If you’ve checked the prices of various home security systems and other niche electronics on online shopping sites like Amazon, you know they aren’t cheap. But did you know that you can create most of these devices with just a handful of tools, electronic circuits, a microcontroller and basic computer skills?
Here are 11 simple and innovative ideas that are perfect hardware projects for engineering students.
1. Circuit breaker using password
If you’ve ever wondered if it’s possible to control power lines using a password, you’ll find this project very interesting. Using an 8051 microcontroller, you can configure any circuit so that the on/off button is replaced by a password.
This hack can be a great safety feature if you want to perform electrical maintenance on a circuit that powers the whole house. Having a different password for each main circuit can make the project more secure.
2. Automatic solar tracker
Another perfect hardware project for engineering students is this automatic solar tracker. Solar panels receive maximum exposure to sunlight for a few hours each day. You can build your own trackers that follow the direction of the sun from morning to night to ensure your panel receives maximum radiation throughout the day. This ingenious project uses an Arduino UNO, a servo and some light-dependent resistors to operate.
3. Automatic ambient light controller
The ability to turn lights on or off without thinking about the actual switch is pretty futuristic. Using an 8051 development board, a 5V relay module, and a microcontroller, you can automate your entire home lighting system. The setup is ideal if you want to test your creativity with basic electronics.
However, it’s also a handy solution for people who often forget to turn off their lights before sleeping, only to end up with huge electricity bills later. If you’re worried about how smart light bulbs can put your home network at risk, this electronics project idea is a great alternative.
4. Wireless locking system via OTP
Using the same password for your digital locks isn’t the safest way to keep intruders away since they only need to enter it once. However, OTP (one-time passwords) systems present a smart security solution that removes every password.
You need an Arduino Uno, a Bluetooth HC-05, a servo motor and a Veroboard PCB to create this project. The rest of the components are the typical parts of a circuit that you are familiar with from electronic hacks.
For this electronics project to work reliably from your phone, you will need to program the microcontroller and create a simple Android application in the MIT App Inventor Online. Each time you need to open a secure door, you will be prompted to enter a password which is instantly sent to your phone.
5. PC based home automation
If you spend long hours on your PC, you’ve probably wished you could automate some household tasks with simple mouse clicks. With a microcontroller, relay ICs, PCB, and Vision IDE, you can automate most electrical devices around you.
The system can be modified so that you can monitor the status of each connected component on the desktop. The installation will save you a lot of time because you can practically control the fan, lights, security cameras and other facilities without leaving your desk.
6. RFID based door access control
Securing your premises is probably one of your biggest concerns whenever you have to leave the house in the morning, run errands or take a vacation. You can use an Arduino microcontroller coupled with an RFID access management system to secure your doors.
One of the most interesting aspects of such a protocol is that you can grant or deny access permissions on the go. This is another great electronics project for engineering students as you can find this technology in many real world applications. It may even prompt to find solutions to the problem of RFID hacking.
7. Advanced RFID Door Access Project
One of the most secure access systems you can install on your doors is RFID since it uses radio frequencies instead of local waves. To set up this project, you need RFID tags, a reader, a transceiver and some antennas. Once completed, the mechanism will allow you to gain access to your home or room by scanning the RFID credentials for a match.
Unlike a barcode system, you don’t need to remove the card once you approach the secure door since the RFID works automatically to save you time. If you want to try it yourself, you can find the RFID Project Tutorial on YouTube.
8. Solar Cell Phone Charger
Charging your smartphone is probably one of the most inconvenient yet necessary routines of your day. A solar cell phone charger can change that as it can free you from the hassle of competing with everyone else for ports and cables. This project uses a 6V mini solar panel, a boost circuit, and a typical phone charger.
Once everything is in place, all you have to do is position the panel so that it is exposed to the sun’s rays. The advantage of having such a small system is that you can always carry it around. For example, if a building is blocking the sun, you can bypass it and continue charging. This is another great electronics project for students, especially when charging ports are in high demand in schools and universities.
9. Fingerprint based security system
Keeping an eye on your possessions, whether it’s your home, gear, or other items, is one of the easiest ways to stay calm no matter where you are. A fingerprint-based security system hack might be just what you need if you don’t want to worry too much about the security of your stuff.
For doors and other important inputs, this project uses an ATmega 32 microcontroller circuit paired with an LCD display, a fingerprint sensor, and some motors. What’s cool is that the door will only open if the scanned fingerprint matches one of the stored ones. With multi-user support, you can even add more fingerprints for your loved ones.
10. Robotic arm
If you’ve ever thought about creating a robotic arm to use at home or to test your creativity, this hack is for you. The project uses an Arduino microcontroller and some 3D printed plastic components. You will also need a custom Android application to interface with the microcontroller.
At the end, you will be able to control the axis of the robot arm to reach various objects in your room. The robot arm can be programmed to deliver certain things, such as drinks.
You can convert your footsteps into an electric current capable of lighting a lamp or charging a small battery. Using a microcontroller connected to a piezo circuit and a diode, you can press the configuration repeatedly to create power.
This hack can be combined with a home treadmill so you can monitor your workout intensity by the LED light.
Use old hardware
If you have the necessary components and tools, you can complete almost any of these electronic projects in less than 24 hours. Luckily, you can find the resources cheaply on eBay, so it won’t be hard to try out these innovative ideas for electronics projects.
Remember that every hack you work on improves your critical thinking, programming, and hands-on skills, so these are the perfect hardware projects for engineering students.