October 09, 2011

New product: AM3X 3-axis accelerometer module

Freetronics started out its product range with shields related to the book "Practical Arduino", then rapidly expanded into Arduino-compatible boards, and now we're expanding again into a third stage of product development: a handy range of add-on modules to let you easily and quickly add sensors, actuators, sound, light, and other features to your projects. Over the next month we'll be releasing about a dozen new products, and the first one is here right now.

Meet the AM3X 3-axis accelerometer module:

It's hard to tell from that photo, but the module is tiny: it's just 22mm long by 15mm high. There's a lot of functionality packed in though, including independent X, Y, and Z axis outputs (easy to read using analog inputs on your Arduino!), a freefall (0g) output so your project can detect if it has been dropped, selectable +/-1.5g and +/-6g ranges, an onboard 3.3V voltage regulator, and 5V-compatible I/O lines so you don't need level shifters.

It's really easy to hook up, and we've included an example wiring diagram and sample source code on the AM3X Quickstart Guide so you can jump right in and start using it.

We'd love to hear what you build with the AM3X, so please submit comments or send us an email!

September 19, 2011

Order #600 has shipped, so it's free

On Thursday September 15th we received our 600th retail order, placed by a local: Tim from Melbourne, Australia, who ordered:

Of course it's our tradition that every 100th retail order ships free of charge, so Tim received his order for the princely sum of $0!

Congratulations Tim!

September 16, 2011

Local US stock at reseller Kineteka Systems

Right from the early days when Freetronics first opened for business we've been shipping orders to US customers, so it's our great pleasure to announce that we now have a US reseller carrying local stock: Kineteka Systems.

Kineteka are based in Texas, so if you're in the US they're just a little closer to you than the Freetronics team down here in Melbourne, Australia. That means our valued North American customers can now get much faster shipping and also transactions directly in US$.

Welcome, Kineteka!

July 22, 2011

Half way to 1000: our 500th retail order ships

 Earlier today we received our 500th retail order, which came in from Daniel in Tennessee, USA. Daniel ordered an EtherTen and a 5-pack of the ProtoShield Basic, and because we ship every 100th retail order free it's all shipped out to him at no charge! Congratulations Daniel. We'd love to hear what you build with your new toys.

500 retail orders shipped is a milestone for us so we're really excited about it.

April 28, 2011

New product: ProtoShield Short

Our new ProtoShield Short is designed to solve a specific problem that's annoyed me for a really long time. Ethernet Shields (and our forthcoming EtherTen) all have a huge RJ45 jack mounted on one end, which means that even though they usually have stackable headers it's really hard to put another shield on top. You need to either insulate the RJ45 jack with tape and jam the shield on top at an angle, or use an extra set of stackable headers to give it more height.

So my solution is the new ProtoShield Short:


April 20, 2011

New version of the Receiver Shield arrives

The new v3 revision of the 433MHz Receiver Shield from Practical Arduino has arrived! The first couple of versions of the shield were surprisingly popular but there were some things about the design that annoyed me, so this version totally rearranges the receiver module and supporting parts to leave more of the prototyping area clear and allow the shield to be stackable.

It includes an antenna and comes fully assembled except for the headers, which are supplied in the package so you can solder them in place. We supply stackable headers but you can use regular male break-away headers if you prefer.

But wait, there's more. We now have it available in two different frequency versions so you can choose the model that suits your requirements. There's still the 433MHz version, but now you can get a 315MHz version as well. In future we're hoping to add a 915MHz version when the receiver modules become available.

Oh yes, and we even dropped the price. We're producing hardware in such large quantities now that we're getting good economies of scale, so the new Receiver Shield is just AUD$29.95 inc GST! Check it out:

April 20, 2011

Our 300th retail order ships. Free, of course

There was a flurry of retail orders yesterday, quickly pushing us up to our 300th retail order shipped - so, in accordance with tradition, Phil from Daglish in Western Australia will receive his order absolutely free!


Our 100th order shipped 2010-09-17, the 200th was 118 days later on 2011-01-12, and the third was 98 days after that on 2011-04-19. That gives us three data points so we should be able to start guesstimating when the 400th order will be placed: my prediction is July 9th, 2011. Any other predictions? Perhaps we should run a competition!

April 06, 2011

EtherTen hardware

I posted this to Twitter about a week ago, but many people won't have seen it. Behold, a fully functional production sample of the EtherTen:

One of the tests we've done is to power the EtherTen via Power-over-Ethernet while loading a dynamic list of files stored on the microSD card using a web interface. Neat!

Assembly of the full production run is well underway, and we're only about 6 days away from a big batch of them shipping from the assembler. The production units have the proper colour scheme (yellow overlay on the blue soldermask) and the PCBs look really slick.

March 18, 2011

EtherTen production has begun: Arduino with built-in Ethernet

At long last my dream of an Arduino-compatible board with built-in Ethernet is about to come true. The EtherTen design is finished, all the parts for the first production batch are queued up at the assembler's production line, and the first PCBs are being produced this weekend. In just a couple of days we'll have photos of the first ever units once they have been assembled, but for now we have to settle for preview images of the PCB:

It's a jam-packed board, so let's take a quick tour of the features.

ATmega328 MCU. For space reasons we had to switch to the tiny TQFP32 version rather than the large DIP-28 version, which means you can't remove it from the board - but it also means you get 2 extra analog inputs. We've brought A6 and A7 out to solder pads so you can use them in your projects.

Built-in Ethernet. The big RJ45 jack on the left means you can plug your EtherTen directly into a LAN without needing an Ethernet shield on top. In fact the EtherTen is basically a Freetronics Eleven and a Freetronics Ethernet Shield stuffed onto a single PCB. We've used the Wiznet W5100 chipset just like the official Arduino Ethernet Shield, which means the EtherTen is fully supported by the official Ethernet library and example sketches. As far as development is concerned, it's functionally identical to having an Arduino Uno and an Arduino Ethernet Shield stacked together.

Power-over-Ethernet. Just like the Ethernet Shield, you can power the EtherTen directly from the LAN cable using either cheap home-brew PoE or full 802.3af standards-compliant PoE. Combine it with a regular Ethernet switch and our 4-Channel PoE Injector for a simple system, or connect a commercial PoE switch to be able to pull more than 12W of power via the network cable.

ATmega8u2 USB-to-Serial Converter. Also just like on the Eleven (and on the Uno) we've used an ATmega8u2 to provide a high-speed USB interface for uploading sketches. It's much faster than the FTDI converter used on older Arduino models and opens the way to using the EtherTen as a custom USB device.

Micro-SD Card Slot. Store sensor data or web content on an SD card. Handy!

Triple Crystals. Rather than scrimp a few cents by using ceramic resonators we used proper crystals for the primary MCU, the USB MCU, and the Wiznet Ethernet chip.

Reset Management Chip. Some combinations of Ethernet shield and Arduino model have trouble resetting cleanly under certain conditions. We've added a dedicated reset controller (with brown-out detection) to ensure that the EtherTen resets and comes up cleanly every time.

There are a host of other improvements compared to typical Arduino models, including a mini USB connector, gold-plated PCB with header labels on both sides, and D13 isolation using a FET.

We're really excited about the EtherTen. I'll be using a lot of them in my home-brew home automation system, and it'll be fascinating to see what ideas people come up with for them. Follow @freetronics on Twitter for up-to-the-minute news about its availability.

March 06, 2011

Freetronics sponsors Tronixstuff competition

 The amazingly prolific Arduino tutorial writer John "Tronixstuff" Boxall has recently started running monthly competitions for his readers, and Freetronics was very pleased to sponsor the February 2011 competition. The winners were Mike R from the USA and Cary D from Australia, so a couple of days ago we shipped them an Eleven and a KitTen respectively.

Congratulations, guys!

John did a wrap-up of the February results including the correct answers in the Tronixstuff blog: