New Top

All Products By Category

Author Archive | Nadya

New Product: BUB III

BUBIII

Future Technology Devices International makes many different TTL Serial to USB chips.
One model, the FT232R, is used in boards like the
The AdaFruit FTDI friend,
SparkFun FTDI Basic,
Modern Device BUB I and
Modern Device BUB II.
It’s not the cheapest, smallest, or most functional FTDI chip– just the most popular.

Presenting the BUB III, designed around the FT231X QFN-20, a 4x4x.075 (mm) chip.

You’ll notice it has a micro-USB jack, instead of a mini-USB one. Micro-USB jacks have a bad reputation for coming off boards, because they have less surface soldered on the board. We spent a fair amount of time finding a micro-USB jack with extra prongs and adding vias to reinforce the smd pads. Our destructive testing of a few of these boards shows that our efforts to toughen up the boards were successful. The jacks take quite a bit of muscle to break, and we think they will stand up to abuse as well as mini-USB jacks.

Moving the header to the bottom makes the board even smaller, and saves us time in production.
Both LEDs are reconfigurable (should you want to reconfigure them) with FTX-prog

It’s the BUB you love, smaller, slicker and reborn with an all-new brain.

Be one of the first 6 customers to use coupon code freebubiii and get a free BUB III with your order! (order total must be over $10)

Go check it out in the shop!

New Product: SMD LCD 117

SMDLCD117

The original serial LCD117 was one of two boards that utilized a PIC chip running firmware developed by the late electrical engineer Peter Anderson (KZ3K), who taught in Baltimore, Maryland.

pha1
Peter made the firmware freely available before he passed away.
Both Brian Riley‘s K107 serial board and our LCD117 kit were based on these LCD117 chips.

We’ve sold several thousand of our through-hole serial LCD117 kits since we designed it in 2008, and received many orders for pre-assembled boards. Looking around the shop, most pre-assembled things are surface mount– it’s easier for everyone that way, as surface mount assembly is much cheaper. With that in mind, we created the SMD LCD117.

It receives TTL serial (optionally RS232) on one side and and drives an HD44780-compatible LCD, just as the older through-hole LCD117 kit did.

Solder on the included 3-pin and 16-pin headers and you’re ready to talk to any of our character displays, 3.3v or 5v.
We’ve also added an inverted logic mode, available via SMD solder jumper, for RS232 support.

Here’s how easy it is to use with Arduino– plug the RX line into your Arduino TX pin, and:


void setup() {
Serial.begin(9600); // 9600 baud is chip comm speed
Serial.print("?G216"); // set display geometry, 2x16 in this case
delay(500); // pause to allow LCD EEPROM to program
}

void loop() {
//Serial.print(“?y0?x00”); // cursor to beginning of line 0
//delay(10);
Serial.print(“?f”); //clear the screen
Serial.print(“hello world”);
delay(1000); // refresh every second
//
}

In this configuration, Arduino Serial.<thing> debug statements print straight to the display!

Go check it out in the shop

Oh, one more thing. In honour of the debut of the SMD version, we’re putting the old through-hole LCD117 kits on sale. $8, matching the new SMD boards, while supplies last.

Motion Plug code updates

Seb Madgwick IMU demoDemo by SebMadgwick

Our Dutch collaborator, Jean-Claude Wippler, recently pointed us to more polished code on GitHub for the MPU9250 (Motion Plug). This board uses the Invensense MPU9250 and includes 3 axis: accelerometers, gyros, and magnetometer. The software was written for something called rpicopter, work that appears to be significant group effort to us.

Screen shot 2015-04-01 at 2.39.57 PM

We have simplified the Arduino sketch and turned it into an Arduino library. The library only supports hardware I2C pins on whatever Arduino or Atmega chip you’re using, because it uses 400khz high speed I2C. There are settings for the low-pass filter which only affects the Gyro, as far as we can see. It default is 188Hz (defined in inv_mpu.cpp). The library also supports the Teensy.

The library outputs Yaw, Pitch, and Roll (standard orientation headings in the flying business) smoothed out in an almost magical way. This comes courtesy of some very fancy math functions.

“A quaternion is a four-dimensional complex number that can be used to represent the
orientation of a rigid body or coordinate frame in three-dimensional space.” says Sebastian O.H. Madgwick, who wrote the sensor fusion algorithms which bear his name.

In any case, all the quaternions are now hidden out of sight (in mpu.cpp), the library works really well, and the Arduino sketch is easier to read and modify.

A hybrid power connector

2.1mmBarrelPlug

You love screw terminals. You love barrel jacks.

These things seem so standard to you, so convenient, and you dream of their lovechild, a sweet hybrid of convenience, solder-free terminals coupled with that 2.1mm silver power plug that powers myriad devices (e.g. Arduinos and most of the boards we sell).

Believe or not – this slightly monstrous adapter lives!  Soldering standard barrel plugs onto wall-adapter and battery-pack wires is not rocket science, but there are two principle challenges:

  1. You have to put the barrel plug insulator onto the wires, in the correct direction, BEFORE you solder the wires.
    This simple act is cunningly easy to forget and evades me a fair percentage of the time I solder plugs on wall warts and guitar cords. So I end up with a perfect solder joint on the connector, and the insulating sleeve is lying on the bench, and I have to do it all twice.
  2. The other challenge is soldering well enough, and making tidy enough solder joints, so that the sleeve will slide down over the wires and screw on. This never bothers me anymore, but it often taxes my student’s soldering abilities.

This screw-terminal power plug eliminates both problems, perhaps at the expense of aesthetics. Also you don’t really have much strain relief with this jack, but it could easily be added with hot glue or epoxy putty. Perhaps at the further expense of aesthetics.

This also a great way to reuse all those power adapters in your junk box.

We have a short tutorial on using the plug below.

2.1mmBarrelPlug

 

Unscrew the terminals,

Tin the wall-adapter or battery-holder wires, Tinning the wires is not strictly necessary but is a good idea.

Insert the wires into the adapter. The marked “+” terminal is positive. This is way more standard than center-negative. Center-negative adapters do exist, but not in Arduino land. Double check your specs and the polarity.

redwire

And screw the terminal back down again.

hands-screwing

If you’re seeking permanence, the wires can be soldered in place, though it takes a while. (this iron is off, use a hot one for best results).

soldered

 

It’s ready to go in the shop here! It’s never too early for nerd gifts for the holidays.