April 23, 2015

Concurrently monitor data from multiple Raspberry Pis with Initial State

Using a combination of a cloud-based data visualisation service and multiple Raspberry Pi computers you can easily monitor data from each Pi concurrenlty on the one screen - ideal for monitoring various sensors placed in multiple sites. A few years ago this may have seemed impossible or very expensive, however nothing could be further from the truth.

The people from Initial State - "a technology startup helping engineers capture and understand product data" - have produced a neat tutorial that explains how to use popular DS18B20 digital temperature sensors each with a Raspberry Pi, and how to send the data back to their cloud service. Both hardware and software requirements are explained which will have your system working very quickly, and leave you with a neat and useful dashboard - for example:

For complete information on this project, and other interesting ideas - visit the Initial State website. And for more, we're on facebookGoogle+, and twitter - so follow us for news and product updates as well. 

If you're interested in measuring termperature with a reliable sensor - consider using our TEMP: DS18B20-based temperature sensor module:

The TEMP: uses the Dallas DS18B20 1-wire digital temperature sensor, with a wide measurement range of -55 to +125°C at an accuracy of +/- 0.5°C. For more information, tutorials and to order - visit the TEMP: page

April 10, 2015

alertR - the Raspberry Pi unified alerting system

After starting to build an alarm system based on a Raspberry Pi, Andrew Pawlowski realised that so much more was possible, and as created a neat unified messaging system which can be used in all sorts of applications. His system - named "alertR" - can be integrated with all sorts of devices and control a wide variety of devices.

Furthermore a sequence of control based on various events can be setup to make life easier - for example if a doorbell is pressed the volume on a sound system can be reduced, or a security camera could take an image. Check out the following video for more information: 


Finally Andrew has made his project open-source, so you can find out more by starting with his github page. And for more, we're on facebookGoogle+, and twitter - so follow us for news and product updates as well.

If you're looking for a neat way to add external circuitry to your Raspberry Pi model A+, B+ or 2 model B then check out our new PiBreak Plus Raspberry Pi Prototyping Board:

This is a great way to add your own electronic components, circuitry, sensors or other devices to your Raspberry Pi model A+, B+ or 2 Model B - any of the current Raspberry Pis with a 40 pin GPIO header. The PiBreak Plus also includes a GPIO female header to solder yourself, and a pair of nuts, bolts, washers and spacers to ensure a a great fit.

And in the Freetronics fashion we've used a quality gold-plated (ENIG) PCB for durability, brought out all the power rails along with the GPIO next to the prototyping area to make adding circuits a breeze. Furthermore the pinouts are labelled on both the top and bottom of the PCB to save time referencing the right GPIO pins. For more information and to order - visit the PiBreak plus page now!

April 21, 2015

Examine simple waveforms with the Arduino-powered notscilloscope

Next in our line of interesting Arduino-based test equipment projects is the "notscilloscope" by Augusto Campos. This is a neat way to display the amplitude of a signal over time - just as you could with an oscilloscope, however at a slower speed. However this is still a neat way to not only practice your Arduino skills but also understand the basics of how an oscilloscope works.

The notscilloscope can measure waveforms that fall between zero and near the operating voltage of the Arduino or compatible board being used, with the user being able to adjust the centre of the display and also the default amplitude - and an "auto" button can quickly optimised the display of currently-measured data. Check out the following video for a neat demonstration:

For more information and the Arduino sketch, visit Augusto's github page. And for more, we're on facebook, twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

If you're looking for a neat and colourful display to use with your Arduino or Raspberry Pi - consider our 128x128 pixel OLED Module. With a diagonal size of 1.5" and 16,384 colours to select from, so almost anything is possible. Furthermore there's a microSD card socket, and removable tabs on each side which can hold LEDs and buttons:

And using the module is made simple - we have tutorials and drivers for both the Arduino and Raspberry Pi platforms - great for experimenters or those who use both systems. Furthermore, check out the forum where members are already creating modified drivers to rapidly increase the display speed. For more information including our Quickstart guides - and of course to order - visit the OLED Module product page.

April 20, 2015

Make an Arduino-powered Ohm Meter

As we always say at Freetronics - making your own test equipment is always a fun and educational process - as you can not only create something that is useful, along with learning a lot more about the targets of the equipment. Another great example of this is by Ritik Bhardwaj who shows how incredibly simple it is to make an Arduino-powered Ohm-meter (a device to measure the value of a resistor).

The device works on the principle of the voltage divider circuit, and with a little algebra and know input voltage (say 5V from the Arduino) it can calculate the resistance of the compinent under test. It's quite simple and it works, and a neat way to experiment with voltage dividers and electronics theory. The value of the resistor under test can be sent to the serial monitor or to an LCD as shown below:

For more information on making your own version, visit the project's Instructable page. And for more, we're on facebookGoogle+, and twitter - so follow us for news and product updates as well.

Looking for a rapid-use LCD for your Arduino or compatible development boards such as the example above? Save time and move forward with the Freetronics LCD & Keypad shield which contains a bright 16x2 character LCD and five buttons that can be read from only one analogue input pin:

April 16, 2015

Experimenting with Android control of Arduino via Bluetooth

The ability to have a smartphone interact with an Arduino-based project is certainly a great feature to harness, however the process of doing so may seem overwhelming - especially creating the app for the Android device. However thanks to the free MIT App Inventor software - a graphical drag-and-drop development environment, you can easily make your own Android apps that can communicate with a Bluetooth-equipped Arduino.

To make this even easier, the people from ForceTronics have explained not only the hardware connection between the Arduino and Bluetooth module - but also provided the code for both the App Inventor and Arduino sketch. Finally the method of creating a simple Android app to toggle a digital output on the Arduino is shown in the following video:

This offers you the gateway to more interactive projects and adding a professional user-interface, so to learn more visit the tutorial website. And for more, we're on facebookGoogle+, and twitter - so follow us for news and product updates as well.

As part of the Arduino and Bluetooth experience you'll need a Bluetooth device for your Arduino projects, and to meet this need we've released our new Freetronics Bluetooth Shield:


We've made it simple to use - the Bluetooth Shield acts as a serial link between the other Bluetooth device. Furthermore there's a wide range of jumpers allowing you to select which digital pins to use for data transfer, increasing compatibility with other shields. And with our Quick Start guide it's easier than ever.

Our Bluetooth Shield for Arduino is now in stock and ready to ship, so for more information and to order - visit the shield's product page.

April 13, 2015

Make your own Arduino-controlled "Egg Bot"

The "Egg Bot" is a robot kit from Evil Mad Science that offers the ability to draw patterns on to an egg or similarly-shaped object. And thanks to the open-source nature of the project there are several variations being published, one of which by Nikodem Bartnik.

This version is just as simple to make as the original, and relies on a limited amount of hardware which you can locate quite easily in hardware stores and other suppliers. When it comes time to print on the egg, the design is created in the open-source drawing program Inkscape with the Egg Bot extension, which generates the necessary files to be sent to the Arduino-based hardware and electronics. A neat demonstration of Nikodem's version can be seen in the following video:

For complete details on making your own version, check out Nikodem's Instructable page. And for more, we're on facebookGoogle+, and twitter - so follow us for news and product updates as well.

If you're looking to develop projects based on an Arduino that use stepper motor, CNC machines on a larger scale, and much more - simplify the process with our Freetronics StepDuino board:

The StepDuino is a complete, self-contained Arduino-compatible board with 2 onboard stepper motor drivers, 2 servo outputs, a 20x4 LCD, a micro SD card slot, and more! It's a fantastic general purpose board for any project that uses stepper motors. You can use it as the brain of your next robotics project!

The StepDuino uses the same processor architecture as the common Arduino Uno, so you can program it right from the Arduino IDE simply by selecting "Arduino Uno" as the board type. Everything simply works out of the box, just as it would with a regular Arduino - but now you can also drive steppers directly and display feedback on the huge LCD. For more infromation, tutorials and to order - visit the StepDuino page.

April 14, 2015

Experimenting with Arduino-powered Capacitance Meters

Making your own test equipment is always a fun and educational process - as you can not only create something that is useful, along with learning a lot more about the targets of the equipment. A good example of this is a series of Arduino-based capacitance meters which have been documented by Scott Campbell.

The reason for offering a series of meters is that not one could cover the range of capacitors that are commonly used by enthusiasts, and Scott's testing has shown which value ranges are best measured with different techniques. Furthermore the theory behind maesuring a capacitctor is also explained so you can expand with your own versions.

Even if you're not interested in making your own meter, Scott's tutorial is a good read on theory and capacitor discharge rates, so head over to his website to get started. And for more, we're on facebookGoogle+, and twitter - so follow us for news and product updates as well.

If you need to add external hardware or devices to your next Arduino project, you'll need a protoshield to mount the external circuitry. In doing so, consider our range of ProtoShields. From the tiny LeoStick to the Mega we have a wide range to suit your application.

April 13, 2015

Build an Internet-connected Robot Guitar with Arduino and Raspberry Pi

After being inspired by a guitar-playing robot during World Expo '88, Ben Reardon decided to harness the available technology to make his own version and improve upon the original. Ben's example can not only play chimes or tunes, but also convert firewall logs into sounds and thus created a different type of interactive guitar.

The project relies on synergy between a Raspberry Pi and an Arduino - with the Pi taking care of the networking side of things and communicating with the Arduino, which is ideal for controlling servos and other hardware interaction. The automated guitar is a great success and demonstrated in the following video:

You can learn about the hardware and software required to bring the guitar to life through Ben's interesting website. And for more, we're on facebookGoogle+, and twitter - so follow us for news and product updates as well.

For more complex Raspberry Pi projects that require interaction between an Arduino and a Raspberry Pi for enhanced hardwre control you can save time and space by using our new PiLeven board:

The PiLeven is an Arduino-compatible board based on the Arduino Uno, but with a few changes. Obviously it's a bit of a strange shape! The PiLeven fits right on top of a Raspberry Pi (either model B or B+) using the Raspberry Pi expansion headers.

The PiLeven also has a high-current switchmode power supply, so you can plug in anything from 7V to 18Vdc using the standard 2.1mm jack. The PiLeven can power the Raspberry Pi, so you don't need a regulated 5V USB connection anymore.

Serial communications on the PiLeven is linked through to the Raspberry Pi, so your Pi can upload new sketches straight to the PiLeven or send/receive data and commands. We've included level shifters so the 3.3V Pi can talk safely to the 5V PiLeven. And you can plug standard Arduino shields right into the PiLeven, giving your Raspberry Pi access to the huge range of shields already available. For more information about the PiLeven, including our tutorials - and to order yours today, visit the PiLeven webpage.

April 13, 2015

The interactive Arduino-powered LED Table

Now and again we see an Arduino-based project that has moved from the desk to a finished product - and in the following example to something that any constructor would be proud of. Tumblr user shnatko had experimented with RGB LEDs in various patterns and took it to the next level with their interactive RGB LED table.

This is a piece of furniture that contains a 16 x 32 RGB LED matrix mounted under a sheet of glass, and between these LEDs are a matching grid of infra-red LEDs and phototransistors that can detect changes in light, and in effect become a form of user input for the table. All the LEDs are mutiplexed back to an Arduino Due board, which offers the CPU speed and also memory to allow for a wide range of visual effects and even games such as Tetris.

The table is controlled by a classic Nintendo console controller which is used to select and control the visual effect on the table. A demonstation of this can be seen in the following video:

Certainly one of the more inspiring projects we've seen in a while, and you can follow its progress through the project blog. And for more, we're on twitter, facebook and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

If you're looking to learn about Arduino development platform and how it interacts with external devices -  you can't go past "Arduino Workshop -  A Hands-On Introduction with 65 Projects” by John Boxall.

Arduino Workshop takes the reader from having zero knowledge about the Arduino platform, electronics and programming and leaves them with the know-how and instructions on everything from blinking an LED, to robotics, wireless data, cellular communications, motor control, sensors, Internet connected systems and more. For more information including a sample chapter and table of contents, visit the book page.

April 09, 2015

Using Arduino and ESP8266 as a Thingspeak Node

Now that the ESP8266-based modules are increasing in popularity, many interesting uses are being demonstrated by various enthusiasts. One example is by Instructables member AdiM3 who has built an Arduino-based project which captures temperature and humidity data, which is sent back to the online service Thingspeak for analysis via the ESP8266 (which has inbuild WiFi) and a WiFi access point.

The weather data is captured using a common DHT22 temperature and humidity sensor, and the use of a level shifter between the ESP8266 and Arduino is also required due to the differing logic voltages. Finally if you're making this yourself don't forget to employ a separate 3.3V power supply for the ESP8266 module. 

For complete details on making your own version, and to learn more about this interesting development check out the project's Instructable page. And for more, we're on facebookGoogle+, and twitter - so follow us for news and product updates as well.

If you're starting out with ESP8266 WiFi serial modules, save time and eliminate risk by using our new ESP-01 WiFi Module shield for Arduino:

Our new shield has a socket that's perfect for the ESP-01 module, and addresses all the needs of the ESP8266 - such as:

  • 3.3V regulator dedicated to the module to ensure sufficient current capacity
  • Logic level shifters on TX/RX lines: compatible with both 3.3V and 5V Arduino models
  • Selectable TX/RX pins: use D0/D1 for hardware serial, or D2 - D7 for software serial
  • CH_PD pin on ESP-01 module pre-biased for correct operation mode
  • Extra ESP-01 pins broken out for your own connections
  • Prototyping area with 5V and GND rails
  • All Arduino headers broken out for easy connections
  • Stacking R3-style Arduino headers including the ICSP header

So don't fiddle with jumper wires or sub-standard power supplies - order your the Freetronics ESP-01 WiFi Module Shield today. They're in stock right now for only $14 including GST.