Published on February 26th, 2013 | by admin


James Bond Gadgets on a Budget

Maybe you’re a fan of the James Bond films, and want to have a great time replicating his gadgets. Perhaps you’re not such a huge Bond fan, but still want to construct some impressive ‘Q’-esque gadgetry to impress your friends. This article will explain how to construct a set of gadgets, which would not look out of place in any Bond film, for those of us without a spy agency sized budget.

GPS Tracker

If you’ve got an old GPS capable device lying around, then this project is perfect for you. Even if you don’t, these devices are quite cheaply available and often have an easily accessible GPS module with accessible solder pads built right in.

This is a great excuse to get your digital multimeter out and try to determine the function of each of the pins. Once you have located the serial data output pin, you can exercise your soldering iron and connect this pin (along with the ground pin from the module) to an Arduino board loaded with a program to recognize the serial inputs. This program allows the Arduino board to decode the signal from the GPS module and convert it to a form that your computer can understand, and display the output with a serial monitor program. The data output from a GPS receiver will typically conform to the NMEA 0183 regulations. Due to the open-source nature of the software for Arduino, it isn’t difficult to find the require script online so you can convert the input and calculate your position on a map, heading, velocity, altitude, and much more. You can even display information about the number and location of satellites used to generate the data. Having your Arduino board broadcast this data to your computer over a wireless connection opens up a whole world of possibilities in terms of tracking your arch nemesis, your pets, or even your car in the event of theft.

Electronic Lock

Modern microcontrollers can read multiple inputs at once and this gives you the chance to make use of a keypad, for example, to open a lock. This rather simple project won’t take too long to build as long as you attach a solenoid in the right way to act as a lock. You could even use the input from a potentiometer as a high-tech combination lock, programming your Arduino board to recognize the different resistance values of your potentiometer and open the lock when the correct three or four are given in sequence.

For a more interesting way to keep your workshop safe, why not try experimenting with Bluetooth? Writing a simple Android program to transmit a code to an Arduino connected to a Bluetooth module could have your door swing open whenever you come within a few yards of your secret room. A speech controlled lock would also be an interesting project, although requiring some serious programming skills. If you have one of the newer Android phones you could also use an NFC (Near Field Communication) tag to open the door.   The tags need to be within an inch of the phone to activate it so there would be no possibility of remote hacking, as is technically possible with a Bluetooth connection.

Sentry Gun

Although you should check the laws in your local are before attempting a project of this type, having a paintball gun track and fire at a moving target detected by a web cam is a great way to kill a few evenings, and possibly protect your home at the same time (at least from Squirrels).

This is not only an interesting test of your programming skills but if you are into Paintballing, would make for an incredible game of Capture-the-flag.  Having both teams attacking a single automated base brings a whole new dimension as the sentry can only engage one target at a time.  Make two of them and I doubt even James Bond or Jason Bourne will get past your defenses.

If you’ve been itching for an excuse to get out your wire strippers and take on a few electronics projects there are plenty of great ideas online and the resources to help you with all the details. The kind of gadgets that could have only been built by the CIA a few years ago are now open-sourced and accessible to anyone with a good parts catalogue and a few learnable skills.

Written by: Tom Chatham has fifteen years of experience with TV and Film special effects to go along with a lifetime of playing with electronics and now likes to build the same toys but with a fraction of the budget.  He currently writes and tries not to build new things.  Occasionally his wife will hide his digital multimeter.

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