What Arduino projects can I build with a radio or other scavenged household parts?
December 26, 2010 2:16 AM   Subscribe

What interesting projects can I make with my Arduino and scavenged radio parts or other household items?

I got an Arduino for Christmas yesterday! (Woo!) It came in a kit with some basic parts (resistors, a thermidor, three LEDs, a light sensor, a flex sensor, a variable resistor, a button, and a buzzer, as well as a mini breadboard and some wires).

I already made all the projects in the Sparkfun Inventor's Kit Guide (pdf), adapting them to what I've got, and then a few more of my own invention. My latest project (just so you can tell what sort of level I am) is a script that searches my twitter feed for certain keywords and sets the tricolour LED to a certain colour when it finds them (e.g. if one of my friends tweets that he/she is "sad", the LED turns purple, etc).

Now I am bored. I don't feel like I have enough parts to make something really ambitious on the electronics side, but I feel like I have too much programming background (I am pretty proficient in a whole heap of languages) to stick with the beginner stuff.

I have taken to scavenging the house for random other parts I might be able to build something out of. What about a radio? What can I do with a functioning radio and an arduino? Or with parts removed from a radio and an arduino?

Alternatively, any other ideas to keep me entertained?

I'm not averse to buying more parts, but I'll be ordering them online, and I want stuff I can build in the meanwhile!
posted by lollusc to Technology (7 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Tear open a VCR to scavenge parts. They are a great source of parts motors, gears, voltage, regulators, resistors, capacitors, transistors, IR recievers. Also Pick up a couple 555 timers they are infinitely useful. Download Yenka which is free for home use its a great circuit simulation software. The Arduino Protoype shield with mini breadboard is pretty handy. My current project is an IR beam-break sensor with most parts sourced from an old VCR. If you have a heat gun its one of the easiest ways to remove parts from old gear. Make sure you have a way to deal with the nasty fumes it will create. For something you can build today, if you can scavenge a couple 555 timers from something you can build This.
posted by jmsta at 5:30 AM on December 26, 2010

I think you need the pump from a windshield washer and the motor from the windshield wipers - because AUTOMATED RECIPROCATING SQUIRTGUN!
posted by plinth at 5:50 AM on December 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you have a relay, you can turn A/C stuff on and off but please be very very careful with wall power! That said, you can automate almost anything in the house.

If you want to get funky, get a mic and a loudspeaker and make some crunchy sounds or noise processors. You could also plug the radio's headphone output directly into the analog inputs and reprocess, cross-modulate, etc. Might be a fun programming problem since doing real sampling and processing on such a tiny CPU with a slow ADC is not really possible, so you will have to compromise and hack.

Servos can usually be found at hobby shops for around 5 bucks and they are pretty easy to control. You could make all sorts of expressive motion with a few servos, although watch the power usage if you are hooking up more than 2 or 3.

Stepper motors are quite plentiful in old printers, fax machines and the like. They are a bit trickier to get working and may require driver electronics but they can also do pretty precise movement.
posted by mr.ersatz at 6:26 AM on December 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You could make the arduino tune your radio.

You could use the radio to listen to the spurious RFI from the Arduino board as it controls a motor.

You could hook the arduino across the volume control knob of the radio, which uses the radio as an amplifier for the arduino. Then make a synth that's controlled by one of your sensors.
posted by fake at 9:06 AM on December 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Go get 'em, tiger.
posted by cmchap at 4:31 PM on December 26, 2010

Dual Chronometry
posted by Confess, Fletch at 9:37 PM on December 26, 2010


Any chance you could post code/directions for your twitter feed thing? That's pretty awesome and I'm sure others would love to try it out.
posted by Deathalicious at 8:11 AM on June 30, 2011

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