As makers, prototyping is a way of life, whether we’re building something new or improving an existing project. So naturally any device or service that speeds up the process and/or improves it is welcomed. The highlight of this week’s new products are two great development boards and a new open parts library offering that is great for everyone, especially the small-scale maker. Plus, we have many more items that shouldn’t be overlooked.
The Seeeduino Arch is a crossover product of Arduino and mbed development boards. It has the same form factor as Arduino UNO and the processor chip is the same as an mbed prototyping board. The most obvious advantage of this design is that it has the hardware flexibility of Arduino and the coding freedom of mbed. mbed provides a free online IDEwhich enables you to code anywhere you want via a browser. And because it adapts C/C++ to code, it’s possible to code down to metal if needed with the mbed IDE. In addition, mbed has a mature community that generates plenty of libraries and resources to help beginners get started. The Seeeduino Arch comes with two Grove connectors, so you can easily enhance your build with easy-to-connect Grove modules.
Open Parts Library is a set of 100+ components and the newest offering from Seeed Studio. We’ve selected our most popular and practical components, such as transistors and connectors, to create a tool kit that can speed up prototyping by having all of the essentials on hand. These are quality parts that have been thoroughly tested and come from reliable manufacturers. A CadSoft Eagle library is included, enabling you to easily add the Open Parts Library to your PCB design projects. And what’s more, we accept small batch PCB orders. And we offer to help you solder those OPL components to your board. When I say “small”, I mean orders of only 2 to 10 pieces. That is a great cost saver because very few vendors accept PCB orders less than 50 pieces, not to mention less than 10 pieces. It is the perfect way to build a board and test it. Plus, no more surplus, junk PCB boards from unsuccessful runs.
For our newest makers, we have the ideal expansion board, the mbed Application Board for LPC1768. This board, in conjunction with the mbed LPC1768 prototyping board, packs a lot of different resources into a small footprint. It consists of over fifteen different options, including but not limited to a joystick, an LCD screen, a temperature sensor, and an Xbee socket. Playing around with different configurations was never easier. If you can’t find the manual, don’t worry. You can turn over the board where a clear legend of all of the features and their corresponding pin outs is printed, not to mention the URL for the cookbook.
If you like the clapper, you’re going to love The Whistled – A Sound Controlled Relay. Basically this is a small PCB that allows you to turn on your appliances, lights, LED strips, etc. by just whistling two notes. One end connects to a male 5.5/2.1mm DC connector for power and the other end is a screw terminal to connect your appliance of choice. It operates within a 15 foot range and can even be used to dim your lights. In addition, it’s an open-source hardware platform with 4 pads for SWD (serial wire debug), so you can tinker away.
Have you ever been on vacation and forgot to turn on the sprinklers? Now you can do that and so much more with OpenSprinkler, a web-based irrigation controller/timer that allows you to take care of your garden no matter where you are. This open-source, Arduino compatible product comes fully assembled and pre-flashed with firmware v2.0.0. It works with a standard 24-26V AC sprinkler transformer and can handle multiple sprinkler valves. It accommodates both Ethernet and Wi-Fi connections; however, you will need to get a wireless adapter/repeater for the Wi-Fi option. After enabling port forwarding, you can access the controller via your tablet or smart phone and make changes remotely. Of course OpenSprinkler can also be accessed on your internal network, just by typing its ip address into the browser.
We’ve added a new sensor to the Grove family, the Grove –pH Sensor. It uses an electrode to measure the acidity or alkalinity of an aqueous solution, also known as the concentration of hydrogen within that solution. After the electrode is calibrated, you can start assessing pH levels. It is useful in a wide range of applications, such as lab experiments, water sanitation checks, and so much more. Unfortunately this is only available for domestic customers. We are unable to ship it outside of China.
When we are prototyping on a breadboard, jumper wires can become a cluttered mess and a road block to quick troubleshooting. Now we offer a Breadboard Jumper Wire Set (140PCs) to assist you in maintaining a tidy work area. The set includes jumper wires in 14 different lengths and 8 different colors, all neatly organized in a compact case. They have pre-stripped ends bent at 90° angles and do not require soldering. They are inexpensive and save time and patience.
Lastly, the Grove – 4 pin Male Jumper to Grove 4 pin Conversion Cable (5 PCs per pack) is a conversion cable set that allows you to use Grove modules on a breadboard or any microcontroller that doesn’t have a compatible Grove – Base Shield. One end of the jumper is a Grove connector and the other end is four male pins, one for each wire. Now you can take advantage of all of the various Grove options without being tied down to only Grove compatible boards.
Until next time, keep on making.
(written by Erin Linke)