Alan's Arduino Page
Page updated Jul19


I wish I had discovered the Arduino a long time ago, it would have made my home automation projects much easier, now a whole new world of possibilities opens up.......

The Arduino is basically a very small computer with lots of  input and output connections which can be used to switch things on and off or to connect sensors to etc..  If you want to make some kind of electronic gizmo, rather than having to have a degree in electronics/maths to be able to design and build a custom circuit, you just write a simple program and with the minimum of electronics knowledge you can be build just about anything you can imagine...

There are other micro controllers out there but the big advantage of the Arduino is that it is designed to be very easy to use, especially for beginners - see HERE for more info

e.g. You can buy modules which wire straight in:
- 4 relays on a board with all the electronics built in, all it needs is 6 wires from the Arduino (5 on eBay) with this you can switch just about anything on and off (switching mains power with them is dangerous and you need to know what you are doing).
- servos (as used in model aircraft) have just 3 wires - 2 of these go to a battery and the other plugs straight into the Arduino
- search eBay for Arduino and you will see he amazing array of things you can get for it

It is very cheap, the programming language is easy to learn/use and there is just shed loads of info/help on the internet

LATEST NEWS: The ESP8266 or ESP32 is the latest development which is much more powerful than a basic Arduino, has built in Wifi and can be programmed with the same software.  See HERE for my sketch for use with these modules which I find is a good starting point for any new project.  Rather than buying an Arduino I would recommend getting yourself an "ESP8266 nodemcu" (you can pick them up on eBay for around 2).

Here is a sketch which will flash a light which shows just how easy the Arduino is to program.

Note - There are two sections to an Arduino program (sketch) - SETUP is what it runs when first turned on, LOOP is what it then cycles through repeatedly

void setup() {               
  pinMode(13, OUTPUT);     /
/ tell it to use pin 13 as an output.

void loop() {
  digitalWrite(13, HIGH);   // turn the output on 
  delay(1000);              // wait for a second
  digitalWrite(13, LOW);    // turn the output off
  delay(1000);              // wait for a second

So you enter the above code into the Arduino software on your computer, plug an Arduino board into a USB port, upload the program and that is it - you can now plug the Arduino into a power supply and it will run your program and in this case flash the light.  If you were to do this with analog electronics it would involve lots of components, maths and a lot of knowledge/experience to get it right.

Here is my first project - it is a monitor to check my home automation server is working ok.  If the server stops sending a signal to the Arduino then it knows the software on the server has stopped and so it will shut the power off then back on in order to restart everything (it will also restart some other equipment hence the multiple relays).  So now if my server crashes, rather than my home control and security systems all coming to a stop it restarts them automatically :-)
I have recently also added a network sheild to this so I can control it via the internet if I need to restart the server manually.

It uses a 4 relay board from eBay costing 5 and a 12 Arduino and is cased in an old computer PSU. Total cost 17 to build.
BTW - if you use a relay on a board like this remember that some of the pins on the circuit board will have mains on them, so make sure it is well insulated from the case.

The sketch (minus networking) for this can be seen HERE

server monitor

I have also used an Arduino to make an automatic gate opener/closer using hydraulics, made a 3d led cube (instructions here) , an ECG HERE and my drinks robot project can be seen HERE
My next project I think will be some kind of novelty clock - see HERE  (BTW - see my wooden gear clocks HERE)

robot  LEDcube  gate opener


    The main Arduino web site

    Excellent set of beginners guide videos

    Arduino / Electronics manuals

    Excellent set of tutorials
    Lots more tutorials - arduinotutorials.com

    Fantastic 3D LED cube project

    Fritzing - very easy to use design software

    Nottinghack - nottingham based group dedicated to making all kinds of stuff

    Dangerousprototypes - Open source hardware

You can contact me on - alanesq@disroot.org

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