Author Archives: Chris McCarty

Two New GPS-RTK Kits for Extreme Accuracy

via SparkFun: Commerce Blog

Hello, everyone! Welcome back to another Friday Product Post here at SparkFun Electronics! This week, we have four brand new products to show off and it starts with two GPS-RTK Kits, one featuring a ZED-F9P GPS-RTK-SMA Breakout and the other a ZED-F9R GPS-RTK Dead Reckoning Breakout. Each of these kits have similar but slightly different accessories that should hopefully get you up and running as fast and easy as possible! Following those, we have the brand new ESP32-WROOM-DA MCU and a Dev Board for it joining our catalog! Enough talk, let's jump in and take a closer look at this week's new products.

SparkFun GPS-RTK-SMA Kit

SparkFun GPS-RTK-SMA Kit

KIT-18292
$324.95

The SparkFun GPS-RTK-SMA Kit comes with just what you need to get started using u-blox's ZED-F9P and GPS Real Time Kinematics. With GPS you are able to know where you are, where you're going, and how to get anywhere on Earth within 30 seconds - the higher the accuracy the better! GPS Real Time Kinematics (RTK) has mastered dialing in the accuracy of their GPS modules to just millimeters, and that's why we had to put it on this kit!


SparkFun GPS-RTK Dead Reckoning Kit

SparkFun GPS-RTK Dead Reckoning Kit

KIT-18294
$349.95

The SparkFun GPS-RTK Dead Reckoning Kit gives exactly what you need to get started using u-blox's ZED-F9R and GPS Real Time Kinematics. The SparkFun ZED-F9R GPS Breakout is a high-precision, sensor fusion GPS board 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.


ESP32 WROOM MCU Module - 8MB (Dual Antenna)

ESP32 WROOM MCU Module - 8MB (Dual Antenna)

WRL-19899
$5.95

The ESP32-WROOM-DA is a module that achieves high-quality wireless connectivity across large areas using two complementary PCB antennas in different directions. Based on its industry-leading technical specifications, the co-existence of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth (Classic & Low-Energy) connectivity, and its low-power consumption modes, the users of ESP32-WROOM-DA will be able to bring to life a wide range of complex IoT application scenarios.


ESP32 DevKitC Dual Antenna

ESP32 DevKitC Dual Antenna

DEV-19900
$14.95

The ESP32-DevKitC is a low-footprint and entry-level breadboard-friendly development board that is part of the ESP32 series. This board has the same rich peripheral set featuring the ESP32-WROOM-DA above! The built-in ESP32 pinout is optimized for hassle-free prototyping!


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

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Swarm x SparkFun

via SparkFun: Commerce Blog

This is a guest blog post from Rohan Verma and our friends at Swarm Technologies. Swarm provides the world’s lowest cost, global connectivity for Internet of Things devices. All of this in orbit at 450-550km altitude, providing fully global coverage.


Intro

We’re excited to introduce one of the newest additions to SparkFun’s product line, the Satellite Transceiver Breakout - Swarm M138! At the heart of this breakout board is the Swarm M138 Modem which is a Mini-PCI Express (mPCIe) form factor board consisting of a satellite transceiver and a GNSS receiver. This blog post focuses on the capabilities of Swarm, and Swarm’s network architecture.

Swarm Satellite Transceiver Breakout M138 close up image

The Satellite Transceiver Breakout - Swarm M138 enables any user to access the full functionality of the Swarm network via the Swarm M138 Modem. The board design includes a USB-C interface for power and/or serial data, in addition to a full set of breakout pins which give the user access to features such as the GPIO pin available on the Modem. The on-board power circuitry makes it easy to supply the M138 Modem with the power that it needs to transmit message packets to space.

Example of Swarm kit

The kit includes everything needed to start transmitting on the Swarm network (including a ground plane, which is required for the VHF antenna). The breakout pins make it easy to hook up the board to a microcontroller, such as an Arduino Pro Mini, to monitor sensors and transmit data from anywhere in the world. The downlink (2-way) functionality makes this Modem great to send configuration information back to the device as well without having to physically access the unit.

What is Swarm?

Swarm is a low-cost IoT satellite connectivity provider with one goal; To connect people and devices anywhere, at all times, at the lowest cost. Swarm accomplishes this through the use of sandwich sized satellites named “SpaceBEEs”.

Swarm SpaceBees communicate with M138 Modem

Swarm’s SpaceBEEs communicate with their ground device named the Swarm M138 Modem to transmit and receive small packets of data from anywhere in the world. The Modems can transmit and receive up to 192 bytes of data using a standard data plan of 750 packets/month. Each data plan costs $5/month and is billed annually and there are no other associated fees.

Overview of the Swarm Network

When a SpaceBEE passes over any given location, it will send out beacon packets to Swarm Modems that are in their receiver state. The Modem’s antenna will need to have a clear view of the sky, and a low RF noise environment to receive this satellite beacon.

Format of a satellite beacon packet:

$RT RSSI=,SNR=,FDEV =,TS=,DI=*xx

Once the Modem receives this satellite beacon, it will attempt to transmit any queued transmission packets to the satellite. Message packets that are successfully received by the satellite will then be acknowledged by the satellite back to the Modem. The Modem will then discard the message packet from its outgoing transmission queue.

The Swarm M138 Modem can store a maximum of 1000 outgoing message packets. Each message packet is held for a default duration of 48 hours, which is user configurable, after which the packet will be discarded if not transmitted.

The satellite will then carry that message packet until it passes over a Swarm ground station. The satellite will downlink the message packet to the ground station after which the data will be routed to Swarm’s cloud platform named the Swarm Hive. The user can then view their data on Hive, or extract that data using Swarm’s REST API, or webhooks.

How Swarm satellite sends message to cloud platform Swarm Hive

The Swarm Hive will retain data for 30 days before it is discarded, so it is best to pull that data from the Hive to reference it later. Swarm has a Python Script example that you can download by clicking here.

Getting Started

Getting started with the Satellite Transceiver Breakout is a quick and easy process from getting your parts unboxed, to transmitting your first message on the Swarm network.

Unboxing of Swarm Breakout Kit and what's included

The first step is to install the Swarm M138 Modem onto the breakout board. To do this, remove the two M2.5 screws from the standoffs on the board. Align the M138 Modem’s mPCIe connection pins with the breakout board’s connector and insert the Modem at an angle into the connector. Once the Modem’s pins are inserted into the connector, gently hold the Modem down over the standoffs and secure it in place using the two M2.5 screws. For best results, do not tighten one screw fully before inserting the other screw into its respective standoff.

Connect the GNSS antenna to the u.FL connector labeled “GPS” on the Swarm Modem. Then connect the u.FL to SMA adapter cable to the u.FL connector on the Swarm Modem that is labeled “VHF”.

SMA connector secured to breakout and antenna

Secure the SMA connector of the u.FL to SMA adapter cable to the included ground plane using the washer and nut. Screw the Swarm VHF antenna onto the SMA connector while ensuring that it is hand-tight.

assembled Swarm Kit

For best results, place the VHF antenna and ground plane at least 1m above the ground, or any solid surfaces.

Download and install the SparkFun Python3 PyQt5 GUI from GitHub here to interact with the Swarm Modem. Once installed, use a USB-C cable to connect the board to your computer. The board can be powered using a USB-C port on your computer, or a USB 3 port. Select the appropriate COM port and test the communication interface by pressing the “Configuration Settings (CS)” button. The Modem’s Device ID and Name will be displayed on the serial monitor in the format:

$CS DI=<dev_ID> ,DN=<dev_name>*xx

The next step is to place the device in an outdoor location with a clear view of the sky, away from any sources of RF noise. Once the device is set up outdoors, use the “Receive Test 1Hz (RT 1)” predefined message in the Python3 GUI to measure the background RSSI. The background RSSI measurements will be updated once every second and represent the noise floor in the testing environment. The measured background RSSI value should be between -95 and -105 dBm for reliable communication on the network. A lower, more negative, value is preferred.

The Modem will not be able to reliably communicate with the satellites if the reported background RSSI value is > -93 dBm. Try moving the device to a different testing location to observe how the measured value changes.

After confirming that the background RSSI is within the specified range, the next step is to queue some message packets on the Modem for transmission. The quickest way to queue messages for transmission is to use the predefined messages in the GUI shown at the bottom of the list. The message packets will be queued for transmission for a default hold time of 48 hours after which they will be discarded if not transmitted.

The message packet hold time is user configurable for each transmission command. Please refer to the Swarm M138 Modem’s Product Manual for more information, and for a full description of available commands.

The queued transmission packets will be transmitted when a satellite passes over the device’s location and beacons the Modem. The next satellite pass over your location can be predicted using the Swarm Satellite Pass Checker. There is also a YouTube video available that describes the pass checker’s functionality in more detail available here.

To know if a satellite is attempting to communicate with the Modem, ensure that the “Receive Test 1Hz (RT 1)” command is enabled. Observe the serial monitor for satellite beacons in the format:

$RT RSSI=<rssi_sat>,SNR=<snr>,FDEV=<fdev>,TS=<time>,DI=<sat_id>*xx 

The Modem will attempt to transmit queued message packets after receiving the satellite beacons. Each successful transmission will be acknowledged by the satellite and will be displayed on the serial monitor in the format:

$TD SENT RSSI=<rssi_sat>,SNR=<snr>,FDEV=<fdev>,<msg_id>*xx

The transmitted data packet will then be visible on the Swarm Hive shortly after transmission.

What are you building with the Satellite Transceiver Breakout - Swarm M138?

We would love to hear from you if you have been experimenting with the Swarm Network. Email support@swarm.space with a brief description of your project, and any pictures that you have, to be featured on a future blog post!

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Let’s Get to Rework

via SparkFun: Commerce Blog

Hello, everyone! We're back this week with more new products! If you stopped by yesterday, you probably already know about the new Raspberry Pi announcement with the addition of wireless capabilities and headers on two unique Pico boards. On top of that, we have a brand new version of our popular Hot-Air Rework Station with a new set of features that modernizes the instrument for todays standards. Following that, we have have a new LED Project Kit that is ideal for developing minds to start in electronics, as well as a new third hand kit! Alright, let's jump in and take a closer look!

Well... that's a new way to prepare crème brûlée.

Hot-Air Rework Station - 303D

Hot-Air Rework Station - 303D

TOL-19101
$134.95

This hot-air rework station is great for professionals and hobbyists in need of tight temperature tolerances and large air flows. This unit displays a digital readout of the actual air temperature with a flow rate of up to 23L per minute. This very powerful unit can be used for multiple applications, including standard SMD reflow/repair/removal, thermal IC stress testing, thermoplastic welding, and shrink-wrapping.

This latest version of the hot-air rework station has some great improvement: a new temperature range of 100℃-500℃, an auto sleep function, and a temperature offset function.


Raspberry Pi Pico W

Raspberry Pi Pico W

DEV-20173
$6.00

The Raspberry Pi Pico W builds upon the great cost-for-performance metrics of the Pico and add WiFi to the board. The Pico W features the same attributes as the Raspberry Pi Pico and also incorporates an Infineon CYW43439 wireless chip. CYW43439 supports IEEE 802.11 b/g/n wireless LAN, and Bluetooth® 5.2. (6/30/2022: Only Wireless LAN is supported on the Pico W at the moment, this will be updated as the new features become available)


Raspberry Pi Pico H

Raspberry Pi Pico H

DEV-20172
$5.00

The Raspberry Pi Pico H is a low-cost, high-performance microcontroller board with flexible digital interfaces. It feature the RP2040, which marks Raspberry Pi's first microcontroller designed in-house. Pico provides minimal (yet flexible) external circuitry to support the RP2040 chip (flash, crystal, power supplies and decoupling and USB connector). This variation comes with a set of male headers pre-soldered to all through-hole vias and a 3 pin debug connector. The spacing remains 2.54mm and breadboard compatible (even more so now with the addition of the male headers).


SparkFun LED Project Kit

SparkFun LED Project Kit

KIT-19934
$34.95

The SparkFun LED Project Kit is a great way to get started with programming and hardware interaction with the Arduino programming language. Each SparkFun LED Project Kit includes everything you need to complete seven projects that will teach you how to blink an LED, create a night light, make a Simon Says game, and more. You don't need any previous programming or electronics experience to use this kit.


Magnetic Third-Hand Kit

Magnetic Third-Hand Kit

TOL-19944
$49.99

If you need an extra pair of hands (or three!) to help with the more delicate, detailed work, you will appreciate this Magnetic Third-Hand Kit. Prefect for any electronic, soldering, crafting, painting, replica, figurine, macro photography and hobby work - or any precision project that requires extreme accuracy.


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, Facebook or LinkedIn. 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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Hello There, Pico W!

via SparkFun: Commerce Blog

Raspberry Pi is at it again! SparkFun is proud to co-announce and introduce you to the new Raspberry Pi Pico W and Pico H! With this launch, Raspberry Pi expands their RP2040 microcontroller line to include wireless capabilities and headers. Let's jump in and see what exactly is being announced and released today. Let's take a look!

Raspberry Pi Pico W

Raspberry Pi Pico W

DEV-20173
$6.00

The Raspberry Pi Pico W builds upon the great cost-for-performance metrics of the Pico and add WiFi to the board. The Pico W features the same attributes as the Raspberry Pi Pico and also incorporates an Infineon CYW43439 wireless chip. CYW43439 supports IEEE 802.11 b/g/n wireless LAN, and Bluetooth® 5.2. (6/30/2022: Only Wireless LAN is supported on the Pico W at the moment, this will be updated as the new features become available)

The Raspberry Pi Pico line is a low-cost, high-performance microcontroller board with flexible digital interfaces. It feature the RP2040 which marks Raspberry Pi's first microcontroller designed in-house. Pico provides minimal (yet flexible) external circuitry to support the RP2040 chip (Flash, crystal, power supplies and decoupling and USB connector). The majority of the RP2040 microcontroller pins are brought to the user IO pins on the left and right edge of the board. Four RP2040 IO are used for internal functions - driving an LED, on-board Switched Mode Power Supply (SMPS) power control and sensing the system voltages.

Raspberry Pi Pico H

Raspberry Pi Pico H

DEV-20172
$5.00

Meanwhile, the Raspberry Pi Pico H variation is almost exactly like the existing Pico but comes with a set of male headers pre-soldered to all through-hole vias and a 3-pin debug connector. The spacing remains 2.54mm and breadboard compatible (even more so now with the addition of the male headers).

We are, once again, beyond excited to get our hands on the new Raspberry Pi Pico W and Pico H and create new projects, but what do you want to use them for? Are you excited to try making something new with Raspberry Pi's wireless microcontroller? Let us know in the comments below and we'll talk with you again tomorrow with more new products!

 

 

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All Aboard the mikroBUS

via SparkFun: Commerce Blog

Hello and welcome, everyone! We are back, yet again, with a handful of new products here at SparkFun Electronics! We've heard your requests for kits for our mikroBUS boards to include a few hookup accessories (specifically Click boards™) so we took both of our boards and made them easier to get started with! Following that, we have a new WiFi HaLow HAT from ALFA Network that we expect to really help your Raspberry Pi get connected to a new type of IoT network. Now, let's jump in and take a closer look at all of this week's new products!


SparkFun MicroMod mikroBUS Starter Kit

SparkFun MicroMod mikroBUS Starter Kit

KIT-19935
$79.95

The SparkFun MicroMod mikroBUS™ Starter Kit is designed to give you just what you need to start using the MicroMod and Click ecosystems side-by-side. The core of this kit is designed around the SparkFun MicroMod mikroBUS™ Carrier Board and the SparkFun MicroMod STM32 Processor, but you will also receive a MIKROE Terminal Click, MIKROE Weather Click, SparkFun Serial Basic Breakout, USB A to C cable, Jumper wires, and a MicroMod screwdriver!


SparkFun RP2040 mikroBUS Starter Kit

SparkFun RP2040 mikroBUS Starter Kit

KIT-19936
$54.95

The SparkFun RP2040 mikroBUS™ Starter Kit is designed to give you just what you need to start using the Click and Qwiic ecosystems side-by-side powered by Raspberry Pi! The core of this kit is designed around the SparkFun RP2040 mikroBUS™ Development Board, the SparkFun Micro OLED Breakout (Qwiic), and the MIKROE Weather Click. Additionally, to connect everything together we also include a 100mm Qwiic Cable, and a USB A-C cable!


ALFA Network WiFi HaLow HAT

ALFA Network WiFi HaLow HAT

WRL-19956
$69.95

The AHPI7292S is the world's first WiFi HaLow™ Raspberry Pi™ HAT module from ALFA Network. Similar to LoRa, WiFi HaLow is a new designation from the WiFi Alliance for 802.11ah technology which operates in the sub-gigahertz range. This brings a more IoT-friendly long-range and Low-power technology to WiFi-style communication. The AHPI7292S brings this wireless technology to the Raspberry Pi form factor with a HAT that works with Raspberry Pi 3B+ and 4 lines. It supports both standalone and host-based modes with up to 15Mbps throughput. An included SDK makes for an excellent getting started experience.


WiFi HaLow Antenna - SMA (915Mhz)

WiFi HaLow Antenna - SMA (915Mhz)

WRL-20115
$9.95

This is a 915MHz SMA Duck Antenna for use with the AHPI7292S WiFi HaLow HAT. We've distinguished it as for use with this HAT as it's an SMA connection where most of our other boards are RP-SMA. It's the easiest way to start working with the WiFi HaLow HAT with meaningful transmission distance.


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, Facebook or LinkedIn. 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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Dual-Port Data Logging

via SparkFun: Commerce Blog

Hello, everyone! Welcome back to another Friday Product Post here at SparkFun Electronics! This week we are happy to bring you an assortment of new products including the beta version of our new LoRaSerial Kit. This RF enable LoRa IoT Kit will be a strong accessory for our RTK Surveyor product line. Just make sure to keep an eye on it, because we plan to revise this kit soon and put it in an enclosed case! That being said, our actually headliner today is the new SparkFun Thing Plus Dual-Port Logging Shield! This handy shield is both Thing+ and Feather-compatible and will definitely assist you with most, if not all, of your data logging needs. Also releasing this week, we have an SMA magnetic mount that should be perfect for a Swarm Satellite antenna! Lastly, we have a whole reel of WS2812 LEDs (yes, that's 1,000 LEDs!) that join our addressable LED offering. Without further ado, let's jump in and take a closer look at all of this week's new products!

Collect and read data your way!

SparkFun Thing Plus Dual-Port Logging Shield

SparkFun Thing Plus Dual-Port Logging Shield

DEV-19217
$29.95

The SparkFun Dual-Port Logging Shield is a Thing Plus/Feather-compatible board which allows you to access your microSD card over both SPI and USB-C. It is designed to be mounted on or under one of our Thing Plus boards. You can log data to and read data from your microSD card over SPI as usual, using your favorite Arduino SD library. But you can also connect it to your computer via USB-C and read and write files at up to 35MBytes/second!


SparkFun LoRaSerial Kit - 915MHz

SparkFun LoRaSerial Kit - 915MHz

WRL-19311
$149.95 $100.47

The SparkFun LoRaSerial Kit is a pair of serial radio modems that simply passes serial back and forth. Do you have a system that needs to report data every few seconds? Is it located beyond WiFi or Bluetooth® range? Do you need nine mile / 15 kilometer range? LoRaSerial transmits data over LoRa giving it incredible range compared to other methods. We’ve regularly transmitted over 9mi/15km line-of-sight using two LoRaSerial radios, right out of the box.

This product is currently in the beta phase and is discounted accordingly. This version is recommended for users who are willing and able to provide feedback and update the firmware as new features are made available. The radios work but may not be ideal for all applications yet.


Magnetic Mount SMA - 2m

Magnetic Mount SMA - 2m

GPS-19576
$24.95

When experimenting with GPS or RF, it can be very handy to have the antenna on the top of your house or car with a clear view of the sky while you stay in doors and warm at your keyboard. This 2m (6.5ft) magnetic mount SMA extension does a great job of connecting your receiver or radio to a distant antenna with as little RF loss as possible. While you're stationary, this mount should be perfect for a Swarm Satellite antenna.


SMD LED - RGB WS2812 (Whole Reel)

SMD LED - RGB WS2812 (Whole Reel)

COM-20175
$199.95

The WS2812 may look like a common 5050-sized (5x5mm) SMD LED, but there’s actually an integrated control circuit embedded inside there too. Sometimes you don't need 10 or even 50, maybe you need a whole reel of 1000! If you are the person who needs that many then this is the perfect quantity for you. If you look really hard, you can see the tiny black chip hidden in there, along with minuscule gold wires connecting the chip to the LED. This LED is certainly more than meets the eye!


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, Facebook or LinkedIn. 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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