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Project Ideas

 
Greenhorn
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In my computer engineering class we were given the course time to work on our final projects, we were told that by implementing our career focus into it we could raise our marks so i'm hoping to use java in my project. It must have a mechanical part (maybe something like breadboards so a similar system) and for the career, a coding section in java. The only example were were given was a student who had made a 3d printer, but considering he was rich and could afford some expensive parts it seems unrealistic for me. Any ideas on a project i can work on? (approximately 4 week work period)
 
Saloon Keeper
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Welcome to the Ranch, Gurtej!

I hate being poor, too. It's really limiting. I wouldn't want to make a functioning 3D printer in only 4 weeks, though. Not if it understood common protocols and the like. Although in reality, most of the really hard work is often done with an Arduino and a $10 motor control board and pre-debugged firmware.

You can do a lot with cheap motors and servos if you can get them. Simple robotics like an automated bottle opener or food dispenser. Or for that matter, a medicine dispenser, with - if you're ambitious - a timed schedule and alerts.

computer-controlled light displays are also popular and can be relatively cheap these days. Data input devices are another good option.

Incidentally, a sort of back burner project of mine is to make a computer punched-card reader using LEDs, light sensors and an Arduino to handle the inputs and motion control using Lego as the mechanical tramework. The tricky part being to pull in only one card at a time and to properly clock the column position and it moves past. You probably don't have old boxes of punched cards laying around, though.
 
Gurtej Grewal
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So looking at your card Idea this is what I'm thinking about:

I could make a program that asks the user to make an account where they can an auto-generated card number and they make the pin. This data is saved onto a text file and all future data for this account is saved there. Multiple accounts can be made and saved onto the text file (if there's an issue with saving multiple accounts on 1 file either during the saving process or when I need to check the file for info on any specific account please let me know). Using a card with a generated QR code that has the card number saved on it, the card will be inserted into a simple box that can be designed as an atm. Inside the box is a 10$ QR Arduino scanner. A program will check to see if the card number is in the same text file, if it is it will ask for a pin number, if not it will say the card is invalid. Pin number will be entered using an Arduino keypad with some added LEDs, green or red for valid or not. Assuming the correct pin is entered, ill have my laptop set up as the screen where a simple program is made to check the balance, deposit, etc.

Only concerns for this project: I haven't made a program that can edit and access specific text files before. The Arduino program and the account creator program both need to access the text file and should be able to view all updates so if this is something that's harder to make than it sounds like please let me know ASAP. The account info (balance) will not be saved to the text file and just be a fun thing at the end to give the project purpose, the main focus is the QR code, textfile and Arduino.
 
Tim Holloway
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Oh, yeah, I like that! Basically a chip-and-PIN but optical. Sounds like a winner.

Also it was news to me that there's an Arduino-compatible QR code scanner, but about the cheapest one I could find is USD$22. Still, considering what it has to do, that's not a bad price.

The reader I found has a USB interface so you should be able to plug it directly into a laptop PC without an Arduino at all. Then a Java program would read it like a serial port device.
 
Gurtej Grewal
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Could you send me the QR camera you found? The ones i can find take over a month to ship
 
Tim Holloway
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The one I saw was MH-ET LIVE Barcode Scanner V3.0  (MakerHawk) and it can cost somewhat more if you don't buy it direct from China. Do a web search and see what comes up for you.

Since I don't know what country/state you're located in, I can't give you fine-tuned fast-ship/low-price info, but I like EBay in the USA. Amazon is, of course also popular but it's a bit riskier these days and besides doesn't Bezos have enough money already?

It looks like another option is the ESP-32-CAM. It's not as polished as the MH-ET LIVE, but it has built-in WiFi and Bluetooth as well as various GPIO pins. It's so much cheaper I've seen it for sale in packs of 2. The major downsides are that you have to program it via FTDI and it's actually just a camera, so the receiving unit has to do the QR decoding.

The MH unit is really nice, and I found it listed in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, but I think all out-of-stock, as were US sites I looked at. There was a dealer in the Netherlands claiming to have lots of them for €25.00 each, if that's someplace that will work.
 
Tim Holloway
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There's also this, which is similar to the MakerHawk: https://www.adafruit.com/product/1203

They ship pretty fast in the USA, though the price is a lot more. It's the Champtek MCR12.
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