|Physical computing FTW.|
Game playing devices
Electronic dice. Cube shaped with two 7 segment LED display on top. Two buttons on die. Small, hard to press button will change dice mode. Each press of the mode button will change the number of sides of the die. Once you get to six sided, the mode will advance through all of the typical AD&D dice types. Larger button is pressed to roll. Roll button will also turn the die on, if die is not on already. Auto shutoff if die is not rolled within 5 minutes. Die would hopefully be built on custom micro board with a single ATMEL chip and whatever driver circuity is necessary for the buttons and LED display.
Chess clock timer similar to the chess clocks currently on the market. Clock should be capable of Fischer time, where some amount of time is added to the player's clock each time he/she moves. Controls for mode and for setting the amount of time are necessary. It should also be possible to set the two player's starting times independently so that the players can play at time odds if they desire. Important features of a good chess clock: Nice workmanship, expensive switches, and very easy to read
Poker tournamner timer built into the dealer button. One or two micro-buttons that are used to change the amount of time for the level. Another recessed button that acts as the ON/OFF/RESET button. When time is up, buzzer could sound and button would light up and flash. Maybe a brief flash when 2 minutes is left in the round.
Alarm clock with custom functions and sounds. Build in a soothing sleep sound function also. A bunch of LED's mounted on the front could strobe while the alarm is sounding. Alarm gets increasingly louder for each snooze cycle. Clock will operate in low power standby mode unless it senses movement nearby, at which time it will turn on the big, bright time display. Otherwise, a small diffuse LED is the only thing the owner will see, and that just so the owner knows the clock is actually on. This way the clock could be operated from batteries for a long period of time. Clock will have a powerful audio amp built in along with a much larger and louder speaker than alarm clocks usually come with. A train horn or a scary klaxon played loudly should be able to get the attention of even the heaviest sleepers.
Start with a data logging thermometer, saving to an SD card. Work in an anemometer, barometric pressure, and finally a rain gauge. The rain gauge will be the trickiest. Researching, people have used some creative ways to measure rainfall. Right now, I'm thinking of a float sensor in a tube which is emptied via servo once a day. Weatherproofing all of the electronics will be a challenge. Power will be a challenge also - maybe go for a solar powered unit? Is there enough juice from the sun, or maybe a combo solar/wind powered unit?
After all of this has been worked out to near perfection, add wireless reporting to the weather station in addition to the data logging. Update a website via WI-FI once every 5 minutes. If/when the broadband connection is out, be sure to re-transmit data that failed to post. Also have the unit alert the owner anytime one of the sensors is reporting a measurement out of bounds for a normal reading, indicating a system failure of some sort. Add a battery meter, and alert the owner if the unit begins running low on juice. Either the solar/wind charging system might not be working or the rechargeable battery is starting to lose its ability to hold a charge.
On the back end, have the website show current readings, as well as historical data graphs from past readings. Have the weather station take a photo and post a 'live' photo to the website once every 15 minutes. An interest project might also be to take all of the 15 minute photos through the year and watch a time lapse video, observing the seasonal changes happen in just a few minutes.
I really like the weather station project idea because it can start as basic and easy as you can get and end up morphing into a sophisticated, do-everything instrument. Exciting!
Micro-arduino set up, including video camera, SD storage and altimeter. Can I make it light enough to get a great view? There are some large hobby rocket engines you can buy for fairly cheap, so I think I can make it work. Weight and balance of the rocket will be challenges for sure, then of course safety of the electronics during launch and recovery phases.
A super-advanced idea. Two options: GPS receiver onboard the rocket, along with a radio transmitter. Arduino constantly transmitting and logging GPS data - giving speed, altitude and position. Arduino robot at launch site receives position information and rolls out to recover the launch vehicle and bring it back to the launch site. Second option - launch vehicle transmitting some sort of beacon frequency. Arduino robot at launch site receives the beacon frequency and navigates toward the launch vehicle by always turning toward where it's getting the strongest signal. May have to combine a search pattern with receive signal levels to locate the vehicle.
I think that's enough for now. Looking forward to getting started. The ideas are rolling off of my head fast for now - I hope my technical abilities can keep up.