There are a handful of tools that everyone should have at home, whether they’re a maker or just an average Joe who needs to handle basic household tasks. These are the classics like a hammer, screwdrivers, pliers, wrenches, and, of course, the humble level. You can purchase levels in variety of sizes and shapes, but they’re all designed to tell you if something is level or plumb. The vast majority of these are “bubble” levels that have at least one indicator made with a vial of liquid and a bubble of gas. Digital levels can make your life a lot easier, and the Design Build Destroy YouTube channel has a video explaining how you can use an Arduino to make your own.
Digital levels offer two major advantages over bubble levels. The first is that they’re easier to read and are theoretically more accurate, since you can see exactly how many degrees you are from level or plumb (perfectly vertical). You can also check unusual angles, like 30 degrees. The second is that digital levels can be calibrated. A bubble level is only as good as its construction. If the vial wasn’t set or marked properly from the factory, your bubble level is essentially useless. A digital level, on the other hand, can be calibrated to reset the “true” 0 degree level and 90 degree plumb points. This particular design has a 3D-printed case that has that familiar bubble level shape, so you can integrate it easily into your workflow.
The digital functionality of this level is controlled by an Arduino Nano board, which measures the angle using an MPU-6050 three-axis gyroscope/accelerometer. The current angle is displayed on a 0.96” monochrome OLED screen. Two buttons are used to cycle through the options, which include Normal (rounded to the nearest whole number), Precision (tenths of a degree), and a Calibrate. Power is provided by an 18650 LiPo battery cell through a TP4050 charging and protection board. These components are all housed in a simple enclosure that just about any 3D printer can handle. The total cost to build this should be around $20, which is less than even the most affordable digital levels on the market.