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.
The 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.
While 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 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.
IndieGoGo & CrowdSupply
Nothing interesting on IndieGoGo and Crowd Supply this week.
Nvidia 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 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.
Sfera 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 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.
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.
Back 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.
While 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 …
Now 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.
AdaFruit, Seeed, SparkFun, DFRobot, DigiKey
Over 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.
Itead 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.
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.
Seeed 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.
SparkFun 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.
Over 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.
And 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.
If 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.
And 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.
Over at ICstation there’s a really cheap 2″ TFT display using the ILI9225 driver. Man, that’s really cheap.
And an NRF24L01 module with on-board LNA. They claim up to 2.5km transmission distance at 100mW power output.
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