What is Arduino Useful For?

By Sidney H. Alexander

May 18, 2018

The open-source Arduino platform helps creative people put together unique electronics products, either as a hobby or for functional use. The programmable circuit board can receive code sent via a USB connection. A development environment allows hobbyists to try out their own innovative ideas for fun projects they can bring to life with the help of a programmed Arduino circuit board.

There are useful starter kits to get you moving forward with Arduino. To find the best starter kit for you, click here. Let’s now look at some project examples to see what a little Arduino and some ingenuity can get you.

Garage Door Opener

There’s no longer a need to carry a separate garage door opener. When you’ve mislaid it, you don’t need to panic because Arduino can be used to create a garage door opener that works through your home computer network and your smartphone. As long as you can locate your phone, you can get the garage door to activate. No more stress with hopping out of your car in the rain to open the door manually because you cannot find your garage device.

The project uses the Arduino EtherTen to send the control signal to the garage to open or close. The circuit board works the garage door via a website that’s accessible on your smartphone. With Arduino hooked into your Wi-Fi network, there’s a convenient control interface to manage the system. Up to five family members can have their own password to the web server to access the garage door system (and can be removed, as needed).

Ambient Light Night Lamp

Young kids get scared of the dark. They often want the landing light left on or need a night light plugged into the power outlet. Sleeping in complete darkness isn’t something we get comfortable with until we reach adulthood - and sometimes not even then.

Using Arduino, it’s possible to create a night lamp. It is round and will change color the darker the level of ambient light is in the room, which is a fun feature for small kids. Using either a light dependent resistor or a photoresistor, the mini circuit board can respond correctly and appropriately to changes in light levels. Different resistors with different Ohm levels are needed, depending on whether the light source into the kid’s room has natural light or an artificial light source.

The Ambient light night lamp is a project that a father or mother can develop with their child. If the child shows an interest in how electronics function, then this is an ideal way to learn about it and create a usable product for their bedroom once completed.

Segway-like Robot That Balances Itself

A Segway is fun to ride around on but it’s not really a great kid’s toy. But if you could create a nifty little robot on wheels that can tilt forward and stand back up straight again without falling over, that would be something, right?! Well, Arduino can be used to do just that.

The body is made a block of acrylic to keep it light and somewhat rigid. A couple of DC motors do most of the pushing to get the little robot moving fast. There are two rugged wheels with ample lugs to grip to most surfaces satisfactorily too.

The finished design is a bit like how a pendulum works – just upside down. With weight distribution at the center or higher on the robot, it helps to balance it. However, the real magic is in the accelerometer and gyroscope, which provides information to the system about the current rotated position and level of acceleration. These aren’t much different to the sensors on a smartphone and provide enough information to help the balancing robot do its thing. Neat or what!

Internet of Things (IoT)

If you’ve been interested in getting into the Internet of Things with home automation to manage everything in your home, your friendly programmable circuit board can help with that too. There’s a special home automation server built to help people who wish to put the time into creating a home automation system on their end to connect to the server that’s been created ready to receive their signal.

The system costs less than one hundred bucks to buy the components to create the device. It includes environmental sensors to pick up the temperature, humidity levels, lighting levels, and more. Motion detection and smoke detection can also be built into this kind of system, making separate devices for each function unnecessary. Action events can also be triggered depending on set criteria. For instance, a vacation routine initiated to turn on the lights at certain times and off at other times to mimic still being in the home is one possibility.

LED Light Saber

If you’re into Sci-Fi, then this one is definitely for you. Create a lightsaber that works in the daytime and the nighttime and is perfectly visible due to bright LED lights. Step into the role of Luke Skywalker and feel the force. The saber is intricate but compact. It uses programmable LED light strips and heats up during use to simulate the power of the Jedi. Just don’t try to get into any actual saber battles because these are LED lights, after all.

There are numerous ways to use the programmable circuit board technology of Arduino to try new and interesting ideas out. Being able to write code directly and send it to the board using just a USB cable is a simple advancement that hasn’t been easily possible before. The computing language C++ has been simplified to make it easier to code the behavior that’s needed for each project too.

For design- or technically-minded people, many weekends can be enjoyed coming up with new ideas, sourcing supplies, and create finalized, working solutions to show off to friends and fellow hobbyists. Ultimately, you’ll never be bored when playing around with this PCB and programmable technology because the possibilities for invention and creation are virtually endless. Who knows? One of your inventions could end up on a ‘FundMe’ account when seeking business capital to go into real production later.

Sidney H. Alexander

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About the Author

Hi, Sidney here, I am addicted to techy stuff, anything breaking edge is my favorite, and I love writing so Digitizd.com was born. I realized that there is a huge market for advising people on tech related topics. People just don't have the in-depth knowledge of the digital world that they need to make purchasing decisions. So I am the middle man, the advisor, the guru, call me what you want. I just hope you enjoy my writing. Please leave a comment with your thoughts or questions. Thanks, Sidney

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