Santa’s Shop is an animated storytelling installation

Santa’s Shop is an amazing Christmas display consisting of trains, animated figurines, a rotating tree, and several other interesting holiday-themed gadgets.

The decoration features hundreds of 3D-printed parts and many handmade characters, controlled by 46 servos and a total of 12 Arduino boards. Bringing the installation to life was no small task, requiring over 2,000 hours of labor for creators Mike and Annelle Rigsby.

More details on the project can be found in this write-up. You can also see it in action in the video below, or on display live in the window of the Brightway Insurance Agency in Gainesville, Florida this month.

Arduino Blog

The Imperializer makes quick work of metric conversions

When you work in a machine shop, you often need to convert numbers from metric to imperial. As long as you have to do this on a regular basis, why not make a tool to do so easily?

Instead of pulling out a phone or taping a calculator to their CNC machinery, NYC CNC came up with an Arduino Nano-based device that does this conversion in style. “The Imperializer” features a beautifully milled enclosure that magnetically sticks onto a machine, a backlit LCD, and a toggle switch to flip between metric and imperial units.

The Imperializer is a desktop or machine mountable device that does one thing: converts inches to millimeters (and millimeters to inches)!  It uses an Arduino Nano and is powered by a Lithium battery that can be recharged with a Micro-B USB cable!

If you’d like to have your own for your shop, the bill of materials and Arduino code can be found on the project page. The housing, and even a fully-assembled version, can be purchased here.

Arduino Blog

A chronograph rig for high-speed glass photography

To capture images of bullets “interacting” with various objects, photographic hacker Tyler Gerritsen created an impressive chronograph rig, able to measure the speed of a bullet launched from a rifle at 1000 meters per second. While the concept of measuring time from one sensor to another isn’t new, implementation at this speed required some interesting tricks.

To accomplish this feat, Gerritsen designed his own sensor array using photodiodes in a reverse-biased setup, and even calibrated the clock speed of the Arduino Uno for control in order to account for any variation. Finally, the time between triggering a flash and light actually appearing had to be compensated for in the code, a different value for each type of equipment.

The project write-up is a great read for anyone interested in this type of photographic or measurement technique, and the resulting photos can be seen here.

Arduino Blog

Build your own antenna rotator/satellite tracking device

After finding that purchasing a tracking device for his satellite dish would be quite expensive, YouTuber “Tysonpower” decided to simply build one himself. What he came up is an assembly made with 3D-printed parts and extruded aluminum that uses a pair of NEMA23 stepper motors for movement.

While it doesn’t quite work with the dish itself due to its offset weight, the concept was successfully used to track weather satellites using a VHF Yagi antenna.

Control is provided via an Arduino Nano, which interfaces with a computer over USB serial that provides satellite information. You can check it out in the video below, and find more details in the project’s write-up.

Arduino Blog

Read the time and play games on this Arduino-based word clock

If you’ve been interested in creating a word clock for your home, then perhaps this neat build by “oliverb” will be the perfect place to start.

The clock, powered by an Arduino Nano along with a RTC module, is capable of displaying the time by spelling it out as you expect, or can use the letters as a matrix in order to show the time in digital format. These letter-dots can even be configured to form an “analog” clock if you prefer.

But that’s not all. The device can reveal the temperature and humidity, as well as play games like Tetris. Be sure to see it in action below!

Arduino Blog