8 More Cool Components For Your Arduino Projects

James Bruce 20-11-2011

arduino componentsSo, you’re thinking about getting an Arduino starter kit What’s Included In An Arduino Starter Kit? [MakeUseOf Explains] I have previously introduced the Arduino open-source hardware here on MakeUseOf, but you’re going need more than just the actual Arduino to build something out of it and actually get started. Arduino "starter kits" are... Read More , but wondering if some basic LEDs and resistors is going to be enough to keep you busy for the weekend? Probably not.


Here are another 8 cool electronic Arduino components you might want to just add to your basket, along with some great ideas for what you could do with them.

Servo Motor

The kind of motors you and I may be familiar with are ones that simply turn on and you can perhaps vary their speed. They take a while to get going, and to slow down. A servo-motor on the other hand can give precise control over the speed, direction and amount of rotation. They’re used heavily in robotics, but a basic servo-motor isn’t at all expensive. You should be able to pick up one up for about $10-20.

arduino components

Potentially Awesome Project:

  • Rotating imitation turret with pew-pew sounds for defence against wandering neighborhood cats!


components for arduino

Obviously, any aspiring hardware hacker needs a laser or two in their collection. Prices will range from about $20 for a 0.8mW red laser module using which you can only see the beam at night with a smoke machine… to about $200 for this 500mW Blue laser, which is clearly visible, and very much guaranteed to burn stuff.


Potentially Awesome Project:

  • This is an optional upgrade to any basic pew-pew turret cat-defenses you have.
  • Combined with a camera and laptop, an automated balloon popper could be quite fun at parties.
    Lasers are genuinely dangerous, no kidding, so make sure the party you take your balloon popping robot to isn’t that much of a good friend because you may never see them again. Also if you can, provide advance notice that medical insurance is required for all attendees.

Robot Platform

components for arduinoThese are really popular right now, and for about $100 you too can get a full robot base to build upon with 4 independent drive wheels and optional tank tracks. Whatever you’re building – just think how much cooler it’s going to be on wheels!

Potentially Awesome Project:

  • What part of mobile laser-turret cat-defense system do you not understand?!
  • Or, how about building your own little drummer robot, that runs around looking for things to drum and samples it all to playback later.

LED Matrix

components for arduinoA 2D array of LEDs – these can a little trickier to control than standard LEDs but are a natural progression that gives you another dimension to play with. They cost around $30.

Potentially Awesome Project:

  • Build your own version of a British speed-camera smiley-face sign for pussycats that dash across your garden far too quickly. Here’s a real life example I took on the road near me, though it’s designed primarily for cars and not cats.

Programmable Super Bright RGB LEDs

arduino projectsQuite expensive for LEDs ($20 each), but you can program a full gamut of colors dynamically. You’ll need to learn a little more about the various data protocols on the Arduino for this, but that’s a good thing.

Potentially Awesome Project:

  • Mood-lighting galore, basically. This guy used 6 of them to create a home made version of those TV backlights, which is next on my list of stuff to build.
  • Real life Nyan-Cat? You could strap a few of these onto a white Persian, and let the rainbows commence. Note: Must be white. The projection capabilities of darker cats results in disappointing rainbows. 

arduino projects

Wifi Module

8 More Cool Components For Your Arduino Projects arduino wifi$50 will net you the ultimate in communications devices for your project, allowing your device to communicate over standard WiFi networks and through to the internet! Open your device to the world.

Potentially Awesome Project:

  • Aforementioned turret could be easily modified to auto-Tweet the number of shots fired at frisky feline trespassers to your @gardenprotector Twitter account.
  • Why not buy the domain and allow random internet users to remotely control the firing mechanism. Note: network lag may cause a significant decrease in shots-taken to kills ratio.

IR Range Sensor

arduino projectsThese are actually an IR led and sensor in one self-contained package, and they work by firing a infra-red beam of light out and measuring how long it takes for it to come back. Useful in any kind of robotics projects for obstacle avoidance, and only about $20.

Potentially Awesome Project:

  • Upgrade your tabby-turret with a close range warning mechanism that emits high frequency sounds if aforementioned cats comes too close to investigate and laser is otherwise inoperable.
  • Automatically turn off your computer to prevent eye-strain when your face gets too close to the monitor. Could be annoying when your folks come round though – I don’t know about you, but mine always feel the need to squish themselves to within an inch of my monitor, despite the fact it’s a full 27″ across.Get some glasses, mum.

LilyPad Vibe Board and More

arduino componentsThe LilyPad series of Arduino components are designed to be as flat as possible with large holes on the board that allow them to be sewn into clothing. This particular $20 LilyPad brand component is a flat vibration motor, which, I quote:

Works great as an physical indicator without notifying anyone but the wearer.

Potentially Awesome Project:

  • No idea – I can’t think of a single possible usage example for a vibration device which can be discreetly sewn into clothing, but I’m sure you can come up with something. Did I mention it’s also washable?

Well, that’s enough cat cruelty for one day. If you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends, because it let’s us know that you like this article and want more like it. Also, do post in the comments if you can think of any other possible ways in which I could keep the cats out of the garden awesome electronics project ideas or fun components I’ve neglected to mention. Thanks for reading, and best of luck with your hardware hacking.

Image Credit: Mostly taken from the Cool Components website

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  1. dave
    May 7, 2012 at 2:28 am

    IR sensor detects cat, fires nearest sprinkler head. Cat be gone and garden irrigation in one. Win-Win.

  2. dave
    May 7, 2012 at 2:27 am

    IR sensor detects cat and fires nearest sprinkler head to soak cat. Cat be gone and water system in one.

  3. Ian
    November 30, 2011 at 1:35 am

    Say I need to be alerted every time the IR Range sensor is walked by, through the lilypad, but I don't want to be attached to it. What would I use for this?

    • James Bruce
      November 30, 2011 at 8:46 am

      I believe the easiest way to do that would be with two Arduinos and an wireless device on each - an Xbee - in order to do that. There's probably a better solution, but I'm no expert I'm afraid. Still learning...

  4. Mike
    November 20, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    Mmmm i Think the lilypad could be used with a sort of Quit-smoking device, so you embeed the IR Sensor in a ring, when you get your hand too close to your mouth, it will send a signal to the Blue laser (attached to your specially designed underwear...i mean near your crotch) but...the Lilypad will vibrate, on i dunno whatever part of your body you want...¬¬ about mmm 8 seconds before the laser blast into your you could say...wait a not supossed to smoke again...after you get shot (or not) the wristband including the wifi module will send a tweet " I got a Laser blast on my crotch because im a Nicotine addict"....

    • muotechguy
      November 21, 2011 at 11:35 am

      Ok, Mike, you officially win the most awesome Arduino project idea. Can anyone top this?