Well, there’s a lot to get through this week with RF transceivers, Bluetooth, LoRa, (ha there’s always LoRa), test kit and only one SBC…. Sad.
Starting from this week I’ll be dropping some product areas from my weekly roundup so I can focus more on electronics. So things like 3D printers, drones and robots that have no real hacking value, but are interesting anyway; I’ve put in a special section below. So check that out.
If you own one of the DE0 Nanos, which is an FPGA development board there’s a new Kickstarter that provides an adaptor to connect up a Raspberry Pi. Combined with the small prototyping area it allows you to easily program the Altera Cyclone IV FPGA and gives you access to a lot more GPIO options, state machines, and everything else that the FPGA provides.
PFx Brick is yet another product in the long line of modular STEM products, but this one aims to push all the components into a standard Lego brick format. Not only that but is compatible with a wide range of Lego power function accessories.
It contains an IR sensor, 2 motor driver outputs, lighting connector, audio out all running from 5 to 12V DC. There’s no RF radio so everything is controlled from USB via their PFx Application. A fairly complete package, but shame there’s no OTA programming.
Speaking of games, there’s the Makerbuino, which is a DIY kit allowing to make your own game console. It’s based on the ATmega328, but also has a Nokia 5110 LCD, SD slot, LiPo battery management, audio out and a bunch of buttons. Looks pretty cool.
The eDOTcore is another through-hole plated PCB containing an ATmega328, DS3231 RTC, USB and pushes out all the GPIOs from the ATmega. Can be powered from 12v DC.
A couple of things on CrowdSupply.
The GnuBee went live last week, which is a small NAS box based on the MediaTek MT7621A overclocked to 1.2GHz. Contains 512M DDR3, SD slot, 2 1GbE, USB 3.0 and USB2.0 ports, and 6 SATA ports. Nice. The MediaTek, of course, runs any of the Linux distros, but with Debian, openmediavault, LEDE and libreCMC being listed. This is a pretty nice unit, but seems to not be attracting much interest. Shame.
The Aeroscope is another campaign that went live recently. It’s a Bluetooth scope capable of 100Msps at +/- 40v with 100mV to 10V ranges that gives you 8 hours of measuring happiness. This is one of those ideas that comes along every so often that is so obvious, but no one has made a product out of it yet. I’ll be backing this one as it’s something that is just too darn useful.
The Neosegment is in pre-launch which seems to be a NeoPixel based seven segment display. Not much else about it though.
And another in pre-launch which is a small 8 by 8 RGB LED panel based on the APA102C LEDs. They can be stacked and connected without cables or soldering. Looks interesting.
This embedded NUC based board will be hitting the shelves soon. It’s based on the Snapdragon 410E SoC, with 2G DDR3, DP, LVDS, 2 lane and 4 lane MIPI-CSI, eMMC, SD, WiFi, Bluetooth, USB2.0, 100MbE and the full compliment of GPIOs. All running off a 12v DC supply.
No info on the release date for this one.
Tindie has gone made this week with products.
This board contains two LSM9DS1 IMUs. The theory being you can reduce sensor drift better and provide more accurate positioning. Supports the AdaFruit and SparkFun libraries.
Hey, now this one looks familiar. It’s very similar to the MAKERbuino Kickstarter I mentioned earlier. In fact I’m pretty sure it’s identical.
If you’re a hammy then this one might interest you. It’s a small 5V regulator designed to connect to a power distribution block.
There’s also this 5W 16 channel UHF walkie-talkie transceiver controlled via USB.
Or this 5W Digital Mobile Radio working in the 400 to 470MHz frequencies running off 12 volts DC.
Then there’s this analog video transmitter hat for the Raspberry Pi, capable of 640×360 @ 30FPS using the SiLabs 3363 RF transceiver. Now, that’s unusual.
This is a simple board that breaks out everything from your RFM95 module. Just the thing for bread-boarding.
If you’re a fan of the STM32, then there is a new revision of the previous SushiBits which contains several upgraded versions of the STM32 MCU as well as RTC, USB to TTL and a switch mode power supply for ultra low power.
There are a number of new Flex Modules on Tindie, such as the digital potentiometer based on the Microchip MCP4461T that’s controlled via I2C and is capable of handling up to 12 volts.
Or Cardoid MEMs module that contains two STMicro MP34DB01 designed to allow directional noise cancelling. Both microphones are accessible via SPI.
The CDM324 is a microwave Doppler speed sensor and comes in handy in many situations. This one runs off a 5 volt supply and pretty tiny so you can chuck it almost anywhere.
If you want to be able to control a bunch of RGB LEDs from your Pi, then this simple board will do the trick, but since power is drawn from the Pi I don’t think it’d be able to drive a lot of LEDs.
RPUno is expensive, but is designed for solar powered applications. Contains an ATmega328, LT3652 solar charge controller, battery current and voltage sensing and mounting points for a DIN rail system.
The ULP weather logger is an ESP8266 based board with temperature, humidity, pressure and light sensors. It can run for 6 months on two 2.4Ah NiMH batteries by shutting down to a 20nA sleep state and waking up every hour.
AdaFruit, Seeed, SparkFun, DFRobot, DigiKey
Over at AdaFruit there’s a Feather containing the nRF52832 Bluetooth module, which runs the ARM Cortex-M4F and like all the Feathers has LiPo battery management.
They also have the IBM TJBot in coming soon status, but SparkFun seem to have them in stock. The TJBot is a small DIY robot that is certainly a lot cheaper than anything you’d find on Kickstarter. It’s a laser cut cardboard box with servos, speakers, microphone and Raspberry Pi 3 with 16G NOOBS SD card. Pretty good little learning product.
Another STEM product is the micro:bit, which was in one of my earlier roundups, but now you can get it from SparkFun.
Contains a Cortex-M0 MCU, 5×5 LED array, 9DOF IMU, light and temperature sensors and LiPo battery support.
Pololu have a pretty neat step-up/down regulator based on the S9V11F5 which will provide a stable 5 volts at 1.5A from a 2 to 16 volt input, but in reality won’t start up unless there’s at least 3 volts.
The Cheap Side
The cheap side has …
… a Pi expansion board providing LiPo battery management that can act like a UPS. It can power your Pi from the GPIO header or via USB port. This is the basic kit …
… and this one provides all the cables and headers.
This board provides a 100Mbit Ethernet interface that is accessible over SPI.
And similar to the pack from last week, this one contains 37 sensors, buttons, LEDs. all of which would cost more if bought individually.
and this one contains 45 boards.
ICstation have a bunch of small motors and actuators just in, such as micro stepping push rods, linear screw steppers, or you can get 10 tiny ones for just a dollar.
They also have a CH9121 breakout, which is a handy Ethernet to UART chip handling up to 921,600 baud rate. Sadly, there’s no PoE on-board, which would make this infinitely more useful. Also, it seems there’s only one UART made available, where this chip can handle up to four.
Another board just in is the CC2640F128 Bluetooth module which contains a Cortex-M3 running at 48MHz. Supports OTA programming and has broken out the JTAG and SWD debugging pins along with all the 31 GPIOs.
Bits and pieces
Starting from this week I’ll be dropping some product areas from my weekly roundup just to give it more focus on electronics. So, things like 3D printers will end up in this section.
Mono1 is yet another resin based 3D printer. It’s a pretty accurate printer giving you 5 micron layer thickness and 24 microns on a 96 by 56 by 130 mm print bed using a DLP based projector for curing.
The Moai is another resin printer, but this one uses a laser to cure the resin. It’s slightly more expensive than the Mono1, and can only get down to 10 microns layer thickness with 70 micron laser head. It seems to be OK, I guess.
Now, I’m not saying that this one is horrible, it actually looks fairly decent, but remember all the crowd funding sites are awash with 3D printers. So, caveat emptor.
BioPETG is probably the world’s first PET based 3D filament. Great if you are conscious about saving the planet as it’ll biodegrade quickly. This also means that you’ll need to keep it away from environments that contain high bacteria as you’ll be left with nothing.
Another resin printer this one using UV for resin setting. This one has slightly bigger print area than some of the others at 198 by 120 by 150mm down to 20 microns layer thickness and 70/23 micron plane resolution.
Over at IndieGoGo there’s a small, cheap drone that has a built in 4K camera and GPS. It also has Auto-Follow and seems to have gained a LOT of interest which is now over 1600% funded.
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