Monthly Archives: June 2019

Friday Product Post: Saks Fifth IMU

via SparkFun: Commerce Blog

Hello and welcome! After last week's big Artemis release, we wanted to put out something fun that won't distract us too much from getting our FCC certification finished, so this week we have a new 9DoF IMU that features an ICM-20948 sensor. On top of that, we also have a new capacitive fingerprint scanner from ADH-Tech, some new fiber optic fabric and some banana-to-banana cables. Let's take a closer look!

A new IMU to pursue and accrue.

SparkFun 9DoF IMU Breakout - ICM-20948 (Qwiic)

SparkFun 9DoF IMU Breakout - ICM-20948 (Qwiic)


This SparkFun 9DoF IMU Breakout incorporates all the amazing features of Invensense's ICM-20948 into a Qwiic-enabled breakout board complete with a logic shifter and broken out GPIO pins, for all your motion sensing needs. The ICM-20948 itself is an extremely low powered, I2C and SPI-enabled 9-axis motion tracking device, ideally suited for smartphones, tablets, wearable sensors and IoT applications. Utilizing our handy Qwiic system, no soldering is required to connect it to the rest of your system. However, we still have broken out 0.1"-spaced pins in case you prefer to use a breadboard.

Capacitive Fingerprint Scanner - UART (AD-013)

Capacitive Fingerprint Scanner - UART (AD-013)


Fingerprint scanners have been readily available at a consumer level for a number of years, and they continue to grow and evolve as time goes. That bring us to this Capacitive Fingerprint Scanner from ADH-Tech: a sensor module that is a combination fingerprint scanner/MCU, and that provides a UART interface port for easy functionality.

Fiber Optic Fabric - Black (30x30cm)

Fiber Optic Fabric - Black (30x30cm)


This 30x30cm black fiber optic fabric is a cool and unique way to add some shine to your e-textiles project. There are optical fibers actually woven into this piece of fabric! Simply shine a bright light into the fiber bundle, which is collected at one end, and the fabric fills with little shining pinpoints. You can make the fabric nearly glow with a little bit of abrasion – just rough it up with fine sandpaper to damage the fiber and make it "leak" light.

Banana to Banana Cable - Right Angle

Banana to Banana Cable - Right Angle


These are 12-inch cables terminated with banana plugs. Pretty standard, right? Wrong! These right-angle banana plugs were specifically made to be great, low profile matches to the contacts on the boards in the micro:bit and gator:bit ecosystems. This allows for easy, press-fit connections, all without the temptation to stick your finger into the open jaws of an alligator clip (we've all been there).

That's it for this week! 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!

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The NEW Official Raspberry Pi Beginner’s Guide: updated for Raspberry Pi 4

via Raspberry Pi

To coincide with the launch of Raspberry Pi 4, Raspberry Pi Press has created a new edition of The Official Raspberry Pi Beginner’s Guide book — as if this week wasn’t exciting enough! Weighing in at 252 pages, the book is even bigger than before, and it’s fully updated for Raspberry Pi 4 and the latest version of the Raspbian operating system, Buster.A picture of the front cover of the Raspberry Pi Beginner's Guide version two

The Official Raspberry Pi Beginner’s Guide

We’ve roped in Gareth Halfacree, full-time technology journalist and technical author, and the wonderful Sam Alder, illustrator of our incredible cartoons and animations, to put together the only guide you’ll ever need to get started with Raspberry Pi.

From setting up your Raspberry Pi on day one to taking your first steps into writing coding, digital making, and computing, The Official Raspberry Beginner’s Guide – 2nd Edition is great for users from age 7 to 107! It’s available now online from the Raspberry Pi Press store, with free international delivery, or from the real-life Raspberry Pi Store in Cambridge, UK.

As always, we have also released the guide as a free PDF, and you’ll soon be seeing physical copies on the shelves of Waterstones, Foyles, and other good bookshops.

The post The NEW Official Raspberry Pi Beginner’s Guide: updated for Raspberry Pi 4 appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Enginursday: The Healing Power of Light

via SparkFun: Commerce Blog

Note: This post was written for the purpose of entertainment and idle speculation only. SparkFun products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or affliction.

My wife and I recently welcomed an adorable new baby into our lives. He started out, as many infants do, with a case of jaundice. Among the remedies the doctors recommended was a fiber optic LED blanket, one that enabled us to facilitate phototherapy on our kiddo, reducing the level of bilirubin in his blood by blasting his skin with blue light. It was simple and easy - we just wrapped him up like a little human burrito in a tortilla of light. It sure seemed to do the trick.

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He was, however, unimpressed.

I'll admit, I previously had no idea such a treatment existed, nor even that light of a specific wavelength range could have such remarkable curative powers. I see my child as a member of a bold new generation, one that will deliver mindblowing discoveries and innovations while facing down unprecedented challenges in the century to come. The thought that he entered this world looking like some bionic gloworm was fascinating to me as an artist, a nerd, a parent and, well, just generally someone who likes to fixate on weird things. What can I say, a new rabbit hole had opened up and I gleefully tumbled down, scouring the web to learn about various forms of phototherapy - proven, experimental and otherwise.

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This led me to red LED phototherapy. I’ve dealt with severe rosacea most of my life, and while it’s more controlled now than it has been in two decades, it’s still far from perfect. I’ve tried a ton of remedies through the years, but never before had I been nudged in the direction of phototherapy. While blue light therapy has been demonstrated to be very effective in the treatment of jaundice, the effectiveness of red light in treating a variety of ailments seems to be a far more complex - but certainly compelling - subject.

Naturally, a great deal depends on what you’re attempting to treat and what technology and methods you’re employing. NASA in particular has conducted pioneering studies into the use of LEDs for biostimulation. I’m no astronaut, but figured I’d give it a shot all the same. Some dermatologists have tanning-booth style boxes you close yourself into, or for upwards of $500 you can buy a special mask, but those options seemed like far too much hassle and expense. I work at SparkFun - surely, I thought, I can DIY this business.

I started by combing our website to compare the various red LED products we offer and see what might the best match for my face. EL is bright and flexible, sure, but it seemed uncomfortable and a bit too high-power for my personal tastes. I didn’t want to zap my nose from a short. I was also concerned about too much heat. LEDs strips were intriguing, but these LED ribbons seemed just what the doctor (that doctor being me, who is not actually a doctor) ordered:

Sewable LED Ribbon - 1m, 50 LEDs (Red)

Sewable LED Ribbon - 1m, 50 LEDs (Red)


Covered in cloth, they’re soft and cozy, and all you need to power them is a few coin cell batteries. Target wavelengths in many commercially available red LED therapy devices tend to be in the 630 to 680 nm range. Inolux says the red LEDs on their ribbons have a dominant wavelength (Wd) of 624nm and a peak wavelength (Wp) of 632nm. Good enough?

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My initial solution is, let’s say, inelegant. Now, I know what you're thinking - it looks like all I did was wrap my face in LED ribbons like a mummy. In fact, there’s a lot more to it than that. You see, first I hastily soldered coin cell battery holders to said LED ribbons. Then I wrapped my face in them.

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Okay, sure, it’s not technologically sophisticated, but that’s a nice thing about these LED ribbons - they’re super easy to use. They're also extremely flexible; I double knotted them in the back of my head and they stayed on great. I recommend looking at our Product Showcase video for more tips and tricks. You may also find our Working with Wire tutorial helpful when it comes to soldering the little stranded core wires on these things. There’s a lot of great advice there that I probably should have heeded (and some that I did).

Did I alleviate my rosacea? Probably not. Did I freak out my coworkers? Maybe a little. This was no easy task - SparkFun employees tend to have a pretty high threshold for weird.

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IoT community sprinkler system using Raspberry Pi | The MagPi issue 83

via Raspberry Pi

Saving water, several thousand lawns at a time: The MagPi magazine takes a look at the award-winning IoT sprinkler system of Coolest Projects USA participant Adarsh Ambati.

At any Coolest Projects event, you’re bound to see incredible things built by young makers. At Coolest Projects USA, we had the chance to talk to Adarsh Ambati about his community sprinkler and we were, frankly, amazed.

“The extreme, record-breaking drought in California inspired me to think of innovative ways to save water,” Adarsh tells us. “While going to school in the rain one day, I saw one of my neighbours with their sprinklers on, creating run-offs. Through research, I found that 25% of the water used in an average American household is wasted each day due to overwatering and inefficient watering methods. Thus, I developed a sprinkler system that is compliant with water regulations, to cost-effectively save water for entire neighbourhoods using a Raspberry Pi, moisture sensors, PyOWM (weather database), and by utilising free social media networks like Twitter.”

Efficient watering

In California, it’s very hot year round, so if you want a lush, green lawn you need to keep the grass watered. The record-breaking drought Adarsh was referring to resulted in extreme limitations on how much you could water your grass. The problem is, unless you have a very expensive sprinkler system, it’s easy to water the grass when it doesn’t need to be.

“The goal of my project is to save water wasted during general-purpose landscape irrigation of an entire neighbourhood by building a moisture sensor-based smart sprinkler system that integrates real-time weather forecast data to provide only optimum levels of water required,” Adarsh explains. “It will also have Twitter capabilities that will be able to publish information about when and how long to turn on the sprinklers, through the social networks. The residents in the community will subscribe to this information by following an account on Twitter, and utilise it to prevent water wasted during general-purpose landscaping and stay compliant with water regulations imposed in each area.”

Using the Raspberry Pi, Adarsh was able to build a prototype for about $50 — a lot cheaper than smart sprinklers you can currently buy on the market.

“I piloted it with ten homes, so the cost per home is around $5,” he reveals. “But since it has the potential to serve an entire community, the cost per home can be a few cents. For example, there are about 37000 residents in Almaden Valley, San Jose (where I live). If there is an average of two to four residents per home, there should be 9250 to 18500 homes. If I strategically place ten such prototypes, the cost per house would be five cents or less.”

Massive saving

Adarsh continues, “Based on two months of data, 83% of the water used for outdoor landscape watering can be saved. The average household in northern California uses 100 gallons of water for outdoor landscaping on a daily basis. The ten homes in my pilot had the potential to save roughly 50000 gallons over a two-month period, or 2500 gallons per month per home. At $0.007 per gallon, the savings equate to $209 per year, per home. For Almaden Valley alone, we have the potential to save around $2m to $4m per year!”

The results from Adarsh’s test were presented to the San Jose City Council, and they were so impressed they’re now considering putting similar systems in their public grass areas. Oh, and he also won the Hardware project category at Coolest Projects USA.

The MagPi magazine #83

This article is from today’s brand-new issue of The MagPi, the official Raspberry Pi magazine. Buy it from all good newsagents, subscribe to pay less per issue and support our work, or download the free PDF to give it a try first.

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Celebrating Bike to Work Day at SparkFun

via SparkFun: Commerce Blog

You may be asking yourself, "Hey, wasn't national Bike to Work Day Friday, May 17th?" The answer is yes, but SparkFun is in Colorado so everything is different... and today is Bike to Work Day!

I usually ride my bike to work to avoid the traffic that comes with the seemingly endless population growth in Boulder County, but on this day I welcome the extra crowds on the bike path. This is one of those rare days where the electronics we build and design aren't the main reason I'm excited to come to work, so I'm going to brag a bit about how SparkFun enables us to take the road less traveled.

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Last year our cultural engagement team designed The Spoke House: part bike garage, part DIY bike repair station, all SparkFun – and complete with tools and spare tubes to perform basic maintenance and fix any flat tires you may get coming to or from work. This is also a popular stop to show on tours, so if you are ever walking through feel free to push the big red button to show off some SparkFun flair!

SparkFun Bike Shop

Bikes are plagued with umpteen different standards for fasteners and bottom brackets, but 3D printers have so far solved every issue we've come across so far! This is a bottom bracket installation and removal tool I made just the other day.

If you find there are not enough hours in the day for all your bike maintenance needs, we have a local bike mechanic who stops by once per month to perform any tune-ups and repairs that are beyond DIY. Shout-out to Rob for keeping us riding in smooth, blissful, squeak-free silence!

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The SparkFun bike library includes a collaboration with Community Cycles in Boulder, with two bikes employees can check out to ride to lunch or a post-work happy hour. We have a great network of trails just outside our business park that lead to countless restaurants and six breweries within four miles!

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Last October SparkFun won the Denver area Bike-tober challenge (we will be defending our title this fall). Below is one of our congratulatory television commercials captured by one of our employees!

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Here are some of the other perks our cyclists have in house:

  • Locker rooms and showers
  • Bikes from previous Burning Man adventures (wild colors, and dirtier than I have ever gotten my own bike)
  • Several iterations and varying levels of success on DIY electric assist bikes

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"Get on your bikes AND RIDE!" - Freddie Mercury

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Raspberry Pi 4: 48 hours later

via Raspberry Pi

“We’ve never felt more betrayed and excited at the same time,” admitted YouTubers 8 Bits and a Byte when I told them Raspberry Pi 4 would be out in June, going against rumours of the release happening at some point in 2020. Fortunately, everything worked in our favour, and we were able to get our new product out ahead of schedule.

So, while we calm down from the hype of Monday, here’s some great third-party content for you to get your teeth into.


A select few online content creators were allowed to get their hands on Raspberry Pi 4 before its release date, and they published some rather wonderful videos on the big day.

Office favourite Explaining Computers provided viewers with a brilliant explanation of the ins and outs of Raspberry Pi 4, and even broke their usually Sunday-only release schedule to get the video out to fans for launch day. Thanks, Chris!

Raspberry Pi 4 Model B

Raspberry Pi 4B review, including the hardware specs of this new single board computer, and a demo running the latest version of Raspbian. With thanks to the Raspberry Pi Foundation for supplying the board featured in this video.

Blitz City DIY offered viewers a great benchmark test breakdown, delving deeper into the numbers and what they mean, to show the power increase compared to Raspberry Pi 3B+.

A Wild Raspberry Pi 4 Appears: Hardware Specs, Benchmarks & First Impressions

The Raspberry Pi 4 B has been released into the wild much earlier than anticipated. I was able to receive a review sample so here are the hardware specs, some benchmarks comparing it to the Pi 3 B and Pi 3 B+ and finally some first impressions.

Curious about how these creators were able to get their hands on Raspberry Pi 4 prior to its release? This is legitimately how Estefannie bagged herself the computer pre-launch. Honest.


I needed a new Raspberry Pi. FIND ME HERE: * * * * *

For their launch day video, Dane and Nicole, AKA 8 Bits and a Byte, built a pi-calculating pie that prints pies using a Raspberry Pi 4. Delicious.

The new Raspberry Pi 4 – Highlights & Celebration Project!

There’s a new Raspberry Pi, the Raspberry Pi 4! We give you a quick overview and build a project to welcome the Raspberry Pi 4 to the world!

Alex from Low Spec Gamer took his Raspberry Pi 4 home with him after visiting the office to talk to Eben. Annoyingly, I was away on vacation and didn’t get to meet him :(

Raspberry Pi 4 Hands-on. I got an early unit!

Watch the best documentaries on Curiosity Stream: #RaspberryPi4 #HandsOn #Preview A new Raspberry Pi joins the fray. I got an early Raspberry Pi 4 and decided to explore some of its differences with Eben Upton, founder of Raspberry Pi. All benchmarks run on an early version of the new raspbian.

The MagPi magazine managed to collar Raspberry Pi Trading’s COO James Adams for their video, filmed at the Raspberry Pi Store in Cambridge.

Introducing Raspberry Pi 4! + interview with a Raspberry Pi engineer

The brand new Raspberry Pi 4 is here! With up to 4GB of RAM, 4K HDMI video, Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0, and USB C, it is the ultimate Raspberry Pi. We talk to Raspberry Pi hardware lead James Adams about its amazing performance.

Some rather lovely articles

If you’re looking to read more about Raspberry Pi 4 and don’t know where to start, here are a few tasty treats to get you going:

Raspberry Pi 4 isn’t the only new thing to arrive this week. Raspbian Buster is now available for Raspberry Pi, and you can read more about it here.

Join the Raspberry Pi 4 conversation by using #RaspberryPi4 across all social platforms, and let us know what you plan to do with your new Raspberry Pi.

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