Monthly Archives: June 2018

New product: 80×10mm wheels with multi-hub inserts for 3mm and 4mm shafts

via Pololu Blog

I have some exciting new wheels to tell you about (available as an 80×10mm black pair and an 80×10mm white pair). With a few small exceptions, all of the wheels we have made so far were for press fits (more properly called interference fit) onto 3mm D shafts such as those on our micro metal gearmotors. The press fit is simple and convenient for smaller motors and wheels, but there is an inherent trade-off between how hard you have to push to get the wheel on the shaft and how well the wheel stays on the shaft. As we contemplated designing some new wheels for our growing lines of 20D gearmotors and 25D gearmotors with 4mm output shafts (and higher power), I wanted something better. Our wheels already worked with our machined hubs with set screws, like this:

But the machined hubs are expensive, more expensive than the rest of the wheel. There’s also the much more minor issue of the machined hub option only allowing for the wheel to be placed at the very end of the shaft unless you drilled out the plastic wheel to have a hole larger than the shaft. I wanted to have an all-plastic, injection moldable solution that involved multiple parts that would somehow clamp the wheel onto an axle, kind of like a chuck on a drill.

My initial idea was to have just two parts: the outer wheel and an inner, interchangeable collet that would get wedged between the wheel and axle. But our mechanical engineers were not able to come up with a single part that could both compress onto the shaft and attach rigidly to the outer wheel. Because the parts are so small, the resolution of our 3D printer limited the effectiveness of prototypes, so we worked with scaled-up models. This picture shows one earlier model next to the final production parts for scale:

The other side of that model shows what we were thinking about for holding nuts in place on the back side of the wheel:

At that point, we were at a three-component design, plus the three screws and nuts, which was turning out to be difficult to assemble onto a shaft, even if it worked. The screw heads needed to be accessible from the outside of the wheel so they could be tightened, and that left the nuts near the motor where they were difficult to access, and trying to make the wheel hold the nuts required the wheel to be toward the motor and the collet piece on the outside, which was less aesthetically appealing.

So, in the end, we gave up on my all-plastic goal and designed a single stamped plate with threaded holes that clamps the wheel onto the collet insert. It definitely makes the assembly much easier, as you can see from this expanded view:

Having a design that seems like it might work on a 3D printed mock-up is still quite different from getting it working on the final, injection-molded parts. The clamping action of the collet inserts might have given us a little more margin for error than our usual press-fit wheels, but on those, a wrong fit is relatively straightforward to adjust: start with the fit a little on the loose side, and if it’s too loose, make the pin (and hole) smaller until it’s tight enough. With the new wheels, there were many more things that could go wrong, including alignment (wobbling). There was also the unknown of how much torque the hubs would take.

In the end, I think we arrived at a nice performance point. The wheels cannot take as much torque as if they were screwed on to the machined hub with set screw, but they can do much more than just the press fit hubs while putting less strain on the motor output shafts during installation. It’s possible to assemble the wheels with a little wobble, but if it’s a concern in your application, you can fiddle with how you tighten the three screws to get it as lined up as you like.

We started with our 80×10mm wheels, and made inserts that work with 3mm and 4mm shafts, both round and D-shaped:

Since the concept seems to be working, we will be working on different wheel sizes and inserts for larger shafts later this year.

As with all our new product introductions this year, we are having an introductory special. Be among the first 100 customers to use coupon code MULTIHUBINTRO (click to add the coupon code to your cart) and get 33% off on up to three sets.

Friday Product Post: It’s Clear with FLIR!

via SparkFun: Commerce Blog

Hello and welcome back to another Friday Product Post! Today we have two brand new FLIR products, thanks to our friends at GroupGets; two products to get your LED strips hooked up in a snap; two new ways to get your next big LED project reliably powered; and a USB 3.0 cable.

Just as a reminder: today (Friday, June 29) is the last day of our Summer Solstice Sale, as well as the last Flash Sale product with the SparkFun ESP8266 Thing. Make sure to get these deals now, because after today they will be over!

Alright, let’s take a closer look at all of our sweet new products!

Don’t fear the FLIR!

FLIR Radiometric Lepton Dev Kit

KIT-14654
$239.95

With the FLIR Radiometric Lepton® Dev Kit, you will be able to bring FLIR’s thermal imaging reliability and power to your Arduino, Raspberry Pi or other ARM-based development tool, all in an easy-to-access, breadboard-friendly package. This kit includes a breakout and the Lepton® 2.5 longwave infrared (LWIR) imager. All you need to get this kit set up is simply attach the Lepton® imager module to the provided breakout and connect the headers, and you will be seeing in full darkness in no time!


PureThermal 2 - FLIR Lepton Smart I/O Board

DEV-14670
$99.99

The PureThermal 2 Smart I/O Board is a hackable, thermal USB webcam breakout for the FLIR Lepton® thermal imaging camera core. Each PureThermal 2 ships pre-configured to operate as a plug-and-play UVC 1.0 USB thermal webcam that will work with a standard webcam and video apps on all major platforms. For developers, its reference firmware, viewer software and hardware schematic are all open source!


It’s Mi-Light, not Your-Light!

Mi-Light RGBW LED Controller Box

COM-14710
$14.95

The Mi-Light RGBW LED Controller Box is a 2.4GHz, RF-controllable LED accessory that enables your non-addressable LED strips to change color, dim and use pre-loaded modes via the Mi-Light Remote Control (sold separately). Essentially, this little plastic box enables any non-WS2812 or APA102 (“NeoPixel” or “DotStar”) LED strip to act as if it was, without any other external boards. Set up is simple thanks to an array of screw terminals on either side of the controller box. By just screwing an LED strip’s control wires into the right side of this box and then plugging in power via a barrel jack (or another set of screw terminals) on the left side of the box, you’ll be up and running in no time!


Mi-Light 4-Zone LED Remote Controller

COM-14711
$14.95

The Mi-Light 4-Zone LED Remote Controller is a 2.4GHz RF LED accessory that allows you to change the color and dim non-addressable LED strips attached to the RGBW LED Controller Box without the need of a smartphone app. Equipped with touch sensing buttons to change or dim the colors, control the power to the whole system, and even select a pre-set mode or speed, the Mi-Light Remote makes controlling customized lighting installations quick and easy!


Mean Well LED Switching Power Supply - 5VDC, 5A

TOL-14601
$14.95
Mean Well LED Switching Power Supply - 5VDC, 8A

TOL-14602
$19.95

These 25W and 40W single output switching power supplies from Mean Well have been specifically designed to work with LED applications. These power supplies are extremely reliable and are able to output 5VDC at up to 5A or 8A, respectively. We’ve been testing these supplies for quite some time, and can definitely attest to the durability of their fully isolated plastic casings, as well as their short circuit, overload and over-voltage protections.


iPixel Wall Adapter Cable - Two Terminal (NA)

CAB-14603
$3.95

Of course, you’ll need some way to get power to your new LED Power Supplies. These Wall Adapter Cables from iPixel are terminated with a standard North American (NEMA 5–15P) plug at one end, and two insulated spade terminal connectors at the other. Each cable is one meter long, and provides a safe and appropriate way to hook up our Mean Well LED Power Supplies!


USB 3.0 Micro-B Cable - 1m

CAB-14724
$2.95

Last up this week is this USB 3.0 type A to Micro-B cable. If you’re unfamiliar, this isn’t your typical micro USB cable – it boasts a data transfer rate of up to 5GB/s, making it a “SuperSpeed” USB option. This connector type is less common than its other micro USB siblings, but can still be found in some phones and electronics, so we wanted to make it available for those of you in need!


Alright folks, that’s it for this week! There is a lot to choose from for your next project. As always, we can’t wait to see what you make! Shoot us a tweet @sparkfun, or let us know on Instagram or Facebook. We’d love to see what projects you’ve made!

We’ll be back next week with even more fantastic new products!

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Raspbian update: first-boot setup wizard and more

via Raspberry Pi

After a few months of hiding in a dark corner of the office muttering to myself (just ask anyone who sits near me how much of that I do…), it’s time to release another update to the Raspberry Pi desktop with a few new bits and a bunch of bug fixes (hopefully more fixes than new bugs, anyway). So, what’s changed this time around?

Setup wizard

One of the things about Raspbian that has always been a bit unhelpful is that when a new user first boots up a new Pi, they see a nice desktop picture, but they might not have much of an idea what they ought to do next. With the new update, whenever a new Raspbian image is booted for the first time, a simple setup wizard runs automatically to walk you through the basic setup operations.

Localisation

The localisation settings you can access via the main Raspberry Pi Configuration application are fairly complex and involve making separate settings for location, keyboard, time zone, and WiFi country. The first page of the wizard should make this a little more straightforward — once you choose your country, the wizard will show you the languages and time zones used in that country. Once you’ve chosen yours, the wizard should take care of all the necessary international settings. This includes the WiFi country, which you need to set before you can use the wireless connectivity on a Raspberry Pi 3B+.

Raspbian update June 2018

There will be some special cases — e.g. expatriates using a Pi and wanting to set it to a language not spoken in their country of residence — where this wizard will not give sufficient flexibility. But we hope that for perhaps 90% of users, this one page will do everything necessary in terms of international settings. (The more detailed settings in Raspberry Pi Configuration will, of course, remain available.)

Other settings

The next pages in the wizard will walk you through changing your password, connecting to the internet, and performing an initial software update to make sure you get any patches and fixes that may have been released since your Raspbian image was created.

Raspbian update June 2018

On the last page, you will be prompted to reboot if necessary. Once you get to the end of the wizard, it will not reappear when the Pi is booted. (If you do want to use it again for some reason, just run it manually by typing

sudo piwiz

into a terminal window and pressing Enter.)

Recommended software

Over the last few years, several third-party companies have generously offered to provide software for Pi users, in some cases giving free licenses for software that normally requires a license fee. We’ve always included these applications in our standard image, as people might never find out about them otherwise, but the applications perhaps aren’t all of interest to every user.

So to try and keep the size of the image down, and to avoid cluttering the menus with applications that not everyone wants, we’ve introduced a Recommended Software program which you can find in the Preferences menu.

Raspbian update June 2018

Think of this as our version of the Apple App Store, but with everything in it available for free! Installing a program is easy: just put a tick in the box to the right, and click “OK”. You can also uninstall some of the preinstalled programs: just untick the respective box and click “OK”. You can even reinstall them once you’ve realised you didn’t mean to uninstall them: just tick the box again and click — oh, you get the idea…

As we find new software that we recommend, or as more manufacturers offer us programs, we’ll add them to Recommended Software, so it’ll be kept up to date.

New PDF viewer

Ever since the first version, Raspbian has included the venerable PDF viewer Xpdf. While this program does work, it’s fairly old and clunky, and we’ve been trying to find something better.

In this release, we are replacing Xpdf with a program called qpdfView, which is a much-improved PDF viewer. It has a more modern user interface, it renders pages faster, and it preloads and caches future pages while you’re reading, which should mean fewer pauses spent waiting for the next page to load.

Raspbian update June 2018

If you want something to read in it, we are now including the latest issue of The MagPi as a PDF file — look in the ‘MagPi’ directory in your home directory ‘pi’.

Other updates

The Chromium browser is now at version 65. We’ve also updated the links to our website in the Help menu, and added a new Getting Started option. This links to some really helpful new pages that walk you through getting your Pi up and running and using some of its key features.

If you have volume up/down buttons on your keyboard, these will now control whatever audio output device is selected, rather than only controlling the internal audio hardware. The resolution has also been increased: each button push increases or decreases the volume by 5% rather than 10%.

If you are using the network icon to reconnect to a wireless network, the passcode for the network will be shown in the connection dialog, so you won’t have to type it in again.

In Raspberry Pi Configuration, you can now enable and disable the serial port console independently of the serial port hardware.

The keyboard layout setting dialogue now makes settings that should be correct both in the desktop and also when the Pi is booted to console.

There are various other small bug fixes and tweaks to appearance and behaviour, but they’re mostly only the sort of things you’d spot if you’re a slightly obsessive user interface developer…

How do I get it?

The new image is available for download from the usual place: our Downloads page. We’ve also updated the x86 image with most of the changes, and that’s up on the page as well.

To update an existing image, use the usual terminal command:

sudo apt-get update
sudi apt-get dist-upgrade

Here’s a quick video run-through of the process:

Updating Raspbian on your Raspberry Pi || Raspberry Pi Foundation

How to update to the latest version of Raspbian on your Raspberry Pi.

To install the new PDF viewer (and remove the old one):

sudo apt-get install qpdfview
sudo apt-get purge xpdf

To install the new Recommended Software program:

sudo apt-get install rp-prefapps

Finally, to install the setup wizard (which really isn’t necessary on an existing image, but just in case you are curious…):

sudo apt-get install piwiz

We hope you like the changes — as ever, all feedback is welcome, so please leave a comment below!

The post Raspbian update: first-boot setup wizard and more appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Enginursday: Light Up Your 3D Printer’s Bed

via SparkFun: Commerce Blog

Viewing your 3D print in a room at night with barely any light can be difficult, especially when the light source above you creates a shadow over the print bed. That’s the problem that I came across when inspecting prints at SparkFun during odd hours. The quick and simple solution: Add a non-addressable LED strip, switch and power supply to the 3D printer’s frame!

The lighting made a big difference when inspecting a print after dark.

3D Printer Just Before Dark 3D Printer with LED Strip for Lighting
Darkness Starting to Loom Over the Horizon Print Bed with LEDs Illuminating the Print Area

If you would like more details about how to add lighting to your 3D printer, check out the tutorial!

New!

Light Up Your 3D Printer's Bed

June 27, 2018

Having issues viewing your print in a dark lit room? In this tutorial, we will be using LED strips to light up a print bed's area on a LulzBot 3D printer!

Have you added LEDs to a 3D printer’s frame? If so, did you add a microcontroller and sensors? Let us know your thoughts below in the comments. Until next time!


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MagPi 71: Run Android on Raspberry Pi

via Raspberry Pi

Hey folks, Rob here with good news about the latest edition of The MagPi! Issue 71, out right now, is all about running Android on Raspberry Pi with the help of emteria.OS and Android Things.

Raspberry Pi The MagPi Magazine issue 71 - Android

Android and Raspberry Pi, two great tastes that go great together!

Android and Raspberry Pi

A big part of our main feature looks at emteria.OS, a version of Android that runs directly on the Raspberry Pi. By running it on a touchscreen setup, you can use your Pi just like an Android tablet — one that’s easily customisable and hackable for all your embedded computing needs. Inside the issue, we’ve got a special emteria.OS discount code for readers.

We also look at Android Things, the official Android release for Raspberry Pi that focuses on IoT applications, and we show you some of the amazing projects that have been built with it.

More in The MagPi

If Android’s not your thing, we also have a big feature on building a Raspberry Pi weather station in issue 71!

Raspberry Pi The MagPi Magazine issue 71 - Android

Build your own Raspberry Pi weather station

On top of that, we’ve included guides on how to get started with TensorFlow AI and on building an oscilloscope.

Raspberry Pi The MagPi Magazine issue 71 - Android

We really loved this card scanning project! Read all about it in issue 71.

All this, along with our usual varied selection of project showcases, excellent tutorials, and definitive reviews!

Get The MagPi 71

You can get The MagPi 71 today from WHSmith, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and Asda. If you live in the US, head over to your local Barnes & Noble or Micro Center in the next few days for a print copy. You can also get the new issue online from our store, or digitally via our Android or iOS apps. And don’t forget, there’s always the free PDF as well.

New subscription offer!

Want to support the Raspberry Pi Foundation and the magazine? We’ve launched a new way to subscribe to the print version of The MagPi: you can now take out a monthly £4 subscription to the magazine, effectively creating a rolling pre-order system that saves you money on each issue.

The MagPi subscription offer — Run Android on Raspberry Pi

You can also take out a twelve-month print subscription and get a Pi Zero W plus case and adapter cables absolutely free! This offer does not currently have an end date.

That’s it, folks! See you at Raspberry Fields.

The post MagPi 71: Run Android on Raspberry Pi appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

New product: Stability Conversion Kit for Balboa (and some memories of my first robot)

via Pololu Blog

I don’t blame you if you have no idea why the new Stability Conversion Kit for Balboa is so exciting. With a name like that, you probably couldn’t even guess what it is, let alone why it’s exciting. But let me keep you guessing while I share a little about the first robot I built, which is kind of a hint. It’s pure coincidence that I happened to get reunited with it just as we were preparing to release this new product I’m announcing here.

I know for sure that I built my first robot in eighth grade, for the science and engineering fair for which everyone in my school had to do a project, which means I must have started working on it in 1992 when I was twelve years old. The better projects in my school went on to the local, island-wide science fair in Hilo, and the better projects there went on to the state fair in Honolulu. (I was initially not among those chosen to go on from the Big Island, I think because of some judging process mistake, but my science teacher and probably others lobbied to get me there.) There was time between the different stages, so I kept working on it through the spring of 1993, which would now make it over 25 years old. I probably added the labels in later stages in response to some advice to better present what I made.

Jan’s first robot, “Robot Line Tracker,” built 1992-1993.

When Paul saw the robot for the first time in my office this morning, he immediately recognized a piece of it: “That looks like the gearbox from my first robot!” I was a bit skeptical, but he immediately backed it up by pulling out Gordon McComb’s Robot Builder’s Bonanza and showing me the project he had followed from the book. (In another amusing twist, it turns out that the copy of the book Paul had in his office is my old book, though I hadn’t gotten it until high school, and I didn’t realize until today that the gearbox in the book was the same one I had used.)

I’m pretty sure I got the gearbox from Edmund Scientific, because their printed catalogs and Radio Shack (nearest one in Kona, 40 miles away) were initially my only sources for anything electronics-related. The wheels were from some broken radio control toy. The ball caster was long a point of frustration. In earlier versions of the robot, I had tried more common swivel casters and then a ball caster I made from a ping pong ball in a toilet paper tube, but neither was very reliable. I was very happy to eventually find the metal ball caster that I used in the final version, which you can see here along with the three IR LED and phototransistor pairs used for detecting a two-inch white line on a black background:

That heavy, noisy caster was not ideal, but at least it didn’t jam at a bad angle like the swivel caster or collapse like my ping pong ball and cardboard creations. I am mentioning all these details because it was so much work just to put a basic chassis together, without even getting to the electronics part. The electronics are not something I want to cover in this blog post, but I should mention that I was very fortunate to find a mentor at the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope headquarters right across the road from my school. CFHT had a nice electronics lab stocked with all kinds of components they just gave me and tools they let me use, and I got lots of help from John Horne when I was in 8th grade and then from many others there while I was in high school.

So, to bring this back to Pololu’s new product: the Stability Conversion Kit for Balboa is primarily a ball caster attachment for the Balboa chassis:

That might sound pretty basic, but using it fundamentally transforms the Balboa into a very different kind of robot. As a reminder, Balboa is a two-wheeled, balancing robot:

You can read more about the balancing robot in my blog post introducing the Balboa robot. It’s a very capable platform that we spent many years developing, but making a balancing robot is not easy, and it’s probably not the best type of robot to build as your first robot. We did not even release the chassis as a separate product independent of electronics because it would be difficult to do much with it. The new stability conversion kit completely changes that. With the ball caster, the chassis can be used as a much more beginner-friendly differential-drive mobile base with three points of contact with the ground:

We offer the ball caster attachment by itself, for those who want to use it with a complete Balboa 32U4 robot kit to immediately get up and running without developing their own electronics. We also now offer the Balboa Chassis with Stability Conversion Kit, which includes all the mechanical components for the chassis other than wheels and motors:

Balboa Chassis with Stability Conversion Kit (No Motors, Wheels, or Electronics).

As with the original Balboa 32U4 kit that includes electronics, we deliberately do not include motors and wheels so that you can pick your own to customize the look and performance of your robot. This diagram shows the possible chassis angles with four different wheel sizes ranging from 60 mm through 90 mm:

Variety of chassis angles available when using different wheels on the Balboa Chassis with Stability Conversion.

Micro metal gearmotor HPCB with extended motor shaft.

For motors, we recommend our 30:1 HPCB, 50:1 HPCB, or 75:1 HPCB micro metal gearmotors with extended back shafts that can be used with encoders. Even if you do not plan on using encoders on your robot at first, it’s nice to have the option down the road.

And options are what our chassis kits are all about, whether you select our Zumo tracked chassis, Romi round chassis, or now the new Balboa chassis. One of my guiding principles in developing our robot platforms is that I want to help you, our customers, build your robot, not just the particular one we designed.

I realize there are many kids interested in robotics who are not as fortunate as I was to have Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope headquarters across the street from my middle school, and that for many of them (and their parents and teachers), all of the options we offer can be overwhelming. Over the next several years, we will be working on sensors and other modules specifically for the Balboa, along with combination bundles and tutorials that will make Balboa a platform that students can begin with as a basic first robot in middle school and keep expanding through higher levels of their education.

I’ll end this product introduction as I have all my product announcements this year, with an introductory special to encourage you to try the Balboa chassis out for yourself. Be among the first 100 customers to use coupon code BALBOACHASSIS (click to add the coupon code to your cart) and get 15% off on Balboa-related products (limit 4 per product).