This week’s Weekly Roundup of New Maker Products has SDRs, SBCs, audio, even more RF and a bit of muscle.
A lot has happened since the last Roundup, so to avoid the video being a 1 hour marathon I’ve put some runner-ups at the bottom of this page. So check them out below.
First up on Kickstarter, yeah, I know, I said I wouldn’t do any more 3D printers, but this one looks like it just might fly. $99 US gets you a 3D printer. Even though I won’t back this one, I’ll keep an eye on it as it might just take off.
There’s now a DACBerry Pro campaign up. This one is a souped up version of the previous model capable of 384kHz at 32bit resolution using the PCM5242 DAC and a 3W amplifier. Nice.
The Evezor is gaining a lot of attention at the moment. It’s a general purpose robotic arm that can weld, 3D print, laser cut, and even, er OK, mix a cocktail for you. It’s a full kit containing a Pi3, touchscreen, cameras, magnetic encoders, SmoothieBoard, steppers, actuators and frame. Has a 800mm reach but no info on accuracy as yet. Pretty expensive at over 3 grand US, so something that a Makerspace would purchase.
This campaign is for a book covering the basics of electronics. It’s in tutorial format that takes you MCUs, discrete components, displays, motors, drivers. Seems to have everything there in an easy to read format.
If you projects need a bit of muscle then this linear actuator looks pretty good. It gives you the freedom to choose different motor types and arm lengths using an extruded aluminium tube. So can handle heavy or light loads. There’s currently four motor choices from mini geared DC through to a heavy duty NEMA23 stepper.
While over at IndieGoGo there’s …
Well, actually, there is something.
One of my subs, Crazy Ape, put me on to this pretty cheap FPGA board from Arrow. It contains an Altera MAX10 FPGA with 50,000 logic elements, 512MB RAM, 64MB flash, spits out 92 of the 500 GPIOs on a BeagleBone Black compatible header, DSP blocks, 12bit 18 channel ADC 1Msps, HDMI, Ethernet, audio. This baby has the lot and for only $65 US with free shipping! Nice.
Q-Wave have started a DIY crowd-funding campaign to release a tiny board called the Melon. Oh man, what is it with fruit? This one is based on a Xilinx Spartan FPGA with 500,000 gates. It also contains an ESP8266, 4MB SPI flash, USB port, LEDs, buttons and the best feature, two Pi compatible headers. You could potentially load up the RISC-V CPU onto it and you’d have a very functional, tiny SoM.
Intel launched it’s Euclid robotics compute module selling for $399 US. Expensive, but it contains a quad core Atom x7-Z8700 clocked at 2.4GHz, 4G DDR3 RAM, WiFi, Bluetooth, IMUs, and a VGA stereo imager and 1080p camera giving you a VGA depth video stream at 60fps. Runs Ubuntu or the Robot Operating System.
Seems the Intel based boards are finally playing catch-up. MinnowBoard have released the Turbot. There’s two flavours, which are based on the Intel Atom quad core E3845, or dual core E3826. Both have 2G DDR3 RAM, SATA2, SD slot, GbE, USB3.0 and a bunch of GPIOs. You can currently pick this up at Netgate or Mouser for around $190 US.
CubieBoard have released an SBC with based on the Allwinner A20. Called, inventively, the CubieAIO-A20, contains a dual-core Cortex-A7 at 1GHz, 1G DDR3 RAM, 8 to 32GB expandable eMMC, WiFi, Bluetooth, GbE, USB2.0, two mini PCIe slots, (one for mSATA and the other for LTE), and requiring 5V, 4A DC power. This board actually contains a System On Module, which …
… is called the Einstein-A20, which can be powered without the baseboard from either USB or LiPo. We’ll be seeing more SBCs appearing with SOMs to try and cut manufacturing costs as all the headers and ports add up to a lot of the overall cost. Or else …
… another thing to change the SBC landscape will be the royalty free Thunderbolt 3 standard. This is actually pretty big news and when SBCs start using it, we will be able to say goodbye to USB, Ethernet, HDMI and power ports and replace it with a single USB-C connector. Fantastic!
Meanwhile, over at the Friendly company they have released the NanoPi M2A SBC which runs the quad-core S5P4418 SoC. It’s similar to its big brother Samsung 6818 SoC, but with 4 less cores. This board is almost identical to the NanoPi M2, with 1G DDR3 RAM, wireless, GbE and all the other usual stuff you see. You can pick this up for $30 US currently.
While another fruity company has gone Bananas and released a new SBC, this time with a slightly inventive name. This one is called the BPI-M2 Berry. Contains the Allwinner-V40, (which is almost identical to the Allwinner-R40 expect for a few additional serial buses), SATA, GbE, AXP221 PMIC, reset and Uboot buttons but the rest of it is identical to the Pi3 in every way.
It seems more companies are thinking that copying the form factor of the Pi will enable more sales. Hmm.
For 26 euros you can pick up an Olimex ESP32 evaluation board, which exposes the Ethernet interface and CAN bus along with SD card, relays, LiPo battery management, and a 40pin GPIO header which, I think, is supposed to be Pi compatible.
STMicro have launched an STM32L4 evaluation board in an Arduino style form factor. Contains 8MB SPI flash, WiFi, Bluetooth, sub-GHz RF, NFC tag, and more sensors you can poke a stick at, like, capacitive touch, 9DOF IMU, temperature, pressure and gesture sensor. Wow.
Samsung have released the Artik 053 WiFi module, which runs the Tozen RTOS on a Cortex-R4 at 320MHz and has 8MB flash, 29 GPIOs, multiple encryption standards, and a wide 5 to 12 volt DC input. You can pick this up currently from DigiKey and Mouser for around $35 US.
RAK Wireless have launched an Arduino style board called the Wiscam which runs the Nuvoton ARM926 SoC at 200MHz, 16MB SPI flash, Realtek RTL8189 module and all the usual compliment of GPIOs. There’s also a few add-ins you can get which provide SD slot and a VGA camera.
Mistral are about to release a tiny SoM based on the Snapdragon 820 which contains, surprisingly, 6G DDR4 RAM, 128G flash, WiFi, Bluetooth, 2 PCIe, USB3, 9DOF IMU and GPS on a tiny 51 by 26mm board. No pricing yet, but this is one cool module.
A lot has happened on Tindie over the last two weeks.
The OpenHomeSecurity board is, well, designed for home security in mind. Contains an ATmega328P and several communications options from RS485 wired serial, to RFM69 RF. Runs off a 5 to 20volt DC input or USB with LiPo battery management.
For those people into retro kit. This board contains the YM3812 FM synthesizer IC. Requires a 5v supply and runs 5v logic, which the PI and Arduino is happy with, but be careful of that if you’re using anything else.
If you’re in to CNC milling or 3D printers, then the Cohesion3D looks pretty good. Contains 4 stepper driver sockets MOSFETs for fans, hot-end and heat-bed control running Smoothie firmware. This board seems to have everything and don’t think it’s missing anything.
PandwaRF is a board designed to provide a gateway between sub-1GHz RF and Bluetooth. Contains the nRF51 Bluetooth module and CC1111 RF module as well as LiPo battery management and antenna port power control for connecting to an LNA.
This gesture sensor is similar to SparkFun’s board, but slightly cheaper. The APDS-9960 enables detection of ambient light, colour measuring, proximity detection and gesture sensing. Runs on 3.3v and accessible over I2C.
This one might have been another option for my MQTT letterbox project.
Looking for a cheap GPS module? This one will set you back around $7 US and actually comes from a shop in mainland China. Runs off a 3 to 5 volt supply and NMEA data accessible over the usual 9600 baud UART.
If you want to muck around with LoRa modules, then this Pi hat seems to have everything. Slap it onto a Pi Zero W and you have your own LoRa, Bluetooth and WiFi gateway. It also contains a handy OLED screen.
This next one is the smallest hand-held arcade board I’ve seen. It comes in kit form, but has the KL02 MCU pre-soldered and pre-programmed. This is an ultra low powered Cortex-M0+ MCU.
There’s been a number of updates to the D-duino boards. The D-duino-B version 2 and the D-duino version 3. Both have had improvements made based on customer feedback. The 4.75 to 12 volt power input range is nice as well as having access to all the GPIOs.
This board is based on the MCP1603 booster, which provides you with a steady 5 volts at up to 100mA from, very surprisingly, as low as 0.8 volt input.
AdaFruit, Seeed, SparkFun, DFRobot, DigiKey
ITead have now added a GSM module to their Sonoff power devices. This opens up a lot more opportunities for remote power control. All you need is a SIM card, but alas, it contains a GSM module, so won’t be able to be used in many countries.
The FiPy was a Kickstarter that I backed. Sadly I haven’t got mine yet, but Seeed Studio have it available on back-order. This board contains 5 networks; WiFi, Bluetooth, LoRa, Sigfox and dual LTE-M. Running the ESP32 SoC you can get it to be a bridge between all networks, or automatically switch based on what is in range. You also have access to most of the ESP32s GPIOs.
The YARD Stick One is another SDR that can transmit or receive RF signals below the 1GHz range. It’s not a fully variable SDR, but has a number of fixed frequencies and modulations. Comes pre-installed with RfCat firmware.
This next one comes from Great Scott Gadgets. The HackRF One is another SDR capable of transceiving between 1MHz and 6GHz. It’s expensive, but one of the gold standards for SDRs.
The Cheap Side
Meanwhile over in China…
ICstation have a bunch of RealTek modules in, like this RTL8195 module running a Cortex-M3 with WiFi, 1M flash, 40 GPIOs and USB host & device. They’re a strong competitor to the ESPs.
These have been around for a while, but haven’t included them on a roundup yet. It’s similar to the DigiSpark, but contains an ATmega32U4 instead of the ATtiny85.
Meanwhile over at BangGood they have a stack of ESP based boards to confuse everyone. Like this ESP-M2, which is based on the ESP8285. Or the ESP-1, which is based on the same. Or the ESP-S, based on the ESP8266.
This MIPI-CSI camera module based on the OV5647, which gives you 1080p resolution for a pretty decent price. Coming in at around $13 US each. Requires 3.3 volt logic.
The PCA9306 IC is logic level converter specifically for I2C and SPI buses. It also enables you to connect slow I2C devices to a fast bus to avoid issues.
These buck converters are pretty decent. This one is capable of pushing out a variable voltage up to 20v at 3A from a variable input voltage up to 23v at 95% efficiency. Also has inbuilt soft start to avoid surges.
If you’re in need of a few power amplifier breakouts, you can pick up 20 PAM8403 based modules for only $6 US. Drives 4 or 8 ohm loads at 3W from a 2.5 to 5 volt supply.
Bits and pieces
A few bits and pieces that I didn’t include in my video.
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