New Product Friday: A Display of Power


Alright - time to announce the winner of yesterday's SparkFun caption contest. SparkFun member Layout, come on down! We'll shoot you an email about claiming your prize. Congrats! Here's what he came up with:


"After his successful weight loss program, the Michelin Man found a new career as a motivational speaker."

Every week that I write one of these posts, I think to myself, 'Has it really been another week?' I'm still amazed we have this many new products every single week. It's good though, everyone always likes getting new goodies.

I personally have a few projects planned for the new PoEthernet Shield. I already have a wireless physical Gmail notifier, but now I'm thinking of doing a thermostat for my furnace that can be controlled over the Internet. So many projects, so little time.

Character LCDs serve as simple and effective visual feedback for projects. But what if the backlight itself got in on the action? This new 16x2 character LCD actually has an RGB backlight. Now instead of just displaying text, you can change the color of the backlight to give feedback. Maybe you could have it blink red for a warning, or turn green when a task has completed, or any number of other examples. And of course you can mix the three colors to create just about any color you want.

We have a new resistor kit! We've packed 20 of the most common resistor values into a folded cardboard holder. With 25 of each, we give you 500 total resistors. There's even a handy resistor color code chart on the inside for determining values. Everyone needs some extra resistors on hand for various projects, why not have them organized in this handy sleeve?

An Ethernet Shield adds a lot of opportunities for an otherwise socially awkward Arduino. Now, with the ability to speak to the world, you can do some pretty cool things. But wouldn't it be nice if you didn't have to plug in power as well as an Ethernet cable? Well, with the PoEthernet Shield, you don't have to! It breaks out the unused pins on the Ethernet jack so you can inject power over your Ethernet cables remotely. Now you can have several remote sensors across your network and you won't need have a power adapter for each one.

We have another round of brand new retail products coming up. The first of which is the RFID Card 5-pack. It includes (not surprisingly) 5 of our 125kHz RFID tags and makes a perfect addition to the RFID Starter Kit.

Awhile back we started carrying ribbon cables and a few connectors. If you like prototyping on a breadboard, the connectors don't work so well. Thankfully, this one does. It crimps onto a 10-pin ribbon cable and bridges the middle of a breadboard nicely, as shown above. You can use them on a PCB or a breadboard.

Instead of messing with several level converters for your next project, just get the PCA9306 Level Translator Breakout. It's simple. Give it a reference voltage on each side, and it translates between those to levels. Let's say you have a 1.8V sensor and a 5V microcontroller. If you provide a 5V voltage on one side of the board where the microcontroller sits, and 1.8V on the other side, now your sensor can talk to your microcontroller!

We've been using the TMP36 temperature sensor in the SparkFun Inventor's Kit for awhile now and thought it might be a good idea to sell it separately. It's a reliable and simple temperature sensor that works well and is easy to read. What more could you ask for?

The SiGe GN3S isn't your typical GPS module. Instead of giving you nicely formatted NMEA sentences, it is designed to directly capture the low-level signal data being delivered by the GPS satellite network. This low level processing gives the user a keen insight into the signal processing of a GPS receiver. The provided algorithms encourage user modification to attempt to improve and design next generation GPS receivers.

We have a new version of the classic USB Button Pad Controller. There aren't many significant changes, just a few layout and footprint changes; but enough to warrant a revision. If you've never seen one of these in action and are looking for something to play around with, it might be worth checking out.

We also have a new version of our LilyPad Coin Cell Battery Holder. We switched to a different holder in this version. And that's all there really is to say about that.

And lastly, we have a couple of new classes this week. The first class is the 'Solder your own Micro-Controller' class. In this class, we will walk you through the steps to putting together an Arduino-compatible microcontroller. We'll teach you what everything does and why it's there and in the end, you'll have your very own microcontroller, ready to program.

Processing the Danger Shield teaches you how to use Processing and the Danger Shield to do some pretty cool things. Processing is a programming and processing software which can take information from the Danger Shield to create visual tools and interactions right on your computer screen.

Well, that's all I have for this week. As always, thanks for reading. Keep building, keep inventing, and we'll see you again next week with even more new products!


Comments 50 comments

  • Am I the only one who reads the rest of the post with Robert’s voice in their head?!

  • Kick butt products. the TMP36 is awesome for ease of use. and the breadboard 10 pin connector is going on my next order will make playing with all sorts of dev boards easier.

  • Is anybody else bugged that the winner of the caption contest didn’t even know what the costume was?

    • I’m bugged. ;_;

      I don’t think many people knew it, which may have made making a funny, yet correct, caption harder. I think I went too specific with my submission. It’s the whole “if you have to explain it, it’s not as funny.” sigh

      • Not much funny about Kodamas, unfortunately. This costume was still worth it for the dozens of folks that did get it - and as it goes with obscure costumes done in ambitiously, those who got it were typically really excited to see it.

        This also presented a nice opportunity to work in some electronics this Halloween! I installed an 8W speaker in each eye and used an Audio-Sound Module hooked to a button in my hand to trigger the clicking noise ripped right from the DVD. Here’s the BOM for the project.

  • How about actually selling all the resistor types individually?! Now THAT would be useful.

    • But for menial purchases like that we go to the Neanderthals at Jameco. (And then get charged twice as much in shipping as we did for the actual product. Grr.)

      • There’s always The Shack but they are of course banned. Although I will have to go there for some screw terminals and other stuff so that I can adapt my Electribe output to speaker wire… :shiver:

        • Tayda Electronics. The pin leads are a bit flimsy, but for a high schooler on a budget it is wonderful :)

          • Do they have any brick-and-mortar locations? The only Microcenter in New York is in Long Island, and the only Fry’s in NY… is non-existent… ;D

      • …mouser and digikey are dirt cheap.

  • And boom goes the dynamite! @ 1:47

  • “to attempt to improved and design” improve For every mistake we find, we should get vouchers or chocolate.

  • I really love the SparkFun comments, and think it would be nice if you sold/ gave the code away, just because of their nice minimalist nature and the way that, unlike Disqus, for example, the comments are all stored on your servers (I assume…). Not sure about other people, but I would be willing to pay for the code…

    • I really love the SparkFun comments, and think it would be nice if you sold/ gave the code away

      Publishing pretty much everything is a long term goal of ours, and if/when the comment system source is available, it’ll be free and under a copyleft license.

      That said, the comment system as it stands is tied to our database’s notion of content items and customer accounts. You wouldn’t be able to apply it to x-random site without rewriting quite a lot of it, and by then you’d probably do just as well to write a system from scratch.

      • Depends on whether you go as far as bunging the whole of Sparkle on a CD! (I think it’s Sparkle, anyway???) I see what you mean about portability.

  • Standalone, translucent breadboards should be the next new product.

  • I’m disappointed that Sparkfun would sell the “make your own Microcontroller kit” for $29.99 but the whole class and kit is $24.95?!?! (C,mon just because we can’t go to Colorado doesn’t mean you should make it cheaper for those who can!)

    • Why is it that this always shows up 3 silly characters when somebody puts an apostrophe like in the post above? - e.g. it turns an apostrophe into an a with a symbol above it, then the Euro symbol, then a TM symbol. It gets kind of annoying after a while. Am I the only person that has this???

      • We’ve got a whole lot of content in a crufty old character set, which in a round about way leads to a handful of really grating inconsistencies with how characters are stored and displayed.

        We’ll fix them all one of these days.

        • OK, thanks Brennen. @AngusP - Using FF 3.6.24 here and FF 7.1 on another machine and pretty sure it’s the same. Just tried it in IE8 and it still had the problem.

          • ha ha, I was just taking an opportunity to have a stab at IE. I kind of also was thinking of which browser was used to do the commenting, not really the viewing. I’ve had the same issue with &codes stored in a db being rendered fine in a edit box in Webkit and Moz browsers, then trashed by IE.

      • You are not the only one to experience this. Although it doesn’t happen with every comment, leading me to believe some people’s browser/OS may be using an incompatible encoding scheme. Just my guess.

        • It might be the 0.01% of people still with Netscape 9 XD (Having said that, I think even that might be more standards compliant than IE 9 )

    • So sorry Papa Smurf, that was an oversight on my part. I have changed the class price so it costs $30.00. Thanks for the comment, they help us stay on top of stuff.

      • Oh, so you took that approach didn’t reduce the price of the kit instead??? :-)

        • Yeah. I set prices of classes, the prices of products is out of my hands, otherwise there would be free polymorph for all!

  • Wow, I am loving the EAGLE and Fritzing icons next to products. Good change! :-)

    • thanks!

      • Funny, You mention making a thermostat based on ethernet connection. I just built one for myself, using the ethernet pro and a 16x2 lcd. you can see my web test @ stoaks.net Have a great turkey day everyone. Gobble, Gobble

  • MAKE CLASSES AVAILABLE THROUGH ONLINE STREAM!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • To be able to attached reliably connectors to a breadboard will be very useful !


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