The regular Weekly Roundup of New Maker Products returns for the year with a whole bunch of wireless modules, power control, robotic arms and some cool video processing boards.
All coming from a freshly rebuilt new studio.
Kickstarter has a few things this week despite the holidays.
If you're into sound then this Kickstarter might interest you. It's a surround sound Pi hat that provides 8 channel audio out from 6 channel input or via the I2S audio bus. No idea what chipset it uses, but it's capable of up to 192kHz at 24bit resolution.
This next one is from down under. It's another robotic arm controlled via plug and pray USB. It uses custom cycloid gearboxes and DC brushless servos.
It looks quite good, but the information on their campaign page is pretty scant.
What I have found out is that it can lift 750g max, has 6 axis range of motion, 500mm reach with a 0.2mm location accuracy.
Another robotic arm, but this one is probably the cheapest most functional one I've seen around at only US$50. It's also the second version of one that hit Tindie last year.
The updated version is a complete kit designed from the ground up to be used by a 6 year old. It also comes with an Arduino Nano and bluetooth board allowing OTA programming via the Arduino IDE or Blockly.
It's actually a pretty good kit that would be a great addition to any STEM classroom.
If you want to get into ultrasonics, then this kit has everything you need with LCD screen, ultrasonic range finder and an ATmega328 based board.
Comes with a set of pre-programmed modes to start off with, but can also be re-programmed using the Arduino IDE.
Tired of C and Python? Time to change gears and learn how to code in assembler. This is one of those Kickstarters that probably won't be funded as it's very niche, but it's the only one I've seen of it's kind.
For those 3D printing people out there this Kickstarter will upgrade your tired steppers. The kit provides additional features such as higher accuracy, faster prints, lower noise levels, and active position tracking and compensation eliminating step losses.
It can be retrofitted to almost any printer.
Je Vois, which is French for “I see” seems to be the next step in embedded vision. Instead of using a hardware graphics engine it uses a small standard quad core SBC, 1.3MP camera running OpenCV and communicates to a host device via UART or USB.
It has an SD card containing a pre-built Linux O/S booting up in under 5 seconds that of course you can hack around with.
The demo videos show off some pretty impressive capabilities like: object detection, augmented reality markers, road or track detection and eye tracking.
This is one nice unit at only US$49 for the basic package.
A similar board to the LoPy, the Eagle Rocket is a board that contains an ESP8266 and the SIM808 GSM and GPS module.
The Kickstarter is also offering a range of other boards with different MCUs such as the ESP32, ATmega2560 and ATmega328P.
They all come with onboard LiPo charging, buck converter and USB to UART.
Whilst IndieGoGo seems to be doing it's usual thing.
The Qube lightstrip is a WiFI controlled RGB LED strip. The idea is that the lightstrip talks directly to the internet and doesn't require any IoT gateway or hub. It integrates with IFTTT or Amazon Alexa so you can have full control over the strips from anywhere automatically or manually.
It does't say how many LEDs per 1m strip, but total illumination is 1400 lumens. Each WiFi adaptor can control up to 10 strips.
About time. Someone posted a joke campaign highlighting the real issue with all these social robots on crowd funding sites. A lot of these robot campaigns are frauds…
… like the Chotu. See it even looks like a trash can. Or some sort of medical device that goes ping.
Crowd Supply has a few things.
Up on pre-launch there's an open source expandable RGB LED matrix. Wonder how they're going to deal with the power supply issues. Those small header wires don't look big enough when you start to get to long daisy chains.
And this is another take on image processing, but using an FPGA instead. Uses the Cyclone IV E FPGA which should be good enough to do some decent video processing on the HDMI in and out ports. It also has USB, JTAG, SD and bluetooth and compares better than the competition on features and price point.
They have also released all source code and hardware schematics.
The open source bench power supply has finally gone live. You thought that a power supply was some inert piece of equipment? Not anymore.
What makes this so great is that it is a modular open source, open hardware power supply. What makes it even better is that it contains an Arduino Due, ethernet and USB ports, SD slot and EEPROM. It packs all the features you would expect from any decent power supply like current, voltage and power protection, reverse polarity detection and current balancing with channel coupling.
One nice unit.
and elsewhere around the place.
The Khadas VIM is yet another 64bit SBC. Wonder why they didn't call it the Khadas EMACS? Oh well.
This board contains the Amlogic S905X quad core Cortex A53, 2G DDR3, 8 or 16G eMMC, WiFi and bluetooth, (AP6212 & AP6255), RTC, standard Pi GPIO header, ethernet, HDMI 2.0a supporting 4K video and HDR10 video processing.
All released as open source and open hardware.
You can pick one up from GearBest for around US$65 currently.
Can't wait to get my hands on one of these to test out the claimed use cases.
The Banana Pi Router version 2 is here! This next version now has a MediaTek quad core Cortex A7 MCU clocked at 1.3GHz, 2G DDR3, between 8 and 64G eMMC, 2 SATA, SD, 2 USB 3.0, 1 USB 2.0, WiFi, bluetooth, HDMI, and 5 1GbE ports. It also sports a Mini PCIE interface and an almost compatible Pi GPIO header.
Hopefully they will have solved their performance issues in this next version.
The next version of the OpenMV cam is available for pre-order. This newer version has the faster Cortex-M7 CPU running at 216MHz and 512K RAM supporting 640x480 gray scale video.
It has all the usual USB, SD, SPI, I2C and Can bus interfaces and GPIOs for controlling stuff.
A nice step up from the previous model.
There seems to be rumours about a new Orange Pi SBC called the Orange Pi Zero Plus.
This one is rumoured to have a Cortex A5 from RDA electronics, 2G RAM, 4G NAND flash, SDIO interfaces, support for eMMC, USB, MIPI CSI and GSM.
Interesting mix of features. Unfortunately for most of the world GSM is pretty useless.
Another yet to be released SBC is the Asus Tinker board. This one is claimed to have the same footprint as the Pi, yet contains the RK3288 Cortex A17 quad core at 1.8GHz, 2G DDR3 RAM, SD, WiFi, bluetooth, GbE, 4x USB 2.0 ports and 4K resolution HDMI.
They claim 2 faster performance over the Pi3 at the same power requirements.
Tindie has a few new STM32 boards.
The RTL8710 module is a competitor to the ESP8266 module. Here's yet another development kit that contains a USB programmer and JTAG and GPIO breakouts.
And once you've familiarized yourself with them just buy the individual modules and program them using something like this.
The Tlera Corp store on Tindie has released a bunch of new boards based on several STM32 variants…
… like the Butterfly based on the L433, …
… the Ladybug which is based on the L432, …
… and the Dragonfly which is based on the L476.
All of them come with several sensor addons that can be stacked on top of the boards.
For those retro gamers out there, here's a small PCB that will copy any Megadrive or Genesis cartridge. You can then take that image and use it in an emulator such as MAME.
This 4 channel MOSFET board contains a FAN3224 gate driver. The good thing about this is that it allows very fast switching of the MOSFETs. It can switch a 4A load with rise/fall times as low as 10nS. That's pretty fast PWM switching.
Or if you're into model trains, this motor controller Pi hat can manage 8 channels. They are stackable and you can have up to 8 of these things. Requires just a 12v DC supply to run.
This is a BeagleBone cape that gives you 8 power measurement channels. Each channel is capable of measuring up to 20 volts at 6 amps. Accessible over the I2C bus, so really could be used on any I2C capable MCU.
AdaFruit, Seeed, SparkFun, DFRobot, DigiKey
and from the shopfronts…
I mentioned this Kickstarter in one of my previous roundups. It's an ESP32 based board with micro python preloaded. It contains all the ESP32 goodness such as WiFi and bluetooth radios, dual MCUs, 24 GPIOs and more memory that you can shake a stick at.
The LoPy is a pretty cool radio module containing LoRa, WiFi and bluetooth radios. Pretty cool. It's essentially the same as the WiPy, but with an additional LoRa radio. Nice little unit if you want to be able to automatically switch between different wireless protocols.
LiDARs are getting cheaper and cheaper. This unit is still expensive, but gives you a 10m detection range at 500Hz in a small lightweight package.
Seeed Studio also have a combined LoRaWAN and GPS module that also has 4 onboard Grove connectors. They also have the same unit, but without the embedded GPS module.
AdaFruit have a Pimoroni automation hat designed for the Pi Zero, but can also be used on any Pi. Gives you a bunch of 24 volt tolerant inputs and outputs, relay and 24v ADC. Comes with the usual AdaFruit supported python libraries.
They also have their AdaBox version 2, which is a Feather based robotics kit. Contains a ATmega32u4 Feather, motor driver addon, breadboard, and a few extras to get your robot moving.
Something for the “coming soon” basket. AdaFruit are taking expressions of interest for the new micro:bit.
This is a small board aimed at STEM education that contains a Cortex M0 CPU, bluetooth, LiPo battery, 6DOF IMU, a couple of buttons and LEDs and an edge connector breaking out all the other GPIOs.
It's a nice little unit that is gathering momentum.
Over at DFRobot you can pick up a Grove based MOSFET that can control a 36 volt 20 amp load and supports 3.3 and 5v logic levels.
The load can be switched at up to 1KHz which is pretty good for a MOSFET.
Or if you want a pretty accurate CO2 sensor then this infrared based sensor can detect CO2 emissions from 0 to 50,000 ppm. You can pickup measurements from the UART port and once the firmware has been updated you'll also be able to use PWM or analog outputs.
The Cheap Side
Meanwhile over in China.
You can pick up a 6DOF robotic arm fairly cheaply that's based on MG996R servos.
Or a 9DOF IMU with onboard STM32 MCU. Good for running Fusion algorithms entirely on the board.
Or this pretty neat gesture sensor based off the APDS-9960. We're starting to see a lot of these hitting the market, and you can get the same from SparkFun and EleCrow being the cheapest.
Analog Lamb have a cheap nRF52832 bluetooth module with all GPIOs accessible.
Over at IC station you can pick up a ridiculously cheap MP3 decoder with onboard SD slot and 2W speaker amp.
Or if you want to play around with mains power communication this board will allow you to inject data signals into any mains power point at a 100 baud.
Or there's a 4 channel relay board that can switch a 10A mains power load. This one is powered from mains…
… or this one is exactly the same but requires a 5v DC power supply.
You can also pickup some cheap RTL8710 based development modules if you don't like the Tindie one I mentioned earlier.
Or just the basic modules themselves.