Relaying the New Products for the Week


Update: The prank is over, Tim figured it out. We will get archived footage of what happened online soon.

This is a good week for the New Product Post. We have some cool products, and a special surprise project for this week. Check out the video and the paragraph below for a description of what we're up to today. I've decided to start doing more demos for new products and show everyone some examples of this stuff in action!

So there you have it. If you go to this page, you can not only see a live feed of Tim, but you can also mess with his monitor. For those of you who didn't watch the video, you should. But in summary, we took a PowerSwitch Tail and connected it to an Ethernet Pro. So you can control one of our employee's monitor's via the Internet and watch the hilarity ensue as he tries to figure out what's going on.

We'll see how long we can keep it up, but most likely he'll figure out what's going on soon enough. We'll be recording the webcam feed and replaying it once the prank is over, so just visit the link above either way to see the aftermath or to see it live.

You know you're living in the future when you can measure a temperature across the room with the help of a laser sight. This infrared thermometer has a great pistol grip and trigger, nice backlit display and good accuracy. It's a nice tool to have around and seems to be very well built.

Traditional multimeters are handy but sometimes trying to probe small SMD components can be tricky. These SMD tweezers allow you to measure resistance, capacitance and test diodes with one hand quickly and easily. They have conductive tips and a nice LCD read-out.

The ChipQuick is a kit which allows you to remove SMD components without using a hot-air rework station. All you need is the kit and your soldering iron. The kit includes solder which has a very low melting temperature so you can cover all the pins of the component and it will stay liquid long enough for you to remove the IC. Check the video on the product page for a demonstration. You can use this kit to remove about 8-10 ICs. I removed an ATMega328 and only used about 2 inches of the solder (about 2.5 feet are included in the kit).

Although the picture makes it look like some sort of perpetual motion machine, this is actually the new version of the PowerSwitch Tail. The PowerSwitch Tail II has increased current capacity, now able to handle a full 15A of current. It also has a lower switching current so you can use it with just about any microcontroller. Check the video and link above for an impractical use of the PowerSwitch Tail II.

Chances are your house is full of very useful wiring, but right now all you can do with it is carry electricity for your lights, refrigerator, furnace and boring stuff like that. With the Mamba Shield, you can use your house's wiring to communicate with Arduinos over SPI.

We already carry some battery holders that hold 2 AA batteries and 2 AAA batteries, but this new one holds 3 AAs. It has the same switch, cover and bare leads as the others, it just holds an extra battery. I've used these for enclosures for projects as well as battery holders and it's nice to have one laying around.

If your interest in electronics is more geared towards the mechanical side of things, you might want to check out Robot Builder's Bonanza. It covers a lot of interesting topics such as mechanical construction techniques, working with metal, rapid prototyping, and types of locomotion. I was impressed by the sheer number of topics is covers and I have added it to my shelf as reference. If you're going to be building anything mechanical, this book is well worth it.

We have a new version of the LSM303DLH Breakout Board. This one actually includes the necessary circuitry for proper voltage translation on the SDA and SCL pins. Don't mind the picture above, we haven't gotten around to shooting the new board yet. It looks the same, but has a couple more components to deal with the voltage translation. We'll get an updated picture soon.

So there you have it, another New Product Post. Special thanks to IT for their help in getting the everything setup. You guys rock as always. We have some really cool stuff ready to go for next week, so check back next week for another round of new products. Thanks for reading and watching.


Comments 36 comments

  • Robert said, “For those of you who didn’t watch the video, you should."
    Perhaps we should, but to be honest, videos tend to have a low information provided to time spent ratio. To a substantial degree, this is because reading is so much faster than listening, which is a relatively inflexible serial process. It is so much easier to scan text for topics of interest, and read only that which relates to our needs. Watching videos and waiting for content we care about to (hopefully) pop up is time consuming and painful.
    This is especially true when the information density, relevance, and quality of presentation is so dramatically variable ("actually”). I admit, I am much more likely to watch one of your (Robert’s) videos than, say, the “make led flowers for your prom dress” girl, but unless the average signal to noise ratio of the videos improves significantly, I’m going to keep skimming right on by them 9.9 times out of 10. Sorry.

    • watching these videos for information is like buying playboy for the articles.
      Sure they can be informative, but really we are there to see Rob’s sexy self.

    • If all you are interested in is information density, you could just skip the product post altogether and go straight to the New Products page and leave the Friday product post for those of us who appreciate a lower information to entertainment density ratio. (Mi level’s on par with Mythbuster’s ratio of about 1:2).

    • Agreed.
      But this is equivalent of a friend/co worker telling you about something cool. You get excited about it and want to know more (or verify information) so you look it up. Simple as that.
      Entertaining? You betcha!
      Informational? Fo' sho'.
      Accurate? Meh.

    • Noted. for the sake of the prank, and ‘entertainment’ value, the videos exist as a supplement to the actual text post. also, any videos that are simply instruction, we cut those out and put them directly on the product page.

      • Understood. Mostly I wanted to emphasize that the text part of the post is the “substance” at least some of us are seeking. The video is great, as long as the important details are always listed below it. As for AdamTolley’s assertion that videos of Rob are analogous to Playboy centerfolds, well, Robert in a Speedo caressing his hot soldering iron is an image I just don’t want to contemplate. Robert and Adam will have to sort this bold new vision of Sparkfun calendars among themselves ;^) .

      • I’m not sure about anyone else, but I look forward to the video almost as much as the new products at the end of the week, especially if it is entertaining, like this week.

  • Still waiting for the “archived footage” to be posted …

  • correction on battery holder “it’s nice to have one lying around.”

  • When are we going to see the New Arduino DUE- for that matter the MEGA ADK? Here on Sparkfun?

    • And what about chipKIT UNO32 And chipKIT Max32?

    • Don’t forget the Leonardo and the WiFi shield. DUE looks like it has billions of potential applications. I hope i’m not the only one that uses a Mega (and soon DUE) simply because it haz more I/O… :-)

    • If I recall from a pic I saw on Engadget they aren’t due out until the end of October or November.
      I’d guess SparkFun will be carrying them right away. :-) (Really looking forward to having WiFi on board, and 96 Mhz will be a lot of fun.)

  • Sweet, Ive been waiting for a cheap SMD tester. Now Ive found one. Thanks Sparkfun.

  • Violet, let us know who you are! We want to properly thank you for the postcard!

  • The ChipQuick looks like a good idea. Just wondering, I would normally use desoldering wick to clean up the pads afterwards. On the video you don’t, why is that?

    • wick works too. and if you look at the product page for chipquick, i specifically mention getting some as well. having been down in our production department for a little while, I learned how to quickly clean up the pads with just a solder ball. works well, is quicker, and if you’re going to solder a chip back on there, it’s a bit better than wick.
      as always, there is more than one way to skin a cat.

  • Today, I’m having two problems getting the Sparkfun website to function for me:
    1) after logging in, clicking on the “Add to Wish List” button does nothing.
    2) about 50% of the time, I get sent here with no result:
    http://www.sparkfun.com:8080/
    instead of here:
    http://www.sparkfun.com
    Is it just me?

  • How do you turn off his monitor if he is on a laptop?

    • eh, probably just use a hammer for that one. but he doesn’t use a laptop at work.

      • Haha, I just saw him in the Ustream video at a desktop. I was decieved by the small clip of him in the product post at a laptop :)

  • Did anyone record the video of Tim? I missed out one the hilarity. :(
    edit: Is the stream off-air now? Did he catch on?

    • If it makes you feel better, I missed out on myself too. lol. I think we have it on video, I’ll see if they plan to post it for everyone.
      Very funny guys. Very funny. You really had me going.

      • We do. It’s processing right now and will be on our youtube account, but it’s so long it will take some time to get uploaded. We’ll announce it when we get it up.

  • Any chance we could see some code from the Ethernet Pro? The Treeduino Hardware guy would love to compare!

  • That live video feed was cool.. Love the frantic robot arms.. Next time we need sound too though.. :-)

  • Ummm… “Infrared heat gun”? I was dissapointed:
    http://www.sparkfun.com/products/10830


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