Freetronics: Arduino-Compatible Electronics Kits & Parts

Here at Freetronics we design, sell and support our range of flexible, easy to use boards and modules, making it easy for you to build your own electronic projects.

What Is Arduino? Arduino is a very popular and easy to use programmable board for creating your own projects. Consisting of a simple hardware platform and a free source code editor with an easy “one-click compile/upload” feature, it’s designed to be really easy to use without being an expert programmer. Arduino is also the most popular microcontroller board for advanced users and all kinds of more ambitious projects.... Read more

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Arduino Kits Online

Looking for an Arduino kit online then you have come to the right place. We design, sell and supply electronic components which are arduino components.
For Arduino kits in Melbourne then always go for Freetronics.

Arduino parts online

If you need Arduino parts online our store has a wide range of kits and parts. Arduino melbourne, arduino uno, arduino duemilanove usb

Arduino duemilanove

We have lots of Arduino electronic components like ethernet shield, arduino mega usb and buy usbdroid

Microcontroller Boards

We sell a huge range of microcontroller boards which will be compatible with adruino electronic components

News

May 13, 2018

Skill Sunday: DIY keyed headers

Have you ever wondered why Arduino boards have bizarre spacing between the top headers?

The reason is that back in 2005, the design for one of the very first Arduino boards was being finished late one night so that it could be sent to a PCB factory the next day, and Massimo Banzi accidentally bumped the location of the D8-D13 header slightly sideways off the 0.1" grid that he used to lay out the parts. He didn't notice when looking at the design on the computer screen, so when the PCBs came back from the factory with the header in the wrong position they decided to just use them anyway.

After this first batch of PCBs had been used up the header could have been moved into the correct position for the next batch, but by then it seemed like it would be too disruptive to change the design and break compatibility with the projects they had already made using the first boards. So the decision was made to leave it there, and we've been stuck with bizarre header positions ever since.

For many people it's frustrating because you can't use regular 0.1" prototyping board to make your own shields, but this little accident of history had a good side effect: it makes the Arduino header format only work one way. You can still put a shield into the wrong position, but most of the time it takes extra force to insert it.

Some types of headers and connectors have a mechanical "key" that prevents them being misaligned or inserted backwards, but not all headers have this benefit. Many headers are symmetrical, so they can be accidentally inserted backwards or offset to one side.

Danny Vagg was pondering how to solve this problem after he accidentally inserted a Zigbee board into the wrong holes and damaged the board, with a higher voltage being applied to a pin that could only operate at 3.3V.

To prevent it happening again, Danny came up with a very easy solution for making your own keyed headers. Danny's suggestion is:

1. Select a pin that you don't need to use, and cut it off.
2. Cut off a short length of wood skewer, and split it lengthwise to make it narrower.
3. Insert the small piece of wood skewer into the matching hole in the header.

By leaving the wood slightly longer so that it protrudes from the header, it's easy to remove it again later if you need to.

In this photo Danny inserted skewers into the NC, IOREF, VIN, A6, and A7 pins of an EtherMega. On his shield (not shown) he's left off those same pins to allow the shield to only be inserted in the correct position:

Now the headers can only be inserted in the correct position, and it'll be impossible for you to push the board in the wrong place.

And because he specifically selected unused power pins for the key locations, it reduces the chance of a shield pin being connected accidentally to a higher voltage than the shield rating.

The NC (not connected) and VIN pins are particularly good ones to pick if you want to add keys to your header. The NC pin isn't used by any current Arduino design, and the VIN pin can often expose 12V or more which can be enough to damage some parts that are designed to operate at 5V or 3.3V.

Thanks for the tip, Danny! We'll send you a prize for your suggestion.

April 29, 2018

The state of electronics manufacturing in China

Have you ever wondered where common consumer electronic gadgets come from? Or maybe you have an idea for a product, and you want to learn how to engage with the necessary factories to turn your idea into reality?

In late 2017, Australian film-maker Karl von Moller travelled to China with Freetronics founder Jonathan Oxer and a small group of engineers as part of the HardworX Shenzhen Innovation Tour.

The group visited the global centre of the electronics manufacturing industry: Shenzhen, China. Tour organiser Vela Georgiev lead the group on a 10 day in-depth tour of factories, local hackerspaces, and the famous Huaqiangbei electronics markets.

The tour included the LiFX production line, Maker Faire Shenzhen, SEEED studios, PCB assembly production lines, several plastics fabrication factories, the HAX incubator, and one of the most automated production lines in the world: Hytera EMS.

Karl has now edited the many hours of footage of the trip into a documentary, and released it in 18 chapters. You can start at the beginning and follow through the entire trip, or jump around and check out the parts that interest you.

Either way, Karl has produced an amazing resource that will help provide a roadmap for anyone who wants to learn about taking a product from concept to mass production.

1: The Makers road to Shenzhen
2: The tour begins and the Makers Faire
3: MAKE
4: The Factory Tours of Shenzhen - Defond
5: The Electronics Markets of Shenzhen
6: Factory Tours of Shenzhen - Jiafuh Metal & Plastics
7: The Factory Tours of Shenzhen - HLH Prototypes
8: LiFX - The Beginning
9: The LiFX Production Line
10: The Factory Tours of Shenzhen - Kaier Wo
11: The Factory Tours of Shenzhen - SEEED Studios
12: The xFactory
13: Incubators and the Role of Government
14: Hardware Accelerators
15: The Factory Tours of Shenzhen - Hytera EMS
16: Artificial Intelligence & Automation
17: The Factory Tours of Shenzhen - HYX Gears and ITEAD Studios
18: The Shenzhen Innovation Tour 2017 Wraps Up

What did you think of the tour? Discuss it in the forum.

January 19, 2018

Intermittent shipping next week: January 22 to 26

Next week I'll be in Sydney for linux.conf.au, the big annual Linux and Open Source conference run by Linux Australia. While I'm away some orders may ship out, but it's best to assume that any orders placed after today won't ship until Monday, January 29.

If you're coming along to linux.conf.au, ask around for Jonathan Oxer and come and say hi! I'll be running the Open Hardware Miniconf on the first day of the conference so I should be easy to find. At the OHMC we'll have a bunch of people building this little soccer-playing robot:

November 08, 2017

Intermittent shipping during November while I'm in China

I'm heading off to Shenzhen, China, on Friday November 10th and returning on the 18th.

During that time I'll have someone looking after shipping, but it will probably only be processed every few days.

Any orders placed today will be shipped before I leave, but after that there may be some delays until I return.

Thanks for your patience!

September 29, 2017

Shipping delayed by the Grand Final public holiday

Australia Post is closed today due to the public holiday here in Victoria, Australia. Unfortunately that means any orders placed now will be shipped after the weekend.

This is totally outside our control. We'd much rather be packing orders than watching some silly football game, even if the Tigers did make the Grand Final for the first time in more than 3 decades!

September 27, 2017

New retail packaging to save space and shipping costs

Our standard retail packaging includes enough room for larger boards such as the EtherMega, or for smaller boards like the Eleven with a USB cable included.

But for many smaller boards, such as the N-Drive Shield, the standard packaging is bigger than it needs to be. So to save on shipping costs and make our packaging more efficient, we've just started packaging some of our smaller boards in this new retail box.

The inner plastic clamshell splits in half to provide two handy parts trays that you can keep for your projects, and the outer cardboard shell can be recycled so there's no packaging waste going into landfill.

And because this new small box is almost exactly half the volume of our standard box, we can pack twice as many of them into the same shipping size. This will help save on shipping costs.

September 26, 2017

New product: MAC Address Module

If you're building an Internet-connected project, you might find that one annoying aspect of most Arduino compatible Ethernet devices is that you have to set the MAC address manually in the sketch. This is really frustrating, because every device needs a unique MAC address so you'll often find yourself modifying the sketch for every device you want to build. Even worse, you have to keep track of the addresses so that you don't re-use the same address and cause network problems.

This module solves the problem. With a simple I2C interface, it's pre-programmed with a unique MAC address that your sketch can load at startup using just a few lines of code.

Our own Ethernet enabled boards such as the EtherTen and EtherMega already include this same chip so you don't need the module on our boards, but for just $5 it can be a life-saver if you're using Ethernet boards from another supplier.

Grab some online now.

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