Fun Friday: Easy DIY Arduino Thermometer

Fun Friday: Easy DIY Arduino Thermometer

An easy and immensely practical first Arduino project – making the lowly thermometer fun!

This is a terrific foray into working with your new Arduino.  Not only is it a simple build but it will actually be incredibly practical and great to have around the house.

The components you’ll need: Arduino Uno, DS18B20 – One Wire Digital Temperature Sensor and 7-Segment Serial Display.

This project only has one input – temperature sensor, and one output – 7-segment display, so the wiring is not all that difficult. Click HERE and you’ll be redirected to an app, where the components for the project are already selected for you.

Here are the various components in a bit more detail:

  • The temperature sensor has 3 pins – VCC, GND which provide power to the sensor, and DQ which is the data pin. Every component you use has a datasheet – this is where you can read about the component and learn what features it has and how it works.
  • The 7 segment serial display can show 4 digits at a time. Each digit can be controlled separately. It can display numbers, letters and some special characters. The 7-segment display is a bit more complex to wire. As you can see it has 10 pin-outs. You won’t necessarily need to use them all and you can read more in the datasheet. You may have noticed that unlike the temperature sensor, the 7 segment display has holes and not pins. Therefore, you’ll need to solder male header-pins. Soldering may sound scary but it’s actually not that intimidating. There are great online tutorials you can use, here’s a good one by Sparkfun.

Next up is the breadboard.  Breadboards are a basic prototyping tool that allows you to test different wirings without needing to solder the parts together.

In the wiring diagram on you can see that this project is utilizing a breadboard. This saves up a lot of time and material. Once you have the final design, you can create a PCB or use a perforated prototyping board, like the one you see in the picture above.

This may seem like a lot, and it really is!  But, don’t give up if you don’t understand everything quite yet. That’s part of the fun – learning while you make things!

Upon completion of the wiring, it’s time to look at the code. The code is basically a set of rules and instructions that tell your sensors and actuators what to do. If you want to understand a bit more about it, check out this info on Arduino code. To help with your understanding, you can also watch this 3 video series about programming for Arduino by ILTMS.

With this project, the data read from the DS18B20 temperature sensor is presented on the serial 7-segment display using the sevenSegment.write and the ds18b20.readTempC() functions. The specific code for this project is found on the Hackster project hub in the code section at the bottom.

You need to download this code and paste it into the firmware tab of your original code, as explained in the tutorial on Hackster.

Pulling all the parts of this project together, is a project called Sugru – a colorful and super-strong epoxy that you can mold to the shape you want and let dry. Once dry, this material is super-strong yet flexible.

Now you should have an accurate little temp taking device.  Great job!










Exciting #BCTECH Summit Launch: SMRT1 Technologies Brain STEM Toolbox

This is definitely MIDAS Fab Lab Director Brad Pommen’s week!  First, the announcement of his featured speaking gig and now the exciting unveiling of a project dear to his heart and one that has been much anticipated by Brad, his company, SMRT1 Technologies Ltd., and anyone who has had the privelege to witness the idea’s evolution over these many months.

Eight years ago, having initiated his first tech club, the Nelson Tech Club, Brad found himself in search of an effective way to provide the growing local maker community a way to not only find the tech products and equipment they needed but also how to use it.  In one efficient step.

While a huge ask, he looked to the traditional vending kiosk system for his answer.  The idea simmered, and the concepts were pondered and explored for the next six years.  It wasn’t until shortly into his tenure as Director of MIDAS that the idea started take physical form.  He purchased his first vending machine directly from the factory and began the long and iterative journey of prototyping.

At the same time, his new business, SMRT1, also began taking shape.  His entrepreneurial journey was assisted when he registered with the BC Venture Accelerator Program under the expert guidance of entrepreneur-in-residence and current Executive Director of KAST, Don Freschi.

From basic vending machine to state-of-the-art touchscreen technology, SMRT1 Technologies is taking a pretty brilliant stab at revolutionizing what is a very conventional industry.  Vending machines have been slow to change and the Brain STEM Toolbox technology gives brand new life to the traditional vending machine with incredible touchscreen capabilities that go well beyond simply choosing your desired item off a rack behind glass.

MadeAtMIDAS SMRT1 BrainSTEM vending machine.

A very early iteration of what is now the clean and efficient touchscreen technology in the final version of the SMRT1 Brain STEM vending machine.

Education is a huge driver behind the Brain STEM Toolbox.  It isn’t simply about the purchase.  Rather, SMRT1 Technologies  has created a learning system designed to be easy and fun.  The touchscreen allows for full specs, details and the ability to rotate and zoom on the image of the product to allow for a far more educated purchase.

SMRT1 has been enthusiastically received by local education institutions.  There are currently six Brain STEM Toolboxes set to roll out to BC schools in September.  Teachers who are already using the learning modules and projects are excited to have in-school access.

The Brain STEM Toolbox takes the vending machine as we have always known it to a whole new level: this is an interactive and educational shopping experience.  It’s perfect for schools, technology retail, or any other pop-up retail location. Payments are easy and secure with cash, bank card or digital wallets.

“Snack vending machines are retro-fitted with our custom hardware which uses machine learning to interact with the student to help them choose the right project.  It also allows cash, credit or a digital wallet to pay for the project which is then dispensed.  It was the best way I could think of to get the projects that pair with the online learning modules close to the students and the teachers,” said Brad Pommen CEO of SMRT1 Technologies.

“The Brain STEM Toolbox can shape-shift to have application to a wide variety of micro-niche retail sectors.”

SMRT1 BrainSTEM Toolbox #BCTECH Summit launch

SMRT1 Technologies bridges the physical shopping experience with that of e-commerce. Not only does this technology revolutionize what is possible through a vending machine, it’s a completely custom experience available for less than $10,000!

This high-tech touchscreen tech vending machine will be on display at the MIDAS Fab Lab booth at the upcoming #BCTECH Summit in Vancouver next week, May 14-16,

If you want more information on the Brain STEM and SMRT1, do visit:

#madeatMIDAS #makersgonnamake











Selkirk College GLOWS RoboGames 2018 – Cheer On Your Favourite Robot!

RoboGames GLOWS Selkirk College 2018

 Imagination meets technology at the Selkirk College GLOWS RoboGames!

Prepare to enjoy a robot competition like no other!  Everyone is welcome to attend this Saturday, April 28th at the Castlegar Campus Gymnasium, the 2018 RoboGames, where Kootenay – Boundary youth aged 6 to 18 bring their robotics a-game to compete in this fun and exciting competition in local innovation.

Get there early as the games begin at 10am!

Selkirk College GLOWS RoboGames

RoboGames is a unique opportunity where, experimentation and mentoring, youth from throughout the region learn how to design, build and program robots that they will enter into RoboGames, a fun and free-spirited event full of prizes.

Look forward to teams competing their robot in up to two specialty events.  Each event is approximately 45 minutes and the schedule of events is as follows:

  • Line following – This event utilizes the obstacle course, except the robots must follow the line from end to end. There may be crossed or intersected lines, as well as obstacles to create havoc. Speed and accuracy will be highly praised. The line will be about the thickness of electrical tape.
  • Obstacle course – Robots maneuver the obstacle course as quickly and carefully as possible. Navigate walls and obstacles to reach the end of maze.
  • Robot battles – Robot gladiators in the ultimate destruction event!
  • Robot soccer: One on one, head-to-head, mano-a-mano! Robots grab the most robot soccer balls to their side in two minutes.
  • Special tricks – The crazier the better! Dance, tell a joke, fetch an object… it could be anything! A creative and fun event challenging the kids’ innovation.
  • Balloon popping – Which robot will pop the balloon first?! Robots enter the ring prepared to burst the balloon before their competitor.

Judges will be looking for design and assembly; programming and logic; the robot’s ability to problem solve as well as its ability to adapt to challenging situations.

Awards will take place between 3-3:30pm.

Find out more HERE!








Fun Friday: DIY Life-sized Phone Controlled BB8 Droid

DIY phone controlled BB8 Droid

We’re on the fast approach to the Selkirk College GLOWS RoboGames and with robotics on the brain, this little (complicated?!) project caught our eye!

Angelo, an incredibly innovative and talented young man, and the brains behind the YouTube channel, TechBuilder, has incorporated the magic of various technologies, including a smartphone and an Arduino micro-controller to bring what has become an iconic character from a favourite movie franchise: a life-sized BB8!

Limited to only the materials he had on hand such as the balls from roll-on deodorant, beach balls & paper mache, canvas, and Christmas balls, he brought this lovable little droid to life in the most simple yet innovative ways!

making a DIY BB8 Droid

While the construction is pretty old school, the robotics end of the project are totally 21st Century.  A phone app sends characters via Bluetooth with every press of a button. The Bluetooth module receives the data while the Arduino interprets and processes these data. The Arduino sends signals to the Motor Driver shield to give a go signal for the switching of the motors.  And, voila!

No, not really!

There’s a lot more to it!  So, if you’d like to see ALL that’s gone into making this, the ultimate DIY droid, come to life check it out HERE!  For inspiration, check out the video below.





The Maker Movement: DIY, Hands-on, Innovation In Action!

maker movement fostered at MIDAS

There is a movement afoot and, with the help of education, tools and equipment (such as welcomes you at MIDAS!) to more easily and cost-efficiently bring ideas to life, it’s gaining tremendous steam!

The Maker Movement – or in more familiar terms, Do-It-Yourself – is growing in participation in schools, communities and industry throughout the province, and, of course, beyond.  What makes this a movement, rather than simply the act of puttering in one’s garage, is the resources, equipment and materials available to support it in ways we’ve never seen before.

This movement is grassroots innovation and it’s being enthusiastically embraced and fostered in more and more communities, nurturing an ever growing number of people, creative and curious.

The digital age has really blown the lid off what was formerly tinkering, or on a larger scale, inventing and innovating with significant effort and resources to bring an idea to prototype, using specific manufacturers located by and large overseas.  Inventing and innovating, as it has previously been known, has required very specialized software and fabrication equipment, not easily accessible either in terms of cost or location and has made it prohibitive for potential innovators to see a project through to completion let alone market.

With technology expanding as it is, so fast and with such scope, the creative process of invention and innovation is being transformed.  The access we have to imaging, scanning, drafting and other specialized software as well as the fabrication equipment to translate plans into tangible, surprisingly high quality, prototypes allows and encourages Maker creativity and invention unlike any time before.

MIDAS, and our MIT certified facilities, is a great example.  As part of this movement gathering momentum, every day we see makers contributing to what is becoming their own market ecosystem, developing incredible new products and services. The combination of ingenious makers and innovative technologies such as the Raspberry Pi mini-computer and Arduino micro-controller along with 3D printing are driving innovation in manufacturing, engineering, industrial design, hardware technology and education.

Makerspaces are cropping up in communities big and small. Offering everything from Repair Cafes – where makers offer up their talents to fix and repurpose everything from computers to mobile phones to toaster ovens – to workshops on soldering and Arduino to imaging software education to actual fabrication and prototyping equipment, as we do here.

Inquiry-based and more hands-on education trends are beginning to trend as well.  Schools, for pre-schoolers through secondary students, are offering more and more resources and opportunities to explore and nurture their curiosity.  Through electronics and technology, young people are challenging their own creativity, innovating unlike ever before through coding, robotics and other fun and hands-on ways of expanding their knowledge and experience in the various facets of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art (Design), Mathematics, or STEAM.

While many makers consider themselves simply hobbyists or enthusiasts they are a vibrant and fundamental source of innovation, embracing creativity, developing new products and generating value in the Maker community.  In fact, it’s not unusual for some of these Makers to take the leap as entrepreneurs and start companies.  We see it all the time!

While there are several industry professionals who take advantage of the incredible Maker opportunities at MIDAS, it’s not necessary to be an engineer or techie to enjoy all a space like MIDAS offers.  Check out our #madeatMIDAS features to see the examples of ordinary people making extraordinary things.

That’s what’s so great about the Maker Movement: accessibility!  You don’t even need to bring an idea… just your imagination and curiosity.  The ideas will flow soon enough!

What can MIDAS can help you make!  Check out our calendar of courses HERE!

#madeatMIDAS #makersgonnamake

Introduction to MIDAS from MIDAS Fab Lab on Vimeo.

Selkirk GLOWS West Kootenay & Boundary Science Fair

Selkirk College Regional Science Fair

Hosted by GLOWS and Selkirk College, the Regional Science Fair taking place Saturday, April 14, 2018 at Selkirk College’s Castlegar Campus Gymnasium is an opportunity for selected students to showcase their exemplary work.

The West Kootenay & Boundary Regional Science Fair gives top students from around the region an opportunity to showcase their select science experiments, studies, research or innovation projects to be judged by volunteers from various science professions.

Explore the world around you through inquiry-based learning! All Grade K to 12 students in School Districts 8, 10, 20, and 51 qualify. More than 100 youth are selected at the school level to enter in the annual West Kootenay & Boundary Regional Science Fair.

Why Participate in the West Kootenay & Boundary Regional Science Fair?

Science fair participation increases youth understanding and use of scientific inquiry and offers direct feedback on student projects, including research, experimentation and innovation. It also showcases local science education and career opportunities and allows youth to connect with science professionals working in a variety of fields.

Take an in-depth look at topics that are of interest by developing a science project in one of the following categories:

  • Innovation – Design and test new devices, models, theories, or method in any science discipline.
  • Research – Written study of a question of scientific interest.
  • Study – Analyze collections of data using accepted scientific methods.
  • Experiment – Actively test a hypothesis by experimental methods.

Find out all of the information HERE!

GLOWS-Regional Science Fair-2




Friday Maker Fun! Arduino Robotics Inspiration

The wheels are starting to turn with our innovative Kootenay/Boundary youngsters as this year’s Selkirk College GLOWS RoboGames draws nearer.  mBot robotics kits will be available for pick up by March 12 (do NOT forget about Spring Break kicking off March 16th!) and you can check out dates and times for your community HERE.

Here’s what you’ll get in your kit:

bot kit unassembled 2018 RoboGames

mBot is the kit supplied by RoboGames. It’s an all-in-one solution to enjoy the hands-on experience of programming, electronics, and robotics.

Meantime, as plans are being masterminded, we thought to have a little Friday Fun and provide some robotics inspiration using a little DIY elbow grease along with the Arduino brains.

Make your first Arduino robot!

Here’s a great project for beginner’s guide to making your first Arduino robot.  Smart phone controlled, wall follower and obstacle avoiding robot. A cute little guy with a simple plastic container to hold his innards!

You can find all the steps HERE!

Robotic Arm from Recycled Materials

Tea anyone?!  Here’s an incredible robotic arm to help you with a few easy tasks around the house.

The possibilities are endless as to how to build a robotic arm and you can make them from just about anything – if you’re super innovative and motivated you could come to MIDAS and learn how to print it in 3D!

The fundamental mechanical aspects of this simple robotic arm are created from recycled materials along with for the electronic design.

Click HERE to build yours!

3D printed Otto DIY and Arduino Bluetooth robot

A little more ambitious perhaps, but if you have access to a 3D printer, easily possible!

The building of this little dude does get a little more involved, and packs a ton of punch:  “Otto DIY with steroids” equipped with Bluetooth, APP, switch, touch sensors, strength and sound detection.  An impressively simple little powerhouse!

Learn how to bring this guy to life HERE!

Inspired?  We hope so!

If you’re an adult and want to nurture and encourage STEAM innovation in our local kids, click HERE to see how you can be a part of this year’s RoboGames!

Are you a Kootenay/Boundary young person looking to get involved in robotics and participate in this year’s RoboGames!  Click HERE for more information and to register.