Looking For Gadget Inspiration?

Me too.

I have a huge collection of all things Arduino – LCDs, touchscreens, cases, batteries, ICs, sensors, knobs, switches, wires and everything in between. And I can’t come up with a single thing to build and USE.

I’m not an academic hacker so I like to make things I need, or at least things I can use. Wiring up LCDs for the sake of it had my attention when I first started tinkering with Arduino but the mystery is largely gone from that sort of thing.

So far I’ve only designed and built 2 things that I actually use. A wireless sensor array that I’ve used to figure out when the mail man is here or the kid tries to get out of his room at night and a PIR sensor that turns my basement workshop lights on automatically when I go downstairs (and off again if there is no movement for 15 minutes). If I’m honest, both are more or less academic since off-the-shelf X10 components would have been cheaper and easier for sure.

Even my “wander around but don’t bump into anything” robot was only neat until I realized how completely useless it is.

Someone, please, give me a practical problem to solve before I go crazy and sell all of this stuff to take up golfing!


(Hey Matthew – don’t reply telling me to buy an FPGA, either!)

7 comments to Looking For Gadget Inspiration?

  • How about developing a servo or stepper motor-based device that clamps into a driver’s seat, and coupled with appropriate external sensors enables an automobile (with an automatic not stick shift) to not hit anything (!) As in, you sit in the passenger seat and say ‘Android-man-bot drive me to the supermarket!’

    Or, slightly less ambitious, a similar servo automation system that enables a riding lawnmower to cut the grass … without getting out of control and killing the neighborhood animals.

    My thinking here is that this is tough, but think of the market size. I’ve always chased small niche markets while the winners seem to go after major plays. Think of how less stressful our commute to the store or to work or to school would be if we all had CPUs driving us?

    • Robot Car version 1.0 coming soon 😉

      I have started on a semi-autonomous lawn mower but I was inspired by an article I read in Make Magazine. I’ll probably finish it this summer sometime.

  • Another idea: focus on automating human labor-intensive tasks such as picking fruit/vegetables from trees or weeding/planting. Now, it’s for sure not as easy as it looks, but think about an open, extensible robotic system that can be easily programmed (think Labview’s objects, but simpler, maybe run by Lego mindstorms). Focus on agribusiness, such as sorting fish or produce as it arrives or other low value-add tasks like shoveling snow, spreading salt on ice, deicing aircraft, weeding gardens, that sort of thing. ‘Take the human out of the loop’ to enable people to perform more value added tasks, like programming your ‘bot.

    • I built a 12 servo robotic arm a year or so ago and have been tinkering with it since then. It’s essentially a pick-place bot but it’s so small that it can’t really do much. I thought about scaling it up to do “real” things but man those big servos get really expensive really fast!

  • Lee Wilkerson

    Should you require electronics advice, I may be be able to assist. I would enjoy the opportunity.

  • Alvin

    I love reading your article..
    I hope i can do that also..

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