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New Product: Rigid RGB LED Strips

rigid_rgbled_threeWe picked up these nice Rigid RGBLED Strips from one of our suppliers for a good price. They contain 30 5050 RGB LEDs which seem to be standard super-bright LEDs, they are 12mm wide and 500mm long with headers every 50mm where they can be cut and soldered. The have nice polarized connectors and six inches of cable on the ends which makes mating them in series simple and quick and easy. Priced low enough that you could afford to take off the LEDs and use them on other projects (.20 ea). The resistors are sized to lend nice balanced white light that is not too cold in color, when powered from 12 volts. The 12V trace which looks to be about 60mils wide is mirrored front and  back for extra current-carrying capability.

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New Product: SMD LCD 117


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.

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
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.