This week's Weekly Roundup has a couple of interesting Maker products; WiFi motors, power monitors, the new BeagleBone SBC and a desktop pick and place machine.
First up Kickstarter.
WiFi Motors is a great concept that puts an ESP8266 board at every servo or stepper motor allowing you to control it via WiFi. They even have a plastic case that attaches to a standard NEMA17 stepper motor housing the ESP8266, power supply and stepper drivers.
The ESPRESSOBin board is an SBC aimed at home storage devices or networking. It contains a dual core Cortex-A53 SBC clocked at 1.2GHz with up to 2G RAM, and 3x 1GbE, USB 3.0, SD slot, 4G eMMC, MiniPCIe and 2 rows of GPIO headers. Note it doesn't have any graphics engine, and so would be ideal as a NAS device, or wireless router.
Storme is a small all-in-one embedded computer based on the Snapdragon 808. It contains 3G RAM, BLE 4.1, WiFi, LTE modem, NFC, wireless charging, 3Ah LiPo, biometric scanner. Hmmm. Not sure about this one. It looks great, but very pricey and frankly I would be cautious about spending up to 760 Australian $ on a small device that I could lose easily, but still might be just thing you were looking for.
The Spirit Rover is actually a great little STEM product that teaches you how to program a little robot based loosely on NASA's Mars Rover. It contains a Raspbery Pi, Arduino and MicroChip PIC along with neopixels LEDS, IMU, gripper claw, camera and ultrasonic rangefinder, that allows you to build a whole range of projects. It also contains headers for XBee, Bluetooth or WiFi.
The ESLOV is a Cortex-M0+ based IoT kit with WiFi that allows you to connect modules that contain a whole range of different sensors. Each module contains an ATmega328 and can be re-programmed over I2C. You have the full gammut of sensors available from GPS, touch, humidity, PIR, and also encoders, motor controllers, buzzers, and relays.
Cables can be a real pain sometimes. The WiLoader attempts to remove the cables from your FTDI programmer and replace it with a WiFi module, giving you OTA programming of any Arduino or AVR board. Their kickstarter campaign is a little odd, however, as they also offer a range of add-ons for example OLED modules, tactile buttons, buzzers, PIR sensors. Not sure why they are including those, but whatever.
The STEMTera Breadboard is essentially a breadboard with an Arduino built in. It is also LEGO compatible, allowing you to chuck it into any LEGO project you're making. This is a great idea for STEM students making it a whole lot easier to build some great projects.
Hot on the heels of the water cutter we have a desktop pick and place machine. Holy Toledo batman! With this you can place SMD components very accurately and then take the PCB to a reflow oven. Have your own PCB production line on your desktop!
codebender:esp is a cloud based IDE for Arduino boards with onboard WiFi. It's a subscription based service that allows you to program your Arduino directly from the cloud service via OTA. They plan to support, AdaFruit's HUZZAH and Sparkfun's “The Thing” and they have support for ESP8266, ESP32, and NodeMCU. One of their stretch goals is to provide an offline mode for straight desktop use.
Just two interesting products from IndieGoGo.
Apparently the Xpider is the “world's cutest spider robot”. Er. OK. I wouldn't call it cute, but it certainly is an interesting robot spider. There's several different types available based on either the Intel Curie, or Arduino. The Curie version allows you to train it, instead of having to program and the 3D models are all open sourced so you can modify to your heart's content.
Are you in need of testing all manner of wireless modules? The AirBud contains a quad core ARM CPU with 2G RAM and 64G eMMC and six mini PCIe interfaces. Runs Ubuntu, Kali, Parrot and also Windows 10. Why not create a wireless gateway between Bluetooth, LoRa and WiFi?
Nothing new on the Crowd Supply website.
And on the Tindie side.
If you're in need of some audio effects, then this ARM Cortex-M4 based audio effects generator might be the thing for you. The Cortex-M4 has some fairly decent DSP capabilities allowing you to perform some basic signal processing work.
Contains 3.5mm audio in and out jacks and 6 analog GPIO pins.
If you're running out of GPIO lines on your ESP8266 then this little expansion board will give you an additional 16 GPIO pins. Since it's I2C based, you can add several of them if you want.
This little module is based on Nordic's nRF24L01. Accessible via the SPI bus on your MCU.
This next one is a little pricey, but is a motor control board with 5 independent H-bridges and input for potentiometers or quadrature encoders allowing precise control over positioning. It also has a standard ATX style power connector and a socket to house a Teensy.
If you're looking for a power monitor, then this is probably the cheapest I've seen around. It uses the LTC2943 battery management chip supporting up to 20V and is capable of measuring charge, discharge, voltage, current and temperature.
Another power monitor similar to the previous one, but this one also contains an RTC and a single MOSFET output. Can measure up to 26V at 20A, but powered from 3.3 to 5 volts.
Want to add a snazzy small display to your project, but don't have any spare GPIO pins left? Then chuck in one of these 1.3 inch OLEDs, which can be controlled using the I2C bus. Powered from 3.3 to 5 volts. Simple.
Generating true random numbers is not an easy thing to do for computers. This is critical for security applications. The Z1FFER is an Arduino shield claiming to be able to provide TRNG.
And from Seeed we have…
The MediaTek X20 is probably the first deca-core SBC. Actually it is the first deca-core SBC. Contains a dual-core Cortex-A72 at 2.3GHz, quad-core Cortex-A53 at 1.85GHz and another quad-core A53 at 1.4GHz. Has on-board WiFi, BLE, GPS, MIPI-DSI, MIPI-CSI, 2G RAM, 8G eMMC, SD slot, and HDMI.
This one's a beast.
Hot on the heels of the BeagleBone SoC we have the BeagleBone Black Wireless. Nice one! This contains the OSD3358 SoC with inbuilt 512M RAM, 1GHz AM335x CPU, 3D graphics accelerator, 4GB eMMC, SD slot, WiFi, Bluetooth, USB 2.0, HDMI, and the usual 65 GPIO pins.
The RPLIDAR is really expensive, but if you are looking for a full 360 2D laser scanner, then it's actually the cheapest one around. It can scan at 400 samples a second up to 6m range with a resolution of 0.9 degrees.
Wow! A Grove based speech recognizer. Note that it's a recognizer, not a full speech to text system like the ReSpeaker, or SiRi, but good enough for some basic applications. It can recognize up to 22 basic commands like stop and start.
Speaking of ReSpeaker, you can pick up the core, Grove extension and mic array as a pre-order from Seeed now. Which will ship in December 2016.
Seeed also have the new 96Boards produced by Linaro. One called te BLE nitrogen which contains the nRF52832 MCU and the BLE Carbon with the STM32F401 MCU. They also come with voltage regulators, battery management, and a few onboard buttons and LEDs.