MAKE 25: Microcontrollers and Arduino

Give your gadgets a brain! Previously out of reach for the do-it-yourselfer, the tiny computers called microcontrollers are now so cheap and easy to use that anyone can make their stuff smart. It's called "physical computing" -- with a microcontroller, your gadget can sense the environment, talk to the internet or other gadgets, and make things happen in the real world by controlling motors, lights, or any electronic device. The Arduino is an easy-to-use microcontroller board -- it's like an R&D lab on your kitchen table for prototyping any gadget. We show you how to make one, and how to use Arduinos and other microcontrollers to make an automatic yogurt maker, a vintage Skype telephone, a gumball machine that recognizes your secret knock, and more. Plus, make a Helicopter Rocket, portable solar power pack, gourmet Sous Vide food cooker, treadmill desk, and more fun DIY projects.

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Take a tour of Volume 25 with the editors of MAKE.

Table of Contents

blue pdf icon = PDF OF ARTICLE     red content icon = DOWNLOADABLE RESOURCES     orange content icon = SLIDESHOWS AND EXTRAS

Made on Earth

Icon for Slideshows and Extras » Toothpick Artistry by Bruce Stewart

Using just small hand tools, enormous patience, and lots of toothpicks, Steven J. Backman creates amazingly intricate works of art. Page 18

Icon for Slideshows and Extras » Quickup Camper by Jon Kalish

Jay Baldwin has designed and built a prototype for what he calls the Quickup Camper, a collapsible camper top that transforms a standard-sized pickup truck into a fuel-efficient, highly maneuverable recreational vehicle. Page 20

» Invisible Sculpture by Thomas Walker Wilson

Artist Michel de Broin affixed pieces of mirror to a rock, maintaining its contours, until the rock's surface was entirely covered in mirrors. Page 21

Icon for Slideshows and Extras » Tools of Artistry by Arwen O'Reilly Griffith

Chris Bathgate's intricate sculptures showcase the perfection of metal and the nuts and bolts of machining. Page 22

Icon for Slideshows and Extras » Biker Laundry by Shawn Connally

John Wells' Bike-O-Worsher works just like any washing machine - you pedal forward for the agitation and pedal backwards for the spin cycle. Page 23

Icon for Slideshows and Extras » Backyard in Motion by Laura Kiniry

Retired mechanical contractor Bill McHugh has spent more than 40 years creating fun kinetic sculptures that run on air, sun, water, birds, and most typically, squirrels. Page 24

Icon for Slideshows and Extras » Cinema with Sol by Jerry James Stone

A tiny, solar-powered cinema is making its way across Europe, promising patrons an intimate movie-viewing experience and red-carpet treatment. Page 25


» Urban Survival Button by Cy Tymony

Prepare yourself by making a Sneaky Button Survival Kit, which contains practical items you can use to protect yourself in urban situations. Page 40

Icon for Downloadable Resources » PET Bottle Purse by Zitta Schnitt

Build a cool purse out of the bottoms of 2 PET bottles and a zipper. Page 80


» Code 72 by Lee D. Zlotoff

Meet the real-life MacGyvers who engineer life-or-death solutions while the clock ticks. Page 30

» Things of Science by Bob Knetzger

Miniature monthly science surprises! Page 36

SPECIAL SECTION: Special Section

» Getting Started with Microcontrollers by Tom Igoe

Choose the right controller for your project and your skill level. Page 42

Icon for Downloadable Resources » Vintage VoIP by Andrew Lewis

Convert a classic 1930s telephone into a Skype phone. Page 46

Icon for Downloadable Resources » Drag-n-Drop Arduino Programming by Ed Baafi

Modkit makes microcontrollers easy for kids and anyone else. Page 52

Icon for Downloadable Resources Icon for Slideshows and Extras » Yobot: Precision Fermentation by Chris Reilly

Build your own smart yogurt maker. Page 57

Icon for Downloadable Resources Icon for Slideshows and Extras » Primer: Make and Use an Arduino by Dale Wheat

Build and program a microcontroller clone with no soldering. Page 62

Icon for Downloadable Resources » Get in the Game by Tom Igoe

Make all kinds of game controllers using an accelerometer or other sensors. Page 71

» Micromania

Everything Arduino: Resources, kids and parts, cool projects and people.

Swinging in the Rain
iPhone LED Suit
The Uberhoop
Foiled Again!
40 Top Projects
Mega Claw Grabs a Prize
Flying Wi-Fi Sniffer
Blu Robotics Kits
A Shield for That
Retro Gaming Future
Say You Want A Revolution
Simon Says Solder
Ethernet Power
MAKE's Essential Arduino Site
Crash Course
The Cheat Sheet
The 1-Minute Microcontroller Page 74


Icon for Downloadable Resources Icon for Slideshows and Extras » $5 HeliRocket by Doug Desrochers

Use toilet paper tubes, coat hangers, and rubber bands to build a high-flying model rocket that transforms into a helicopter midflight, then spins dramatically back down to Earth. Page 82

Icon for Downloadable Resources Icon for Slideshows and Extras » Secret Knock Gumball Machine by Steve Hoefer

Make a cute candy vending machine that only dispenses treats when you knock the secret rhythm on its front panel. Page 92

Icon for Downloadable Resources Icon for Slideshows and Extras » Sous Vide Immersion Cooker by Scott Heimendinger

I'm fascinated by sous vide cooking, in which foods vacuum-sealed in plastic are immersed in a precisely temperature-controlled hot water bath to achieve optimal doneness. Page 104


» The Little Engine That Could by Dale Dougherty

An Arduino board is cheap enough that you wouldn't feel bad breaking it, burning it up, or leaving it behind in a project. Page 10

In the Maker Shed

» The MakerShield by Dan Woods

The ultimate open source prototyping shield for Arduino and Netduino microcontrollers. Page 11

Reader Input

» Reader Input

Jailbreak catch-22, kids love robots, ladder logic, and space zillionaires. Page 12

Making Trouble

Icon for Slideshows and Extras » The Art of Productive Procrastination by Saul Griffith

Flip between two projects to prevent focus fatigue. Page 13

Maker's Calendar

» Maker's Calendar by William Gurstelle

Our favorite events from around the world. Page 15

Make Free

» Untouched by Human Hands by Cory Doctorow

Is there a boardroom somewhere trying to figure out how to make your next Happy Meal toy, laptop, or Ikea table look like it was handmade by a MAKE reader? Page 16

Country Scientist

» Capturing and Studying Airborne Dust, Smoke, and Spores by Forrest Mims III

In this column we'll experiment with the simplest air samplers, those that rely on gravity or wind to deposit particles in the air onto adhesive tape or a bare microscope slide. Page 26

Tales from the Web

» The Computer with 1,000 Faces by Gareth Branwyn

Here are a few cool Arduino projects of staggering diversity from Make: Online. Page 29

Skill Builder

» Holography by Frank DeFreitas

Capture magical 3D images without a camera. Page 116

DIY: Outdoors

» Your Own Honey Cow by Abe Connally

Make a simple beehive and enjoy the sweet fruits of your labor. Page 123

» Making a Cage Trap by William Gurstelle

Catch pesky animals humanely with a homemade slammer. Page 126

DIY: Imaging

Icon for Downloadable Resources Icon for Slideshows and Extras » Laser Pointer Printer by James Underwood, Leland Sindt

A scanning laser "paints" on photo paper. Page 129

DIY: Office

» LED Paper Cutter Assist by Larry Cotton

Modify an el-cheapo paper cutter to make it way more accurate. Page 133

DIY: Toys

Icon for Slideshows and Extras » Giant Spin Art by Pete Goldstein, Bob Goldstein

Spin canvases at high speed and drop paint on them. Page 136

DIY: Home

» Solar TV Remote by Sparkle Labs

Juice your flipper with sunlight. Page 138

DIY: Workshop

» Faux Flames by William Gurstelle

Make realistic fake fire, using fabric, a fan, and some LEDs. Page 140

Make Money

» Scrabble by Tom Parker

Sometimes it costs more to buy it than to make it from the money itself. Page 143

Build Notes

Icon for Downloadable Resources » Reverse Geocache Puzzle Box by Mikal Hart

This locked gift box guides recipients to the only place on Earth where it will open. Page 144

Electronics: Fun and Fundamentals

Icon for Downloadable Resources » A Trippy Crystal Nightlight by Charles Platt

Create any color, using 3 LEDs and the trick of pulse-width modulation. Page 148


Icon for PDF of Article Icon for Downloadable Resources Icon for Slideshows and Extras » Zombie Attack! by Lee D. Zlotoff

Battle your way through brain-hungry zombies to arrive - bite free - to a secure school two miles away. Page 152


Icon for PDF of Article » I made it. I can fix it. by Saul Griffith

The motto for the next generation of makers! Page 154


» Toolbox

Build a village, clock your speed, wear sunglasses at night, craft a canoe, and geek out your garb. Page 156


Icon for PDF of Article Icon for Slideshows and Extras » Eureka! by Roy Doty

Use your maker skills to ensure that your reserved parking spot remains yours alone. Page 158

Toy Inventor's Notebook

» Amazing Maker Marble Maze by Bob Knetzger

Page 164

Dangerous Things

» Lick a 9-Volt Battery by Julie Spiegler, Gever Tulley

Taste electricity. Page 166

Heirloom Technology

» Carve Inscriptions in Stone by Tim Anderson

Send a message to eternity. Page 168

Remaking History

» The Chinese Windlass by William Gurstelle

British soldiers, encamped on the outskirts of Beijing after the war, took note of an ingenious device being used to raise and lower drawbridges. Page 170


» My Own Visible Computer by Kevin Quiggle

For my most recent PC build, I wanted to show the working parts as much as possible. Page 176