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Makers Make the Most of Analog ICs

February 12, 2019

Christine Young  By: Christine Young
 Blogger, Maxim Integrated 

Do you think, talk, live, and breathe analog integration? There’s a community of nearly 1,500 makers on who feel the same way. The creations that these engineers come up with using Maxim analog ICs and solutions from Raspberry Pi and Adafruit are inspiring—and fun. Let’s take a look at some of their projects.

After breaking a digital fish tank thermometer during a move, Fathead decided to make a new controller that turns two sets of lights (for day and night) on and off and displays the tank temperature on an LCD and RGB LED. There’s also an indicator that flags when the water temperature is ideal, too hot, or too cold. “And a little bonus, I added an LDR so when the house lights go off at night so does the backlight on the LCD,” Fathead noted in the project story.

The fish tank controller features a DS1307 serial real-time clock, which manages all time-keeping functions; an Adafruit waterproof DS18B20 digital temperature sensor; and an Everything ESP Wemos D1 Mini. The DS1307 consumes less than 500nA in battery-backup mode with the oscillator running and features automatic power-fail detect and switch circuitry.

Fish tank lighting controller
DIY projects on include a fish tank controller for lighting and temperature measurement. Photo courtesy of Fathead on

Hacked Fish Tank Opens Door to Key Database
Have you heard the one about the hacked fish tank? A North American casino had a lobby fish tank with internet-connected sensors that regulated temperature, food, and cleanliness. By hacking this smart fish tank thermometer, attackers were able to gain access to the casino’s database of high-roller customers. So if you’re thinking about making your own version of a fish tank controller, be sure to design in security. Maybe Noah Magill’s Hacker Detector project will give you some ideas.

Hacker Detector
The Hacker Detector detects DNS attacks. Photo courtesy of Noah Magill on

Magill’s Hacker Detector uses the MAX32620FTHR and an Everything ESP ESP8266 ESP-01 to detect hackers over a WiFi network. He notes in his project story that his aim is to spot “fake” websites (created via DNS spoofing) and alert users that hackers might be attempting to collect their data via these cloned sites. The MAX32620FTHR is a rapid development platform that you can use to quickly implement battery-powered designs with the MAX32620 Arm® Cortex®-M4 microcontroller with floating-point unit. The board comes with the MAX77650 ultra-low-power power-management IC (PMIC) and the MAX17055 fuel-gauge IC. As Magill explains in his project, “The Hacker Detector looks up the website via https, pulls up the certificate, and compares the key found on the website to a key stored on the code. This way it can detect if a DNS attack is being done and if there (are) potential hackers on the network.”

All Eyes on You
Ready for something a little freaky? Check out Unexpected Maker’s UltrasonicEyes. The story behind these eyes? Unexpected Maker wanted to use 8x8 matrix LEDs and ultrasonic sensors to create something a little playful. According to the project story, “…I created what I call UltrasonicEyes – a fun project that you sit somewhere near where people move around and it will look around at where people are, and blink and well, just weird you out in a fun and creepy way!”

OK…so if you want to get fun and freaky, you’ll need some ultrasonic sensors, an Arduino Nano R3, a photo resistor, and the MAX7219 serially interfaced, 8-digit LED display driver to create your own version. As a next step, Unexpected Maker wants to add a capacitive touch button on UltrasonicEyes to allow cycling through different eye shapes. How fun (and creepy) is that?!

The Beat Goes On
Heart feeling aflutter with the excitement of all of these projects? Build a sensor to measure your heart rate. Ingeimaks Ingeimaks published a DIY Heart Rate Sensor project on Hackster’s Maxim community. This sensor is based on an Open Impulse XD-58C pulse sensor, Arduino UNO, Genuino UNO, and a ProtoCentral Pulse Oximeter and Heart Rate Sensor based on the MAX30100 pulse oximeter and heart-rate sensor IC for wearable health applications. What you create based on this project can be worn on a finger or, perhaps, even an earlobe.

DIY Heart Rate Sensor
DIY Heart Rate Sensor. Photo courtesy of Ingeimaks Ingeimaks on

Inspired? As usual, all of the Hackster projects come with resources such as step-by-step instructions, schematics, diagrams, and code to get you underway. So, what are you waiting for?