Arduino Yún: the best hacks you will ever see

By on March 24, 2014
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The last time I wrote about the best hacks available for a board, I had so much to choice between; now instead, writing about Arduino Yún and all of its best hacks, it was difficult to me to find really good projects, because the platform is so young. While Raspberry Pi had a strong community, Arduino Yún is still growing up.

However, Arduino Yún is an amazing piece of hardware: while you have all the comfort of Arduino IDE, you have a full featured board with Linux (Linino, a branded Linux distribution based on OpenWRT), on-board WiFi and Ethernet, and a full-featured package manager. This makes Yún the perfect competitor of Raspberry Pi, for all those projects where the Internet Of Things dimension overruns the system-related part. So, you can consider switching from Raspberry to the Yún if you want to use a little, less power-consuming and simpler to program board.

arduino yun

Let’s see creative stuff made with Arduino Yún, to show how it is flexible: thanks to the package manager and to the full-featured OS, you can create almost everything (except an entire CED, I believe).

A cat camera

If you have cats that enjoy doing funny things while you don’t watch them, you can solve this tiny equation with Arduino Yún: Neuroballs has a detailed explanation about how you can craft a special cat-powered camera with a PIR motion sensor. When Arduino detects a motion, it will take a picture; in this way you can control your cats, and combining this with a file serving system (like Samba or NFS if you know a bit about Unix) you can watch if your animals have burned down the house while you were at work. Or if you are a scientist, you can place something like that in your lab to observe your animals’ behaviour.

Despite the fact that I didn’t know anything about Linux I was able to put together a little project this weekend: The Yún grabs pictures from a connected USB Webcam every 5 minutes and saves it on its micro-SD card. From there the newest photo gets uploaded automatically to this webspace here where a little script transforms all the pictures in one folder to a nice little photo gallery (that is showing empty photos without cats – what a pity!). The last step is optional of course, but this way it enables me to see my cats from everywhere – if they are in their favorite spot underneath the living room table.

Controlling your boiler

You are outside, relaxing, and you absolutely do not want to go to check your boiler to set a new timing, or program a new temperature. Mainly because it is in your cellar, and you know that zombie and monsters mostly capture people while they are on stairs, mh? So, you can control almost everything about your boiler using a useful application for your Android device and an Arduino Yún; on Hell-desk you can find detailed instructions about how it is done and how you can replicate that setup yourself.

On their blog, they specifically said why you should consider using Yún instead of a normal Arduino with some shields:

There are a lot of similar proyects which use an Arduino to control a boiler , but we will use the new Arduino Yún to take advantage of his new features. The Arduino Yún has an integrated wifi, an embedded linux server, capability of access to a micro sd card, and rest webservices to access the digital pins and the data published by the sketch running on the arduino. All of this, out of the box.

A bathroom occupancy detector

Thoughtbot is one of my favorite development and design agencies. Their nerdy approach to things enlightens me many times, and their solution to check if a bathroom is free has made me laugh for many time… then I realised that their project was not only so cool, but such innovative and crazy at the same time.

We decided to use two microcontrollers to monitor and report the bathroom status. One microcontroller would sit near the bathrooms and use door sensors to detect if they were closed or open. The other microcontroller would sit in an area visible to everyone in the office and use an LED to indicate the status of the bathroom doors.

arduino yun

Well, this is complex. Even if I pushed this into the “best Yún hacks” category, the team used two controllers to achieve this result: an Arduino Fio to sense doors, and an Arduino Yún to report the condition for the toilets. It is interesting for many reasons, however, because we can see in this case how helpful can be to use an Arduino Yún for its cloud capabilities and features; also we can see how Arduino Yún plays well connected with other Arduinos.

Can’t touch this: surveillance with Arduino Yún

“Can’t touch this” is an interesting project that tries to make an antitheft device for your home, or your office: using an Arduino Yún you can connect a camera and a PIR motion sensor (like that included in the “cat camera” project) to the Internet, and use them in many ways. You can setup the audio card and reproduce an alarm sound, or configure a script and have an email sent every time a thief steals your favorite biscuits. Or you can play with Facebook APIs and post a picture of the thief to show his identity to the Net.

Personally, I would use all of these; the author, in this case too, explains very well why you should prefer the Yún over a Raspberry Pi for some purposes:

As I said before, my platform choice is Arduino Yún, because it’s very easy to use, and it’s easy to configure the wifi settings. It’s a bit more expensive than the Raspberry Pi, but if you use the Yún you can give you project to someone else as a gift, and anyone can configure the wifi settings, while this may be a difficult task with the Raspberry Pi, without connecting it to a monitor/mouse/keyboard. But if you like it, I can easily make a Raspberry version.

An Internet-enabled football trophy

If you want to have a real experience of what Internet Of Things can be and what it can do, you can have a look at the Trophy of the Future: a football trophy that scrolls through the names of the players that won a tournament.

At the heart of it all is an Arduino Yún, the first Arduino board to also include a Linux processor. The processor runs a Python script that collects the names of the champions of my fantasy football league, the league’s standings and NFL news via the Yún’s built-in WiFi chip and scrolls across a 40×8 LED matrix.

That’s pretty cool, uh? Now I desperately want to play football. To win that trophy, obviously!

Do you want to replicate one of these hacks, or do you want to create your own amazing project? You can find Arduino Yún in our store.

About Alessio Biancalana

A nerd that likes very much to tinker and solve problems.


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