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New Product Post: Electric Imp Edition

We've got some new products this week and are focusing a bit heavier on a special product this week, the Electric Imp.

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Hello loyal SparkFun followers! We're back again and we've got some new stuff this week. Let's jump right in and see what we have this week.

Vimeo version found here.

I really hope the concept of the Electric Imp takes off and starts getting integrated into different consumer products. It's a great product and has a lot of very interesting features. Get your hands on one!


The Electric Imp is basically a microcontroller combined with a Wi-Fi module, all for less than $30. Not only that, but it's also has a slick programming interface. Check the video above for all the features and some demonstrations. We hope to have associated boards coming out by the end of the month, stay tuned!

We have a new revision of the SIK (SparkFun Inventor's Kit) this week as well. We've completely revamped the SIK manual as well as the examples contained within. The circuits and instructions are much easier to follow and all the code has been re-written from scratch. If you are looking to get an SIK, this is a great time, it's the best SIK yet!

We also have a new version of the SD Sniffer that has corrected pinouts. The previous version was short-lived because of an incorrect pinout. This one is for reals and should work just fine. Use this board on any SD card socket to 'sniff' the data going from the SD card to your device for debugging.

We have a new 5V USB Wall Charger available. This one's a bit more reliable than our previous model. We found a new supplier and this one is the bee's knees. It works like a champ for your phone, camera, or any device that uses a standard USB cable for charging or power.

This week we're adding another product to the ProtoSnap lineup. The ProtoSnap LilyPad Development Simple is much like the regular development board, but is, well, simpler. It has just 4 LEDs and a single buzzer. It still comes with the FTDI, needles, thread, and a battery, but just has less components on the actual ProtoSnap board. If you're just looking to use LEDs and don't need the other boards, check out the simple.

Lastly, we have some new notebooks. They are the same as the previous SparkFun notebook, but instead of white pages with faint grey lines, the new ones have a faint grey page with white lines. It's a subtle difference, but Nate thought it looked better. So hey, we've got both versions now! They even have a SparkFun watermark.

Chill out man! No, seriously, you need to cool down your board, it's getting too hot. Thankfully, we've got these small heatsinks that work great for motor driver ICs and such. They're 0.25" x 0.3". We used to sell these in packs of 5 with thermal tape, but we were no longer able to source the tape and the cost of the heatsinks increased. The joys of inventory management! So, we're selling them as singles now. You can use your favorite thermal epoxy, thermal tape (we have some larger pads here) or figure out a clever way to affix it to your heat source.

Well, that's all I've got for this week. As always, thanks for reading and we'll see you back again next week wit more new products, a video, and witty banter. See you then.

Comments 46 comments

  • It would be awesome to have something like the Electric Imp that actually works like a SD card - i.e. it pretends to have a file system and you get stuff off the net by asking for the file http://www.sparkfun.com and it returns a text file over the SPI interface... Then it would work on any bog standard SPI Arduino shield.

  • A. Wiggin / about 10 years ago / 2

    Awesome shirt, Rob!

  • Would the heat sink be able to go on a Raspberry Pi to sink the IC? Great post as always!

    • CF / about 10 years ago / 2

      Funny, I had the exact same thought when I saw them here on the new product post. I think they may be bigger than the chips, but they should work just fine as long as they aren't running into another component. I don't have my pi handy but if I recall correctly they should fit.

    • I'm not too familiar with the size of the main IC, but probably. You could easily use some heatsink compound to affix one (or more?) of the heatsinks.

      • I've got one sitting in front of me at the moment and I'd be surprised if you couldn't get two of those heatsinks side-by-side on the IC. One will definitely fit, I don't know how effective it will be, though

        • well, it's all about surface area. it will be much more effective than the top of the IC alone... do these things get hot enough to warrant sinking?

          • Not during normal operation but there are mods out there that can heat things up. Since pretty much everything happens inside the one ASIC, there are a lot of things you can do that end up pulling more current through it.

  • Get rid of the picture for "Electric IMP"

  • dbc / about 10 years ago / 1

    Speaking of thermal epoxy -- what do people like? Anyone have one to recommend?

  • Far_Seeker / about 10 years ago / 1

    I've notice there's no closed captioning on today's embedded YouTube link. I can understand deciding to disable it given the hit or miss results of YouTube's auto captioning. However, I hope my highlighting the more humorous (well humorous to me at least) results in past videos didn't annoy or irritate anyone at SparkFun.

  • urjaman / about 10 years ago / 1

    Regarding the IMP: The moment I heard "everything is cloud based" I was like "BEEP BEEP NOPE NOPE NOPE". Can you actually really program them? ... reads Maybe... there is an eCos source code download available, but I see no real documentation otherwise than that (and my current device doesnt have .tar.xz extractor so I cant look inside)...

    • Mysterio / about 10 years ago / 1

      It's my understanding, which may be incorrect, that everything has to go through their servers and there is no real standalone mode... so if they ever go out of business then all projects using these cease to work. To me that's the biggest issue, and if it's true, then this product isn't for me. It looks interesting, but if everything I use it in is gonna die if the company doesn't thrive off the bat then I can't take a chance on it...

    • keep in mind this is still VERY new. we're the only ones selling it and there aren't currently any development boards yet. give it time for more information to come out.

  • Ted M / about 10 years ago / 1

    Electric Imp. So if I understand correctly, this "SD card" is not compatible with a normal SD breakout and requires a special board with a special crypto ID chip, which is not yet available for sale. The Electric Imp is completely useless without said board -- but you can still buy it and not use it until the board is available.

    Am I missing something? Usually Sparkfun has it a lot more together than this. It might make sense to sell the Electric Imp with the required board. Forgive me for the criticism, I think that Sparkfun is an AWESOME company, and I guess I just expect more from you guys!

    • check the wiki posted on the product page. the design is available, as well as the BOM. this has been a long-awaited product (has been on a lot of blogs and such). we many people will be building their own boards for it, and the BOM is cheap and not terribly complicated.

      in a few weeks we should have our own boards ready for sale. but when it comes down to it, we have the eagle footprint for the SD socket, the BOM is available from the wiki on the product page, so you can whip something together pretty quick and send it to batchPCB.

      I know it might seem a bit premature, but the vast majority of our customers will be rolling their own boards for this. for those that aren't, we'll have the supporting boards in a couple of weeks.

      and logistically, we had a small snag in our own boards, which delayed it a bit, coupled with receiving the imps earlier than expected.

      • Ted M / about 10 years ago / 1

        Okay, fair enough. I can now see what is going on. This product still doesn't make sense to me, but apparently it make sense to some of your other customers. Can someone explain to me why on Earth you would make something that looks just like an SD card, but is not and SD card????

        • DrPhibes / about 10 years ago / 1

          Many of the WiFi modules, available on Digikey or Mouser, use a SDIO interface.

        • Not sure, it wasn't our call, we're just selling it. I can say this though, the SD socket itself is cheap, because it's so popular. so, if you're designing something like this, why do something proprietary, when you could just use an existing cheap off-the-shelf socket?

          sure, it's confusing, I'll give you that, but it makes designing it cheap. before this came out, we already sold the SD socket and had the footprint in the eagle library. so, it has it's confusion, but is also very convenient.

  • AD8BC / about 10 years ago / 1

    The electric imp is cool, and I will need to have one... but why did you use that particular form factor? It's a nice form factor, to be sure, but it could cause confusion... Just wondering...

    • Member #294363 / about 10 years ago / 1

      Cool - I got this three phase 480VAC power on a USB plug board I'm working on...should be the bomb. Seriously though - if you're going to have to make what it plugs into, why not at least pick some kinda general purpose form factor like SIP?

    • check the video. they have either breakout boards or shields that will allow you to use it. we will be releasing ours soon.

    • icyfyer / about 10 years ago / 1

      I'm pretty sure it wasn't decided by SparkFun.


      *Edited HTML

  • icyfyer / about 10 years ago / 1

    Sorry to be that guy, but spelling errors in the description of the Heat Sink. " So, we'lre selling them as singles now."


    That Electric Imp is a very impressive piece of kit. Would it be possible to get and program your own ID chip? It's all open-source, right?

    • no problem. wow, spell check thought 'we'lre' was a real world (in our editor anyways). sorry about that, fixed.

      I'm not sure I'd call the electric imp 'open-source', but check the wiki for more information. they have a section for developers and they give you reference schematics and BOMs.

      We will be releasing these boards ourselves very shortly. but yes, you can make your own and develop with it.

      • On the spell-check think - does your editor use the browser's spell-checker or something like After the Deadline which comes with Jetpack for WordPress?? In my experience it's very good, if not a little over reactive.

      • icyfyer / about 10 years ago / 1

        After reading through the actual product page comments, I understand more about it, and wouldn't call it open-source either. It seems possible in a world of paranoia that the fact that all of your programming goes through a managed server means that they could A) one day charge for the service, B) disable your devices remotely, and/or C) track your devices or use them against you. That robot you built with the microphone and webcam to keep tabs on the security of your cat while you are at work? With an Imp inside is now under the control of BB. They have your source code.

        Here's your foil hat; be careful with it.

        • yes and no. the concept of it is quite nice. you don't have to download the new programming environment, code is stored and saved, etc. there are conveniences. plus, the whole purpose of the IMP is to get it in as many people's hands as possible. a product like this doesn't work unless they're selling tens of thousands of units and it starts making its way into consumer devices.

          so, expect them to be exceedingly friendly with developers. they want as much people using it as possible.

  • MostThingsWeb / about 10 years ago / 1

    One more thing: no mention of https://www.sparkfun.com/products/9039 ?

    • that one's not new. did it show up in your new product feed? It was new back in 2008 I think.

      • MostThingsWeb / about 10 years ago / 1

        It was just recently restocked - I thought maybe you were going to update it like you did to the ding and dent DEV boards (and then announce the new stock).

        • oh ok. I really only mention new stuff. it's really hard to tell what's in them at any given time, and they tend to go out of stock quickly as well.

          • MostThingsWeb / about 10 years ago / 1

            The ding and dents are actually the category I check most often =). I'm sure others do too - mainly because I'm hoping for the SMD parts grab bags to come into stock.

            • that one's tricky. it takes awhile to accumulate that many SMD components. maybe after xmas time we will have amassed enough to add some stock.

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