Arduino controlled 3D printer


Arduino 3d printerExtruder for 3D printer

DSCF1481Arduino MEGA the brains behind the 3d printer

A busy work/life schedule has meant it’s been a while since I’ve posted on this site so I thought I would share some of the things I’ve been up to.

Arduino Project Handbook was released to the world a year ago and time has fairly flown since then!  An updated copy of the book is being worked on with US based publisher No Starch Press with the version due in November 2015.  At the same time a Chinese version is also being translated and should be out by the end of the year.  With current sales also going pretty well, stock of the first issue is very limited now so when all of those are gone that version of the book will be classified ‘out of print’.

As the title of this post might suggest, I’ve built a 3d printer using an Arduino MEGA to control it.  It’s based on the REPRAP 3d printer and is a great way to learn about 3d printers and how they work – also great for if your printer needs fixing!  I’m planning to share my findings in Arduino Project Handbook volume 2 as I found there is a lack of clear instructions on how to go about things.  More to follow……

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The Evolution of Arduino Project Handbook


It’s now 3 months since Arduino Project Handbook was published and the level of orders and interest has been simply amazing. The book has shipped to over 35 countries far and wide such as United States, Russia, Australia and Brazil.  It seems that I was not the only one who wanted a colourful and stimulating Arduino project book.

The book came about by accident when I wanted to find an Arduino book to introduce electronics and making to my son – what I had in mind just didn’t exist so I decided to do one myself.

Here are some of the early ideas for the cover of the book:

Arduino project handbook white coverArduino project handbook purple coverarduino project handbook black coverarduino project handbook orangearduino project handbook Red coverFinal design for arduino project handbook

I chose the blue cover in the end as it seemed to work best but with other volumes planned, some of the others may still see the light of day!

Volume 2 is progressing so I will hopefully post an update with some sample pages soon.

Mark Geddes, October 2014

Five Star reviews on Amazon…


Arduino ad banner

Some nice reviews on Amazon for Arduino Project Handbook:

Want to build electronic “gizmos” based on Arduino – this book should be top of your list!
By Lindsay Reid on 5 July 2014
Format: Paperback
This book was written by someone with a love for building devices based on the Arduino boards – the author wanted to share his passion rather than rip people off with a “me too” type book to make a fast buck.

The book is very well laid out with hundreds of full colour pictures, diagrams and layouts. Each device used is examined and the author explains what it does and why. The code for the projects is available to download so you don’t need to laboriously copy listings from the book.

The book was originally funded by “crowd funding” from like minded Arduino fans and the success of this first volume has encouraged the author to write a second more adventurous/complicated second volume.

If you want to start building gizmos based on the wide range of Arduino boards and “shields” then this book whould be your first purchase. Even accomplished Arduino fans will find something useful! – Highly recommended.

A must for ZX Spectrum generation that now tinker with Arduino’s!, 23 Sep 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Arduino Project Handbook: Volume one: Complete Guide to Creating with the Arduino (Paperback)
I like this book, I already had a few books on the Arduino / PI and had made good progress with some projects. What made this a must by was, it was started by crowd funding, its crammed with projects and like the author I had a ZX Spectrum and had thought of writing my own book so had to show my support by getting a copy…unlike all those programs you’d have typed into your Spectrum the code in this book works!

I’d recommend getting this book and once you’ve worked through it and got a nice stock of components think about your next projects and get a more specific book for that idea. This book gives you the base you need to then explore more complex areas.

Roll on volume 2… maybe with some projects from inspired readers and crowd funding of a little starter kit of components…

Wish this book had come out six months ago
By Mr. S. K. Webb on 6 Sep 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the best book I have purchased about Arduino well written can buy all the parts in the UK. Clear explanation of components all colour pages different projects than other books.Roll on volume 2. Ordered directly from Mark on Thursday afternoon arrived Friday morning. Great value to most other Arduino books

You can browse pages of the book and buy a copy here

Arduino Project Handbook Volume Two


Arduino project handbook v2Gatling gun sentry project

I’m delighted to announce that Arduino Project handbook Volume Two is currently being written with 3 new projects already completed.  I’m hopeful that the book will be ready for publishing in the first quarter of 2015.  Keep an eye here for more progress.

Bit of a blur…

I can’t quite believe that it’s almost 2 months since Arduino Project Handbook was published.

The period between the end of my Indiegogo funding campaign and actual production of the book was a bit of a blur and it’s only now that I can reflect on that exciting time.

A ton of books…

Delivery of my books came on 2 pallets from the printers with a total weight of 1 tonne!  It was quite a challenge getting the first pallet into the distribution centre (garage) but with the delivery driver’s help we managed.  The second pallet was a different story, it was almost twice the size and we couldn’t even get it onto the pavement (sidewalk for US readers).  I thanked the driver for his help and proceeded to move 60 boxes of books one at a time into the distribution centre (rapidly filling garage).

Cover page Cover Actual Book

Magical moment…

Next came that once in a lifetime moment when I went to open a box and look at the completed book for the first time.  To say I was nervous/excited/sick was an understatement – I savoured that moment for quite a while.  Thankfully when I picked up the first book it was just as I had envisaged.  The look and feel were really important to me, not only did I want a book that had great content, it also needed to look and feel good (it has a matt finish on the cover for a more luxurious feel).  I even think it smells good but that might be a bit weird.

Increasing shares…

Labelling and packing over 200 books came next and luckily the weather was decent so I could do it in the sunshine, not the most riveting task in the world but the sense of achievement looking at the vast piles of bubble wrapped envelopes was great.  Next came the trip to the post office with the first batch to go out.  Almost 2 hours later with proof of postage for every single package and an empty wallet, the first were on their way around the world.  This was repeated twice more the next day, I believe shares in Royal Mail increased that day….

1000 Followers…

Over the next few days and weeks it was great to see the response from those receiving their books through the Indiegogo site and Twitter.  On that note my Twitter followers reached 1,000 earlier today

number 1 robotics

Best Seller on Amazon…

The book reached Best Seller status on Amazon in it’s category in mid July.

You can still get volume one here

More to follow…

Release your imagination…


Components images

The Arduino is a bit of a phenomenon – an inexpensive, small computer that can be programmed to control endless creations limited only by your imagination.

A lie detector, reaction timer, electronic dice, keypad entry system, laser trip wire alarm and defusable bomb game are just some of the cool projects that the Arduino Project Handbook will demonstrate how to build. All are easily achievable and have one thing in common – they use the power of the Arduino.

In order to understand the true origins of the Arduino Project handbook I’m going to delve into the past where my interest in electronics and computer programming started.

Back in the early eighties I remember picking up a great penguin paperback titled gadgets and gizmos, hidden away in a local book store. The projects were really simple such as making your own working lighthouse using torch bulbs or a revolving display table using an old clock. The ideas in that book sparked my imagination and I’ve been creating ever since.

Curiosity meant I took apart various electrical items to experiment and find out how they worked. I usually struggled to put them back together but amassed a good selection of components to tinker with. This is a great way of gathering lots of parts.

I remember wiring together a string of small torch bulbs to make floodlights for my Subuteo kit as well as creating a tannoy system to blast out music at half time. I even managed to extract some LED’s from a Star Wars toy, only to burn them out as I didn’t understand what a resistor was at the time. Small motors, buzzers and solar cells were all used to create burglar alarms and super whizzy cars – a few motors were burnt out too!

Zx spectrum

At the same time the ZX Spectrum 48k micro computer was launched and introduced home computing to the mass market. The ZX Spectrum was intended as a serious computer but inadvertently lent itself more to gaming due to the simple programming language. As a result software houses sprouted from bedrooms across the country. The program language used by the ZX Spectrum was called basic and in many ways the Arduino language of C is quite similar.

Physical computing, where software and hardware react to the physical world is not new and was around in the eighties but confined to very high end computing and robotics, way out of reach of most households. Now, some 30 years on, I’m tinkering again with electronics but this time I can add programming into the mix by using the Arduino.

The Arduino is a microcontroller and the software that runs it. This little box of tricks can be used to develop interactive projects that can respond to various sensors and control items such as lights, motors or switches.

The internet is bursting with tutorials and articles covering the Arduino and what it can do but it can be frustrating. Many of the online guides are great but usually lack any detailed visual reference and many of the YouTube guides lack the code required.

Arduino project handbook LCD temp display

Similar to the book that inspired me so many years ago, the idea behind this book is to introduce the Arduino and components needed to create projects in a simple way and hopefully inspire the reader to create their own contraptions by combining projects.

The projects start with the basics and progress with a steady learning curve to more complex designs. Each project description will include; what the project will do, the items needed, visual references of the set up, simple step by step process, schematic and finally the code with some simple explanations.

What this book doesn’t do is go into great detail of electronics theory or programming but will give a good starting point.

Whilst there are many excellent Arduino books available, I couldn’t find one that was visually stimulating but practical at the same time. I decided to experiment with the Arduino and create a record of my achievements that I could refer back to – this book is a result of that.

This is the type of book I was looking for but didn’t exist, I hope that now it does, you might enjoy it too.

You can buy the book from here

Mark Geddes, August 2014

Posting Arduino Code in WordPress


Arduino project handbook  progam

The Arduino Project Handbook project code is all available on the website to accompany the book but I’ve been struggling over the past few weeks to post the code in WordPress. Most of the code was working fine but some were throwing up errors – this should be fixed now.

WordPress has a code button so that it knows when blocks are online so they can be copied and pasted in a program, without using this the code won’t compile. What I didn’t realise is that the Arduino IDE version 1.0.5 has a ‘copy for HTML’ option and this seems to have solved the issues.

I think I’ve fixed them all but if you come across any that don’t compile, let me know and I’ll look into it.

Here is a good link giving more info on adding code online.

DuinoKit now available on Kickstarter


Picture Electronic vintage kitThe duinokit

1989 Electronics Workshop                                                2014 DuinoKit

Do you remember the electronics starter kits that were around in the 80’s?  I had the Electronics Workshop from Merit and thought it was awesome.  Now Dan Alich has brought the idea right up to date with the DuinoKit – an electronics learning platform incorporating the Arduino microcontroller.

Functionality

The kit features loads of components to tinker with and comes in a great looking flight case.  It’s currently on KickStarter and you can even add a copy of the Arduino Project Handbook with your pledge.

I’m delighted to be working with Dan to help put together some learning cards and you can see the full campaign details here: DuinoKit Kickstarter  Have a look and relive some old memories or better still, introduce electronics to the creators of the future!

No1 Best Seller on Amazon


The Arduino Project Handbook was published one month ago and I was delighted and amazed that the book reached number one best seller in it’s category on Amazon last week.  It’s been up and down in the top 10 since then and currently sits at number 2.

Amazon ranking for book

This got me thinking back to my Indiegogo campaign and how the awareness crept up as the days went by.  I had listed the book under education as I felt that was a better fit than technology and to begin with the book featured 89th in the Indiegogo listings.  I discovered that each campaign had its own ‘gogo factor’ based on the number of pledges, page views and shares.  After a lot of tweeting sharing and promotion, my campaign reached no.1 in Education and was officially ‘trending’.

Arduino Project Handbook trending on Indiegogo

Ranking on various sites seems to be a dark art so I don’t suppose we will fully understand how this works but with a bit of perseverance anything is achievable.

The book is available on Amazon UK shipping worldwide.

 

Creative Imagination


creative imagination

The idea behind the Arduino Project Handbook was to create a selection of fun projects that would spark your imagination to create more with the Arduino and give you the know how to create your own gadgets.

Ever thought about creating something then thinking, how do I do that? This book will hopefully go some way in helping – by giving you the technical know how, you can focus on the creative design element.

All of the projects in this book could have cool housing, boxes or features that you can design yourself. If you want to create an intruder tracker, you can use the circuit in this book but the same circuit could also trigger a camera or shoot a rubber band.

The idea is that the function of the circuit can release your imagination as to how to use it in a practical way. Think of it as a plug and play creative start.

This handbook is aimed at being practical so you can reference the pin connections and replicate when needed in a different project. You can also combine the projects together to make more complicated and interesting gadgets.

A lot of Arduino books focus on the programming element and this is great but I think there is a place for plug and play electronics – by following the steps in the projects you will learn as you go.

Throughout the book there are ‘instructional’ sections that introduce a new component or process for the ‘projects’ that follow. I’ve tried to put them in a logical order but you can really dive in at any stage of the book.

The mood light project can be used to create a light pal or how about a relaxing bath cube? With the dimmable light project you could create a cool enclosure and add quite a few in series so that you have a proper light dimmer – maybe for an aquarium? With the remote control servo, the possibilities are endless.

Go on let your imagination loose!!

 

Arduino Project Handbook


The Story so far….

Arduino Project Handbook

Arduino Project Handbook

Complete guide to creating with Arduino cover pageRocket launcher Project 28, Arduino Project Handbook

Creating this book has been some journey so I felt I should share my experience so far in case it may help someone else.  (Some of the following info is from the original Indiegogo campaign).

My name is Mark and I live and work in South West Scotland.  Back in the late Eighties I was tinkering with electronics, programming and creating gadgets.  Wind forward a few years (quite a few!) with an honours degree in design, 2 kids and a career in economic development, I’ve rediscovered my passion for creating. I’ve discovered the Arduino™ and can now recreate those gadgets from long ago but this time using a ‘brain’ to control them.

I like books.  I like visual books.  I like practical books.  I like books that are all of these things!  Most Arduino™ books are text heavy, have few images or those that do are in black and white.  I couldn’t find a book on the Arduino™ that was simple, practical, visually stimulating and most of all that I wanted to own as a reference (bit like a scrap book of great ideas).

Ultrasonic Range finder projectRemote control Servo project

The internet is bursting with tutorials and articles covering the Arduino™ and what it can do but can also be frustrating.  Many of the online guides are good but usually lack any detailed visual reference and many of the YouTube guides lack the code required (I’m sure you know what I mean!) Whilst there are many great Arduino books available I couldn’t find one that was visually stimulating but practical at the same time.  I decided to experiment with the Arduino™ and create a record of my achievements that I could refer back to and share with my 10 year old son – this book is a result of that.

This is the type of book I was looking for but didn’t exist, I hope that now it does, you might want it too.

This would be great for SCHOOLS, MAKER SPACES or just individual MAKERS like me. Ideal for someone thinking about starting with the Arduino™ or equally valuable for the experienced maker as a visual reference and inspiration.

My Self Publishing Journey:

I wrote the book in my spare time over the last year.  I didn’t start out to write a book, it was only after 6 months that I realised I had enough material, sketches, diagrams and photos that I could put together and share.

I did a fair bit of research and discovered that the type of book that I wanted didn’t really exist so I set about creating my own.

The software I used to create the book was all open source running on Ubuntu.  There are some great packages such as  LibreOffice Draw, Inkscape and GIMP available for free, although it did take a bit of time to come to terms with some of the functionality.  You need to make sure that the software you use is capable of outputting ‘print-ready’ PDFs.

I planned out the book structure using post it notes which allowed me to move things around easily and found that the book was running at about 180 pages.  Working out the printing cost was quite a challenge.  I searched the internet for weeks getting quotes for a full colour book – the prices varied greatly.  China is widely known for cheap printing but the volumes and shipping costs just didn’t stack up for me.  Another consideration was quality, I wanted not only a useful and interesting book but also one that looked and felt good.  For this reason I decided to stick with a UK company for greater control.  After getting samples, quotes and discussing requirements I found a printer that I felt I could work with.

Next step was how to fund the printing.  I could have self funded the project from the beginning but it was more important to me to make sure there was a market for my book – what is the point of printing hundreds of books that nobody might buy?  I work with the film and TV industry so was aware of crowd funding site Indiegogo and this was the perfect platform to test my book idea.

Indiegogo Campaign

I had done my research, had most of the book written and knew the costs associated with publishing so started to create my Indiegogo campaign.  I set a fixed target that I knew, if reached, would be enough to produce the book and send out copies to backers.  This meant was there was no risk to my backers as nobody would pay anything if the target was not met.

Now here comes my biggest mistake – I was going live with the campaign without priming social media in advance!  I had no Facebook, twitter or website presence for the book other than the Indiegogo campaign page.  Over the first weekend I rectified that and started to tweet, blog and post to generate interest.  I can’t overemphasise the time and effort you need to put into this – it’s your campaign, no one else will push it for you initially.

My campaign ran for 40 days (in hindsight I would have made it 50) and I was fortunate enough to reach my target with 17 days to go.  I achieved 164% of target in the end which was great and allowed me to increase the production run.  Most importantly for me, it showed there was interest in my book.

I set conservative postage costs for sending the book out and I have to admit I underestimated how far spread the interest would be. In the end backers from 33 different countries bought the book so I was glad of the extra 64% raised as that all went on covering postage costs!  Make sure you check this out in advance – UK postage is particularly expensive.  Luckily I knew the dimensions and weight of the book before it was printed so could work this out.

I self published as I wanted to keep control of the full process from the beginning but this comes with its own challenges.  In order for book stores etc. to stock your book you will need an ISBN (International Standard Book Number) and register this in advance with the agency for your country.  In the UK it’s the Neilson Agency and I have to admit the process has been great, they are really helpful and will answer your queries efficiently.  Once you have an ISBN sites such as Amazon can pick it up but that’s a whole different post!

The book was published on 21 June 2014 and so far, a week in, I have sold 400 copies, considering most first time authors sell 100 in the first year I think that’s pretty good going.

Many thanks again to all my backers and hopefully I can start on volume two soon.