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Space researchers at the University of Surrey and Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) have developed ‘STRaND-1’, a satellite containing a smartphone payload that will be launched into orbit around the Earth later this year. STRaND-1's lead researcher Dr Chris Bridges explains why a smartphone made an ideal satellite payload, “Smartphones pack lots of components – such as sensors, video cameras, GPS systems and Wi-Fi radios – that are technologically advanced but a fraction of the size, weight and cost of components used in existing satellite systems. And because many smartphones also run on free operating systems that lend themselves to online software developers, the creators of applications (‘apps’) for smartphones could feasibly develop apps for satellites.” A powerful computer built at the SSC will test the vital statistics of the phone once in space. The computer will check which components of the phone are operating normally and when components malfunction in orbit for recovery. Images and messages from the phone will be sent back to Earth via a radio system. Once all the tests are complete, the micro computer will be switched off and the smartphone will be used to operate parts of the satellite. In fact, while the phone’s own camera will be used to snap images of Earth, a second camera will be mounted inside the satellites housing to gather imagery of the phone’s screen as the team operates the phone remotely. More information can be found here:



The MEGA_Stick

Posted by R_Phoenix Jan 19, 2011

My Issue:

Needing an Arduino that is both small in size and “portable”, meaning that it can be used in several different projects.

The Arduino Mini-Pro (to name a few) answers this issue on a smaller scale but I was looking for something in the 2560 size so I developed my own.


My Solution:

The MEGA_Stick



The MEGA_Stick allows me to simply unplug the system from one project and plug it into another.

Two unique things about the MEGA_Stick; all 100 pins are available to the user allowing advanced programmers to utilize the full capacity

of the ATMEGA 2560 chip and the addition of a on board battery backed up Real Time Clock.

This can be turned on or off via a solder jumper (note picture is missing the 2 pull ups).


This might be old news to some, but while developing this board I found that Digi pins 45 and 46 can also be used as PWM pins.

Pin 44 should be one as well but it is not yet in the Arduino boot loader.


Currently I use the MEGA_Stick for my Phoenix Monitor System, which monitors the fluid levels of up to 4 different tanks.

As you can see in the picture I have the main board with a dual footprint. This board can use the Pro-Mini, or my MEGA_Stick,

depending on the features requested like Automatic water fill, Bay heating, or controlling other outside devices. The info can then be

displayed on a veriety of medium. There is lots of room for expanding on this system. Note that the female headers aren’t soldered in yet.



Near future plans for the MEGA_Stick is to develop a board for my AeroQuads.

This board also would be dual footprint for multiple types of brains so I can use the same main board in different Quad setups.

At least that’s the plan as I get time to build it.


For my use the MEGA_Stick simply makes the Arduino MEGA more portable as well as a more permanent solution in one package.

The biggest issue right now is the cost to build considering the prices of the ATMEGA chip in low quantity.


2/21/2012 UPDATE

The MEGA Stick is no longer in production and is being replaced with the even smaller MEGA STICK II


The board measures 1"x2.5" and is better suited for embedded applications. The FTDI and RTC is now off board making it a bit more affordable to replace if something goes wrong.

It will also require a regulated 5v supply as the the regulator has also been removed.


I will notify when production starts.


After ‘Bluewraith’ designed his first electric dice project, he felt a need to design a better one. For his 20 sided dice he used an Arduino and a spare MAX7219 chip he had lying around. “Once I started hooking this one all up, I noticed that I may run into the same problem that I did with previous projects: My wire is way too big to be trying to route around and have it look nice. Once I got the socket for the MAX7219EWGMAX7219EWG soldered down, I knew I had to do something different with my wire. I wasn't going to have enough room to make the connections needed! A quick trip to RadioShack solved that problem. $25 later I have 3 colors of 30AWG wirewrap wire, and the tool to go along with it. It was already too late to do the project the proper way of using wirewrap, but I had an idea. Just use the wirewrap as normal wire and solder it down where I needed it. Since it is so small I can easily bundle a bunch of wire together and they take up hardly any space at all,” said Bluewraith. For the complete process he used to build his electronic dice please visit:

Though, I do question the true randomness of the results. Looks like it would be the "new hottness" for RPG players.




What do you do when your child asks you to build them a robot? Well if you’re Jose Julio, you build an Arduino-based ArduSpider robot. He constructed the robot using a minimalistic hexapod setup (only three servos for six legs). The body of the robot is constructed with a carbon & 1.5mm balsa sandwich. The legs are made of 2mm carbon rods and use some aileron hinges for the front legs. Also a 6gram micro servo was used for the middle legs (that balances the robot) and two 16 grams servos for the rear legs (that connects also to the front legs with 1.5mm rods).  The robot has also a simple behavior scheme (in autonomous mode). When ArduSpider becomes tired, bored and happy it gives a different perspective on interaction or reacts differently in those situations. The eyes, made of LCD’s, also show different patterns depending on the state of the robot. ArduSpider has three modes that the person controlling can choose from. The first is: Manual mode, where Jose used the HW mux in the Ardupilot board so you directly control the three servos with your Tx. “Making this ‘thing’ walk is a real challenge, you need to synchronize your movements, but once you have mastered you can do a lot of fun movements,” said Jose. The second is Assisted mode: You control the robot like an RC car (2 channels). The walk and turn movements (sequences) are executed by the controller, so if you move the stick forward, the robot start to walk forward, if you move the stick to the right, the robot turns to the right... the speed and turn amount are proportional to the stick. The third is Autonomous mode: In this mode the robot starts to walk avoiding obstacles with the IR sensor. When the robot becomes tired it starts to move slowly until it is so tired that it takes a ‘seat’. When the robot becomes bored it starts to call your attention. If you bring your hand over to it, it becomes happy, jumping and continuing to walking. For a complete walkthrough of Jose’s build and downloadable source code please visit:


Arduino units have been used for many purposes, however none as cool as what Ross Whehner did with one. Called ‘The Can Dispenser’, it uses a new ‘zigzag’ can housing that can hold a twelve pack that are held in place by a wooden lever and two clothespins. The elevator is powered by a system of pulleys and has a spring loaded trapdoor bottom that drops down to allow the can to roll into the white bucket at the end of the catapult arm. On the back of the fridge is where the electronics are housed including one Arduino, two bread boards, two PWM motor controllers, wiring for four motors, an IR receiver, and five touch sensors. All housed in a Tupperware container. Very nice job Ross! To see The Can Dispenser in action please play the video.


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