Every Friday we give away some extra PCBs via Facebook. This post was announced on Facebook, and on Monday we’ll send coupon codes to two random commenters. The coupon code usually go to Facebook ‘Other’ Messages Folder . More PCBs via Twitter on Tuesday and the blog every Sunday. Don’t forget there’s free PCBs three times every week:
Free PCB Sunday. The classic. Every week, get free PCBs right here on the blog comments
Tweet-a-PCB Tuesday. Follow us and get boards in 144 characters or less
Facebook PCB Friday. Free PCBs while you wait for the weekend
Last July 7 at Wallops Flight Facility, NASA launched Black Brant IX , a suborbital sounding rocket to test “wireless-in-space” with XBee and Arduino :
Onboard the rocket was an experiment testing Exo-Brake technology. XBee was used to collect sensor data including temperature, air pressure, and 3-axis acceleration parameters. NASA is considering Exo-brakes as a possible solution for returning cargo from the International Space Station (ISS), orbiting platforms or as possible landing mechanisms in low-density atmospheres. This was one of many tests used to analyze its effectiveness, but the first to incorporate an XBee connected sensor network. If you would like to read more about the Exo-brake, check out this article.
Wireless sensor technology allows measuring important parameters such as aerodynamic pressure and temperature at the apex of the Exo-Brake during re-entry. It is very difficult to instrument a deployable parachute like the Exo-Brake, and wireless sensor modules provide the means for this type of measurement where it is difficult to run wires,” said Rick Alena, computer engineer at NASA Ames.
The NASA team constructed a gateway using an Arduino Mega, XBee, and Iridium module. The Arduino Mega was used to manage communications between the local XBee wireless network and the long-range Iridium satellite uplink. It was chosen as part of a NASA initiative to use commercial off-the-shelf components where possible, and to employ rapid prototyping tools to efficiently explore new ideas.
See the diagram below to get a detailed view into how the network was configured.
As part of a home automation project I’ve been testing different infrared receivers/transmitters. One inexpensive USB-based transceiver is the USB Infrared Toy (v2)
This uses the Microchip PIC 18F2550 microcontroller which acts as a virtual USB serial port. The problem is that the included driver isn’t signed so it can’t be used in Windows 8.x. Various people have suggested to disable signature checking in Windows, but that’s both risky and complicated. I wanted to go the proper route instead, which is to sign the driver with a certificate. A real certificate is about $180/year (code signing certificate) and I didn’t wan to pay that, so the alternative is to use a self-created certificate and ask Windows to trust that (which is a normal Windows process, doesn’t require a diagnostic boot, etc). I wanted to document the steps so it can be reproduced as well for other drivers.
Welcome back everyone. Before you dive into this week’s new offerings, be sure to check out our brand new Overflow Sale section! We’re making room for some new and exciting products - everybody wins! Now, let’s talk new products. But first, let’s look at a video we made for one of last week’s new products, the pcDuino Acadia. Here, we compare the performance of the various SBCs (single board computers) that we sell.
Was there a board you wanted to see that we didn’t feature? Submit a comment below! NOW we can talk about new stuff.
The SparkFun Ludus Protoshields are Arduino-compatible shields designed to make connecting motors and sensors to your Arduino-based development board as fast and easy as possible. There are two versions, the standard, and the wireless. The standard version has a prototyping area, where the wireless version has a header for an XBee module. Both shields also have an H-bridge motor driver, along with various connectors for use in robotics. Here it is in action:
Also this week, we have some overstock from production. We had a bunch of leftover ATMega8U2 ICs that we don’t need anymore. The ATMEGA8U2-AU is a low-power CMOS 8-bit microcontroller based on the AVR enhanced RISC architecture. By executing powerful instructions in a single clock cycle, the ATMEGA8U2 achieves throughputs approaching 1 MIPS per MHz allowing the system designer to optimize power consumption versus processing speed. Get them while they last!
That’s it for this week. Be sure to check out our Twitter and Facebook pages, we might have a little surprise for you there. See you next week, thanks for reading!