Pneuduino: a Modular Platform for Controlling Airflow and Pressure

A very interesting project caught my attention recently, and this time it is all about the power of air. Pneuduino is an Arduino based modular hardware platform which enables control of air flow and pressure, opening a whole new realm of possibilities for Makers who want to add unique shape shifting features to their projects. The platform was created by Felix Heilbeck and Jifei Ou as part of the MIT Media Lab’s Tangible Media Group program led by Professor Hiroshi Ishii.

Pneuduino pneumatic control system

Image credit: Pneuduino project

Pneuduino is currently used in high school and college workshops. Its creators suggest that the platform can be well suited for prototyping soft robots, intelligent clothing, breathing art or adaptable furniture, in conjunction with new materials designed to take advantage of air as a precisely managed resource.

The Pneuduino pneumatic control toolkit consists of four types of modules which interconnect in a daisy chain fashion:

  • Master Board – built around an ATMega32u4 MCU, it can be programmed from the Arduino IDE via USB using the Pneuduino library. It manages up to 11 pneumatic control boards, one input board and a Grove extension board;
  • Pneumatic Control Board – built around an ATMega328P MCU, its 2 solenoid valves control air flow and read pressure values up to 4 bar or 58 PSI. It can also be used standalone for less complex projects when it can be powered and programmed via the FTDI header;
  • Input Board – provides a potentiometer and 2 push-buttons for controlling parameters or triggering events;
  • Grove Extension Board – based on the Seeed Studio Grove kit this enables I2C communication for extra peripherals such as sensors, lights and so on for fast prototyping.

via Atmel blog