openWRT device from Omnima UK

29 Aug 2011
Omnima UK sell a tiny little board for less than £40, that runs on openWRT Linux and has ethernet, WiFi and a USB port. It seems to be a great base for simple projects, when we need more power than one arduino.

Link to product

I’ve ordered one to try something I have in mind.

Btw, at the openWRT site, there is a VM available. I downloaded and tried it yesterday, but I had problems connecting USB peripherals…. Never mind. I have to say I loved the web interface and the precompiled binaries and the fact you can ran python on it!

11 Sep 2011
I’ve now received the device. It runs Fonera (have a look at some screenshots and more info here). Easy to access through a web interface. I tried to load the latest Fonera software and it didn’t quite work; now the device won’t boot. I’m able to log in to it using telnet and a serial cable, but I haven’t been able to load the old bin file yet… I’ll keep you posted…

WiShield from async_labs

This past week, I got my hands on a WiShield 2.0 from Async Labs (http://www.asynclabs.com/).

This is a very exiting addition to my collection of shields as it adds wifi capabilities to my projects!

There is a nice wiki page on the async_labs site (http://asynclabs.com/wiki/index.php?title=AsyncLabsWiki) and relevant code (libraries & examples) is hosted at the GitHub (http://github.com/asynclabs/WiShield).

I have a few ideas about this shield – stay tuned! :)

Eye-Fi SD Card

This is an  SD card with a twist: it also has Wi-Fi which means that, if you use it with a digital camera, it allows you to send photos you’ve just captured on Flickr, Picasa, Facebook, email them or simply back them up online.

Sounds like a simple & great idea.

The site of the company behind this product is here: http://www.eye.fi/

Amazon is selling the Eye-Fi Pro 4GB cards  for about £120 in the UK. http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B002RL9ALU/

Eye-Fi Pro

Eye-Fi Pro

There is a slightly cheaper model, Eye-Fi Share Video, which is also on Amazon for about £70.  http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B002RL9ALK

It would be interesting to see if this ends up in an Arduino shield at some point. In the mean time, the best Wi-Fi solution for the arduinos seems to be the WiShield.

Oomlout.co.uk – order received…

On Sunday night, I placed an order on the oomlout.co.uk site for a few bits I needed for a small project I’ve been working on.

I received the parcel on Tuesday morning and was very pleased with the fast delivery. When I opened it, I was really impressed with everything. First of all, all the components were in small resealable anti-static bags with a sticker with a description on them, which meant I could just put them in a box without worrying that I would forget where is what.

The second thing that really impressed me was that they actually included the description sheets for the multi-color LEDs and the force Sensitive Resistors I ordered. These sheets are also available on their website, but it was actually extremely handy to have them by my side, when I had the soldering iron on my other hand!

Last, but definitely not least, was the quality of the components!

I can fully recommend Oomlout.co.uk and I will be ordering again from them :) .

Sparkfun Alarm Clock

Sparkun are selling the following simple clock on their site: Link

ClockIT from Sparkfun

ClockIT from Sparkfun

This is a minimalistic clock that includes all the essential functions and is very similar to a product offered at Maplins in the UK that I have used before: Maplin link | My project which includes this module

There are two differences between the two clocks from Sparkfun and the Maplin. The first one is that the Sparkfun clock runs at 5V; the Maplin clock needs 9-18V (which then regulates down to 5 and generates quite a bit of useless heat in the process…). This for me, is a major design flaw! When I used it for this project, I had to power it from a USB port, which basically meant that I removed the voltage regulator and changed the wiring a bit to accommodate for the lower voltage.

The second difference is that the Sparkfun clock is based around the ATmega168 chip (i.e. the old Arduino chip). It would be nice if the code (provided by Sparkfun on their website) was in the Processing/Arduino language.

These are great modules to use for custom applications. Of course you can go down the I2C real clock module path and use something like this. The problem is that you add a whole new layer of complexity to your module. You need a way to display the time, controls to adjust the time, etc, etc… If you just need a basic alarm clock to flip a switch at a specific pre-defined time, just get one of these modules, replace the speaker with a transistor and you are sorted…

Anyway, enough about alarms :)

About the Oomlout.co.uk site

The www.oomlout.co.uk is a very interesting site.

To begin with, they have an online shop where you can buy Arduino boards, shields and electronic components. Well, there are many sites that do exactly that.

What’s interesting is that they’ve created a great Arduino Starter kit. This kit is the best kit I’ve seen around for someone who is thinking about learning how to use the Arduino board.

First things first: the kit includes an arduino board and breadboard that are both sitting on an acrylic plate. This is exactly what I did when I started experimenting with my first arduino (although my custom arduino & breadboard combo didn’t look as nice as the one on the Arduino Starter kit).

There are also many different components available, from LEDs to a motor, a servo, sensors and even an 8-bit shift register. To buy these components at, say, Maplins, you would probably pay a lot more than £55, and that’s without the Arduino board. At £55 with the Arduino board, this kit is very well priced.

But this kit is not just a bundle of components. The great advantage of this kit is that it comes with breadboard layout sheets, that make the actual assembly of each project very easy.

All the projects are well documented on Instructables.

Here is an example of the servo motor circuit. You can see that the breadboard layout sheets are very helpful for the new users.