The TinyLoadr Shield Programs AVRs From Your Arduino

I use Arduino as my microcontroller of choice, but often it’s sort of overkill for a project. I tend to program and test on the Arduino then migrate to an ATTiny, a more lightweight range of microcontrollers that is more suitable for less I/O demanding tasks, such as a Simon game. However, it’s often time-consuming and inefficient to wire up an ATTiny to an Arduino to be programmed. At the Ottawa Mini Maker Faire, I encountered the TinyLoadr shield that solved this problem and made programming ATTinys easier and more accessible.

The Shield, made by Jeff Murchison,  uses a 28 ZIF socket to insert the chip to be programmed, and an array of DIP switches selects the IC currently on the shield. Upload the ArduinoISP sketch, stack the shield, and you have an AVR programmer! The shield is compatible with a whole range of ATTinys and ATMegas. More information on the Tindie page and on Jeff’s blog. The Fritzing files for this shield are also on Jeff’s Git.

The Shield stacked on an Arduino.

Fine Tune Your Raspberry Pi Configuration with PiCon

PiCon A Raspberry Pi with the stock OS, Raspbian, has a lot of different configuration options that are found in the config.txt file in the boot directory. While included raspi-config utility can help with some of these settings, it leaves a lot of possible options out. Enter PiCon, a Java-based configuration utility written by Raspberry Pi forum member avatar1337. The utility lets you fine tune your display and hardware settings to meet your exact needs. The cross-platform application saves a config.txt which you can upload to your Pi. On your next reboot, the settings should be applied.

According to other contributors in the forum, it’s even possible to run the application directly on the Pi itself, albeit slowly, with the embedded version of OpenJDK. However you decide to run it, it’s now a bit easier to get the settings just right for your next Pi project. [via Facebook]

Google+ Hangout on Air Today: All About MAKE's Just-Published Vol. 33


Join the editors of MAKE for a live and online conversation on Google+ today about our just-released new issue–Volume 33. The theme of the magazine  is “software for makers” so we’ll be checking in with the founders of Makey Makey about their “banana piano” project featured in the magazine. Getting Started with Raspberry Pi authors Matt Richardson and Shawn Wallace will be on hand to talk about their must-have book for Rasp Pi enthusiasts, also featured in the the magazine. And there’s more. We’ll be hanging out with Patrick Callahan from the Power Racing Series, a Maker Faire favorite that adorns the cover of the issue. And MAKE technical editor Sean Ragan will be in the house to talk about his CNC joinery project detailed in the magazine.

This will be a jam-packed half hour so be sure to tune in right here at 2pm PST and 5pm EST. If you’ve got questions for any of the participants be sure to post them in the comments and we’ll do our best to answer them.

The issue is available on newsstands now, via subscription, or in the Maker Shed.

MAKE Volume 33 is in the House!

We’re thrilled to announced the release of MAKE Volume 33. This action-packed issue features our special “Software for Makers” section, covering apps for things like circuit board design, 3D design and printing, programming for microcontrollers, and programming for kids. You’ll also meet our new Arduino-powered Rovera robot and get started with Raspberry Pi by constructing a simple soundboard project. As usual, you’ll also be learn more about fascinating makers, like the maniacs on our cover, the hackers behind the popular Power Racing Series events held at Maker Faire.

Crack open the issue and try your hand at the 22 great DIY projects inside, including the Optical Tremolo guitar effects box, “Panjolele” cake-pan ukelele, Wii Nunchuk mouse, indispensable CNC joinery tricks, treat-dispensing cat scratching post, laser-cut flexing wooden books, sake brewing, growing your own incredibly hot “ghost chili” peppers, and much, much more.

On newsstands now, via subscription, or available in the Maker Shed.

Open Hardware Pinoccio Is A Wireless, Web-Ready Microcontroller


I met Eric Jennings at the Hardware Innovation Workshop last May where he was showing off plans for a new wireless Arduino-compatible mircocontroller board. After going through nine prototypes since then, he and co-founder Sally Carson launched the Pinoccio this week. Here’s how Eric describes the platform:

Pinoccio is a complete ecosystem for building the Internet of Things. It’s a wireless, web-ready microcontroller with WiFi, LiPo battery, & built-in radio, and an API to get your board talking to the Web right out of the box. It’s also Arduino-compatible, meaning you can use the Arduino IDE to program the board, just like you would with an Arduino Uno or Mega.

The board is based on the ATmega128RFA1 and is most similar to the Arduino Mega, but with a built-in radio and a much smaller footprint. It’s always great to see new smartly-designed open hardware projects coming to market and releasing their designs and code.

DIY Rickroller

Screen Shot 2013-01-03 at 3.42.59 PM

Have you ever been Rickrolled? The bait-and-switch gag is a web classic. But why should the cheesy music of Rick Astley be confined to the internet? Now it doesn’t have to be thanks to computer engineer Zach Rattner.

Zach has created an open source, Arduino-powered device that plays Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” whenever someone walks within 6 feet of the unit’s ultrasonic sensor. When they walk away the music stops, but picks up where it left off when the Rickrollee steps back in range. Zach offers details on the build right here. I love it and so will you.

Best of 2012: Maker Shed Top Products


It’s been another record breaking year here in the Maker Shed, and we owe it all to everyone who purchased a kit, microcontroller, PDF or anything else from us in 2012. Thousands of orders were shipped from our warehouse in Sebastopol, California to makers all over the globe! Ever wonder what our most popular products are? Below are the top 10 products purchased in 2012:



Deluxe Breadboard Jumper Wires – You can’t have enough jumper wires. I frequently tack on a pack when I place and order, it looks like I’m not the only one.



Ultimate Microcontroller Pack with Arduino Uno – Makers are all about learning by experimentation, which is what the Ultimate Microcontroller Pack is all about. With plenty of components, you can learn the basics and go beyond without having to purchase additional items. It’s also great for advanced users who want a large selection of Arduino compatible parts.



MintyBoost USB Charger Kit – Ah, the Mintyboost. It’s simple to build and extremely handy to have around. This kit charges nearly anything that uses a USB port using power from 2 – AA batteries. It’s open-source, hackable, and almost guaranteed to pull you out of a jam. My power was off for 3 days this summer and a MintyBoost kept my iPhone charged the entire time. It’s one of my favorites and apparently one of yours too!



MakerShield Kit – The MakerSheild is an ever versatile protoshield for Arduino and Netduino microcontrollers. It has a nice, big prototyping area for building circuits and perfectly fits a mini breadboard for prototyping ease. With an on-board potentiometer, input and reset buttons, and 2 LEDs, it’s the a great choice for experimentation with microcontrollers. Don’t forget to check out Make:Projects for examples on how to use it!



Getting Started with Arduino, 2nd Edition – This book by Arduino co-founder Massimo Banzi pairs perfectly with our Getting Started with Arduino Kit. The book assumes you know nothing about Arduino or programming and gradually teaches you the basics with simple, easy to follow projects. It’s a great way get your feet wet with the Arduino without being overwhelmed with complexity.



Netduino Plus (2) – The Netduino Plus (recently upgraded to the Netduino Plus 2) climbed up the charts this year to our number 5 top seller. This powerful microcontroller is programmed using Microsoft #C or Visual Basic (The ‘net’ in Netduino is for .NET). It has the same footprint and pin layout as the Arduino (thus the ‘duino) making it compatible with many of the available Arduino shields on the market. The Netduino Plus features onboard Ethernet and a microSD card slot for increased storage space. The new “2” version has four times the speed (168Mhz), six times the code space (384KB) and twice the RAM (100+KB) of the previous version.



Arduino Uno – The original Arduino Uno is still the maker’s favorite microcontroller. It’s easy to learn, has a huge community, and there’s a shield for just about anything.  From blinking LEDs to controlling UAVs, it’s easy to see why the Arduino is so popular.



Make: School’s Out Summer Fun Guide – This special issue of MAKE was created to help kids fight summer boredom with making. Photos for the 50+ projects were shot in 3D for added fun and interactivity. The guide features everything from zip-lines to soldering and everything in-between!



Getting Started with Arduino Kit V3.0 – Our Getting Started with Arduino Kit helped thousands of makers learn to use the Arduino Microcontroller this year. The kit contains everything you need to follow along with the Getting Started with Arduino listed above. Strong sales at RadioShack and Microcenter helped boost this popular kit to the number 2 position.



Learn to Solder Skill Badge – The Learn to Solder badge has been used to teach thousands of people around the world to solder. It looks cool, is simple to make, inexpensive, and it’s blinky! We ship these to Maker Faires all over the world, as well as to hackerspaces, schools, and even Boy Scout camps. It’s a perfect introduction to making and a great way to learn a life long skill. Quantity wise, it’s easily our best seller of 2012.

Thanks for a great year! We’re looking forward to making 2013 even better.

Holiday Gift Guide 2012: Arduino


Are you looking for something to give to the geek in your life?

If you want to buy a present for someone just getting started with Arduino, or create an exciting project that will bring a smile to any Arduino enthusiast, or even yourself, here is my list of great Arduino gifts. Many of these are items that have enhanced my own Arduino experience and some are on my own wish list. I have added a few tools and some extravagant items that anyone who enjoys making things would love to receive.

[make_slideshow slug=”2012-holiday-gift-guide-arduino” title=”Holiday 2012 Gift Guide: Arduino” link=”Show me the Arduino”]

Meet the Rovera: A MAKE Hangout on Air at 2pm PST/5pm EST Today!

Meet the Rovera.

Today marks the debut of MAKE’s monthly “editor’s choice” hangout on air, live and online on Google+. This week MAKE editorial director Gareth Branwyn and guests will discuss robots and the Rovera, a new Arduino-powered robot now available in the Maker Shed. As we typically do, we’ll announce a special offer during the hangout. Tune in right here.

Hummingbird: “Pre-Arduino” for Kids

Arduino was conceived as an open source microcontroller for artists, designers, and others who aren’t necessarily techie/programmer types. Of course, all sorts of makers have flocked to this technology because of its versatility. But in spite of its relative ease of use, there’s still a barrier to entry for new users. Like kids. For that reason, BirdBrain Technologies‘ Hummingbird looks promising. They call it “pre-Arduino.”

The custom controller is sold as a kit that can be used to operate sensors, motors, and lights (included in the box). BirdBrain designer Tom Lauwers says it’s designed for “students and kids who have never touched electronics or programming before.” The Hummingbird costs $199, a bit steep for a kids’ kit, but there are reportedly plans for a lower priced version.

Here’s the device in action. The cardboard robot looks kinda fun.

[viddler id=bce9567c w=598]

Anyone had experience with the Hummingbird?

[via Endgadget]