Make Stuff With Mindkits

Jump down to the comments to see the latest entries, or add your own!


Making things. It’s a bastion of New Zealand culture. We call it the “Number 8 Wire” mentality. Some would argue that the future of our economy relies on our ability to keep on with the makery. I love making stuff, and I love local kiwi company Mindkits, because they supply all sorts of electronic goodies to help you and me make anything we might put our minds to.

So it is my pleasure to announce that Mindkits and are teaming up to give you a little bit of inspiration. Tim from Mindkits is giving away a SparkFun Arduino Starter Kit, and I’m going to throw in a dual motor gearbox, motor controller, and couple of tiny servos from my collection of RC bits. All you have to do is tell us what you would make if you had free reign of the Mindkits store room. Let your imagination run wild. We won’t make you prove you can build it (but we would love it if you did). If we get enough entries, we’ll put the top three (selected by Ben and Tim) up for a vote.

Step 1: Browse Mindkits

Have a look around at the items available. Arduino boards, Lilypads (for the laydees!), gearboxes and proximity sensors, LCD screens, carbon monoxide sensors, wifi transceivers … heck we’ll even let you branch out a bit and consider using Xbees.


Step 2: Tell us what you’d build

Tell us what you would construct using anything from Mindkits and your imagination. Go wild. Feel free to imagine up some magic parts too. Just tell us by leaving a comment below. What would it do? For fun or a serious endeavour? Points for imagination! Get your entries in by 8pm Sunday 8th November.

Step 4: Win!

Tim and I will choose the most creative and/or amusing entry. That person will win:

Further Reading:

What is Arduino?

Aduino Bike Jacket
Here's an idea!

Arduino is a physical computing platform based on a simple I/O board and a development environment that removes much of the complexity of programming and building self contained electronics projects powered by a micro-controller. You plug sensors and output into the board and it follows the instructions you give it tirelessly. So, you may want to build a project that clicks your camera whenever a beam is broken. You’d connect the beam and camera to the Arduino and give it instruction of what to do when the beam breaks. Voila!

If that sounds all to hard you can take comfort in there being a massive amount of information out there to make connecting things up and giving the board instructions a real pleasure (Mrs MindKits even build her own textile based Arduino projects).

MindKits? Who the..? What the..?

MindKitsMindKits is a small company run by Tim Carr that was born out of the passion for tinkering and building electronics and creative projects involving technology.
Tim noticed that although Kiwi’s have a fantastic culture of being ‘makers’ and ‘tinkerers’ building something out of nearly nothing there was very little to bring this cultural trait into todays language of microchips and circuit boards.

So, MindKits was born out of passion and a desire to make it easy for anyone to get started with building their own technology projects. MindKits are not just focused on providing the best priced electronics and Arduino, but also strong community and support.

  • We run community catch ups at an Auckland Pub to enable you to meet new people interested in tinkering with electronics projects
  • We have forums that enable you to ask questions and talk about the projects you’re building or would like to build
  • We run courses regularly to help you get started with building your Arduino based projects
  • We’ve also got some pretty cool new ideas which we’d love to share with you once they come together.


27 replies on “Make Stuff With Mindkits”

  1. Cat exerciser.

    I have two cats who are scared to go outside. Really! AND they were wild/feral when we caught them!

    I would rig a controller to open cat-door at predetermined time.
    Fake mouse operated by pulleys, motors would then tempt felines outside.

    Path of bait would require cats to jump around and get some exercise.

    Mouse would return to “base” and cats could then be tempted back inside by automated feeder inside cat door.

    RFID collars would also unlock cat door IF they ever decided to go outside of their own accord.

    Might even rig up motion activated TwitPic feed as proof of exercise.

  2. Ok so. I’d ideally like to build some form of network aware monitoring system for my flat. After seeing the very cool (and very expensive) home security gadgets on this site, I’ve been thinking about keeping logs of who enters my room.

    Using the Arduino as a base, I could whip up a database (using the Arduino Ethernet Shield for connectivity) that would be able to alert me via email/twitter when an IR beam in my room was broken. This could be extended to controlling ambient features like temperature (switch on a fan) and light (strobe attack) in my room. Couple this with RFID reading capability, and I can effectively terrorise unwanted intruders or look after guests with their favourite music.

  3. the Drummer bot is so cute! I have always wanted to build a robot. Right now I would like to build one that is voice activated and with a gripper arm. When he hears me swearing VERY LOUDLY at the builders on the floor below me who are demolishing a lecture theatre apparently using nothing but drills, my little bot would come to life, trundle along my desk,use his gripper arm to pick up my Dr Grordbort’s Goliathon ray gun, and then use it to shoot holes in the floor and hopefully wing a builder or two. He would then come and sit next to my computer and make reassuring Wall-E noises and blink his LEDS in a soothing fashion (red light, green light, red light, green light…)

  4. I would like to build a decibel sensor to turn on at night in the dogs run – so when he barks loudly it plays a firm clear recording saying ‘quiet Cade’. In the unlikely event that he is barking at burglars it might just a soft firm voice saying wierd things just might spook em enough that they run away (or burgle quietly)

  5. A robot which can find a path to the fridge which it then opens and retrieves the coldest beer. It then brings it back and opens it. It can also restock the fridge with more beer.

  6. Dog ball launcher. So that when the puppy, which requires approximately 12 hours of non-stop entertainment, can keep himself amused with some robotic input. Not disimilar from a tennis ball or cricket ball launcher but the dog would be able to drop the ball in a safe spot and from there it would be automatically (and safely) loaded for launch and fired off in a programmically restricted projectory and in a random direction within said programmed limits. This way the dog has some fun and I can have more time to do electronics! Then he’ll appreciate his runs more and not water the carpet.

  7. I’m dying to build an Arduino controlled cartesian coordinate system that can drive a cutting or milling head using G-code output from a Linux based PC. I’m just in the process of learning how to drive bi-polar stepper motors.

    I’d use it to cut and rout 3mm MDF into exact shapes for all sorts of things like signage, simple kitset furniture for kits, and toys! Toys for kids, and toys for myself. In particular I’m a war gamer so I’d like to build exact cut war gaming tables from 1′ x 1′ tiles, and possibly small terrain models like this. But I’d also like to exact cut cool MDF toys, the sort of thing that used to feature in those thick old Reader’s Digest toy books from the 70’s (boats with working spring loaded cannons, wooden slot together castles etc).

    With exact cutting I’d also be interested in making working counterweight wall clocks from MDF and possibly perspex… plus you know, anything else that springs to mind!

  8. Home monitoring systems are another option. Speaking of cats we have a cat door that’s left open during the day and I’m suspicious several neighborhood cats are helping themselves to our young cat’s food. I’d like to rig a motion detector up + webcam up to an Arduino board and capture some of the interlopers. Expanding on that it’d be interesting to try and do some video processing to identify our cat as opposed to anti-our-cats and possibly set of warning buzzers or flash lights at them.

  9. Similar, except I'd like to have a locked cat door with a motion sensor on the inside to let our cats out, but nothing in. (The neighbourhood toms have figured out how to hook the door open when the latch is set to 'out'.

    I've seen a few RFID based cat doors advertised, but they are $300-400 plus getting the cat chipped.

    Magnetic collar activated ones don't work for our moggys, the go psycho if you try and collar them.

  10. I’d help number one son build two very small and mobile robots to taunt number two son (and his Mum)
    They would communicate with each other and play hide and seek around the lounge – with one getting his attention while the other hides…
    Once he touches the top of one he can see – the other one must be found to start over
    Could also give a hint when close…? Maybe a small irregular beep sound to drive him mad while he looks…
    Should be fun to watch…

  11. Loving the entries so far everyone. The RFID/mag cat door and the dog ball launcher cracked me up. Nice work guys and girls! Keep em coming.

    As a note, you don’t have to use only the stuff on site. You can add anything else you like but it must be able to be run by an Arduino.

    It may help to use the MindKits site as a guide to what tech is out there that you can use.

    You are also welcome to contact us via the MindKits contact form on the front page if you have questions about feasibility or would just like to ask a question.

    MindKits Chief Ninja

  12. That point about getting the cat chipped is an interesting one. Our young cat is an SPCA special and the SPCA have mandatory chipping for all cats and dogs taken by new owners (cost us $75)! So our kitty already has an chip (in his foreleg from memory).

    What sort of range does an RFID reader operate under? Would attaching one beside the cat door be sufficient to catch him approaching it I wonder?

  13. Considering the parts above, how about some sort of public display of virtual plants animated by servos? They could react to touch, light, sound, temperature and pollution and be able to communicate with each other using xBee, receeding, blooming, reacting to each other, and swaying like in the wind. The general health of a patch of plants could be worked out by the Arduinos and communicated by wifi to other patches, so overall statistics of the health of the plants could be shown on the LCD screens to the public. As well as being interactive and curiously interesting, it would also be an ecological eye opener to the public by giving an indication of the amount of Carbon Monoxide air pollution present in urban environments at certain times of the day.

  14. Well. I live on Franklin Road which is famous for its Xmas lights. Combine that with the fact that we now have a 3 month old son the combination seems to good to pass up. First up would be a neon kit for the pram. The wife has already banned me from lowering but using an Arduino we could hook up an iPod as an input and read the input sound. Convert that to some form of output that could control some neon lights and you would have a lighting kit for the pram that was timed to the music.

    Secondly I’m sure there are lots of options for controlling various contraptions in the front porch to entertain the passersby.

  15. I thought a of building a Scoreboard out of some LED matrix s for my boys slot car set with a lap counter and time keeper by putting some Optical Detector Phototransistors on the track. could also display some animations depending on which track is wining.

  16. Once I get the hang of it, I will build a marine aquarium controller which will enable me to monitor and control various stuff for the lil inhabitants:
    Keep track:
    Calendar function with statistics, track of changing lights, carbon, zeovit, which date are species added, etc
    Ph, alkalinity, calcium, Magnesium, Electro conductivity, Water level, Temperature, day time/night time (light sensor)
    Light timers, pumps, reactors, dosing pumps, moonlight, heater, chiller, ventilators
    Web connection/Web app, iPhone connection/iPhone app, connection to webcam via internet to have a look how the lil animals do, emergency text message (in case somethings is just not right)

  17. Lego (not this flash modern stuff, mind) taught me that it’s the construction, not the result, that is the fun. So I don’t have a single device I’m planning on building, I have several!

    Turtles are cool, but their 50-year lifespan is more than I can commit to. So I’m gonna make a couple of robot turtles. Or maybe a robot turtle and a robot clownfish.

    I’d also like to make a couple of little daleks which are light-averse but hunt a bluetooth source. Visitors with BT-enabled devices would then be stalked by these little guys. On their off-hours they could switch to RFID and patrol our designated no-dog lounge for illicit canine presence.

    When I was a tiny we had these wooden marble toys, you’d drop a marble in and it would roll here and there down some rails. With an Arduino these could be a whole bunch more interactive. I really like the idea of combining future tech with oldschool wooden construction. My grandpa had to build wood in mostly straight lines; Ponoko can cut me nice spirals …

    Likewise I’m really tempted to hijack and “enhance” one of my sons wooden trucks or trains with das blinkenlights unt das remotekontrollen. He’s quite into trains at the moment (2yo) so bringing one of those devices to life would be quite fun.

    Finally, at the end of a long hack session, what could be better than slipping on an EOG sleep sensor device built into a pair of airline sleep goggles? (Not the ones the pilots used on NW188, mind.) This way, by detecting patterns of ocular muscle activity and blinking LEDs in set patterns (GREEN GREEN RED RED), I can kickstart my mind in REM state and remind myself to plan more hacking madness for the coming day.

    Fantasy shopping list so far: flipper actuators, mini ballast pumps, waterproofing outer fabric, lasers for the daleks, lots of whirring bits for the marble kit, wheels and motors, super-sensitive sensors to pick up my eyeballs spinning in my sleep, and blinky lights galore. Plus the hardware glue to bring it all together.

  18. Lights sounds and fireworks robot! For Guy Fawkes next year or Christmas!
    On a more practical side, a home energy monitor to see how much gas/electricity we are using.

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