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SparkFun will be closed on Tuesday, November 3rd because we are out voting! Orders placed after 2 pm MT Monday, November 2nd will ship on Wednesday, November 4th.
We get by with a little help from our friends, specifically Scott Tattersall.
Over the next few weeks, we'll be letting some of our customers take over the blog to talk about how they use their favorite SparkFun tools and products in their projects, businesses and everyday lives. The best part? All the SparkFun items on their wishlist will be on sale today only!
I think the first place any aspiring hardware/IoT maker finds themselves (after buying an Arduino or Raspberry Pi) is on the SparkFun website, browsing all the various sensors, breakout boards and tutorials available. I mean the options are endless! From sound, temperature, air quality and pressure sensors; to starter kits for Raspberry Pi, the Inventor’s Kit and Retro Arcade Gaming; to IR Cameras and LiDAR, the possibilities are amazing! And really, there isn’t a better place to begin than buying a sensor or a kit, wiring it all up on a breadboard, connecting it to an Arduino and watching it do something!
As a recent hardware enthusiast, I’ve mainly been working as a software developer and business owner for the last 15 years, and have been working with the latest technologies in my own start-up companies, SMEs and in large, publicly-traded companies. I’ve written software for machine learning (e.g. using Google’s Tensorflow), computer vision (e.g. OpenCV), IoT (Arduino and RPi) and Crypto-currencies (Bitcoin, Ethereum). But a couple of years ago, having just finished a software project and bought my first Arduino, I realised just how much I didn’t know about the hardware side of things! As a firm believer that there’s no better way to learn than to dive in at the deep end, I began working on an open source hardware project to get sensors and Sigfox built into an Arduino-style board, which I called Siguino.
While I did end up buying and using many breakout boards and sample sensor kits, I realized that while it was cool to be able to get a temperature or humidity reading and send it over Sigfox via an Arduino Pro Mini, some SparkFun breakout boards, and a few wires and resistors, it was hard to go from there to what I considered a useful device or product – especially when the result looks like the below (yes, that really was sending temperature and light levels over Sigfox)!
I wanted to learn how to design my own single board that both already had some useful sensors, and also had the Sigfox comms chip and antenna on board, so once power was supplied it was already a functioning device (re-programmable later on as needed). I also wanted to make this board open source, so others could build on it or learn from it. It was from this that the concept of the Siguino board arose, and ultimately led to a purpose-designed PCB that had all the components I wanted on board.
I really could not have completed my open source project without the knowledge and array of products available on the SparkFun site. Here’s just a small sample of the products I used for this project:
There are a lot of options available at SparkFun, both for the first-time hardware tinkerer (as I was at the start of my project) to the experience hardware engineer, and to those in the former category all I can recommend is to get stuck in building something! Then, if you want to take it further, check out the more in-depth articles on getting started with Eagle schematics I linked to earlier. My own detailed journey from breadboarding to manufactured PCB is available at my website here.
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