In Weekly Roundup #40 we’re seeing sensors, wireless, SBCs and the demise of a Polish physicist.
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The Matrix Voice was an IndieGoGo campaign I mentioned back in Weekly Roundup #25
. It was successfully funded there, but now they’re back on Kickstarter. Not sure why, as this board is exactly the same as IndieGoGo at the same price. Have they run out of money for production? Who knows? But it’s not gaining the traction it did on IndieGoGo.
This next one looks like promising alternative to using a motion capture suit. It uses flexible strain sensors instead of IMUs to determine movement of limbs. Not sure how accurate it is, but from the demos it seems to be able to be used in golf swing analysis and game play.
This next one is a small Arduino Zero
compatible board from Rabid Prototypes
. Contains a small 96x64 OLED display and microSD in a small 33mm squared package. Can be powered from USB or direct 3.3v supply.
If you have a Pi Zero and want to use a camera, then this case allows you to contain both whilst giving you a flexible head to position the camera anywhere you want.
The Protractor is a cool idea. It’s a proximity sensor board designed for robotics that allows you to measure angles between objects up to 10 degree accuracy. This gives you much better obstacle avoidance for your robots. It’s powered from 6 to 14 volts with 85mA average consumption.
The NanoSound is a DAC sound hat for your Pi that contains a PCM5122
DAC which is capable of 24bit, 384kHz sampling rate and an ultra low noise regulator giving you some decent sound output. Also has 6 buttons, IR receiver and small OLED. So is ideally setup as a media player.
The SmartMote is a universal IR remote with on-board Alexa connectivity. Has 5 IR LEDs to give you full coverage as well as headers for additional IR LEDs and an ESP WiFi module pre-programmed with IR codes for popular devices.
The Swidget is something that allows you to embed smart home devices into your existing power outlet. They have a number of modules from Bluetooth speakers, USB chargers, IR and motion sensors. It seems to be only for the US market, so everyone else is out of luck, but a good idea anyway.
The Alobrix looks promising. It’s a STEM education kit that can be placed on normal Lego trays that are used to program the movements of a small Lego robot. It seems to be one of the more complete kits giving you some coding concepts such as multi-threading, logic, loops, parameters, sensors and functions. So far I haven’t seen any kit aimed at this young age group capable of teaching such complex coding concepts.
This is a blast from the past. Good old pong kept us amused for hours as kids. Until my dad got annoyed enough to cut the power cord to the TV. The RetroBall is a DIY kit giving you a 32 by 32 RGB LED matrix, potentiometers, buttons, PIC MCU, on a 240mm squared circuit board. It also has headers to plug in an Arduino to extend out it’s capabilities. Nice.
Nothing interesting on IndieGoGo this week apart from spinners, but…
on CrowdSupply, the …
Spora is another IMU based sensor running off a coin cell battery. There’s a lot of them around these days, but this one promises interchangeable components, such as Bluetooth, sensors and also the MCU, but I’m not sure how they’re going to pull that off.
Will be interesting once it goes live.
Then there’s the TinyPAT which is pegged as a handy tool for USB-C power adapter testing. No more info apart from that on this one.
MyIR are back again with another FPGA board, but this one is a cheaper version. Called the Z-turn Lite it packs a Xilinx Zynq 7007
SoC, which runs an ARM Cortex-A9 SoC and FPGA, 512M RAM, 4G eMMC, USB, GbE and SD slot. They are currently taking pre-orders for $69 US.
And the CubieBoard7 has finally hit the market. This one is a step up from the previous model, with a Semi S700 quad core Cortex-A53, 2G DDR3 RAM, 8G eMMC, SATA 3, HDMI out, RTC, LiPo header, WiFi Bluetooth via the popular AP6212 and GbE.
A nice board, but will be interesting to see what this alternative Cortex SoC is like.
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I mentioned the NanoPi K2
back in Weekly Roundup #31
, but now FriendlyElec
have released an UbuntuCore O/S image. You can pick up the latest image from mediafire.
Back in Weekly Roundup #31
I mentioned the demise of several Intel Maker flagship products. Well guess what? They are now abandoning the Arduino 101 and Intel Curie. This means that Intel have now exited the Maker scene completely and will affect the recently released UDOO X86
SBC. They have until July 2018 to change their designs but I would see it as a minor design change and there’s plenty of alternatives. Still a shame.
However, Intel have just released a product called the Movidius Neural Compute Stick. So who knows, maybe they aren’t ditching the Maker scene. This is a pretty cool device designed to provide visual processing and deep learning capabilities that would be impossible for most SBCs. Accessible over USB, so you can extend processing power by adding more. _The only catch is that it requires an x86 64bit SBC and not supported under ARM. _[Edit update: Apparently the Pi is now supported! Woohoo!]
Another RTL8195 module joins the market this one from Minjun IoT. This one is slightly different in that it also provides on-board NFC.
And ST Micro has finally come out with a competitor to the ATtiny with the, very easy to say, STM8S001J3! Of course! This is a small 8 pin package that provides almost a capability match to the ATtiny at around 20c for volume orders. It’s always nice to see more options.
And this one I picked up from Peter Scargill
’s blog, which is possibly the cheapest touch switch around. You can pick 10 units up for around a dollar a piece. Or rather you used to be able to. Seems everyone has bought them out, but ICstation have them still
. At $2.80 each they are still pretty cheap
Over at Tindie there’s a bunch of interesting things.
If you want a super accurate temperature sensor, then this I2C based breakout delivers .1 degree accuracy over a -5 to 50C range. It’s not a huge range, so can only be used in applications in moderate temperatures.
This is pretty cool. It’s a an optical SPDIF audio switch. Can handle 4 optical and 3 SPDIF inputs, but the cool thing is that it’ll auto-switch to whatever channel is active. Nice. It also has an optional high quality DAC support using the ES9023 Sabre DAC and the firmware updated over USB. Also Volumio
support as well!
If you’re in need of a opto-isolators, this board provides 4 bi-directional channels.
Or this board probably is the smallest USB hub I’ve seen.
And if you’re running out of USB ports, why not use the mini PCie
slot’s USB port and extend it out with this board. This is actually quite handy and I’ll pick one of these up.
Evive looks pretty cool. It was the HackADay 2016 automation challenge competition
winner and no surprise as it contains everything you want in a beginners electronics kit. Very similar to all those old 120in1 electronics kits in the 80s, contains breadboard, TFT screen, Arduino Mega 2560, variable power supply, data acquisition channels, DAC, RTCs, motor drivers, touch sensors. This has absolutely everything! Coming in at over $100 US it may seem expensive, but it’s actually very cheap for what it is. You can also pick up the Evive Starter Kit which is a bit cheaper.
At the other end of the spectrum is this very expensive MEMS Spectrometer breakout. For almost $400 US you get a very accurate C12880MA sensor
used for such things as fluorescence spectroscopy. It’s a device that’s used in Peter Jansen’s open source Tricorder project
. You can also pick this sensor up from Seeed Studio.
The irdroid is an RF gateway running the RT5350 SoC running OpenWRT, 2 ethernet ports, WiFi and two 433MHz RF modules. A pretty complete package for the price.
The original Hornbill
was seen on Crowd Supply back in Weekly Roundup #21
, well now on Tindie there’s the Hornbill Minima. Which is exactly the same as the original, but in a wearables format.
The LoDuino is another Arduino and LoRa breakout. It contains an ATmega328
along with the RN2903 LoRa module
. Also has LiPo charging and can draw 30uA on standby. This one has the u.fl connector and this one
has a soldered copper antenna.
If you want to practice your SMD soldering, then this is really cool. Contains a sample of all the SMD package types you will potentially bump into from 1206s down to 0201s. That’s pretty tiny and you’ll need good eyes for that. If you’re successful, then you should be able to light up all the LEDs.
Another Arduino Pro Mini compatible board, this one containing an RFM69
LoRa module. Can run off a CR2450 battery or USB and is MySensors
And here’s another LoRa shield for an Arduino based on the RFM110L LoRa module. Don’t confuse this with the RFM110W
module as that one is an OOK RF transmitter.
and from the same Tindie store, these LoRa module boards can accept an STM32 board, sometimes called the Blue pill
AdaFruit, Seeed, SparkFun, DFRobot, DigiKey
Over at the major store fronts, …
ITead have come out with a Sonoff RF bridge that will seamlessly bridge all your 433MHz RF devices to a WiFi network. This is a pretty good bang for your buck and is one of those set and forget devices.
Meanwhile over at Seeed Studio there’s an IoT dev board called the Renesas S5D9. For $35 US you get a Cortex M4F MCU, 32MB flash, 100MbE, a bunch of motion sensors and microphone, and Grove and PMOD expansion headers all running a 5.1 to 24 volt DC input.
They also have in the EMW3166
and development board. Both of which were mentioned back in Weekly Roundup #38
and is a competitor to the ESP8266s
There’s also the EMW3239
and development board which is a competitor to the ESP32s
And something must be brewing in the Raspberry Pi foundation as Seeed are wanting to dump all their stock of Pi 2s at a reduced price of $20 US. However, it’s only v1.1 of the Pi2, so not using the current generation of 2837 SoC as exists in the Pi3.
AdaFruit have updated the Gemma M0 from at ATtiny85
to the SAMD21
MCU and also contains LiPo battery support on a sew-able PCB.
While over at DFRobot, they have have a LiPo charging and boosting module based on the MP2636
and a water turbine generator that output a constant 5v @ 150mA from a 4L/min water flow. It’ll start to push out 2.5v when hitting 3.5L/min.
A few random bits and pieces that I didn’t include in my video.