New Product Friday: The Hunt for Red Boxtober


First, just a reminder that SparkFun will be closed Monday, September 3 for Labor Day. We hope you all have a fun and safe holiday weekend. Also, because of the holiday, According to Pete will be pushed to Tuesday. We promise it'll be worth the wait. And now: announcements and new stuff!

It's Friday and we've got a few new products here at SparkFun Headquarters. Before we get to that I'd like to mention that we have some classes coming up next week that still have a few spaces left. First up, we've got the classic PTH Soldering Class. Need to learn how to solder? Of course you do! Come to this class and solder it up on the 5th. If you're more of a weekend class-attender, we've got a LilyPad E-Textiles class on the 8th, just in time for back to school. Learn how to trick out your clothes for school.

Spaces are limited and they're coming up quick, so sign up now!

Now, let's check out the new products for this week!


Vimeo link here

The CMUCam is a great little shield to play around with and although it might have a specific application, it's really interesting to see what it can do. Hopefully the demo gives you a better idea of how to use it.

Lastly, I wanted to say that it's going to be a bit slow next week. We might only have a couple of new products at most. Instead of not doing a new product post or video, I thought it might be a good idea to take suggestions for products that you've always wanted to see, but never made it into a video.

So, if you have a suggestion on a product you'd like to seen torn apart, exploded, explained, or otherwise featured, post a comment below and we'll feature it in next week's video (we'll choose the few best). We might even create a project based around the product. So, what do you want to see?

We've always had individual spools of wire, but what if you wanted to just get a bunch of different colors at once? Our new wire assortments give you six spools, each with 25 feet of wire. The assortments come with either stranded wire or solid core wire. The box even has a convenient cutout in the back so you can feed the wire through.

We finally have a simple and cost-effective solution for your vision system needs! The CMUcam V4 is a collaboration between SparkFun and students at Carnegie Mellon University. It allows you to track colors, detect shapes and other basic vision applications. The whole thing is open source and can work as an Arduino Shield or as a standalone board (if you program the Propellor directly).

4D Systems has a new version of their 1.44" Serial Miniature LCD Module, the uLCD-144-G2. It's largely unchanged from the previous version. There are just some minor firmware updates and such. These ship with the GFX firmware, but it can easily be changed over to the SGC if you need.

Well, that's all I've got for this week. Check out the new products, check out the classes, and we'll be back again next week with another Friday New Product Post. Don't forget to suggest some products for us to showcase next week! Thanks for reading and see you then!


Comments 29 comments

  • I pity the fool that can’t see a red box in a white room.

  • How about a computer vision security system? Show it a deck of colored cards, in a specific sequence, to unlock your hacker treehouse?

  • Can we get another prank? Maybe with the PowerSwitch tail II or maybe the Makey Makey kits? Or maybe a mix of the two!! Something where someone goes up a set of stairs and turns off the lights? Or a computer monitor again? What about that? Maybe car horns set off to turn on when someone passes through a door or go up stairs? (Although stairs could go terribly wrong……)

  • Why do you have Adam Savage tie-wrapped to a soldering station?

  • I vote for demoing your most popular product ;)

    https://www.sparkfun.com/products/97

    I was thinking it would be neat to use the camera to try and pick up the hoops or barrels that you used in the AVC

  • How about a pile of stuff from Ding&Dent for the showcase? Seems like there’s fun to be had there.

  • Accelerometer ADXL193 , this breakout board has a high range of 250G The other version of the IC is set for 120G. I would appreciate both versions being offered.My application with the Gravity Force Accelerator device would use 30G to 80G approximately. The 120G part would give more accurate readouts for that range of Gravity Force.

  • what kind of aluminum extrusions are you guys using in the CMUCam? I’ve never seen any that small. Thanks!

  • The CMUCam could be a targeting computer. Now you can make a dandelion getter like a roomba. I have wanted a garden weeding robot for years but the vision was always the hard part. Real cool device.

  • I want to see a product demo on Serial Controlled Motor Driver (ROB-09571) or USB Relay Controller with 6-Channel I/O (DEV-09669) or Si4735 FM/AM Radio Receiver Breakout (WRL-10906)

  • FYI, The Propeller chip is under the camera. As in the camera is stuck directly to the Propeller chip. The chip Robert pointed to is likely the EEPROM.

    One really nice thing about the CMUCam is it’s all open source, software and hardware. You could use it to do much more than track colors if you program it to do so. (Like they say, it’s just a small matter of programming.)

    One of the big limitations of using the Propeller for machine vision is it’s small amount of RAM. It doesn’t have enough internal RAM to hold an entire color picture (of resonable size) inside its 32KM of program/data RAM.

    While the board comes with a SD card, I’m not sure if it can write to the card fast enough to use it for image capture.

    There are lots of examples available of adding SRAM to a Propeller. It might be possible to do some really interesting things with the CMUCam4 by adding some external fast RAM such as SRAM.

    I’ve made a list of some machine vision applications using the Propeller here (post #4).

  • Would be ecstatic if the OmniVision 9665 was sold separately.

  • Are you planning on carrying any more propeller items? They are a bit pricy from parallax but I could see SparkFun being able to make the boards and accessories cheaper.

    • We’re actually quite friendly with Parallax. They visited SparkFun last week to talk shop and show off some very cool projects, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see more Propeller-based products from SFE in the future.

  • I would love to see a round-up of kit abuse. That is, what kits have customers repurposed, and what have they done with them?

    • can you be more specific? what products that we carry would you like to see abused?

      • Oh, just off the top of my head, I have thought that the Simon kit is interesting as a kind of near-Arduino with a little bit of I/O. Some of the things one might build on it:

        Add IR I/O and you can have a minimalist TV remote (or TV-Be-Gone), a communication node to connect to other IR-equipped projects, a remote annunciator (like that crazy rabbit-thing, Nabaztag; did that ever get off the ground?) with different sound and light sequences for different conditions.

        Add an SMC socket and you could make a data logger, or a chiptunes player. With a mic, it could be a voice notes recorder.

        The audio amp kit could be modified as a signal driver for remote wired communication with data gathering or control stations.

        I would love to see the Weevil Eye board repurposed to make something innocuous look … different.

        I suspect the color organ could be modified to become a field detector.

        The Botanicalls kit is just begging to monitor CO, or wind speed, or insolation, or power-line voltage quality.

        The Big Time could easily (and without pushing into “abuse” territory) become something like a Pomodoro timer.

        Digital Oscilloscope? How about portable medical monitor (heart rate, blood pressure, temperature? I don’t know much about what would be considered useful.) (For research purposes only, because the FDA is picky about things like that.)

        Or, for the gearheads, use it to monitor engine data.

        I suspect the force-sensitive resistors and flex sensors have inspired some really whacky ideas.

        The barometric pressure sensor might be sensitive enough to detect the pressure waves generated by earthquakes. Or traffic, at least.

        Could the fingerprint scanner be used to recognize other kinds of patterns?

        Is anyone using a robotic drive train for a conveyor belt, or to operate a toy chest lid?

        Surely I am not the only one who views some of these items as launch pads as well as destinations?

        Now, all I have to do is start implementing some of these ideas. Or, how about using a MEMS mic for a guitar pickup? Nah, it probably wouldn’t work. Props to Pete for trying it out, though.

        • noted. I’m not sure if that’s what I was thinking though. we want to simply demonstrate a use-case for a product, but what you’re proposing would take a lot of prototyping and testing to see if we could get the result we’re after.

  • Robert, thanks for putting out a call for suggestions. I think the ‘talks’ you’ve given on earlier products, such as the motors video, have been super.

    One of the areas that I’d like to see covered is the Luxeon breakouts, LEDS and lenses. Some of the components don’t seem to be carried any longer, but a short discussion (or product demo!) of high-intensity LEDs would be really useful.

    • Hum, that might have to come later. we’re currently evaluating several different options. I’ll make a note and see what happens when we get some new stuff in.

  • Any effort to carry 4D System’s P1-EB expansion breakout board for their displays?

  • Was that a hickey on his neck?

  • The new color tracking board is very cool but I think I may be most excited about the wire spool sets with the distribution box. Since I don’t have a permanent workbench for my projects I have to set up and tear down each time I work on a project and this would make it faster.


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