Weekly Roundup #35 – New Maker Products

Weekly Roundup number 35 looks at robotic boards, NAS kits, some new APIs, Wireless, SBCs, a bunch of CANs, and a few things on sale at the moment.

I’ve been thinking of making this roundup something that happens every two weeks and running a mailbag segment every alternate week. I’m giving all my subs and Patrons a chance to vote either way. Stay tuned at the end of this video where a YouTube poll will appear.


Open Stepper Driver

WR-NMP35p1So, first up on Kickstarter there’s a stepper motor driver capable of pushing out 6A at 48V. Coming in at $50 US it seems to be a decent board, but it hasn’t attracted much interest.

Omzlo One

WR-NMP35p2The Omzlo One is and Arduino clone running an ATMega328P but with a built in CAN bus. Runs off 12 to 24 volts DC supply.
They also have an Omzlo USB controller based on an ATmega32U4. Both these boards can be powered directly from the RJ45 connector in a similar way to PoE.

Helios4 Personal Cloud

WR-NMP35p3While the Helios4’s claim of world’s first OpenSource NAS is a little ambitious, but they do have something that is probably the first complete NAS product based on the ARM architecture. It contains a dual core Cortex-A9 Marvell Armada 388 SoC running at 1.8GHz, 2G DDR3 RAM, SD slot, a bunch of GPIOs, GbE, 4 SATA 3.0 ports, and two USB 3.0 ports. It runs Armbian, OpenMediaVault and Syncloud. Looks like a great NAS box.

DFRobot’s BOSON Kit


DFRobot have launched their Boson Kit, which provides a bunch of modules that are Lego compatible. Built around an Intel Curie, it is also Micro:bit compatible and they also provide other modules such as logic gates, sensors, cameras, buttons… everything that you’d need. DFRobot claim that you can create cool stuff without coding, which is great for getting into electronics, but of course you can also code in C.

Circuit Scribe

WR-NMP35p5Circuit Scribe is conductive ink, which is really cool. Just draw your PCB circuits out and away you go. Wonder what the resistance per cm is like though.


WR-NMP35p6The Hedgehog is another product aimed at STEM education for robotics. Based on the Pi3 with an STM32 MCU, servo, stepper and DC motor drivers and all the software pre-installed on an SD giving you either Blockly, JavaScript, C or plain old Python.


WR-NMP35p7If you’re in to Cosplay, this PCB is designed specifically for adding light and sound to your costume. Contains a SAMD21, SD slot, 2.5W audio amp, and MOSFETs driving up to 3W LEDs.

IndieGoGo & CrowdSupply

Nothing interesting on IndieGoGo and Crowd Supply this week.



WR-NMP35p8Nvidia have announced a robot virtual simulator called Isaac. It allows you to train up your AI based robot using simulated scenarios and then transfer this to a physical robot. It has been built up from Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 4 and provides some essential deep learning capabilities that would take a long time to do on a physical robot.

Julia for Raspberry Pi


Julia is another general purpose high level language that is aimed at complex mathematical problems. It provides extensive maths libraries such as signal processing, linear algebra, and Perl like string processing.

Well, this has now finally been ported to the Pi and you can pick it up from your nearest Debian repository.

Strato Pi CAN

WR-NMP35p10Sfera Labs have launched the Strato Pi CAN is a Pi hat that provides an electrically isolated RS-485 and CAN bus. Coming in at $100 US just for the hat or $250 US for a complete DIN rail unit looks like a good option for home automation.

Realtek Ameba Z WiFi

WR-NMP35p11Realtek are now producing a newer version of their WiFi module called the Ameba Z series, which uses an ARM Cortex-M4 core rather than the Cortex-M3 of the previous modules. This is a direct competitor to the Espressif ESP32s and contains all the usual compliment of GPIO options. There are now several of these appearing on PCBs around the place.

RakWireless Wiskey RAK473

WR-NMP35p12While we’re on these Realtek chips; RakWireless now have an Arduino compatible board using an RTL8711AM module called the RAK473, 64MB SPI flash, USB and JTAG all powered from a micro USB port.

NanoPi NEO NAS v1.2


FriendlyElec have now released version 1.2 of their NAS box for the NanoPi NEO. What’s the difference? It’s now using a newer USB3.0 to SATA bridge chip from JMicron, which supposedly has a faster throughput than the previous SATA bridge.


WR-NMP35p14Back in an earlier Weekly Roundup I predicted the next evolution of Maker electronics being FPGAs. Trenz Electronic now have a Pi form factor board that contains one of Xilinx’s Zynq Z7010 System on Modules, which is a dual core Cortex-A9 at 866MHz with a 28,000 logic cell FPGA, up to 512MB DDR3 RAM, 16M SPI flash and all the same I/O options as present on the Pi3.
It actually looks just like another revision of the Pi but so much better. Bring on the complex Finite State Machines.


WR-NMP35p15While looking for a decent TV box that I could hack apart I came across a sale that’s on at the moment of the GeekBox. For $70 US you can pick up a fully hackable SBC with an RK3368 octo-core SoC, 2G DDR3 RAM, 16G flash, WiFi, Bluetooth, GbE and HDMI2.0. This has the lot!

And for an extra $10 US you can get a dock that breaks out all the GPIOs coming from the SoC. This is pretty cool and the cheapest functional 8 core SBC around.


Tindie is a bit quiet this week again, but …

TIP122 – PWM Driver

WR-NMP35p16… if you’re in need of powering up a long LED strip, or DC motor, then this small board will drive a 5A 100V load. Useful if you want a quick way to drive some heavy loads.

Piezoelectric micro AIR blower

WR-NMP35p17Now this is an odd one. It’s a piezo based micro air blower capable of pushing out 2KPa of air silently. Why would you want one? I dunno, but sounds cool.

Battery-Powered Wifi Temp/Humidity Sensor

WR-NMP35p18And here’s another all-in-one sensor unit powered by an 18650 battery. Runs an ESP8266 and ATmega328 to monitor battery levels and measures temperature and humidity.


WR-NMP35p19This one is a small board containing an ESP32, OLED, LiPo battery management, and I2S audio output. The creator has already implemented a small internet radio on this. Looks cool.

AdaFruit, Seeed, SparkFun, DFRobot, DigiKey


WR-NMP35p20Over at Mouser, they have a dev board based on the PIC32MX470. This one contains a PIC32 MCU, two mikroBUS sockets, X32 header for audio I/O, Bluetooth, buttons, LEDs and a bunch of GPIOs from the PIC chip.

Intel Joule Click shields

WR-NMP35p21Also, DigiKey have an Intel Joule based Click shield with on-board 4 channel 12bit ADC capable of 10Ksps and running off a 3.3 to 5 volt supply.

Sonoff 4CH Pro

WR-NMP35p22Itead have a newer version of their 4 channel Sonoff. This one with on-board RF as well as the usual ESP8266 WiFi and has a bunch of control modes that are programmed via their web interface. Or you could just rewrite their firmware and put your own on.

Particle Power Shield


Seeed have a Particle Power Shield available as pre-order allowing you to power your Particle via LiPo, USB or solar cell using the MCP73871 battery management chip.

Particle Photon Kit

WR-NMP35p24And they also have this Particle Photon Kit on pre-order.

Particle Internet Button

WR-NMP35p25And a Particle Internet Button, with 3DOF IMU, 4 buttons and a bunch of RGB LEDs to give you a nice wall mounted control thingy.

OpenMV Cam M7

WR-NMP35p26Seeed also have the OpenMV Cam M7 on back-order at the moment, which is a really cool vision analytics board that’s capable of facial recognition, object tracking, eye tracking, optical flow and a bunch of other things. Runs a Cortex-M7 MCU capable of analyzing a 640×480 gray scale video stream. Has 5v tolerant GPIOs. If you don’t want to wait for Seeed Studio’s back-order you can also pick it up from SparkFun.

Particle Sensor SDS021

WR-NMP35p27SparkFun also have a new particle sensor capable of measuring of detecting 2.5 and 10 micron particles. That’s pretty tiny. Powered by 5v, but runs a 3.3v serial UART. So be careful about voltages on this one.

SparkFun Inventor’s Kit – V3.3

WR-NMP35p28They also have a newer version of the SparkFun Inventor’s Kit with a few changes to the usual lineup.

Espruino WiFi

WR-NMP35p29Over at AdaFruit there’s an Espruino WiFi, which is an ESP8266 based board that also contains an STM32 pre-programmed with Espruino. So you can start coding up using JavaScript in no time. You have access to the usual compliment of 21 GPIOs and powered from 5 volts. They claim a current draw of under 50nA in sleep mode providing up to 2.5 years life on a 2.5Ah LiPo.

Sanyo Pancake Stepper Motor with Encoder

WR-NMP35p30Over at Pololu, they have a new pancake bipolar stepper motor with inbuilt encoder capable of 200 steps per revolution and running off 3.5V at 1A per phase. So you’d need up to 2A to drive this thing.

RGB LED Flexible Panel

WR-NMP35p31And they have a bunch of flexible RGB LED panels in various sizes from 16×16 to 8×8 to 8×32. All of them are based on the SK9822 LED drivers, which are similar to the old APA102s, but are different enough to require some modification of your code.

The Cheap Side

Meanwhile, over in China there’s not much happening either.

WeMos® D1 WiFi UNO

WR-NMP35p32BangGood have a bunch of cheap ESP8266 based Arduino compatible boards. With a wide range 9 to 24 volt DC input.

SANWU® HF69B 6W+6W Dual Channel Stereo Bluetooth Speaker Amplifier

WR-NMP35p33And this board seems to have everything but the kitchen sink. It’s a Bluetooth audio board with stereo 6W amplifier and LiPo battery management. Odd combination, but just might be the thing.

V56 Universal LCD TV

WR-NMP35p34If you have a bunch of old monitors lying around like I do, then you can convert them to a TV unit with one of these. Capable of up to 1080p resolution and has composite, VGA and antenna inputs. Odd thing is that it mentions you can reflash the board using USB. Hmmm. Might get one of these and play around with it.

LNA 50-4000MHz SPF5189

WR-NMP35p35And BangGood have an ample supply of Low Noise RF Amplifiers in stock. This one operating in the 50MHz to 4GHz frequency range.

E-ink display ED060SC7 for Kindle 3

WR-NMP35p36And I wouldn’t mind getting one of these as they’re fairly cheap at the moment. It’s a replacement screen for a Kindle 3. There’s plenty of people retrofitting Pi Zeros to these so might be a good project to do.

ILI9225 2.0″ TFT SPI

WR-NMP35p37Over at ICstation there’s a really cheap 2″ TFT display using the ILI9225 driver. Man, that’s really cheap.


WR-NMP35p38And an NRF24L01 module with on-board LNA. They claim up to 2.5km transmission distance at 100mW power output.

Waveshare 250×122 2.13inch E-Ink Display Hat

WR-NMP35p39Over at DX I saw a cheap 2″ e-Ink display for the Pi. It can fit onto any Pi, but it fits neatly onto the Zero.
Hmmm. Might pick up one of these too.

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