New Product Friday


It's not a big week for new products, but what we lack in quantity, we make up for in quality. Well, I'll let you be the judge of that.

Everyone is jealous of Nick and myself because we get to play with stuff like MicroRax and call it 'testing'. It is really great stuff and if you like tinkering, I highly suggest you get a kit just to have it around. I use it all the time as a rapid 'proof of concept' material for different designs. It's like Legos, but with more metal.

Prototyping doesn't always mean just hooking something up on a breadboard. Sometimes you need to actually build something. In addition to Polymorph, Sugru, and Maker Beam, we now have MicroRax. It's very similar to Maker Beam, but with a few small differences. Instead of the screw head fitting into the channel like Maker Beam, there is a nut that fits into the channel and the screw is tightened into the channel. It also has a few different pieces and is overall a bit lighter weight. It's also anodized and comes in two different kits. We have it in a small and medium kit which should give you enough pieces to build just about whatever you want. And Maker Beam and MicroRax can be used together since their overall extrusions are the same outer diameter.

So, you're nerdy enough to like Manga, but not quite geeky enough to like reading textbooks about electronics. What if there was a book that presented the yawn-inducing concepts of electronics and electricity in a more comical way? Well, we have the prefect thing for you. The Manga Guide to Electricity is a unique book. It combines a very solid explanation of electricity and electronics with the format of Manga comics. A good half of the book is done in comic form which makes it a lot easier to learn. Don't be fooled by the format, it covers all the same information, just in a different way.

Remember the days when we used to carry a non-invasive current sensor? We used to have one, but the supplier decided to stop answering our emails, so we were left sensor-less. After a bit of searching, we found a new supplier and we have them back in stock. They are very similar to the previous ones and maintain the 30A current rating.

If you're looking for a low cost, low power accelerometer for your next project, check out the MMA8452Q Breakout Board. It's small, it has an adjustable range between 2g and 8g, and very low power consumption. What more could you want?

And of course we have a couple of new retail products this week. First, we have the MP3 Player Shield. This is the same as our non-retail MP3 Player Shield, but comes with headers and a hunk of plastic. The MP3 player shield is a product which was a combination of a few other shields. We started with the MicroSD shield, added in the VS1053 shield to make a single shield for all your music playing needs.

And lastly, we have the MicroB USB cable in retail packaging. MicroB is becoming more popular, so it's nice to have a 6-foot cable handy for your digital camera, cell phone, or even Netduino.

It's been a bit of a slow week for new products. But don't fear, next week will bring even more new products. Check back again next week for even more goodies and thanks for reading.


Comments 36 comments

  • My brain exploded at 0:37.

    • I foresee two possibilities.

      One, sensing it’s own current would cause it to explode.

      Or two, the encounter could create a time paradox. The results of which could cause a chain reaction that would unravel the very fabric of the space-time continuum and destroy the entire universe!… Granted, that’s the worst-case scenario. The destruction however might be limited merely to our own galaxy.

      • What the hell is a paradox?

        • This sentence is false.

        • A paradox is something that’s true only if it had never existed in the first place… (I forgot to take my cup of coffee).

        • A paradox? Imagine that you built a time machine to go back and kill your grandfather. Then one of your parents wouldn’t have been born, so YOU wouldn’t have been born and you couldn’t have built a time machine to go back and kill your grandfather. So then ol' granddad’s alive, so that parent was born, so YOU were born. Now you can build the time machine and kill your grandfather. The process is circular and repeats forever… that’s a paradox.

          So no matter how hard you try - you can’t go back in time and kill your grandfather. It just won’t happen.

    • hehe, yeah. of course you wouldn’t use it to measure it’s own current when it’s measuring current.

    • Hmmmm… Sensing its own current, maybe we have just discovered a free energy device, attatch it to an electric motor and you have a perpetual motion machine. Take that Physics!

    • lol…

  • The Manga book is a great idea for getting kids that are into Pokeman and such, into electronics. Awesome.

  • A prototyping system that allowed the Nokia knock off LCD to be attached to an enclosure would be worth money.

    • Personally, I would prefer a straight-up improvement to the LCD itself, since sometimes the connection between the LCD and the PCB can be flaky.

      Otherwise, it is good for the price. Lots of community support behind the code.

  • I bought this book (and the Statistics one as well) to read to the kids. They are excellent.

  • My first order with SparkFun came with a little sticker; its a sticker with multiple V-shaped colors pattern (Blue, Red, Yellow, Black)I don’t really what to do with it or what it’s used for – My next order is already on it way, am just wondering if it will come with the same sticker, am still keeping the first one. Any ideal what the sticker is for?

  • I use MicrRax and love it. Your kits only have chopped up short pieces, though. I’d rather buy the 900mm length pieces and cut them myself. It makes great skeleton framework for larger projects – I use my Makerbot 3D printer to make specialized widgets to hang onto the MicroRax – that’s a great combination. Of course, since it is all standard 3mm hardware and 10mm square beam, it’s pretty easy to add pretty much anything – stock up on 3mm hardware of various lengths, get a 3mm x 0.5 tap, a 3mm tap drill and 3mm clearance drill, and you are pretty much unstoppable.

    • we thought about this, but the smaller pieces are cut very well and much better than most anyone would be able to do at home. also, shipping the longer pieces overseas is problematic and costly. we may end up carrying individual beams for both kits.

      • I can understand the overseas shipping issue.

        For cutting: Yeah, not everybody has a metal cutting band saw or a milling machine. Really, the main issue is making a square cut. The cheap'n'cheezy solution is to get a very cheap plastic miter box frame (no saw included) which are a few bucks at the hardware store. Dedicate/sacrifice it to metal cutting and just use it with a hack saw. That gets you a square cut. A quick touch up with a metal file afterwards and you have a nice end.

        • that would be the way to do it. you’d still have a bit of a hard time to get a nice clean cut. plus, if you’re looking for dimensional accuracy, good luck doing it that way. you will always be a little bit off.

          in any event, the plan is to carry individual extrusions here soon, so everyone should be happy :-)

          • Dimensional accuracy, you say. I say: file, layout dye, scraper. +/- 0.001 or go home. At least, that is what the old time machinists were taught. Ok, I’ll admit that’s going to be bloody hard to do on the end of a small, strangely shaped profile. But, on the bright side, most of the time you don’t need accuracy like that – if so, why are you building in MicroRax? If I do need things super accurate, I use a milling machine. In reality, most of the time I cut MicroRax with a Dremel tool spinning a fiber cut-off wheel. That gives a nice finish.

        • aluminum, especially small stuff, will cut very nicely on a miter saw. i’ve even cut through solid 3"x4" bar stock with a carbide tipped blade (though the shrapnel can get painful at times…)

  • Nude cosmetics, Anti-wrinkle and whitening LOL appeared right after video and i am wondering what are nude cosmetics :)

    • Don’t encourage Robert. :) I shudder to think what a nude cosmetics New Product Post would be like…

  • What do you connect the non-invasive sensors 3.5mm jack to? is there a reader for the sensor somewhere?

  • Try posting this week’s video. The one posted is a RE_RUN!

    • Maybe you need to refresh or delete your cookies - the right one is in there!

      • The new one is there now. I think someone there is too embarrassed to admit the mistake. Anyway if you clicked on the title instead of the video you got re-directed to the youtube site and the current video.

        BTW the Manga guide book was stocked by Adafruit for over a year now, guess Sparkfun finally found it.

        • You know, scharkalvin, you could have emailed SparkFun a product suggestion instead of expecting them to discover it.

        • Not sure what the issue was then - I didn’t change anything. As long as the right video is showing now, I’m happy.

          I guess we need to catch up on our reading. Too many projects, not enough time! I haven’t read it myself. Did you read it and if so, what’d you think?

        • The behavior you are describing is unrealistic.


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