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Bellduino – The Internet connected handbell

I’ve recently been looking at alternative notification after seeing things like Bubblino created by Adrian McEwen, co-author of Designing the Internet of Things and the Cheerlights project from ioBridge labs. I had a gift ‘Ring for Beer’ bell that has been hanging around my desk for a couple of years now and decided to use this as the notification device. The first job was to decide how to ring it, the obvious solution would be a servo motor connected to an Arduino Ethernet or equivalent. The prototype uses a basic ATMega328 board and a shield containing a Wiznet Wiz820io module as this is what I had available to me at the time.

I have also successfully used an old Nanode board (Arduino compatible ATmega328 with ENC28J60 Ethernet controller) to drive Bellduino. This was achieved using the Arduino_UIP library with a few minor modifications to the original sketch. So far this seems to be working quite well as a lower cost solution.

The following describes how I built Bellduino, but first, lets see it inaction:

Building the Frame

OpenBeam parts used for the frame:

  • 4 x 150mm extrusion
  • 2 x 90mm extrusion
  • 1 x 45mm extrusion
  • 4 x Corner joining plates
  • 5 x T joining plates
  • 4 x Feet
  • 1 x NEMA17 Stepper motor mount and 608 Bearing mount
  • 1 x Servo motor mount
  • 1 x Big bag of M3 nuts and screws
2013-12-28 11.27.48
The frame is made up as a rectangle with the bottom and top as shown below. Remember to insert enough M3 nuts into the extrusion for the various inner brackets and mounts if the ends of the extrusion are blocked by other pieces. The parts that need extra nuts adding are:

  • Bottom – 3 nuts for T-piece, same side as corner pieces
  • Top – 3 nuts in front slot for servo mounting plate, 3 on rear for T-Piece
  • Right – 3 nuts in rear slot for T-piece to mount Arduino
  • Left – 3 nuts in front slot for NEMA17 mounting plate
  • Right and Left – 2 nuts in outer slot for frame feet
2013-12-28 11.42.46
The support feet are attached using T-joining pieces. The plastic OpenBeam feet are fitted underneath to provide protection to the surface that Bellduino stands on. 2013-12-28 18.45.57
The Arduino or equivalent electronics are mounted using two T-joining pieces taking care to ensure the screws are not shorting any tracks, if in doubt, use fibre washers between the screw head and board. 2013-12-28 18.47.45

Bell Clamp

Using my 3D printer I printed out a clamp and actuator arm that I designed using OpenSCAD. This clamps to the bell, providing a hole at the back that was threaded after printing to take a M8 bolt. The clamp also provides an arm that can then be attached via a rod to the servo motor in order to ring the bell. 2013-12-28 18.33.30
The pivot for the bell is made up from a M8 bolt, 2 nuts and an old 608 skateboard bearing robbed from one of my kids skateboards (Must remember to put it back and source a replacement bearing!). This just sits in the bearing mount and as there isn’t a lot of weight on it a single bearing does the job adequately. 2013-12-28 18.35.28
Close up of the bell pivot. 2013-12-28 18.36.01
The actuating rod connecting the bell to the servo motor is made up from a 140mm strip of 8mm wide aluminium with a hole drilled in each end. Washers and double nuts locked together provide a smooth motion when the servo operates. 2013-12-28 19.16.10
I found that the bell wouldn’t ring properly due to the spring supporting the hammer being too strong. To fix this, a lump of blu-tak (or similar) was added to provide additional weight to the hammer. This solved the problem and it now rings on command. 2013-12-28 18.34.24
The finished Bellduino 2013-12-28 18.31.05


The software runs on an Arduino Ethernet or equivalent and is basically an Arduino sketch that subscribes to a specific MQTT topic on my local server listening for any requests. It uses the Arduino MQTT client library created by Nick O’Leary, one of the co-creators of Node-RED.

As Bellduino subscribes to a MQTT topic, its just a matter of publishing to this topic in order to get it to ring. The easiest way to do this is to use Node-RED to produce the required MQTT publish request based on whatever input you want to use. The example I have at present is a twitter node that responds to the word ringmybell. A rate limiting delay node is included so that the bell is not continuously ringing.


  • Publish bell clamp design files
  • Publish sketch for Bellduino – still a work in progress
  • Example Node-RED flows

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