Author Archives: Chris McCarty

How’s the Weather, MicroMod?

via SparkFun: Commerce Blog

Hello and welcome to another Friday filled with new products! It's an auspicious week for us here are SparkFun because we are officially releasing the second set of boards for the MicroMod system. That's right, a new nRF52840 Processor and a Weather Carrier Board make their debut today, and we are so excited! While the nRF52840 Processor provides another option to connect your MicroMod project via IoT, the Weather Carrier allows you to turn that same project into a giant sensor station that can scan and relay loads of atmospheric and environmental data. Following the two new MicroMod boards, we have a new version of the JetBot Chassis for robotics applications, a new 6-channel servo driver, and a USB-to-serial cable. We have a lot to get through so let's jump in and take a closer look!

Check out what's new with MicroMod!

SparkFun MicroMod nRF52840 Processor

SparkFun MicroMod nRF52840 Processor

WRL-16984
$14.95

Featuring the nRF52840 SoC from Nordic Semiconductor, the SparkFun MicroMod nRF52840 Processor offers a powerful combination of ARM Cortex-M4 CPU and 2.4 GHz Bluetooth transceiver in the MicroMod form-factor with the M.2 MicroMod connector to allow you to plug in a compatible MicroMod Carrier Board with any number of peripherals.


SparkFun MicroMod Weather Carrier Board

SparkFun MicroMod Weather Carrier Board

SEN-16794
$44.95

The MicroMod Weather Carrier Board is a periphery for the MicroMod ecosystem that allows you to create your own weather station with one of a multitude of processors. The carrier board includes three sensors: the BME280 temperature, pressure and humidity sensor; the VEML6075 UV sensor; and the AS3935 lightning detector.


JetBot Chassis Kit V2

JetBot Chassis Kit V2

ROB-17279
$14.95

The JetBot Chassis Kit V2 is the official chassis used on the SparkFun JetBot AI Kit, but it can also be used for many different robotics platforms. The chassis plates are made from 3.5-millimeter ABS plastic milled with plenty of mounting points for sensors, servos, controllers, power and more. Assembly is simple - with just a few included screws needed for construction, you will have a reliable 2WD robotics chassis. It's a great, economical option for desktop robots.


Micro Maestro 6-Channel USB Servo Controller (Assembled)

Micro Maestro 6-Channel USB Servo Controller (Assembled)

ROB-17507
$19.95

The six-channel Micro Maestro from Pololu raises the performance bar for serial servo controllers with features such as a native USB interface and internal scripting control. Whether you want high-performance servo control (0.25 μs resolution with built-in speed and acceleration control) or a general I/O controller (e.g. to interface with a sensor or ESC via your USB port), this tiny, versatile device will deliver.


USB to TTL Serial Cable (5V VCC)

USB to TTL Serial Cable (5V VCC)

CAB-17831
$7.95

This is a USB-to-TTL Serial Cable which allows for a simple way to connect TTL interface devices to USB. The I/O pins of this cable are configured to operate at 3.3 V specifically with a Raspberry Pi, with each serial pin broken apart. Thanks to its separated pins, this cable is a perfect candidate for powering, connecting and accessing the login and debug console on an older-version Raspberry Pi.


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!

Never miss a new product!

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New Year, New Projects

via SparkFun: Commerce Blog

With the start of each new year we take a look at what we think is going to be a big hit with our customers, so we can get some ideas on what to build throughout the year. It's pretty obvious that last year threw a wrench in the works to the point that we really didn't have any idea of what could arise from a world in quarantine but it was really interesting to see the sorts of projects that came out of it.

What's your next project?

We're seeing a roll out of a couple of vaccines - could we see more biometrics projects and products in 2021? Could we see a rise in homegrown machine learning builds that automatically detect body temperature when entering a building? Maybe we'll see a rise in GPS projects once people are able to go out into the wild again for hikes and other adventures.

The important thing to remember is to keep your brain occupied with something constructive, especially in uncertain times. That's why we want to pose a question and open a discussion: What projects are you working on in 2021? It can be as complex as building a new AI to play chess against, or as simple as assembling a model (I just ordered a new Gundam model to add some electronics to). So please, leave a comment below, let us know what you are working on and let's encourage each other's ideas!


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Get Your FPGA Fix

via SparkFun: Commerce Blog

Hello everyone - we have quite a few new products to talk about today and it all starts with two new Alchitry FPGA boards. The Alchitry Au+ and Ft Element add new options for those of you wanting to get started with FPGA or collect a more powerful option if you feel comfortable with the platform. Also, we have a new line of upgraded, flexible Qwiic cables. We do plan to transition to these cables in the future so make sure to check those out! We end the day with a new 10A battery pack. Let's jump in and take a closer look!

What's better than Gold? Gold Plus!

Alchitry Au+ FPGA Development Board (Xilinx Artix 7)

Alchitry Au+ FPGA Development Board (Xilinx Artix 7)

DEV-17514
$199.95 $193.00

The Alchitry Au+ is the "gold" standard for FPGA development boards and it's possibly one of the strongest boards of its type on the market. The Au+ substitutes a more robust and scalable FPGA chip (Xilinx XC7A100T) that allows for more complex application circuits. The number of configurable logic blocks (LABs/CLBs), Logic Elements, and total RAM bits are all nearly three times those of the standard Au; see "Features" for more details.


Alchitry Ft Element Board

Alchitry Ft Element Board

DEV-17526
$29.95

The Alchitry Ft Element is equipped with four 50-pin board-to-board connectors on the underside and top of the board that snap to the Alchitry Au and Au+ boards. It also adds a USB 3.0 200 MB/s high speed interface to your Alchitry board stack via the USB-C connector.


Flexible Qwiic Cable - Female Jumper (4-pin)

Flexible Qwiic Cable - Female Jumper (4-pin)

CAB-17261
$1.50
Flexible Qwiic Cable - 50mm

Flexible Qwiic Cable - 50mm

PRT-17260
$0.95
Flexible Qwiic Cable - 100mm

Flexible Qwiic Cable - 100mm

PRT-17259
$1.50
Flexible Qwiic Cable - 200mm

Flexible Qwiic Cable - 200mm

PRT-17258
$1.50
Flexible Qwiic Cable - 500mm

Flexible Qwiic Cable - 500mm

PRT-17257
$1.95

These are our new Flexible Qwiic Cables, designed to connect Qwiic enabled components together but able to be used for other applications as well. The cable insulation is made from silicon, making it more flexible than our original cables, particularly in tight spaces or enclosures. We currently offer these cables in a 4-pin female terminated jumper as well as Qwiic-to-Qwiic terminated connectors in 50 mm, 100 mm, 200 mm, and 500 mm lengths.


Lithium Ion Battery Pack - 10Ah (3A/1A USB Ports)

Lithium Ion Battery Pack - 10Ah (3A/1A USB Ports)

PRT-15593
$19.95

This is the same 10Ah battery pack that provides power to the SparkFun Jetbot! The multiple USB options for charging and discharging, along with a simple capacity indicator and power button, make this a great option for mobile USB power on your next project.


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!

Never miss a new product!

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DIY Dungeons and Dragons Dice Gauntlet

via SparkFun: Commerce Blog

Given the impact of the disturbing violence at the US Capitol yesterday, we're taking it slower today and focusing on one of our favorite older projects.


The D&D bracer is a fairly quick, fun, nerdy LilyPad project. The final product is a wearable bracer with a display that will randomly generate numbers between 1 and 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 20 or 100 in response to arm movement, so it can effectively replace all of the dice in your bag for a D&D session. It can also serve as a decorative costume piece to get you in character!

Dungeons and Dragons Dice Gauntlet

August 13, 2013

A playful, geeky tutorial for a leather bracer that uses a LilyPad Arduino, LilyPad accelerometer, and seven segment display to roll virtual 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 20, and 100 side dice for gaming.

This is an intermediate LilyPad tutorial. You can expect to do a fair amount of sewing and moderate crafting, and you'll need to be able to upload code to a LilyPad Arduino board. You don't have to write the code - it's been supplied for you. However, if you want to practice or play around with it, there's room to customize!


We'll be back tomorrow with our normal Friday Product Post. Please, be safe and stay healthy out there.

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WROOM into the New Year!

via SparkFun: Commerce Blog

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Welcome to the first Friday Product Post of 2021, and even though most of us are still on holiday, we still have new products to show off today. To start with, we have two versions of the popular ESP32 WROOM module. After that we have a new version of the popular Edimax Bluetooth USB Adapter that now features BLE 5.0 (yeah, it's a juxtaposition but you get the point). We wrap up the day with some simple silicone bumpers that a lot of you have been asking about. Let's jump in and see what we've got!

ESP32 WROOM MCU Module - 16MB (U.FL)

ESP32 WROOM MCU Module - 16MB (U.FL)

WRL-17746
$9.50
ESP32 WROOM MCU Module - 16MB (Chip Antenna)

ESP32 WROOM MCU Module - 16MB (Chip Antenna)

WRL-17747
$8.95

The ESP32 WROOM Module (now available with a U.FL connector or chip antenna) is a powerful, generic Wi-Fi+BT+BLE MCU module that targets a wide variety of applications, ranging from low-power sensor networks to the most demanding tasks, such as voice encoding, music streaming and MP3 decoding.


Edimax Bluetooth 5.0 Nano USB Adapter (BT-8500)

Edimax Bluetooth 5.0 Nano USB Adapter (BT-8500)

WRL-17598
$23.95

The Edimax Bluetooth 5.0 Nano USB Adapter is a great way to give your Windows, Android or Linux devices the power and performance of Bluetooth 5.0. This Bluetooth 5.0 BQB Certified+ EDR dongle is capable of transfer speeds up to 3 Mbps and supports most stacks and variations of Bluetooth going back to Bluetooth Classic. But one of the best features of Bluetooth 5.0 and the BT-8500 is the new 40-meter range.


Silicone Bumpers - 5x11mm (4 Pack)

Silicone Bumpers - 5x11mm (4 Pack)

COM-17736
$0.95

Protect your board or project with this four-pack of silicone bumpers! Rubber feet raise your PCB or project up off your desk. This helps prevent short circuiting from bits of scrap wire floating about or setting a project down on a conductive surface.


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 (again) have a Happy New Year!

Never miss a new product!

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SparkFun’s 2020 in Review

via SparkFun: Commerce Blog

As a reminder, SparkFun will be closed on Friday, January 1st. We will reopen at 9:00 a.m. MST on Monday, January 4th. Happy New Year!

Hello everyone, and welcome to the final day of 2020! You may have thought this year would never end, but guess what dear reader, it's over. In celebration of the new year, we decided to take a look back at some of our favorite products, projects and tutorials. We also made a fun page that highlights our SparkFun Original releases as well as a photojournalism project our photographer Juan made in the early days of the pandemic.

Products

As insane as this year was, it didn't mean we could slow down with new products released each Friday. In fact, we we went into overdrive with new ideas. MicroMod or the RTK Surveyor would probably never have existed if Nate wasn't bored at home in April! Let's take a look at our 10 favorite products of 2020.

Meet MicroMod, a modular interface ecosystem that connects a microcontroller “processor board” to various “carrier board” peripherals utilizing the M.2 standard. As a modular ecosystem of interchangeable processors and carrier boards, MicroMod enables rapid prototyping and development that allows for dynamic project changes. There's no need to worry about soldering or finding the right length cable - just swap your processor and go! Whether you are an avid electronics enthusiast or a professional engineer, the MicroMod system works to make project and prototype upgrades as seamless as possible.

SparkFun has been designing boards for more than a decade, and we're the source for the latest and greatest technologies. We've taken all that knowledge and built a platform that turns components and modules into easy-to-choose blocks. SparkFun À La Carte allows you to create custom boards by selecting only the blocks you want to use and adding them to your board. Whether you're a test engineer building 15 test fixtures or a Burning Man artist needing 47 light-activated servo controllers, ALC is there to bridge the gap between prototype and production.

As a reminder, today - December 31st, 2020 - is the final day to get 50 percent off your ALC design fee. Use promo code ALCSPARKFUN50 by 11:59 p.m. MST tonight on your new order!

The SparkFun RTK Surveyor is an easy to use GNSS receiver for centimeter-level positioning. Perfect for surveying, this preprogrammed device can also be used for autonomous driving, navigation, asset tracking and any other application where there is a clear view of the sky. The RTK Surveyor can also be used as a base station. With the flick of a switch, two RTK Surveyors can be used to create an RTK system capable of 14mm horizontal positional accuracy. The built-in Bluetooth connection via an ESP32 WROOM enables the user to use the RTK Surveyor with their choice of GIS application on a phone or tablet. The built-in battery allows field use for up to four hours and is compatible with common USB battery banks.

Speaking of GPS and GNSS products, the SparkFun ZED-F9R GPS Breakout and ZED-F9R GPS pHAT are high precision, sensor fusion GPS boards with equally impressive configuration options and takes advantage of u-blox's Automotive Dead Reckoning (ADR) technology. The ZED-F9R module provides a highly accurate and continuous position by fusing a 3D IMU sensor, wheel ticks, a vehicle dynamics model, correction data and GNSS measurements.

With all of the new products that utilize the NVIDIA Jetson Nano Dev Kit, the SparkFun JetBot AI Kit is probably one of our favorites. This SparkFun kit is based on the open-source NVIDIA JetBot! We understand that not everyone has access to multiple 3D printers and a whole warehouse of electronics so we wanted to build a kit from ready to assemble parts to get you up and running as quickly as possible. The SparkFun JetBot AI Kit V2.1 is a great launchpad for creating entirely new AI projects for makers, students and enthusiasts who are interested in learning AI and building fun applications. It’s straightforward to set up and use and is compatible with many popular accessories.

The SparkFun Artemis Development Kit is the latest board to be released around the SparkFun Artemis Module, and it allows access to more software development features than previous Artemis based boards. This kit includes the SparkFun Artemis DK board as well as the accessories (Himax camera and USB-C cable) needed to get started right away. Recommended software used to program the Artemis DK are the Arduino IDE, Arm® Mbed™ OS (Studio and CLI), and AmbiqSDK.

Speaking of Artemis, the SparkFun OpenLog Artemis is an open source data logger that comes preprogrammed to automatically log IMU, GPS, serial data and various pressure, humidity and distance sensors - all without writing a single line of code! OpenLog Artemis, or "OLA," automatically detects, configures and logs Qwiic sensors. The OLA is specifically designed for users who just need to capture a lot of data to a CSV and get back to their larger project.

In 2020 SparkFun also became the sole manufacturer of Alchitry FPGA boards! Two new FPGA options are available, with the Xilinx Artix 7-equipped Au, and the Lattice iCE40 HX-equipped Cu boards. We also have shield-like boards called "Elements" that support each of the FPGA's inherently strong capabilities and logic cells. Of course, we can't forget about the FPGA Starter Kit either!

The SparkFun Qwiic pHAT Extension for the Raspberry Pi 400 provides you with a quick and easy solution to access all of the 400's GPIO, stack your favorite HAT right-side up, or connect a Qwiic-enabled device to the I2C bus (GND, 3.3V, SDA and SCL). Since the Qwiic system allows for daisy-chaining boards with different addresses, you can also stack as many sensors as you’d like to the mounting holes on the pHAT to create a tower of sensing power!

The SparkFun ProDriver makes it easy to start developing with the TC78H670FTG bipolar stepper motor driver from Toshiba! Latch terminals provide instant solder-less connections to every feature offered. Use our extensive Arduino Library with 10 examples, and you can quickly explore the many features of this precise and small package size motor driver IC.

These are only a few of our favorite products; if you want to see all of them, make sure to head over to our 2020 in Review page to see what you might have missed.


Projects

With working a lot from home this year, the majority of our time was spent trying to find things to do. Turns out when you give a bunch of people with engineering brains free time, they go into overdrive making new projects. Who knew?

Are you concerned with the security weaknesses found in most garage door openers? Join us as we highlight a DIY solution using the SparkFun Cryptographic Co-processor. Using all Qwiic boards, we created a super-secure garage door opener!

Back when we were still in the office and weren't as afraid of germs or human contact, we used Sapien LLC's Arduino Shield and Electrode array to expand expand our human senses. We found our way around the building and shot a few Nerf darts at coworkers with nothing more than our tongues.

With the launch of our servo resource page, Rob sat down and made a great project exemplifying all the different servos we carry and how to use them! So, here's a brief rundown and a couple of examples to help get you thinking about how you might incorporate movement into your next project using servos.

Listen, we all love looking at the stars, but finding a way to automate the process of photographing them has typically fallen to professionals and people with a lot of money. We even took the most important factor into account - the Earth's rotation.

How much does doing 360s on a drift trike slow you down on your ride, and what is the optimal speed at which to enter a 360? We decided to tackle that question, and using the new SparkFun OpenLog Artemis (“OLA”), gather data quickly about how the change in acceleration affects Cassy’s drift triking. The OLA was the ideal module to use for this project because it was so simple to configure and ultimately read data from.

This one was a surprise hit within and out of SparkFun HQ! Using the new SparkFun ProDriver, a pair of stepper motors and some mirror acrylic, Rob created a solar cooker that tracks the sun as it crosses the sky, guaranteeing optimal efficiency from your solar barbecue.

We tried keeping Halloween spooky this year... the best way we could! Just because October is long past and you haven’t started next year’s Halloween build doesn’t mean it can’t still be epic! SparkFun’s Qwiic I2C environment can help even us Olympic-level procrastinators rival the street’s best Halloween builds!

Behold: a project that uses many analog-style clocks together to form the digits of the time - so meta. Justin from Alchitry steps up to the workbench to build his own ClockClock, and shows you how to do it yourself in this new tutorial!

After a little over a year, SparkFun Brand Ambassador, Jesse Brockmann finished the first phase of his three part Autonomous Lawnmower Project. This is only the final part, so make sure to go back and read all of the previous posts. They are ALL amazing!

Last, but certainly not least, we have a post that was only written a few weeks ago! Avra took some time to not only prove that wearing a mask won't compromise your oxygen, but she also shows us how you can make one yourself!


Tutorials

Often when a project is made, people want to know how to make it themselves. That's where tutorials come in. Learn along with us and end 2020 on a high note! We couldn't stick to the top 10 tutorials... there were too many good ones.

Temperature Sensor Comparison

A comparison of analog and digital temperature sensors. Which is better?

Working with Qwiic on a Jetson Nano through Jupyter Notebooks

We created a few Jupyter Notebooks to make using our Qwiic boards with your Jetson Nano even easier!

How to Make a Magic Mirror with Raspberry Pi

Need a great project for your Raspberry Pi 4 kit? Use it to create a command center to display the weather, clock, your calendar, or even a news feed!

Understanding Thermal Resistance

Discussing what thermal resistance is, how it’s used for thermal management, and how to maximize the life of your project.

How Does an FPGA Work?

The What, How, Why, and When of Field Programmable Gate Arrays, aka FPGAs

ESP32 OTA Updates over BLE from a React Web Application

Learn how to flash firmware Over-the-Air using a BLE React WebApp and ESP32

Nintendo Switch Macro Recording on the Raspberry Pi

Learn how to record and playback controller 'macros' for your Nintendo Switch using a Raspberry Pi, SparkFun Top pHAT, and Joycontrol.

Designing with MicroMod

This tutorial will walk you through the specs of the MicroMod processor and carrier board as well as the basics of incorporating the MicroMod form factor into your own PCB designs!

Qwiic GPS Clock

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!

Installing Board Definitions in the Arduino IDE

How do I install a custom Arduino board/core? It's easy! This tutorial will go over how to install an Arduino board definition using the Arduino Board Manager. We will also go over manually installing third-party cores, such as the board definitions required for many of the SparkFun development boards.

Setting up a Rover Base RTK System

Getting GNSS RTCM correction data from a base to a rover is easy with a serial telemetry radio! We'll show you how to get your high precision RTK GNSS system setup and running.

How to Build a DIY GNSS Reference Station

Learn how to affix a GNSS antenna, use PPP to get its ECEF coordinates and then broadcast your own RTCM data over the internet and cellular using NTRIP to increase rover reception to 10km!

Phew. That was a lot to get through. We certainly had a full year, didn't we? This is just barely scratching the surface, too! With everything bad that happened this year, we were happy to be here for you for all your making and hacking needs.

So what's in store for 2021? A lot. We can assure you that we'll continue putting out new products each week, we will continue to expand our ever growing Qwiic Ecosystem, push the boundries of Machine Learning and AI, and more. Most of all, we plan to continue to innovate new and exciting products for you. Trust us, we have a lot more planned that we can't share just yet, but we expect it to be another interesting year for us, and for our customers and community.

Let us know what your highlights of the year were. What products, posts and tutorials did you love? What was your favorite Rob and Avra video? We'll see you next year, and thank you for your ongoing support!

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