Arduino StandAlone

The Arduino StandAlone was a byproduct of the art piece Wind-Up Birds. The Arduino StandAlone is simply the chip, one capacitor, and one resistor to be powered with 3.3 volts (Wind-Up Birds also includes an Xbee). Wind-Up Birds[1] was installed in a forest near Lillehammer, Norway and needed to be energy efficient. To save energy, the Wind-Up Birds would sleep all night and wake up every five minutes during the day to communicate to one another through woodpecker sounds. The sleep patterns were not enough to save power, so in addition to running the Arduino chips at half speed Gilje had to modify the Arduino for his piece to achieve the specifications he needed. Together, Gilje and Jeff Mann stripped the Arduino board down to its bare components for optimal power and in the process created the Arduino StandAlone. The Arduino Standalone is also smaller than the Arduino Duemilanove.

xbee-for-wind-up-birds.pngPhotograph provided by HC GiljeFigure 5-7 HC Gilje, "Arduino-Standalone with Xbee for Wind-Up Birds," 2007, Xbee, ATmega 168 microchip, solenoid with wooden box and metal roof

The board for the Wind-Up Birds, Figure 5-7, contained an Xbee, the ATmega 168 chip, a transistor, a diode, a solenoid, a battery, and a voltage regulator. This was a seven- component Arduino for his art installation. Fig 24 shows a side view of the Wind-Up Birds with the electronics exposed, the solenoid is wired below the Arduino Standalone. A metal roof was added to protect the electronics against the elements.

wind-up-birds-side.pngPhotograph provided by HC GiljeFigure 5-8 HC Gilje, "Wind-Up Birds," 2007, Xbee, ATmega 168 microchip, solenoid with wooden box and metal roof

By creating the Wind-Up Birds and thereby the low-power Arduino StandAlone, Gilje built a new variation of the Arduino microcontroller for the arts. His code is based on the Xbee API-library.[2] The irony of the Arduino StandAlone is that it takes away the Arduino's ease of being programmed via USB, but in this instance showcased the Arduino's flexibility. Gilje had previously produced art with an AVR chip, so the abstraction that Beuchley addresses of removing the chip from the board in Section 3.2 was not an alien concept to him. Gilje said he had difficulty with AVRs and retired them for 7 or 8 years, coming back to physical computing in 2007 at an Arduino workshop taught by Igoe. This example demonstrates the importance of open source code and the Arduino community to easily reverse engineer a microcontroller, creating something with less functionality than its original.


  1. wind-up bird(s). HC Giljge's Blog, http://hcgilje.wordpress.com/2008/09/04/wind-up-birds/ (visited on 09/04/2008)
  2. See Xbee-API-library, page 54.