Electromaker Turns Raspberry Pi and Arduino DIY Electronics Projects into Unique Human Stories

We interviewed Richard Elliot from Electromaker to learn what makes this DIY platform a collaborative success within global hardware hobbyists.

Electromaker Turns Raspberry Pi and Arduino DIY Electronics Projects into Unique Human Stories
Screengrabs from Electromaker's videos 1,2

Since its launch in January 2018, Electromaker has experienced tremendous growth in the short time it has been around, says Richard Elliot, Editor-in-Chief at Electromaker. 

Electromaker was started to give DIY enthusiasts and hardware hobbyists a platform to share their projects with the world. "Our mission is to unite the global maker community so that makers worldwide can learn, share, and collaborate on exciting hardware projects," Richard tells Interesting Engineering. 

We met Richard at Slush, the world's leading tech startup held in Helsinki, Finland.  

"My goal is to create an online platform which becomes the go-to place for makers, hackers, and hardware hobbyists to share their projects with the world," Richard told us. 

According to Richard, almost 30 percent of Electromaker's readers hail from the United States, with about 10 percent from the United Kingdom. "After that, we've got solid views from Germany, Canada, France, India, and the Netherlands among others."

Specific projects uploaded to Electromaker further exhibit diversity. "We've got everything from beginner-level projects such as running RetroPie on the Raspberry Pi to hardware reviews and advanced robotics creations. Smart home projects notably rank among the most popular posts, and we have some very interesting wearable projects on Electromaker," Richard says.

Arduino or Raspberry Pi?  

Makers trying a DIY electronics project for the first time often ask themselves if they should use an Arduino or a Raspberry Pi platform. Some believe they are similar platforms when in reality, they are quite different.

Makers use both Arduino and Raspberry Pi as the starting point for their projects. Arduino is a microcontroller motherboard, which is a simple computer where you can run one program at a time, over and over again. 

Robotics

Here's How You Can Master Raspberry Pi Programming

The Raspberry Pi, on the other hand, is a general-purpose computer with the ability to run multiple programs. Raspberry Pi usually runs on Linux operating system, so you need to learn Linux and some programming such as Python as well. 

In a nutshell, Arduino is a microcontroller, a single component of a computer. Raspberry Pi, on the other hand, is a fully functional computer. Even though, we went on asking Richard which of the two platforms is more popular within the Electromaker community. 

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"Raspberry Pi, definitely. I think that's because the Raspberry Pi is a more accessible platform for users, and lends the idea of being more user-friendly for beginners. While the Arduino isn't difficult to get hands-on with, you can simply install a Linux operating system on a Pi in a matter of minutes. Plus, RetroPie, Recalbox, Lakka, and other gaming or home theater PC platforms make the Pi more appealing to a broader audience," Richard explains. 

Meet-a-Maker podcast

Regularly, Richard interviews makers for the Meet-a-Maker podcast. We asked Richard to tell us a little about what kind of topics he discusses with the makers. 

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"On the Meet-a-Maker podcast, we use the maker community as a framework for discussing trends in the space, and more importantly, chatting about a specific maker. So they're favorite projects, challenges encountered, and more, which really humanizes maker projects in a way that tutorials and reviews can't."   

What makes ElecroMaker different?

"Electromaker differentiates itself through its positive community and unique offerings such as giveaways and contests," Richard explains. "There's a true social vibe with a focus on the makers behind the projects. Sometimes, that manifests as a tutorial from a renowned DIYer such as Amie DD or Bitluni. Or it might be the Meet-a-Maker podcast. Regardless, Electromaker proves that behind every cool hardware project, there's an interesting backstory and human.

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The Electromaker Website features a wide range of really cool DIY projects where you can find all the materials and build tutorial you need to put your geeky skills at work. Here is just a sample of a few projects to get you started: 

The ultimate smart door lock security system 

The Raspberry Pi smart door lock project won the second prize in the Connectivity contest. Those makers who are interested in security are going to find this three-factor of authentication door lock system inspiring to go ahead and make their own. 

According to the maker's page, to be granted access and open the door you will need an RFID keyfob, a unique PIN, and a one-time passcode sent to your smartphone via SMS. 

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It uses readily-available low-cost components built around a Raspberry Pi. The estimated time to complete this project is one day and the difficulty is medium. Someone thought about trying this out for the chocolate cupboard! 

LoRa walkie-talkie with a LoRa SX1278 

LoRa walkie talkie
LoRa walkie-talkie/ Image: Electromaker/sabinandrei 

The LoRa walkie-talkie is a project by a young teenager who likes programming and HAM radio.

According to the maker, the project represents a method to build a transceiver that will have high bandwidth at the same time that is low-energy. Any project that saves energy is good and kind to the environment.

The difficulty of this project is moderate and it will use only one hour of your time. The maker used a LoRa SX1278 module to create this digital walkie-talkie. 

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Raspberry Pi time-lapse camera in an old stage light 

Raspberry pi camera
Raspberry Pi time-lapse camera/ Image: Electromaker/Bruce Pennypacker

The Raspberry Pi timelapse camera in an old stage light is a relatively simple lapse camera that takes images every minute.

According to the maker, Bruce Pennypacker, the camera discards dark images or substantially similar images. The estimated time to complete this project is one hour. The whole project sounds really cool.

The maker wanted to use a camera to create time-lapse videos of sets being constructed at a theater where he is a volunteer. His idea was to use the videos to promote the theater.

He used a Raspberry Pi, a fairly simple Python script, a small SD card, and a 500 gigabyte USB drive to store the images. He mounted the camera in an old stage light and then this to a pipe overlooking the stage.

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It sounds pretty cool. The images would then be stitched together into a movie using ImageMagick or AvConv. 

Persistence of vision Star Wars lightsaber 

If you love Star Wars, you need to check out this cool project. The persistence of vision Star Wars lightsaber combines image and sound to create the best Star Wars atmosphere you can imagine. 

Persistence of vision (POV) is an optical phenomenon which can trick the brain into seeing something that is no longer visible.

The grounds to build this project is the ESP32 microcontroller, which is fundamental, and then everything else is going to be connected to it. The maker used a gyroscope to determine the angle of the LEDs and to display the correct portion of the image when you swing the lightsaber.

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The body of the of the lightsaber is made of an aluminum tube with 3D-printed handle components. 

If for your next Halloween party you have a Star Wars theme in mind, this DIY lightsaber might be all you need to impress everyone. Because who doesn't love Star Wars? 

Robot arm that mimics your arm movement 

This project combines 3D-printing technology with robotics and four sensors to create a robot arm that mimics your arm movement. The sensors are used for the arm movement and for the gripper. 

To complete this Arduino project you need to invest three days of your time and it's totally worth it. The robot arm has a moderate level of difficulty if you want to try to make your own. 

This project was made by Electromaker's active user bitluni who is also the host of Bitluni's Lab on YouTube. The robotic arm is "a proof of concept if a simple 3D-printed driven by affordable servo motors can be controlled by accelerometers and magnetometer attached to the controlling person's arm," according to the maker. 

One of the applications for this DIY robot arm is that it could let its user perform manual tasks remotely inaccessible or dangerous areas. 

Home automation lamp - also known as your own private sunrise in your room 

If you thought things couldn't get cooler, wait until you learn about this super cool home automation lamp.

Imagine that your sleeping room lamp can wake you up every morning with an artificially created sunrise. This is a DIY project that will benefit your health and your mood during the day.

The artificial sunrise uses Arduino as a platform and 3D-printing for the control case. Its difficulty is moderate. The estimated time to complete this project is two days.  

The sunrise simulation provides an alternative to an alarm. It has advantages over noisy alarms as it wakes you smoothly during a shallow sleeping phase, recreating a more natural way of waking. The sunrise lasts for about 30 minutes after which it reaches full brightness. 

The maker also incorporated an audio function that reacts to audio data received on the analog pin of the microcontroller. With this function, you can even transform your room into a mini disco for a little party mood. 

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