Designing an Arduino-powered split-flap display

If you’d like a split-flap display with numbers and letters, options tend to be quite expensive. This though was no problem for hacker “scottbez1” who reports that after “only” two-plus years of work, he has produced a split-flap assembly that plugs into an Arduino Uno as a sort of external shield.

The device employs inexpensive stepper motors to click through letters, numbers, and even some punctuation, using cutout PVC ID display stock to show the characters. Cleverly, the PCB he designed for it can function as a motor driver or be split in two to function as a sensor board.

I’ve always loved these electro-mechanical displays, but you can’t buy them for a reasonable price, so I figured I’d try making them myself (plus it’s more fun that way!). Ultimately I wanted to design a split-flap display that can be built at home in small/single quantities and can be customized and put together by an intermediate hobbyist for not too much money.

The design I settled on uses PVC ID badge cards for the flaps, store-bought vinyl stickers for the letters, and is driven by a cheap 28BYJ-48 stepper motor. The enclosure and moving parts are all made from laser-cut MDF, which can be easily ordered online. To control them, I designed a driver board that can be hand-soldered and plugs into an Arduino like a shield.

The entire build story can be found here and more details including Arduino code are available on GitHub. If you’d just like to see and hear it flapping away, check out the video below!

Arduino Blog

Dotter is an Arduino-powered dot matrix printer

While largely supplanted by more modern forms of printing, dot matrix printers still have their fans. Few, however, are more dedicated than Nikodem Bartnik, who constructed his own model that pulls paper up to 55cm wide and as long as he needs under a gantry that stamps each pixel with a marker.

The device is controlled via an Arduino Uno, which takes input from a Processing sketch running on a computer to obtain the image to be printed.

It uses a pair of stepper motors to advance the paper, as well as a third to position the marker to be stamped. A servo motor pushes the marker down as needed, producing a print that, as seen at 5:15 in the video below, is accurate and stylishly pixellated.

Arduino Blog

Control lights and sounds with the Arduino-powered LED Eclipse

If you need a MIDI device that can be programmed as your own unique light and sound controller, then Jon Bumstead’s LED Eclipse may be just what you’re looking for.

The circular device, roughly the diameter of a large plate, is constructed out of 30 layers of MDF, and boasts 10 capacitive sensors made with copper strips, as well as 10 corresponding programmable LEDs.

An Arduino Uno powers the assembly, which can be seen being played like a multi-player electronic piano towards the end of the video below. It can also be used as a Simon-style game, and even a light display—though you could program it for any other application you desire!

Arduino Blog

Designing an Arduino-powered Braille generator


Did you know that embossing machines needed to generate Braille characters can cost thousands of dollars? After finding this out, hacker Carlos Campos decided to design and build his own using 3D-printed parts, along with an Arduino Mega and a RAMPS board for control.

Instead of punching each dot, the device pushes a pin out onto the paper, then rolls the dot onto it from the other side, leading to a much quieter operation than normal machines.

Check out the clips below to see the pin actuator by itself and the embosser in action. More details and videos can also be found on Facebook. The project is still in the experimental stages, so collaborators are invited to help turn it into an even more useful implement.

Arduino Blog

Star Wars fan creates an Arduino-powered rebel pilot chest box

If you’d like a rebel fighter pilot suit, complete with the automated chest box, then look no further than this excellent build from “badjer1.”

It features a chest box with the same dimensions seen in the movies that lights up randomly, and even allows bored pilots to play a game of Pong on its double-LED matrix display using a dial next to it.

The Arduino Uno-powered device can also scroll through marquee displays featuring X-Wings and TIE Fighters, and play the Imperial March as required.

You can see more about the project, including how the box and the rest of the uniform were weathered, in badjer1’s write-up here.

Arduino Blog