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Member Since: September 23, 2008

Country: United States

  • Ah, you guys are one firmware upgrade away from having your very own Space Sphere.

    As a bonus, it should say "I'm in space!" only when all three accelerometer channels drop to zero-g.

  • SparkFun ESD-safety Viking Helmets. sku: HAT-01337 Description: This stylish hat prevents electro-static damage to sensitive electronic components. The conductive horns dissipate static charge into the atmosphere or arc to the nearest overhead fluorescent lamp. Do not wear during lightning storms. Replaces HAT-01132: ESD-safety Plaid Baseball Cap.

  • Wow, I didn't even notice the addition of UPS and I even placed a SparkFun order recently with them.
    I was expecting two packages, one SparkFun, and when UPS showed up without my red box, it didn't take him long to look through the truck and find it. Those red boxes are handy!

  • I've been meaning to pick up one of the new Arduino Unos, but they've been out of stock every time I look, can I back-order with Free Day funds?

  • Wow, this is deja vu for me. As a professional software developer for 30+ years, this sounds like some things we have said about TRS-80...
    Funny you should bring up the TRS-80. I cut my programming teeth on the TRS-80 as a little kid, and now I'm a full fledged roboticist writing assembly code for PICs (No Arduinos for me!) Having BASIC do the nitty gritty for me wasn't a hindrance but a catalysis. Those that truly need to learn the harder stuff will when it's appropriate.
    I've never used an Arduino since I was introduced to PICs first, but I've recommended them to several people and they've all appreciated the suggestion.

  • For plotting, I use matplotlib which is a library for python. For all those students out there, I highly recommend the Enthought Python Distribution which sets up python, matplotlib and a ton of other useful libraries with one install, on lots of different operating systems and it's free for students.

  • I'm not a fan of going off the length of the legs: what happens if I cut the leads and then forget? So, there's usually a flat or a cut on the plastic lip at the bottom of the LED. So, I remember: "Cut is for C...cathode" and then my other memory is "Current flows alphabetically, anode to cathode."<br />

  • Failing to connect power is my number one point of failure. Even after I've double-checked it, it turns out I needed to triple check it. So, for every chip I've installed, I've been pulling out a multimeter and probing the power pins as close as possible to chip, to make sure they're getting the proper voltage.<br />
    <br />
    The other day, I lost about four hours trying to debug a problem with a XBee. First I probed the power connections where I soldered the pins to the PCB, and they seemed fine. Four frustrating hours later, I probed the solder connections on the XBee itself (probing as close to the chip as possible) and I discovered that my connector was faulty.<br />
    <br />
    Also, for more debugging, I highly recommend this book:<br />

  • I recall being taught to always give each LED it's own current limiting resistor because otherwise, the LED with the smallest voltage drop would take the lion's share of current. If you hook five in parallel, and each can only take 20 mA and if you sized the current limiting resistor to provide 100 mA, then you'll wind up with one LED taking more than 20 mA, which might exceed the current rating.<br />

  • One last word of caution for people using these. I'd had good success soldering these guys in, but I messed one up by leaving the heat too long on the ground pin (I was trying to tack down the part and was fumbling.) It failed to make a good connection and after a long hour of debugging, I found the voltage on the soldered connection on the socket and the XBee didn't match, so there was a bad connection.<br />
    <br />
    So, after you solder in the socket and connect up the XBee module, measure the VCC and GND pins on the module (not on the socket pins) to make sure you get the 3.3 volts.

No public wish lists :(