Author Archives: SparkFun Electronics

Friday Product Post: Tool Time (Pt.2)

via SparkFun Electronics Blog Posts

Hello, and welcome back to the second week of new tool products! Last week we introduced a variety of new soldering tools, but this week it will be a bit different. This Friday we are happy to introduce new screwdrivers, hex keys and a handy set of SMD tweezers! We absolutely fell in love with the quality of these tools and wanted to make sure all of you have a way to easily obtain them. Let’s take a look!

Xcelite Ergonomic Screwdriver Set (6pcs)

TOL-14234
49.95

The Xcelite Ergonomic Screwdriver Set provides six different screwdrivers, each featuring a shockproof ergonomic soft inner core and handle. Utilizing Xcelite’s own Ergonic® handles, each screwdriver in this set conforms to your hand to provide great comfort and reduce torque loss to provide you with a fantastic slip-resistant tool! The set includes two Phillips head and four flathead screwdrivers.

Xcelite 8-in-1 Screwdriver Set

TOL-14235
27.95

The Xcelite 8-in-1 Screwdriver Set provides eight high-quality bits in a single ergonomic tool. Each bit is easily accessible with a spring-loaded magnetic housing that holds the seven included bits you aren’t currently using. Though the screwdriver set includes eight unique bits, the end of the shaft features a 0.25" hex driver that can fit most of your existing ¼" bits. With a strong magnetic hold and no-roll handle design, this is one of the best all-in-one tools we have used!

Chapman Pocket Screwdriver Set

TOL-14190
12

The Chapman Pocket Screwdriver Set is a unique addition to the screwdriver family, as it utilizes a ¼" ratchet, similar to one found on a socket wrench, as well as four custom-built drive bits. This pocket screwdriver is aptly named for its size — not only fitting in your pocket but also fitting into tight spaces that a normal-sized screwdriver would not be able to fit. Moreover, to change the direction you need the screw to go, just flip the pocket screwdriver over!

Hex Key Set - SAE (Ball End, 13 Pieces)

TOL-14222
19.95

This is a set of 13 high-quality hex keys from Allen. Each key in this set is equipped with a ball end, allowing an entry angle up to 25° in the screw to work in hard-to-reach areas. These specific keys utilize the United States customary system. The wrenches will work for any SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) parts.

Hex Key Set - Metric (Ball End, 9 Pieces)

TOL-14223
23.95

Need Metric instead? We have you covered with this set of nine hex keys, also from Allen. These are identical in every way to their sibling above, except that they utilize a much more efficient measurement system (yup).

Hex Key - Plas-T-Key T Handle (Straight End, 7/64")

TOL-14220
4.95

This is a T-Handle 7/64" hex key from Allen. The Plas-T-Key is Allen’s standard handle and features a plastic grip, which provides durability and extra torque while in use. Each hex key is 2.125" long with a shaft composed of a black oxide-finished, tempered steel alloy that is terminated in a straight end.

SMD Tweezers - 45° Angle

TOL-14224
24.95

These unique tweezers have been specially designed to be used with vertical applications of SMD ICs. The tips of these tweezers have been bent to a 45° angle to facilitate access to confined spaces and provide excellent visibility of the area to be worked on. Whether you are moving tiny SMD ICs or soldering them onto a PCB, these tweezers should be your go-to choice to help!


Alright, folks, that’s it for this week! We really enjoyed bringing you two straight weeks of high-quality tools, but next week we’ll be getting back to normal. As always, we can’t wait to see what you make with them! Shoot us a tweet @sparkfun, or let us know on Instagram or Facebook. We’d love to see what projects you’ve made!

Make sure to check us out next Friday with even more new products! See you then!

comments | comment feed

Enginursday: 60 USB Chargers in Parallel

via SparkFun Electronics Blog Posts

Sometimes engineers need to take a break from crunching numbers and furrowing their brows at data sheets, and do something fun instead. Today I wanted to find out what would happen if I took 60 5V, 2A power supplies and wired them together. And for that, I felt it would be best to just make a video.

It doesn’t make a lot of sense to actually do this (there are better ways of generating so much current), and my methods are definitely suspect, but hey! It’s an experiment. Have a look to see what happens!

And…ahem… don’t try this at home.

Enjoy!
Marshall

comments | comment feed

Hardware Hump Day: ITP 2017 Spring Show Recap

via SparkFun Electronics Blog Posts

I was very fortunate to spend the past week in New York City. In addition to participating in Creative Tech Week, I also had the pleasure of visiting the ITP 2017 Spring Show.

alt text

ITP, or the Interactive Telecommunications Program, is a two-year graduate program located in the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU. It also happens to be my alma mater! ITP's mission is to explore the imaginative use of technologies — how they might augment, improve, and bring delight and art into people’s lives. Students leverage engineering and technology for creative pursuits.

At the end of each semester, ITP hosts a big showcase for the students to share their best work from the past four months with the public. It’s a major event with every inch of space covered in brilliant interactive projects and an overwhelming number of visitors coming to see the latest and greatest. I was absolutely blown away at the ingenuity, creativity and technical brilliance evident in so many of the projects that I saw this year, and I’m extremely excited to share some of them with you today!

K.W.E.E.N. by Jordan Frand

alt text

alt text

K.W.E.E.N. is a line of wearable technology accessories for drag queens and other performers of femininity. The pieces that comprise K.W.E.E.N. confer upon the wearer performative superpowers, giving her unparalleled control over her appearance and the very spaces she commands. Like magic, lighting and staging elements change at the whim of the performer, thanks to her conductive nails. A LightBlue Bean hidden in a bracelet on each hand communicates wirelessly with Max/MSP, giving the wearer control over characteristics of the DMX universe: on/off, strobe, color, brightness, fog machine, laser, etc. Each finger trigger can be programmed to alter various aspects of lighting and staging, giving the performer the power to sculpt in real time the spaces graced by her presence.

To learn more about K.W.E.E.N., check out this video of Jordan presenting his work, this video documenting the project, and the K.W.E.E.N. project page.

A Ritual That Lasts Forever by Fengyi Franklin Zhu

alt text

alt text

alt text

alt text

This project is an attempt to use technology to reinterpret the traditional dragon dance practice in the form of a kinetic sculpture. “A Ritual That Lasts Forever” is a metaphor in the form of a kinetic dragon sculpture, with allegorical power to tell the story of humanity’s relationship with traditional religious worship and technology, a story of the now and a prediction of the future. The piece features 11 robotic arms that control 10 segments of a long, acrylic dragon suspended below them, as well as a ball that the dragon is chasing. With a customized algorithm, the team of 11 robotic arms moves the dragon form suspended below to perform the dragon dance endlessly. In this way, the dragon is back again, aided by the very thing that has been taking the dragon away.

To learn more about “A Ritual That Lasts Forever,” check out this video of Franklin presenting his work, this video documenting the project, and the “A Ritual That Lasts Forever” project page.

Museum of Funny Ladies — A Museumette by Angela Perrone

alt text

alt text

The “Museum of Funny Ladies — A Museumette” is an interactive experience that brings to life a moment from the history of women in comedy, the 1970s, when pioneer lady comedy writers broke into an industry primarily dominated by men. This exhibit transports visitors back to the 1970s and places them in the seat of pioneer TV comedy writer Sybil Adelman, a trailblazer who helped change the landscape of writers' rooms forever. From a typewriter to scripts, a telephone to a television, visitors can interact with objects in the space that were part of a writer’s daily routine and experience what it was like to be the only woman in the room, through the eyes of Sybil.

This experience features three entry points and an interactive story arc that matches the writing process from start to airtime. The experience begins at the typewriter, the global interaction, where one magic touch of a key brings the scene to life with her narrative of how she became a writer. Visitors can call a variety of important names and contacts in her address book to hear anecdotes about her experiences with them. After learning about the key people and stories behind the scenes, the television offers visitors the chance to change channels to see her work and effort come to fruition.

To learn more about “Museum of Funny Ladies — A Museumette,” check out this video of Angela presenting her work, this video documenting the project, and the “Museum of Funny Ladies — A Museumette” project page.

Geode #1 (Fun House) by Jared Friedman

alt text

alt text

alt text

alt text

Geode #1 is a space for solitary contemplation of the body and the self — in the form of an inside-out disco ball. This geodesic sphere is 7 feet in diameter, mounted on a short wooden platform, with a small door in the side. The viewer enters the structure and sits down on a cushion on the floor, the door shuts, and everything is completely dark. After a short time, there is a flash of light, and all surfaces inside are revealed as mirrors. There is no fixed point, except for the viewer’s own body. Soon the lighting begins to change, both of its own accord and in response to the viewer's position and movements. The experience is by turns exploratory and meditative. It is embedded with sensors with which the user can interact in the space. Lights turn on and off based on the user’s actions.

To learn more about Geode #1 (Fun House), check out this video of Jared presenting his work, and the Geode #1 (Fun House) project page.

Thank You Lights by Aaron Parsekian

alt text

alt text

alt text

alt text

In this project, Aaron asks if something high-tech can be powered by trash. He successfully created a rechargeable battery using charcoal, steel and aluminum. This final version of the battery uses a standard USB charger for recharging. By charging three cells for 10 minutes with a USB charger, the battery will provide power to a 60 lumen LED for 10 hours. This final battery is made up of an aluminum electrode sandwiched between cardboard soaked in saltwater and charcoal and surrounded by a steel can. The battery cells are insulated from each other using fused plastic bags.

To learn more about Thank You Lights, check out this video of Aaron presenting his work, and the Thank You Lights project page.

Play:Connected by Jason Beck

alt text

alt text

alt text

alt text

For children with disabilities in medical facilities, the internet offers a connection to the lives of parents, siblings and friends. Though their bodies might not be able to inhabit the same place, they can still play through the networks that connect people with a wider world.

Play:Connected features an internet-controlled rover streaming video and audio to a child in a remote medical facility. Built from various microcontrollers, motors and electronic components, the rover senses and responds to play with other children. In its current iteration, the rover engages other children via a foam-dart turret mounted on the device that can be activated by the child remotely. Others can retaliate via a sensor embedded in another foam-dart gun. When fired at the rover, the sensor activates a turret in the remote child’s room, discharging foam darts at him or her.

To learn more about Play:Connected, check out this video of Jason presenting his work, this video documenting the project, and the Play:Connected project page.


These six projects are just a taste of the incredible work that I witnessed last week. I wish I could share them all. To check out all of the 2017 ITP Thesis projects, visit the ITP Thesis 2017 page and browse around. You can also learn more about the projects that were featured in the ITP 2017 spring show on the Spring Show webpage!

Congratulations to the students at ITP on a spectacular set of work! I can’t wait to see what the next year will bring!

comments | comment feed

IoTuesday: The Three IoT Projects that Everyone’s Done (Twice)

via SparkFun Electronics Blog Posts

When you spend as much time as we do looking at people’s awesome DIY IoT devices, you notice a few things. One is that IoT is a popular idea, and there are a lot of people who are ready to have this tech in their homes. The other is that basically everyone wants IoT to do one of three things: automate their appliances, check the weather or provide at-a-glance info.

This isn’t a condemnation of those ideas or the people who build their projects around them. I think these are just the services people expect from IoT right now, so that’s the problem they’re trying to solve. And they’re solving it well, in all kinds of ways!

Here’s an overview of the three most common IoT projects and why I think they’re great:

Remote Appliance Switch

The number of times in a brainstorming meeting that I’ve said, “Maybe we can turn a whatever on and off with it, like from a smart-phone,” is nearly uncountable. We already have tons of household appliances that are smarter than the computers that put Apollo 11 on the moon; let’s turn them on from the other room! This also happens to be the “Hello World” of IoT: You’re getting an input from the internet and controlling one bit with it. The ease with which you can make a platform do this is often a good measure of how nice that platform will be for IoT in general.

Here are a few projects in this category that I liked from hackster.io



And, of course, here’s where we did it!


Weather Monitoring Station


Whether your station is in service of citizen science or just in service of helping you get dressed appropriately in the morning, having your own automated weather observations is undeniably handy. Also, weather stations comprise a nice variety of sensors and therefore make a good test platform for streaming different kinds of measurements to the web and displaying them in a way that makes sense. Bonus points if your weather station posts to Weather Underground or some other weather station network!

Here are a few projects in this category that I liked from hackster.io



And here are our weather related IoT builds

Photon Remote Temperature Sensor

Learn how to build your own Internet-connect, solar-powered temperature collection station using the Photon from Particle.

Photon Weather Shield Hookup Guide V11

Create Internet-connected weather projects with the SparkFun Weather Shield for the Photon.

Arduino Weather Shield Hookup Guide V12

Read humidity, pressure and luminosity quickly and easily. Add wind speed, direction and rain gauge for full weather station capabilities.

Weather Station Wirelessly Connected to Wunderground

Build your own open-source, official Wunderground weather station that connects over WiFi via an Electric Imp.

Email / Message / Custom Notifiers


We’ve talked about collecting information but what about displaying information? Between email, social media, news feeds and all of the other things in our life vying for our attention, we’re constantly inundated with alerts. But what if we could get all the information we need at a glance, without living in a world of push notifications? This is another central promise of IoT. Devices in this category, like physical email notifiers, have been around since before Internet of Things was a catchphrase, and there have been countless takes on the idea of a subtle, elegant notifier.

Here are a few projects in this category that I liked from hackster.io



And here we are doing it again!


“So… it’s already been done?”

Yeah, but so what? It hasn’t been done your way! These are all great projects, especially when you’re just getting started with IoT and need something to follow along with. And you can always tweak something to make your version better or different or weird.

So are there projects that are missing from this list? Do you have a favorite IoT “Hello World” project? Tell me about it in the comments section below!

comments | comment feed

IoTuesday: The Three IoT Projects that Everyone’s Done (Twice)

via SparkFun Electronics Blog Posts

When you spend as much time as we do looking at people’s awesome DIY IoT devices, you notice a few things. One is that IoT is a popular idea, and there are a lot of people who are ready to have this tech in their homes. The other is that basically everyone wants IoT to do one of three things: automate their appliances, check the weather or provide at-a-glance info.

This isn’t a condemnation of those ideas or the people who build their projects around them. I think these are just the services people expect from IoT right now, so that’s the problem they’re trying to solve. And they’re solving it well, in all kinds of ways!

Here’s an overview of the three most common IoT projects and why I think they’re great:

Remote Appliance Switch

The number of times in a brainstorming meeting that I’ve said, “Maybe we can turn a whatever on and off with it, like from a smart-phone,” is nearly uncountable. We already have tons of household appliances that are smarter than the computers that put Apollo 11 on the moon; let’s turn them on from the other room! This also happens to be the “Hello World” of IoT: You’re getting an input from the internet and controlling one bit with it. The ease with which you can make a platform do this is often a good measure of how nice that platform will be for IoT in general.

Here are a few projects in this category that I liked from hackster.io



And, of course, here’s where we did it!


Weather Monitoring Station


Whether your station is in service of citizen science or just in service of helping you get dressed appropriately in the morning, having your own automated weather observations is undeniably handy. Also, weather stations comprise a nice variety of sensors and therefore make a good test platform for streaming different kinds of measurements to the web and displaying them in a way that makes sense. Bonus points if your weather station posts to Weather Underground or some other weather station network!

Here are a few projects in this category that I liked from hackster.io



And here are our weather related IoT builds

Photon Remote Temperature Sensor

Learn how to build your own Internet-connect, solar-powered temperature collection station using the Photon from Particle.

Photon Weather Shield Hookup Guide V11

Create Internet-connected weather projects with the SparkFun Weather Shield for the Photon.

Arduino Weather Shield Hookup Guide V12

Read humidity, pressure and luminosity quickly and easily. Add wind speed, direction and rain gauge for full weather station capabilities.

Weather Station Wirelessly Connected to Wunderground

Build your own open-source, official Wunderground weather station that connects over WiFi via an Electric Imp.

Email / Message / Custom Notifiers


We’ve talked about collecting information but what about displaying information? Between email, social media, news feeds and all of the other things in our life vying for our attention, we’re constantly inundated with alerts. But what if we could get all the information we need at a glance, without living in a world of push notifications? This is another central promise of IoT. Devices in this category, like physical email notifiers, have been around since before Internet of Things was a catchphrase, and there have been countless takes on the idea of a subtle, elegant notifier.

Here are a few projects in this category that I liked from hackster.io



And here we are doing it again!


“So… it’s already been done?”

Yeah, but so what? It hasn’t been done your way! These are all great projects, especially when you’re just getting started with IoT and need something to follow along with. And you can always tweak something to make your version better or different or weird.

So are there projects that are missing from this list? Do you have a favorite IoT “Hello World” project? Tell me about it in the comments section below!

comments | comment feed

Adventures in Science: Arduino Logic Operators

via SparkFun Electronics Blog Posts

On this week’s “Adventures in Science,” we look at creating compound conditional statements. But in order to do that, we first cover the basics of Boolean logic (or Boolean algebra).

There are three main operators in Boolean algebra: NOT, AND, OR. From these, we can make any number of logic statements, but for now, we will only cover these three and exclusive OR. Boolean algebra follows its own set of rules, but the most important one to remember is that variables can only have one of two values: true or false. From there, we can show how the different operators work.

The first, and probably easiest, is the NOT or negation operator. It simply returns the opposite value of the variable it modifies (P, in this case).

P !P
False True
True False

The second is the AND operator, which is more formally known as logical conjunction. With it, both variables (P and Q) must be true for the result to be true.

P Q P && Q
False False False
False True False
True False False
True True True

Next, we have the OR operator (logical disjunction). We know this in English as “inclusive or,” which means that either P, Q or both can be true for the result to be true.

P Q P || Q
False False False
False True True
True False True
True True True

Finally, we have exclusive OR (exclusive disjunction), where only one of P or Q can be true for the result to be true. If both are true, the result is false. Exclusive OR is not considered a fundamental logic operator, as you can construct the operation from the other three:

P ⊕ Q = (P || Q) && !(P && Q)

One possible operator for exclusive OR is a plus enclosed in a circle, ⊕. There’s no Boolean operator for exclusive OR C, but it’s important enough in programming and electronics that I felt the need to introduce it.

P Q P ⊕ Q
False False False
False True True
True False True
True True False

Using logical operators, we can create compound conditional statements that make doing things like detecting a button push edge much easier:

const int btn_pin = 7;
const int led_pin = 13;

int btn_prev = HIGH;
int btn_state;

void setup() {
  pinMode(btn_pin, INPUT_PULLUP);
  pinMode(led_pin, OUTPUT);
  digitalWrite(led_pin, LOW);
}

void loop() {
  btn_state = digitalRead(btn_pin);
  if ( (btn_state == LOW) && (btn_prev == HIGH) ) {
    digitalWrite(led_pin, HIGH);
    delay(500);
    digitalWrite(led_pin, LOW);
  }
  btn_prev = btn_state;
}

Are there any other slick uses for Boolean operators and compound conditional statements that you can offer or would want a new programmer to know? Please share your ideas in the comments below.

comments | comment feed