Weekend Projects: Control Analog Servo Motors with Streams of Digital Data

Weekend Projects: Control Analog Servo Motors with Streams of Digital Data

Data Dial Dashboard joins our beginner-friendly electronics series, Weekend Projects, as a moderately difficult build. The case design and layout is fun and simple, made from balsa wood and uses ink or laserjet printouts for all the displays (or a laser cutter for those with access to one). Even the required soldering is nominal and pretty straightforward. The challenge then arises from what information to display, and how.


That’s where the ingenuity of Providence-based makers Matt Stultz and Kelly Egan came in. They decided to scrape data from the U.S. Geological Survey‘s real-time feeds and notifications for their Earthquake Hazards Program. If you never considered how frequently earthquakes happen around the world you might be in for a bit of a shocker. The retro-styled dial-hands return a gauge reading of quakes in the past day, highest magnitude this week, and a sort of gluttonous quakes in the past week reading that believe-it-or-not could exceed the 2,500 threshold count!

The provided sketch code is heavily commented and easy to follow along – and therefore modify. This project powers three gauges, but the design could be easily modified to display fewer or more streams of data. On the project page several readers have already commented on the desire to mod the displays to gauge their internet speed. All I can say is we’re already working on it, and it’s being baked into our plan for Weekend Projects in 2014! So stay tuned in to the series for that, but for now watch the video below to see Data Dial Dashboard in action.

YouTube player

And of course if you fork the code for your own novel display, or even mod this design into one that suits your mantle or home decor, be sure to document your build and process and send us an email with your story!

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I'm an artist & maker. A lifelong biblioholic, and advocate for all-things geekathon. Home is Long Island City, Queens, which I consider the greatest place on Earth. 5-year former Resident of Flux Factory, co-organizer for World Maker Faire (NYC), and blogger all over the net. Howdy!

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