September 17, 2010

100th retail order ships, so it's free

In the early hours this morning we received our 100th retail order, placed by Gints from Latvia! Gints ordered an Ethernet Shield with PoE support, so we declined payment when the order came in and shipped it free of charge.

And just for the fun of it we decided that a single shield wasn't a big enough order to get as a freebie, so we added in a bonus 4-Channel PoE Injector as well to make the Ethernet Shield even more useful.

Have fun, Gints!

So, who will have the 200th order?

August 17, 2010

Ethernet Shield for Arduino with Power-over-Ethernet: here at last

After months of plotting and scheming and prototyping and testing and fighting with EAGLE, the first production batch of the Freetronics Ethernet Shield with Power-over-Ethernet support has now landed. Ahh, it's a beautiful thing:

As explained on the product page it includes a few improvements to the reference design, such as:

  • Slaving the Wiznet enable line to the SPI select line
  • Improved power filtering for better noise suppression
  • Improvements to reset circuit to reliably reset the Wiznet chip when the Arduino resets
  • Power-over-Ethernet magjack with PoE connections brought out to a header
  • MASSIVE prototyping area!
To make it as cheap as possible to power your Arduino via the LAN we've given it the flexibility of supporting either full standards-compliant 802.3af/at PoE, or cheap home-brew PoE using something like our sweet new 4-Channel PoE Midspan Injector:

With our midspan injector you don't even need to hack any network cables for a cheap DIY approach. Just plug it in and away you go.

Have fun!

August 13, 2010

First batch of Ethernet Shields with PoE have landed

As of today the first batch of 250 of the Ethernet Shield with PoE support have landed, and they're currently sitting in the EMS distribution center only about 35km away ready to be delivered to us on Monday.

They're so close I can nearly taste them! Not that I'll be licking them when they arrive, or anything. But I'm excited!

Check back on Monday night or Tuesday because they should be here and ready to ship.

July 20, 2010

Looking for international resellers

We're starting to sell to a few international customers now (so far we've shipped to the US, South Africa, and Malaysia) so it's about time we set up some international resellers. We have five excellent resellers already (four in Australia, one in New Zealand) but we're particularly interested in adding some US-based resellers.

Want to sell our stuff? Please get in touch!

July 15, 2010

First photos: Ethernet Shield with Power-over-Ethernet support

I'm not going to waste time with words, let's get straight to the photos:

Yes folks, these are the first ever pictures of our brand new Ethernet shield with Power-over-Ethernet support. If you look just above the reset button on the top photo you'll see a little 4-pin header: that's the PoE header, which exposes the PoE pins from the Ethernet jack as well as the GND and VIN rails for the Arduino. By putting a couple of jumpers on that header you can feed anything from 7V to about 15V down the Ethernet cable and power your Arduino in a dirt-cheap way via the network. Or by plugging in a PoE Voltage Regulator board it can handle up to 35V. Finally, if you need to support full commercial 802.3af standards-compliant PoE we'll have a module for that soon too.

Combine this with our forthcoming 4-Channel PoE Midspan Injector and you'll be able to run an Arduino-based network of sensors or automation controllers with nothing but network cable.

And it even has some spare space as a prototyping area. How sweet is that?

Coming soon to a Freetronics reseller near you.

July 07, 2010

Retrograde Clock Using TwentyTen Proto Area

I love seeing the imaginative things that people create using either Freetronics products or ideas from Practical Arduino. Phillip Stevens has been working on a retrograde clock, and it's a great example of using the prototyping area on the TwentyTen to save fitting a prototyping shield for just a few parts.

Check out Phillip's excellent work on his blog:

May 31, 2010

433MHz Receiver Shield RX module updated

The 433MHz Receiver Shield has been an unexpected smash hit, and now we've made it even better. The original design used an RXB1 receiver module just like the ones you can buy in Jaycar and other parts retailers. It's the small green PCB you can see here attached to the top of the shield.

The RXB1 is a self-contained radio receiver module that does the job of taking the raw radio signal with its ASK (Amplitude Shift Keying) modulated data stream and turning it into logical 1s and 0s to send out via a data connection to the Arduino for analysis in software. It's a handy little module that does the job very well.

But now thanks to some detective work by Marc and the assistance of contacts in China we've switched to the RXB6 module.

The main improvement in the RXB6 is greater sensitivity, allowing it to pull in weak signals that the RXB1 just can't latch onto. One of the things I personally use a 433MHz Receiver Shield for is collecting data from a La Crosse weather station (hmmm, I think that may have been documented in a book somewhere) and it's been very marginal with the weather station on the other side of a metal roof. Once I switched to a newer shield using the RXB6 all the reception problems went away and it's been perfectly reliable ever since.

May 28, 2010

TwentyTen overclocked to 22MHz

One of the first TwentyTens to ship was promptly modified by Phillip Stevens to increase the MCU frequency from the factory 16MHz to 22.1184Mhz! Phillip removed the original crystal and replaced it with a higher-frequency part, and modified the MCU bootloader to operate correctly at that frequency.

See all the details (and a brief review of the TwentyTen) on his blog:

May 26, 2010

Identifying component symbols

Sometimes I come across symbols in circuit schematics that make me double take and say "what the...?" under my breath. Engineers seem to have a tendency to want to keep tweaking things even when they're "good enough", and the result is a huge variety of symbols used to represent even common parts.

There have been many symbol guides published online over the years, but "Electrical WHAT?!" is probably the best I've seen yet. Check it out at

May 13, 2010

The TwentyTen ("Duemiladieci") has arrived

The first production run of the Freetronics TwentyTen is complete and we're in the process of getting stock over to our resellers Little Bird Electronics and Toys Down Under as quickly as we can. In the meantime feast your eyes on this little beauty:

The TwentyTen has been specifically designed to be a successor to the Arduino Duemilanove ("2009") design, and maintains all the great things about the Duemilanove while applying a few fixes and improvements. There's plenty more information on the TwentyTen page, but some of the highlights are:

  • USB port switched to mini-B connector. No more problems with shorting out against shields! We even bundle in a free mini USB cable.
  • Prototyping area so you can use the TwentyTen in many permanent projects without requiring a prototyping shield.
  • LEDs brought out onto the edge tab so you can see them when a shield is mounted on top.
  • PCB markings on the top and the bottom so you can easily see what you're connecting to.
  • Retained the DIP-format MCU so you can unplug it.
  • Bit-bang programming headers (marked "X3") as header pads for maximum convenience when using the TwentyTen as an AVR programmer.
  • Pin 13 LED is driven by a MOSFET so you can use it as a digital input.