Making an arcade machine accept bottle caps as currency

We got an interesting brief recently from our friends at Badaboom. They wanted to convert some sort of arcade machine to accept bottle caps rather than coins as currency. Various ideas were discussed for what that machine might be, and in the end they settled on “The Claw!!!” as it shall ever be known toContinue reading “Making an arcade machine accept bottle caps as currency”

Creating an auto-answer, wireless intercom using Arduino and a SIM900 GSM shield

<![CDATA[I was recently commissioned to build a custom intercom system for a friend's interactive installation. The plan was for it to use professional mics to relay voice signals over a long distance – potentially anything from a few meters to a few miles. The long-range requirement made radio mics a poor choice. Long range two-wayContinue reading “Creating an auto-answer, wireless intercom using Arduino and a SIM900 GSM shield”

Mobile hackathon: Or turning a Pringles tube into an arcade game between Glasgow and London

<![CDATA[I’ve always fancied the idea of taking part in a Hackathon, but I never seem to be in the right place at the right time. This morning I’m heading from Glasgow to London on the Virgin Pendolino – a trip that takes 4hrs 32mins. I was prepared in advance for this meeting (a rare event)Continue reading “Mobile hackathon: Or turning a Pringles tube into an arcade game between Glasgow and London”

Talking careers: every kid wants to be an inventor

<![CDATA[Last week I was invited by a local school to give my first ever careers talk. It was really nice to be asked, but it got me thinking: what is my career? Leading digital development at the Herald & Times Group is certainly a big part of it, but that’s not the whole story –Continue reading “Talking careers: every kid wants to be an inventor”

My Project of the Month in Popular Science

<![CDATA[I was amazed to discover that my toy box is Project of the Month in the December 2013 issue of Popular Science. Very exciting for a geek like me! It was too late for my video to make it into the US edition of the app, but it did make it into Popular Science UK…Continue reading “My Project of the Month in Popular Science”

Biometric security toy box

<![CDATA[A couple of weeks ago Apple announced the new iPhone 5s with Touch ID, a fingerprint identity sensor that replaces the need for a conventional PIN number or password. It got me thinking… wouldn't it be cool to make a lockable toy box with fingerprint access for my son's toy car collection. At the heartContinue reading “Biometric security toy box”

Prototype contactless bathroom power switches with Arduino and Sainsmart relays

<![CDATA[A couple of months ago a friend showed me his plans for a new bathroom in his house. The plans included a number of electrical items – fans, lights, etc – all of which required switches. The problem is that – in the UK at least – there are tight regulations around electrical switches inContinue reading “Prototype contactless bathroom power switches with Arduino and Sainsmart relays”

How to get started with the Mifare MF522-AN and Arduino

Within an hour of my video upload last night I already had someone asking how to do it. It’s a good question – despite the popularity of the Philips/NXP MFRC522 RFID chip and the MF522-AN board based on it, there’s actually very little online in the way of tutorials or source code to get started.Continue reading “How to get started with the Mifare MF522-AN and Arduino”

Adventures in RFID (with the MF522-AN module)

<![CDATA[I've been meaning to do some experiments with RFID for a while. The technology is cheap, reliable and opens up a world of possibilities for exhibit and event IT interactive displays. I chose Arduino as my platform for RFID, not only because it's robust and I'm familiar with it, but also because it has establishedContinue reading “Adventures in RFID (with the MF522-AN module)”