iFOB This

Active RFID to open your car doors. Maps to Maker Faire and presentation times. And a bunch of new stuff!

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iFOB. It just rolls off the tongue, no?


iFOB is a device I built to sense my presence and automatically unlock my car as I walk up to it. The Nike+iPod footpod lives in my pocket, the iPod receiver and my actual key fob live inside the car. Since the footpod broadcasts a unique ID, it's a bit like active RFID. The iFOB hears the unique ID, identifies me as 'Nate', that I'm cool to enter the car, and hits the unlock button. Works pretty well! Checkout the tutorial over in SparkFun Projects.

Yay Maker Faire. It's looking bigger and bigger each passing day.


The SparkFun booth will be located in the main Expo Hall. Check the size of that hall! Wow! Here's a PDF of the map in case you need it. If you've never been to Maker Faire, you can get a sense of the scale by checking out the grounds map. It's going to be a ton of fun!

If anyone would like to join, I will be speaking a couple times at MF as well:

Where: Maker Workshop Stage, B, Fiesta Hall
When: Saturday, May 30th at 12:00 pm

Length: 50 min

Title: Electronics Prototyping Process
Description: This talk will help put the entire prototyping process into context. We will cover all the milestone phases, including: concept & planning, PCB design & layout, considerations for manufacturing higher quantities, and more. This is a great discussion for folks who are interested in getting a big-picture summary of DIY technology and how to start creating their own electronic widgets.

Where: Make TV Stage
When: Sunday, May 31st at 12:00 pm
Length: 50 min
Title: Open Source Hardware
Description: This should be a sweet mix of people for a panel type talk. I'm not sure who all will show up.

Where: Maker Workshop Stage, B, Fiesta Hall
When: Sunday, May 31st at 4:00 pm
Length: 50 min
Title: Napkin Schematics
Description: We use this method to hash out the beginning thoughts for SparkFun projects as a pre-cursor to a legitimate schematic. The goal of this class is to help you sketch out the block diagrams for your individual project. It will be taught in a round-table format. It's an ideal class for those who have an idea for an electronics 'widget' but are not quite familiar enough with the beginning stages of the prototyping process. You will need to bring a project that is on your mind, some paper or a sketching journal, and we'll help you fill in the blanks. Projects can range from medical devices, art, electronic 'helper' devices, consumer products, you name it, we'll try to help! You are welcome to use any chip, technology, or development board that you would like. We'll try to dig up whatever information we need to answer your questions. We will recommend available technologies, describe various interface requirements, and show what pitfalls to look out for - but we also encourage attendees to participate with their own recommendation!

Are we good? Ok, time for the new goodies:

The kits are here! We created a new category for some of the various kits we make and sell. We're pretty excited about bringing these to Maker Faire. We should have stock available soon.

Red 7-segments are so retro. Blue 7-segment displays are the way of the future.

New tweezers. The guys in production like them so much, they stole 5 pairs before I could even get them posted. These are what we use for placing SMD components. They rock.

We had a customer request an extra wiring harness for the fabulous USB Logic Analyzer. We thought it was a great idea so Joe at Saleae hooked us up. Speaking of, I think Joe will be roaming around Maker Faire so shoot him an email to meet up.

We've got two new breakout boards. One breaks out the PSP touch screen and the other breaks out the Nintendo DS touch screen. Very handy.

New configuration for the GPS Micro-Mini. Now with SMA antenna to get great reception with an active GPS antenna.

It's just a little board that does one thing well, take a AA battery and make 3.3V. This is a simple DC to DC step up board that generates 3.3V off of one or two AA batteries. Neat!

Coridium has released their ARMmite Pro - an analog to the Arduino Pro. ARMmite has a bit more punch with 32-bit processesing and an easy to learn BASIC compiler!

Pololu shipped us a bunch of new parts including the popular line-following 3pi robot and this nifty wheel encoder.

This is a TRIAC. Triacs are this neat device that allows us to control a burly AC source from a logic friendly DC signal. Great for controlling EL wire and other small AC loads.

Comments 8 comments

  • r0b07h4ck3r / about 13 years ago / 1

    Very fun workshop and kits at Maker Faire!!! I did the clock, metronome and the SMD simon game.
    Nice to meet you all in person :)

  • rodvdb / about 13 years ago / 1

    chansuke: Standard keyfobs have nothing to do with immobilisers.
    To be honest that is a bit of a generalisation in my experience. My dad's old car's imobiliser was disabled by the fob, if the fob battery died then there was another way to disable the system by turning the key in the door left and right in a certain order (unique code for each car)
    I know someone else who was told by their mercedes-benz dealer to keep a spare fob in the car so that if their usual one broke you could unlock with the key and then use 2nd fob to enable the engine & that there was no other way without towing to nearest dealership!
    I am not a car buff and only know these specific cases. I also know someone who had to press a keyfob against the dash every time to enable the engine so I guess YMMV depending on age/brand of car and system installed.

    • Indeed, it was a generalization. Thats why the word 'standard' appeared in my sentence :)
      Yes, some cars are dependent on the fob to operate, notably high end cars that are also started by, well, the fob. BMWs, Mercedes, etc. also use the fob to start the vehicle. And I do know of the reset codes on other cars in case the fob is destroyed. I will never trust my vehicle starting to a key fob to be honest.
      My main hobby is offroading, and ive seen some pretty spectacular electronics failures.

  • SteveChamberlin / about 13 years ago / 1

    Hey, when did you get the Expo Hall floorplan for the Maker Faire? I've also got a (much smaller) booth at the faire, and I haven't heard diddly-squat yet about where the booth will be located.

    • Hrmm - you'd better try to get ahold of Make. They emailed us a few days before this post with the schedule and info.

  • Standard keyfobs have nothing to do with immobilisers. Case in point: if your fob battery dies (or you drop it in soda, not that you, my moms done that or anything), you can still use your key to enter the car and start it.
    Maybe the next iFOB can have GPS and cellular built in, in case the car ever does get stolen. Just send the car a text message and it replies with its coordinates. Depending on how you wired it you could get it to see if the car is running and get it to turn off for good. Checking that its not moving, of course.

  • rodvdb / about 13 years ago / 1

    iFOB... So when car gets nicked are you going to tell the insurance that you left the alarm/immobiliser control inside the car?
    Good luck with that one :D

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