Monthly Archives: October 2018

Friday Product Post: Sight in Stereo

via SparkFun: Commerce Blog

On this final Friday in October, we have five new products that include a stereo camera from Etron, the PocketLab Voyager sensor learning kit, an absolute encoder from Bourns, more LEDs with built-in resistors and a baseplate to protect your Raspberry PI 3 B+!

As a reminder, October 26th (today!) is the last day of our Time Saving Sale, so make sure to take advantage of our last one-day-only sale. Just check the featured content at the top of the homepage for the new deal! In addition to our breakout board flash sales, we’ll also be taking 15 percent off most of our Qwiic boards through October 31st. Unfortunately, SparkX items aren’t included, but those are a great deal if you’re looking to be on the cutting edge of SparkFun’s product development.

Now onto our new products for the week!


Etron Stereo Camera - EX8029

Etron Stereo Camera - EX8029


The EX8029 Stereo Camera from Etron is a depth-map image controller and patterned IR illuminator capable of both color and point map output modes. Thanks to its dual cameras, this Stereo Camera is ideally used in applications involving motion and gesture control, field mapping and 3D scanning. The best part about this module is that it has been designed to be as straightforward and easy to use as possible for a stereo camera. Simply plug in the included USB 3.0 cable, download the required files and start seeing things through the eyes of your new camera!

A full sensor lab in your pocket!

PocketLab Voyager

PocketLab Voyager


The PocketLab Voyager is an all-in-one science lab capable enough for a professional engineer and simple enough for a 4th grade student. The Voyager can detect and measure multiple forms of sensor data including motion, light, magnetic fields and weather. You can also attach an external temperature probe, but one is not included in this kit. The Voyager has been designed to work with either the PocketLab or VelocityLab apps by streaming real-time data from its multiple sensors to your iOS, Android, ChromeBook or Windows device where you can view, graph, record and save data as a spreadsheet. This version of the PocketLab is great for physical science, weather and climate studies, engineering projects and more.

Bourns Absolute Encoder (EAW0J-B24-AE0128L)

Bourns Absolute Encoder (EAW0J-B24-AE0128L)


The Bourns Absolute Encoder is a digital control knob that provides 128 unique results, evenly spaced around a full circle. It is designed as a control panel knob, but can be adopted for other uses. This is a good alternative to using a potentiometer and analog pin, as this allows for full-turn and multi-turn operation.

LED - Assorted with Resistor 5mm (20 pack)

LED - Assorted with Resistor 5mm (20 pack)


You don’t have to worry about adding a resistor to an LED if you get an LED with a built-in resistor! This pack contains 20 5mm LEDs in four different colors. There are five LEDs per color in blue, red, green and yellow. This pack will help alleviate any frustrations you’ve had accidentally burning them out!

Raspberry Pi 3 B+ Baseplate

Raspberry Pi 3 B+ Baseplate


This is a basic baseplate for the Raspberry Pi 3 B+. It is translucent in color and provides a simple mounting solution for wherever you want to put your Pi! The baseplate is designed for the Raspberry Pi to securely remain on the acrylic by means of friction, no screws required.

That’s it for this week, folks! 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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Wireframe: a new games magazine with a difference

via Raspberry Pi

We’re pleased to announce Wireframe: a new, £3, twice-monthly magazine that lifts the lid on video games.

Raspberry Pi is all about making computing accessible to everyone, and in Wireframe, we’ll show you how programming, art, music, and design come together to make the video games you love to play — and how you can use these elements to create games yourself.

Read on to find out how you can get a FREE physical copy of the first issue!

Wireframe magazine

Wireframe magazine — launching on 8 November

Cutting through the hype, Wireframe will have a more indie-focused, left-field angle than traditional games magazines. As well as news, reviews, and previews, we’ll have in-depth features that uncover the stories behind your favourite games, showing you how video games are made, and who makes them.

On top of all that, we’ll also help you discover how you can make games of your own. Our dedicated Toolbox section will be packed with detailed guides and tips to help you with your own game development projects.

Early-access offer: get a free copy of issue 1

Because we’re so excited about our new magazine, we’re offering you a free copy of Wireframe’s first issue! Simply sign up on our website before the 8 November (or while stocks last) to get yours.

Wireframe magazine

Click here to order your free copy of issue 1!

Each early-access edition of Wireframe will contain a rather tempting discount subscription offer, and will arrive around the time of launch (overseas deliveries may take longer, and may incur a small postage charge). Don’t hang around! Stocks are limited and once they’re gone, they’re gone.

Free digital edition

We want everyone to enjoy Wireframe and learn more about their favourite hobby, so you’ll be able to download a digital version of all issues of Wireframe for free. Get all the features, guides, and lively opinions of our first-ever paper-and-ink edition as a handy PDF from our website from 8 November.

Wireframe in the wild

You’ll find the print edition of Wireframe in select UK newsagents from 8 November, priced at just £3. Subscribers will save money on the cover price, with an introductory offer of 12 issues for just £12 launching at the same time as the magazine. For more information, and terms and conditions, transport yourself to the Wireframe website at!

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Enginursday: Disembodied Doll-Head Lamp

via SparkFun: Commerce Blog

While working with a board a while back, I noticed I was having trouble seeing what I was soldering. Once I had more light, it was smooth sailing, so the need for a lamp has been in the back of my mind for a while. I made myself a quick and dirty “lamp,” which was essentially our ultra-bright LEDs on the end of wires I could position in any direction I needed. As I used those lights more and more, I figured it was time to make something that would be less of a fire hazard.

One of the benefits/side effects/anomalies of working here at SparkFun is that we often have quite a few strange things just hanging around. On my desk I had some super-bright LEDs, a bunch of solid core wire and some doll heads. Doll heads? Yup. Doll heads. Stolen from small dolls. It’s a long story, but the nice thing about these doll heads is that they fit perfectly over the ultra-bright LEDs such that when I only need a couple of the LEDs, the others don’t blind me. With Halloween fast approaching, a project was born.

Tree lamp on the desk

Every single person who has seen this says, “creepy.” I think they’re adorable. Maybe a little creepy. But perfect for Halloween, no? The tree is 3D-printed ABS from a design on Thingiverse - I figured the Tree of the Dead from Sleepy Hollow was perfect for disembodied doll heads. I modified it on TinkerCad to have a hole through the center of it for the “branches” (we have a GREAT tutorial on editing in Tinkercad here). The base was then measured and I used MakerCase to download an SVG I could cut an acrylic box from.

Solderable breadboard with jumpers and resistors inside acrylic box

Just using the wires didn’t give me the positionability I wanted, so I wrapped the wires helically around armature wire for support; these were then colored and shrink wrapped. I used our Solderable Breadboard for the wiring with a rocker switch between the two power rails, and the jumper wire kit made the connections all pretty. (Seriously, can I just give a shout out to this jumper kit? It makes my little OCD heart happy.)

Individual LED lit up

Once I had everything soldered together, the tree went onto the box and I flipped the switch…

Lamp on, off gif

Soooooo… it’s an art project, but it is a useful one – the best kind. I can freak out my co-workers AND see what I’m doing when I’m soldering teeny tiny things together. Win! Many thanks to Feldi, Maya and Gella for their creative input!

What are your Halloween projects? How are you creeping out your neighbors and co-workers? Let us know in the comments!

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Build your own robotic cat: Petoi returns

via Raspberry Pi

Who wouldn’t want a robot kitten? Exactly — we knew you’d understand! And so does the Petoi team, hence their new crowdfunding campaign for Petoi Nybble.

Petoi Nybble

Main campaign video. Back our Indiegogo campaign to adopt Nybble the robo kitten! Share with your friends who may love it! Indiegogo: A more technical post: Don’t forget to follow Twitter @PetoiCamp and subscribe to for our newsletters! Most importantly, enjoy our new kitten!

Petoi mark 2

Earlier this year, we shared the robotic cat project Petoi by Rongzhong Li. You all loved it as much as we did, and eagerly requested more information on making one.

Petoi Raspberry Pi Robot Cat

Rongzhong’s goal always was for Petoi to be open-source, so that it can be a teaching aid as much as it is a pet. And with his team’s crowdfunding campaign, he has made building your own robot cat even easier.

Petoi the laser-cut robotic cat

Laser kitty

In the new Nybble version of Petoi, the team replaced 3D-printed parts with laser-cut wood, and cut down the parts list to be more manageable: a Raspberry Pi 3B+, a Sparkfun Arduino Pro Mini, and the Nybble kit, available in the Nybble IndieGoGo campaign.

Petoi the laser-cut robotic cat

The Nybble kit! “The wooden frame is a retro design in honor of its popstick-framed ancestor. I also borrowed the wisdom from traditional Chinese woodwork (in honor of my ancestors), to make the major frame screw-free.”

But Nybble is more than just wooden parts and servo motors! The robotic cat’s artificial intelligence lets users teach it as well as control it,  so every kitty will be unique.

Nybble’s motion is driven by an Arduino-compatible micro-controller. It stores instinctive “muscle memory” to move around. An optional AI chip, such as a Raspberry Pi, can be mounted on top of Nybble’s back, to help Nybble with perception and decision. You can program in your favorite language, and direct Nybble to walk around simply by sending short commands, such as “walk” or “turn left”!

The NyBoard

For this version, the Petoi team has created he NyBoard, an all-in-one controller board for the Raspberry Pi. It’s available to back for $45 if you don’t want to pledge $200 for the entire cat kit.

Petoi the laser-cut robotic cat

Learn more

If you’d like to learn more about Nybble, visit its IndieGoGo campaign page, find more technical details on its project page, or check out the OpenCat GitHub repo.

Petoi the laser-cut robotic cat

And if you’ve built your own robotic pet, such as a K-9–inspired dog, or Raspberry Pi–connected android sheep, let us know!

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Fun with NASA’s Open Data Portal

via SparkFun: Commerce Blog

NASA Open Data

One of the most powerful tools available to tinkerers and prototypers is the Application Program Interface. An API is the structure by which two computer programs talk to each other – think of it as a traffic cop for information traveling between two applications.

In a workshop at SXSW EDU last year, I encountered NASA’s open data platform. My mind was blown by the fact that a good percentage of NASA’s projects reveal their data and code through an open API, and it’s all fairly well supported and reasonably easy to get started with.

To begin, I navigated to the cover page for the Open Data Portal. From there I selected the data catalog; I’m pretty into the asteroid thing these days, so I used the Near Earth Object database.

Asteroids section of the NeoWs API

From here I clicked on the API button:

API access button

This brought me to the opening page for the NeoWs.

alt text

If you go to the Getting Started documents, it will ask you to sign up for a development key. You don’t necessarily need one; you can browse the API catalog and pull out example URLs and use them at will without a key. I chose object 2018GG – there’s a nifty visual of this house-sized space rock here.

After pulling out the URL for the data on 2018GG, I put together a simple Python script that I ran in Trinket.

import urllib.request
contents = urllib.request.urlopen("").read()

When I ran this, I actually got a return in the console matching all the data available for 2018GG:

data for object 2018GG

I called in the urllib library and used the request method. Next, I created a variable and stored the return coming from the URL connected to 2018GG. Finally, I printed out what’s stored in the variable. That’s a lot of data for this simple call. We can simplify things by loading everything into a Json object using the code below.

import urllib.request
import json
contents = urllib.request.urlopen("").read()
varab = json.loads(contents)

This gave me a value and an object notation connected to the value, all comma-separated.

value and object notation

I wanted to find out what the key titles associated with each element of data are, so I wrote a short script that separates out and prints just the keys.

import urllib.request
import json
contents = urllib.request.urlopen("").read()
varab = json.loads(contents)

The printout now shows a whole list of the keys I can work with.

list of keys

Continuing to narrow things down, I picked out a single element from my list of keys and added some text to it and built a small, very specific printout. I separated out the element line I really wanted by a set of asterisks for readability.

import urllib.request
import json
contents = urllib.request.urlopen("").read()
varab = json.loads(contents)
print('*' * 79)
print(('object 3802394 is: ')+varab['close_approach_data'][0]['miss_distance']['miles']+(" miles away!!!"))
print('*' * 79)

smaller printout with isolated element

The fun part of all this is that not only can this be implemented in the Trinket environment like I’ve used here, but it’s a great project for Python on the Raspberry Pi. Further steps might include a warning light or buzzer if an object got too close for comfort. This example would employ the GPIO pins on the Raspberry Pi and give a great overview of connected data through an API and physical computing.

I hope you have fun with this and happy hacking.

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MagPi 75: 75 greatest projects, chosen by you

via Raspberry Pi

Hi folks, Rob from The MagPi here! A few weeks ago, we asked you to vote on your top 50 favourite Raspberry Pi projects from the last two-or-so years. We had thousands of responses, but there was one clear winner…and you can find out who that was in issue 75 of The MagPi, out tomorrow in stores, and available today online!

MagPi 75 Raspberry Pi magazine front cover

See who you folks voted for…

You heard right, the magazine is available a day early to download and buy online! Don’t say we never spoil you.

The community has voted

As well as counting down your 50 favourites, we’ve also got 25 other amazing projects selected by Eben Upton, Philip Colligan, Carrie Anne Philbin, and others!* Is your favourite project on the list?

MagPi 75 Raspberry Pi magazine

We don’t want to spoil the surprise — you’ll have to get the magazine to read the whole thing!

And there’s so much more!

On top of community favourites, we bring you a lot more in issue 75. This month we have a big feature on using the Raspberry Pi Camera Module, we show you ten of our favourite starter kits, and we also have a guide on building a secret radio chat device.

MagPi 75 Raspberry Pi magazine

Want to use the new Raspberry Pi TV HAT? We show you how.

All this along with news, reviews, community features, and competitions!

MagPi 75 Raspberry Pi magazine

See what we saw at Maker Faire New York!

Get The MagPi 75

You can get The MagPi 75 tomorrow 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. However, you can get the new issue online today! Check it out on our store, or digitally via our Android or iOS apps. And don’t forget, there’s always the free PDF.

Rolling subscription offer!

Want to support the Raspberry Pi Foundation and the magazine? You can now take out a monthly £5 subscription to the magazine, effectively creating a rolling pre‑order system that saves you money on each issue.

The MagPi subscription offer — The MagPi 75

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.

Thanks for sticking with The MagPi for 75 issues! Here’s to hundreds more.

*Oi, Zwetsloot, why wasn’t I asked?! – Alex

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