Author Archives: Bobby Chan

A Sneak Preview of Our Latest Qwiic Product

via SparkFun: Commerce Blog

Have you ever had problems trying to daisy chain Qwiic-enabled boards with only ONE Qwiic connector? Or maybe you need a Qwiic-enabled device that is not in the middle of a daisy chain? The brilliant minds from our SparkFun engineering team have come up with a solution through rigorous testing... introducing the Qwiic MultiStar!

Qwiic MultiStar Preview

Let's take a sneak peak at the fabulous five features of the Qwiic MultiStar!

Qwiic Wire Splicing!

Gone are the days of splicing together wires with a cutter, wire stripper, soldering iron and heat shrink (even electrical tape) to make a connection to boards that only have one Qwiic connector.

Qwiic Cable Spliced without MultiStar

Save time by chanting the number of Qwiic cables that you need and throwing the Qwiic MultiStar at a long Qwiic cable!

Long Qwiic Cable Breaking into Smaller Qwiic Cables

The Qwiic cable will be divided into smaller Qwiic cables upon contact. You also have the option of removing each smaller Qwiic cable from the Qwiic MultiStar. Amazing!

MultiStar with Smaller Qwiic Cables

Expanding on Boards with One Qwiic Connector!!

Depending on the design, there may only be enough room for one Qwiic connector. With the Qwiic MultiStar, you can connect these boards with ease without the need to splice wires together! In addition to chanting the number and throwing the board at the cable, make sure to also have your Qwiic-enabled devices nearby to automatically connect your project together!

Qwiic Cable Connected to Boards Each with One Qwiic Connector

Alternatives to Daisy Chained Configurations!!!

The Qwiic MultiStar can also be used as a hub so that you do not have to place the board with one Qwiic connector at the end of the daisy chain.

Qwiic Cable Divided with Qwiic MultiStar and Connected to Qwiic Devices

Qwiic Mounting!!!!

Remember the leftover PCBs from LilyPad boards that were thrown up at the ceiling in the previous SparkFun HQ building? Or those LED throwies from way back when? We thought it would be an excellent to build on these ideas by making sure the Qwiic MultiStar was extra pointy so that you could mount your project to the ceiling or wall! Just make sure to wear a pair of safety glasses and ensure that there isn't a person in the Qwiic MultiStar's path as it's being thrown.

Mounted on the wall is the Qwiic OpenLog Artemis connected to GPS, LiPo battery, BME280/CCS811 Environmental Combo Board, and MultiStar

Qwiic Climbing!!!!!

I'm great at dancing but really bad at climbing. Luckly, I had the Qwiic MultiStar with a Qwiic cable to help.

Stress Testing the MultiStar Throw at a Wall in the Middle of a Flip

By throwing the Qwiic MultiStar and attached Qwiic cable at a wall, any Qwiic cable connected will become infinitely stronger. The tensile strength is off the charts! Once thrown at the surface of a wall, the cable will hold your weight so that you can scale walls!

Attempting to Climb a Wall with the MultiStar and Qwiic Cable

Stay Tuned

We're still trying to figure out where the Qwiic MultiStar draws its powers from to splice Qwiic cables, hold its shape when thrown at a metal wall, and strengthen cable wires. Is it from the power of the sun? Dark matter?! Magic from another dimension?!? One thing is for sure - you'll love this outstanding product for your next Qwiic project!

Stress Testing with the MultiStar Project Thrown at the Wall

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Pi Day: Programming with Raspberry Pi

via SparkFun: Commerce Blog

In honor of Pi Day today, let's check out some Pi-related tutorials so you can get started in programming!

Single Board Computers

Over the past year, SparkFun has released a variety of kits to get started using Raspberry Pi's single board, low cost, high performance computer depending on your needs and what you have available! Each kit offers a Pi 4 with your choice of RAM size. Have a Raspberry Pi already? We also have kits without a Pi as well.

Basic Kit Version Desktop Kit Hardware Starter Kit Version
Basic Kit Desktop Kit Hardware Starter Kit

For more information on what is included in each kit and how to connect to your Raspberry Pi 4, check out our tutorial on the Raspberry Pi 4 Hookup Guide.

Raspberry Pi 4 Kit Hookup Guide

March 14, 2020

Guide for hooking up your Raspberry Pi 4 Model B basic, desktop, or hardware starter kit together.

Once you have your chosen single board computer, we recommend checking out these additional add-on kits using the Qwiic Connect System. Each kit offers different Qwiic-enabled devices to help get you started with programming in Python without the hassle of soldering or wiring your circuit together.

New!

Qwiic SHIM Kit for Raspberry Pi Hookup Guide

February 16, 2021

Get started with the Serial LCD with RGB backlight and 9DoF IMU (ICM-20948) via I2C using the Qwiic system and Python on a Raspberry Pi! Take sensor readings and display them in the serial terminal or SerLCD.

Qwiic Kit for Raspberry Pi Hookup Guide

July 4, 2019

Get started with the CCS811, BME280, VCNL4040, and microOLED via I2C using the Qwiic system and Python on a Raspberry Pi! Take sensor readings from the environment and display them on the microOLED, serial terminal, or the cloud with Cayenne!

Microcontrollers

The RP2040, Raspberry Pi Foundation's first microcontroller, is great for those looking to run less complex projects that don't need the size and power of a single board computer. Learn more about the RP2040-based boards from SparkFun to get started programming in C/C++ or MicroPython!

MicroMod RP2040 Processor Board Hookup Guide

January 21, 2021

This tutorial covers the basic functionality of the MicroMod RP2040 Processor Board and highlights the features of the dual-core ARM Cortex-M0+ processors development board. Get started with the first microcontroller from the Raspberry Pi Foundation!

RP2040 Thing Plus Hookup Guide

January 21, 2021

Want to take a stab at advancing your programming skills? Check out the SparkFun Thing Plus - RP2040, with the first microcontroller from the Raspberry Pi Foundation. This guide will get you started with the RP2040; later, users can follow up with the documentation from the Raspberry Pi Foundation to familiarize themselves with programming in MicroPython and C/C++.

Pro Micro RP2040 Hookup Guide

January 21, 2021

This tutorial covers the basic functionality of the Pro Micro RP2040 and highlights the features of the dual-core ARM Cortex-M0+ processors development board. Get started with the first microcontroller from the Raspberry Pi Foundation!

More Raspberry Pi

The fun doesn't stop there! Check out our other tutorials tagged with Raspberry Pi for more inspiration. Happy Pi Day!

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Qwiic GPS Clock

via SparkFun: Commerce Blog

Ah, I remember it now - walking through the halls of the old SparkFun building and being amazed by all the cool projects. One project that caught my eyes was Nate's alphanumeric GPS wall clock.

Nate's Alphanumeric Clock

Serial GPS Clock

The alphanumeric GPS wall clock project inspired me to build my own one day. After working in technical support on a few cases related to GPS, I started getting familiar with GPS receivers and libraries. I gathered the parts and built a GPS clock of my own.

This required me to solder the parts together. I decided to use Mikal Hart's TinyGPSPlus library that did most of the heavy lifting to parse the serial data and wrote some code to display the current time as a challenge. It was big with wires sticking out, as expected from a prototype. I was quite satisfied with how it turned out and just left it mounted on a piece of cardboard.

Just like Nate, I had the same issue where we had to fall back and spring forward the time whenever daylight savings time hit. I had to adjust the code and re-upload back to the Arduino a few times. I decided to update the code by adding/subtracting an hour using a piece of jumper wire acting as a switch. It still works to this day!

Bobby's Old GPS Clock with UART Pins

Qwiic GPS Clock

Time flies and there have been advances in technology. With uBlox GPS modules and Qwiic-enabled devices, it's even quicker to build a GPS clock! For this version of the GPS clock, I managed to bring down the size of the clock using the Qwiic Micro with SAMD21 and Qwiic Micro OLED breakout. The Qwiic cables are more aesthetically pleasing to the eye compared to the dangling jumper wires connecting to a breadboard. What's great about the Qwiic Micro OLED is that it has the ability to draw characters and objects on the display. Thus, time can be displayed as a digital or analog clock.

Qwiic GPS Clock with Qwiic micro OLED and Qwiic Micro (SAMD21)

If you are looking to build a Qwiic-enabled GPS clock, check out the tutorial below! The tutorial uses the RedBoard Qwiic with ATmega328P for those that have an SparkFun Inventor's Kit v4.1 and were looking for another project. However, it was tested to work on the Qwiic Micro's SAMD21 should you decide to go smaller and want to try a different microcontroller as well.

The code can be adjusted for 12-hour/24-hour format depending on your personal preference. You'll need to tweak the code for daylight savings time depending on your region. If you decide to use a different output, you can grab the template to modify the code with your choice of display! At the time of this writing, I managed to squeezed in examples with the SerLCD and 7-segment serial LED display to display the date/time.

New!

Qwiic GPS Clock

September 14, 2020

What time is it? Time for you to... Qwiic-ly build a GPS clock and output it to a display! This project provides you with the current date and time using GPS satellites. Read the date and time as a digital or analog clock. Or even configure the clock for military, your time zone, or automatically adjust the time for daylight savings time!

Making It Better

So what are the next steps to the project? I'd probably want to mount the Qwiic GPS clock on a panel or inside an enclosure. Or maybe add a Qwiic button to easily switch between modes depending on the display. To prevent the OLED from screen burn-in, I'd probably turn off the micro OLED when not in use and wake it up using a distance sensor. Until next time!


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Enginursday: Qwiic Digital Indoor Thermometer

via SparkFun: Commerce Blog

Is it cold in the room or is it just me? That's the question that came up a few times when I was working in the building. I thought to myself, what is the current temperature? I dug into my storage box of parts to quickly build a thermometer. After testing a few temperature sensors, I finally decided on using the TMP117.

Reading the output on the computer was great, but I usually have several windows and tabs open. Rather than have another window clutter my screen, I wanted to have the output on a separate display. There are several options available in the catalog. I decided to take advantage of the small Qwiic 1.0"x1.0" size and opted for the Qwiic micro OLED. Instead of using the RedBoard Qwiic, I decided to go small as well with the Qwiic Micro.

With some standoffs and Qwiic cables, I built up my Qwiic tower of sensing power! Coding was a breeze by looking at the examples for the TMP117, TMP102 and microOLED. One piece of code that I also added and thought was useful was a progress bar from SparkFun Inventor's Kit for Photon (thanks Jim!). I wanted the option to scroll through different views (degrees Celsius, Fahrenheit, or both temperatures at the same time) so that I knew when to expect the next view. However, if that's not your cup of tea, there is an option to just display one view depending on your personal preference.

Qwiic Stack

So if you are looking to measure the ambient temperature of the room with either the TMP117 or TMP102, check out the tutorial below!

New!

Qwiic Digital Indoor Thermometer

July 15, 2020

Qwiic-ly build a digital indoor thermometer to measure the ambient temperature of the room and display it using an OLED on an I2C bus!

Well that was some "Qwiic" fun. Onto the next project!

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Wireless Remote Weather Station with micro:bit

via SparkFun: Commerce Blog

Did you install your micro:climate kit in a remote, hard-to-reach location and need to pull weather data easily from the comfort of your own home? Or, maybe you want to add a timestamp. With the radio blocks, a second micro:bit and the gator:RTC, you can obtain these readings wirelessly with ease.

Check out the tutorial to add additional functionality to your micro:climate kit!

New!

Wireless Remote Weather Station with micro:bit

May 11, 2020

Monitor the weather without being exposed to it through wireless communication between two micro:bits using the radio blocks! This is useful if your weather station is installed in a location that is difficult to retrieve data from the OpenLog. We will also explore a few different ways to send and receive data.

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Raspberry Pi Safe Reboot and Shutdown Button

via SparkFun: Commerce Blog

Pulling the plug on your Raspberry Pi before it safely shuts down... is a bad idea! This can result in a corrupt microSD card and file system. Normally, we can use the menu bar from the GUI or type a command in the terminal window to safely shutdown the Pi.

If you are looking for a quicker solution (especially if you are using a headless setup), have no fear! You can safely turn your Raspberry Pi off using a general purpose button and a Python script! We use this ability with the Pi AVR Programmer HAT in production after programming and testing certain boards. For more information, check out the tutorial below!

New!

Raspberry Pi Safe Reboot and Shutdown Button

April 20, 2020

Safely reboot or shutdown your Raspberry Pi to avoid corrupting the microSD card using the built-in general purpose button on the Qwiic pHAT v2.0!

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