When it comes to awesome electronics, most of us simply wait for companies to create cool things and then decide whether or not a gadget is worth our hard earned cash. But thanks to open source platforms like Arduino, absolutely anyone can build some of the coolest gizmos from scratch, and even customize them to our liking. These are 10 of the most amazing homemade toys, appliances, and gadgets that you can build in your own living room.
1. ArduPilot will keep an eye on your surroundings
Project homepage: DIY Drones
The military has thrust the idea of robotic aerial drones into the public consciousness, so it shouldn't be surprising that many home gadget gurus want one of their very own. The ArduPilot is the perfect kit for such a project, and for a relatively meager price you can turn virtually any radio-controlled plane into a surveillance tool — or simply shoot some amazing high-altitude video.
2. Build your own electronic Pong game
Project homepage: Arduino Pong
Pong is one of the most beloved and classic video games of all time, but chances are you've never built your own version. Arduino Pong lets you create a custom version of Pong which you can plug right into your television and enjoy for yourself. The game is very basic, but if you've ever played Pong, you know exactly what to expect. Now if only we could build our own version of Super Mario Bros...
3. Mind-controlled Nerf gun lets you shoot when you think
Project homepage: Mindbullets
I think everyone can agree than Nerf guns are awesome. But what could possibly make them even more awesome? Being able to fire the brightly-colored darts and bullets just by thinking it. The Mindbullets project lets you do exactly that, and it's just as amazing as it sounds. By combining the brainwave-sensing NeuroSky headset and some Arduino hardware, your run of the mill Nerf gun will be turned into an unstoppable, foam-dart-shooting machine.
4. Make your houseplant tweet its desires
Project homepage: Botanicalls
Ever wish you could actively communicate with your houseplants? This Arduino kit by Botanicalls not only lets your plants speak to you, but also to the world at large. Using probes that can sense the level of moisture within a plant's pot, the hardware can send tweets letting you know the plant needs watering. If the plant gets particularly dry, a more urgent tweet will also be sent. It can even sense if the plant is being overwatered, ensuring that you're keeping your green thumb in check.
5. Turn signal biking jacket will keep you safe
Project homepage: Instructables
Biking is a great way to get some exercise, not to mention flex your fuel-saving muscles, but safety is always a concern when you're sharing the road with cars and trucks. This amazing Arduino-powered biking jacket lets you level the playing field when you're on the open road by embedding working turn signals right on your back. With a mobile power supply and two buttons to control the bright arrows on your back, you'll never have to worry about letting those on the road know where you're going.
6. Arduino air guitar lets you rock out
Project homepage: Instructables
We've all played a little air guitar in our times, but regardless of how cool we might think we look rocking out to our invisible instrument, we've never heard a single note played as a result. That all changes with the AIRduino guitar, a virtual guitar gadget that uses sensors on each of your fingers to play actual music as you strum the invisible strings. It's a ridiculous cool idea, and it appears to work fantastically. We only hope you don't actually need to know how to play a real guitar in order to create some excellent tunes.