New Product Friday: Gettin' Yo Learn On


Hello again and welcome to yet another Friday New Product Post. As always, we have new products for you. We actually have a lot of really cool books this week, which is great because learning is what we're all about.

Seriously, the books have all made a permanent home in my office and I use them quite a bit to reference things. With the descriptions and these product posts, there's a broad range of electrical knowledge needed and since I didn't go to school for it, the books come in handy!  Yeah, handy actually...

The Microsoft Kinect is one of the most exciting sensors to hit the market since the Wii remote. It does something that hobbyists have been trying to accomplish for years. Not only does it do it well, it does it relatively cheaply as well. Now that the technology exists, you're going to want to interface with it. Thankfully, Making Things See does exactly that. It teaches you all you need to know to interface your hardware and software with the Kinect. It even covers MakerBot, RepRap, and a bunch of other really cool things. It's a very exciting book for anyone looking into interfacing their hardware with new imaging technology.

Sometimes we make mistakes at SparkFun. In this case, we accidentally ordered the wrong type of LEDs. See, we have 'Disco Stu' which is our AOI or automatic optical inspector. Disco Stu 'looks' at each one of our boards to visually check for jumpers, missing components or any other problems that might prevent you from having fun with your sparks. Unfortunately, it doesn't work when you can't visually detect the orientation of a component. So, we ordered these 0603 green LEDs, and they don't have any visual markings on the top for us to tell their orientation. They work, but just not with our AOI machine. Get them in strips of 50 while they last!

The folks at DIY Drones came out with a new version of the AduIMU. The ArduIMU V3 is smaller, faster, and uses the MPU-6000 in conjunction with the HMC5883L for 9 degrees of glorious freedom. The diminutive board also has a GPS header, and on-board ATMega328,

And now for some more books. The first four books we have came recommended from our customers. We got samples awhile back, but just didn't get around to reading them through. Once we did, we realized that they were pretty useful. I have always been a big fan of just Googling something, but many of the websites assume a lot of information. These books fill in those gaps and give you a good fundamental knowledge of electronics.

The first of which is Electronic Formulas, Symbols and Circuits. This book primarily covers everything you need to know about reading schematics and electrical diagrams. If you're new to electronics, schematics can be very confusing. It even goes beyond this and explains conversion between decimal, hex, and binary.  If you're only going to have one book as reference, you should get this one.

A lot of what we do at SparkFun is centered around sensors. The Electronic Sensor Circuits and Projects book covers topics such as different types of sensors and how to use them, how sensors work, how to make your own sensors, and even has a lot of projects you can try on your own. The book serves as a great reference for how sensors work and how to use them.

A lot of us learned about electronics from science class back in middle school or high school. Remember all the cool experiments with magnets, potatoes, and making your own magnets? Science Communication Circuits and Projects covers a lot of these classic concepts and includes a lot of projects. The book is full of illustrations and examples and really brings me back to my days of science class.

And lastly (well for the Forrest Mims books anyways), we have Timer, Op Amp and Optoelectronic Circuits and Projects. This book covers timers and op-amps (just like the title suggests!). How do you use an op-amp? How do you use a timer circuit? The book covers those questions as well as how to create sound effect generators, pulse generators, audio amplifiers, and more.

And lastly, we've just started shipping the 2nd edition of the Arduino Cookbook, which is my go-to guide for all things Arduino (other than SparkFun.com of course!). The new edition tweaks the code and updates the examples to use the newest sensors and components.

Well, that's it for this week. If anyone is really serious about learning electronics and just wants to know everything they need to know, save yourself some time and just get all of the Forrest Mims books above and read them. Speaking of reading, thanks for reading this post and we'll be back with even more new products next week! Thanks again and see you then!


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