Weekly Roundup #09 - New Maker Products // News

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Number 9 of the Weekly Roundup has more robots, (surprise!), home automation, wireless transceivers and a nice stepper motor controller.

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Crowd Funding


There’s a bunch of nice STEM products on KickStarter this week.

Plobot | A Robot Coding Companion

The Plobot is a nice little robot designed to teach kids how to program. You program it by tapping instruction cards on the robot.

The cards have a number of commands such as; functions, motions, actions, modifiers and sensors you can use.

Nice little Christmas present for the budding coder.

Root - A robot to teach coding

There’s also root… No, not the root account on UNIX.

Root is another STEM education robot, but this one can move across a whiteboard. It’ll do simple line following, or stick a pen in and it’ll draw for you.

All programmable from an iPad from basic graphics all the way to full Python, JavaScript or Swift.

Comes with some tutorials for you to modify and hack around with. Nice.

Airblock: The Modular and Programmable Starter Drone

Continuing the theme of STEM education, the Airblock is a programmable drone with magnetically connected modules. This allows you to be creative in the way you structure your drone.

You have basic control mechanisms, but doesn’t seem to allow you to do more complex coding like the Root.

SoundDuino 3 , Sterio Audio Shield for Arduino

If you’re looking for CD quality sound recording and playback then the SoundDuino3 looks like a fairly decent Arduino hat. This is the 3rd revision of this board and contains an SD card, stereo audio in and out and a fairly easy API.

PS-1A Adjustable Miniature Switch Mode DC-DC Power Supply

The PS-1A is a tiny switch mode power supply. Heck it’s the smallest I’ve seen. I used to fix switch mode power supplies for dot matrix printers and I can tell you they were huge.

This one supports an input voltage between 3 and 17 volts delivering from 0.9 to 6 volts at 1 amp.

Bixi: Control Any Smart Device by Simply Waving Your Hand!

This is not really a Maker product, but more in the category of “Oh I want to hack this one to bits”. The Bixi is a wireless gesture recognition device that connects to anything via Bluetooth.

Can recognize only 8 gestures currently and seems to be fixed in what the commands do. I don’t see any mention of an API… If they don’t create one, my money is on someone creating a hack for it pretty quickly.

I think I might send them an email asking for an open API.


Itty Bitty City: 8 in 1 Smart Building Block Kit

Only one interesting thing on IndieGoGo and that’s the Itty Bitty City. Yet another STEM education tool from Microduino. Comes with a variety of modules that connect magnetically and is Lego compliant as well. They are colour coded as core, function, communication, and extension for easy identification.

OTA programming via Bluetooth is done with Scratch and Mixly or you can also use the Arduino IDE via USB.

There are a number of kits that can extend it to do all sorts of cool stuff.

Crowd Supply

Nothing interesting on Crowd Supply this week.

Maker Shops


LittleArm: 3D Printed Trainable Arduino Robot Arm

The LittleArm is probably a little expensive for what it is, but for that you get all the bits to make a 3 axis robot arm controlled by an Arduino and 4 standard MG90S servos. So won’t be able to handle a huge load.

MightyStep17 A4982 Stepper Driver - MakerBot

While we’re on motor controllers. There’s the MightyStep17 stepper driver which claims to be a direct replacement part of the MakerBot. If you you’ve had a hard to sourcing these drivers, your search is over!


Now this is nice. The uStepper is also a little pricey, but is designed to be placed on the back of any NEMA17 motor.

It is a board containing an ATmega328P, 12 bit rotary encoder, regulator, temperature sensor and stepper drivers. Runs off 8 to 24 volts. An all in one package that will simplify your cabling.

4-port NanoHub - tiny USB hub for hacking projects

I seem to be always running out of USB ports on some of my small projects. The NanoHub is a breakout board containing a 4 port USB 2.0 hub. This one replaces the original 2 port hub I mentioned in one of my earlier Roundups.

dAISy HAT - AIS Receiver for Raspberry Pi

The dAISy hat hasn’t got anything to do with cows, but is a 2 channel AIS receiver. What’s AIS you ask? AIS is Automatic Identification System and is used in aircraft and marine tracking applications. It can connect to OpenCPN to see objects tracked in real time.


Looking for an ARM Cortex M3 hat for your Pi?

The PPPSOC is a breakout board containing… well… an ARM Cortex M3.

Honorable mentions

Bare Conductive Pi Cap

AdaFruit have a new capacitive touch hat for the Pi that also has a CD quality audio out jack and small prototyping area.

AdaFruit have also created an extensive API for it as well.

Pimoroni Automation HAT for Raspberry Pi

Then there’s the Pimoroni Home Automation hat which contains ADCs, inputs, outputs, and relays all supporting up to 24 volts.

Adafruit PCF8523 Real Time Clock Assembled Breakout Board

If you’re looking for Real Time Clocks AdaFruit have two new ones in stock. The DS1307 and PCF8523 with the only difference between them being, (apart from price), the DS1307 requiring 5 volt power.

Adafruit DS1307 Real Time Clock Assembled Breakout Board

Adafruit USB + Serial LCD Backpack Add-On with Cable

This nice little board allows you to control any 16x2 or 20x4 character LCD with PWM backlight control. You can send commands by either UART or it also has an onboard USB port. Contains onboard EEPROM so you can save customizations.

LED RGB Strip - Addressable, 5m (APA102)

OK. It’s almost Christmas. Time to start hacking those APA102 LED strips. The APA102 is similar to the WS2812 but is controlled over SPI so refresh rates are high. SparkFun have them in stock just in time!

ESP32s and ESP3212

A number of Chinese online shops have the ESP32S and ESP3212. You have to be careful which ESP32 you buy and there seems to be a fair amount of confusion. There’s two brands; the Espressif and Ai-Thinker module. The ESP3212 is cheaper, but not as good as the Espressif ESP-WROOM-32 or Ai-Thinker ESP-32S module. Head on over to esp32.net if you need more info.

http://www.analoglamb.com/shop/new-products http://www.shenzhen2u.com/index.php?route=product/category&path=81 http://www.elecrow.com/new-arrivals http://esp32.net/

Raspberry PI nRF24 Add-on V1.0

If you want to start making some home automation projects then here’s one option.

EleCrow have a Pi hat with onboard nRF24 transceiver, ATmega328P, RTC and FTDI header. It fully supports the Open Source Home Automation Framework from MySensors.org.

Crowtail- Advanced Kit for Arduino

There’s also the Crowtail advanced Arduino kit which has a whole bunch of stuff in it that would cost a lot more than buying individually, like flame, PIR, water and range sensors, RTC, infrared, WiFi and LCDs.

3.6V Micro Hydro Generator(G1/4")

One of the projects in my pipeline requires a hydro generator. This is a handy little unit providing 3.6 volts from standard water mains pressure across a wide temperature range.


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