Weekly Roundup #11 - New Maker Products // News

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This week’s Weekly Roundup we’re seeing wireless devices, a handful of the usual robots, FPGA boards, the new Orange Pi boards and the results of the HackADay 2016 competition.

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Crowd Funding


KickStarter has a few interesting things this week.

RS-HFIQ 5W Software Defined Radio (SDR) Tranceiver

First up on Kickstarter is another Software Defined Radio. It contains a 5W transceiver for CW, SSB, AM and FM transmission. It runs off 13.8V DC at 2A and supplied USB power for an Arduino or any other low powered board.

Marvin: the LoRa development board

If you’re in to LoRa then the Marvin looks like a good development board. The onboard ATmega32u4 is programmed via a USB port and also contains Grove compatible sensor ports and the MicroChip RN2483 LoRa module.

iv-Robotics, First Resistors&Capacitor adapted to Breadboard

Now this is a cool idea. This Kickstarter provides common resistor and capacitor values in a breadboard friendly format. No more long dangly resistor and LED leads anymore.

I might back this one, looks good.

UPDATE: This campaign creator was also on IndieGoGo with a failed delivery. One to avoid in future!

Bluetooth 5 Ready: BLE Module, Nano 2 & Blend 2

RedBear have some upgrades on Kickstarter. They have a BLE module, the Nano2 and the Blend2 all based around the upgraded nRF52832 bluetooth module.

The BLE module provides all the expected GPIOs from the Nordic module, whilst the Nano2 has a lot less.

The Blend2 has a Cortex-M3 MCI and the newer Nordic bluetooth module.

The Borlee 3D Printing Box

So you have just got your 3D printer all setup and functioning, but annoyed at that USB cable? The Borlee 3D Printing Box is one way of solving that problem. It can connect to any 3D printer supporting Gcode and then you connect via WiFi.

You could probably DIY your own based on a Raspberry Pi, but if you don’t want to fiddle, then this might be the go.

ChickBot - the fully functional low-cost robot

I’m always a big supporter of the underdog trying to make a go of something. The ChickBot is one of those. It is another DIY build your own robot that you can attach a Pi Zero, Arduino or even a BBC micro:bit to and get it to do all sorts of robotic things.

Raspberry Pi IoT Shield Family | Power to The Shields!

Sixfab have an interesting IoT shield for the Pi. They have 4G/LTE, 3G and GPRS shield as well as GPS and XBee. They’re releasing them as Open Source and OpenHardware, (whatever that means)…

Well… I think far too many people tout the OpenHardware logo too often. We’ll see if they actually come up with the schematics.

Vufine+: The Next Evolution in Wearable Displays

OK, the Vufine+ isn’t really a Maker thing, but would be cool to hack it. It has an HDMI input and sits on any standard glasses giving you a… sort of… heads up display. Would be great to attach a CHIP to this. And it looks so stylish! Wow.


Nothing really new and interesting on IndieGoGo this week.

On The Interwebs

The Final 10 Entries of the 2016 Hackaday Prize

If you missed it on HackADay, the 2016 hackaday competition winner was announced!

DTTO explorer modular robot

The Dtto modular robot, which came about by meeting a need in disaster situations. The can link up into a long chains and can traverse some fairly rough terrain using worm like movements. They can also join up to move like spiders. Cool!

Other entries were a…

High accuracy tilt sensor

A high accuracy tilt sensor

Affordable reflectance transformation imaging dome

An imaging dome that uses reflectance transformation


A printable robotic hand


and the Mechaduino.

PYNQ-Z1 board

Then we have the PYNQ Z1 board. Ever wanted to get into FPGAs? Well this little board contains the Zynq XC7Z020 MCU, which contains a dual-core CortexA9, and and Artix7 FPGA.

It also has onboard gigabit ethernet, standard Arduino headers micro SD, and HDMI out and also in!

The Artix7 is a great FPGA for someone just starting out and contains 1.3M gates, or 215000 logic cells, 740 DSP slices and can support up to 6.6Gb/s transceiver speeds.

This is cool and I think I need to review this one!

Orange Pi Zero

You all probably know about the Orange Pi. Well now there’s the Orange Pi Zero. A tiny little SBC that contains the Allwinner H2 which is a quad core CortexA7 running at 1.2GHz, up to 512M RAM, 100M ethernet with PoE, USB 2.0, OTG, and WiFi. All for under $7 US. Nice!

Orange Pi PC 2

Then there’s the Orange Pi PC 2!

Which contains the Allwinner H5 which is a quad core Cortex A53. The first 64bit Orange Pi! and also 1G RAM, IR, USB, gigabit ethernet, CSI, HDMI, etc, etc.

Seems I’m going to busy for a while reviewing all these boards before Christmas.

Maker Shops


And on Tindie.

TCA9538 Remote 8-bit I2C Low-Power I/O Expander

Sometimes you just run out of GPIOs don’t you? Well the TCA9538 is an I2C based GPIO expander. Giving you an additional 8 GPIOs. The great thing about this? It can support 3.3 or 5v logic levels so if you are requiring logic level converters then it’ll be cheaper to just get one of these.

WIFI 8x MAINS Relays board for Home Automation

In need of a relay board? This one contains headers to slot in an ESP or Arduino or any device that speaks I2C. Gives you 8 mains rated relays in a compact board.


The D-duino is another ESP8266 board, but this one contains a 1.3 OLED display.

Grove shield for D-duino

And they also have a Grove shield for the D-duino giving you all the Grove thingy possibilities.

Power DAC Module

The Power DAC module contains the MCP4921 which is bi-phasic DAC supposedly capable of delivering true AC waveforms.


Or there’s an LTC1661 2 channel DAC which is Digilent PMOD compatible…

PMOD High Resolution ADC

or a 4 channel 24bit ADC using the LTC2492 which is also PMOD compatible.

Ultrasound imaging analog processing module

Then we have this cool ultrasound imaging processing module. Pretty expensive, but if you want to get into ultrasound this might be the thing.

You will, of course, need a whole bunch of extra stuff to get it going, but there it is.

AdaFruit, Seeed, SparkFun

A few things from Seeed, but not much from AdaFruit and SparkFun.

Raspberry PI GPS Module

Over at Seeed there’s a new Raspberry Pi GPS module. Well, it can talk either USB or UART so you could attach it to anything with a UART port.

Comes with an external antenna connector and has 22 tracking channels.

Grove Speech Recognizer kit for Arduino

Remember the Speech Recognizer in one of my earlier Weekly Roundups? Well, Seeed now have it in kit form. It contains a whole stack of Grove ports and a few Grove modules such as RTC, MP3, and IR.

MDBT42Q – nRF52832 based BLE module

An alternative to the RedBear BLE module is this one, which is cheaper than the Kickstarter and you’ll get it quicker. Contains all the usual stuff such as BLE, CortexM4F MCU, 512K flash and 64K RAM and a bucket load of GPIO options.

Mini Spy Camera with Trigger for Photo or Video

The Mini Spy Camera over at AdaFruit is a simple and cheap module capable of taking low res videos and photos. Control is via a one wire interface and files are stored on an onboard SD card.


AdaFruit seem to have plenty of the new ESP32 in stock. Grab a couple while they’re available.

Othermill Pro - Compact Precision CNC + PCB Milling Machine

And if you have plenty of money growing on that money tree in the backyard, just pluck off a couple of notes and get yourself an Othermill Pro which can mill almost anything you want. PCBs, plastics, wood and light metals.

LilyPad Sewable Electronics Kit

Over at SparkFun there is a Lilypad e-textiles sewable kit which contains everything you need to get started into e-textiles.

S6E1C3 Series 32-Bit Microcontrollers

And over at DigiKey there’s a fairly expensive, but complete Cypress Semiconductor based Cortex-M0+ evaluation board.

IzoT U60 FT USB Network Interface Module

Or if you’re in to Echelon Corporations LonWorks then this is a handy USB to LonTalk adaptor. LON is used extensively in building automation controlling things like lighting and HVAC.

ATtiny817 Xplained Mini Evaluation Kit

DigiKey also have an evaluation board for the AtTiny817, which isn’t yet supported under the Arduino IDE so you’ll have to use the Atmel Studio IDE.

The Cheap Side

A bunch of cheap and interesting things from China.

Geekworm Camera With IR-CUT Function For Raspberry Pi 3B/ 2B/ B+/ A+/ Zero Available At Day Or Night

Banggood have an alternative to the 5 megapixel Pi camera with a standard MIPI-CSI interface.

9V Frequency Meter 500mhz High Precision Reader RF Radio Frequency Measuring Instrument

There’s also a cheap high precision radio frequency test kit which… oh ok… doesn’t really say how accurate it is. Oh well.

Motor Shield For WeMos D1 Mini I2C Dual Motor Driver TB6612FNGV1.0.0

A cheap WeMos motor shield capable of controlling two motors up to 15V and 3.2A max!

Hmmmm. I might get some of these and see just how they cope with those ratings.

I suspect I’d see some blue smoke.

DC-DC LM2596 Adjustable Step Down Module With Green Digital Display

This is a cool DC step down module that has an LED display. Input voltage range between 4.5 and 40 volts with an output voltage adjustable between 1.25 and 37 volts at up to 3A.

Orange Pi Lite with Quad Core 1.2GHz 512MB DDR3 WiFi Mini PC

Banggood also have the Orange Pis The Orange Pi Lite…

Orange Pi Plus 2E H3 Quad Core 1.6GHZ 2GB RAM 4K Open-source Development Board Mini PC

…the Orange Pi Plus 2E…

Orange Pi Plus 2 H3 Quad Core 1.6GHZ 2GB RAM 4K Open-source Development Board Mini PC

… and the Orange Pi Plus H3.

Emax RS2205S 2300KV/2600KV Racing Edition Brushess Motor CW CCW for FPV Racing

If you’re into FPV, then over at Elecrow you can pick up a fairly cheap brushless motor, which seems fairly decent, but YMMV for reliability.


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