be the first thing you think of. There are however, a number Arduino compatible camera units. Let’s take a look at the options available. 1. TaskCam: A 3D-Printed Digital Camera Between 2003 and 2008, digital camera sales tripled, before smartphones turned the tide and digital cameras quickly fell from favor. It’s easy to see why with phones being targeted at users specifically on the strength of their cameras. After all, it’s so much easier to only have one device to carry around. Enter the TaskCam kit. Specifically aimed at…

Read the full article: 5 Awesome Ways to Use a Camera With Your Arduino

arduino-camera-diy

When building a camera from scratch, an Arduino board might not be the first thing you think of. There are however, a number Arduino compatible camera units. Let’s take a look at the options available.

1. TaskCam: A 3D-Printed Digital Camera

Between 2003 and 2008, digital camera sales tripled, before smartphones turned the tide and digital cameras quickly fell from favor. It’s easy to see why with phones being targeted at users specifically on the strength of their cameras. After all, it’s so much easier to only have one device to carry around.

Enter the TaskCam kit. Specifically aimed at artists and the DIY electronics market, this is perfect for anyone who’d rather build their own camera.

The simple but elegant TaskCam 3D-printed edition is designed to emulate the feel of a disposable camera with a few notable differences. An Arduino Uno is the brains of the operation. The TaskCam shield provides a screen to post “tasks” to the user, along with the battery holster, SD card slot, and camera unit. All of it fits neatly into a 3D-printed case or enclosure of your own devising!

Intended for use in public places to snap prompt-based photos, the TaskCam is a fresh take on digital photography. Best of all? The project is open source, so you are free to download the schematics from CircuitMaker and make your own PCB. The 3D print is designed for even budget printers making it a great beginner 3D printing project. Our guide to 3D printing will help you through the process!

2. ArduCAM and ESP8266: Home Surveillance

ArduCAM is an SPI module designed for use with microcontrollers. The modules run at a low enough voltage to be powered directly from Arduino pins, but provide an output resolution high enough for a variety of uses.

This makes ArduCAM SPI units perfect for remote video surveillance in the home. This is exactly the approach Instructables user dmainmon used in their ESP8266 powered camera with web interface:

In the project’s Instructable, dmainmon swaps out the Arduino board for the compatible but better-featured ESP8266. (We also think ESP8266 beats Arduino!) This makes the camera unit wireless, and the included code supports static images, and live video streaming to the browser.

This build is only one step away from being an automated surveillance system. However, savvy IFTTT users (our IFTTT guide) could use a plugin to save images periodically to Dropbox.

3. Auto-Turret: Robot Desk Sniper

Few things are cooler than an auto-tracking robot arm. A foam dart gun attached to an auto-tracking robot arm is one of them. Combining several parts from Trossen Robotic’s RobotGeek line, this automatic color-tracking robot desk sniper uses a Pixy camera module in conjunction with an Arduino to track its targets.

The Trossen Robotics team’s guide on the Arduino Project Hub covers each element for setup of the autonomous aimbot. They also provide link to purchase all of the parts needed to build it. While there are cheaper options for a first-time Arduino robotics project, this one wins points for being so very, very cool.

4. Arduino Yun Motion Activated Camera

Arduino-powered turret with camera
Image Credit: lady ada/adafruit.com

While seeming similar to the ESP8266 security camera earlier in this article, the Arduino Yun motion-activated camera has a crucial difference. It attaches to the board via USB.

This has several clear advantages. USB webcams are readily available, and there are many USB video class devices at the budget end of the spectrum. This makes this project perfect for anyone wanting to tinker with cameras on the Arduino platform, without buying costly parts they may never use.

When the motion sensor triggers, images from the webcam are stored on the SD card of the Yun before being uploaded to the user’s Dropbox via Temboo for later viewing. The setup also allows for streaming of video directly to YouTube, making this project more than just another home security system, but a unique DIY method of streaming live.

There is a caveat to this method, however. The Arduino Yun was “retired” by the Arduino project, and while the boards are still available from 3rd party vendors, they might not be easy to find. However, some clone boards which will perform a similar function, and Arduino shields such as the Dragino Yun Shield are designed to provide the same functionality as the original Arduino Yun.

5. Voice-Controlled Arduino Robot

Having a robot to order around is one of the best feelings in the world. While it may be some time until we can casually ask our robot butler to cook us a meal, a little tinkering could get you an obedient little robot worker today!

KureBas Robotics combined voice activation, a cheap action cam, and a two-wheeled robotic armed robot to make his table-cleaning Arduino bot.

By combining the Wi-Fi function of the action camera with a Bluetooth system for controlling the robot’s movement, KureBas utilized a reusable camera rather than a costly microcontroller only unit. The remote control of the robot along with the voice activation is made possible through the Android app designed by the project builder, available for download from the tutorial page.

More DIY Camera Projects to Explore

There are many DIY camera projects which do not use an Arduino, but for fully integrated projects, the Arduino framework along with other similar microcontrollers add a new element to digital photography.

Read the full article: 5 Awesome Ways to Use a Camera With Your Arduino

I, for one, welcome our robotic ukulele overlords

It is unclear where the UkuRobot came from and where it will go once it is done with humanity but I fear that it is up to no good. Look at this robot: small, compact, infinitely complex. Its fretting system stares at us, gimlet -eyed, while the plucking system continues its dark work on the […]

It is unclear where the UkuRobot came from and where it will go once it is done with humanity but I fear that it is up to no good. Look at this robot: small, compact, infinitely complex. Its fretting system stares at us, gimlet -eyed, while the plucking system continues its dark work on the strings. The system uses Lego, motors, and what looks like an Arduino to bring evil songs out of that mini-guitar of death, the ukulele. The world will never be the same and, honestly, do we deserve it to be?

The UkuRobot can play almost any song. In these videos it plays two songs, The Godfather theme and Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Green Day. In the end the tune this monstrous creation plays does not matter. It will pluck out the end of days, winking stars from the sky as each note cascades out of its sound hole. In the end we will not fear the UkuRobot but we will obey it. In the end, all will be lost.

You can also watch it play the Requiem for a Dream theme song here. Pretty cool stuff.