January 29, 2015

Saturday delivery now available to metropolitan Melbourne, Ballarat, Bendigo and Geelong

Thanks to a new service from Australia Post we're now able to have orders to some Victorian customers delivered on a Saturday. If your postcode is within the new Express Post Victoria Saturday delivery postcode range** - you can now order by midday on Friday and receive your order on Saturday.

To have your Freetronics order delivered on a Saturday is simple:

      • Check your postcode is in the eligible area (listed below)
      • Enter "Saturday delivery" in the note section of your shopping cart - for example:

      • Then select "Express Post" as your shipping method in stage two of the checkout process.

          There is no extra charge for Saturday delivery - and your parcel will usually be delivered between 9am and 1pm. This service is available to:

          • residential addresses
          • 24/7 Parcel Lockers accessible on Saturdays
          • Post Offices and Mail Hubs that are open on Saturdays

          ** The postcode range eligible for Saturday delivery is as follows (as at 10th January 2014):

          • Melbourne and suburbs: 3000; 3002-3023; 3025-3062; 3064-3138; 3140-3158; 3160-3163; 3165-3175; 3177-3210; 3931; 3429; 3335; 3805; 3977
          • Geelong and suburbs: 3220; 3214-3216; 3219; 3228
          • Bendigo: 3550; 3555-3556
          • Ballarat: 3350; 3355-3356

           And to keep up with news, special offers and more from Freetronics, please follow us on facebook, twitter and Google+.

          January 30, 2015

          Make an Arduino-powered touch sensitive piano

          You can make all manner of musical instruments with an Arduino, from simple buzzers to creating MIDI interfaces and more, however standalone instruments are quite easy. This is demonstrated by Andrea Piombo & Silvio De Raeve who were tasked to build an interesting interactive device for a school project and created a neat piano with touch-sensitive keys.

          The keys are crated by cutting aluminium tape into the shape of a small piano keyboard, which are then considered capactive touch sensors by the Arduin sketch. Sounds are generated with simple functions and sent to a small speaker. Andrea and Silvio demonstrate their piano in the following video:

          To lear more about this project, visit the matching Instructable page. And for more, we're on facebook, twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

          If you're interested in detecting vibrations or working with making sounds and tunes for various reasons, we have a neat little SOUND: sound and buzzer module:

          It can be used as a noise-maker driven by your microcontroller for audible feedback of events, and it can also be used as a knock-detector input to sense events and react to them. Includes a built-in 1M resistor to allow the piezo element to detect shocks. For more information and to order, please visit the product page here.

          January 30, 2015

          Build a password-protected laser trip wire alarm with Arduino

          An Arduino can be the starting point for replacing many consumer items, and one of these is an alarm system. With many inputs and outputs connecting various sensors and alarms is simple, and one interesting example of this has been documented by Ronnie Tucker.

          His system uses a laser trip wire as a main detector - the Arduino monitor the status of a light sensor with the laser pointing towards it - when the line is broken, the alarm can  be sounded. Furthermore, the system is activated or deactivated via a password or PIN entered with a numeric keypad. An example of operation is shown in the following video:

          This is also a great way of learning how to use numeric keypads with Arduino - which opens up all sorts of user-input options. For more infromation about this project, visit Ronnie's Instructable page.  And for more, we're on twitter, facebook and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

          If you need a light sensor, you can maintain constant reliable results with our LIGHT: light sensor module:

           

          Our tiny light-sensor module uses the very-reliable TEMT6000 light sensor, which gives consistent and repeatable readings even between different units - unlike cheapie light-dependent resistors, which can vary dramatically in their sensitivity. So for reliable light sensing - look no further

          January 29, 2015

          Experimenting with Arduino and Orchestrate online database service

          Gathering data with an Arduino is quite a simple task, however accessing the data from a remote location can present various hurdles which can be difficult for some users to overcome. Thankfully there are various online services that can simplify the process, and one of these is Orchestrate - an online database service for rapid application development.

          Although that sounds like a mouthful, Orchestrate can also be used to receive data from an Arduino connected to the Internet via a host PC, for later retrieval and analysis. The team from Orchestrate have published a simple tutorial that shows us how to do just that - by logging some temperature data. However this can also be used an example to log almost any type of data that can be gathered with our Arduino-compatible boards.

          For details about the tutorial and online service, visit the Orchestrate website. And for more, we're on facebookGoogle+, and twitter - so follow us for news and product updates as well. 

          Looking for an Arduino-compatible for use with Internet-connected projects that doesn't require a host computer? Then check out the Freetronics EtherMega:

          Quite simply the EtherMega is the fully-loaded Arduino-compatible board on the market today. Apart from being completely Arduino Mega2560-compatible, it includes full Ethernet interface, a microSD card socket, full USB interface, optional Power-over-Ethernet support and still has a circuit prototyping area with extra I2C interface pins. So if your project is breaking the limits, upgrade to the EtherMega today. 

          January 27, 2015

          Control LEGO Power Function trains with Arduino

          Although many LEGO train fans may disagree, the latest "Power Function" system used to control the trains via infra-red has an interesting benefit in that almost any device with an appropriate IR transmitter can control the trains - including Arduino. 

          The process to control trains in this manner is being documented on the LEGOpal blog with some useful first starts. This includes the required circuit to connect an IR transmitter to an Arduino and the required library to make control easy. In no time at all you can send the signals for speed and direction control, a quick demonstration of which is shown in the following video:

          For all the details and to follow this interesting project, visit the LEGOpal website. And for more, we're on facebookGoogle+, and twitter - 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

          January 27, 2015

          Using Arduino and a "Fox Hunt" Transmitter

          Some members of the amateur radio community enjoy various challenges, and one of these is the "fox hunt". This involves hiding a low-powered transmitter somewhere remote, which broadcasts a CW signal or message in Morse Code. Then the participants use their knowldge of radio to device antennas and locate the "fox".

          An example of a transmitter with an Arduino has been described by Dr. Carol F. Milazzo, KP4MD who uses a surplus modified sonobouy as a transmitter of a signal in morse generated by an Arduino-compatible board. This provides an inexpensive and robust target for the aims of any foxhunt. A quick demonstration of the ouput can be heard in the following video:

          For a detailed analysis of the project and some other interesting reading, visit Dr Milazzo's website. 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.

          January 27, 2015

          Monitoring RSS Feeds with Arduino

          The Internet opens up a whole new world of information that can be consumed, used to inform us and much more - however sometimes you may have a need to be alerted about changes in certain published data. One method of disseminating such information is with RSS feeds (Really Simple Syndication) - a stream of text that can easily be parsed.

          An Ethernet-enabled Arduino or compatible board is perfect for parsing RSS feeds and this has been demonstrated by Eric Brouwer whose device checks the RSS feed from a local power distrubutor to alert of upcoming rolling blackouts. The system parses the feed for the name of an alert, and thn illuminates the matching indicator on a neat enclosure as shown below.

          Even if you're not interested in the information being displayed, this project is an excellent example of parsing RSS feeds with an Arduino and taking action based on the data. To get started, visit Eric's Instructable page. And for more, we're on facebook, twitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

          When putting together your next Internet-enabled Arduino project - save time, space and money with the Freetronics EtherTen. Apart from being fully Arduino Uno-compatible, it has onboard Ethernet, microSD socket, full USB interface (so you don't need a costly FTDI cable just to upload a sketch!) and supports optional Power-over-Ethernet.

          January 25, 2015

          Make an Arduino-powered BCD Clock

          The Arduino platform is an excellent base for any clock project, thanks to the ease of programming and availability of accurate real-time clock ICs. One different example of such a clock has been documented by reddit user ExSim who has made an interesting twise on the binary clock - a BCD clock.

          BCD - Binary-Coded Decimal - uses binary to describe each digit of the clock display, and as you can see below is neatly illuminated LEDs in matching bezels. There's a button to set the hours, minutes, and another to reset the seconds to zero making it easy to set the time accurately.

          For details on how to make your own version, and discussion about the clock itself - visit reddit. And for more, we're on facebooktwitter and Google+, so follow us for news and product updates as well.

          The most important part of any clock or timer-based project is the inclusion of an accurate real-time clock IC. Here at Freetronics we have the Maxim DS3232 real-time clock IC module:

          Apart from keeping accurate time for years due to the temperature-controlled oscillator and having a tiny coin-cell for backup, it is very simple to connect to your Arduino project. A driver library allows your program to easily set or read the time and date. Perfect for clock projects, dataloggers or anything that needs to know the date and time. Furthermore it contains a digital thermometer and 236 bytes of non-volatile memory to store user settings and other data. For more information, check out the module page here.

          January 23, 2015

          Build a Raspberry Pi-controlled "Stewart Platform"

          As part of a project to explore robotic body language, Radames Ajna is working on a device to move a mobil phone with as many degrees of freedom as possible. Instead of using a robotic arm, Radames instead has devised a "Stewart Platform". This is a device which has a platform that can be moved across six degrees of freedom.

          In this project six servos are position in such a way with a rod to the platform to allow for the required movements, and the system is controlled by a Raspberry Pi. Check out the following video for a demonstration of the platform in motion:

          That's a great example of Raspberrry Pi hardware control. You can learn more about the project including platform theory and design from the project's Instructables page. 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 circuitry to your Pi, one option is to use our PiBreak board.It provides labelled breakout pins for all GPIOs, a large prototyping area with solder pads, and power rails for easy power connection:

          Furthermore the PiBreak also includes mounting hardware to firmly attach it to your Raspberry Pi using a nut, bolt, and spacer - and is compatible with all revisions of both model A and B Raspberry Pi computers. For more information about our PiBreak board, our Getting Started guide, and to order - visit the product page.

           

          January 23, 2015

          "Autohome" - a web-based GUI for Arduino-powered Home Automation

          The Arduino platform lends itself well to getting into the world of home automation (check our SuperHouse.tv) and many enthusiasts have created their own systems. However one home system by Arduino forum member OhmMega is of interest due to the controls and possibilities.

          This system can act as an intelligent thermostat control, taking temperature and himidity reading from various sensors - and controls a furnace and HVAC to keep the users' climate in check. Furthermore lighting and other devices can be controlled without much effort. The system has a web-based interface and also a mobile page for use with a smartphone.

          An external server is used, based on php/MySQL with a client-server http communication protocol, and takes care of communication between the end user and Arduino-based hardware which acts as a clint with its own login to the server. All this adds up to a great system that's ripe for modification.

          For more details and discussion, visit the Arduino forum. And for more news and information, follow us on facebook, twitter and Google+ as well. 

          If you're working with Arduino, Ethernet and home automation - check out the Freetronics EtherMega:

          Quite simply the EtherMega is the fully-loaded Arduino-compatible board on the market today. Apart from being completely Arduino Mega2560-compatible, it includes full Ethernet interface, a microSD card socket, full USB interface, optional Power-over-Ethernet support and still has a circuit prototyping area with extra I2C interface pins. So if your project is breaking the limits, upgrade to the EtherMega today.