Find project parts and prototype hardware at SmallParts

One of the biggest challenges of robotics and DIY hardware is simply finding the right components for the job. You may have cooked up the perfect locomotion system, but obtaining that oddly sized axle bearing or aluminum channel can take up more of your time than the actual design and assembly. Because of this, we’re always on the lookout for good sources of project parts and hardware that can deliver quickly when needed.

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Online IDEs for microcontrollers

mbed's online compiler and IDE for ARM microprocessors.Recently we’ve seen a few options for compiling and programming your processor of choice in the cloud. Online IDEs offer a lot of convenience, as you don’t have to worry about OS idiosyncrasies or implementation details on your specific machine. You simply put in source code and get compiled files out. Power users may want alternatives with more features, but just like other app categories, we’re guessing online development environments will get more polished as time goes on. Most online environments are limited to standard desktop languages, but lately some online options have popped up in the microprocessor arena.

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DIY Arduino oscilloscope using Nokia 3310 LCD screen

Filear.com posted a cool hack that can be done in an afternoon if you have the parts handy.  The author built a DIY oscilloscope using an Arduino Pro Mini and the LCD from a Nokia 3310.  The Arduino is wired up to sample from an ADC port and writes those values to the screen to create a waveform.  Two potentiometers control the sampling speed and input voltage for approximate time and amplitude scaling just like the real thing.

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Enough Already: The Arduino celebrity news assassin

My Arduino is more powerful than your Situation.

Our friends over at Make magazine put together some awesome projects, and this is one of our favorites.  Last year, hacker extraordinaire Matt Richardson released this Arduino project that will monitor your TV closed caption signal for a list of keywords and mute the television when it finds a match.  From his description on Make’s site:

I don’t know about you, but I’m a little sick of hearing about the same people on TV over and over again. I came up with this Arduino-based solution to mute my TV so that I don’t have to hear about Donald Trump’s feud with whomever or Charlie Sheen’s most recent rant.

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Microcontroller tutorial series: AVR and Arduino timer interrupts

Tick tock goes the Arduino clock.

Does your program seem like it’s trying to do too much at once? Are you using a lot of delay() or while() loops that are holding other things up? If so, your project is a good candidate to use timers. In this tutorial, we’ll discuss AVR and Arduino timers and how to use them to write better code.

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Mfile: Generate proper Makefiles for your AVR-GCC projects

GNU Make - A program for direction compilation book cover.When you start programming AVRs, you already have your hands full with learning the C language, I/O registers on your chip, and how to manipulate the hardware.  However,  you also have to worry about your development environment.  Figuring out how to compile code, get it on your device, and debug it can seem overwhelming when you’re trying to tackle one thing at a time.

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Project setup to develop and debug for AVR

Atmel AVR ATMega 1284 in a DIP socket.

Pete Brown, the lead of the Developer Guidance Community Team at Microsoft, has written a great post on how to properly prepare for a new AVR project. He covers how to choose a microcontroller, collecting necessary datasheets and information, setting up your hardware development environment and software IDE, and how to properly test and debug your code.

If you’re looking to make the jump from Arduino or another processor family but aren’t sure where to start, this should help get you off the ground. You can also cross-reference our tutorial on using AVR Studio 5 with Arduino projects if you want to mix and match environments.

Changes in the Arduino 1.0 release: How to migrate

Splash screen for the Arduino 1.0 IDE.At long last, the Arduino team has released Arduino 1.0 – an update to the development environment and core libraries that make the Arduino hardware do its thang.  The 1.0 update has been in the works for a while, and covers a lot of changes, including some you’ll notice and some you won’t.  How does all this affect your Arduino projects?  Read on to find out.

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Five hacks to make your ride the coolest thing on the road

Car modded with Xbox 360 controlsLike hacking?  Like cars?  At EngBlaze, we’re pretty fond of both of these things, which is why we enjoy seeing creative ways to hack your vehicle.  The following projects are a few ideas if you’re looking to insert some DIY hardware into your ride (or perform surgery on an unsuspecting friend’s).  Here are five of our favorite ways to hack your ride and make it stand out from the crowd.

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Evil PCB Christmas tree ornament talks smack, sabotages other ornaments

DIY Christmas tree ornament PCB

Dave has created a Christmas monster and one of the most complex and creative DIY ornaments we’ve seen. He started with a Christmas tree drawing, converted it to a PCB, and designed in 15 RGB LEDs to provide twinkling multicolored cheer during the holiday season.

“So what”, you say.  “Let me search Instructables for you and hand you a list of 1,000 other DIY electronic decorations. Stupid EngBlaze”.

Not so fast, folks.

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