Monthly Archives: February 2021

Getting the Right Asset Ratio

via SparkFun: Commerce Blog

Welcome back to another Friday Product Post, everyone! We have a few new products to show off this fine Friday and we are going to start with the brand new MicroMod Asset Tracker! This new Carrier Board for MicroMod is a fantastically robust Cellular/GNSS asset tracking board utilizing the u-blox SARA-R5 module. Like all MicroMod products, you decide which Processor Board you use with it, however we are also releasing a new MicroMod Update Tool. Just in case you want to install the neat little MicroMod Asset Tracker Firmware Update Tool, you'll be able to! Finally this week, we have a new version of the Basic Kit for the Raspberry Pi 4. Let's jump in and take a closer look!

You decide what you want to track, now with MicroMod!

SparkFun MicroMod Asset Tracker Carrier Board

SparkFun MicroMod Asset Tracker Carrier Board

DEV-17272
$149.95

The SparkFun MicroMod Asset Tracker Carrier Board provides you with a toolkit to monitor and track the location of your assets. Built around the u-blox SARA-R510M8S module, the asset tracker offers Secure Cloud LTE-M and NB-IoT data communication for multi-regional use and has an integrated u-blox M8 GNSS receiver for accurate positioning information. The SARA-R5 supports many different forms of data communication from full TCP/IP sockets and packet switched data, from HTTP Get/Put/Post, FTP (the SARA has a built-in file system), Ping, to good old SMS text messaging!


SparkFun MicroMod Update Tool

SparkFun MicroMod Update Tool

DEV-17725
$4.95

The SparkFun MicroMod Update Tool is built to interface with the MicroMod Asset Tracker Carrier Board and also makes it simple to communicate directly with the u-blox SARA-R510M8S module using u-blox’s sophisticated m-center cellular evaluation software. If you’re familiar with u-center, u-blox’s GNSS evaluation software, you’ll know how excellent their software is. M-center is every bit as good. Attach a USB-C cable and away you go!

This board is included with the Asset Tracker Carrier Board above, but we wanted to offer it on its own in case you needed more than one. We do plan on releasing more boards that can utilize the Update Tool so it is available now, early, in case you need it!


SparkFun Raspberry Pi 4 Basic Kit - 8GB

SparkFun Raspberry Pi 4 Basic Kit - 8GB

KIT-17980
$114.95

The Raspberry Pi 4 Basic Kit includes everything you'll need to get up and running with the new Raspberry Pi 4 8GB. The Pi 4 moves to a MicroHDMI Connector for monitors and a USB Type C connector for powering the board. Inside the kit you will find a MicroHDMI to HDMI cable and the Raspberry Pi wall adapter - two things needed to run the Pi, but that you probably didn't have sitting around already. The wall adapter provides 15.3W of power, enough to properly power the Pi and most projects.


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! Please be safe out there, be kind to one another, and we'll see you next week with even more new products!

Never miss a new product!

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News(letter) From our Friends at Elektor

via SparkFun: Commerce Blog

A few weeks ago we introduced you to our friends at Elektor (check out the blog post). They recently updated their newsletter and are excited to share the new format!

Screenshot of Elektor's newsletter

We recommend exploring their different list options that include:

  • Editorial: Every Friday, you’ll receive the best articles and projects of the week. Elektor covers MCU-based projects, IoT, programming, AI and more.

  • Promotional: Don’t miss Elektor shop promotions - every Tuesday and Thursday they send out special deals.

  • Industry: Looking to stay informed about ongoing activities within the industry? This occasional-Wednesdays e-mail will give you the best insights!

If you’re interested in learning more about Elektor or their newsletters, head over to their site. Everyone who signs up for the newsletter will get a free treat from Elektor!

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Artemis Update: Arduino Apollo3 Core v2.0.5

via SparkFun: Commerce Blog

Arduino Apollo3 Core (v2.0.5)

We have been working hard to update our Arduino Core for fixing bugs and adding some exciting new features to support our Artemis line of products.

SparkFun Thing Plus - Artemis

SparkFun Thing Plus - Artemis

WRL-15574
$20.95
SparkFun RedBoard Artemis Nano

SparkFun RedBoard Artemis Nano

DEV-15443
$14.95
5
SparkFun RedBoard Artemis

SparkFun RedBoard Artemis

DEV-15444
$19.95
8
SparkFun RedBoard Artemis ATP

SparkFun RedBoard Artemis ATP

DEV-15442
$24.95
1

Over a year ago, SparkFun set out to develop the next flagship microprocessor module that can be a mainstay for future generations of development boards. The SparkFun Artemis module contains an extremely fast Cortex-M4F with BLE 5.0 running up to 96MHz, and with power as low as 6uA per MHz (less than 5mW). A lot of work up front was getting FCC/IC/CE certification – the world’s first open source, US manufactured, BLE module – and the feedback from a hardware perspective has been great. Since then we've put our efforts toward the software side to make sure you can utilize the full power of the Artemis module (especially the onboard BLE 5.0). Below you can get a rundown of where we are now and make sure to ask any questions in the comments below about the future of Artemis!


 

Mbed-OS Core

Starting with v2.0.0, our Arduino core has been built on an Mbed OS foundation. The core still contains all of the functions that you expect from Arduino, but what is happening “under the hood” has changed.

The most immediate benefit that this has is compatibility with the ArduinoBLE library (right now you may get some compatibility warnings - these can be ignored, and will go away in the future).

Other benefits include access to Mbed OS functionality! Check out the Mbed OS API for some of what this means. Behind the mbed:: and rtos:: namespaces you will find access to the Mbed infrastructure; this includes functionality you would expect from an RTOS (real-time operating system), including threads. If you are looking for a place to start working with some of this functionality, try out our examples. A particular example to call attention to is located in Examples->Apollo3->Threads. This allows the Apollo3 module to run multiple “programs,” no longer constraining you to a single loop().

 

The Latest

V2.0.5 included build fixes for Linux users, fixes to our SPI implementation that were causing build errors, Serial fixes for the Artemis Nano, and build fixes for windows users with spaces in their username. Check out the latest patch notes for this release, and all releases, on our releases page.

 

What's Next?!

Right now we are focusing on bug fixes and compatibility improvements, but we have some exciting ideas for the future. If you have your own ideas or suggestions, let us know in the comments below!

If you want to see a preview of our latest versions before they go live, check the discussions page on GitHub for the latest updates!

 

V1 Core Support EOL

It's worth noting that the v1 core does not have the latest features, but may help you if you are encountering errors with the latest version. We will continue to keep this available to download for some time. If you have problems in the latest version, we would love to hear your feedback on GitHub. If you are happy with the v1 core and don’t want to switch, that's ok! But understand that this core will not see many more updates, and the support will wane over time.

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February 2021 coronavirus operations update

via Pololu Blog

We are approaching a year since governments in the US started shutting down businesses in response to the pandemic, and by this time last year, the then-novel coronavirus was already causing what we naively considered to be severe disruption to our operations because of the restrictions that were implemented in China. (We have an office in Shenzhen, and many parts we use, such as bare printed circuit boards, come from China even when our China office is not involved).

The past year has been so filled with ups and downs that it’s difficult to recall how things were when. In my last update in mid-November, I almost wrote something about no one at Pololu having tested positive for COVID yet. That same week, we had several employees test positive as we were caught up in Nevada’s surge in cases. Nevada, like many other states, newly tightened restrictions on businesses and public gatherings, and we scaled back in-person staff to only those necessary on premises for basic operations. Over the holiday period, we had an additional 10-15 people who had been back return to being off-site, leaving around 30 on-site. Fortunately, we seem to have prevented any coronavirus transmission here, and those who did get sick have recovered without serious complications.

Nevada’s government-mandated “pause” was extended twice, and some of the restrictions finally began easing in mid-February. We did have some additional isolated COVID cases among our employees this year, but we have been able to maintain production and shipping throughout this time. It looks like new infection rates are coming down and vaccination rates are going up, which makes it easy to be optimistic that the worst is finally behind us. Like everyone else in the world, we don’t know what changes are still ahead and how close we are to full (or at least substantial) resumption of activities, but it was a big relief at least to make it through 2020, and now the first two months of 2021.

Looking back, we were fortunate to be where we were when the pandemic hit us. One major example is that we did some fairly substantial renovations from 2018-2019, and we spent most of 2019 with big holes in our floors and many areas of the building impassable. I had this hole outside my office starting in February 2019, and the stairs weren’t even usable until July (and they were finally finished even later)!

And our production area looks much better today than it did for most of 2019:

And while it’s still sad to see how empty and underutilized our breakroom has been for the past year, it still beats the piles of dirt we had inside less than a year before.

2020 was stressful enough as it was, and I am very grateful we wrapped up the remodeling by the time the pandemic hit. I feel so sorry for all the businesses who made similar recent investments before the pandemic and then had their businesses completely shut down. At least we are still able to use the space, and I hope it will eventually see more use as it gets safer to have more people in the building.

So, where does that leave us going forward? I’m reminded of a false “proof” by induction, that I can carry infinite weight because I know I can carry some weight and for any weight I can carry, I can carry one gram more. It’s easy to take it for granted and get lulled into complacency that since we’ve made it this far, we’ll make it forever. (That keeps being true until it’s not.) However, I do want to recognize that while in some sense we lost a year, in many ways, we are in a better place than we were a year ago. One way we are acknowledging this is to update our donation requests to be less about our survival. I am hesitant to completely remove those requests and declare victory since that would be an unwarranted arrogance, so I would rather reframe the donation requests as an invitation to support us if you like what we do, similar to how you might donate to content creators on YouTube or Patreon.

Our operations are still stretched fairly thin since we have about 30% fewer people doing almost the same amount of work as we did a year ago. Some things are more difficult to do now than before, but we also have a more experienced core team and we keep working on our processes to do things better. Our emphasis is on normal production and order fulfillment, which I hope has gone well enough that most customers will not have noticed any changes. New challenges, including component shortages and other supply chain disruptions, keep cropping up, but that was also true of just normal life before the pandemic, too. Some of our extra support and special services like product customizations have been affected, but we will work on improving those and on more effective ways to address the very broad range of challenges our customers face.

Thank you to everyone who has supported us and helped us get through this past year. We hope the worst is behind us, and we will keep working hard to contribute to a better future for all of us.

U-blox Shares Five Trends in GPS

via SparkFun: Commerce Blog

Our Friends at u-blox have released an article, “Five Trends in GPS: Satellite-based positioning is everywhere; a look back at 2020 offers some insights into how it will shape our future.”

The article delves into the following trends:

  • Smaller, faster, more efficient - getting physically smaller, tracking more satellites, and using less power
  • Security - from antenna to cloud, implementing solutions to avoid misuse of GPS
  • From centimeter to nansecond accuracies - the adoption of high-precision, low-cost technology will accelerate across industries
  • New paradigms in e-micromobility - use of GPS in small, light weight vehicles (like scooters and ebikes) will become more advanced and multifunctional
  • Immersive experiences and other surprises - innovators will continue to innovate and create/discover completely new applications


SparkFun's Line of GNSS Solutions Using u-blox Modules

Technology is complex. Positioning and wireless communication is extremely complex. To bring the most useful products to market, companies must work together. For several years now, SparkFun has partnered with u-blox to develop innovative positioning, communication, and timing boards. u-blox has a history of pushing the boundaries of innovation and SparkFun makes their technology easier to use and accelerates prototyping and R&D.

SparkFun GPS-RTK-SMA Breakout - ZED-F9P (Qwiic)

SparkFun GPS-RTK-SMA Breakout - ZED-F9P (Qwiic)

GPS-16481
$219.95
7
SparkFun GPS-RTK2 Board - ZED-F9P (Qwiic)

SparkFun GPS-RTK2 Board - ZED-F9P (Qwiic)

GPS-15136
$219.95
21
SparkFun RTK Surveyor

SparkFun RTK Surveyor

SPX-17369
$399.95
1
SparkFun GPS Breakout - NEO-M9N, U.FL (Qwiic)

SparkFun GPS Breakout - NEO-M9N, U.FL (Qwiic)

GPS-15712
$64.95
2
SparkFun GPS-RTK Dead Reckoning Breakout - ZED-F9R (Qwiic)

SparkFun GPS-RTK Dead Reckoning Breakout - ZED-F9R (Qwiic)

GPS-16344
$289.95
SparkFun GPS Breakout - Chip Antenna, SAM-M8Q (Qwiic)

SparkFun GPS Breakout - Chip Antenna, SAM-M8Q (Qwiic)

GPS-15210
$39.95
3
SparkFun GPS-RTK Board - NEO-M8P-2 (Qwiic)

SparkFun GPS-RTK Board - NEO-M8P-2 (Qwiic)

GPS-15005
$199.95
6
SparkFun GPS Breakout - NEO-M9N, SMA (Qwiic)

SparkFun GPS Breakout - NEO-M9N, SMA (Qwiic)

GPS-17285
$69.95
2
SparkFun GPS Dead Reckoning Breakout - NEO-M8U (Qwiic)

SparkFun GPS Dead Reckoning Breakout - NEO-M8U (Qwiic)

GPS-16329
$69.95
2
SparkFun GPS-RTK Dead Reckoning pHAT for Raspberry Pi

SparkFun GPS-RTK Dead Reckoning pHAT for Raspberry Pi

GPS-16475
$249.95
SparkFun GPS Breakout - NEO-M9N, Chip Antenna (Qwiic)

SparkFun GPS Breakout - NEO-M9N, Chip Antenna (Qwiic)

GPS-15733
$69.95
2
SparkFun GPS Breakout - ZOE-M8Q (Qwiic)

SparkFun GPS Breakout - ZOE-M8Q (Qwiic)

GPS-15193
$44.95
5

Want to Learn More About GPS?

Check out our "Building a GPS System" resource page.

 

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Updating your micro:bit Accessories

via SparkFun: Commerce Blog

Hello and welcome back to another Friday Product Post! This week we have a few new products to cover and they mainly focus on new accessories for the micro:bit v2. We start the day with the MI:power Board V2 that supplies power to your micro:bit while on the move. After that, we have two new versions of the MI:pro cases to protect your micro:bit from the elements and ESD issues. We also have a header kit for your Raspberry Pi Pico and a new 2.5 mm audio cable! Now, let's jump in and take a closer look at what we've got.

Kitronik MI:power Board V2

Kitronik MI:power Board V2

DEV-17852
$6.95

The MI:power Board for the BBC micro:bit brings real portability to your wearable projects. The stylish, lightweight PCB is designed to fit snugly against the BBC micro:bit and features a built-in buzzer and 3V coin cell holder. This latest version has been redesigned to fit both the original micro:bit and micro:bit V2.


MI:pro Protector Case for micro:bit V2

MI:pro Protector Case for micro:bit V2

PRT-17867
$4.95

This MI:pro Protector Case for the BBC micro:bit has been designed to work with both the original micro:bit V1 and the micro:bit V2. These cases feature a four-layer construction style with ability to mount a 2xAAA battery pack to the back of the case while still providing access to all buttons and ports on the micro:bit. Though these cases do protect the micro:bit astoundingly well, the biggest benefit of using the MI:pro is to not accidentally short out the pads on the back of the micro:bit.


MI:pro Mountable Case for micro:bit V2

MI:pro Mountable Case for micro:bit V2

PRT-17868
$4.95

The Mountable MI:pro is a simple and compact protective case for the micro:bit. This case has been specifically designed with portability and expansion in mind and is compatible with both the original micro:bit V1 and the micro:bit V2. These cases feature a three-layer construction style with ability to wall-mount the whole assembly onto any surface you want while still providing access to all buttons and ports on the micro:bit. Though these cases do feature wall-mountable tabs, the biggest benefit of using a case is to not accidentally short out the pads on the back of the micro:bit, just like the Protector Case above.


Raspberry Pi Pico Headers Kit

Raspberry Pi Pico Headers Kit

PRT-17907
$1.25

The Raspberry Pi Pico Headers Kit provides you with the exact set of solderable headers to get your Raspberry Pi Pico connected to a breadboard or other circuit. This set includes two 20-pin headers, and one 3-pin header; the pins are spaced by 0.1in.


Audio Cable to Alligator Clips - 2.5mm

Audio Cable to Alligator Clips - 2.5mm

CAB-17983
$0.95

This is an Audio to Alligator Cable, an 8-inch 22AWG wire with two alligator clips at one end and a 2.5 mm mono plug at the other.


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! Please be safe out there, be kind to one another, and we'll see you next week with even more new products!

Never miss a new product!

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