Monthly Archives: November 2021

AWS IoT ExpressLink and MicroMod

via SparkFun: Commerce Blog

If you have been watching AWS re:Invent, you may have seen that SparkFun has teamed up with u-blox and AWS to create a new asset tracking kit that utilizes the SARA-R5 module and provides all you need to connect a device to AWS IoT Core over a cellular LTE-M network. We are happy to present to you, the AWS IoT ExpressLink SARA-R5 Starter Kit! The specialized SARA-R5 module on the board supports the AWS IoT ExpressLink AT command set, which aims to make the app developer’s life easy.

AWS IoT ExpressLink SARA-R5 Starter Kit

AWS IoT ExpressLink SARA-R5 Starter Kit


Built around AWS IoT ExpressLink, the Starter Kit offers AWS IoT Core access with a pre-activated SIM card for global use already inserted in the slot. The kit includes a SARA-R5 module mounted on a SparkFun MicroMod Asset Tracker Carrier Board into which a SparkFun MicroMod processor board can be inserted, allowing the module to be used with many different microprocessors. An ESP32 Processor Board is included in the kit allowing to run examples or demo applications.

Individuals who purchase the AWS IoT ExpressLink SARA-R5 Starter Kit are early adopters to the AWS IoT Core. This kit is a limited run with just shy of 200 units available! We do not currently have plans to build more in the near future. So, if you are able to get your hands on the kit, you will be one of the select few to start building with it before anyone else. Our partner, u-blox, will continue to enhance the firmware for this product in the mean time. To support this effort, SparkFun will provide u-blox the contact information for customers who purchase this kit so they may reach out for firmware feedback.

Please keep in mind that this kit is available for pre-order. Orders will be fulfilled in the order they are received. If you are ordering these products alongside "Live/in-stock" products and want to receive these products ASAP, be sure to designate your order for split shipments in checkout. We do expect to start shipping these kits within the next few days, though!

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Rechargeable Wooden "Candle"

via SparkFun: Commerce Blog

Keeping it simple

Working at SparkFun, I get to see awesome new products released week after week and the ideas that come from those products are limitless. Free time, however, is not limitless. Over the years I've enjoyed mixing my hobby of woodworking with my SparkFun-esque ideas. In this case, keeping things simple is just what I needed in order to come up with a gift idea for some family members that I'm calling a rechargeable wooden candle.

Alarm at daytime.

The project

My initial requirements were that this project needed to be able to:

  • be portable
  • be rechargeable
  • have an on/off switch
  • have a long battery life
  • give off around the same amount of light as a candle
  • look nice, of course!

Based on my requirements, I used the following parts:

The SparkFun LiPo Charger Plus ended up being the perfect little board for this project given that it can control power from a LiPo while charging at the same time. It was as simple as hooking up the Rocker Switch to control the single LED.

The build

I had a smaller board of some rough cut walnut lying around, so I jointed an edge and sent it through the planer to smooth out. I then cut matching 3" squares and glued four stacked squares together to make a block with alternating grain patterns. After the glue dried, I hollowed out space for the electronics. I cut down 1.5" with a 1.5" Forstner Bit on the top of the block and then went all the way through the middle of that circle with a 1/4" bit. This is the hole where I placed the LED and, ultimately, poured epoxy in to. The next step was hollowing out the bottom 5/8" deep while leaving a little more than a 1/4" on the outside of the block.

The trickiest part of this was aligning the USB-C port of the LiPo charger to the edge of the piece. This took some fine work with a Dremel tool, a bit of work with a small chisel and a file to make it fit just right.


The electronics

The electronics of this build were very simple, as you can see from the Fritzing Diagram below. It wasn't much more than just routing the power out from the LiPo Charger Plus to the rocker switch and then completing the circuit through the single LED.


parts for the project


The result

For the most part, I'm happy with how my first round of these turned out. One thing I will probably do on the next build is add a little less color to the epoxy mixture to make these just a bit brighter. I really like the fact that they can be moved around the house or even taken outside for a little mood lighting on the patio. Mine is currently sitting beside my bed for late night bathroom trips so I can see well enough to not step on the dog and not have too much light to wake up my better half.


project lit up on a shelf


Thanks for reading! If you like the craftsmanship element of this post below are a few other projects I've done mixing electronics and woodworking.


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"Serenade"; 3D Mixed-Media Artwork by Tammy Carmona

via Pololu Blog

Artist Tammy Carmona recently used our laser cutting service to help create her 3D mixed-media artwork, “Serenade”, pictured above. Carmona writes about the piece:

    This mixed-media composition takes classical elements of music, and combines them with art in a decadent, delicious “feast for the eyes”.

    The piano-glossy notes, the authentic violin bows and an actual violin, the laser-cut butterflies, the preserved roses – each element brings a different sensation and a different meaning.

    Themes of rebirth and remembrance permeate this piece. The old violin is reborn with bursts of flowers, the old bows have found a new life supporting musical notes, the flowers are real preserved roses.

The music notes were laser cut out of black cast acrylic, which we stock regularly. The title sign for the piece, pictured below, was cut from the same material and raster engraved. A nice feature of the cast acrylic used in this piece is that it turns frosty white when engraved, which provides high contrast engravings.

For a more detailed description of Carmona’s piece and additional pictures, visit her website here. More information about our laser cutting service can be found here.

Black acrylic notes from Tammy Carmona’s artwork, “Serenade”.

Title sign from Tammy Carmona’s artwork, “Serenade”.

Time for Deals – Black Friday/Cyber Monday Sale

via SparkFun: Commerce Blog

This year, we've combined our Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales into one, 4-day long sale. These deals are too good to miss, with select products up to 70% off. Plus, we're including a free SparkFun USB Thumb Drive (16GB) in every order! But hurry, sale pricing is only valid through Cyber Monday (11/29/21 at 11:59 p.m. MST), or while supplies last.

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Bonus Deal!

Any order placed between 11/26—11/29 will receive a FREE SparkFun USB Thumb Drive (16GB)!

No need to add to cart, but if you'd like more than one, they're on sale!
Note: Free Thumb Drive will be added during shipping and will not show in your cart.


Rules and Information:

  • Black Friday/Cyber Monday Sale runs from Friday, November 26 at 12:01 a.m. MST through Monday, November 29 at 11:59 p.m. MST.
  • SparkFun is closed Friday, November 26th. As such, customer service will not be available until regularly scheduled hours on Monday, November 29th.
  • All orders placed during the sale will receive a free SparkFun USB Thumb Drive (16GB). Do not add the free Thumb Drive to your cart, or you will be charged the sale price for the Thumb Drive. Each order will have a Thumb Drive automatically added to their order during our shipping process.
  • No rainchecks or backorders of sale items are allowed.
  • Orders cannot be combined during the sale.
  • Distributor and reseller accounts are not eligible for sale prices, unless specifically noted otherwise.
  • Information on holiday shipping deadlines are available here.

Please note: We will be working hard to ship as many orders as quickly as possible, but we cannot guarantee same-day shipping for sale orders. Please allow additional days for sale orders to ship due to increased volume.

P.S. If you're still trying to locate deals after this weekend, we highly recommend keeping tabs on the site next week. You never know when something might just randomly go on sale, wink wink.

Want a heads up on our next holiday surprise?

Sign up for our "Deals" List for the inside scoop!


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Happy Thanksgiving from SparkFun

via SparkFun: Commerce Blog

Hello everyone outside of the United States! It's that time of year again when those of us, here at SparkFun and elsewhere in the country, take some time to focus on family and give thanks for everything that was provided to us this last year. Now, it may be a little hard to find the good in the last year (and the year before that), but we know that it's there! We wanted to take time in today's post to not only thank YOU for everything you've done to support us this last year, but also to give you a bit of information on how the next few days are going to go.

An oldie but a goody from SparkFun Thanksgiving past...

SparkFun will be closed today, Thursday, November 25, and tomorrow, Friday, November 26, in observation of the Thanksgiving holiday here in the United States. We will resume normal operations on Monday, November 29.

Even though we will be closed tomorrow, we are still going to be posting our Black Friday / Cyber Monday sales information in place of the normal Friday Product Post tomorrow, so please be sure to check back to learn about the deals you can receive! I hear that you might even be able to score a free part whether you like it or not...

With the holidays rapidly approaching, we want to make sure you get your orders on time. Please refer to the shipping methods and dates below to get your order by Friday, December 24th.

We'll be going back to "normal" next week with more new products, more fun and informative blogs, and more of the SparkFun you know and love. Again, THANK YOU for everything you've helped us achieve this year and just know that we appreciate each and everyone of you.

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All About Surveyors

via SparkFun: Commerce Blog

Over the last year, we have endeavored to create the most affordable, yet highly accurate, real-time kinematic (RTK) positioning options currently available. SparkFun RTK Surveyors are enclosed and ready to use GNSS receivers for millimeter-level positioning - and the best part is, no programming is required! Now, we've created a page that explains the differences in each version and makes it easy to access popular RTK Surveyor resourcces.

Using the built-in Bluetooth connection via an ESP32 WROOM, enables you to use the RTK Surveyors with your choice of GIS applications on a personal phone or tablet. The RTK Surveyors act as an access point to connect with your smartphone or tablet and allow you to tailor a wide range of settings, including measurement rate, constellation choice, logging controls and more.

Whether you need an RTK Surveyor, RTK Express, RTK Express Plus or one of their corresponding kits, we'll help you figure out which one is right for you. We have also created guides and projects that will help teach you how to use each one of the surveyors and accessories you can use alongside them.

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