Asked — Edited

Make Magazine Get Connected Build Project Contest $500

I am entering and so should you! Show off your ez robot home innovation idea / Project . Though I would like to win I would like even more if some some stiff competition in the EZ Robot community took the cake. $500 bucks is a lot of goodies to play with this summer.

If you are going to submit your project for the contest let us all know here and see you at the finish line!


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Today MAKE kicks off a week of projects, news, articles, and inspiration all about the "connected home," how the Internet of Things and smart appliances are connecting us in new ways to where we live, eat, and sleep. We'll also be running a contest for the best connected home project.

By best, I mean best documented, most innovative, and most original project. The winner, to be picked by a panel of MAKE editors, will have his or her project featured on and will receive a $500 voucher from the Maker Shed. There's also a special bonus prize.

The submission period is open now and ends at 11:59 p.m. PT Feb. 6 so get started now! Full details and official contest rules can be found here. User-inserted image


If an EZ-Robot project wins the $500, I'll up the prize and send you some sweet EZ-Robot stuff your way:) Maybe even some early EZ-Robot Revolution prototypes...

This is an awesome contest to showcase your skills and creativity with the EZ-B! Good luck!


I hope your submitting your "connected aquarium" ..EZ-B isn't always about robots ! Good luck Josh! and to any other EZ Forum folks! :)

United Kingdom

Let's hope it's not restricted to US only, I have a "little something" that should (hopefully) put up some competition ;)


I might do the connected aqaurium.:) What's cool is there is no telling what the make magazine editors will like or feel is innovative. I looked up the last winner and it was a Robot plant that opened its pedals to expose solar cells to charge it's battery and when the sun goes down a servo closed the petals just like a living flower. It was neat , simple and editors @ make loved it. I know Ez Robot can easily surpass that! :)


I agree entirely Rich! your " little something" is an amazing home butler and would "make" a great challenge for top spot!

United Kingdom

Yeah, reading the whole thing I'm not sure about submitting instructions on how to replicate him for the chance to win $500 (I turned down an investor who offers a lot more than that because I didn't like his conditions). Besides, it needs to be submitted today and I doubt I'd have time to do so for the whole of Jarvis, what I have documented isn't a how to by any stretch. I may submit a small portion if I get chance to write something up later.


I'm excited but I'm note sure what project I would submit. The smart fish tank would be the easiest to explain in a how to but maybe not as much cool factor. Dang it's a tough choice. One submission per person. :)


Minus the pictures and spell check here was my submission - everything else i posted 2 yourtube videos of build progress and then link to the ez robot thread as well.

I grew up having a fishtank in every home my parents lived, there were different varieties and they were all

wonderful. Many people would like to have a nice fish tank but shy away because of the complexity and expense.

With my project the maintenance of a Salt water marine habitat is much easier. The controller can do anything you

can imagine but for know I will tell you how you can setup relatively cheap and automated solution to have a

beautiful interactive marine display. First you have your basics and can purchase a tank kit from a store with the

needed salt solution to mix with water these can vary on your brand. Get yourself a Aquarium stand with cabinet

below the aquarium so we have plenty of space for automated goodness!

The setup i will show you will switch on and off three sets of lights and different ties of the day, simulate ocean

alternating currents and even storms. Turn on or off pumps and wave makers. I really love the changing color. In the

morning i start at a 18000k purple, then 10000k blue, and a 6000k daylight bulb to simulate noon, after that the

process reverses just like in nature producing a simple yet spectacular change of colors as your day goes by!

The basic items needed

Filter portion from hardware supplier-

5 canister filters PVC for potable water 3/4" input and outlets 5 brackets for mounts 7 male mal pvc threaded connectors 3/4" pvc hose 12 foot Mag 7 3/4" pump for water fountains and ponds ( 5 year warranty is awesome) 12 ft 1 inch pvc pipe for plumping 1 can pvc glue for potable water

Electronics section items 1- Ez Robot Microcontroller with bluetooth 2- download free software ARC ez 3- Purchase Automotive style standard 30 amp 12 volt relays SPDT - 5 ( i have 7 for expansion) 4-Spool of 14-18 guage two color wire RED / BLK 5 Spool of blue wire 6- 7 servo ext cables red/wht/blk 7-100pc box of femal spade connectors 8- Crimp connect tool 9- 5 different colors electrical tape, usually found in 5 pack assortment 10- a old computer case or server case like i has with PC power supply 11-a pc with windows 7 12- 60-40 lead/silter solder 13- 30 watt soldering iron 15 - 5- Darlington Switching Transistors 16- 5 - 1/4 watt 1k ohm resister 17- 5-60v 1 amp diodes 18- 6-12 volt toggle or rocker switches switches misc machine screws and matching bolts to hold your repays in place or you can opt for super glue

about 4-6 hours of time and patience :)

First, you need a case to put all your electronics in

Pic 1

I had a Sun micro computer case with old 200 watt power supply. Its more than enough to power our Ez robot

controller and 12 volt relays.

Step 2 Convert your PC power supply to a regular bench supply, be sure its not plugged into the wall and has been

sitting overnight to make sure capacitors are empty . Safety First! To do this you need to cut the Molex 40 pin connector off, there is only one green wire. there are several black

wires, bundle them together , strip the ends and solder all the black grounds together and the one green wire. A zip

tie works great at holding the numerous grounds together to solder. Vuala!

  • Now you have a regulated power supply - next find your 5 volt + wire , it will be solid red seperate it fro the

side and seperate one of the yellow wires. there are several dont worry:) one you have those two you can fold up

all the excess wire not needed and ziptie it. I myself Cut it away once teh project was finished as we only need +5 volt wire +12 volt wire green power on Black ground wires

Congratulations thats your power supply and case are now ready.

Second Step is mounting your Relays, i mounted 7 in line and drilled holes just to hold them in place with machine

screws. if you dont have a drill just use some super glue. These are standard 30 A 12 volt relays

2nd picture, mounting the relays line them up neetly

3rd mounting position ezb

mount the EZb controller off to the side by itself, the space looks empty but it will fill up quick

4th picture wire the 5 volt toggle switches

Drill one hole for wach switch, try lining them up and I used a 1/2 dril bit , insert teh switches and tighten them


wire to one input and you an daisychain the same pins on all the switches to make this each, cutting peices of 4

inch wire red ( for 5 volts) and Crimp a spade connector on each one, do so for all 5

5th picture front of switches mounted

These are manual override switches in case your computer crashes , power goes out ect.

7th picture line of relays mounted

Each of the relays uses 4 pins. they look complicated but its OK your just wiring two pins at a time.:) two pins

are to trigger the relay coil switching it into " ON" position , the other 2 are the "pass through" connection we

will use to control our household aquarium appliances.

7th line of relays mounted

Now We want to make the brains of the operation. A switching transistor board. It sounds more complicated than it

is. The transisters are called Darlington after their designer. They have three legs. One leg is just ground, then

one is the collector and emitter. When the transister recieves a "on signal" from the Ez Board then it makes a

connection to the relay closing the loop to power it. Here is the diagram. remember just three legs, resistor is IN

LINE with the signal fro the controller and one is just the ground as depicted here.

8th picture, Darlington tip 120 transistor

Here are the three parts you need to make each circuit that turn on and off our relays that turn on and off our

appliances. See how these to are linked yet? you will :)

9th picture tip 120 resistor and diode

I use a piece of perboard from radioshack and stick the legs through and bend them to hold them in place.

10th picture darlington mounted on perf board using 4 1" standoffs from Radio shack and a drop of superglue on the

tip of each.

11th picture barrier strip mounted somewhere in open space for future 110 V supply This barrier strip will later be the source of the 110 volt supply to go to each relay so it can power things like

pumps , lighting , wavemakers ect. Here is used a bit of double sided tape.

12th female crimp connects Here is a box of female crimp connects, buy 100 so you have plenty for oops moments, you will use this for all

connections from the transistors to the relay coils.

13th picture multicolor tape Pick up multicolor tape. NOTE USE WHITE for 110v white hot ( this is for safety)

14th Picture - Top of controller so far , not too bad right, this is about half way. You are almost there !

15th Picture darlingtons wired

Wire the resistor inline with the signal wire like shown , ground to ground and emitter will go to the relay. Use a

solder iron and 60-40 solder, touch the iron to the leg first then touch the solder to it at the same time and

solder will flow over the connection like mercury

It should look like this once done

16th picture topview , transistors wired

Next the third leg that goes to the relay like in the diagram and pics I showed you. Give yourself some slack and

use blue wire so that it is cleary different that any of our power wire colors we are using. Agian safety first. On

the end of this wire we crimp the female spade crimp connector and goes to the Ground side of the SPDT relay coil .

Repeat this neatly for all 5 in a row

Next you will apply 12 volt power wires to the positive pin on the relays. and collect all of them to a yelloy wire

from the PC power supply. Repeat for all 5 sing crimp connect ends. TA DA! there you go, you have power to your

relays to start switching.

18th picture blue wires on crimp connects to relays

Going back to those front panel switches we did , you will need to get some wire perhaps green and run one end from

each front panel switch you installed to the input of each transistor. solder it down on the transistor side and use

a femal crimp connect on the toggle switch side. repeat these steps 5 times.

Now you have 5 relays wired up and if the power were plugged in your Power supply when you flip the switches you

will hear the relays click as they turn on or off. That is the sound of Progress my friend. Almost there with about

a hour left.

Use the barrier strip to run a single power wire that will plug into your wall outlet. you will divide the barrier

into three sections and you really should use a marker to mark them. Line/ WHITE 110V , Black Nuetral 110V and

Green Ground 110v. Never leave a white 110 volt wire exposed, you will want to wrap any connections very well with

electrical tape matching their associated colors.

18th picture blue wires on crimp connects to relays Each wire here on this strip will use a spade fork connector. , on one pin of your pass through you feed your live

wire and use crimp connect to go to your relay, the left available pin will be the one that actually connects to

each line wire of the 110v appliance you want to control. Repeat this 5 times and cover all connections and mark

them clearly.

20th picture clearly marked 110 volt power

21st picture relays color coded for future maintenance With each connection mark every wire with color code so it is easy to troubleshoot in the future if you ever have a

relay go bad. I have never had one go but it will happen eventually because it is a moving part. They will last you

years though :)

22nd topview of the controller showing the position of the wires for appliances

I used red and black wire i had to run to each appliance power. You can use standard lamp cord as long as there is a

polarized strip on one side to indicate the LIVE wire side. All teh netrals are attached to the nuetral side of the

barrier strip. The relays only trigger the live wire side and the 110 volt item becomes energized.

I have three lights their own power and 2 wave makers and room to add a UV sterilizer in the future.

Now you should be able to test your controller, plug the power into the psu and teh fan will come on, then plug in

teh 110 v barrier strip source power. Flip a switch and each applie will become powered on. repeat for every


Lastly it comes time to plug in the micro controller once the whole setup is wired. in order apply each white signal

wire plug just like in all the pics to teh servo plugs on the EZ board. Signal pin which is white faces outward.

Start at D0 , then D1 , D2 , D3 , D4 . These are the digital ports that will toggle the relays on ans off using

those transistors we installed earlier. You will need to use barrel connector adapter included with EZb , connect

the 12v yellow supply to the positive sode of the barrel adapter and tighten the screw down then do so with ground

as well to the ground on the PSU. You will see a pretty blue light, TA DA!

Almost done :)

Now for your PC - INstall a usb bluetooth adapter and ensure you are using the stock bluetooth Microsoft stack in

the porperties of the device.

Go to and intall the EZ - Builder software

Once you open ex builder open the Controls tab, and tehn Digital pin control. Open 5 of them and label each with the

appliance. Mine are as follows

Blue 12000 K actinic light

Purple 18000K light

Daylight Bulb Light

Left Wavemaker

Right wavemaker

Once you do this it pays to save your project in the upper left hand corner. select save and name your project "

Smart Fishtank"

Open a EZ Script box and you can copy and past a preset script. Setting time is easy for each line. for example

(D0,ON) 08:00 , that will turn it on at 8 am. simple right? just like setting your sprinklers. Here is a example

script but you can change the times and there are easy to use instructions by clicking the question mark in teh top

right hand box as well.

Code: waituntiltime(08,00) set(D1,on) waituntiltime(10,00) set(D2,on) waituntiltime(18,00) set(D2,off) waituntiltime(20,00) set(D1,off) waituntiltime(20,00) set(D3,on) waituntiltime(08,00) set(D3,off)

you may modify this to your liking and you can even due so on a wyme. Once you have this in , click connect and

select COM 3 , the red flashing light on the EZ board will turn solid and so will the blue light . Continuous

blinking means it is not connected yet.

Test this cycle for 24 hours and you know everything is working perfect, ou can use more relays to automate more

functions. You can even use this same priciple to control your home lighting! EZB supports voice control so you can

set the lights to all turn off with your voice : GOODNIGHT FISH: or wake them up : goodmorning fish!:

When you buy a EZ robot kit it already comes with a nifty 2.4 ghz wireless camera you can use to mount on the edge

of your tank. through the buety of remote desktop you could enjoy your aqaurium from anywhere. I set my background

on my phone to update every 5 minutes with a new picture from the EZ camera. Now the Board uses the PC connection

to do all these things which is what make is stand out from things like arduino!

Here are some video links to the tests and demonstrations, I hope you enoyed this build and I hope you add more

features now that you see how easy it is.

United Kingdom

I decided to submit a brief explanation of Jarvis and his youtube videos, nothing really saying how to make him though and not really EZ-B Based (however he does mention ARC in his explanation).

If I had more time I would have covered the EZ-B powered stair lighting I have designed but I found out about it at around 6pm (GMT) yesterday and was out in the evening too so had all of about 2 hours to knock something up. Maybe next time I'll be in a better position to submit a kickass EZ-B based project.


What's funny is by the time I was near my laptop I opened it and Google Chrome copied all the cookies and PUP (malware) to my lap top from my moms virus ridden pc because i signed into gmail on her pc one day and never signed out. promptly grinding it to a halt. Malwarebytes found the offenders in 1 hr 45 min and 156 deletions later. So by the time I got to start explaining how the tank controller worked in the simplest terms I had 3 hours left. I finished and submitted 1 hr 15 minutes before 12 PST.

Hopefully it's what they are looking for. They only allowed me to upload one pic so i labeled each Are where I would have inserted a pic that is already on ez-robot . I inserted URL for three videos doing the demonstration with ARC. I didn't have time to do a custom video just for the contest though.


Needless to say Josh, everyone on the Forum, wish's you the best for your well written submission! @Rich its too bad for the late notice because your submission also would have been well placed! @Josh .....dream a little and tell us what you might do with 500 USD! ....Malwarebytes has saved my butt a few times as well, glad it all worked out


@Irobot , gosh I don't know that's a great question. A couple dozen high torque servos and some regular as well would be nice. I would like to have maybe 3 wifi IP cameras not only for security but experiential navigation using a IR beacon on a robot. Mold making and liquid plastic casting supplies would be a good investment as well. Ok ok , let's see who they announce first ha ha ha , you will get me excited. I'm crossing my fingers , praying and writing a letter to Santa I win.:) I would love to see ANY ez robot member take the cake though. That would make me proud.


The winners are announced on a seperate page here , let's see what they pick in a few hours :)


Dang , well here was the winner

A nutrition monitor for the elderly. They said notable interesting projects will still be featured as running ups but no prize.


Ugh! mad So, I guess I'll be the first to say it...who thought that was a terrible idea (the winning submission)? It's a good demonstration of DYI force sensors with an arduino that takes readings and sends messages to twitter based on said readings, I'll give it that. But practical - I don't see that. Is it something anyone else would want to make? - I'm thinking not.

The concept? - So granny is suppose to enter her BMI, and remember that she needs to eat and also remember that she needs to put her food and drink in containers to be weighed before she eats them so the little snitch machine doesn't twitter that she didn't weigh her food? Not that it knows that she actually ate anything or that the food was healthy. It's not monitoring nutrition as the project name suggests, it's just a (what I'm going to assume) is a fairly inaccurate weight gage with a twitter posting feature.

I think it would have made an awesome jr. High science fair project. But come on Make magazine. At least you could say that goofy solar plant from last year was cute.

Make magazine should have said "Contest - please enter if you want to make something with parts we already hoc, and your device will be overly simple and not practical, so we can package up another Maker Kit"


It was underwhelming and in practical but I guess they were looking for something with a simple concept that is easy to repeat as a science project type learning experience. On a side note I did like the robo plant lol , I might have to make a couple for a robo garden lol.