Build A BassMaster Carnival Game

BassMaster 3000

The BassMaster 3000

The BassMaster 3000

Want to build your own carnival game? This is a great project to build for birthdays, work parties, or just for the fun of it!

The electronics really bring it to life.  An Arduino Yun was used to monitor the sensors, host a web slideshow with candid pictures of the winners (shown on nearby monitor), and trigger the lights and sound.  The video below shows how it works:

If you want to build your own, the full detail (including Arduino source code) can be found on Instructables here.

Shameless Plug For Votes!

I  entered this tutorial into three “Instructables” contests listed below (Sensors, Epilog Challenge, and Summer #mikehacks).  I would really appreciate it if you would take a minute and vote for my Instructable for each of these contests.  Note that voting does require an account on Sign-up only takes a minute and my experience has been that they are very good about not sending SPAM your way or selling your email address.

By winning or placing in these contests, I could potentially get some great tools and supplies to build bigger and better things!

To vote, simply visit each contest using the links provided below.  You should see my BassMaster entry listed on the page. Thanks in advance for helping me out!

Sensors Contest (Vote For Me HERE!) UPDATE – I’m a finalist in the Sensors Contest! Thanks for your votes!
Epilog Challenge VI (Vote For Me HERE!)
Summer #mikehacks (Vote for Me HERE!)

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Arduino Unplugged – Wireless Sensors

This weekend I started playing around with the nRF24L01 RF modules.  These things are a fantastic low-cost option for creating wireless communications between two Arduino micro-controllers.

nRF24L01+ 2.4GHz Wireless Modules

nRF24L01+ 2.4GHz Wireless Modules

These are multi-node modules where many modules can transmit back to the same “master” node.  You can also find long distance versions of the same module online that claim to achieve 800-1K meters (2624 – 3280 ft)  in distance!

This example shows a simple LED being controlled wirelessly.  You can get about 300ft of distance between the two devices. Possibly more in clear view.  I was able to walk around my entire house and still trigger the LED remotely. The options are endless for what you could do with this when it comes to wireless sensors and remote monitoring.

My next step – Shrink the transmitting side down to a ATTiny85 version of the Arduino, bringing the cost of each transmitter down to about $5.


ATTiny85 – At about $1 each, these are perfect for dedicating to a project in place of an Arduino

Stay tuned for more details and an update on the project as it gets closer to completion.

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Happy Arduino Day!

Happy Birthday Arduino!

To celebrate Arduino Day, has several fantastic deals on Arduino boards valid one day only for “Arduino Day” which is today, March 29th.

I would recommend the $9 “RedBoard” for anyone just getting started. The $3 mini boards are great if you have a little experience and are looking for a low cost dedicated Arduino for your projects.

They are allowing back orders on these awesome prices.  Don’t miss out on these great deals.

Also note that today from 4 – 8pm is the “Launch Party” for Generator, a new VT Maker Space with lots of cool (expensive) gadgets for your building needs. They will have a cash bar from 6-8pm and Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup. What more could you want?

Have fun and let me know if you build something.


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Get Over 1/2 Mile Range With Wireless Arduino Projects

Break Your Arduino Free From Wifi

A $20 wirelesss development board based on Arduino is about to enter the market.  Makers everywhere are excited about the possibilities this brings to their projects.

Flutter Wireless

 Our goal is to provide the community with access to inexpensive and reliable wireless technology. That’s why we built flutter. Based on Arduino, flutter is a wireless electronic development board with an ARM processor and integrated hardware encryption.

Flutter is a successfully funded Kickstarter Project that raised $149,906 of it’s original $80,000 goal.

Flutter offers the following features:

  • 1,000+ meter range
  • 1.2 Mbps max data rate
  • 915 MHz operating frequency
  • Atmel SAM3s ARM CPU at 64MHz
  • Cryptographic key storage
  • Mesh networking
  • 3.3v system voltage
  • 10-40mA current draw (normal use)

Unlike many wifi-based products, flutter boards talk directly to each other – no routers or servers required. All you need to make a flutter network is two flutter boards and power. Whether you’re preparing for Burning Man or just building a project for your next hiking trip, flutter has you covered.

Due to begin shipping in April, this product has serious potential for some amazing wireless projects.  I can’t wait to get my hands on a kit.

For more details visit the Flutter Press Page, Flutter Website, or the original Flutter Kickstarter Page

Posted in Products Tagged with: , ,

Arduino Classes in Essex, VT

Arduino is an electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. It is intended for creating interactive objects or environments. The sky is the limit on the things you can create.

Interested in all the “Maker Craze” with Arduino? Not sure where to start?

Arduino Yún

Arduino Yún

John Mangan of will be presenting a series of classes on the Arduino microcontroller in two tracks. The beginners track is for people who have zero experience with Arduino.

A series of separate hands-on classes will follow with increasing levels of difficulty (and fun!). An optional Arduino starter kit will be available for purchase and use in the hands-on sessions.

The details of each class are still being planned. The introduction class will be a one-hour session. Hands-on workshops will be 2 hour sessions and will require students to bring their own PC or Mac to participate. Classes are planned to be offered in Essex, VT, but details on the venue are still being finalized.

Class sizes will be limited and pricing will be very reasonable. Interested? Sign up to my mailing list below to be notified when more details become available.

Enter your email address to be notified of updates:

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Posted in Events Tagged with: , , 2013 Geek Gift Guide

Welcome to my first annual Geek Gift Guide!
2013 Geek Gift Guide
It’s no secret that I’m a gadget guy. I’m always on the lookout for new and unique items. There is something on this hand-picked list for everyone, young and old! They are in no particular order and new items will be added to the top of this list daily during the first two weeks of December. Check back regularly for updates!

If you have suggestions for items to add this year, please use the contact form here.

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No Shortage of Maker’s in VT!

Champlain Mini Maker Faire
Wow! Our second annual Maker Faire appears to have been a huge success. I heard rumor (unconfirmed) that the Faire was at capacity (sold out) on Saturday. My booth was buzzing with eager makers from open to close on both days.

What better setting could we possibly have for a Maker Faire than the Shelburne Farms Coach Barn?
Shelburne Farms

There is something about combining new technology in an old and beautiful setting that I really like. It seems to go really well together.

My main project / theme was “Roll Your Own Persistence of Vision“. In addition to my own large scale POV fan (seen behind me to my left in the photo below), I had a couple of commercially available POV toys to further demonstrate the concept. People of all ages were extremely interested in learning more about the capabilities of Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and the differences between the two, all of which I was more than happy to explain.

In addition to POV, I laid out various random projects such as a laser trip wire that turns lights on/off and plays random sounds and RGB LED lights flashing with amazing colors. These were all done using Arduino components. These definitely got the creative juices flowing for my visitors. They walked away excited and interested in learning more about the endless possibilities for these controllers for their own future projects.

Spreading this excitement in learning is exactly why I love volunteering my time to do this. It is my little taste of why some teachers are so passionate to teach.

At my partially setup booth on day one.  A bit of calm before the storm!

At my partially setup booth on day one. A bit of calm before the storm!

I met many people who wanted my business card or wanted to know if I consulted on various projects. I had to explain quite a few times that is just my personal hobby site and not what I do for a living. For those of you that want to stay in touch or contact me, you can always use the About Page on this site which has a contact form, and also follow me on Twitter, Google+ and of course, Instructables.

The SparkFun Roadshow Van.

The SparkFun Roadshow Van.

For those of you that don’t know, is like a huge online toy store for tech geeks. I wish they had physical stores and they were local! They are what Radio Shack was back in the day for Electronics geeks but 10x better.

As always, my retro Armatron robot arm from the 80's was a huge hit for kids and adults!

As always, my retro Armatron robot arm from the 80’s was a huge hit for kids and adults! This thing never gets old.

While this particular robot arm is no longer being made, you can find a similar one on Amazon for about $38. Click the link for details.

In closing, I really wish I could have done more with my booth this year but work and home responsibilities prevented me from doing so. I didn’t even START my POV fan project until the day before the Faire. Lucky for me, everything worked on the first try as I was putting it together (that doesn’t happen too often). There is no doubt that I will be back again next year. This is an event that pretty much defines who I am.

It was so much fun answering questions and demonstrating a few of my projects to others. For the “Newbie’s”, there is no such thing as a stupid question. I’m more than happy to help anyone that is eager to learn.

Take care and keep on Making!

– John

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Book Review: iWoz

iWoz: Computer Geek to Cult Icon: How I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-Founded Apple, and Had Fun Doing ItiWoz: Computer Geek to Cult Icon: How I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-Founded Apple, and Had Fun Doing It by Steve Wozniak

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have always been a fan of Woz, long before I was ever an Apple user. After reading this book, I’m an even bigger fan!

You will really enjoy this book if you’re a technical person that is always creating and building things yourself.

I found it very easy to relate to Steve in many ways, not just on the technical side, but also with his overall perspective on life. If you don’t care about the technical details of how things work and are designed from the ground up, this may have some dull parts for you. That said, they are pretty well contained in the book so it would be easy to skip over those sections as needed.

There is no doubt that I would highly recommend this to all my Engineering and Maker friends.

View all my reviews

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Dry Aged Beef @ Home

Dry Aged Beef.  It’s what any high end steakhouse serves and one of the main things that is difficult to reproduce at home with your normal grilling process.

Until now anyway.  Thanks to, below is a fantastic article on how you can produce your very own dry aged beef.  Let me know if you try this. I know I’m dying to myself.

Posted in Uncategorized Tagged with:

Digital RGB LED Strips – Arduino Controlled!

Check out this awesome Arduino controlled Digital RGB LED Strip.  There are 32 LEDs per meter of the strip and they can be shortened or extended quite easily.

With this I can programmatically set the color of each LED’s red, green and blue component with 7-bit PWM precision (so 21-bit color per pixel).  Below you can see my demo of it running through a test script with several different effects going on.

Below you will find several options for buying your own LED strips from Amazon

Special thanks to John Cohn for hooking me up with these! (John, you can borrow my Arduino stuff anytime!)  You can see John wearing a headband made of the same type of LEDs on his Wikipedia page and possibly spot his nearly famous LED hula hoop in one of his many blog posts. The project opportunities are endless.  I’m hooked.

Posted in Projects

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