Posts with «sparkfun» label

World’s Largest “Nixie” Clock at World Maker Faire

World Maker Faire was host to some incredible projects. Among the favorites was Nixie Rex [YouTube Link]. Nixie Rex is actually a Panaplex display, since it’s glow comes from 7 planer segments rather than 10 stacked wire digits. One thing that can’t be contested is the fact that Rex is BIG. Each digit is nearly 18 inches tall!

Nixie Rex was created by [Wayne Strattman]. Through his company Strattman Design, [Wayne] supplies lighting effects such as plasma globes and lightning tubes to the museums and corporations. Nixie Rex’s high voltage drive electronics were created by [Walker Chan], a PHD student at MIT. Believe it tor not the entire clock runs on an ATmega328P based Arduino. The digits are daisy chained from the arduino using common Ethernet cables and RJ45 connectors. A Sparkfun DS1307 based real-time clock module ensures the Arduino keeps accurate time.

[Wayne] and Rex were located in “The Dark Room” at Maker Faire, home to many LED and low light projects. The dim lighting certainly helped with the aesthetics, but it did make getting good photos of the clock difficult. Long time Hackaday tipster [Parker] graciously provided us with a size reference up above.

Click past the break to see a closeup of that awesome cathode glow, and a video of the Nixie Rex  in action.

Got to love that tube glow.

 


Filed under: clock hacks

Sparkfun Ships 2000 MicroViews Without Bootloaders

Everyone has a bad day right? Monday was a particularly bad day for the folks at Sparkfun. Customer support tickets started piling up, leading to the discovery that they had shipped out as many as 1,934 MicroViews without bootloaders.

MicroView is the tiny OLED enabled, Arduino based, microcontroller system which had a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign earlier this year. [Marcus Schappi], the project creator, partnered up with SparkFun to get the MicroViews manufactured and shipped out to backers. This wasn’t a decision made on a whim, Sparkfun had proven themselves by fulfilling over 11,000 Makey Makey boards to backers of that campaign.

Rather than downplay the issue, Sparkfun CEO [Nathan Seidle] has taken to the company blog to explain what happened, how it happened, and what they’re going to do to make it right for their customers. This positions them as the subject of our Fail of the Week column where we commiserate instead of criticize.

First things first, anyone who receives an effected MicroView is getting a second working unit shipped out by the beginning of November. Furthermore, the bootloaderless units can be brought to life relatively easily. [Nate] provided a hex file with the correct bootloader. Anyone with an Atmel AVR In-System Programming (ISP) programmer and a steady hand can bring their MicroView to life. Several users have already done just that. The bootloader only has to be flashed via ISP once. After that, the MicroView will communicate via USB to a host PC. Sparkfun will publish a full tutorial in a few weeks.

Click past the break to read the rest of the story.

So what went wrong? The crux of the problem is a common one to manufacturing: An incomplete production test. For many of their products, Sparkfun loads a single hex file containing the production test and the optiboot bootloader. The test code proves out the functionality of the device, and the bootloader allows the customer to flash the device with their own sketches. The problem is the bootloader normally connects to a PC host via USB. Enumerating a USB connection can take up to 30 seconds. That’s way too slow for volume production.

Sparkfun opted to skip the bootloader test, since all the pins used to load firmware were electrically tested by their production test code. This has all worked fine for years – until now. The production team made a change to the test code on July 18th. The new hex file was released without the bootloader. The production test ran fine, and since no one was testing the bootloader, the problem wasn’t caught until it was out in the wild.

The Sparkfun crew are taking several steps to make sure this never happens again.They’re using a second ATmega chip on their test fixture to verify the bootloader without the slow PC enumeration step. Sparkfun will also avoid changing firmware during a production run. If firmware has to change, they’re planning to beta test before going live on the production line. Finally, Sparkfun is changing the way they approach large scale production. In [Nathan's] own words:

Moving from low volume to mid-volume production requires a very different approach. SparkFun has made this type of mistake before (faulty firmware on a device) but it was on a smaller scale and we were agile enough to fix the problem before it became too large. As we started producing very large production runs we did not realize quality control and testing would need very different thinking. This was a painful lesson to learn but these checks and balances are needed. If it didn’t happen on Microview it would have happened on a larger production run someday in the future.

Everyone has bad days, this isn’t the first time Sparkfun has lost money due to a mistake. However, they’re doing the right thing by attacking it head on and fixing not only the immediate issue but the underlying thought process which allowed the problem to arise.


Filed under: Hackaday Columns, news

How to Fix Your Broken MicroView

The response by GeekAmmo and Sparkfun to the MicroView problem has been amazing, but you can fix your broken one fairly simply if you're prepared to crack the case.

Read more on MAKE

Are you experiencing problems with your new MicroView?

If you're having problems with your MicroView, you aren't alone, as it appears that close to 2,000 boards may have been sent out without bootloaders. We talk to Marcus Schappi about the problem.

Read more on MAKE

Visualized: Arduino Uno shows up in NASA's Swamp Works facility

There are certain things you'd expect to encounter on a visit to NASA's Swamp Works research facility. Walking into the former Apollo testing facility, you'll almost certainly catch glimpses of martian rovers, soil samples and an assortment of scientific testing devices. But in spite of Arduino's near ubiquity these days, we'll admit that we were a bit taken aback when the familiar blue microcontroller made an appearance on a lab desk during our conversation with NASA "lighting guy," Dr. Eirik Holbert. It seems that NASA, like pretty much everyone else, is experimenting with the hacker-friendly component.

The board was hooked up to a lighting fixture Holbert is working on as part of NASA's upcoming deep space habitat concept generator. It's an attempt to bring some sunlit consistency to space exploration, simulating Earth-like lighting patterns to help keep the crew alert and get them ready for sleep in the evenings. So, where does NASA turn when it's looking to conserve weight and save some taxpayer money in the process? Toward the Arduino Uno, naturally. Holbert assembled a number of off-the-shelf products, including the aforementioned microcontroller and shields from Sparkfun to make a fixture for under $500.

Asked whether we might be seeing an Arduino setup like this on an upcoming mission, Dr. Holbert told us, "I'm all about interchangeability. If they can make something space compatible, I'd be all for it."

Filed under: Science

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Engadget 21 Feb 07:33

BeetBox drops a beat with a side of Raspberry Pi, and other plant puns (video)

Sometimes the plays on words are unavoidable -- in fact, they form the very heart of Scott Garner's recent musical creation. His BeetBox turns six of its namesake root vegetables into drum pads through SparkFun capacitive touch sensors, all of which are controlled by (what else?) a Raspberry Pi. Cleverness goes beyond the core technology and food jokes, as well. All of the circuitry and audio equipment is hidden within the wood box, making it look more like a horticultural project than machinery. We don't mind the lack of production plans when there's source code available; we're mostly curious as to what in our garden would make for a good rhythm section.

[Image credit: Scott Garner, Flickr]

Continue reading BeetBox drops a beat with a side of Raspberry Pi, and other plant puns (video)

Filed under: Misc, Alt

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Via: Gizmag

Source: Scott Made This

Engadget 20 Dec 05:58

Self-balancing unicycle using Arduino and Sparkfun IMU

Here’s proof that you can build cool stuff with simple tools. This self-balancing unicycle uses an Arduino and a five degree of freedom IMU from Sparkfun to keep the rider upright. Well, it’ll keep you upright as long as you have good side-to-side balance. But that’s true of any unicycle, right?

The Raptor was built by [Nick Thatcker] who is no stranger to self-balancing transportation. A few years back he built a Segway clone and the same type of geared motor used in that project also went into this one. I connects to the wheel with a chain, allowing him to keep the motor hidden in the saddle. He gets between 90 and 120 minutes of used on one charge with a top speed of 10 MPH. The motor could move you along faster but he has limited this in firmware to ensure it has enough power to ‘catch up’ if you lean too far forward.

Don’t miss the demo after the break. If you like this unicycle there are several others worth looking at.


Filed under: transportation hacks

12 DOF hexapod kit now sold by SparkFun

The 12 DOF hexapod kit from DAGU is one of the simplest hexapod kits ever!

Quick and easy to assemble, the body only consist of 12 leg segments, 12 foam rubber feet, 12 servos and a base plate with a hole pattern that allows controllers and sensors to be easily mounted.

read more

Let's Make Robots 26 Oct 18:09
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Spider controller now sold by SparkFun

The DAGU Red back Spider controller is an Arduino Mega (1280) compatible controller that is especially designed for driving a large number of servos. All 70 I/O pins are terminated in servo compatible 3pin male headers as well as the standard female header and the power supply is a switchmode power supply delivering 5V @ 3A from an input voltage of 7V - 32V.

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Let's Make Robots 26 Oct 17:41
1280  48  advertising  arduino  atmega  controller  dagu  fun  robot  servos  spark  sparkfun  spider  

SparkFun launches ProtoSnap MiniBot for the budding roboticist

SparkFun struck a chord with many when it released the ProtoSnap series last year. The perforated perfboard housed not only a tiny Arduino compatible chip, but a small host of sensors and components that made assembling simple projects a snap (pun not only intended, but relished). Tomorrow, the company will begin selling the next member of its ProtSnap family -- the MiniBot. Just like its predecessors, the ProtoSnap MiniBot is based around an Arduino compatible microcontroller (specifically ATmega328) and features a number of components that can easily be detached when you're ready to move from prototype to a more permanent arrangement. The onboard selection components is fairly limited. The base is a relatively bare perfboard with a 9v battery holder on one side and two wheels connected to a motor on the other. Up front is two IR sensors that can be used for basic controls.

Of course, it's simple enough to expand on the basic platform with any host of sensors and components, like servos or RF receivers. Ultimately it's up to your imagination and skill level, which is why SparkFun is primarily targeting the kits at the educational market. The company's new educational outreach program is making a big push to put the ProtoSnap MiniBot in classrooms across the country, starting with high schools and trade schools, as a bridge from more simplistic robotics kits to the more advanced projects tackled at the university level. The completely open source robotics platform will be available tomorrow for $74.95. As soon as we can get our mitts on one our own we'll return with a thorough hands on... one that reveals just how much smarter the average high school kid is than us.

SparkFun launches ProtoSnap MiniBot for the budding roboticist originally appeared on Engadget on Thu, 31 May 2012 16:46:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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