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Online soldarTopic starter

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Arduino looking for problems to solve
« on: May 12, 2024, 10:26:48 pm »
45 years ago I was programming 6502 in assembler and I found plenty of applications. I did data logging, a phone dialer, access control, and a few other things. I always found plenty of things to do.

Fast forward 45 years and I am totally out of the microcontroller world and I want to get into it. I started a thread asking and finally decided to get started with Arduino.

I have had it for two or three months now. I have played a little. Did the blinking LED thing but just cannot get myself motivated to keep learning in the abstract.  I need to find a concrete project, a concrete problem to solve and I just cannot think of anything I need to solve with an Arduino.  I am stuck.

I cannot think of any data I want to log or anything I'd like to control.

The closest I can think of is a gate access control with a weatherproof keyboard to input a code but in my experience weatherproof keypads are expensive, unreliable and short lived. Probably not worth it. For a moment I thought it might be fun to have my street gate with a rolling code so I could give a code to the neighbor and it could only be used once.

Or, I have a crate full of IR remote controls.  Maybe use one and decode the signal with the Arduino to then control ... I don't know what. I have nothing that needs a remote control.

Can you think of something practical, useful I could do with the Arduino? Unless I can think of some practical and useful project I am afraid the Arduino will languish in a drawer forever.
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Offline xrunner

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Re: Arduino looking for problems to solve
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2024, 10:58:55 pm »
Can you think of something practical, useful I could do with the Arduino? Unless I can think of some practical and useful project I am afraid the Arduino will languish in a drawer forever.

I think it's been said here several times - everything that can be done with the Arduino has been done now by someone. That doesn't mean what has been done is of any use to you or me in particular. I'd look at the sensors available to you instead of the "Arduino" itself. What can you sense or control with the sensors available that could perhaps be made into a project you would use or enjoy? If you can't think of anything then let it languish until you do.

A couple of the things I played with recently that I wanted to do was sense an animal getting into my garden and spraying it with water, and sensing how far my car was into the garage so I'd know when to stop the car exactly. Turns out neither of them ended up using an Arduino (or shall we just say microcontroller). The animal sensing thing was too finicky outdoors and the car parking solution was easier just to simply aim a red laser at the dash when the car was parked where I wanted it (much less complicated). However I still keep thinking of projects.

For example, the last good project I did with Arduino was sensing the input and output temps from my indoor HVAC unit and displaying the temps and differential on a display on the door. That one was good enough that my neighbor begged me to make him one.

So keep thinking it'll come to you when you least expect it.  :-+
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Online themadhippy

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Re: Arduino looking for problems to solve
« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2024, 12:19:35 am »
Quote
. For a moment I thought it might be fun to have my street gate with a rolling code so I could give a code to the neighbor and it could only be used once.

Or, I have a crate full of IR remote controls.  Maybe use one and decode the signal with the Arduino to then control ... I don't know what. I have nothing that needs a remote control.

combine the 2,ir remote controlled gate lock

Quote
and the car parking solution was easier just to simply aim a red laser at the dash when the car was parked where I wanted it (much less complicated).
a tennis ball hanging down that touches the windscreen when in the perfect position is a  less power hungry solution
 

Offline xrunner

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Re: Arduino looking for problems to solve
« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2024, 12:31:06 am »
Quote
and the car parking solution was easier just to simply aim a red laser at the dash when the car was parked where I wanted it (much less complicated).

a tennis ball hanging down that touches the windscreen when in the perfect position is a  less power hungry solution

That's what I had before, but I lay awake at night thinking of high-tech solutions to things. At least I dropped the Arduino from that project.  :-DD
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Online pcprogrammer

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Re: Arduino looking for problems to solve
« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2024, 06:31:58 am »
I have had it for two or three months now. I have played a little. Did the blinking LED thing but just cannot get myself motivated to keep learning in the abstract.  I need to find a concrete project, a concrete problem to solve and I just cannot think of anything I need to solve with an Arduino.  I am stuck.

It al depends on what your other interests are. For instance, do you like musical instruments? If so, you can dabble with synthesis. Or if you like mechanical systems, you can create something with motors or servo's.

But I can understand your predicament, I myself also need dedicated things to do, or else it stays on the shelf. I used an Arduino nano to control a central heating mixing valve to lower the water temperature from the storage tanks to what is more appropriate for underfloor heating. I used a bluepill in the same system to double the serial communication channel the main controller, a raspberry pi, had available. Recently I used STM32F103C8T6's for a remote control system. All practical solutions, not just blinking some LED's.

Offline Berni

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Re: Arduino looking for problems to solve
« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2024, 09:20:14 am »
Going on a home automation mission tends to spawn a lot of MCU requiring projects.

Even if you don't automate anything, it can also be interesting to measure things around the house. Like monitoring where the power is going so that you can have nice graphs of how much power was used to aircondition the house. If you have things like fuel tanks, rainwater tanks etc.. it can be interesting to monitor the level of those. You can add in a flow meter into your water supply..etc

Otherwise robotics is a major user of MCUs. Can be anything from a line follower to a robotic lawn mower or one off mechanical projects (like a machine for putting patterns on easter eggs in some fancy elaborate way)
 

Online soldarTopic starter

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Re: Arduino looking for problems to solve
« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2024, 10:34:29 am »
a tennis ball hanging down that touches the windscreen when in the perfect position is a  less power hungry solution
I could hang the Arduino instead of the tennis ball :)

That would be a permanent reminder that I need to do something with it. :)
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Offline xrunner

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Re: Arduino looking for problems to solve
« Reply #7 on: May 13, 2024, 10:57:55 am »
a tennis ball hanging down that touches the windscreen when in the perfect position is a  less power hungry solution
I could hang the Arduino instead of the tennis ball :)

That would be a permanent reminder that I need to do something with it. :)

Yes but make sure it's hanging from a power cord so it can be there blinking an LED.  :-DD
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Online soldarTopic starter

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Re: Arduino looking for problems to solve
« Reply #8 on: May 13, 2024, 12:01:26 pm »
Thanks for all the comments. I guess some decades ago I had more interest in automating things, logging data, etc. and now I just don't have that much interest. I have some lights on timers and that is the extent of my "home automation".

I have meters on the refrigerators and that is mainly because I have the meters.

If I could think of something entertaining or funny, even if useless. Something interesting to talk about. A showpiece...

If I could think of something useful as a gift for someone else... but I can't. Common needs are already met by commercial devices.

Some months ago a friend was dumping a clothes washer because the main control board was bad and it was so costly to replace that he decided it made sense to buy a new washer. But a clothes washer is just a tub with a motor and some valves and sensors and you could probably control it with a simple microcontroller, even if you can only get a single, simple program. My friend would not need anything more. Too late for that though as the washer was already recycled. It would have made for a fun project though.

I guess I'll have to keep thinking.
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Offline xrunner

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Re: Arduino looking for problems to solve
« Reply #9 on: May 13, 2024, 12:18:48 pm »
If I could think of something entertaining or funny, even if useless. Something interesting to talk about. A showpiece...

Entertaining and useless showpiece? Oh you need to look into 3D LED cubes for Arduino - just google it.
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Offline Nominal Animal

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Re: Arduino looking for problems to solve
« Reply #10 on: May 13, 2024, 01:02:49 pm »
Think about decorations and gags.

With digital RGB LEDs (WS2818 and similar), you can do nice simulations of fire and plasma effects.  I outlined the base implementation here.

Gags often involve a small servo, like in the "Useless Box", which has a single toggle switch on it.  When you toggle the switch, a small servo activates, so that a hidden lid on the box opens up, and a "finger" pushes the toggle back off, then retreats back inside.

In Halloween/Dia de las Brujas -type props, a small TFT display can be used to display an eye, with movement (like blinking) or change of the eye, or the eye "turning" in different directions triggered by sensors or a timer.  These are often called "Uncanny Eyes".  Adafruit has a project overview on these.

If you have pets, making a pet-safe "chase me" -toy, or other (perhaps servo-based) toys takes some thinking: you definitely don't want them to bite into a battery, for example.
 

Online RoGeorge

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Re: Arduino looking for problems to solve
« Reply #11 on: May 13, 2024, 01:48:38 pm »
Batteries.  :)
Log/diagnose battery packs from laptops and alike, to see the voltage on each cell, real capacity, current, etc.

Saying this because I've just made an unintended SMBus battery reader for Dell, while trying to reverse engineer out of curiosity another RAID cache backup battery from a HP server:  https://www.eevblog.com/forum/projects/looking-for-the-pinout-of-the-li-ion-backup-battery-battery-in-hp-gen10-servers/msg5496463/#msg5496463


Weather station, log temperature, humidity, air particles, radiation level, etc.  Add some 2.4GHz wireless modules with nRF24L01+ (they are dirt cheap, 50 cents or so).  As Arduino boards use Arduino nano, same MCU as UNO, but smaller footprint, can be fitted to a breadboard, and they cost less, about $2 a piece.


It all depends of what interests you.  Most probably by now you have most of the needs already covered, and anyways, would be cheaper to buy something ready made to cover whatever need you may discover you have, rather than to build it from scratch.  So, either find a funny/entertaining project for you to build, or make a sidestep and go into another hobby where you don't already have all the tools you need.


Maybe you like moving things, make a line follower robot, or some reversed pendulum robot walking vertically and balancing itself on only two wheels.


Or maybe you want to build something nobody heard before, build a RoGeorge analog yet digital multiplier.
https://hackaday.io/project/7542-rogeorge-cell/  (shameless plug  ;D)
« Last Edit: May 13, 2024, 03:40:37 pm by RoGeorge »
 

Offline Peabody

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Re: Arduino looking for problems to solve
« Reply #12 on: May 13, 2024, 02:30:45 pm »
There is also an Arduino forum that might provide some ideas.

https://forum.arduino.cc/index.php
 

Offline armandine2

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Re: Arduino looking for problems to solve
« Reply #13 on: May 13, 2024, 02:52:30 pm »
I have an arduino project on my to do list  :palm:

read a particular [somewhat expensive] handheld infra red "remote" controller with a view to recreating it

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Offline mendip_discovery

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Re: Arduino looking for problems to solve
« Reply #14 on: May 13, 2024, 05:26:27 pm »
How about you lend your talents to project that could do with some help getting that extra bit further along with the project.


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Offline DimitriP

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Re: Arduino looking for problems to solve
« Reply #15 on: May 13, 2024, 09:39:18 pm »
How about you lend your talents to project that could do with some help getting that extra bit further along with the project.

Yup.
Tons of people needing help at the arduino forum...and luckily they haven't discovered this place here yet :)
Take a look there  and don't bring them back with you ! ;)
« Last Edit: May 13, 2024, 10:34:05 pm by DimitriP »
   If three 100  Ohm resistors are connected in parallel, and in series with a 200 Ohm resistor, how many resistors do you have? 
 

Offline tooki

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Re: Arduino looking for problems to solve
« Reply #16 on: May 13, 2024, 10:03:20 pm »
One project I have in permanent use is a giant-digit thermometer (with outdoor temperature probe) I made using LED filaments, LED drivers with individually dimmable outputs (controlled via I2C), controlled by an ESP32 microcontroller programmed with Arduino. Using the LED drivers means I can do things a traditional 7-segment LED driver (like the BCD-to-7-segment drivers in 74- and 4000-series logic) cannot do, like fading segments in and out (with 97kHz PWM!), using just a single I2C bus. It supports multiple temperature sensors, including the DS18B20 and a precision I2C one. It also allows viewing the temperature and updating the firmware via WiFi. (Which I eventually need to do when I get around to writing the code to enable the ambient light and gesture sensor that’s also built in.)
 

Online soldarTopic starter

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Re: Arduino looking for problems to solve
« Reply #17 on: May 13, 2024, 10:05:50 pm »
Entertaining and useless showpiece? Oh you need to look into 3D LED cubes for Arduino - just google it.
Thanks! This looks very interesting and promising!
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Online soldarTopic starter

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Re: Arduino looking for problems to solve
« Reply #18 on: May 13, 2024, 10:08:07 pm »
Think about decorations and gags.

With digital RGB LEDs (WS2818 and similar), you can do nice simulations of fire and plasma effects.  I outlined the base implementation here.

Gags often involve a small servo, like in the "Useless Box", which has a single toggle switch on it.  When you toggle the switch, a small servo activates, so that a hidden lid on the box opens up, and a "finger" pushes the toggle back off, then retreats back inside.

In Halloween/Dia de las Brujas -type props, a small TFT display can be used to display an eye, with movement (like blinking) or change of the eye, or the eye "turning" in different directions triggered by sensors or a timer.  These are often called "Uncanny Eyes".  Adafruit has a project overview on these.

If you have pets, making a pet-safe "chase me" -toy, or other (perhaps servo-based) toys takes some thinking: you definitely don't want them to bite into a battery, for example.
These ideas are in line with the 3d cube which I think I like best but these also might come later. Thanks.
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Offline Peabody

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Re: Arduino looking for problems to solve
« Reply #19 on: May 14, 2024, 03:51:41 am »

Tons of people needing help at the arduino forum...and luckily they haven't discovered this place here yet :)
Take a look there  and don't bring them back with you ! ;)

I suspect many over there feel the same way about the EEs here.
 

Offline vidarr

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Re: Arduino looking for problems to solve
« Reply #20 on: May 14, 2024, 12:36:51 pm »

I suspect many over there feel the same way about the EEs here.

No, I don't think too many over there know about over here. I hope it stays that way.

Most of my projects are with Arduinos, but I moved over here for a reason. You guys rock. 
 

Offline vidarr

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Re: Arduino looking for problems to solve
« Reply #21 on: May 14, 2024, 12:47:37 pm »
If you garden, or farm, there are a million and one different projects you can make with your Arduino. Someone mentioned sensors above. There are so many sensors excellent for gardening/farming.

Eventually, Id' like to make a guided missile. Maybe make a drone too. I make fun of the FPV guys and their goggles, but it's actually pretty fun. That has got to be at least 10 months of fun project and play.

Back to the missiles... I'd like to make a working S-500 (toy), for taking out drones (toys).
 

Offline rstofer

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Re: Arduino looking for problems to solve
« Reply #22 on: May 14, 2024, 02:31:09 pm »
Start nibbling around the edges with sensors, motors, displays, etc.  Starter kits provide gadgets and code that can be ported to more complex projects

https://www.amazon.com/ELEGOO-Project-Tutorial-Controller-Projects/dp/B01D8KOZF4

 

Offline Nominal Animal

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Re: Arduino looking for problems to solve
« Reply #23 on: May 14, 2024, 05:17:33 pm »
If you switch to microcontrollers with native USB –– Teensies, Pro Micro clones (ATmega32u4), ch552g ––, you can do your own USB HID device; from keyboards to mice to joysticks.  Doing it via serial driver emulation is lame in my opinion: the native USB HID requires no drivers and works in all OSes just like bought ones.  (If you use Chrome 89 or newer, Edge 89 or newer, or Opera 75 or newer, you can do games as web pages, no server or network connection needed, that can directly access the HID events from any USB HID device, via the WebHID API.  Say, creating a version of old Pong, using two rotary encoders or potentiometers.)

One I'd like to do is a full 3D ball controller, with all movement detected.  (Compare to a trackball, where rotation around the vertical axis is not detected/supported.)  I can easily handle the math, but I haven't found affordable documented optical mouse sensors to do it with (it needs two).  I could use magnetic field sensors and a ball with one or more magnets inside it, too, but optical would be nicer.

My very first microcontroller project was an arcade plank (stick and buttons using microswitches just like in old arcade machines) and a 4-bit encoder to select the mapping to keypresses, using AT90USB1286 (Teensy 2.0++).  This was in the era of lots of web-based Flash games (platform puzzle ones were my favourite).

I do have parts for an e-ink display with capacitive touch sensor, so I can make a reprogrammable macro/tool keyboard, perhaps with scroll/pan support (when you drag instead of poke at it).  Currently, I don't use enough different programs to warrant that, as in Linux the keyboard shortcuts are user-configurable (especially in Inkscape, Gimp, LibreOffice, etc. with many options that I often use), so I just adjust the keyboard shortcuts to my needs, and don't really need a separate macro pad.
 

Offline SiliconWizard

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Re: Arduino looking for problems to solve
« Reply #24 on: May 14, 2024, 09:18:09 pm »
A 3D mouse controller is one of the projects that sits on my list.

Another one is a small wireless network of simple devices (sensors, displays) with sub-GHz radio.
 

Offline John B

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Re: Arduino looking for problems to solve
« Reply #25 on: May 14, 2024, 09:49:49 pm »
I've felt similarly about projects. I can't get motivated simply by making some pointless circuit, I always need a concrete goal.

As mentioned above, something that will keep you occupied for years - home automation.

There's a ton of plug and play stuff out there, but there's also tons of standardised protocols and interconnects that allow you to make your own devices that tie into a larger system.

At a quick glance, you'll need to utlise:

  • Analog electronics
  • Digital electronics, I2C, SPI, RS485 etc
  • Programming microcontrollers to run your modules, tieing together the digital electronics with software protocols like MODBUS, MQTT etc
  • Setting up a mini computer / SBC and running the software, ie, containerised stacks, python coding etc

Every step is like a side quest.

One more thing: these days I would not recommend the older Atmel 328 or 168 based microcontrollers, unless you're doing a really simple sketch. I've found weird bugs with them once you start to get into more involved sketches.

The more modern versions like the 4809 based Nano Every is certainly more expensive, but more capable and I haven't found any bugs so far.
« Last Edit: May 14, 2024, 09:54:15 pm by John B »
 

Offline Brumby

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Re: Arduino looking for problems to solve
« Reply #26 on: May 15, 2024, 11:54:36 am »
Here's a scale I added an Arduino (clone) to for data logging...


This followed on from another project - again with an Arduino add-on - where a barcode scanner would trigger a read of the weight, with the scanned barcode and weight were shipped off for capture.  The idea being that barcoded items could be placed on the scale and the barcode scanner used to trigger the capture.  This allowed for high speed and high accuracy recording of product weights for use in an eCommerce application.


Do these give you any ideas?
 

Offline CountChocula

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Re: Arduino looking for problems to solve
« Reply #27 on: May 15, 2024, 12:52:33 pm »
A 3D mouse controller is one of the projects that sits on my list.

Another one is a small wireless network of simple devices (sensors, displays) with sub-GHz radio.

That's very much on my list as well… they look really cool. I've been trying really hard not to get sucked into it while I try to finish my other projects :)

Lab is where your DMM is.
 

Online RoGeorge

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Re: Arduino looking for problems to solve
« Reply #28 on: May 17, 2024, 08:42:08 am »
If in search of very impressive results and have no epilepsy predisposition, try this project:
https://www.eevblog.com/forum/projects/visual-hallucinations-induced-with-two-blinking-leds/

That type of LED blinking will make you see colors and patterns with your eyes closed!  ;D

Not kidding, I've tested it long ago on a much smaller AVR microcontroller, and it worked just as advertised.  Sound was not adding anything extra to the experience, I think the sound part can be skipped.  The frequency/pattern of the blinking LED is what matters the most, it interferes with the brain waves in a curious way.
« Last Edit: May 17, 2024, 08:43:47 am by RoGeorge »
 
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Offline MathWizard

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Re: Arduino looking for problems to solve
« Reply #29 on: May 17, 2024, 01:53:18 pm »
OP do you have anything that could be upgraded, or modernized with the addition of digital control ? Even like the volume knob on some old stereo, could be upgraded with one of those "digital potentiometers" (can't remember their name), or even adding a motorized one with some MCU controlling that. And then add a remote control.

Maybe you have all new stuff like that, but what about any test equipment, like old power supplies or a curve tracer? Maybe adding some digital control, or adding ADC/DAC's.

I started making an old 1960's curve tracer last year, and wasn't happy with how the op-amp's were jumping so much between voltage/current steps. And it was hard to change the number of steps per sweep.

So sometime soon I'll get back at that and use some AVR or ARM type MCU, and maybe some added ADC/DAC.
 

Online themadhippy

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Re: Arduino looking for problems to solve
« Reply #30 on: May 18, 2024, 08:14:42 pm »
Quote
Even like the volume knob on some old stereo, could be upgraded with one of those "digital potentiometers" (can't remember their name), or even adding a motorized one with some MCU controlling that. And then add a remote control.
or a stepped attenuator ,http://twistedpearaudio.com/control/jt.aspx use another 3 outputs for input selection and youve got the start of a nice little pre amp for the stereo
 


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