January 29, 2017

Skill Sunday: Using an Arduino as a Programmer

One of the relatively unknown capabilities of Arduino-compatible boards is that they can be used as an external programmer. This means that you can use your Freetronics Eleven, EtherTen or other Arduino-compatible board to upload a sketch, or reflash the boot loader on another Arduino board. We have put together a comprehensive tutorial describing how this can be done, check it out at the following link.  

Arduino as a programmer

One of our Arduino-compatible board is the EtherMega. 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.

EtherMega

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.

January 28, 2017

Sneak peek at a new packaging design

Many of our products are packaged in our standard blue-and-yellow retail box, like the one on the left. It's designed to hold either a regular size or a Mega size Arduino compatible board with a USB cable and a quickstart guide, which is perfect for boards like the EtherMega and the Eleven.

But for most of our shields it's overkill, because most of the box is empty. So I'm working on a design for a new, compact box that will suit a standard size Arduino shield or an Arduino without a cable.

Ideally I want to make the new box exactly half the size of the standard box, because then they can fit perfectly into our existing shipping boxes. We use shipping boxes that hold either 2 or 6 of the standard product boxes like the one on the left, so they will now be able to hold 4 or 12 of the new half-sized boxes. Or it could be a combination: our small shipping box could now hold 2 standard boxes, or 4 half-size boxes, or 1 standard plus 2 half-size. It should also reduce our shipping costs because we are usually charged by volume, not weight.

Right now the "half-size" box is actually a bit longer than half the length of the standard box, because the standard box also includes a retail hang tag on the top which adds to its packing length. Two of the half-size boxes placed end to end are just slightly longer than the standard box plus its hang tag. It's close enough though: they fit perfectly into our shipping boxes, which is the most important thing!

January 27, 2017

Twitter Mood Light

This cool project displays the collective “feeling” of the entire twitter world in a multicoloured mood light.  The mood light constantly monitors twitter and aggregates the tweets based on emotional content to determine a world wide mood. Once the mood has been determined it is displayed in the mood light with different colours indicating different moods. This is a great way to quickly find out if a significant event has happened. To get started with this unique project checkout the following link.

Green indicates that the world is happy!

If you are looking for an RGB LED to use in this project why not checkout our FreePixel, a colour LED with a brain! The FreePizel includes a bright WS2812B addressable RGB LED and can be daisy-chained, so you can connect a number of these together in a string and drive each of the module colours individually from your microcontroller. Best of all these diverse modules are great value at only $3! To order or find out more checkout the following link

FreePixel

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.

January 24, 2017

Real Time Planet Tracking System

Whether you are looking for a guide of where to point your telescope or just have a fascination for our solar system, this project is definitely for you. Shubham Paul has put together a great realtime planet tracking system. Although the hardware on this project is fairly simple consisting of an Arduino, GPS module and servo, the algorithms that calculate the approximation of a planet's position using Kepler's laws are particularly impressive.  To find out more about how you can build your own real time planet tracker checkout the following link.  

Planet Tracking

 

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.

EtherMega

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.

January 22, 2017

Skill Sunday: Power Over Ethernet for Arduino

One of the challenges of working with an Ethernet connected Arduino device can be having to get both an Ethernet cable and a power cord to the device. Power over Ethernet or PoE solves this problem by running power through the Ethernet cable! To find out more about this useful solution checkout the tutorial we have written to explain the ins and outs of PoE in more detail.

PoE

If you are planning on using PoE in one of your own projects you may need our 28V Power Regulator for PoE. This versatile device can be used as a general purpose regulator outputting 5V or 7V from an input voltage of up to 28V, however, the regulator is designed to mount onto our EtherTen or EtherMega Arduino compatible boards and pre regulate the voltage inputted to your device from PoE down to the 7V the Arduino can handle. To find out more and to purchase checkout the following link

PoE

Find this week's Skill Sunday useful? Have an idea for a skill we should feature next week? Let us know in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

January 21, 2017

Vertical Pole Climbing Robot

With this project from Pramod you can build your own climbing robot which is designed to scale street lights or flag poles. The robot can be used either as a cleaning robot or as a surveillance tool once a camera has been attached. This project is a great way to learn about using motors with Arduino. To get started checkout the following link.

Vertical Robot

When you use motors in your 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.

January 19, 2017

Robotic Cat Laser

Does your pet cat love chasing around a laser light? For the cost of a couple of servo motors, an Arduino and a laser light you can provide your cat with endless entertainment.  The automated cat laser uses servo motors to constantly move the laser and entertain the cat, with no effort on your behalf! To find out how you can build your own cat laser robot checkout the instructable from joe at the following link.

Cat Bot

 If you are looking for a servo motor to use in your own robotics project why not checkout our standard servo. The standard hobby servo rotates approximately 180 degrees and comes with a variety of horns, mounting screws and rubber mounting bushes. To find out more check out the product page.

Servo Motor

Found this project interesting? Working on own of your own projects you would like us to feature? Let us know in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.  

January 17, 2017

Teach Your Arduino to Switch Itself Off!

Have you ever been frustrated that the only way you could turn off your Arduino was to physically unplug the device? With this instructable from PeterH310 you can learn how to "self power off" your Arduino. Although some projects require an Arduino to be always on, for projects that don’t require the Arduino to be consistently on, this trick can be a great for added convenience and power saving. To find out more check out the following link.

Auto Off Arduino

If you are looking for a very straight forward way to get started with Arduino our Thinker Shield is a great option.  The shield is ideal for beginners and includes a number of buttons, a buzzer, LEDs and more so that you can get started making all sorts of cool projects! Not only this, but you can find a fantastic project guide on our website! Checkout the product page to find out more.

ThinkerShield

Inspired by this project? Working on a cool project of your own? Let us know in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.  

January 15, 2017

Skill Sunday: PCB Surface Finishes

When it comes to having your own PCBs (printed circuit boards) produced, there are a huge number of manufacturing options to consider. One of the most important options is which surface finish is best for your board. We have put together a guide explaining the pros and cons of various surface finishes to help you make an informed decision next time you manufacture PCBs. You can find the full guide at the following link.

PCB

If you are thinking about getting started with electronics, but don’t know where to get started, our Experimenter’s Kit is a great way to learn the basics.

Experimenter's Kit

The kit includes a wide range of parts including a servo, sensors, lights, buttons, a sound module and more. Importantly, a Freetronics Eleven Arduino-compatible board is included to ensure that the kit contains everything you need to get started with electronics. All these great parts would be useless without some form of instructions which is why we have developed a comprehensive project and instruction booklet to get you started. Check out the product page to find out more.

Have and idea for next weeks Skill Sunday? Let us know in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.  

January 14, 2017

Robotic Fish

Although typically electronics and water do not mix, “sneel” the robotic fish is certainly an exception. The robotic fish is designed to emulate the motion of a real water snake, and is perfect for underwater exploration. A number of Arduino Uno controlled servo motors undulate the robot to propel it through the water.

sneel

The applications of such a underwater drone are endless including collecting data about water quality or exploring confined underwater areas such as pipelines! If you want to learn how you can make your own “sneel” checkout the following link.

 If you are looking for a very straight forward way to get started with Arduino our Thinker Shield is a great option.  The shield is ideal for beginners and includes a number of buttons, a buzzer, LEDs and more so that you can get started making all sorts of cool projects! Not only this, but you can find a fantastic project guide on our website! Checkout the product page to find out more.

Thinker Shield

Inspired by this project? Working on a cool project of your own? Let us know in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.