Communicating Arduino to PC using XBee in API mode

Xbee is a great radio module to communicate between devices wireless. Steven shared his extensive work on Xbee communication in API mode which was included in his Masters thesis. His setup uses Xbee module on each end. On one end he connect module to PC with Xbee USB adapter, another part is attached to Arduino.


The fun part begins with software. He’s chosen API mode because there are several advantages over regular modes. It frees from switching in to command mode in order to change configuration options, also message address can be set on fly, messages packets come with RSSI (Received Signal Strength Indicator) and feedback message is sent on successful transmission. He used Digi X-CTU software to work with message frames which is robust on building API frames. Once succeeded Steven moved to python code. He was able to talk to Xbee module by using PySerial library. The code takes care of sending and receiving message frames. Same applies to Arduino part which also has to be able to receive and send message packets in API mode. For those who want to dig deeper, there is a source code available in Github.

Large smart watch has its own beauty

We are used to see smart watches to be somewhat similar to regular watches that are normal size and sleek. Zack broke that confidence by building different smart watch which takes quite amount of your arm. It’s built by using standard 16×2 VFD display. Watch is clocked by Teensy 3.0. Around it there is a solid 3D printed enclosure where other instruments are located.

It has many features that makes it even more attractive. There is a laser pointer, flashlight, TV-B-gone, Breathalyzer, On LCD screen there is a clock, calendar, also the Gathering card game. Watch control is done with fairly big knob and switches. I think it should look nice addition to some sort superhero costume. Wearing it in daily basis would be uncomfortable.

Building a 2048 game on Arduino

2048 is a little addictive game where you need to combine numbers appearing in 4×4 matrix to get score up to 2048. more about this game can be found on wiki. Lee developed an Arduino version of this game where he controls game with four buttons and joystick while seeing action on Nokia 5110 graphical LCD .

He built all PCBs from scratch leaving only Arduino bootloader on Atmega328 microcontroller. He wanted game device to bee convenient to handle but still doable with home conditions so he split it in to two PCB boards with through hole components. The top board carries LCD, buttons and joystick, bottom board hides microcontroller and power circuit. His home built PCBs look really well made. As power supply he used couple Lithium-Ion batteries and linear 7805 voltage regulator. Even if platform is built for 2048 game it can be used for any game you decide to program. Only memory and imaginations is the limit.

Arduino portable sensor pack with Bluetooth LE

Human have only five senses, but there are huge amounts of data that we cannot see or feel. This can be fixed with a bunch of sensors. IntensePancake share his instructable where he built a sensor pack that sits on top of Arduino ans talks to Android device via Low Energy (LE) Bluetooth channel. Sensor pack is built on custom prototyping board where he mounted all sensors. The list starts with its own voltage regulator. Since Sensor pack meant to be portable, on board linear regulator seemed to be inefficient (bellow 50%). So he bypassed it with switching regulator LM2825N which promises about 80% efficiency. With 9V and about 560mAh battery it worked around 13 hours.


He’s chosen nRF8001 LE bluetooth breakout board from adafruit. It is interfaced to Arduino via SPI interface. Lets get to sensor list. Firs one is Si1145 light sensor which packs several features including visible light intensity, infrared light intensity and UV index which allows to predict UV exposure. Another sensor id BMP180 barrometric pressure sensor which can be used as altimeter. It also includes temperature sensor. Going further there is well known DHT22 Temperature/humidity sensor which measure humidity and temperature. Second part is Android application. The interface is really easy to follow – all sensor data is displayed in human readable form. Project files can be found on GitHub.