If you’re in the Denver/Boulder area and you’re interested in the IEEE and automation, there’s a new IEEE/Robotics society forming! Matt Taylor and Sam Siewert (one of my old university professors, oddly enough) asked us to pass the word on. The meeting is this Wednesday (7/1/09) at 7PM on the CU campus.
There’s a class tonight! Napkin Schematics
is the first class of the 6 week course. All are welcome to attend. We are going to try to broadcast the show live, as well as record it for later editing and posting. Check the class page
for more information.
I get excited about simple things. But when Aaron came to me a few weeks back and mentioned that we should carry RF adapters - I wasn’t entirely convinced. Who cares about adapting SMA to RPSMA? But as we started to talk, he showed me just how confusing it can be. He wrote a short and sweet tutorial
to explain the confusing state of SMA RF connectors. Well done Aaron!
These are the two RF adapters
that convert between reverse polarized SMA, normal SMA, shrouded SMA, inner nut RPSMA, whatever. It’s quite weird and hard to explain, so be sure to check Aaron’s SMA tutorial
with nice, clean pictures.
Speaking of new stuff, we’ve got a lot rolling out:
We took some of our favorite bits and pieces and created an Arduino Starter Kit
. The great thing about this kit is that it includes all the parts you need to hack for a significant amount of time, without anything else. We put it together as sort of an answer to the question: ‘What would I give my niece/nephew/son/daughter/friend to get started with microcontrollers?’ Kit includes some good inputs (linear pot, 12mm button
), good outputs (LEDs
, tri-color LED
), and sensors (light sensor
, vibration sensor
). Happy hacking.
A new breakout board for the MAX7456
is now available. This simple to use IC gives the user the ability to throw text over a video stream. Also called on-screen display (OSD) or text overlay, the MAX7456 has an SPI interface and makes it easy hook up to PAL or NTSC TVs or larger displays with an RCA type input.
Another slick little breakout board for a different IC: The AD9835
is a compact signal generator with extremely good accuracy up to 50MHz!
Speaking of Analog Devices - this is the new ADXL335
, small, low-power, triple axis accelerometer. I got the chance to take a tour of the Analog Devices' fabrication plant in Cambridge, MA. I was blown away to find out that the world’s supply of MEMs accelerometers
from Analog Devices are fabbed in the two lower floors of a non-descript brick building in the heart of Boston, a few streets from MIT. Weird. The nice folks in the MEMs sensor group gave me a tour and took me out to lunch. Thanks ADI
The SD Sniffer
is a device that was recommended by a SparkFun customer. It’s pretty simple, yet very helpful. It’s a breakout board that allows you to hook an SD card into an SD socket, and expose the signal pins so that you can listen in on the data signals, SD traffic, electrical levels, whatever.
Dale Wheat is just such a neat guy, and his kits are so simple and cool, we just couldn’t say no. We now carry the tinyCylon
and Lux Spectralis
kits. These kits are a quick, simple build and do one thing well - amaze people with LED blinking goodness.
After much beating our heads against a wall, we landed a deal with Extech to resell their excellent bench power supplies. These are not cheap supplies, these are good DC power supplies
. We especially like the slim-line 80W DC switcher
, but it’s also the most expensive…
is Telit’s next step into miniaturization of a quad-band cellular module. Telit is the highest quality cellular module manufacturer on the market. The GE864 continues this trend with more great AT commands. You can effectively power this unit up, send it some serial AT commands, and start piping webpage and data information over the cellular network. Nifty.
The PICAXE USB Programmer
is effectively the same thing as the PICAXE USB Programming Cable
difference is this board has two on-board LEDs to show the serial data
(TX and RX) being passed back and forth. Why buy this board? Because
blinky things are better.
Books! Sometimes it just makes a lot more sense to have a printed thing in front of you. These two books dovetail well together. On the left, we have Getting Started with Arduino
by Arduino’s playboy (and co-creater) Massimo Banzi
. It is a good beginner’s book to Arduino and general circuit hacking. On the right is Making Things Talk written by ITP’s
playboy (and prolific spokesperson) Tom Igoe
. Making Things Talk is a more advanced book that shows how to hook various systems and components (like Bluetooth, force sensors, and monkeys) together.
A photo gate
is a great thing to have. Whether you’re detecting food pellets for mice during a controlled experiment, or you’re using it as a safety stop for a printer head, these IR gates will help you detect the world around you.
The 555 Timer
is a very old staple of circuits and electrical engineering. While I jump on the chance to use a microcontroller any chance I get, there are still many good uses for this work horse. Being able to drive 200mA is just one of the many neat features of this timing chip.
You will need a resistor at some point in your project. It’s really annoying whenever you don’t have the right one. This resistor kit
will have the right resistor. As SparkFun user Quazar
points out, there’s 365 - one for every day of the year!
Triple A batteries are a staple for many small projects. We now sell good quality AAAs
And for the final new widget on the list, we have a 6A DC to DC converter module
. 6 amps! This little guy takes 4.5V to 14V and with great efficiency, outputs a regulated 0.6V to 5.5V. Output voltage is set with an external resistor and capacitor.