If you are building a small, low power project in a remote location, solar harvesting can be a great option. This solar charge solution for an 18650 battery makes this super easy to achieve in your project.
Whilst The Curious Electric Company originally designed this kit to power a remote weather station that sent back it’s data to a base station, it’s suitable to power any small device. We imagine it could be very useful, for example, for LoRa nodes and other remote sensing or data logging projects.
Using a Texas Instruments IC BQ24210 as the solar charge controller, this kit require a suitable 18650 battery and a small solar cell to get up and running. For the solar cell you can use any that will supply between 3.5V and 7V DC and Curious Electric state they get good results with a 5.5V 200mA panel. You can connect your project to the output which is protected with a 500mA resetting fuse. The PCB is supplied pre-populated with all the SMD parts fitted and you only have to solder in the battery holder and the screw clamp terminals which are larger through hole mount components.
Over on Hackaday, I recently did a course with HackadayU about Embedded Serial Buses. We covered I2C in detail, and one of the things I was looking for were good, readily available I2C sensor breakout boards. Well, Celtic Engineering has just added a bunch of excellent breakout boards to their store, including the above High-Side Current Monitor which uses a Texas Instruments INA138; a chip I’ve worked with before that is easy to use and quite accurate.
An integral part of any power supply is current monitoring, and using a board like the INA138 can make your design more robust and reliable by monitoring for overcurrent conditions; or, switching taps on a transformer to maintain the most ideal efficiency of your switching converter. This small breakout board has a couple extra little features as well — a 15.4 kHz antialiasing filter feeds a 12-bit ADC which enables you to also monitor the voltage of the source, meaning power measurements are easily done.
Besides this current monitor breakout, Celtic has also added a I2C Pressure Sensor Breakout, an I2C 12-Bit DAC Breakout, I2C Humidity Sensor Breakout, and many more! These breakout boards are super useful to have in your parts bin. When an idea strikes, having easy-to-use breakout boards can make prototyping so much faster. These boards use commonly available parts that are likely to be available in mass quantities when you want to take your design to production. Breakout boards that use less common parts (something I’ve run into before) can add an extra hurdle when you realize they aren’t available or are difficult to find in large quantities.
Each PIXIE module is a gorgeous dual 5×7 LED dot matrix display. Easily chained and simple to address using just 2 GPIO, these are fantastic for making a small, fast and very cool display.
Lixie Labs have done a great job to make these as usable as possible. With full bitmap control and 7 bit PWM yielding 128 brightness levels, they’ve created a stack of documentation and resources to get up and running. There’s a library and examples for the Arduino IDE which, of course, opens these up for use not only with the Arduino family but also the ESP and more. If the full ASCII set and the additional 220 icons in the library (currency, weather, schematic symbols etc) aren’t enough, there is also an HTML page hosted in the repository with an interface where you can draw your own icon and download the code snippet. You’ll even find a driver for use with the Raspberry Pi.
Wrapped up in a neat PCB, the PIXIE hardware design allows them to mount horizontally with even spacing using an M2.5 hole under the display. There are some nice hardware touches in the repository, Eagle footprints are available, and also a collection of STL files to print mounting plates for between 2 and 10 PIXIE.
On the product page there is a nice GIF of a display in action, but we heartily recommend checking out the video below, at the highest quality setting you can, to see just how lovely these little PIXIE are.
There are so many synths, sequencers, and drum machines available for software development boards like the Arduino. The Synthiboard is a platform to house the Arduno Pro Mini and act as a more convenient breadboard with spaces for switches, potentiometers, audio jacks, modifications and more! Time to fire up your Arduino and all those ino files waiting to be realized!
The Synthiboard has space for 6 push buttons, 5 potentiometers, and 3 audio jacks – as well as a power socket which will take 12V (the unit will also take USB power). If you want to try out an Arduino sketch which requires hardware inputs and outputs, this board is the ideal solution, saving you wiring out to a breadboard. However, make sure your potentiometers are wired in reverse, as the board does have them wired the wrong way round.
It has space for a sync output, which means the board can be synced to Pocket Operators, Korg Volcas, and other music making devices. The Synthiboard has a wiki which gives you all the tech specs and has been tested on the likes of the DIY Polyphonic Drum Machine by Sebastian Tomczak.
The Synthiboard is sold by MakerVan Labs who have a number of little protoyping boards to spark your next audio project!
I think it’s safe to say that this year has been a weird one, and pretty downright difficult for a lot of us. If 2020 wasn’t the best, just know you’re not alone. So who’s ready to leave this past year in the dust and soldier on (or maybe “solder on” is more appropriate?) into the New Year!
The year of 2020 in product form:
There’s a popular opinion that 2020 has been a year equivalent to a Dumpster fire. Check out this Dumpster Fire SAO for a good laugh.
If you’re in need of a way to power and display your SAO, then you might enjoy the SAO Badge 2020. The SAO Badge is a simple circuit board that holds two SAO and can be powered by either USB C or two AA Batteries.
If 2020 had a supervillain it would be the COVID-19 virus, but like all supervillains, there’s a hero out there to stop them and it’s science! Russ’s Rando’ness created the Hack COVID-19 [KIT] as a way to help fundraise for charities that help with COVID-19 related remediation activities.
Let the Countdown Begin!
It’s time to celebrate the New Year! There are a ton of great kits and products available on Tindie to get 2021 started on the right foot.
Why not celebrate New Year’s Eve with an awesome and overly sized LED! This novelty Giant LED is ten times the scale model of a regular LED.
If you can’t wait until the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, why not create a clock so you’ll know exactly when to celebrate! This IV11 VFD Tube Clock DIY Soldering KIT can be purchased as a kit or preassembled and can be used to display the time, date, or Lunar date.
Happy New Year from all of us here at Tindie! We hope the next year is filled with good times and all the projects you could ever want to create!
This Basic Logic Gate Kit manages to teach the fundamentals of digital electronics whilst also being a great kit for those new to soldering!
Underlying all modern computing and digital technology are logic gates and this quality PCB kit contains the circuits to create examples of 3 of them. The AND, OR and NOT, gates are created using momentary tactile switches with LED’s as the visual output. Pressing the switches in different combinations makes it possible for the user to match the output to the logic tables which are printed on the PCB artwork.
The kit is all through-hole mount components and the large and easy to handle PCB makes this an ideal project for those learning to solder or for those teaching soldering as a skill. The board is powered via a micro USB connector which is pre-soldered as it would be a little tricky for beginners. Codecorrect supply this kit with digital instructions and explanations of how the circuits work.
Spectrum analysers are a neat way to display music and audio in the visual realm. The Spectrum Analyser Kit is a little table top incarnation, with 10 bands of LEDs covering frequency ranges from 31 Hz to 16 kHz. It comes in kit form with all the parts, PCBs, and 10 x 10 LED matrix to illuminate your bedroom or studio with rectangular dancing dots!
The Spectrum Analyser Kit comes ready to be soldered with extensive instructions available online and a pre-programmed microcontroller. Once made it’ll display the full frequency range from bass to treble – across frequency ranges at 31 Hz, 62 Hz, 125 Hz, 250 Hz, 500 Hz, 1 kHz, 2 kHz, 4 kHz, 8 kHz, 16 kHz. It has 4 visual modes to display combinations of dots, lines and peak holding. It’ll run off a 12V DC power supply (not included) and will take a single mono 3.5 mm jack for the audio input.
It certainly falls into the hobbyist category rather than being something a professional mastering engineer might rely on, but given the added fun and achievement of soldering it yourself, it’s a neat little box which will reward you with a little funky light show.
The spectrum analyser is the first release from Home Hobby Electronics who are based in Latvia. Here’s to more from them in the new year!
Whilst there are increasing options for wireless controllers aimed at CNC machines, this WiFi stepper driver caught our eye. In addition to use in CNC machine roles, it could be applied more broadly for any robotics or home automation project, anywhere a motor is needed.
The board is fully assembled and features an Espressif ESP32 coupled with an A5984 stepper motor driver. The stepper motor driver is capable of passing 2 amps maximum to each coil of the stepper motor and the board can be driven with up to 27 V DC if using the onboard power regulator to power the Espressif ESP32. If you need a higher voltage you can drive the board up to 40 V by removing a jumper and powering the Espressif ESP32 separately.
The onboard Espressif ESP32 is pre-loaded with the OpenMYR firmware, code that works across OpenMYR’s range of WiFi motor controllers. The firmware can be updated Over-the-Air (OTA) and whilst the board is primarily designed to be interacted with via WiFi, there is also an option to simply use the Espressif ESP32 as a standalone MCU, loading perhaps an Arduino sketch for fully autonomous operation.
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all around the world, not a soldering iron was burning, not even a PortaStation used for learning. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that Tindie the Robot dog would soon be there.
The makers were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of new projects danced in their heads. When all of a sudden there arose such a chatter, but fear not, the Tindie writers sprang to see what was the matter. Away to the Tindie Blog, they flew like a flash, hoping to spread the good news in a dash.
The Blog readers were quite impressed with the amazing new writer Jo, with coverage of new Tindie products that everyone should know. When what to the writers’ eyes should appear, but Christmas day products and Tindarians filled with cheer.
With an ElectroMage Pro 5-12V 8x WS2812/APA102 LED Driver, so versatile folks purchased it quick. Shoppers knew in a moment that it must be a good pick. Looking for more deals, the shoppers searched Tindie.com which no one could blame. They whistled and shouted, and order all the things as joy overcame.
2020 has been a year to remember, right? As it comes to a close, let’s erase it from our collective memories with a look at what the talented Tindie creators came up with in the realms of sound and music. This year, we’ll be awarding the ingenuity, skill and professionalism of our sellers with a prestigious ceremony covering the spectrum of music making devices, from pocket toys to production powerhouses. So, look sharp, shine your shoes, and don the finest attire your wardrobe has to offer for the Tindie Gear of the year awards 2020!
Tiny Pocket Critter Award: The Scuttlebut by Madlab
The Scuttlebut is a miniature noise machine capable of wondrous melodies and expansive drones controlled in innovative ways, such is the penchant of its talented creator. Coming in kit form, even a beginner will enjoy its construction – then revel in its on-board sequencer and marvel at it’s record function! On the panel you’ll find buttons and knobs to control your sound, but the showcase feature has to be the light sensor used in conjunction with the metallic touch plate. It’s very expressive and full of audio critters waiting to escape!
The Scuttlebut has a cheeky character and devious soul of its own, hear its murmurings in the video below:
Gunstar Hero Award: Opera Rotas by Spherical Sound Society
The Opera Rotas is one for the retro gaming fraternity, utilizing an OPL2 FM audio chip from the SEGA Genesis (or Megadrive) housed inside a drum machine! It comes in kit form, as a fully made unit or the PCB alone – with the maker suggesting there will be firmware updates to turn it into a polyphonic synth! For now, it’s a mutant FM drum machine which will inspire journeys to create ‘Sonic Chaos’ in an ‘Alien Storm’ – is anyone getting these game references?!
It certainly sounds like no other drum machine we’ve encountered, hear it in action here:
Lofi Aesthetic Award: 8BitM8 by midierror
The 8BitM8 was released in July and is ideal for those looking for a lofi sound inspired by classic samplers and MPCs. It comes in a hand-crafted aluminium enclosure, with a custom paint job in two forms – one with an arcade button and another with a guitar stomp switch. It’s an effects processor that reduces the bit rate of any incoming signal from 4-8 Bit, with controls for mix, sample rate, and low pass filter. It also looks pretty snazzy!
The 8BitM8 was featured on DIVKID’s youtube channel, showing an array of musical applications, with synths, drum machines and guitars.
Micro MIDI Modification Award: MIDI Input for Volca by Yethiel
The MIDI Input for Volca is a small modification with a big impact; allowing for MIDI control from an external source via conventional 5-Pin connections! It’s been known for some time that if you open up a Volca you’ll see the connections for MIDI input, but the device doesn’t offer it out of the box. Therefore, this mini mod will require some soldering skills, even if you buy the completed unit, but full instructions are provided. The small change will expand the capabilities significantly, for seasoned musicians and tabletop noodlers alike.
See the exciting little MIDI mod up close here with some glorious arpeggiation:
Back To The Future Award: Phonic Taxidermist by Circuitbenders
The Phonic Taxidermist is a PCB ready to house a grungy effects unit from the past, based around a rare and hard to find classic: the Maplin (UK Radio Shack) Voice Vandal. Using an on-board delay and audio chopper, you’ll be exhuming sounds from another dimension, both figuratively and literally as this was originally released in the 1980s! For fans of sci-fi or early 90s Warp records electronica, the Phonic Taxidermist is a unique, essential, and ethereal unit to re-animate any incoming sound.
See the voice vandal clone in action with some TB-303 acid replication courtesy of the x0xBox!
Serious Serendipity Award: NoodleBox Sequencer by SixtyFourPixels
The NoodleBox Serendipity Sequencer came out in September, bridging the gap between modular, tabletop and studio sequencing with a chunky pixel display, superb build quality, and intuitive controls. From one box you can utilize CV and MIDI, trigger note sequences from multiple layers, and automate numerous parameter changes! It’ll support a host of musical keys, with variable sequence lengths for polymeters and a myriad of cross modulation features. In a big year for external sequencers, this proved to be hugely successful for good reason.
The TSynth is a Teensy-powered synth which comes in kit form to solder and source parts for yourself. It’s absolutely loaded with features including 12 note polyphony, 24 oscillators, pulse width modulation, LFOs, unison and some epic cross-modulation! It has connections for MIDI through conventional means as well as USB – and will even allow you to save and recall presets. It’s a big red beauty and you’ll find options for US orders and bulk orders too.
See the self professed ‘Worlds Best Value Desktop Synthesizer’ in action:
Chiptune Sound Blast Award: Blasterboard by LABS
The Blasterboard is a modern sound card aimed at vintage gaming enthusiasts and ideal for chiptune music makers (and listeners) looking for authentic sound playback! It’s a superbly designed unit which caters for DSP sound, Line Out, CD Audio, PC Speaker and OPL2 volumes from the panel. It’s been lovingly crafted to be a low noise solution for the modern era, coming in fully assembled form and now as a kit. Play the sound of the late 80s and early 90s as it was originally intended with the reliability and build quality of today.
Superstylin’ Award: The Hanan Cumbia by Oficina de Sonido
Finally, the delightful Hanan Cumbia hales from Mexico and celebrates the artistic skill of three talented makers for the ultimate Tindie product collaboration of 2020. Not only is it a drum machine (based on the Bleep Labs Bleep Drum) but it’s been gloriously adorned by Yeffry Ruta Mareand and screen printed by Los Laberintos to make an utterly eye-catching and stunningly vibrant enclosure. As a drum machine, it’ll play four sounds, each with their own 32 step sequencers, capable of being synced to external clock signals – we love it for the sheer visual joy it brings as well as the sounds!
So, there we have it, a glittering ceremony to showcase the talents of the Tindie community in the last 12 months. We hope you thoroughly enjoy the festive season safely and look forward to a brighter future for all of us in 2021. There are plenty of things to look forward to!
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