If any of the info on this website was useful for your projects or made your head spin with creative ideas, and you would like to share a token of your appreciation- a donation would be massively appreciated!

Your donation will go to my Robotics Fund, straight towards more sensors, actuators, books, and journeys. It takes a lot to continue building these robots, and I’m really thankful of everyone who helps encourage me along the way.



“A wise robot once said to me through Serial.println- that robots teach us about ourselves.”

All posts tagged Arduino

Progress Update: Nintendo DS + 3DP Game Controller


The goal of this hack is to make an interface to the Nintendo DS. We use Caleb Kraft‘s 3D printed game controller pieces (D-Pad, 4 Buttons) for the interface.

Been working on this for a little while now, and finally hit a milestone with it.

Here is a progress update video!

Took a while to figure out how the buttons on the DS worked. Finally figured it out, and use a level shifter to trigger the buttons from the Arduino. The Arduino is also checking the button presses from the external 3D printed controllers, then sends the corresponding press to the DS.

I want to document this very well so that other people can do this too. Been taking lots of photos throughout. Caleb Kraft’s talk at the Open Hardware Summit was really eye-opening, and I think it’s cool how the ‘copy & paste’ empowerment can have such a huge effect on people that really need it. Games are fun, and everyone should be able to play them. Why should physical ability prohibit what happens in the gaming worlds? So unfair.

Will also be trying out a speech recognition interface, wonder how well it will work. If you have any other crazy ideas for interfaces, let me know.

Tentacle Mechanism (work in progress 3)


The tentacle mechanism has come a long way since the last update. More LEDs, a better behaviour, and a mount for the electronics and wall. Plus some fun long exposure photos ;)

Here is a video clip where you can see it in action:

Also, the tentacle mechanism appeared on the Adafruit Show and Tell-

Check it out here at the 2:55-7:06 mark!

The behaviour for the tentacle mechanism has been difficult to figure out.

Our fist attempt was to use the outputs to communicate how many times the button should be pressed. At first, it was fun, but then it just becomes confusing. Sort of similar to: ‘Why is this thing doing this thing, what can I do to change it?’. You can watch a video of this here.

The next attempt was to use the ultrasonic sensor, and have different actions for each distance threshold. There are also ‘mini-actions’ that occur from the changes between these distances. So when you are interacting with it, the ‘dances’ that the tentacle does will be similar, but the introduction to that dance, LEDs blinking, will be different.

But in the code, it’s more than controlling the robot. There are ‘debug’ statements where the robot is saying things. It gives some context as to what the robot thinks is happening.

Screen Shot 2013-08-02 at 4.05.02 PM

So as you can see, this robot has some sort of creepy obsession with distance.

And it gets even more interesting when the human goes away:

Screen Shot 2013-08-02 at 4.05.24 PM

As for actually displaying the text to the humans, it might be nice to have a tiny OLED display at some distance away from the robot, that only lights up after some amount of time of interaction. This way the humans will pay more attention to the tentacle moving at first, then notice the display and keep interacting.

What is all this ‘be’ functions about in the code? Those are the ‘mini-actions’, as mentioned above. They just blink the LEDs in certain patterns and such. In a future robot, this will be more involved with the social drives/mind/emotions.

Taking long exposures of the tentacle moving has been quite fun. Here are some of my favourites:




Working on documenting it, there were a lot of lessons learnt while building this! ;)

Make: Lego and Arduino Projects Foreword


Have you seen this book: Make: Lego and Arduino Projects? It’s all about adding in Arduinos to your Lego robot projects! This is really helpful if you find you want to do more with Lego robots, but find the NXT too restrictive.

It’s written by John Baichtal (@johnbaichtal), Matthew Beckler (@mbeckler) & Adam Wolf (@adamwwolf)! I’ve met these people at Maker Faire before, they are really cool. They asked me to write the foreword for their book, what a great honour!



This book goes along with the Bricktronics shield for Arduino. It’s how you can connect the NXT motors and sensors to the Arduino. They sent me one, cause even though I don’t have some Lego anymore, I’ll probably use the L293D for something (can never have enough of those chips eh!)


Here is a closeup of the board, not a lot of empty space and the TIP120′s will be standing up:


Here is the board when it is assembled. When following their kit instructions, the steps aren’t ordered from shortest components to tallest, so you may want to jump around a bit.


Look at this, the plastic connector things make it look like a giant compared to the Arduino / Diavolino!




Back in the day of RCX’s, the ‘connectors’ were much simpler and didn’t cost as much, they were just a few wires attached to a custom Lego brick. It was a lot easier back then to wire up your own lights or whatever.

I’m looking forward to using the L293D in some project at some point in time. As for the rest of the board, perhaps use it as robot artwork or something. Or if I find someone that is in to Arduinos and Legos, give it to them ;)

Thanks again to the authours for the invite to write the Foreword. I hope it will get the readers motivated and ready to build (and read)! :P

More to come later about the latest and greatest RoboBrrd news!