New Product Friday: Switching it Up

via SparkFun Electronics Blog Posts

Welcome back loyal fans. Not only do we have some new products, but we also have some videos for you. Enjoy.

Be sure to check out the multimeter written tutorial if you need to know more about multimeters.

USB Digital Multimeter - Auto-Ranging (RS232 Output)

TOL-12967
$ 59.95

If you’re gonna be tinkering around with electronics, chances are you’re going to need a multimeter. Our basic multimeter is great for most beginners, but if you need more advanced options, you might want to check out the auto-ranging multimeter. In addition to being an auto-ranging meter, it also adds a temperature probe, a hold button, min/max, capacitance, and more. You can even connect it to your computer and log data with the software.

EasyVR Shield 3.0 - Voice Recognition Shield

COM-13316
$ 49.95

Usually when you talk to electronics, you don’t expect them to respond in any meaningful way, but with the EasyVR Shield, they can do exactly that. EasyVR 3.0 is a multi-purpose speech recognition module designed to add versatile, robust and cost effective speech and voice recognition capabilities to virtually any application. EasyVR is the third generation version of the successful VRbot module and builds on the features and functionality of its predecessor.

SparkFun Rotary Switch Potentiometer Breakout

BOB-13099
$ 1.95

The rotary switch potentiometer breakout is a small board the allows you to add resistors to a 10-position rotary switch, turning it into a potentiometer with 10 discrete steps. Multiple applications require potentiometers that are hard to find due to specific resistance values or custom tapers, the rotary switch potentiometer board allows you to populate your own resistors to help match situations where ordinary parts aren’t available or suitable.

RJ45 PoE MagJack

PRT-13606
$ 2.95

Lastly, we have a RJ45 MagJack. This one has the PoE (power over Ethernet) pins, so you can use your network to power your device. Inside each RJ45 are a number of transformers and magnetics required for isolating Ethernet signals. There are even some LEDs poking out the end.

That’s all I have for this week. Thanks for reading, watching and all that good stuff. See you next week with even more new products and videos.

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MagPi issue 33 – out now!

via Raspberry Pi

I can’t believe we’re on our third issue of the new MagPi already. Your free Raspberry Pi magazine is ready to download here. This month’s magazine is a doozy, with 70 pages of tutorials, some incredible projects to build, reviews, and much, much more.

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One feature in this month’s magazine has me jumping up and down like a schoolgirl (bear with me here; we did trampolining at school).  Mike Cook is an electronics wizard extraordinaire and an absolute childhood hero of mine thanks to his regular Body Building column in Micro User Magazine. Mike has joined the MagPi team to start a new column called Mike’s Pi Bakery, where, just like in the good old days, he’ll be creating little electronic projects which will be well within the grasp of beginners. This month he’ll show you how to make an interactive PiGlow reaction game, for which you’ll be building your own controller. I had the good fortune to get to hog a lot of Mike’s time at our 3rd birthday party in February, where he taught me a great deal about why specific blues are less easy to recall than specific reds; about different generations of LEGO motors; and that I have a pathetically limp wrist when it comes to dealing with ketchup bottles with attached accelerometers.

There are more amazing Minecraft tips and tricks from Martin O’Hanlon; an interview with one of my favourite people in UK computing (who? You’ll have to download the magazine to find out); a super-test of four popular Raspberry Pi desktops; a competition to win £200 of PiBorg goodies; and much, much more – like this magic retro gaming glove.

#33_Power_Glove

As always, the magazine is completely free to download. We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we’ve enjoyed making it!

Electrify Your Prom contest now closed

via SparkFun Electronics Blog Posts

The day has come – SparkFun’s Electrify Your Prom contest is now officially closed! We want to thank everyone who entered – we’ve been super impressed by the number of awesome, creative ways you’ve managed to work electronics into your prom outfits – and we’ll be starting the difficult task of choosing our three winners to announce next Wednesday, May 6!

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Stay tuned until then to find out who won, and thanks again for all your amazing entries!

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Join Us at Maker Faire Paris on May 2nd and 3rd!

via Arduino Blog

imagoid
On Saturday and Sunday May 2nd and 3rd  we are travelling to France for Maker Faire Paris!  You can find us in the Intel booth with demos  around Arduino Uno, Zero, Yún and Casa Jasmina. We’ll also showcase some projects and tutorials made with Arduino Certified Intel Galileo Gen2 and Edison!

This edition will be held in Pavilion 6 of the exhibition center at Porte de Versailles. Come and  share your ideas and open source projects with us and discover how many cool things you can do with Arduino!

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Arduino Announces Partnership with Windows & Microsoft

via SparkFun Electronics Blog Posts

Earlier today, Arduino (that’s Arduino.cc) posted the following on their blog:

It’s a special day for the Makers’ community. Massimo Banzi is in San Francisco attending Build Conference, the biggest developer event of the calendar year for Microsoft and today Microsoft is announcing a strong partnership with Arduino: Windows 10 is in fact the world’s first Arduino certified operating system!

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Image courtesy of Arduino.cc

So what does that mean? According to their post: “‘Arduino Certified’ Windows 10 enables makers to easily create smart objects combining hardware-driving capability of Arduino with the software capabilities of Windows.

Users can employ both Windows Remote Arduino and Windows Virtual Shields in their Arduino-based projects – both of which were released as open source libraries.

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Image courtesy of Hackster.io

If you want to play around with Windows Remote Arduino, our friends over at Hackster.io have a great tutorial that will show you how to turn an LED on-and-off (the standard “Hello World” project) using Windows Remote Arduino. Microsoft recommends using our BlueSMiRF Silver as the Bluetooth communication module.

The comments on Arduino’s post are mixed – some folks applaud a giant like Microsoft throwing their weight behind Arduino.cc, while others lament a historically “close-sourced” company getting in cahoots with one of the major players in the open source world. Whether this will have larger implications down the road for Arduino and the Arduino IDE remain to be seen, but it is certainly an interesting development.

Truth be told, Microsoft has recently made several interesting jaunts into the world of open source. In fact, Microsoft just launched its .NET Distribution For Linux And Mac. They also recently announced that the Windows 10 IoT Core Insider Preview will be free for Makers. This is inline with the announcement earlier this year that Microsoft would offer a free version of Windows 10 for the Raspberry Pi 2.

It certainly seems that Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO since February 2014, is focused on supporting the world of Makers and DIY enthusiasts.

So what are your thoughts on this new partnership and the seemingly new focus on Makers and DIYers from the folks at Microsoft?

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Arduino: Under the Hood

via SparkFun Electronics Blog Posts

Here, I’ll cover the basic steps that the IDE uses to make that conversion, and how it compares with more traditional versions of coding for microcontrollers. I’ll be doing this with the current official release build, 1.6.3, from Arduino.cc.

First, I’m going to lay some groundwork. When you write code for the Arduino platform, what you’re really doing is writing C++ and then letting the IDE do some of the menial tasks which, historically, the programmer has been responsible for. When viewed through that lens, some things start to make a little more sense.

The second thing to note is that, deep inside the Arduino IDE directory, there are a bunch of other files that the IDE uses to flesh out your sketch. You provide the barest skeleton of what you want done, and those files provide the details that support them. You can find that by opening your IDE folder up, going to hardware/arduino/avr/cores/arduino/ and snooping around.

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If you’re reading this, chances are, this looks awfully familiar to you. If you’ve ever written code in a more traditional environment, there are a few things that you’ll notice right away are missing: a main() function, function prototypes, and any included header files. We’ll tackle those things one at a time.

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In the directory I pointed you to above, there’s a file called “main.cpp.” This is what is inside that file. I’ll not go into all of it; I just wanted to point out a few things.

First and foremost, #include <Arduino.h>. That file contains all the glorious declarations and definitions that make the Arduino “language” a thing: constants, function declarations, all that good stuff. You’ll find that file included over and over in under-the-hood Arduino code.

Also, here’s your main() function. It’s clear now that some setup code gets run before your setup() function, and that loop() is a function that gets called over and over. In fact, all the Arduino IDE is doing is calling the AVR port of the popular gcc C++ compiler!

It’s also clear that, if loop() never returns, something associated with handling serial port communications doesn’t happen. That’s an important point, because it means that we should avoid busy waiting inside loop and allow loop to return regularly so that background task can be completed!

Now, let’s hit the “Verify” button, and see what happens. I’ve turned on “Verbose Output” for compilation in the preferences; if you’ve never done that, it’s an interesting (if opaque and arcane) view into what the IDE is doing.

Here’s the first line of output produced during compilation. It’s nicely representative of the next two dozen:

C:DropboxArduinoarduino-1.6.3hardwaretoolsavr/bin/avr-g++ -c -g -Os -w -fno-exceptions -ffunction-sections -fdata-sections -fno-threadsafe-statics -MMD -mmcu=atmega328p -DF_CPU=16000000L -DARDUINO=10603 -DARDUINO_AVR_UNO -DARDUINO_ARCH_AVR -IC:DropboxArduinoarduino-1.6.3hardwarearduinoavrcoresarduino -IC:DropboxArduinoarduino-1.6.3hardwarearduinoavrvariantsstandard C:UsersMIKE~1.HORAppDataLocalTempbuild8696096967875291896.tmpsketch_apr23a.cpp -o C:UsersMIKE~1.HORAppDataLocalTempbuild8696096967875291896.tmpsketch_apr23a.cpp.o

Whoa. That’s a lot to swallow, isn’t it? I’ll break it down, step-by-step, so it’s more digestible.

C:DropboxArduinoarduino-1.6.3hardwaretoolsavr/bin/avr-g++

First, part of the reason it’s so long is that it’s displaying absolute paths for everything. So really, everything through the first space is the location information for the location of the compiler, which is the program that creates the machine code that the processor will actually interpret into actions to be performed.

-c -g -Os -w -fno-exceptions -ffunction-sections -fdata-sections -fno-threadsafe-statics -MMD -mmcu=atmega328p -DF_CPU=16000000L -DARDUINO=10603 -DARDUINO_AVR_UNO -DARDUINO_ARCH_AVR

These are all switches which get passed to the compiler at run time, and which tell it information about how you want this file compiled. It would take too much space to explain all of them, but some probably make sense: -mmcu=atmega328p tells the compiler what kind of processor you’re using, and the -D items are passed into the compiler as macro definitions, meaning that, for instance, anywhere the compiler sees “F_CPU” in the file, it will do a simple textual substitution of “16000000L” in its place.

-IC:DropboxArduinoarduino-1.6.3hardwarearduinoavrcoresarduino

There are a couple of these, and they tell the compiler where to look for any files that were defined with #include (as with Arduino.h above). The compiler will also, by default, look inside the directory the file resides in.

C:UsersMIKE~1.HORAppDataLocalTempbuild8696096967875291896.tmpsketch_apr23a.cpp

This tells the compiler which file you actually want it to operate upon. Except, hey! That’s not where I saved my sketch! I’ll get to this in a minute, but for now, just understand that the first thing the IDE does is create a temp directory and move a bunch of stuff into it.

-o C:UsersMIKE~1.HORAppDataLocalTempbuild8696096967875291896.tmpsketch_apr23a.cpp.o

Finally, this is the name of the file that this compilation will produce. A ‘.o’ file, usually referred to as an “object” file, contains machine code, but is itself usually useless until linked into a larger program.

Let’s take a look at that temp directory that the IDE created, and see what we see.

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Wow, lots of stuff in here, huh? Aren’t you glad you don’t have to deal with it all? We’ve talked about what a “.o” file is; you’ll see a bunch of them in here, one for each source file in that Arduino cores folder I pointed you to earlier, as well as any within any included libraries. I’m going to skip most everything else in here; I don’t have room for all the details. The two most important files are “sketch_apr23a.cpp” and “sketch_apr23a.cpp.hex”.

The “.hex” file is literal machine code, with a little bit of added formatting to make it more human-readable. If you are comfortable using other tools to upload your code, this is the file that you should upload to the processor.

Let’s look at the contents of “sketch_apr23a.cpp,” though.

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Aha! There are the missing #include and function prototypes for setup() and loop()! If you don’t know what that means, don’t worry- the big takeaway is that the Arduino IDE adds some magic content to your sketch, which takes some of the weight off your shoulders.

Another thing of note: if you had more than one file with the “.ino” suffix in your sketch, they’d be added, alphabetically, to the bottom of this file, rather than treated as additional files to be individually compiled.

From here on, the process is fairly procedural. The “.o” files get linked and translated into the “.hex” file (itself a process almost long enough to write a post on), and then avrdude (an open-source helper program older than the Arduino IDE) is invoked to handle uploading the code to the processor. The real magic of the Arduino IDE lies in the manipulation of the sketch to create a valid source file and the automated inclusion and linkage of the extended core functionality that lives in that “cores” directory.

As the Arduino IDE has developed and matured, the rules that govern this process have gone from set in stone to written in sand. In the earlier versions, all of these settings were hard-coded into the source of the IDE, and the average user didn’t stand much chance of modifying them. Since Arduino 1.5, however, many of those settings have been moved to external files, where they can be tinkered with relatively easily. This allows the savvy user to add support for any desired platform, even if they don’t know Java well enough to edit the IDE itself.

At any rate, I hope you’ve enjoyed this peek under the hood of the Arduino IDE to see what really goes on in there. Maybe you’ll even find it useful!

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Windows 10 for IoT

via Raspberry Pi

Back in February, when we launched Raspberry Pi 2, the sharp-eyed among you will have noticed the folks at Microsoft making an announcement about bringing Windows 10 for IoT to the Raspberry Pi. We’re excited to share that it landed today – along with a ridiculously cool demo. The chap in the video is HoloLens designer Alex Kipman.

I’m guessing that this video will leave a lot of you wanting to get your hands on a version of Windows 10 for IoT that you can use with your own Pi. This is all in developer beta still, so you’ll have to sign up to the Windows 10 Insider program and grab a copy of Windows 10 Insider Preview (I know a couple of our forum mods did so overnight because I got excited messages about robots from them which I found when I woke up this morning) and download the Windows 10 Core IoT Preview, which is all free. This is pre-release software, so it comes with all the usual stability warnings – and yes, you will have to have a copy of Windows 10 on your PC.

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Steve Teixeira at Microsoft says:

We’re embracing the simple principle of helping Makers and device builders do more by bringing our world-class development tools, the power of the Universal Windows Platform, direct access to hardware capabilities, and the ability to remotely debug, update, and manage the software running on Raspberry Pi 2 devices. This Insider Preview release of Windows 10 IoT Core is our conversation-starter. Our goal is to give Makers the opportunity to play with the software bits early and to listen to the feedback on what’s working well and what we can do better. You may notice some missing drivers or rough edges; we look forward to receiving your feedback to help us prioritize our development work. We’ll be incorporating the feedback we receive into regular software updates along with additional drivers, bug fixes and new features. Those looking for a commercial-quality release should wait for general availability this summer.

Microsoft have made setup information available all on one nice, tidy page of HTML. It’s on GitHub, so you can issue pull requests. Matt Richardson, who is at the Build conference (hanging out with that little robot: B2 is spending the next day living on the Raspberry Pi stand with Matt, and we fully expect Matt to have trained him to make tea by the time the conference is ready to wrap up), and who was able to have a bit of a play with the setup while we in the UK were all fast asleep, seems impressed. He mailed to say:

There’s no desktop and no real shell on Windows 10 for Raspberry Pi, so they made a really slick web backend and it seems trivial to use their UI libraries to draw elements on screen. 

For an early preview it looks really good. I’m actually really interested in trying it out myself.

Screen Shot 2015-04-30 at 09.51.16

Matt’s new best friend

We’ll be watching to see what the community does with Windows 10 for IoT on the Pi with great interest.

 

Microsoft and Arduino: new partnership announced today

via Arduino Blog

windowsarduino

It’s a special day for the Makers’ community. Massimo Banzi is in San Francisco attending Build Conference, the biggest developer event of the calendar year for Microsoft and today Microsoft is  announcing a strong partnership with Arduino: Windows 10 is in fact the world’s first Arduino certified operating system!

Arduino Certified’  Windows 10 enables makers to easily create smart objects combining hardware-driving capability of Arduino with the software capabilities of Windows.

For example, a security camera can be built by using Arduino to power the motors controls to tilt/turn the camera and using Universal Windows Platform (UWP) to create great UI, to connect the camera to the cloud, to process the image for motion detection and for adding facial/voice recognition.

The makers’ community can now also enjoy Windows Remote Arduino and Windows Virtual Shields for Arduino technologies – both released as open source libraries.

remotew02

With Windows Remote Arduino developers can (wirelessly) access the capabilities of  Windows 10 devices as if they were physically attached to an Arduino Shield and leveraging Arduino functions directly from Universal Windows Application.

In this way Microsoft is enabling developers to extend their Universal Windows Platform Application with Arduino commands (that execute on a wirelessly connected Arduino device). Combining the power of Windows 10 devices including features such as Image processing, Speech recognition, Website parsing, Cameras and Advanced Audio pipelines with the power of physical world interactivity through Arduino enables incredible new scenarios to be created. Take a look at this Basic Windows Remote Arduino project to learn how to leverage this technology in any interactive project.

With Windows Virtual Shields for Arduino, users can tap into the incredible power of their Windows 10 devices through wireless protocols. For example Lumia 530 contains a lot of Arduino Shield capabilities and allows designers/makers to connect all those components seamlessly. Imagine being able to create an Arduino project that includes GPS, Web connectivity/parsing, touch display, speech technologies and more! Take a look at this Picture the Weather project created to bring children’s drawings to life!

Arduino is really happy that Microsoft got inspired by the enthusiasm and passion for technology represented by the Maker community and we look forward to see the amazing projects opening up from this unique offering.

Build-ms

Spring Cleaning Sale

via SparkFun Electronics Blog Posts

Spring has arrived again here at SparkFun. Dogs are shedding, our solar panel array is humming, and our Facilities Manager is preventing anyone from walking around in sandals on our first floor to keep OSHA happy. But what does this all mean for you, our loyal customer? As you know spring is a great time for a fresh start. On occasion we buy too much of something, or carry something that eventually needs revision. Sometimes we just can’t say no to something unique.

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We never should have followed up on that Craigslist ad…

Well spring is also the perfect time to clear out some of our inventory to make room for several exciting releases we have coming up. So over the next five days we will have a selection of 100 products on deep discount to make room for some new, shiny stuff.

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Most of these products will be below our distributor pricing, so everyone gets as great a deal as they will find outside a dumpster…dive.

Check out the items under the Spring Cleaning Sale category and see what discounted widgets you can find to jump start your summer project. The sale ends Sunday, 5/3 at 11:59 p.m. MST, so don’t miss out.

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Welcome Philip!

via Raspberry Pi

The sharp-eyed among you will have noticed that a couple of months back, we were advertising for a new CEO of the Raspberry Pi Foundation.  

Today we’re really excited to announce that Philip Colligan will be joining us in July as the new CEO of the Raspberry Pi Foundation.  Philip will be responsible for overseeing all of our charitable activities – that’s everything from our outreach and learning resources to grant-giving and partnerships with government and other organisations.  He’ll be working closely with Eben, who continues as the CEO of Raspberry Pi Trading.  

We are concerned that Eben and Philip's very similar facial styling may cause identity problems in the office.

Philip joins us from Nesta, a charity that supports innovation, where he is the Deputy Chief Executive and Executive Director of Nesta’s Innovation Lab. In his role at Nesta, he’s supported hundreds of innovators in public services, charities and social enterprises, and has also been an adviser to government.

One of Nesta’s areas of work is helping young people get involved in digital making and creativity, so with Philip on board, we’re hoping that there will be lots of opportunities to work together in future.

Before his time at Nesta, Philip had a career in national and local government, working at the Home Office and Camden Council.  Outside of work he’s a dad, school governor and craft cider maker; a skill we plan on making full use of. (We also hope that his experience in wrangling the Home Office will be helpful when he is called to deal with the weekly détente in the office when Gordon annexes the biscuit tin.)

Philip’s perfectly qualified to come and drive the next phase of the Foundation’s charitable work; we’re delighted he’s decided to come and join us. We want to see the Foundation grow in scope and ambition, and we think he’s exactly the person to help us do that. Welcome aboard, Philip! 

Opening up the Arduino IDE

via Arduino Blog

With the release of Arduino 1.6.2 we turned a page in the history of Arduino:  The “old” IDE 1.0.x is replaced by a more modern and more modular development environment which introduced a lot of usability improvements for Makers.

The community responded energetically to these new features by packaging up cores for other processors and boards that are not officially supported by Arduino. There is so much cool stuff being done out there that we figured out we wanted to make them available to the whole Arduino community.

We want a more open Arduino development environment where the community contribution can be made available more easily to all the users alongside the officially supported code.

To do this we are adding new features in the next release of the Arduino IDE that will allow adding community contributed cores just by adding a line to the IDE configuration. This will allow these community contributions to be made available simply and quickly. In the future we’ll also make it possible for those contributions to be hosted on our servers for quicker deployment.

We also decided to get rid of the popup notifying users they were using a non-certified board. Our issues with a specific manufacturer are now well known in the community that the popup just got in the way our desire to be more open and making life simpler for people. This change is already active in the current Arduino IDE.

A lot of people use boards that do not contribute back to Arduino and, honestly, we rather work with whoever wants to positively collaborate with us rather than annoy people.
We have added a “donation” option for the people who would like to contribute to the development and support of the whole Arduino ecosystem. When you download the IDE you’ll be asked if you want to donate, you can skip it or chose an amount.

In roughly 6 weeks we had more than 1 million downloads of the Arduino IDE: it’s an amazing number that we want to see grow constantly so if you appreciate what we do you can support our work directly even if your board manufacturers don’t.

This is just the beginning of a new phase where we want to make the Arduino IDE truly everybody’s development environment.

In the meantime if you have suggestions on how to further open up Arduino please post a comment!

Massimo Banzi

What’s an Arduino? Jimmy Fallon knows it…

via Arduino Blog

Show1

An Arduino Uno appeared at The Tonight Show thanks to a project called Wildfire Warning System created by a 14 years old girl from California. Take a look at the video to discover how  you can detect fires  using a gas sensor and a temperature sensor.

And guess what? Jimmy Fallon knows what an Arduino is! Watch the video:

Show2

Internet of Tools for your Internet of Things: Part 1

via SparkFun Electronics Blog Posts

With the growing number of shiny new IoT platforms and APIs, starting your next IoT project is becoming easier and faster than ever. With all of these new services popping up, discerning the one that’s the right fit for your project can be a little overwhelming. Certain platforms will cater more to certain languages and experience levels, and as a maker, I decided to create a series of blog posts that highlight what resources, software, and services are out there, so you can find the right match for your all-night, caffeine-augmented creation. Here is a quick run-down of a few services out there!

Temboo

When they say “Code the Internet of Everything”…they really mean everything

Temboo has been around for a few years now, and they’ve built up over 2000 things you can do from their collection of libraries to support and augment your projects.

Compared to similiar IoT software out there, Temboo is one of the more beginner-friendly platforms you can use to get started on your IoT project. This is a great option to look into if you don’t want to spend most of your time writing code to interact with the service, and allows you to focus on rapid prototyping. Temboo has a ton of documentation, and can even help you along with their automagic code generation, as well as being visually easy to follow.

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You can easily set up inputs and outputs for your project

Highlights

  • 2000+ easy to use Choreos and examples ranging from sending temperature readings to your Gmail, to getting weather information, to better automate when to turn on your Arduino-controlled water sprinklers.
  • Auto-generating all the code for your project. All you have to do is upload the code in Arduino IDE to start seeing your project working.
  • Free options, and free upgrades for educators and students.
  • Data Streaming with Google’s BigQuery or Microsoft’s Power BI cloud storage.
  • Been around for quite awhile now, so tons of examples found online.

Getting Started - Beginner Friendly with lots of possibilities

Hardware Documentation For Popular Boards
Arduino Logo Raspberry Pi
Arduino Quickstart TI CC3200 LaunchPad Quickstart

Parse

Facebook is joining in the IoT and Open Source Hardware Party

Most of the time when you think of Facebook, the image of your timeline being taken over by Buzzfeed videos of cats comes to mind. However, in the last year Facebook has started to acquire and invest in interesting hardware companies like Ascenta, a company specializing in High-altitude UAVs, and the well known Kickstarter success story that helped to make virtual reality consumer-ready and affordable, Oculus VR.

Facebook announced at their F8 developer conference that Parse will have support for IoT connectivity. Included in that announcement, the mention of new SDKs and support for open source hardware to make connecting your devices and apps easier caught my attention.

Ultimately, Parse enables you to easily connect your devices and applications to the cloud, and exposes a plethora of polished features you can leverage in your project. Additionally, their pricing model for small projects is very attractive - it’s free.

Highlights

  • Time to create a connected ‘blink’ example is fast and well documented.
  • Push notifications
  • With a free 30 requests per second and plenty of storage to boot, it’s a great zero-cost option for a lot of projects.
  • Easy access to the cloud and data storage
  • Intuitive and well polished interface

Getting Started Resources

Parse is surprisingly fast to get started with. I connected a PowerSwitch Tail II to an Arduino Yún and a lamp. Following their Arduino Yun Quickstart, in 30-45 minutes, you can unbox the Arduino Yún, hookup your hardware, install the SDK, and control a lamp with a button on a website.

Step 1: Setup your Arduino Yún

To get started, follow Arduino’s guide to configure your Arduino Yún WiFi. For this example, connect to an existing WiFi network through a web browser using Arduino’s web control panel.

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Connect an Arduino Yún with the Arduino web control panel

Step 2: Install the SDK

The Arduino Yún Quickstart goes step-by-step through downloading the Parse Arduino Starter Project, uploading the Parse Linux runtime package to the Arduino Yún, importing the Bridge and Parse libraries, and uploading an Arduino sketch – all in a couple minutes' time!

After going through the initial setup, upload the push notification example sketch below. You can see it doesn’t take much code to do a simple push notification.

#include <Parse.h>
#include <Bridge.h>

/***** Quickstart of Parse Arduino Yún SDK *****/
// https://www.parse.com/apps/quickstart#embedded/arduinoyun

ParseClient client;

void setup() {

  // Initialize digital pin 13 as an output.
pinMode(13, OUTPUT);

// Initialize Bridge
Bridge.begin();

// Initialize Serial
Serial.begin(9600);

Serial.println("Parse Starter Project");

// Initialize Parse
client.begin("RZ48ULFW3DiVJ9JVt4ZS7MLptWwLvS3S90gxTZLn", "cs30eCx4uq51rFkwEsnMLaXhvenXLWA38aJnvKKx");

// Start push service
client.startPushService();
Serial.print("Push Installation ID:");
Serial.println(client.getInstallationId());

}

void loop() {

  // Check if there is a new push
// A push with message {"alert":"A test push from Parse!"}
// will turn on LED for 3 seconds
if (client.pushAvailable()) {
    ParsePush push = client.nextPush();

    String message = push.getJSONBody();
    Serial.print("New push message size: ");
    Serial.println(message.length());
    Serial.print("New push message content: ");
    Serial.println(message);

    String command = push.getString("alert");
    if (command == "A test push from Parse!") {
       digitalWrite(13, HIGH); // turn on LED
       delay(3000);  // wait 3 seconds
       digitalWrite(13, LOW); // turn off LED
    }
    // NOTE: ensure to close current push message
    // otherwise next push won't be available
    push.close();
}

}

After uploading the sketch, press the “Test Your Changes” button to turn on the on-board LED (or lamp if you have the PowerSwitch Tail connected to digital pin 13) for three seconds.

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Why Check Out Parse? Who is this for?

Parse is worth checking out if you want to easily enable connectivity to your device from a central platform, and still have a large assortment of features to assist in growing your application. Check out their guide to create an Amazon’s Dash button for a quick example of what you can do.

Golgi

The Golgi team reached out to us to share that they released documentation and support for Arduino or Intel hardware to work with Golgi. Golgi is an IoT cloud service that simplifies connectivity and data transport for mobile apps. Since Golgi is starting to provide support for the maker community, I asked Brian Kelly, the CTO and co-founder, some questions to catch us up on what Golgi is and some of its features.

PC: What makes Golgi great to use when making projects that need to connect to the cloud?

BK: Golgi simplifies and automates the code needed to connect and control your devices. In addition it makes it easy to implement a full suite of interactions to support whatever features or functionality the developer is trying to realize. Whether you want to control or interact with your device from your mobile, a web browser or from a server somewhere, Golgi takes care of what can be quite tricky connectivity scenarios, leaving you free to focus on the implementation of your desired functionality and features.

PC: Security is a hot topic in the IoT world. What are some features Golgi has that makes sure your data is safe?

BK: Golgi provides hooks in all our runtimes to allow the developer to encrypt and decrypt data as it leaves and arrives at their endpoint (be that the device itself or a browser, mobile application or server side code). These hooks make it possible for the developer to implement full end-to-end encryption turning their data payload into an opaque blob while it is in transit between the endpoints. We provide some example implementations on our GitHub page, but really it is about allowing the developer to choose what level of encryption is appropriate for their use-case, from none at all, through a simple symmetric shared secret approach, to full PKI encryption, the developer has the choice.

PC: There are quite a few cloud services now that are aiming for makers. Why did Golgi decide to offer support for hardware and makers, for example Edison and Arduino?

BK: While there are several companies out there offering backend-as-a-service style solutions for storing data generated by devices, and some others providing low level connectivity, we didn’t see any solution providing the sort of leverage that Golgi provides, we solve many complex problems for the developer, in areas where they probably aren’t that interested in becoming experts in, freeing them to create exciting things with their devices in the shortest time possible timeframe.

PC: It is exciting to see more and more companies offering support for the makers community. What type of applications can you see being made with Golgi by the community?

BK: If a solution requires connectivity of any sort to control, configure or interact with it, we believe Golgi can be an extremely valuable tool in the developer’s toolbox. It is hard to single out any particular type of application. As long as it requires any kind of connectivity, Golgi can help out. Having said that, some of the problems we have solved in the mobile connectivity area make us an ideal choice for applications that need to be controlled by a mobile device (a phone or a tablet) especially if there is some kind of alerting or monitoring involved where the solution needs to alert the user to some new or changed condition.

PC: What are some examples of projects you have done with Golgi?

BK: We have used Golgi in keyless entry systems, security monitoring solutions, and data gathering solutions (temperature & humidity sensors), but as I pointed out above, Golgi can be used in pretty much any solution that has a remote connectivity piece.

Example demo for the Raspberry Pi

Example demo for the Intel Edison

PC: There are a lot of makers who want to work with mobile. How easy is it to get started if you haven’t done any mobile development?

BK: We have a range of approaches that make it easy for developers to use Golgi from a mobile device. The simplest solution can actually be a web page that is accessed from the browser on the device, an embedded web application, through to native applications (for Android and iOS) that can interact with the device and all the way to full background processing where the device needs to alert the user to some change and needs to wake up the application in the background. All of this is possible and simplified by using Golgi as part of the solution.

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Picademy South West

via Raspberry Pi

Next stop on the great Raspberry Pi Education Team Tour of Great Britain is the South West of England! That’s right: we’re taking Picademy, the offical Raspberry Pi Professional Development for course for Teachers, on the road again, thanks to our friends at Exeter Library in Devon! I’m already packing my bucket, spade and kiss-me-quick hat. As always, Picademy is completely free to attend.

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Raspberry Pi Certified Educators – April 2015 from cohort no. 8. All demonstrating their best super hero pose!

Exeter Library is an appealing venue for Picademy, with an onsite Fab Lab (fabrication workshop) equipped with laser cutters, 3D printers, and more. I expect we will see some fantastic project ideas realised on day two of the course. Maybe even ‘Biscuits’ the robot will get a shiny new hat courtesy of Clive’s mega-making skills.

Picademy South West will take place on 4th and 5th June. We have space for 24 enthusiastic teachers from Primary, Secondary and Post-16 who are open to getting hands on with their learning and having some fun. We’d like to see lots of teachers from Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, and Dorset take full advantage of this two day event. Sign-ups for teachers are open!

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Our Raspberry Pi Certified Educators Map shows that the team are needed in the South West!

For educators in and around Leeds, remember that our Picademy@Google training events are open for sign-ups too, as we continue to spread free training opportunities across the UK. In the coming months we will announce other venues as part of the Google series.

Workbench Eye Candy from Around the World

via Hackaday » hardware

The workbench. We’re always looking for ways to make the most out of the tools we have, planning our next equipment purchase, all the while dealing with the (sometimes limited) space we’re allotted. Well, before you go off and build your perfect electronics lab, this forum thread on the EEVblog should be your first stop for some extended drooling research.

You’ll find a great discussion about everything from workbench height, size, organization, shelf depth, and lighting, with tons of photos to go with it. You’ll also get a chance to peek at how other people have set up their labs. (Warning, the thread is over 1000 posts long, go you might want to go grab a snack.)

We should stop for a moment as give a special note to those of you who are just beginning in electronics. You do not need to have a fancy setup to get started. Most of these well equipped labs is the result of being in the industry for years and years. Trust us when we say, you can get started in electronics with nothing more than your kitchen table, a few tools, and a few parts. All of us started that way. So don’t let anything you see here dissuade you from jumping in. As proof, we’ve seen some amazingly professional work being done with the most bare-bones of tools (and conversely, we seen some head-scratching projects by people with +$10,000 of dollars of equipment on their desk.)

Here’s some links that you might find handy when setting up a lab. [Kenneth Finnegan] has a great blog post on how his lab is equipped. And [Dave Jones] of the EEVblog has a video covering the basics. One of the beautiful things about getting started in electronics is that used and vintage equipment can really stretch your dollars when setting up a lab. So if you’re looking into some vintage gear, head on over to the Emperor of Test Equipment. Of course no thread about workbenches would be complete with out a mention of Jim Williams’ desk. We’ll leave the discussion about workbench cleanliness for the comments.


Filed under: hardware, tool hacks