April 30, 2017

Skill Sunday: I2C For Arduino

The I2C or “I squared C” bus is a simple way to transfer data between different integrated circuits, boards or sensors in your Arduino project. I2C stands for “Inter-Integrated Circuit”. One of the great things about I2C is that it only requires two connections to your Arduino, SDA (data) and SCL (clock), and you can easily connect multiple devices to the bus. If you want to learn more about the I2C bus checkout this tutorial from tronixstuff, or this tutorial from How To Mechatronics.

I2C

One of our products that uses an I2C interface is our RELAY8: 8-channel relay driver shield.

Relay 8

You can drive up to 8 relays from your Arduino using just 2 I/O pins with this shield. It communicates with your board using I2C, so you can even stack several shields together to drive 16, 24, or more outputs! Includes back-EMF protection and works with a wide range of relays. Perfect for home automation projects! For more information and to order, click here.

Already working on  a project you want us to feature in this blog? Let us know in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.  

April 23, 2017

Skill Sunday: Build Your Own Soldering Station

Most hobbyists start off with a cheap and nasty soldering iron which takes minutes to heat up, and provides no temperature control. Whilst a decent soldering station is a significant upgrade from a typical beginners iron, the cost can be prohibitive. Thankfully, GreatScottLab has put together a great instructable detailing how you can build your own fully controllable soldering station.

The parts required to build a DIY soldering station.

Not only is building your own significantly cheaper than buying a soldering station, but the process of building the electronics and 3D printing the enclosure provides a fantastic educational opportunity! To find out more about how you can get started building your own soldering station checkout the following link.  

 

Have you been reading about cool projects like this and would like to understand more? Checkout our Experimenter's Kit for Arduino:

Experimenter's Kit

The package includes a wide variety of parts, sensors and modules including: a servo motor, lights, buttons, switches, sound, sensors, breadboard, wires and more. Furthermore a Freetronics Eleven Arduino-compatible board is included to make this an extensive hobby experimenter, inventor and starter kit. The kit also includes a great project and instruction booklet, plus access to a supporting web page and software examples. To get started or for more information and to order, checkout the product page.

Already working on  a project you want us to feature in this blog? Let us know in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.  

April 19, 2017

Project Showcase: Meeting Room Usage Monitor

It was great to chat with fellow electronics enthusiasts at last night's The Amp Hour meetup in Melbourne!

The Amp Hour, Melbourne meet up!

Even more exciting was the projects that many people brought along for a bit of show and tell. One of the great projects that we spotted was Ian Tubman’s table usage monitor. The monitor is designed to detect when a table is in use using a shock detector and to wirelessly transmit this data back to a Freetronics Leostick. Ian plans to develop this into a more comprehensive system which can provide information about meeting room usage and availability for large companies. Great to see the Leostick being used for such an interesting project! If you want to discuss the project with Ian he can been reached on twitter.

Table Usage Monitor

If you are looking to get started making your own custom Arduino projects, why not check out our own ProtoShield for Arduino. The ProtoShield is an excellent tool to turn your temporary, breadboarded project into something more permanent. Proto Shield fits directly onto an Arduino board and has a large general purpose area in the middle where you can solder on your own parts to create a durable, long lasting project! The ProtoShield is a high quality, corrosion resistant gold plated PCB and represents great value at only $3!

ProtoShield

To find out more about our fantastic ProtoShield’s check out our full collection at the following page. Found this week's Skill Sunday useful? Let us know in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.   

April 16, 2017

Skill Sunday: Arduino Easter Egg Decorator

Happy Easter from the team at Freetronics! Decorating eggs is a great Easter tradition.  Curtis Swartley has built a great random easter egg decorator. The project uses servos and a stepper motor controlled by a number of Arduino boards which control the spin of the egg and the position of the drawing pen. If you want to make your own decorator or see it in action checkout the following link.


 When you use motors in an Arduino project you will almost certainly need a H-Bridge motor driver. A H-Bridge allows you to easily control the direction of your motors from within your code. Our own Dual Channel H-Bridge Motor Driver Shield is a perfect solution to this problem, allowing you to drive two DC motors or a stepper motor.

H-Bridge

The Dual Channel H-Bridge Motor Driver Shield features PWM control, selectable current limits and a prototyping area to add your own parts. To find out more check out the Dual Channel H-Bridge Motor Driver Shield page.

To keep up to date with the latest news, projects, product announcements and to let us know what you think of this project follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

April 09, 2017

Skill Sunday: What is EEPROM?

This week on Skill Sunday we will be exploring EEPROM, an unheralded but extremely useful feature of Arduino boards. EEPROM stands for Electrically Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory and is a form of memory that can remember things even when the power is turned off or the Arduino is reset. If you take a look at the specifications for our Arduino compatible boards you will see an entry for EEPROM, for example, the EtherMega shown below has 4KB of EEPROM.  

EEPROM

The main benefit of this kind of memory is that it can be used to store data generated in a sketch on a more permanent basis. Typically EEPROM is used to store configuration parameters or serial numbers, although it can also be useful for storing regularly updating information such as the number of times the Arduino has been reset or cumulative measurements such as total distance travelled. To learn more about how you can put the EEPROM in your Arduino to use, checkout this great tutorial from tronixstuff.

EtherMega

The EtherMega is a greatfully-loaded” Arduino-compatible board. Apart from being completely Arduino Mega2560-compatible, it includes a 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.

To keep up to date with the latest news, projects, product announcements  and to let us know what you think of this project follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

April 02, 2017

Skill Sunday: Getting Started with Arduino

Getting started with Arduino and electronics can be quite a daunting but highly rewarding task. Fortunately there are an abundance of fantastic resources available online to help get you started. 

Notably one of our re sellers, Core Electronics has just released a free, comprehensive Arduino Workshop for Beginners which is a great tool to help get you started. The workshop is comprised of a video series which covers the everything from "what is Arduino" to specifics such as how you can use SPI, I2C, EEPROM or interrupts in your projects. You can view the first video in the series below:

 

If you have been wanting to get started with Arduino our Experimenter's Kit for Arduino provides some great hardware and project guides to get you started:

Experimenters Kit

The package includes a wide variety of parts, sensors and modules including: a servo motor, lights, buttons, switches, sound, sensors, breadboard, wires and more. Furthermore, a Freetronics Eleven Arduino-compatible board is included to make this an extensive hobby experimenter, inventor and starter kit. The kit also includes a great project and instruction booklet, plus access to a supporting web page and software examples. To get started or for more information, and to place a pre-order for our next batch of kits, checkout the product page.

What did you think of this week's Skill Sunday? Let us know in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.   

March 26, 2017

Skill Sunday: Using a Camera Sensor with Arduino

It is easy to imagine that incorporating a camera into an Arduino project would be far too advanced for the average hobbyist! However, with the advent of many low cost and easy to use camera sensor modules such as the OV7670, the barrier of entry has been significantly lowered. Mybotic has put together a great instructable explaining how you can wire up the OC7670 camera to your Arduino, and set it up to take photos which are loaded straight onto your computer using the Arduino serial port. To find out more check out the following link.

Arduino Camera Sensor

If you are looking to get started making your own custom Arduino projects, why not check out our ProtoShield for Arduino. The ProtoShield is an excellent tool to turn your temporary, breadboarded project into something more permanent. ProtoShield's fit directly onto an Arduino board and have a large general purpose area in the middle where you can solder on your own parts to create a durable, long lasting project! The ProtoShield is a high quality, corrosion resistant gold plated PCB and represents great value at only $3!

Protoshields

To find out more about our fantastic ProtoShield’s check out our full collection at the following page. Found this week's Skill Sunday useful? Let us know in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.   

March 25, 2017

Awesome Motion Tracking Dart Board

Darts can be a great game, although if you aren’t very good it can be very frustrating! In an attempt to solve this “problem” former NASA engineer Rober has spent three years designing a building a motion tracking dart board which automatically moves as the dart is being thrown to ensure you hit the bulls eye with every shot. One of the critical elements of this system is an Arduino compatible board which helps to control the motors to realign the dart board! Although this creation is a little over engineered it is way too cool not to share!

 

When you use motors in an Arduino project you will almost certainly need a H-Bridge motor driver. A H-Bridge allows you to easily control the direction of your motors from within your code. Our own Dual Channel H-Bridge Motor Driver Shield is a perfect solution to this problem, allowing you to drive two DC motors or a stepper motor.

H-Bridge

The Dual Channel H-Bridge Motor Driver Shield features PWM control, selectable current limits and a prototyping area to add your own parts. To find out more check out the Dual Channel H-Bridge Motor Driver Shield page.

To keep up to date with the latest news, projects, product announcements and to let us know what you think of this project follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

March 21, 2017

New reseller: LightcubeZ

For fans of LED cubes, there's now a brand new cube specialist here in Australia. With a background in the music industry, the founders of LightcubeZ saw demand for visual displays at clubs and other music venues, and turned to the Freetronics RGB LED Cube as a building block for creating cool light shows.

 

Check out their new site at lightcubez.com.au.

March 19, 2017

Skill Sunday: Programing the ESP8266 from the Arduino IDE

The ESP8266 is an extremely popular, low cost WiFi module which is widely used in DIY hardware hacking community.

ESP8226

The module provides one of the easiest ways to add WiFi to an Arduino project and as a result of it’s popularity there is a plenty of help available online if you get stuck! Whilst the ESP8266 can be used in combination with an Arduino, you can also use it as a stand alone microcontroller. Fortunately programming the ESP8266 as a stand alone board is quite straightforward and is even possible through the existing Arduino IDE. To find out more about how you can do program your ESP8266, checkout the following tutorial.  

PIN OUT

Have you been reading about cool projects like this and would like to understand more? Checkout our Experimenter's Kit for Arduino:

Experimenters Kit

The package includes a wide variety of parts, sensors and modules including: a servo motor, lights, buttons, switches, sound, sensors, breadboard, wires and more. Furthermore, a Freetronics Eleven Arduino-compatible board is included to make this an extensive hobby experimenter, inventor and starter kit. The kit also includes a great project and instruction booklet, plus access to a supporting web page and software examples. To get started or for more information, and to place a pre-order for our next batch of kits, checkout the product page.

What did you think of this week's Skill Sunday? Let us know in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.