This week’s Weekly Roundup we’re seeing gesture sensors, ESP32, SBCs, Vehicle OBD boards and buck converters.
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First up on Kickstarter there’s …
a multi-protocol wireless box that can talk Sigfox
. It contains an ATmega328P
, which is the ultra low power variant allowing it to drop down to 0.6uA in sleep or 5mA in idle. They have written an Arduino library called PLDuino, (Edit: yet to be released
), that allows you to interface to I2C sensors and their SaaS platform
If you’re running out of GPIOs on your Pi, then this mega expansion hat has 8 10A, 240v relays, 8 channel, 12bit ADC as well as a 12bit DAC, 8 opto-isolated inputs, 4 open collector outputs rated to 16v and an additional 6 GPIOs. Even better, you can stack four of them onto a single Pi.
If you’re in to CNC machines, then here’s another controller called the Buildbotics. It can control up to 4 steppers at up to 6A at 36v with 128 microsteps and has limit switches, PWM spindle control and z-axis probing. There’s all sorts of protection like over-voltage, over-current, short-circuit and reverse-voltage. It even has Ethernet and 4 USB ports which allow you to connect up game controllers and webcams.
Boxmaster is a fairly simple board that is designed to be used in a DIY audio amplifier. Contains a 2.4" LCD, stereo in & out and graphic equalizer running off a Rohm
sound processor, (BD37543FS
). All powered from a 9 to 60v DC input.
AutoPi is yet another OBD
vehicle thingy, but this is one of the more mature ones. It’s a board that contains CAN bus transceivers, 3G/4G modem, GPS, accelerometer, and speaker. It can attach to any Pi, but they have an all-in-one case supporting the Pi Zero.
It runs Raspbian with their AutoPi Core software installed on top, which will talk to their cloud platform allowing you to do some cool stuff.
The Stronghold is a board giving you remote control of up to 5 47A DC outputs. It has an on-board ATmega2560
giving you 3G and GPS, temperature sensor and surge protected RS485. A nice little unit if you want 3G based remote control.
Cubroid is another STEM coding product. This one is Lego compatible and has the usual compliment of blocks such as DC motor driver, LEDs, sound and touch, light and proximity sensors. It can be programmed over Bluetooth using an iOS or Android app using Scratch.
Nothing on IndieGoGo again, …
… but on CrowdSupply, there’s …
… the Retro-uC, which is an Arduino compatible board that’s attempting to re-incarnate some old CPUs in an FPGA. They’re looking at providing CPUs such as the 6502
. They already have the FPGA source for the Z80 created for another board …
… that was on Kickstarter a couple of years ago, called the XLR8. This is an Arduino format board containing an Altera FPGA
and the full compliment of Arduino GPIOs that are 5v tolerant.
The HackADay Assistive Technologies competition has finished and there were twenty winners announced, like hand tremor suppression
, open source wheelchair
and a device to avoid dehydration in the elderly
. Great to see some really cool stuff being made.
Arrow currently have on back-order a SensiBLE
module, which is a Bluetooth module and Cortex-M4 MCU, (STM32L476
), combo with the usual sensors on-board such as 6DOF IMU, light and pressure sensors. The good thing about this one is that it’s the smallest I’ve seen so far, just barely bigger than a coin cell battery.
Inforce have a small SBC called the Inforce 6420. Based on the quad-core Snapdragon 600E
it also has 2G DDR3 RAM, 4G eMMC, WiFi, Bluetooth, GbE, USB, 2 HDMI out and HDMI in running off a 5v, 4A DC power supply. Pretty decent board for the price.
Intrinsyc have also released their Open-Q 626 System On Module. Measuring only 50 by 25mm it contains an octo-core Snapdragon 626
, 2G DDR3 RAM, 16G eMMC, WiFi and GPS. It currently runs Android Lollipop
and Linux is being worked on. It’ll set you back around US$140 for the module and US$600 for the development breakout board.
There’s a lot of ESP32
based boards hitting the market. Here’s another from a company called ThaiEasyElec
. It’s in a very similar format to DFRobot’s FireBeetle
or AdaFruit’s Feather
The LoRaduino is a small board with an ATmega328P
LoRa module, 16Mbit flash, MCP73831
battery management and AP2112
regulator and you get all that for only US$6! Nice.
Linux kernel 4.13 is out and there are a number of significant changes for Makers. It includes support for a lot of ARM SoCs, like the Allwinners
. This means that we’ll be seeing more stable O/S images on a lot of those cheap SBCs.
Way back in Weekly Roundup #15
I mentioned the HiFive
. Well now Michael Welling has created the LoFive, which contains the SiFive FE310
which is a 32bit RISC MCU clocked at 320MHz, 128Mbit flash and 3.3 and 1.8v regulators powered from 5v DC.
All schematics and source are up there for everyone to see
There’s a bunch of good stuff up on Tindie at the moment.
The Remotsy is a small PCB with an ESP8266
and IR transmitter and receiver. This is pretty useful if you want to automate all your old IR remotes. The default firmware connects to the Remotsy cloud servers where you can create controls, and connect it to Alexa
In Weekly Roundup #41
I mentioned the ESP8266 FrogoPin board
. Well the same Tindie store now has a version for the ESP32
The PewPew Lite is a simple board with 6 buttons and a 4 colour, 8x8 LED matrix display that fits on to an AdaFruit Feather
and allowing you to create your own handheld console.
This store always has some good ideas. It simulates a coin cell battery from 5v in via micro USB. A great idea if you want to do development on a board powered by coin cell and you don’t want to have to buy a bucket load of coin cell batteries.
Here’s another GSM based relay board running an ATmega328P
module allowing you control over two 10A relays. You can use the default firmware, or use the ICSP to load up your own.
Not many people would want to buy this next one, but it’s pretty interesting. This guy has created a small MCU using only relays. Of course he has cut down the size considerably by using RAM chips, but the 83 relays form the core of the CPU. There’s 1024 bytes of memory, executing at a clock rate of 12Hz. Just fast enough to see things move. Nice.
Yet another CAN bus board. This one uses the ESP32
and a TI CAN-BUS transceiver. It also has a regulator that can accept up to 15v input, CP2102
USB to UART and SD slot. It has all the basics for doing vehicle telemetry.
And yet another, but this one is based off an Orange Pi Zero
and supports CAN-BUS v2. So it can act as a CAN gateway over WiFi or Ethernet, or log data to a USB flash drive.
These look like some pretty decent actuators. They’re made from aluminium and ABS plastic and are IPX6 rated
and waterproof. They run off a 12v DC supply with a 4.4 pound push/pull force at 13mm/sec and 150mm stroke.
This is a pretty simple board that provides a gateway between Bluetooth and WiFi. It’ll receive BLE advertised data and send it to an MQTT server
. Based on the TI CC2640
you can also OTA program it.
Another HID injector slash hacking tool. This one has an ATmega32u4
and ESP-12s on-board, allowing you to send key strokes over WiFi. Use it as a keyboard shortcut tool or just to annoy someone.
AdaFruit, Seeed, SparkFun, DFRobot, DigiKey
And over at Seeed they have even more ESP32
boards. The Widora has all the usual stuff on-board, like CP2102
USB to UART bridge and voltage regulators.
And then there’s this GeeekNET ESP32
board. This one with additional LiPo battery management, similar to AdaFruit’s Feather
This flow breakout board
is useful for drones. Contains the VL53LOx
Time Of Flight and PMW3901
optical flow sensors allowing you to measure X, Y and Z movement. Powered from either 3.3 or 5v.
We’re starting to see a lot of 3G and 4G boards hitting the market, but they’re still quite expensive at the moment. This one is a US only board running the Quectel 4G LTE
modem with onboard GPS. It also contains an STM32F405
, 6 Grove connectors and audio jack.
This is really cool and has changed my ideas on my video editing console that I’m making. It’s a gesture control board using the MGC3130
chip that allows fairly accurate 3D tracking of objects. Resolution is up to 150dpi at up to 150mm away and talks I2C to your Pi. They have several different variants; the standalone case
, Pi Hat
, and Pi Zero hat
And another gesture sensor, this one from AdaFruit using the APDS9960
gesture sensor accessible via I2C using 3.3 or 5v logic.
SparkFun have the RedBearLab Nano v2, which is an update on their nRF52832
based board. It’s pretty tiny too.
Haven’t seen too many silicon cases for SBCs, but DFRobot have one for a LattePanda
. You can still get to all the connectors and even allows a fan to be installed.
They also have a robotic hand built from 5 SG90
servos. Every digit can be controlled independently. This one is for righties
and this one is for lefties
DigiKey have a DragonFly Cellular SoM
. A bit expensive, but these are fairly rugged modules with an ARM Cortex-M4 allowing connectivity to 4G LTE, 3G HSPA and 2G RTT.
The Cheap Side
Over in China, there’s …
a module that allows you to copy 433MHz RF remote controls and replay them using an IoS and Android app. Supports a bucket load of different devices.
Amazing how these things are becoming really cheap. You can pick up 5 of these buck converters for around a dollar each. You’d never be able to make your own for cheaper. This one converts a 24v DC input down to 5v at 3A load.
Or you can pick up 10 of these TP4056 LiPo battery management breakouts for less than a dollar each.
And this WeMos TTgo, which is an Arduino compatible board based on the ESP32
. Can be powered from up to 12v using the typical buck converter arrangement and also has on-board USB to UART bridge.
If you want to hack around with watering your plants, then this kit from EleCrow is pretty cheap. It’s an Arduino shield with 4 relays, water pump, 4 valves and 4 soil moisture sensors.
ICstation have a pretty cheap GPS module based on the ATGM336H
. Has a 2.5m accuracy so would be good for use-cases where you want a positioning. Seems to contain a super-cap which I gather keeps satellite info stored for a period of time.
Access via plain old UART.
A few bits and pieces that I didn’t include in my video.
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The Nixie Clock VII, GPS module driven with new firmware and several improvements to pc board design. Time base of 1PPS or hertz.
This expansion module can turn one digital output pin on an Arduino into up to 63 more. Quick, effective, and easy to use.ESP8266
internet Radio board with on-board stereo amplifier. It’s the same one as found on Tindie
Blind Engine is a device that transforms your existing blind & shade into smart electric blinds connected to your smartphone.
SanStar™ WS-3A Medical Motherboard with Android 5.1. Running an RK3288
Quad-core Cortex-A17 @ 1.8GHz.
Six Synchronized Full HD Cameras for NVIDIA® Jetson TX1/TX2.