SparkFun Electronics will be closed on November 26, 2020 and November 27, 2020 for the Thanksgiving holiday. We will begin normal operations at 9:00 AM Mountain Time on November 30, 2020.
Magic has taken over my house. We have been reading the Harry Potter series, watching the movies, and my children have been repeatedly banished to their bedrooms for dueling with inappropriate curses.
Enter the holiday season and Enginursday. I wanted a quick project I could build for my kiddos and make it seem like the magic is actually happening. Since we needed new bedside lamps for reading, I decided we needed them to turn on and off with wands.
While I foresee potential issues with giving them wands, my children definitely need a better way to battle (instead of using rulers, pencils, knives, or heirloom candlesticks) and really, I just want a reason to yell "You'll shoot your eye out!". Ahhh, holiday spirit.
Back to business. We have a lovely little shield in our catalog called the Easy VR3 which is a voice recognition module that has a fair number of built-in commands as well as the ability to program your own. It does require some assembly, but once you get through all the soldering, you can pop that sucker on an Arduino Uno and start coding.
The EasyVR3 has quite a bit of functionality, so the documentation is... comprehensive. I actually read through the manual, hunted down a few YouTube videos, and then re-read the manual. To make a rather long story short, I used EasyVR Commander to program in the sounds and commands I wanted, used a handy dandy button in EasyVR Commander to create an Arduino sketch (SO EASY), modified the Arduino sketch to do what I wanted when certain commands were uttered, and then uploaded the code to my Uno. Voila prototype:
Okay, so one LED isn't all that exciting. I need to attach this to a bedside lamp and make it work with the magic commands! In our catalog, we also have the IoT Power Relay, which is a great way to control 120V outlets from microcontrollers without zapping yourself into oblivion.
So all assembled:
And it works!
Now for the wands... I seriously considered just using driftwood or sticks for the wands, but to quote my kids' favorite TV show, "Anything worth doing is worth over-doing" (I'm looking at you Steve Spangler). So I 3D printed the wands.
I found a sturdy design on Thingiverse and printed one up, but then decided they needed to be super extra. I modified the design on TinkerCad (yay free CAD) to have more space internally and added an LED, an accelerometer, and a small LiPo battery.
Every time the boys pick up their wands (from their also 3D printed wand stands) the light at the tip of the wand comes on and with a "Magic! Lumos!" their reading lamps come on as well. Yay magic!
I fully expect there will be multiple iterations of "magic" happening in our house but I'm pretty happy with the prototype. There have been great strides in voice recognition software since the Easy VR Shield and I'd love to dig into the Alexa or Google Home APIs. I'd also love to play with edge lighting (as Feldi does here) and have the design be a patronus. The kiddos have even more ideas - so many fun options!
Are there any other Harry Potter fans out there? Have you created projects with SparkFun parts? We'd love to hear about them in the comments!