Picture of The Arduino Internet Gizmo
The Arduino Internet Gizmo is a USB, Arduino, and RFID device for web surfing.  The gizmo works by placing an RFID tag on the top of the gizmo.  The gizmo reads the RFID tag and sends the tag number via USB to a program running on a PC. The program looks up the tag number and the associated web site and then invokes the default web browser to open a new tab for the web site.  The gizmo consists of an Arduino Uno, a Parallax serial RFID tag reader, an assortment of LEDs, and a few other parts packaged inside a ATX power supply case recycled from an old PC.  The software components of the gizmo consist of a small program running on the Arduino and a small Python program running on the PC or laptop.

The Arduino Internet Gizmo is fun to use and makes an excellent desk toy and sure beats using a mouse and keyboard to load your favorite web sites.

This video demonstrates the Arduino Internet Gizmo:

I made this at TechShop.
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Step 1: How it works

Picture of How it works
1 - 2 - Arduino Internet Gizmo.png
1 - 3 - Arduino Internet Gizmo Unknown Tag.png
The Arduino Internet Gizmo consists of an Arduino, a RFID card reader, a bunch of LEDs and other components mounted in a recycled PC power supply case connected to a PC as shown in the first diagram.  The Arduino is running software that will read an RFID card when it is placed near the reader.  When a card is read, the Arduino makes the LEDs on the top of the gizmo light up in sequence and appear to race around in circles. The RFID card's ID is then sent to the PC via a USB cable that connects the Arduino and the PC.  On the PC, a Python program is running in a loop waiting for data from the Arduino.  When it receives the RFID card id from the Arduino, it looks up the RFID card ID in a table to see what web site is associated with that card.  If it finds the card in the table, it opens a new tab in the default web browser for the computer and loads the web site.  If the RFID card ID is not in the table, the Python program creates a simple HTML page with an error message and the RFID card ID and displays the information in a new tab in the browser (as shown in the third image).  When the Arduino Internet Gizmo is powered on, it illuminates a set of red-green-blue color changing LEDs to indicate that the gizmo is operational.

The second figure and the attached PDF file show the circuit schematic for the Arduino Internet Gizmo.  The RFID card reader is connected the Arduino pins 3 and 4.  Pin 3 is used for sending the RFID card data to the Arduino and pin 4 is used to enable or disable reading.  Arduino pins 6 - 13 are used to control the illumination of the LEDs on top of the gizmo.  Arduino pin 5 is used to turn on the red-green-blue LED color changing circuit.  Pin 5 connects to an optocoupler that turns the color changing LED circuit on and off.  I used the optocoupler circuit rather than connect the color changing LEDs directly to the Arduino because the color changing LEDs draw varying amounts of current as they change color and with five of them, I wasn't sure what effect that would have on the Arduino, so I felt it was better to use the optocoupler and power the color changing LEDs independently.

Details on how the software works is covered in step 20.

More information on how the RFID card reader works can be found in the data sheet for the Parallax serial RFID card reader.
megaduty2 years ago
I b lov'n your project! Nice ible!
IAmButAnEgg2 years ago
This is so cool! And I love that it exists mostly to be a fun gizmo - just for the joy of it. Voted for it!
Turtlepwr2 years ago
Nice artistic flare
jschrempp2 years ago
Wow, fantastic project Bruce. You put a lot of details into the steps, which is great. The box is a thing of beauty!
talk2bruce (author)  jschrempp2 years ago
Thanks! I had a lot of fun with this one. I was surprised how long it took to document it compared to making it! :-)
This is pretty awesome, voting for you!
talk2bruce (author)  Collin Amedee2 years ago