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$20 Robot From MIT Wins AFRON Design Challenge Made From Arduino Board

Robots, as anyone who has ever attempted to build or buy or fix a robot knows, tend to be expensive. This presents a problem for people who want to start learning about robotics, because getting a foot in the door with an actual robot to work on generally involves a substantial up-front investment in hardware. And for places where teachers and students don't have huge piles of money to throw at technology, this can mean that robots just don't happen.
The African Robotics Network (AFRON) and IEEE Robotics and Automation Society (RAS) collectively sponsor a biennial design challenge to "collaboratively create an educational robot that is an order of magnitude less expensive than existing products, to inspire young people around the world." For 2013/2014, MIT took home a win with their MIT SEG robot, a 3D-printed, Arduino-based wheeled robot that can be built for $20 in five steps with no training or tools.
The completed MIT SEG is shown in the picture above; below is an image of the unassembled robot in its entirety:
All you have to do to go from this to robot is fold up the chassis (the squareish bits at the lower left), fold the wheels together, fit the electronics in, stick the wheels onto the servos, and that's it, you're done. Here's the bill of materials:
MIT points out that if you don't go with a breakout board for the Arduino and instead wire-wrap the headers directly, you can drop the cost by about $2.50 per bot. You also need a programmer and a charger, which together will run you another $18.20, but these can be shared among multiple robots.
So great, you've got a robot that's easy to make and is dirt cheap. What can it do? Out of the box, MIT SEG includes an Arduino compatible drag-and-drop graphical programming interface. The LED and photosensor can be used to determine whether the robot is looking at something black, white, or gray, meaning that you can do line-following and some obstacle avoidance right away, and MIT has put together a bunch of examples and an entire curriculum that classrooms can follow. Plus, since the robot has an Arduino for a brain, you can leverage all of the hardware (and the community) that's been plugging into Arduinos for the last few years.
Second place in the hardware portion of the Design Challenge went toHarvard's $10.70 AERobot:
The Ultra Affordable Educational Robot Project Design Challenge also includes categories for Software, Curriculum, and Community Challenges.
"The AFRON organizers and RAS sponsors admire the ingenuity of the submissions in all categories," said Ken Goldberg, a roboticist at UC Berkeley who co-founded AFRON with Ayorkor Korsah, a professor of computer science at Ashesi University, in Ghana. Goldberg noted that two winning projects from Africa, PanyaBot (Kenya) and ARX LollyBot (Ghana), continue to make major advances in the Software and Community Challenge categories. "We look forward to connecting all the participants to share ideas and designs for next steps via the AFRON network, which anyone worldwide can join at no cost," he said.

Source :

[TC] Solar Cell Material Moonlights as Laser

Photo credit: Revolutionary solar cells double as lasers / University of Cambridge Research
Perovskite is the word of the week! This trailblazing new material is being used in cheaper, highly efficient photovoltaics. Commercial silicon-based solar cells (the kind you see on roofs) convert the sun’s rays into electrical energy at about 20 percent efficiency -- and it took two decades of research to achieve that rate. Composed of calcium titanate, perovskite is “dirt cheap” compared to silicon in solar cell production, and perovskite-based technology has already reached 17 percent efficiency after just two years of research. 
Earlier this week, we learned that -- in addition to absorbing light -- perovskite is also capable of emitting light, suggesting that it can be used in display screens. Now, University of Cambridge researchers show that perovskite can double up as a laser. 
In the 1960s, scientists figured out that if a material is good at converting light to electricity, then it’ll be good at converting electricity to light. By sandwiching a thin layer of lead halide perovskite between two mirrors, the team produced an optically driven laser. They also found that the cells show very efficient luminescence: up to 70 percent of absorbed light is re-emitted.
For most commercial solar cell materials, in order to show good luminescence and performance, they first require expensive processing to achieve a low enough level of impurities. These new materials, the authors say, work well even when very simply prepared as thin films using cheap, scalable solution processing. Upon light absorption in perovskite, two charges are formed within 1 picosecond (very, very quickly), but then it takes up to a few microseconds to recombine: that’s long enough for chemical defects to stop the light emission in most other semiconductors, including silicon. But perovskite has a much longer carrier lifetime. 


[TC News] New laser promises to make internet faster

Scientists have developed a new laser
that holds the potential to increase by
orders of magnitude the rate of
data transmission on the internet.

WASHINGTON: Scientists have developed a new laser that holds the potential to increase by orders of magnitude the rate of data transmission in the optical-fibre network - the backbone of the internet. 

The laser is the result of a five-year effort by researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). 

Light is capable of carrying vast amounts of information - approximately 10,000 times more bandwidth than microwaves, the earlier carrier of long-distance communications. 

To utilize this potential, the laser light needs to be as spectrally pure - as close to a single frequency - as possible. The purer the tone, the more information it can carry, and researchers have been trying to develop a laser that comes as close as possible to emitting just one frequency. 

Today's worldwide optical-fibre network is still powered by a laser known as the distributed-feedback semiconductor (S-DFB) laser, developed in mid-1970s, researchers said. 

The S-DFB laser's unusual longevity in optical communications stemmed from its, at the time, unparallelled spectral purity - the degree to which the light emitted matched a single frequency. 

The S-DFB laser managed to attain such purity by using a nanoscale corrugation within the laser's structure that acts like a filter. 

Although the old S-DFB laser had a successful 40-year run in optical communications, the spectral purity, or coherence, of the laser no longer satisfies the ever-increasing demand for bandwidth, researchers said. 

The old S-DFB laser consists of continuous crystalline layers of materials called III-V semiconductors - typically gallium arsenide and indium phosphide - that convert into light the applied electrical current flowing through the structure. 

Since III-V semiconductors are also strong light absorbers - and this absorption leads to a degradation of spectral purity - the researchers sought a different solution for the new laser. 

The high-coherence new laser still converts current to light using the III-V material, but in a fundamental departure from the S-DFB laser, it stores the light in a layer of silicon, which does not absorb light. 

Spatial patterning of this silicon layer - a variant of the corrugated surface of the S-DFB laser - causes the silicon to act as a light concentrator, pulling the newly generated light away from the light-absorbing III-V material and into the near absorption-free silicon. 

This newly achieved high spectral purity - a 20 times narrower range of frequencies than possible with the S-DFB laser - could be especially important for the future of fibre-optic communications, researchers said. 

The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


[TC] Home Made Movie Maker

Like real movies, this circuit makes use of a characteristic of the human eye and brain known as the persistence of vision. A sequence of still pictures is projected onto a screen in rapid succession. The pictures differ slightly from one another and the brain interprets the succession of still pictures as continuous motion.
Here the pictures are shadows cast by low-voltage lamps. There are four Lamps in all, which glow in sequence cyclically. This gives the illusion of a simple but realistic movie.

Fig. 1 shows the circuit for the movie maker. It is driven by clock pulses provided by NAND gates N1 and N2. The flickering frequency is adjustable through preset VR1. A suitable rate for perceiving continuous motion is 16 Hz. The clock pulses are fed to counter IC CD4022 (IC2). IC2 has eight outputs, but only the first four (0-3) are used in this circuit. The outputs go high one at a time, in sequence. The fifth output (output 4) is connected to the reset input so that the counter is immediately reset at the fifth count and the first output (output 0) goes high.

The counter outputs are fed to CD4049 hex buffer (IC3). The buffer outputs drive transistors T1 through T4 in a sequence. As each transistor conducts, the lamp connected to it glows. The lamps are rated at 0.3A so these provide enough light to operate the movie show in a dimly-lit room.

Fig. 1: Circuit for movie maker

Assemble the circuit on a general-purpose PCB. Power-on the circuitusing switch S1 and make sure that the outputs of IC2 (0 through 3) are normally low but briefly go high three-four times within a second. Also ensure that the lamps flash one at a time in a repeating sequence. If the sequence appears to be wrong or any of the lamps fails to glow, check the wiring. The light shield and film holder can be made of a thin card, sheet metal or plywood. Strictly adhere to the various dimensions as shown in Fig. 2. Otherwise, the shadow images may fail to register properly when projected.

Use a plastic cabinet as shown in Fig. 3 to hold the circuit board and battery. Owing to the power requirements of the lamps, it is more economical to use four 1.5V cells in a battery box. Else, you can use a 6V power adaptor. 

Fig. 2: Assembly arrangement

There are two ways of mounting the lamps. The more satisfactory but more expensive method is to bolt the four lamps. Alternatively, drill four 1cm dia. holes on the front of the cabinet, wedge the base of the lamps in these holes and solder wire to the bases.

Fig. 3: Plastic case with assembled circuit 

The easiest way to prepare the film frames is to photocopy the desired drawings onto transparent films. Alternatively, trace them on a transparent acetate film or draughtsman's film, using a fine marker pen. Align all the drawings on the frames and project onto the screen. 

Fig. 3: Flim making

Working of the circuit is simple. First of all, fix the clock frequency at about 16 Hz. Place the film on the holder. Ensure a distance of 12 cm between the screen and the assembled unit and power-on the circuit using switch S1. Now you can see your drawings as a short movie clip on the screen.

EFY note. We have tested this circuit without the mechanical arrangement.


[TC] Clock Using 8 Seven Segment LED displays

The 8 times seven segments display induced me making this clock device. The design principle is: show the wiring and the electronics!
After testing with the Arduino and a breadboard I decided to make some examples on PCB. Also the scripting went on and on and on, making all kinds of variations and fun. This has made this instructable quite big! Also, this instructable invites you to explore further...

Day of Month - Hour - Minutes - Seconds
Because there are 4 positions I decided to show day of the month, hour, minutes seconds. Generally I can still remember the month I live in. The seconds makes the thing "alive". But because most of these clocks show month, day, hour, and minutes and blink with a semicolon, the displays still feels a bit "strange": sometimes people say: the hour is wrong, because they mistake the first two digits as "hour", not as day of the month.

The main problem is not showing the time, but doing the interfacing: doing settings on two buttons available are always a bit clumsy.

The challenge for me is to do more with the display then just showing time: making as much of the alphabet and words appear on the screen as possible or play with some nice patterns.

Step 1: Testing setup

Programming the ATmega328 is done on the Arduino. (Later on this programmed chip is plugged into the PCB.)

Testing is done as close to the Arduino as possible with the modules either connected to the Arduino, or using a breadboard. Although I know this myself and write it here, again I went too quickly making the PCB's and inserting the chips. So discovering a flaw or adding to the possibilities I had to change the chips over and over again. My advice (to myself) is to test longer using the Arduino and breadboard!

In the picture you see the basic connections, for the two timer modules.
Later there are two push buttons added connected to PINS 8 and 9. And if you like dimming then an LDR is connected (paired with a resistor) to PIN 14 (A0). These basic connections are (of course) the same for the PCB's in later steps of this instructable.

Since I have two time devices, one with an ds1302 and one with a ds1307, the connections with the timer module may differ. Also there are two scripts in the repository, depending on your time module, because ds1307 uses I2C and ds1302 uses a 3 wire connection.

Step 2: Electronic components

The component list is rather reduced, since most of the wiring is already done on the modules.


The usual, with a breadboard and some jumper wires this is great prototyping. For the time pieces I reduced to a stand alone Atmega chip.

Stand alone atmega328.
For the "barebones" PCB later on. I added a cap for the voltage suspecting that powering it up was giving a problem with the timer module. See step: "Your Own PCB instead of Arduino" for components on the PCB:
holder for this chip
100micro F cap
2 resistors 1K
2 pushbuttons for the settings
female connectors with 5 PINs.
connector for the power cable
LDR for dimming, together with a 2 K resistor

display (8 seven segment number displays)
This display communicates with 3 wires (plus voltage and GND) with the arduino. I have used the usual POV structure, using the timer interrupt to provide each number display very fast pretending to have written to all the displays. (See code.)
This display started of this project!

time keeping chip / timer module
I had a ds1307 from
at $2.99
This chips communicates using I2C rpotocole, using the PINs A5 and A6 as SDA and SCL.
The code is pretty standard.

I also bought a ds1302 from
at $2.40, the cheapest!
This chip needs another script using a 3-wire interface.
I found example code here:

Later on you can consider adding other sensors yourself...

Step 3: Tools and download

Making the PCB requires a soldering device.
Programming is done using a laptop with Arduino environment.
Of course, you need some normal tools like pincher, cutter, for doing the wires.

Downloads: scripts
There are different scripts:

  • basic clock scripts for ds1307 and ds1302
  • knight rider script, where the comma goes left and right (ds1307)
  • a script with words coming in from the right and the left side (ds1307)
  • a script for words going up and down (ds1307)
  • a script which combines these up and down words words with the time from the clock (ds1307)
The scripts change from the basic to the more complicated due to demands on the arrays holding the words and the time. A bit of pointers to char arrays was unavoidable.
You can further develope other possibilities or improve on script efficiency. Also, for the lovers of framework like scripting there are enormous improvements to achieve! Go ahead!

Step 4: Your Own PCB instead of Arduino

If you want to advance from the Arduino to your own contraption you have to make a PCB.
You have to solder the ATMega328 holder, the resonator (or crystal) and connections for the display and the timer module. After that, the buttons and the LDR.

This PCB is not totaly bare bones: because you program using the Arduino you need an oscillator or a crystal on your board to be able to let the Atmega328 function. Changing the fuses is possible, but then you change the max speed of the ATmega328 from 16 to 8 MHz, which might alter the way the clock functions.

The way you do this is "free". It depends on your thoughts where to put the components and how you want to make the dispay float in space or on the PCB.

Step 5: The adaptor for your own PCB


Very practical: if you have your own board, so you have to power it - it is a stand alone.

You could try with a lipo, but then you still have to make your script saving as much energy as possible, still you have the display of LED's eating the Watts away. So this set up (in contrast with the purple gadget clock later in this instructable with a LCD display) needs an adaptor. In fact you ahve many adapters lying around, chargers of mobile phones etc. Look at the specs and if this is 5V it is ok.
The USB adaptor is nice - you have to hack a USB cable:
but also older adaptor/chargers will do. Pratical problem is the wires: if these are too thick the wires tend to pull your clock from the table.
You can either connect the wires directly to the PCB, or use a plug, The plug solution is nicer, more versitile.

A "dangerous" solution is buying a cheap power supply of 5V at (4 dollar)

From the design concept (show the electronics as it is) having an open power supply is consistent, but you have two open wires from the mains - this is a risk!

With the blue foam stuff (see image) it is possible to insert the dangerous part of this open adaptor; half way solution.

Step 6: Basic Scripts

The script is where the complexity enters.

Normal clock indication:

The script can be divided into a few main parts:
1. Talking to the timer module, using protocoles like I2C
2. Talking to the display
3. Interaction, setting hour, minutes, days in month
4. add-ons, like an LDR to regulate the brightness, maybe a temperature sensor
5. funny things, like patterns and text

1. Talking to the timer module
The protocoles can be found on the internet.
In the scripts I have used a protocole for the DS1307 and another for the DS1302. You can use the example scripts as black boxes. You have to understand the format of the data coming out or going into these black boxes.
So the DS1307 uses the DateTime format of the RTC.lib. For the DS1302 you have a struct (C programming thing) with different kinds of formats for the same data.

2. Talking to the display
I did a "talking to the timer module" and transferred the data in the DateTime variable to an array "myNumber". This array was used to transfer the digits two by two to the display.


DateTime now =;
    myNumber[2] = now.hour()/10;
    myNumber[3] = now.hour()%10;
    myNumber[0] =;
    myNumber[1] =;
    myNumber[4] = now.minute()/10;
    myNumber[5] = now.minute() % 10;
    myNumber[6] = now.second()/10;
    myNumber[7] = now.second() % 10;
You see I have to separate the tens and the ones, using the modulo and the division operators.
(For the ds1302 I had to do the same trick, but using the rtc struct.)

Then I used a timer to get the number digits to the display one by one, but so fast that your eye sees these digits all at the same time:
setting up the timer:

  noInterrupts();           // disable all interrupts
  TCCR1A = 0;
  TCCR1B = 0;
  TCNT1  = 0;
  OCR1A = 5; //10 - 200    // compare match register 16MHz/256/2Hz
  TCCR1B |= (1 << WGM12);   // CTC mode
  TCCR1B |= (1 << CS12);    // 256 prescaler 
  TIMSK1 |= (1 << OCIE1A);  // enable timer compare interrupt
  interrupts();             // enable all interrupts
In the timer routine I transfer the digits:

ISR(TIMER1_COMPA_vect)          // timer compare interrupt service routine {

  ledCounter++;// counting from 0 to 7

  ledCounter = (ledCounter)%8;

  unsigned char num = myNumber[ledCounter];//getting the array member 

  letterTransfer(num); //using the coding and doing the transfer



Step 7: Interaction and some other ideas

After the basics we have a display that tells the time.
We have two script parts left:
3. Interaction, setting hour, minutes, days in month
4. add-ons, like an LDR to regulate the brightness, maybe a temperature sensor
5. funny effects or text

3. Interaction, setting hour, minutes, days in month
The interaction is necessary to set the time, when starting up without an Arduino. Or when the time is running not accurately anymore.

We need two buttons, one for going into the setting mode, and the other for changing the digits.

I decided to add two bigger push buttons. Simply connect the buttons to GND and through a 10K resistor to a PIN and do a pull up on that PIN:

  pinMode ( 8,INPUT_PULLUP);
  pinMode ( 9,INPUT_PULLUP);
or do it the old way:
  pinMode ( 8,OUTPUT);
  digitalWrite(8, HIGH);
  pinMode ( 9,OUTPUT);<br>  digitalWrite(9, HIGH);
(I was later thinking of something more fancy:
use a magnet and a Hall sensor for instance. Maybe for clock design version 3?)

4. add-ons, like an LDR to regulate the brightness, maybe a temperature sensor
The display is rather bright during the night. I used an LDR to regulate the brightness. The brightness can be regulated setting the speed of the timer. This is done by giving OCR1A another value.
So I connected a resistor and an LDR to analog PIN A0 and created some steps of brightness.

//dimming or brightening 
   if ( tCounter%100 == 0 ) { //do not check every loop but only once in a while
      int hhh = analogRead(0)/4;
      if ( hhh < 150 ) hhh = 0; 
      else if ( hhh < 175 ) hhh = 10;
      else if ( hhh < 200 ) hhh = 20; 
      else if ( hhh < 250 ) hhh = 50;
// do the dimming by way of the frequency of the interrupt
      OCR1A = 10 + hhh ;
5. funny effects or text
This is where you can make a difference with the more "normal" clocks.
Insert text now and then:
From the right or the left some words appear randomly, like hello, ciao, ...
To do this you need a lot of array shifting. You need pointers because this Arduino script is based on C.

I also tested adding a moving comma with another timer, timer0

  TCCR0A = 0;
  TCCR0B = 0;
  TCNT0  = 0;
  OCR0A = 50;            // compare match register 16MHz/256/2Hz
  TCCR0B |= (1 << WGM02);   // CTC mode
  TCCR0B |= (1 << CS01);    // 256 prescaler 
  TIMSK0 |= (1 << OCIE0A);  // enable timer compare interrupt
Together with a second array, we can alternate or even play at the same time the two arrays.

Step 8: FUN Design on display

Where can I make a difference with the normal clocks?

Knight rider

One of the first ideas was to add a "knight rider" effect, playing with the comma:
But this was considered not relaxed...

(The comma of the knightrider is done using a second array, with one comma sign and the rest "empty". With a second timer this array is inserted at the same time as the first array of time digits. So in the knight rider script you find two timers.)

You could add funny text or transitions.

The second idea was adding words - coming in from the sides, or from the top and the bottom.

The coding of the segment display:
Without the comma you have 124 possibilities. 2^7

   -*-       0000 0001
   *-*  0010 0000  0000 0010
   -*-       0100 0000
   *-*  0001 0000  0000 0100
   -*-       0000 1000
   comma:              1000 0000
With the 7 digits number display you cannot make the whole alphabet, but you can make pretty much all the letters. It's clumsy but funny.
Here you have the code, maybe you can find even more creative solutions and complete the alphabet! (I am proposing to use for an m three horizontal strokes: the MI in Japanese ミ and for the N two horizontal strokes: the NI in Japanese: ニ.
But I am afraid not everybody in Europe will recognize this, eg BEAミ as my name :-)

A lot of words are already possible like: HELLO HOUSE PLUS CIAO STAR ...
PEACE is also possible (hurrah!)

As long as we don't have a one digit solution for V, we have a big problem: not possible!
(But we as Dutch people have an advantage there: LOVE = LIEFDE in Dutch, and this last word is indeed possible :-)

Interesting, there is even a wikipedia entree about this:

Or effects like funny patterns (under circles, upper circles, a dotted line around the display.

here is my coding table, maybe you can still improve!

  if ( num == 1 )  SPI.transfer(255 - B00000110);//1
  if ( num == 2 )  SPI.transfer(255 - B01011011);//2
  if ( num == 3 )  SPI.transfer(255 - B01001111);//3
  if ( num == 4 )  SPI.transfer(255 - B01100110);//4
  if ( num == 5 )  SPI.transfer(255 - B01101101);//5
  if ( num == 6 )  SPI.transfer(255 - B01111101);//6
  if ( num == 7 )  SPI.transfer(255 - B00000111);//7 
  if ( num == 8 )  SPI.transfer(255 - B01111111);//8
  if ( num == 9 )  SPI.transfer(255 - B01101111);//9
  if ( num == 0 )  SPI.transfer(255 - B00111111);//0
  if ( num == 10 )  SPI.transfer(255 -B10000000);//comma
  //some letters
  if ( num == 11 )  newNum =  B01110111;//A
  if ( num == 12 )  newNum =  B01111111;//B like 8
  if ( num == 13 )  newNum =  B00111001;//C
  if ( num == 14 )  newNum =  B01011110;//D small like 6 without upper stroke
  if ( num == 15 )  newNum =  B01111001;//E
  if ( num == 16 )  newNum =  B01110001;//F
  if ( num == 17 )  newNum =  B01101111;//small G like 9
  if ( num == 18 )  newNum =  B01110110;//H
  if ( num == 19 )  newNum =  B00000110;//I like 1
  if ( num == 20 )  newNum =  B00011110;//J
  // K?
  if ( num == 21 )  newNum =  B00111000;//L
  //M -- the m as two digits does not really convince me
  if ( num == 22 )  newNum =  B00111111;//O like 0
  if ( num == 23 )  newNum =  B01110011;//P 
  if ( num == 24 )  newNum =  B10111111;//Q like 0.
  if ( num == 25 )  newNum =  B01101101;//S like 5
  if ( num == 26 )  newNum =  B01111000;//t small
  if ( num == 27 )  newNum =  B00111110;//U
  //Y ...something like a 9 is possible, mirrored? It does not look too good

  //special signs
    if ( num == 40 )  newNum =  B01011100;//under circle
    if ( num == 41 )  newNum =  B01100011;//upper circle
    if ( num == 42 )  newNum =  B00000000;//empty
    if ( num == 43 )  newNum =  B10001000;//for a .-.-.-.-.-.-.-. line 

    //square sequence
    if ( num == 44 )  newNum =  B00001100; // under + side under right
    if ( num == 45 )  newNum =  B01000010; //middle side upper right
    if ( num == 46 )  newNum =  B00000011;
    if ( num == 47 )  newNum =  B01000100;

Step 9: Design of the object

I like "Minimal design", where you can see the components. That is why I made this bare bones atmega and the stick in display and timer module.

You start with a PCB.
Add the ATmega328 and solder the necessary wires for GND and Voltage. (You could add a resonator.)
Add the caps if you like to the GND and Voltage coming in.

I added the parts for connecting the display and the timer module. (For the ds1307 and the ds1302 the PIN connection is different.)
You add and connect the two pushbuttons. (Pull up PIN and button connect with a 1K resistor.)
You add and connect the LDR. (GND - LDR - PIN - Resistor 2K - V)

Standing upright 1.
For this I first used a piece of MDF or wood. It is easy to put the PCB into the saw line in the wood. Instead of wood you can also make a "foot" using a piece of metal.

Standing upright 2.
With colored pieces of polyester (or whatever it is exactly) you get a more exciting effect (I think). You can easily stick the PCB in it using a knife. I thought it would tumble, but the setup remain stable.

Of course, you should experiment with your own customized base!

Is the adapter part of the electronic components or part of the design? Do we show or hide the adapter?

Step 10: Alternatives

Other kind of Displays
Alternatives are the Liquid Crustal displays, or even the graphical screens:

Another clock which runs out of the box is this sequence of LED matrix blocks:

You know clocks!
They are everywhere...The purple one is one of my favorites, it has 4 functions, even a temperature sensor. It works one year, two years on its batteries (great work saving energy!). It costs only 1.30 euro's or something.

Why make one yourself?
If electronic clocks are soo cheap?
For the fun?
For the experience?
For admiring the cleverness of the solutions for soo little money?
For trying to add something yourself, either more design or more fancy sillyness?

Probably because all of this!

Step 11: Further Improvements (or more complications)

When you have words and transitions between time and words, you can add other data, like temperature.
For temperature you can use a sensor like
The next thing which could be interesting is air pressure.

But also pollution can be measured and displayed.

On the other hand data from sensors becomes much more interesting with a graphical display, or uploading the data to for instance COSM.

Uploading requires a connection to the internet. This can be done having a set of RF12 transceivers and for instance a Raspberry Pie which is connected to your router.

So, starting with a rather simple segmented display you make a clock and ends up wiring your home together making it self tracking!


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